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

Instant gratification *or* What I did this weekend

Before I forget again, I wanted to share a link to a great needle organizer. You can download either a word or pdf file and have a list of your needles with you when you go shopping! There are other organizers on that site too including one for your stash.

So I went home on Saturday to finally play with the second part of my birthday present (or is it now an Easter present?!)

My swift! Can I just say this thing is HUGE! I had no idea it was going to be so big. Kinda crazy. It works quite well though and I've already done two skeins of yarn on it. Must get more! I got it from KnitPicks and intend to get some of their yummy yarn to go with it shortly.

Another fun thing I did was this:

Sophie before

Sophie after

Talk about instant gratification! I finished knitting Sophie on Sunday afternoon, felted her in Mom's machine (thanks mom!) and she was dry in time to leave for CT today. She was made on size 11 Addis with Cascade 220 and blocked according to the pattern suggestions (i.e. cardboard and plastic bags). The finished knitted size was about 11 x 13 and the finished felting size is now 7 x 8 (pretty close to the pattern). Ain't she cute? I think I'm going to get some kind of button clasp for her to finish her off. Any suggestions of what's best to use?

I'm really in a finishing mood. The clapper is close (into the decreases) and Mariah is just waiting for her yoke to be done and collar figured out. Better get to work...

Spending birthday money

Boy did I have a nice day yesterday! In the morning I did boring stuff (like getting an oil change) but the afternoon and evening were very nice indeed.

First Eklectica came over to my place with samples of some of the new Knit Picks yarns for me to pet. I really wanted to see some of them in person because it is just so hard to tell from the website exactly what you are getting (by the way, I just went to the site and they seem to have some new stuff! Woo hoo!). She brought some Elegance, shimmer and something else that I can't seem to remember at the moment. They were all so soft and nice! The color variations in the shimmer were really cool too. There are some things you just can't see online. I think I've finally made up my mind that I'm going to use Elegance for "A good bias". I also just joined the knitalong for this project here. I need to finish some other stuff before I get the yarn and start this one though.

Then we went on our trip to the Fabric Place to burn the $5 off coupons we had. This is definitely not a challenge at this store. You have to buy $25 worth of stuff to use it, but that also isn't hard. This place is totally my favorite LYS (even if it is about a 20 mile drive one way). Thursday I called to find out if they had a size 9 addi turbo in stock that was longer than 24 inches. The clapper just hasn't been a nice knit without one.

"Hello, my name is Jessica and I am an Addi Addict."
"Hello Jessica."

*ahem* Anyway, they had one! I was very happy but very skeptical that it would be there the following day much less that they might hold it for me. I asked anyway and they did! And they were so nice about it! It was so cool. Talk about service! That definitely gives them two thumbs up in my book. Even better, it was actually there when I got there. Another definite plus! Perhaps I am just a synical former NY'er but this is very impressive to me. So here's what I ended up getting:

Two skeins of Cascade 220 and my addi turbo. Nice huh?

Now I know what you are saying. "Holy cow, she's lost it now for sure. There is one skein in this pic and an empty addi bag!"

Fear not dear reader. While I am pretty looney these days I haven't lost it quite that much yet. The addi went directly into my clapper because I just couldn't wait. As for the other skein of 220, here it is:

You see the other great part about yesterday was that I had a spontaneous knitting date with my SnB buddy Sami! We had chinese food and then went to Starbucks to be deafened by the loud music knit the night away! And through some serious peer pressure (NOT!) we both started Sophie bags! Doesn't look like much in the pic, but hopefully it will become something much more interesting sometime soon. Yeah, I didn't really need to start something else, but what the heck. The bag is cute and I need some instant gratification in my life. I can totally understand why this yarn is so popular now too. It's feels really nice and is easy to work with. I'm using size 11 needles since I don't have 10.5s (I knew I should have bought another Addi while I was at the Fabric Place!) and it is producing a pretty loose fabric. I figure I'll just have to really felt the hell out of it in the end. Thank goodness felting is so forgiving. We'll see what happens.

And now dear readers I must prepare to flee the state of CT. It is Easter weekend afterall and if I don't get out of my pj's soon I'll never make it back to NY today. Have a great weekend everyone!

Do good


Spring my ass!

*Enough said*

So if you ever look at my sidebar under "Works in Progress" you have probably noticed that I have an afghan for HMB from December that I haven't finished yet. *Hangs head in shame* I seem to have been on a "me, me, me!" kick lately with Dusty and Mariah and such going. However, I started working on a square this morning for HMB. Apparently, a friend of my family who's baby was born prematurely this month has died. :( My mom (who finally joined HMB since I've been to busy to send her squares for her *hanging my head in shame again*) requested a ghan for them and asked me to make a square. I've decided to use the Ad Astra pattern from the HMB website for this square. I hope it brings the family some small measure of comfort. While I never plan on having kids myself, I can only begin to imagine how heartbroken they must be.

