Saturday, December 27, 2008

Four Christmases

Ok I realize that this post is a little old, but still... Here were my Christmases, in a nutshell...

#1: With the Roomies. We made fondue and I received a handknit scarf and handmade belt from Heidi, and a Snoopy Snowcone Machine from Vara. I used to have one as a kid and it brought back the memories...
Although I remember it being easier to get more shaved ice in 20 minutes than 1/2 a tablespoon:Christmas #2: Then I went home Christmas Eve and we made a scrumptious dinner.
And on Christmas Day I got a sewing machine!
Mom loved her hat and scarf.
Edward loved his hat...oh yeah, and mom got him this explanation needed.And the cats liked the box of treats and 20 toys from my mom's boss.Christmas #3: With the extended family. My grandma is so cute! Here she is enjoying the penguin calendar that my mom got her.
And my mom made my cousin a balloon-animal giraffe and stuck a 20 in it. Oh, Silly Aunt Nancy...
Family+presents+food= 8-)
I came away with...giftcards...and lots of 'em.Christmas #4: Dad's house. My stepmom Erin made a dessert ensemble topped with champagne and coffee...yum.
They gave me a GPS. 8-)And my bro gave my step-bro a 4' tall k'nex double ferris wheel kit. The three of us bypassed the Christmas movie to build away.
Tada!I wonder how it's coming since we stopped there...

And on the way back to mom's house, Edward and I took a long drive through the neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights...a great end to the holiday.

Hope you had a great Christmas and happy new year too!

Third time's a charm

Wow a month since my last post...let's not dwell...
Christmas of 2006 was my first Christmas as a knitter and I made the classic rookie mistake. "I'm gonna knit EVERYONE something!" I started in November--while a full-time grad student with an internship and a full-time job--and I of course failed. Shocking. Then last Christmas, I said, ok, I have full-time school and internship so I need to be realistic. I made real knitted things for the immediate family and closest friends and mini sweater ornaments for the extended family who I spend Christmas with (about 10 people). Success!

Then this year I got smart. I chose to again take the leap and make everyone something they could use to keep warm. Some tricks I used were: knitting random patterns I was curious about throughout the year sans intended recipient and hoarding them, and making stockinette hats in the round (Thank you Last-Minute Knitted Gifts). Seriously, people were amazed by how fast I could knit stockinette in the round--non-continentally, mind you--but you would be able to knit fast too after hat #16. Oh, another trick for those of us who are POOR. I used loads of Patons Classic Worsted Wool. Stocking up when it's on sale, of course. And swtiching up colors and knits & purls made it interesting.

So it was a success! Here is my pile of presents all wrapped up:
YES those are brown lunch bags. Hey, who else do you know who got 50 gift bags for $1.50? Some tacky glittered foam stickers and glitter glue later you have a gift bag. I also made chocolate lollipops (AKA I melted confectioner's chocolate into molds and put a stick in it) and tied them off with some spare lengths of yarn. Tada!

Here are some of my favorite presents:

A hat for my brother, Edward.

Another for TJ, my cousin.

A nose cozy for my dad...yeah he's a little weird.

He asked for it and was ecstatic when he open it.

Another hat for my stepbrother Xander.

My mom saw me knitting the Noro scarf by Jared Flood and said she wanted it. Usually she is half kidding and I brush it off, but since it was Christmas I gave it to her.

She loved it and wore it all day.

And I made this hat for my granddad. Immediately my grandmom was like, Yes! He needs one of those for his bald head! (paraphrased)

And for my bff I made the classic Fetching gloves. Again, I was originally going to keep them for myself but decided I needed to concentrate on Christmas.

So next year I hope to advance my Christmas present content with sweaters and socks...we'll see what happens. I should probably start in March.

For complete coverage of Christmas festivities, see my next post.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm smitten...

...with Craigslist. This is a story of having joy in a simple pleasure, let me warn you.

Ok, background story:

For a few years in the back of my mind I've been wanting a paper shredder. Every few months I'd be in Staples or Office Depot and I'd browse for one. There'd be little boxes of shredded paper in front of each shredder down the aisle, showing what each could do. As the size of the shards of paper in each box got smaller, the price of the accompanying shredder got higher, promising more and more security against those terrible identity thieves. I could never fathom spending $40 to $100 on something that I could do with scissors and lots of patience. Oh, what Americans will pay for out of fear... So for a while I've been sneaking bank statements and old bill notices in to work and stuffing them into the "secure" shred boxes, which would be emptied every month by a shady looking character working for a company that only goes around to hospitals to collect things to shred. They probably don't care that Joe Schmo has bipolar disorder, but I didn't trust them with my social security number and credit card information. Needless to say, I wanted to buy a shredder for my own.

