Thursday, May 18, 2006

My husband calls 'em "boozles"

Yay springtime! Well, at least I'll be able to say that next week...this week, frankly, has sucked. At least in the springtime department. It's been cold & rainy almost non-stop for YEARS. Okay, just a few days, but geez! It's May! It's supposed to be all purty & warm! Honestly, I should stop complaining, because we had a nasty drought last summer & this rain is sorely needed. Still, the greyness bites. I've got a raging case of seasonal affective disorder, which is all associated with light levels & such, so cloudy days really slow me down. It's supposed to be nice & warm & sunny next week, though, so yay spring!

In the meantime, I've got my Mother's Day presents to keep me entertained--dh bought a set of martini glasses & a cocktail shaker set for me for Mother's Day. Doesn't that make me sound like the worst alcoholic? Actually, we rarely drink, largely because we're pretty darn impoverished, and alcohol ain't cheep. Also, dh doesn't really like alcohol (only Irishman I've ever met who has never been drunk. Seriously.). I like a cocktail now & again, though, since I'm not a beer drinker. On a recent (much deserved) girls night out with Brandie, I discovered the joys of apple martinis (thanks, Bran!!). They are good. Dangerous good. And, it turns out, I make a damn fine one at home, for way less than in a bar. Bonus--it's purty! Slainte!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Holy pic-intensive post, Batman!

Oy, it's been a while again! You'd think I'd get better about posting more regularly...yeah, you'd think that, wouldn't you? Heh. Things have been busy at Chez Spaz. This...

Has finally become this...

Yep, it's the exact same sweater. Don't ask me why the colors are so off--it was even the same camera that took the pictures. Sheesh. Anyway, the bottom pic is WAY more accurate for the color, and yes, I'm standing on my bed. Don't tell my mom. Or my kids, for that matter. It's not *entirely* finished, though...I still need to weave in the ends, but I'm not quite ready to commit to that. Isn't that pathetic? See, I'm kind of thinking that the neck needs to be taken back a couple rows, but that would be SUCH a pain in the arse, because it's a top down. Basically, I'm procrastinating like crazy, largely because it's too damn warm out to wear this thing now anyways. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure not complaining about the warm. I LOVE the warm, it's just that the warm isn't exactly compatible with the BigAss Giant Chunky Sweater, y'know? It really was fun to make, though, and it was a dandy first sweater. My gauge was, I swear, TWO stitches to the inch. Yowza.

Currently on the needles are... A fluffy green scarf for my dear friend Brandie, which also counts as G is for Green...

It's made out of JoAnne's brand Angel Hair, with a strand of fun fur held together to give it that sort of kablooie look. It's simple garter stitch, which makes it really nice to work on while watching particularly interesting or detail oriented television.

Also on the needles is this sock for Eldest Boy...

This is a very plain, simple stockinette kid sock with 1x1 ribbing at the cuff, in Patons Kroy sock (I think the color is called Krazy Stripes, or some dopey thing like that). Eldest Boy is very pleased about this, which is really nice to hear, though he does pester me to work on his sock an awful lot. I'd really like to cast on the second sock soon, too, as I really feel that it's just smarter to work two at once for me, otherwise, sock #2 may never see the light of day.

And finally, the last item currently on the needles...

Ze Picovoli ist finally in production! Yay! The reasons for this are twofold--first, I really did want to make this soon, as the irritation produced by finishing the BigAss Giant Chunky Sweater just in time to *not* wear it is pretty severe. The second reason is that I'd really really like to wear it on June 10th--my high school reunion. (Eek!) I was soooooo NOT the crafty creative type in high school, and I'm betting nobody will believe that I actually knit now. Knitting is such a big part of my life, which is kind of dorky, but there ya go. I'd really like to be able to say yeah, I made *this*. It's a rather big accomplishment, to me, to be able to take sticks & string & create actual clothing that not only fits, but actually even looks kinda cute. It's kind of a lot to be riding on a little pile of blue cotton (KnitPicks Shine, in River, btw), but there it is. Is that lame? Well, regardless, it's a fun knit anyway, and oh my, Shine is sooo soft! I've really only worked with ubercheap cottons before, so this is a really pleasant surprise. I loves me some KnitPicks!!

And now, for you yarn p0rn addicts, my latest acquisitions...

From left to right, Mountain Colors Bearfoot (no idea what the color is called, but it's GORGEOUS. Sadly, it shows up really dark in this pic, but it's got lots of reds with bits of autumnal shades, like olive & rust & browns--just beautiful!), Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Black Watch, and Regia Patch Antik in Kuba. The Regia link takes you to Little Knits, which has excellent customer service, and TONS of sales. The Regia in question is still on sale, in fact. Also, speaking of excellent customer service & kickass prices, I highly recommend Chez Casuelle. This shop has my much-lusted-after Malabrigo, in shitloads of colors, for only $10.95!! AND, she does free shipping for orders over $25. This is the shop where I got my Lorna's, and I've also got some burgundy Malabrigo on order from them as well (though it's backordered right now). It's a newer shop, I believe, but I'm loving them thus far.

