Zarzuela Knits and Crochets
My blog about my knitting, crocheting, and anything else I feel like ranting about!

Mariah Monday

Yale 3 - Brown 5
Yale 3 - Harvard 5

Despite these scores I had a wonderful weekend. Earlier this month I had gotten tickets to the Brown game so Dad came out Friday afternoon and we got our hockey fix. During the game, an announcement was made that there were still standing room tickets for the Harvard game. I just about freeked. Dad didn't seem to interested in standing but I went to check it out anyway. However, the ticket booth was closed! Apparently they made the announcement just after they closed up for the night. Geniuses. One of the staff did tell me that if I showed up at 6pm tomorrow night they would be open and I might be able to get them then. Dad and I said "Why not?!" and ended up getting to the rink at 5:30 only to be greeted by a guy outside asking if we needed tickets. Now if you could have seen the sideways glance we both gave the guy you would have laughed. I'm thinking "Scalping at a Yale hockey game?!" and Dad was thinking pretty much the same with the addition of "Buddy. Who do you think you're trying to kid. We're from NEW YORK!". Long story short, our cynicism was for nothing. The poor guy's wife got sick so she couldn't go to the game and he had to be a "good boy" (his words) and not go too so he sold them to us at face value!! *Me doing the happy dance* So not only did I finally get to see a Yale Harvard game but we got SEATS! We were three rows up behind one goal. Not bad at all. Unfortunately the outcome was not so good, but Yale really did stick with them (they haven't been having a very good season). So Dad and I got our hockey fix...But I may start twitching from the withdrawal any time now. Damn the NHL for not getting this season straightened out.

In other news, between hockey games there was even an opportunity for yarn purchase without going off the self inflicted yarn diet. Eklectika e-mailed on Friday afternoon about going to the Fabric Place on Saturday afternoon. At first I wasn't going to go since my Dad was here but he told me to go! How cool is that?! Another New Haven SnBer joined us and off we went. I got my yarn for the next 6 sox pattern:

We need three colors so I'm going to use this and the leftover Koigu from the beaded socks. These will be very patriotic I guess. The new pattern comes out tomorrow and I can hardly wait. A hint was posted so I at least know that they will be three colors and toe up from the looks of things.

On the Mariah front, my sleeves have made it through another pattern repeat:

And I think I finally really figured out the decrease at the break between cables so it's not quite so full of holes this time (but you'll note that I didn't go back and fix the others. I'm not a picky knitter):

Thank god for the learning curve. This repeat went much faster. I still have to get a good measurement as to how long I really need to make these. I also finished one part of the front:

I went overlength by one inch on this but I figured I should take better measurements of myself before I frog it back. I'm rather tall so the extra length might not hurt. I plan on casting on for the other side in the next couple of days.

Unfortunately, I must now return to my dreaded schoolwork. Did I mention classes started last Monday? I have been blissfully trying to ignore this fact and can do so no longer. *Sigh*

In my next post you can expect my answers to the music questionnaire that's been going around now that Lauren has tagged me. I knew it had to happen sooner or later, but now I have to make sure I have respectable answers. Afterall, my professional standing could depend on it. ;)

Why do we do this?

There was a great post on Zeneedle yesterday about why we do this knitting or crocheting thing and a lot of people posted some interesting comments. Nothing like a good thoughtful post to get the brain going (abject apologies for making anyone think on a Friday!). So, I thought I would use my thoughts as blog fodder for myself cause I'm selfish like that. :)

I think I personally do this because at the end I have something tangible that I can show for my effort. As most of your know, I'm a musician first and foremost (although it's getting pushed off more and more these days it seems). I have spent the majority of my life expending countless hours of effort trying to perfect something that can't be perfect and is completely ephemeral. When you think about it, it's no wonder so many musicians are seen as "weird" or go completely mad. Being a performing musician is something that is never "finished". There is always some phrase that could be better somehow whether better means cleaner, faster, slower, softer, louder or a million other things. And the worst part (or the best part depending on your perspective) is that no matter how good it is, someone will always have something to say. Someone will always love it, and someone will always hate it. That is just the way it is with this art.

I think that's why I love to knit and crochet so much. In the end, I have a finished product that I can hold in my hand and say "I did this and here it is". Sure, someone will always have something to say about some stitch could be better or whatever, but it does have an end. And I control that end. And I can see that end coming sometimes and that is why I become so impatient. After putting so much effort and emotion into something that has no end and has no perfection for so long it is nice to do something that can be completed and can last more than an instant. So I guess it's not about the process for me, it's about the accomplishment and the tangible nature of that accomplishment. Apparently I am a product knitter/crocheter. And then there is always the "my hands a freekin' freezing and I want mittens NOW" motivation too. :)
So why do you do this?