Here's my finished square:

So while I'm on the topic of one of my favorite charities (and since my guilt and not having done squat for them lately is obviously getting to me), I wanted to tell you about the great new e-book they just released! It's called Heartmade Squares and the patterns are just fabulous! You can see pics of the included square patterns here. It includes patterns and a joining method from blogland's own Crochet Dude, who is a fabulously talented artist and all around great dude. The book includes enough patterns to make a sampler afghan plus a way to put it all together and it's only $8.00! How can you beat that?! Best of all, the proceeds all go toward helping this wonderful organization accomplish their mission. It's available in eBook, PDF, or CD format.

So if you crochet or know someone who does, go get a copy! Do good!

end of advertisement ;)

I also did something a little fun today. I got tired of trying to knit my clapper with a cut up straw as stitch markers. Here's what that looked like:

So I went to Michael's on the way home from work, and thanks to this little tutorial I came up with these:

They were so easy to make! It only took about an hour and a half to do what you see here. I got lots of complements on them at SnB tonight. The only drawback so far was that they seem to add a lot of weight to the knitting. I made some lighter ones when I got home tonight and I will substitute them for some of these and use some of these for other projects. Total cost was about $10 and I had some gift cards so it was actually less than that. :)

Time for bed. I'm off to the Fabric Place tomorrow to burn that $5 off coupon!

No Jokin', I'm Yokin'!!

First, thanks to everyone for all the complements on Dusty and the new blog look. I must say that I'm pretty happy with both of them. I wore Dusty to work the other day because I just couldn't wait for her to wash and dry before I got to take her out on the town. I may even wear her again before she hits the washer. I know, I'm bad. But I can't help it! That was a lot of single crochet! I don't think I'm going to do any big projects for a while after I finish Mariah.

Speaking of which, I know it isn't Monday, but please allow me to add to the plethora of blog pics out there right now that show the beginning of a Mariah yoke.

See. Pretty much the same as everyone else...although most people don't have a conveniently shaped coffee table on which to show the goods. I got the yoke going Monday night. As many others have said, there are a lot of stitches on the needles now and it is a bit cumbersome. The only major problem I seem to be having at the moment is remembering to do the decreases on the right side! I get going and just don't want to stop and think.

I think my clapper may have to go to SnB tonight because I don't think there will be enough room to knit Mariah on one of those little chairs. I really need my couch for this one right now. Of course that means there may be a trip to the Fabric Place in the works sometime today. The bamboo circ. I'm using with that project is really bugging me beyond words. I worked on it a lot at rehearsals last week and it was making me crazy. Have $5 off coupon, will travel!

Or perhaps not.... the weather isn't looking too promising today. Accumulating wet snow. Huh? What?! Did someone say Spring? Why I oughta...

Big Reveal Part 2

[Due to continuing problems with blogger talking to hello and vice versa the pics for this post are in the links instead of the actual post. I have no idea what the problem is today, but you can bet I'm getting more annoyed by the min.!]
Lookie what I finished yesterday

Dusty Miller!!

I'm so happy to be done with this sweater. It was made with Lion Brand Woolease in Fisherman with the Dusty Miller pattern from this book. It seems to fit fairly well.

I did make a few changes. I ended up crocheting it together except for the sleeve seams. I just used a single crochet and the resulting ridge actually works with the pattern. I think it will be a much sturdier seam than if I had sewn it. I also did a little bit of fudging on the button band to make it work. The directions weren't real clear for that part.

What do you think about the buttons?

I originally wanted wood ones but couldn't find anything that was the right size and washable not to mention appealing to me. These seem to work fairly well. As far as sewing the buttons on, I totally made it up as I went along. I haven't got a clue how I'm "supposed" to put buttons on a sweater besides with needle and yarn/thread! Whatever I did, it seems to work and it can always been replaced later.
Now I just need to finish Mariah!

Happy Spring and the big reveal!

Happy Spring everyone!

You certainly wouldn't know it was spring around here by the weather, but I'll trust the calendar for now.