Also, I had the good cheapass fortune to come across enough coupons to get these two...

If I've not mentioned yet how much I love the Yarn Harlot, well, I've been seriously remiss. I've read both of her previous books, and this book does not disappoint. There's more technical instruction in this one than the other two, but it's still just as entertaining as ever. The other book is one that I've been eyeballing at the library for ages, and is widely known as a good basic pattern book, so when I had a 50% off coupon at JoAnns, well, how could I not? Yeah, I'm weak.

In other exciting geeknews, I've signed up for Secret Pal 8 (blogosphere version)! I'm really excited about it, and to my upstream SP, I promise I'll get my questionnaire up soon!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

SP8 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Geez, I'm pretty darn easy to please! I LOVE alpaca, and merino wool, and pretty much any natural fiber. I'll happily use/buy acrylics, if they're nice & soft & in good colors. Squeaky acrylics aren't so great, but that's kind of a given. Plymouth Encore is a good example of a decent's what I use for sweaters for my boys. I'm in deep lust over Malabrigo, as are most folks, and I also love Cascade 220 & Manos. I've never actually worked with Meunch's Touch Me, but I plan to one day make a pair of Fuzzy Feets out of them...I hear they turn to velvet when felted, due to the wool core! Mmm... Anyway, I'm also a HUGE sock fiend. I loves me some Socks That Rock, and pretty much all of the popular sock yarns--Cherry Tree Hill, Lorna's Laces, Mountain Colors, Koigu, etc. etc. I really like superwash sock yarns, but honestly, for something as small as socks, I don't mind handwashing. Pretty much the only yarns I *don't* like are novelty yarns...I'm not a big fan of overly trendy stuff anyway, and they just don't look good on me.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Well, I'm a cheapskate, so I use a 97 cent pencil bag from Walmart for dpns, and another in a different color for crochet hooks & odds & ends. Straights currently live in a basket under my chair in my little corner, and circs are residing in an expandable file folder (letter size). Honestly, though, I'm not very happy with the circ situation...I'd love any suggestions for better storage! I've got about a million circular needles thus far...

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Honestly, I've only *really* been knitting since January, all of four months. I'm really pretty darned adventurous, though, and there's very little that I don't want to try (okay, nothing that I don't want to try sooner or later), and I've made a pretty broad variety of items thus far. I guess you could say I'm an adventurous intermediate, listing towards the newbie side. Heh.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Yep! I loves me some Amazon. Last I checked, I had one at KnitPicks too, but I'm annoyed that there's no wishlist button under the Memories sock yarn, or several other yarns, for that matter. My Amazon list is enormous, though...

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

For candles, I love spicy, fall fragrances (since I don't burn candles much in the summer...the windows are always open, and candles + breeze= not so great), like Yankee Candles' Brown Sugar & Spice. I also love coffee/vanilla candles--Target had a coffee bean candle for a while that was WONDERFUL. The jerks don't carry it anymore, though. I tend to prefer lighter, citrusy scents for bath products, especially citrus/mint combos. Oh, and a good fresh cut grass smell is wonderful in just about anything. But then I'm weird like that.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Oh my yes! I have a rather overactive sweet tooth...I love all kinds of candies, most notably chocolate (though it's tricky to ship in the summer), caramels (the buttery chewy kind-especially homemade!), Twizzlers, fudge (oooh, maple fudge! mmmm...), and all kinds of baked goods. Y'know, I'd LOVE recipes for such things as well, if anyone wants to share a good one!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I love all sorts of crafty things...I knit & crochet (though knitting takes definite precedence these days); I love embroidery & cross stitch; I can do needlepoint, though I've not thought of a project in some time; I can't draw worth a darn, but I love to color with colored pencils in those silly Dover coloring books--makes me feel like a kid again; I like to write a bit, and have a weakness for pretty journals (which is really kind of dumb, because I don't write THAT much, especially now that I have a blog, but the weakness persists); I make soaps & toiletries as part of a teeny tiny home business; I like to pretend that I can sew, and I WILL learn to use my sewing machine one day; I love to cook & bake, though it's not a really crafty sort of thing; as far as spinning goes, I'd sooo love to learn! I won't be able to afford ($$ or space) a wheel for many moons to come, but in the meantime, I've been eyeballing this drop spindle kit (scroll to the bottom of the page--it's the Deluxe Kit) for a while now. It looks like a heckuva deal, as you get a top whorl spindle, a full color instruction book (VERY much needed!), and two 1/4lb NZ Corriedale rovings for all of $30! Granted, I don't know much about spinning, so if someone knows of a better deal on these items elsewhere, please let me know! I'm going to wait until Stitches Midwest, and see if I can find a similar, cheaper kit there, and if not, I'm gonna git me some spinning fun when I get home. Besides, with such a small investment (versus that which a wheel would require), if I decide that spinning isn't that big of a thrill (which I doubt), it won't kill me to have spent the money, you know? And, if I decide I *do* like it, I'll be able to go to the Fold & drool over her huge sacks of alpaca roving some more, and actually do something with them (besides want to crawl inside & take a nap).