Baby it's cold outside!

Ok. When I got up this morning, it was 5. It's now 9. I'm done. You can turn it off now! For your viewing pleasure, here is what I look like when I leave the house these days:

Kind of like Darth Vader without the plastic helmet! Please note that Coronet and my Morehouse scarf are being well used with the assistance of a little Lion Homespun scarf that I made several years ago so I can breathe. Isn't winter wonderful...NOT?!

On to better things. I managed to finish the right front of Dusty the other night and I've started on the other front part.

You'll notice that there isn't much progress on the other front part. Here's why:

I have begun to now realize why I never seem to get as much done as I think I should. It's rather difficult when something warm and fuzzy wants to sit on your lap and you are freezing anyway so you just can't make it go away. This all wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that said fuzzy and warm thing also wants to play with/eat your yarn and/or hook/needles! Not exactly conducive to accomplishing anything.

Simba did get quite a bit of entertainment last night though thanks to my friend Karen loaning me her ball winder and swift to get my Morehouse laceweight in order. See:

I really need a professional photographer on staff here at Zarzuela Knits and Crochets because I was not fast enough to get the pic of when she decided to try and climb IN the swift. No joke. And I predicted it. Does a mother know her kid or what?! Let's just say I did manage to avert disaster and both the swift and the yarn are all very happy and cozy now.

In other news, my toe up socks haven't been going anywhere fast lately:

I'm done with the increases and I'm working on the foot now but I just haven't worked on them much. I hope to remedy that tonight sometime. I think the thing that's getting in the way the most is the fact that the cable on these needles is 60 inches! Definitely a bit more than I needed but they were the only size three addis I could find when I bought them.
And to leave you with another bit of fun, check out this blog where you can find more support for your yarn habit.
I'm now off to figure out how many layers I can actually wear and still be able to move...

Mariah Monday

I had a real *what the F*#$* moment today. First, thank you thank you thank you to the angel that shoveled my steps for me! I couldn't believe it. It's a little path, but it was enough for me to get in and out without shoveling or killing myself. You would think that maintance would do it but they haven't before so I was totally shocked. Second, half my car was clean! I think that was the wind. Only thing that makes sense. Third, and this is where life really got weird, the roads were FINE! Now it's not that I think people don't do their jobs or something but I was expecting something crudy out there. Even New Haven was fine! The worst spot was the ramp in my parking garage. My shock is of course due to the fact that usually if we get say, four inches, you can't freeking drive or walk anywhere. But a foot and things are fine?! I guess they decided, "Oh well if it's REALLY gonna snow then I guess we'll get serious." Whatever! It's times like this I actually miss Buffalo only because they actually know how to get rid of this stuff.
Anyway, I know you all can't wait to see this so here it is:

Two Mariah sleeves with one pattern repeat done and the second one on the way. Sorry the pic is kind of dark but the flash totally kills all definition with this color. See the little breaks in the cable pattern toward the top? I had a little bit of a freek out when I realized what was happening. I couldn't tell from the pic in the knitty that this is actually correct. However, I was able to e-mail the knitalong list and be bailed out almost immediately. Yes I am doing it right. Whew! The only thing that is bothering me a bit is the rather large holes at the end of the cable in the middle. I know this is due to the fact that I can't seem to do the decreases and increases right, but at least I have something that works. I also got extra encouragement from seeing the pics that Carolyn posted on her blog (thanks again!).
So I am progressing. Slowly. I'm starting to think I need another project that is more geared toward instant gratification. I have a bunch of woolease and freezing hands so I'm thinking mittens or gloves. I'd love to do some thrummed mittens, but unless someone wants to trade a bunch of skeins of woolease (umm...anyone?!) for some wool, I don't think I have the cash for the roving at the moment. And I haven't looked at the socks I'm working on in a while. Maybe I should go back to them...
So anyone care to share some good glove or mitten patterns that are out there for free on the 'net?

What I did during the blizzard

Nothing like a classic New England Blizzard to make your weekend...

Here's before:

And this is after:

Now mind you I have witnessed worse. I was in Buffalo a few years ago when they got 7 feet in a couple days. Yes that's correct, FEET, not inches. Believe me, that was interesting.

My favorite thing is probably this:

There were stairs there as noted in the pic. Tomorrow I will have to attempt to find them if I want to go to work. I'll be damned if I'm going out there today because a) I don't have to go to work today and b) the windchill is negative whatever.