So as you can see, I've been a busy little bee with my spring cleaning in blogland! :) Many thanks to all of you that left suggestions in the comments on the last post. I felt like things needed a little "lightening up" around here in honor of spring. This was the end result of many hours of not doing homework fiddling and surfing. I finally ended up getting this template from here. This site was an absolute godsend! I didn't really like many of the free three column templates out there and I'm not adept enough at this html/css thing just yet to go it alone. I tried messing with a few things but it just wasn't working out. The template generator was the coolest thing ever and after a lot of editing I finally have something I like. Definitely give it a look if you need a three column template that works with blogger.
I'd love to hear what you think about the new template, so do leave a comment if you are so inclined.
There is more to reveal, but since Hello has decided to be a @#)#$& (I'm really getting annoyed with this stuff!) it will have to wait for another time. I'm off to spend some quality time with Mariah in the last fleeting hours of my day off. Ciao!

About that spring cleaning thing...

Warning: This post has nothing to do with knitting or crocheting. Move on with your life if you aren't interested.
Does anyone know how to change a blog template so that it has two sidebars? I'd like one on the left and one on the right. The librarian in me is becoming quite disturbed by the length and disorganization of only one sidebar. I've been surfing around most of the morning trying to figure this out. This has only resulted in a great deal of mental confusion and a headache. If you can help me out, and explain what I have to do in plain English, would you let me know? Thanks!
[By the way, to everyone out there who is posting on their blogs about what a pain in the ass blogger is being lately, I'm in the same boat as you! Grr... All I keep thinking, in my very best Eric Cartman voice is, "Maaaaa! Blogger's being a dildo!!" Yeah. I think I need to get out more...]
And now back to your regularly scheduled blog...

Making nice with Mr. Crockpot

Like my new knitting bag?

What? You say it looks like a contrabassoon gig bag? Well, technically you would be right. However last night I threw the back of Mariah in it and went off to orchestra rehearsal only to find when I got there that it was only a string rehearsal but the contractor had never bothered to call and inform me of that. 60 mile round trip for nothing, thank you very much. So I turned a bad thing into a good thing and went to stitch and bitch instead. In case you don't know, one cannot leave a contrabassoon in a car for over an hour in 30 degree weather. Furthermore, one cannot leave a contrabassoon in a car for over an hour unattended no matter what the circumstances. So me and my contra went knitting. What the heck, why not right?!
Since others have been sharing food recipes I thought I would present one of my latest. You see, Mr. Crockpot and I had a little pow-wow. He was feeling neglected and rightfully so. Granted I got him at a yard sale for $3 several years ago, but that shouldn't reflect on his net worth. "I'll cook when you aren't here!" he said. "I can make food that will be hot and yummy and you can just eat it when you walk in the door" he said. I decided his argument could not be countered so this is what I did:
1 package Purdue Short Cuts (cooked chicken in a ziplock bag. Holds 2 cups)
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 package baby carrots
1 green bell pepper cut in chunks
A few celery stalks cut in chunks
2 cans tomato sauce (I used classico)
A little water (to wash out the tomato sauce jars)
Some minced garlic
A palmful of dry chopped onion
Throw ingredients in Mr. Crockpot. Stir them up. Turn him on high at 11:30am. Come home at 5:30pm to the smell of someone cooking all day. Sit down and eat yummy hot meal. Run out to orchestra rehearsal (for no damn reason).
How easy is that? I had two rather large servings and the good news is I have enough to eat for dinner 4 more times this week (well maybe that isn't good news. Good thing I put three in the freezer!). And I think it took me all of 10 min. to put together. Can't beat that. What we won't discuss is the current condition of Mr. Crockpot. I don't think he bargained for that.
By the way, if you have a link to my blog on your blog and I don't know about it, could you drop me a comment and let me know? I'm planning on doing some spring cleaning around here (both in the physical world and the blog world) on Sunday (which is only appropriate since it is the first day of spring and looks as though it will be snowing around here *grr*) and I would like to return the favor. I know there is probably some magic internet trick for me to figure this out on my own, but I have yet to discover what it is. I'd also like to figure out how other people find out how others got to their blog by googling something or other. Anyone who has the answers and wants to clue me in, feel free.
Oh yeah,

Busy busy busy...

Have you taken the pledge yet? I certainly have!
I worked on the clapper yesterday during the train rides to and from my interview and after dinner. I've dropped three stitches so far. Want a pic? Yeah...didn't think so.
Off to work. No rest for the weary.


me and simba

Doesn't THAT just rot your socks?!?!

No more living out of a suitcase for me. After about 4 weeks of being a wandering minstrel I am finally back in CT and saying here for more than a day and a half. While this makes me happy for the sake of the mileage on my car, it makes me rather unhappy for the condition of the apartment in which I will be residing. Just imagine what happens when you walk in the door, drop your stuff and have to turn around and leave again over the course of four weeks. Let's just say I won't be having a dinner party any time soon (not that I ever have dinner parties but that isn't the point). But the best part of being back this time is this...