So today while I was at work on a Sunday (long story) a light bulb appeared and I went on craiglist and typed "shredder" into the search column. This was at about 10:30am in Rocville. Two therapy sessions, the Sugarloaf Craft Festival, JoAnn's, and a car and metro ride later at 7:00pm, I was in Dupont Circle motioning to a concierge through a glass door. This is another story in itself. I had tried the door which was locked of course. He motioned to the side where one would hold a key card up to. I motioned, "nevermind" and began texting the seller but he came out anyway to ask what I needed. This is when it became interesting. He asked why I was there. I told him I was buying a shredder from someone who lives in the building; that I had just texted her and she would be coming down shortly. Then he stared at me, as if waiting for me to tell him the truth. What did he want me to say? Oh, I have chinese food takeout menus stuffed into my peacoat. I'm gonna sneak in and put them at every door. I'm doing a drug deal in the basement laundry room. Damn, you caught me. No, instead, I repeated my story a few times more. He continued to look at me as if I were a freakin liar. Then somehow we transitioned to talking about the apartment buliding. Why don't you rent here? he asked. Because I have a lease. Oh, one does that anymore. During our small talk he seemed to realize that I wasn't there as a criminal, as I stared at the elevator doors inside waiting for a woman to exit with a paper shredder in her hands. Finally a girl appeared with a large Sephora bag and clothing steamer, which I found out later she was selling to someone who had just pulled up.

I was tempted to say, See! see! But I'm not that caddy. He was a nice guy just trying to protect the building and who probably just didn't understand the art of buying on craigslist. As I sat down on a bench in the warm underground metro station waiting for my train I pulled out the shredder to admire it. It shreds paper forwards and backwards and has a letter opener and pencil sharpener as well. A good use of any extra voltage, or whatever it's called (I'm no electrical engineer). I looked at the paper shards that she had left in the teeth and tried to figure out what she had shredded. One looked like a check but the rest looked like text printed in a Word document. Hmm...I wonder what she has to hide.

I put it away then and listened to a violinist play a montage of Christmas songs. It was beautiful and after Silent Night I decided that I wanted to take up the violin again. The last time I held one was in the fourth grade. I played for a few months before my mother decided that I sounded like a dying cat and made me stop. Now I'm an adult. I have money to buy a violin and How to Play the Violin for Dummies. Hmm... Maybe I'll look for one on craigslist.

So the moral of the story...I spent years looking for a brand new shredder and never wanted to dish out the money for it, and then in a few hours I had a one for $10 (originally $40). And what made me really feel good is that I am being green by not buying a new one but taking one off someone else's hands. (almost) Everybody wins.

Sorry that this post had nothing to do with knitting...well almost nothing. I did work on wrist warmers as a Christmas present for my cousin Danielle on the metro ride:
Happy knitting!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Political commentary

I love the fact that I'm continually amazed by knitting. This weekend I discovered a new technique thanks to Cheryl Niamath and her Fetching pattern.Instead of "put next 7 stitches on a holder and continue knitting the rest of the round" followed by having to cast on, pick-up, and make huge gaps by mistake on following rounds, this pattern calls for knitting 7 stitches with waste yarn, putting them back on the left needle, then knitting the next round as normal. So essentially you are creating live stitches on top of each other. And it looks like the hand-to-thumb transition will be be snug. I'm sure most of you know of this technique since on Ravelry there are 7739 noted projects for this pattern. But if you haven't made them yet, do it! It is a fun little project.

Secondly, I am always astounded by blocking. I tried on this vest I'm in the middle of and it felt like it would most appropriately fit a 10 year old. So I doused it in water and streeeeeeeeetched it out to fit my measurements, and so far it looks like that did the trick!
Lastly, some political commentary, brought to you by Lion Brand who made up these cute patterns, and my sore hands, which have been crocheting for hours.