So I did my civic duty and stayed inside Friday night, Saturday and will continue to do so today. Here's what I've been working on:

Dusty Miller was commanding some attention so I finished off the back on Friday and started working on the front Saturday. Here's a closeup:

I love how it's coming out but it is going quite slowly. There is just way too much single crochet in this pattern so it doesn't build up very fast. The yarn is also driving me a bit crazy. It's Lion Brand Woolease but for some reason this color seems to be splitting a lot more than other colors I've used before. That makes the front post triples a bit of a challenge.

By the way, thanks for all the comments on the last post. Nice to know that I'm not totally insane and others not only do it this way but have heard of it before! I think I wore myself out with that post though which is why I haven't done anything since. I've been working on Mariah too...but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the update.

Stay warm!

I am a weird ass knitter...


That happy box could only mean one thing:

My books arrived! They are great so far. And after about 10 min. of looking at SnB Nation I made an amazing discovery. I really am a weird ass knitter! Allow me to demonstrate.

I thought up until now that I knit some sort of continental way but wasn't really sure what the difference was. Here is how you should knit a stitch continental style (for a right hander anyway):

While holding the yarn in the left hand, insert the needle from left to right in the front loop of the first stitch,

Wrap the yarn over the top of the needle,

and pull it through the stitch and off the needle.

Here's how I usually do it:

Insert the needle from left to right through the back loop,

Wrap the yarn over the top of the needle,

Pull the yarn through and off the needle.

Ok. So I knit into the back loop. No big deal. Some patterns call for this at times, I just do it all the time. That's fairly unamazing. The amazing part comes when I do I purl stitch. Here is what you are supposed to do:

Insert the needle from right to left into the front loop,

Wrap the yarn over the top of the needle from front to back,

Pull the yarn through the stitch and off the left needle.

Here's how I usually do it:

Insert the right needle into the front loop from right to left (same as above),

Since the yarn is behind the right needle, push the right needle through the loop on the left needle with the yarn behind the right needle,

Pull the stitch off the left needle.

And look, when done in this combination the fabric comes out just fine.

(My apologize for the quality of the pictures here but it's really hard to set up the camera and do the timer thing and get what you want when you don't have five hands!)

No twisted stitches there. So apparently my method of purling is completely weird. Who knew?! This explains why I can never teach anyone else who has already learned something from someone else and why I can never figure out what the heck other people are doing. Great mystery solved.

The biggest problem with my method, I get twisted stitches when I work in the round. On socks and such I have to knit the "real" way or my stitches are twisted. In the flat, no problem. This also explains the problem I had when I started the Quick Cable Sweater. Lauren had shown me that my stitches on my magic stripes socks were twisted and how to do a knit stitch properly. But when I tried to do the sweater on the flat and it involved purling it came out twisted.
So there is my discovery. Just had to share. And now back to my weird ass knitting...

I'm a bad blogger


That inquisitive little sheep can only mean one thing,


So yesterday since four of us from our SnB group had the day off we decided to take a trip to Morehouse Farm's Sheep's Clothing store in Milan, NY. It's about a two hour drive from here and since the weather didn't get as nasty as predicted the night before we were able to go. I also happen to have grown up about 45 min. from where the store is located so it's kind of like going home for me and I know the area fairly well.

This has got to be the coolest yarn shop in the world. First of all, it's big! You can actually walk without tripping over stuff or knocking something over which always seems to be a problem for me. They have a great display of their yarns in just about every color you can think of and they have lots of samples knit up and displayed all over the store for inspiration. Their yarns are so soft they are just amazing. You almost wouldn't know it was wool. I did this scarf after I went their the first time and I absolutely love it. Not only was the pattern great but I don't mind the yarn around my neck (I'm slightly allergic to wool. The really scratchy stuff makes me nuts but this stuff doesn't bother me a bit.)

Speaking of that scarf, I love their kits. They have lots of original patterns which they package up with all the yarn you need to make them. If you can't find a kit with the colors you want, you can build the kit yourself. If you go to the store and don't mind working with it, you can also use skeins that have breaks in them and they knock off a couple of dollars a skein because of the "defect".

I went in thinking that I would get some sort of hat kit. I really liked this one, but I was also thinking about this one and the matching mittens. Unfortunately, the samples proved that the hats wouldn't fit my big head and I also decided I'm really not a mitten person. Too hard to get out the keys and stuff.

So did I go away empty handed? Heck no!!!