(Edit: Refer to picture posted above here because blogger is being a bloody pain in the ASS and won't let me change where the pic is this morning!!)

Yup. My baby is back home with me. She stayed with her grandparents for the last four weeks while I was traipsing all over North America. I think she is quite happy to be back in her own apartment without having to wonder if her uncle Buster is going to jump out at her (and frankly I'm not too upset about not having to listen for the two cats trying to kill each other).

Of course just because I'm back in my humble abode does not mean that life is at all calm. Oh no. That would be too easy. Today I work at the library, tomorrow I have another job interview, Wednesday through Saturday I have rehearsals for a concert Saturday night and next week I have a major project due for my class. Ugh. No rest for the weary here. I think Easter weekend I may just collapse for the sheer fun of it. I owe myself that much don't I?

Anyway, the gig went well. We managed to finish getting all the recording done that had to be done an hour early on Friday. It also managed NOT to snow like a banshee as predicted so that made it all the better. I stayed in NY on Saturday though because it did snow Friday night and I wasn't taking any chances. The only bad part was they didn't have my check for me, but it will be in the mail soon.

I also got old for the 27th time last Thursday. I managed to have a good day despite working. Mom and Dad took me out to dinner when I got home and I totally stuffed myself on good food. They also gave me flowers and a new toy...

The swift is coming. For some reason shipping a swift and ball winder together in one box never occurred to these people. Whatever.

And I bet you are all wondering about Dusty...

She just needs her button bands crocheted and the buttons sewed on. And why did I stop here you ask? Because I RAN OUT OF YARN!! >:( Another hour of work and I could have been wearing this thing today, but can I? Heck no! Grr... I was not a happy camper. But I managed to get the yarn while running errands last night when I got back and with a 40% off coupon at Michael's. Hopefully I will find the time to finish her by the end of the week.

Mariah is coming along well too but not enough to warrant yet another sleeve picture. I've got about another 1.5 inches to go on the sleeves and a good chunk of the back and I'll be ready for yoking. Of course you will all be the first to know when that actually happens.

For now it's time to get cracking on all the schoolwork I've been neglecting. I think I need to start a countdown to graduation... actually... I think that would give me a panic attack. Let's not do that ok?

Driving through a frozen hell

Today was like mother nature's cruel joke. Yesterday she dangled the proverbial carrot otherwise known as "spring" infront of our faces and today, winter was back in full force. And guess who had to drive through the worst of it? And now my father and I will be going out to rescue my mother who is currently cooking enough corned beef to feed a small army of people who probably won't show up thanks to the weather. Fab. Oh yeah, and I'm totally coming down with something and definitely don't have the time to get sick.

So I'm back to dial-up and don't have pictures to show at the moment. But Mariah is coming along nicely. Now that I've had some questions answered (thanks to all the knitalongers!) I'm ready to keep going with the sleeves. I'm really hoping to get to the yoke stage sometime soon.
In the meantime I'm on a mission to finish SOMETHING! I'm in total project overwhelm right now. That case of startitis last week certainly didn't help. I think I just have so much going on right now that being able to complete something, even if it only has to do with knitting or crocheting, would be such a relief. So I brought home all the pieces to Dusty and was even ambitious enough to bring home the buttons. I just spent the last couple of hours feverishly working on the last sleeve so I'm really hoping that I might be able to finish this sweater off in short order. I'd also really like to wear it before it's too warm (although the thought of it actual being too warm for anything right now seems like a total joke!).

So my life for the next couple of days involves driving 140 miles a day, blowing on a contrabassoon from 9am - 4pm and hopefully coming home to crochet and sleep. What could be better?

Mariah Monday!

Oh DSL! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!!

You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
You are faster than dial-up!
And you are always on!

Ok. I guess you get the idea. I am back to my DSL for less than two days before I head back to NY for recording sessions at the end of the week. I'm enjoying it while I can and doing everything I couldn't do without tearing my hair out on dial-up (i.e. watching videos for class and doing other things that require more than a trickle worth of bandwidth).

Of course last night I got stopped in my tracks when the power went out! It's pretty rare that we loose power around here. Most of the lines that go in and around my complex are underground, but it obviously is possible. My main worry was the fact that they weren't too positive about getting it back in less than 3 hours (!) and my heat is electric. Luckily, just about the time I had finished lighting a forrest fire worth of candles and had sat down to knit, it came back on. It would have been a lovely excuse not to do homework, but freezing would not have been a happy thing.