"My opponent wants to RAISE taxes"

"No, MY opponent wants to raise taxes"

I can't wait for November 4 when this will all be over.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Almost famous

This week I have put my projects on hold in order to make my brother these cashmerino convertible mittens. His birthday was the 21st. He turned the big 2-0.I was knitting them at SSK on Tuesday and Lisa was also knitting fingerless mitts and needed help learning how to do cables. I love teaching people to do cables because it's so easy and I love to see their face when they realize that. Anyway, she was making the Fetchings from, which I've been wanting to make for a while. They are one of the most popular patterns from the site. I looked at the pattern and realized that it calls for the same exact yarn I was knitting with and seeing that I had plenty extra at home I decided to make it. It might be a Christmas present, but we'll see. Here is my progress so far:
I got on a roll and stayed up too late.

Unfortunately, though, I've been neglecting my other knitting projects this week. Here is the Estes Vest everyone keeps asking about:All wadded up in a corner of the living room, in the same position for days. No I am not done yet. I just need to finish the second pocket then do the i-cord edging, which I hear takes forever.

And my Tilted Duster:Which has been in three pieces for the past couple of weeks.

And here is my Heidi stitch scarf, all frogged out. Didn't like it much. Used too small of a needle.
But here is the most exciting knitting thing that happened to me this week. I was purusing the knitting books on the way home from knitting night like I sometimes do, hovering because a cute guy was looking at home improvement books right near me, and my eye stopped on this new book:
It's part three of a series (also including One Skein Wonders and Designer One Skein Wonders) There were a few of the shiny new books there, all in a row, like they had been put there that day. I have been waiting for this book for a while. I honestly didn't think that it would come this soon. So why have I been waiting for it? Well I'll answer my own question (my pet peeve). It contains my first contract project, this crochet scarf designed by Amy.It's the brown scarf. It's not that I made that pattern; I made that scarf. As in, my little hands and size E hook manipulated the wonderful Blue Sky Alpacas Royal into a pattern Amy created, and then the scarf was shipped to the publisher who photographed it and printed it in this book. I know, I'm easily amused. Amy always tells me to not be impressed with her fame--the knitting/crochet community is not that big--but still, this is really cool to me.

She gave me a skein of this yarn as payment for my crocheting services, so I can make my own. This is part of the reason why I bought this book, since I forgot how to make the pattern already. I also just love the concept of this book. Being a youngin I can't afford too much of the ultra cher yarn, so when I do buy it I only want to buy one skein, just to try it out. This book is great for that. Yarn experimentation without emptying your bank account.

Go check it out yourself! Happy knitting...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pick your own

Today we went apple and veggie picking @ Larriland Farms near Olney/Laytonsville, MD. We had a really fun and exhausting time. On the way in we saw this girl take a tumble on a giant pumpkin and just had to get a shot of it. Cruel, yes.
It was a tid-bit nipply outside. The southern girls were sporting their hoods.
We started on the broccoli. Ever wonder how it grows? Like this:
I stocked up.
There was also spinach, but I passed...
But I was all about dem beets!Ali strangely had enough vegetables. I never thought that was possible.

We headed for the apples. They advertise 18 varieties, but this weekend only like 4 were available. They had some great ones, though. Stayman, Braeburn, Fuji, and Empire.

The staymans were the tallest.

She was actually off the ground here.

There was a lot of taste testing. Often followed by the descriptors "tart" or "sweet."
Heidi!Oops I tripped. It's my karma for eating apples I didn't pay for.
We stumbled upon some eggplant. Here's a wee one.
Me and my bff!
And this beauty of a green pepper.
We headed into the market/food/music area and watched this woman carve wood with a chainsaw and torch.
Ahh! I'm stuck under this glass.
And a punkin with some pumpkins. If whenever in the future I have a baby, and I do this, stop me please. It reminds me of Angela on the office when she draped the baby in lettuce. lol. This pumpkin had self-esteem issues.
This pumpkin was all scarred up. I felt bad for it and bought it. It's pretty cool actually.They had the weirdest butters and marmalades in the market. Besides the regular apple, pumpkin, and berry, they had pear, lemonade, and mint apple.
On the way home stopped in a real country store for some grub. I got an awesome pulled pork sandwich.
And back in Silver Spring, the trunk was full of fresh goodies to cook up.
What a great time! There was perfect fall weather and the day was full of great conversation, and old and new friends. Now I'm chillin at home and planning on finishing the Estes vest and perhaps the tilted duster, but don't quote me on that. Wait, err...

Hope your Saturday was fun too!