I finally decided that I wanted something in this yarn that was wearable and more significant than a hat or scarf. So there it is. Eight skeins of Morehouse Laceweight and the pattern for the Lace Cardigan. This is really a beautiful sweater. It's done from the top down on size 3 needles and the sample seemed light as a feather yet totally warm and cozy. I think it will be a nice sweater for all types of weather from slightly chilly to downright cold. I've never knitted anything top down either so I'm interested to see how this turns out.
Apparently I wasn't the only one that liked this pattern. Two out of the other three people in the group bought supplies for it too! You can expect a "three muskateers" pic on here when we are all finished for sure.
After a grabbed a cup of hot cider (did I mention they always have coffee, cookies and munchies there too?! This place is heaven!), we made our way across the Hudson River to Amazing Threads. This store is much smaller but has a nice selection of different types of yarns and a great selection of Addi turbos including the Bamboo ones. They even had a couple of spinning wheels which I always love to look at even if I have no idea how to use one. They also had a bunch of buttons which we looked at for the Lace Cardigans but none of us ended up buying any. My Mom also met us there and came out to dinner with us which was nice too.
All in all it was a great day. But I am a bad blogger. I brought the camera. Did I take any pictures? NO!! *Smacking myself on the forehead* I was obviously far too overwhelmed by all the amazing yarn to be using my brain in any other capacity.
So I am now officially on a yarn diet until March (with the noted exceptions in the post including my New Year's resolutions). I think I have plenty to keep me busy for quite a while. Now I need to get my toe up socks off the needles so I can start the Morehouse Cardi!

Mariah Monday

Hartford 4 - Bridgeport 0

Hockey night was so fun! The civic center is easy to get to, we parked pretty close, got out of town fairly easily and look at the fun freebie we got:

I look like hell in hats so that's the best pic you are gonna get. I even managed to survive the fact that it was "scout night" and there were a billion little boys there who also apparently were sleeping over that night (I find this totally bizarre and commend the chaperones for their willingness to sacrifice all sanity). Although Bridgeport came on pretty strong in the 2nd period, the Hartford goalie wasn't letting anything by and managed to get the shutout in the end. It was so cool that if I get a real job and have the cash and stay within striking distance I may just get season tickets. I will by no means become a Rangers fan, but I think I can just be a Hartford fan. Of course if I ever get back to Buffalo they may run me out of town if they find out.

In knitting news, I've decided that in order to not make this blog mind-numbingly boring, we are just going to have "Mariah Mondays" and that will be the only days I share my progress on that project with you. Here are this week's pics:

That is the two sleeves (which I'm doing at the same time and am actually quite thankful that I decided to do it that way) and the left front. The front part has finally reached the mindless part, so it's a good thing for times that I don't want to pay attention too much.

You can really see the big cable coming to life on the sleeve now:

I've actually managed to train myself to do the cables on the sleeve without a cable needle and I'm really liking it. The only one that I haven't quite figured out without the aid of the cable needle is the one that involves 6 stitches where you slip three, knit two, put the purl stitch back on the left needle and purl it, then knit the last two. I get it, but I just can't do it without the cable needle just yet.

I've also started to increase at the sides. Someone else in the knitalong forgot to do this and had to reknit the sleeve already. This is one of those things that I normally do so I was very grateful that someone else did it first to remind me not too! Having the knitalong while working on the project is really a wonderful resource for many reasons.

My next post (hopefully tomorrow) will be all about the adventure I had today. Stay tuned!

Mom reads the blog!

I really meant to post earlier in the day but I suddenly found myself running out to a concert. Such is the life of a starving artist I guess.

So I have a bunch of random stuff to catch you all up on.

I was finally accepted into the New England Knits webring over the holidays and I don't think I ever posted about it so...yay me!

Check out the hit counter! I'm over 1,000 hits!! Yay me again! :)

Lauren e-mailed me yesterday to go check out Lolly who may be starting a blog about her adventures in Librarianship. When I went over there I discovered the Librarians who Knit webring and immediately joined. I got approved almost as fast! So ya'll know I'm in Library School and I'm an apiring music cataloger, right? In fact, my very last semester starts on the 24th. I'm not exactly looking forward to it. Afterall, I've been at this higher education thing since 1996 (oye!), and I'm VERY nervous about the job market. But the fact that there is actually light at the end of the tunnel is kind of a nice feeling. I will be yelling "no more teachers, no more books..." at the top of my lungs come May. You'd better believe it.