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I love all kinds of music! I'm lucky enough to be married to a professional musician, so we have a *wide* variety of music in our home. I particularly love old jazz, especially from the twenties & thirties (and I really love WWII-era big band & swing, too!). I also really like 80s brit bands, like Depeche Mode, Information Society, The Smiths, etc. I'm into recent stuff as well, though boy bands & bubblegum pop annoys me (for example, the whole Britney Simpson/NSync/whatever the crap thing). Dh introduced me to a lot of good world music, and I'm a sucker for Celtic tunes (dh is Irish). Sting & U2 will always be my all-time favorites, though! Sadly, I can't do MP3s on my computer, though regular mix cds would be great! Honestly, I like tons of music, and am always open to hearing new bands, especially regional ones (like if they're big in Scotland, but no one's heard of them here) or little known acts that are really talented.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I really don't have a favorite clothing, I tend to stick to neutrals, with browns & greys & olive greens figuring in a good deal. Basic black, too, of course. I have yellow skin & dark hair, so yellow tinged colors don't look good on me--for example, I can wear blue based reds, and really like them, but orangey reds just look weird on me. Straight yellow makes me look sort of dead, which is a bummer, because I like the color. I've noticed that I've been drawn to colors in knitting that are very jewel-toned, like Cherry Tree Hill type blues & reds. I'm not usually into such bright colors, but boy, those yarns are compelling! It's nice, really, because it's helping to break me out of my color rut. My favorite yarn colors, lately, are deep, rich colors, like the aforementioned jewel toned blues & greens & reds. I'm not a big fan of pink, and I don't care for light purple, but darker shades are okay. I like warm colors, I suppose. As far as color family, I think fall looks best on me, but again, I'm in a wee bit of a rut, so I'd welcome anything.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm incredibly happily married to my husband of eight years, and we have two awesome sons together. If you've looked at this blog for more than four seconds, you'll know that I have a demented little stripey cat, named Tipsy McTilt. She has a bit of a head tilt, hence the name. She's my little shelter baby, and just a wonderful (if insane) kitty.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear scarves all the time in the winter--those northern Illinois prairie winds can be brutal, don'cha know. Hats & mittens all the time too, though I tend to prefer gloves with fingers if I can help it. It makes it easier to channel surf on the radio in the car if I have fingers. Of course, I've always wanted to try making those thrummed mittens, so someday I'll just have to get over my finger thing. I'm not a poncho girl at ALL, but I do love a good shawl or wrap. I'm always cold, it seems, so it's nice to have things to snuggle up in.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Geez, what a tough question!! I like everything, really! I like to have multiple items on the needles, so I can pick & choose what to work on based on my mood & other activities at the time. I always like to have a big project going, like a sweater or something, and a small, portable one (or two!), like socks or mitts or something. I also like to have one that's really brainlessly easy, so that I can still work even while watching an incredibly interesting movie or tv show. It's nice to have something with a little bit of a challenge to it, too, to sort of balance the easy item. I really really like socks, and I REALLY like sock yarn (it's such an addiction!). I'm really looking forward to getting into lace soon, as it's just incredibly beautiful, and it looks to be a really fun challenge. I've not done any colorwork yet, but I plan to someday!

13. What are you knitting right now?

I'm mostly working on my Picovoli, in hopes that I can finish it in time to wear it to my high school reunion in June. Also, I'm working on a green fluffy scarf for a friend, a pair of Kroy socks for Eldest Boy, and I really hope to cast on for an Elizabeth I scarf (lace!!) soon. I've got a list of projects on deck that's about a mile long, too...

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I use both, but I'm not very fond of my straights. Most of my straights are aluminum, and too bloody long. I have a few that are shorter & bamboo, and I LOVE those! I don't care for plastic needles at all, and I pretty well hate the aluminums that I've already got, so I'd say I definitely prefer bamboo or hardwoods. I really like circular needles, especially because I can use them if I don't have the appropriate size of straights for a lot of projects. I just wish I had a better way to store them all! Oh, and as long as we're talking needles, I loves my bamboo dpns! Especially the sock ones--they're really short, and that's just awesome, imo.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yes, and I'm absolutely in love with them!!