On the crafting front, I finally having something for a Mariah Monday update, sleeve pictures! I know you are totally bored out of your mind excited about that so I won't prolong the suspense:

I'm almost there! Just a few more inches to go. I finally got a measurement from wrist to underarm while I was home of 21 inches. *Ahem* (Have I mentioned I'm tall?) I'm a little confused as to how the knotwork will work out with the pattern repeats and stitch increases since I don't think I'm going to get them all in before it is 21 inches. Thank goodness for the knitalong! Someone will know what to do. I also finished up the other front piece and have cast on for the back. I've gotten a few inches done on that so things are speeding along pretty well right now.

My clapper is one skein in and has stalled a bit. I had some serious needle issues with this thing. I put it on the size 9 addis I'm doing my Diagonal Scarf on but for some reason they were really annoying me because they were too short. That doesn't bother me on the scarf but for this it was pulling on my wrists and not making me happy. So I stopped by Michael's on the way back from rehearsal one day. The only size 9's they had were the new Lion Brand straight knitting needles. I figured they were flexible so it wouldn't be so bad. Wrong! I have quite obviously been completely converted to circs. These things were so long I felt like I could smack someone with them across the room! Back they went.

So I thought I'd try A.C.Moore. They usually have a better selection of needles. I managed to find a pair of bamboo circs that were 26 inches long. Much better length wise but I'm still not too happy with them. The cord is really stiff, even after getting a good steaming over the tea kettle and the needles are a bit stickier than I'd like. I feel like I spend a lot of time moving the yarn up the needles before I knit it. I guess the good news is that it sure isn't going to fall off the needles by itself.

One fabulous development was the use of the cheapest, easiest stitch markers I have ever had. I was trying to use the little plastic disk kind, but they kept hanging up. And I wasn't about to buy more stitch markers that I probably wouldn't like and would have to take back. So my solution was a drinking straw. I read somewhere that you could cut up a drinking straw and use the pieces for stitch markers. Well it really works! They slide much better than the other kind and will definitely do in a pinch. Just make sure the straw fits your needle before you start to chop it up.
I've decided to put the rest of the clapper on hold until I get my birthday present. :) Gotta have something to wind when it arrives so I can play with it afterall!

And what has become of Dusty you ask? Not much. Idiot Incredibly intelligent person that I am, I left the other sleeve in CT last week. While this really shouldn't be that much of a problem, I think it would be better to have it with me just to make sure I'm keeping the gauge the same. I know myself too well to think otherwise.
And now I must get back to boring work type stuff (like getting my tax documents in order. Blech!). Happy Monday!

Report from the land of dial-up

Can I just say I'm in agony? I'm at my parent's house in NY for the rest of the week because of a gig and this whole dial-up thing is enough to make me bald by the end of the week! But please don't blame the 'rents for the atrocity of connectivity. They don't even offer DSL in this area yet! Then again, this doesn't surprise me really. DSL service is probably controlled by the same people that think Albany is next to Canada (as one reporter from NYC so artfully put it in a newscast one time).

Anyway, due to the low bandwidth and lack of organization there will be no pics today. However, most things I'm going to tell you about you don't want to see anyway. Trust me. *Yawn*

The first sleeve of dusty is done. I finished it before I came back to NY the other night. Only one more to go, but the yarn situation is not good. Since my rehearsal got snowed out tonight the stop at A.C.Moore on the way home as been postponed until tomorrow. No biggie. I hope.

Mariah and I are talking again. It seems she was quite upset about my sudden abandonment for a trip to Vancouver. I tried to explain that my abandonment was out of my undying love but she wasn't buying it. Anyway, we seem to have patched things up and now the right front is almost done. I'm hoping to carve out some sleeve time tomorrow.

There seems to be a case of startitis going around the blog world and I've gotten it despite my bandwidth issues. Something about three lovely skeins of koigu, even if they haven't been wound yet is very hard to ignore. So I started the clapper today. I think I needed some instant gratification in my life and so far so good. My size 9 addis are a bit short but I'm making due. I had to go up a size to get gauge so the size 8's which are plenty long are sitting in their little envelope feeling quite unloved. I only wound one skein but that should keep my busy for a while (and mom made mention of a ball winder as a possible birthday present...YIPPEE!!). I also had to change the pattern a bit due to my weird ass knitting. All the ktbl are changed to ktfl for me since I always knit through the back loop. I actually had to write out where the twisting versus not twisted stitches ended up in relation to the stitch marker like this:

Twist Normal * Twist

I guess I was having a "visual learner" moment. I have several more rows before I get to start dropping stitches so I guess I will find out then if I figured it out right or now.

That's it for now. If blogger ever lets me into the site I will post this and have to be off to bed. Getting up at 6am to play the contrabassoon at 9am takes a lot out of me!