Third, apparently my Mom reads the blog as evidenced by the beginning of this e-mail I received yesterday:

"Hi Jess, So Mom kick's ass!!! Nice to know. ;-))"

Definitely file that under random things that make me happy. :) And speaking of things that make me happy,


I'm so excited I could spit (but I won't). My dad is coming out on Saturday and we're off to see the Hartford Wolfpack play the Bridgeport SoundTigers. Yeah yeah, I know. It's only the AHL and it's kind of like watching the Rangers play the Islanders...but for gods sake it's HOCKEY. I'm so in withdrawal I pulled out my "Miracle" DVD the other night. I'm beginning to fear that I may wear it out before spring. So I wonder if I can knit or crochet while I watch the game? Never tried that one before. There's always a first time. We're also going to the Yale vs. Brown game at the end of the month too. I'm afraid we both might go into shock seeing two games in one month. I'll keep you posted.

Next month I'm going to Vancouver, BC for a conference. I was hoping to hook up with the Vancouver SnB but they apparently only meet on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month and I'm coming home the day before the 3rd Monday. :( They did recently post some LYS details on their blog though so maybe I'll be able to sneak away for a little fiber bliss during the conference. If anyone has any tips for things that must be done while in Vancouver (fiber related or otherwise) do share!

I finally ordered by books from Amazon last night. I got both Stitch n' Bitches and the Knitting in Plain English book. Since no one here had anything to say about it, I'll just have to do a review for future blog fodder. Can't wait to see those happy boxes from Amazon. And oh yeah...I ordered my book for my class too. :-P

So I know we're like, halfway through January already but I think I've finally formulated a short "knitting and crochet resolution list" for this year. It reads as follows:

1. Do more things for me (that was a real rarity until recently).
2. Learn to knit with more than one color in a pattern (not just stripes).
3. After this long holiday weekend, don't buy any more yarn* until my birthday (in March).
* Yarn purchased with gift certificates or while out of the country, or because I need it for the new sock in the 6 sox knitalong does not count.

Short, sweet and to the point. I think it works. Anyone else have any resolutions?

I've also found some fun stuff on some other blogs lately. Check out the counter near the top of this blog. Love it!
This post also kinda cracked me up. Mostly because I kind of had a knitting slumber party at my place for New Year's.
I've also seen several blogs do this list so I thought I'd give you mine. Yes I'm jumping on the bandwagon but I think these things are kind of a fun getting-to-know-you sort of thing.
Grooming Products
Shampoo: Suave Naturals.
Conditioner: Matrix Curl Life
Moisturizer: Neutrogena something or other...
Toothpaste: Mentadent

Cell phone: LG something or other from Verizon
Computer: HP Omnibook xe4400s laptop with a Linksys wireless network I installed myself.
Television: 27 inch Sanyo in the livingroom and a 12 inch Orion in the bedroom.
Stereo: The one I bought before I went off to college with one of my scholarships from my little High School. And my computer and iPod of course.
Sheets: IKEA at the moment.
Coffee-maker: Godiva
Car: 1996 GMC Jimmy.
Stationery: E-mail.
Bottled water: Got a Brita but I occasionally buy Stop n' Shop.
Coffee: Not allowed any more (but when I do it anyway it's Starbucks).
Vodka: Vanilla something my Polish friend gave me at Bassoon camp. (It's so good I actually remember drinking it!)
Beer: ICK!
Tea: Celestial Seasonings mostly.
Jeans: Old Navy bootcut or weekenders.
T-shirt: Also Old Navy.
Briefcase or tote: My felted bag.
Sneakers: I believe a pair of Nike's exist in the depths of my closet somewhere.
Watch: Cell phone.
Favorite Places (in no particular order)
Moraine Lake, Banff, Alberta, Canada
HSBC Arena
Home (as in Mom and Dad's house)
Lake Minnewaska State Park
Necessary Extravagances
Cottonelle Toilet Paper (cheap toilet paper really pisses me off for some reason)
Slightly more than basic cable (or I wouldn't get ESPN!)
Hockey tickets
Yarn of course!
In my next post I promise pictures of some project progress!! (Say that three times fast!)

Braving the cold

Look what I decided to be brave and wear the other day:

Yep. Them stylin' beaded socks. Just thought I would share some observations.

1. The cuff is too short. I don't like cold breezes up my pants leg in winter.
2. If you cross your legs at the ankles, which I apparently do more frequently than I realized, those beads HURT!
3. Koigu is amazing. My feet were definitely comfy and warm all day.
4. That's just the greatest color isn't it? :)
5. They make an interesting rhythm while going through the washing machine (and they came out completely unharmed by the way).

Overall I have to say I'm very happy with them. Just have to remember not to cross my legs at the ankles when wearing them.