17. How did you learn to knit?

I taught myself out of a book. It was a rough start at first, as I messed up the stitches & didn't realize it for a long while, and was simply knitting incorrectly for a long time. When I figured it out, I put the needles down in disgust & didn't pick them up again for two months. When I finally *did* pick them up again, I was armed with a new book & a lot more determination, and here I am! I've never had a single lesson, and have only had to have one or two things shown to me. I have to admit, I'm very proud of that--I taught myself to crochet out of a book as well.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?

Well, it depends on how you look at it...if it's knitting only, then the oldest one is only a week or two old. If it's anything, well, I started a beautiful crocheted blanket for my youngest son a couple years ago. It's blue & yellow, with white accents, and it's been languishing untouched for AGES. I feel really guilty about it, because he was very excited about the blanket. Oy.

19. What is your favorite holiday?

I really love Christmas! I can't decide if it's more fun to be the mom, who gets to decorate the house, & plan everything, & do all the shopping, or if it's more fun to be the kid, who gets to live with such incredible anticipation, and doesn't have to pay the bills. I'm very much into the whole cozy family holiday thing. It helps that I have a cozy family, though. I also really love Thanksgiving, because I looooves me some turkey! Fourth of July is fun, too, because it's all warm & sunny & beautiful out, and the boys just love the fireworks. Any excuse to break out the grill is a worthy holiday in my book.

20. Is there anything that you collect?

Yarn? Heh... Well, technically, not really, but I suppose you could say I collect books. Especially good cookbooks, and antique books, and mysteries. And history books. And cat related books (fiction or non). And knitting books. And cross stitch pattern books. Um, yeah, I collect books. And sock yarn. And other yarns. I also sort of collect really really old cartoons, like the picture show shorts from the 20s through the early 50s. I've got several good sets of early Disney cartoons (LOVE Mickey Mouse, & the weird Silly Symphonies!), and some cheap dvds of really early Warner Brothers ones. Black & white or color, I love them all. But mostly yarn. And books.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Oooh, this could be a dangerous question! I'm insane with lust over Malabrigo yarn, and most sock yarns. I'd love to get my paws on the Vogue Stitchionary, and the second Stitchionary (it's supposed to be all cables!!). Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks looks way too cool as well, and I'd really love to read Wendy Knits. I'd love any cool sock books, and any good lace ones too (A Gathering of Lace is gawgeous!!). I'm a pattern hoarder, and I'm nutty about sock patterns, lace patterns, cabled/aran patterns, and really pretty much anything. I keep most of my patterns in a three ring binder, so I'd be happy to have individual, single patterns, too! I'm really curious to work with Meunch Touch Me yarn someday--it's so bloody expensive (and for so little yardage!), I've never actually bought any, but oooh, it feels nice! I really want to try making a pair of fuzzy feets out of it...I hear it has a wool core, so it felts into a fabric that's just like velvet. Mmmm... I know this isn't really a knitting book, but I've been lusting after Jane Greenoff's Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers for ages. There's a pattern in there for an old map of England that I'm dying to make!! Yes, I'm a hopeless geek. Ooh, and any Nancy Bush books, too...the only one I own is Knitting Vintage Socks. She's always got such neat patterns! As far as magazine subscriptions, I already subscribe to Interweave Knits, which is fabulous. I'm honestly not all that impressed with many of the others, though, so this is the only one that I get.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Oh heck yeah! Actually, there really aren't any I *don't* want to learn! Steeks won't be for many many moons to come, but I'll get to them eventually. Colorwork will hopefully be within the next year or so, and lace will be (hopefully) started yet this month sometime. I consider pretty much every aspect of knitting to be an enjoyable challenge, and am always looking forward to the next new thing. I also really want to learn to spin, and hope to get myself a drop spindle & how-to book sometime soon, and one day (when I'm considerably wealthier, with lots more room to spare), I'll have an actual spinning wheel. How cool is that??

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Absolutely!! I've been pretty much addicted to socks from the get-go. Um, I'm not sure what foot measurements you'd need...I wear about a size 6 1/2 shoe (american, obviously), and my foot is approximately nine inches long. They're a little on the narrow side, and I have no arch at all (really! I leave flat footprints when my feets are looks like a giant duck walked through...). Oh my, I would loooove a nice pair of hand knitted socks! It sure would be nice to have something to compare my own efforts to, and honestly, who doesn't love hand knitted socks?!

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)


Sorry for the length of the post, y'all...I am nothing if not loquatious, and I'm a sucker for these goofy poll/questionnaire things.