I've done more work on Mariah's sleeves and the learning curve is improving. It isn't taking me nearly as long to finish a row although it does take a bit more concentration than most things I've been doing until now. I'll spare you the pics since I know everyone is going to be sick of looking at this thing by the time it's done. I did manage to figure out how to do the big cable without the cable needle after really sitting down with it and concentrating on what I was doing. I also learned a couple of things about this method.

1. If you are going to do a purl stitch first, put the yarn in front BEFORE you do the slipping of the stitches. Then it is right there and waiting when you are done instead of needing to put the last stitch back on the left needle, rehook it and then purl it.
2. If you kind of squeeze the stitches toward the needle before you slip them off, it is easier to get them back on the needle.

In a feeble attempt to keep things interesting here I tried to start a toe up sock last night using the Queen Kahuna book. You'll notice that there isn't a pic here. That's because there is nothing to show. I guess I just wasn't in the frame of mind for learning something new because I could NOT get the thing to work. I'll give it another try this week and see what happens. Anyone ever use this method and have some hints for getting it going? I was able to cast on but after that I was toast.

Many thanks to those of you who left book suggestions on my last post. They were all very cool. The biggest problem is that I really CAN NOT go over $30. This gift card is one of those that if you go over the spending limit it just gets refused. A bit of a problem. I did find a book that was within the price range though on another search. It's Knitting In Plain English by Maggie Righetti (which is awfully close to Righini for any other bassoon geeks out there). Does anyone out there have it? What do you think? I kind of think I'll like it because of her sense of humor (at least what I can tell from the couple of pages that are up on Amazon) and I'm interested in some of the finishing techniques, the hints for working with more than one color (which I admit I haven't learned yet) and the fact that it fits the price guideline and gets me free shipping! If you know it, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

I leave you today with a pic of one of my fav Xmas presents from this past Xmas. I saw this in a little Xmas shop near home when I was out with my mom one day and exclaimed how cute it was. Mom therefore had to go back and get it when I went back to CT (have I mentioned my mom kicks ass?!). It is very nice to come home to a cup of hot tea after being out in the cold and dealing with many idiotic CT drivers. File this under "random things that make me happy".

I'm a bad KALer

I'm a bad knitalonger. I admit it. I started early. I just couldn't help myself. There was all that lovely yarn just sitting there looking sad and lonely. It had even found needles to play with, just needed someone to work them. And the pattern! The pattern was all ready, polished up and waiting. What's a girl to do?!

So I did it. I started Mariah. Here's what she looks like so far:

(Can I just say this color is a bitch to photograph!) Not too impressive I'll admit. But it's just a start. The top part is the left hand side of the front. The bottom two parts are the sleeves. I decided to do both sleeves at once because I am insane wanted to make sure they were both done exactly the same.

I started the sleeves one night, I think it was friday, and got the bottom ribbing done. Then saturday between rehearsal and the concert I went to Panera, parked myself in the cushy chair by the fireplace and spent about two and a half hours doing the next four rows of the chart.
Yeah. Scary.
Granted I screwed up more than once and had to "tink" but that's still over 30 min. a row.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The best part, I wasn't the slightest bit bored! This is a problem for me. I'm an instant gratification type when it comes to knitting and crocheting and it seems that I may just overcome this little character flaw with this pattern. But that's still a lot of time for a couple of rows.

So in order to preserve what little sanity I have left, I decided to start one of the front pieces. My reasoning is that there are only five inches of the easy cable pattern on the front and after that it is basic stockinette and some shaping. When my visit to "sleeve island" gets to be too much I figure I can take a vacation and go to the mindless part and still feel like I'm accomplishing something.

Here's a closeup of one of the sleeves so far:

See the little cables at the bottom? I learned how to do them without a cable needle! Someone on the KAL posted this link which has a great tutorial of how to do cable stitching without a cable needle. I must admit, the part where you take the stitches off the needle is a bit scary, especially with my current "splitty" yarn, but it really works and is a lot easier to do. I'll admit though, once I got into the big knotwork pattern I went back to the cable needle just because my poor little brain could not handle the chart AND the no cable needle deal at once. We must not short circuit the brain. It is still needed for at least another semester.

Check out the cute stitch markers Sami gave me!

I just love the kitty with the blue tummy! My friend knows me so well. :)

And now...

The Dilemma of the Week

And now I need your help on my latest dilemma. Here's the deal. I am also a bad SnB member in that I still do not own either book! I attempted to remedy this last night by ordering them both from Amazon but I ran into a bit of a problem. I have a $30 gift card that I want to use. The SnB books come to $19.33. Then amazon tells me "Wait! Add $5.67 to your order to qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping". That sounds like a good idea to me. Why pay shipping when you can get another book right?

So this is were you come in. I have a lot of crochet books and not too many knitting books. That's just the way my crafting life has gone. So I need suggestions.

What knitting book should I not be living without and can I get that will be more than $5.67 but make my total less than or equal to $30?

Please don't think I'm some evil math teacher from your past trying to trick you into using your highly developed calculus skills. I just really want to know what knitting book I've been living without that will change my life when I find it. Please leave a comment to let me know. Thanks!

Making progress...

Somehow it seems that I still feel like I'm playing catch up from the holidays. Weird. I should be well rested seeing as school doesn't start until the 24th... but I'm not. This must be one hell of a hangover! ;)

Anyhow, as promised here is a little pic of what I got on the trip to Webs on Dec. 31st:

Say it with me now... Ma-ri-ah!!!! Yes, yes...there it is. All ready to go. I've even swatched already if you can believe that (I never swatch. Only for special occasions. Actually, it was New Year's. Maybe just holidays.)

All that lovely stuff you see is Jo Sharp Soho Summer Dk Cotton in Colour (no I'm not Canadian...at least not yet [after that whole election thing I wish I was. {Did anyone watch Will & Grace last night?! *Whoa...you know you've done way too many parenthetical statements when you run out of types of brackets!*}]) 228 Calico (umm...hello Jo Sharp people! It's cream for cryin' out loud. Doesn't look a thing like a cat).

Yummy definitely describes it. According to the label it is "Luxury Handknitting Yarn" of "Unsurpassed Quality". Ok. Nothing like tooting your own horn a bit. But it really is nice. It's very soft and feels wonderful to work with although it is a bit "splitty" (is that a word? If not I'm calling Webster's. I should have some pull being a future librarian and all...). And with the Addi turbo in size 7 pictured above I even get gauge! Kick ass. I also bought a size 8 Addi Turbo just to fill out the collection. I needed that size to do Coronet and had to borrow it from Sami (thank you again!) so I figured it couldn't hurt.

Webs really is an amazing place. The first amazing thing about it is that it is not the size of your average linen closet unlike many other yarn stores I've been to. The last time I was there they were rearranging a bit but now they have an entire wall of needless, notions and whatnot. I think they had just about every size and length Addi you can imagine and bunch of other brands of needles. The only thing they didn't seem to have was the Clover birch cable needle Sami was looking for. Oh yeah, and they didn't have any good colors of Koigu...but at $6.50 a skein I can understand why. If only there had been a good use for puke green and orange (in the same skein no less).

The blowout sale stuff was in it's own room and that is where I found the Jo Sharp stuff. It was $29 for a bag of 10 skeins. Not bad considering I think it was normally $6.50 a skein! Of course being the paranoid knitter I am when it comes to clothing items I bought an extra bag just in case. I figure it can always become something else like a summer tank or something. I originally had not planned on doing Mariah in cotton or such a light color. I was really going for black but they didn't have any and the dark navy blue they did have they only had two bags of. I figure cream (or calico if you must. whatever.) is a more traditional aran knitting color and will still go with anything and everything. And the cool thing about cotton will be the ability to wear it almost year 'round. (Um...I am right on all this? Yes?!) After all the work that is going to go into this one you can bet I'm gonna wear this sucker and OFTEN! :)

Today I'm also proud to present the first finished object of 2005! Lookie!

I have beaded socks!! Yay!! :) I managed to finish them yesterday on my unexpected day off (this chicken doesn't go out when they say freezing rain, rehearsal or not). Thank you mother nature! :) I was really beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get these things done before the deadline. The foot took absolutely forever but the end result is quite nice. I really can't wait to wear them but I think it's going to have to warm up around here a bit. They are wool, but the cuff is really a bit short. They barely cover my ankles. I'm told this is so the beads are visible but I fear I'm going to be trying to pull them up all the time. I'll have to let you know. If you haven't tried sock knitting before *insert Jewish grandmother voice here*, try it! You'll like it!

I also managed to finish up my latest HMB ghan.

This one is going to the wife of a soldier who is being sent to Iraq this month. I guess she's a bit upset and I can totally understand why.

And speaking of people who are doing good things in the world, go check out I'm Knitting as Fast as I Can for a sock pattern you can purchase and your money will go to help the tsunami victims. You can also join a Knitalong for the sock pattern and other patterns which are all going to charity. And if you don't feel like your little bit will do something to help, go read the last few posts by Yarn Harlot and I think you might change your mind. When we all do something small to make the world a better place it adds up fast. I totally believe that.

Still recovering

Happy New Year everyone!

I can hardly believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post. Several people around blogland have been talking about the "time warp" phenomenon and I believe I am also a victim. I have no idea where the last week and a half have gone so fast! So I'll warn you now, this post is bound to be long so I hope you have a comfy chair and can sit back and read for a while!

I definitely had a nice Christmas. Christmas Eve was spent at my dad's boss's house where we ended up staying out until 1:30am! Not normal for my parent's or even for me in most cases, but we must have been enjoying ourselves. We finally all crawled out of bed around 10am on Christmas day and opened presents. Buster and Simba even managed to stay in the same room for five min. without killing each other while they opened their gifts from Santa. Buster even had a little fun with his:

Ok. So you can't really tell from the look on his face, but he wasn't biting anyone so I take that as a sign of happiness.

Simba went nutty over a little mouse on a cord attached to a stick. I think this is her favorite kind of toy. She also even managed to feign some interest in the present from her Mommy, Grandma and Grandpa:

We had to add a pinch of catnip to really get her interested but she does actually play with it. It was either that or the threat that I would give it to my friend Sami to play with if she didn't, one of the two.

Dad finally got his socks and they even fit!! :) Check it out!!

I can't tell you how happy I am about that! My first pair of socks and they actually fit a human being! *doing the Happy Dance*

We even managed to get my mom a present she actually liked, a DVD recorder with tape deck. She can now safely preserve the videos of me riding my horse from my teenage years. I was very proud of myself for managing to hook it up for her and get it working all by myself no less! Of course we haven't actually done any recording from tape to DVD yet but as usual, we ran out of time while I was home.

Santa was very good to me too. Among many other things I got the sock knitting book that I've been wanting and this bread machine! The bread maker is so kick ass! Not only does it do bread (and can handle heavy whole grain breads) but it can also make cakes, jam, doughs and meatloaf (which it will never do while in my possession. BLICK!). I was so excited I even had to bust it out Christmas day and make a loaf. It came out pretty well but we didn't have the bread flour it called for so once we got that it worked much better. If you've never had one and like fresh bread or are like me and are sick of paying $5 for an itty bitty loaf of something you can actually eat, I highly recommend making the investment.

The day after Christmas was spent making the trek to Long Island to visit the relatives. I also got to meet up with a friend who moved to Pittsburgh this past summer. The only really bad thing was that by the time we got out of the mall it was snowing like crazy and only 31 degrees. Can you say ice skating rink?! I'm not too happy driving down there under normal conditions but that was really not fun. By the time I got back to my aunt's house I was shaking like a leaf and trying to get my folks to stay the night. We, of course, went home and managed to arrive safely but I think I have a few more grey hairs (just what I need). I lived near Buffalo for four years, so I'm not afraid of snow, but this was not my type of snow.

While I was home I did manage (with Mom's help) to finish edging all the squares for the two HMB ghans I'm working on. Simba had to help of course.

After that time seemed to fly by and before I knew it I was back in CT. New Year's Eve involved a trip to Webs with Karen and Sami (which I think I will save the details of for tomorrow), a bachelorette party for my friend from High School, and coming back to my place to knit in the New Year with Karen and Sami. We stayed up way too late, I drank too much, but hey, we had fresh cinnamon raisin bread in the morning! :) We spent most of the rest of New Year's Day, knitting, chatting and generally hanging out. I even managed not to subject them to too much football.

I didn't really get as much knitting and crocheting done as I would have liked. I managed to finish coronet on Christmas:

Sorry the pic is so dark, but you get the idea. It's nice and warm and fits pretty well. I just have to manage not to felt it in the wash. Of course ever since I finished it we've only really had one cold day and the rest of the time it's been in the 40s and 50s!!

I've made some good progress on my beaded socks too:

Only about another inch to go and I can start decreasing for the toes. I'm dying to get started on Mariah but I'm not going to let myself until these and the HMB ghans are DONE!

I also managed to put a few more rows on the Dusty Miller in:

Not very exciting but this one is a bit slow going.
There has been little progress on any of these projects in the last two days. Sunday my friend from High School got married. I'd never been to a Jewish wedding before and I have to say, it was so beautiful it almost makes me want to convert...except for that whole problem I have with organized religion to begin with. Of course, being the sap I am, she didn't even get down the aisle and I was bawling. I have a hard enough time not crying when I'm playing a wedding for people I don't know. This was just too much. Besides, she has now destroyed my "I'm not old enough to get married" excuse, being two months younger than me. Childhood is officially over. What a blow to the brain.
And yesterday, it was back to work. Not just work, but rehearsals too. No slow break in for this working girl. And I'm working all weekend too.
When's the next day off???