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

Mom's Scarf and HWJF's socks

Finally, I get to tell you about my first finished objects of 2006! I haven't gotten around to this for a while just because of the lack of pictures. But now I have (most of) the pics and I'm ready!

Incidentally, I've decided that I really need to keep better track of the specifics of some of my projects. Most people do this on their blogs, and I'm finding that it would be good to be able to go back and have a record of what I've done for certain projects that I might want to knit or crochet again, even if I want to make alterations the second time around. So here's the beginning of my attempts to keep this together a little better.

Mom's Scarf

Pattern: Morehouse Merino Ultrasoft Scarf (picture here)
Yarn: Patton's Canadiana
Amount: 2 balls
Needles: Size 8 Addi turbos

After making a pair of mittens for my Mom for Christmas, I had plenty of yarn leftover. I asked her what else I could make for her with it and she requested a scarf. I love this pattern because it is very simple but comes out look fabuolous and gives a good deal of warmth. The number of cast on stitches doesn't really matter so much as long as it's an even number. This is something I can definitely wip off at any time without too much thought.

HWJF's 1st socks!

Pattern: Basic toe up sock from Queen Kahuna's book
Yarn: Regia
Amount: 1 ball
Needles: Size 2 addi turbos
Techniques: Magic loop (1 at a time)
Time: Knit from 1/2/06-1/21/06

Happy Feet!! The verdict on these is overwhelmingly two thumbs up! It's been all I could do to keep him from wearing these before they were finished ("If I put the ball in my pocket and run the yarn down my pants leg, I could wear them today!"~ HWJF). And I got them to match! I couldn't believe how easy that ended up being (watch, I'll never be able to do it again!). Check out how much yarn I had leftover too:

A few other pictures to celebrate this triumph over self-striping yarn:

Next up: Trying to finish my Samus before the Olympics and something else I can't blog about for a few more weeks...

Podcasting anyone?

I'm usually a step behind with the newest things, and Podcasting is no exception. I remember hearing about it early on, but I didn't pay it much mind. But now there are ones about knitting!! And ya'll know I'm all about that.

I started out listening to KnitCast every now and then. I love Marie's accent and the interviews were interesting, but I did find them to be a bit short and a tad dry. Recent episodes have been a bit more fun (maybe because of all the noise in the background due to being at the Knitting and Stitching show).

Then Alison recently posted about Cast On and I've been hooked ever since. I LOVE this podcast. It does, of course, have plenty of knitting related content, but it's the extra things that are thrown in that I think really make me love it so much. Host Brenda Dayne has a wonderful attitude toward knitting and life in general and really shares that with the audience. She plays all sorts of wonderful "pod-safe" music in between features, which I find to really be a special treat. I love hearing music that I normally wouldn't spend the time to go out and find myself. And the fact that these musicians haven't been signed with a label and are putting their stuff out there just to try and get some airplay endears them to me even more. If you don't know, this music thing is a tough business that forces some people to become librarians find other ways of making a living at times. Gotta love a person or group that's giving it a shot. And a lot of them, are really good and some are quite funny (check out episode 8 for the "Boob Fairy" song)! She also features a different sweater in each show and tells the story behind it, and sometimes reads some of her writing (which is apparently her day job). [Incidentally, her reading in episode 6 really came at an appropriate time for me.] It's just a great overall show and most of all it's entertaining.

Other podcasts that I'm starting to check out are The Knitting News Cast, The FiberCast (love this one), Crafty Chica Podcast (she's a bit too cheerful for me), and others. I think the coolest thing is I can listen to these while I'm at work, not on break, and it's like I'm getting to knit when I can't!

Of course I love listening to stuff about knitting, but I wouldn't mind branching out into other subject areas. I just gave a listen to Daily Source Code and plan on looking through PodShow for some more ideas.

What Podcasts are you listening to? Leave me a link in the comments!!

P.S. If you haven't checked out Podcasting because you don't have an iPod, never fear!! Many of them can be downloaded directly or some even stream (like the Daily Source Code) directly to your computer. You can then listen to them from your hard-drive, or the 'net or burn them to a CD. How cool is that?!

A quick meme...


Four jobs you've had in your life:
Inventory taker
Orchestra librarian

Four movies you could watch over and over again:
Anything with Tom Hanks

Four places you have lived:
Accord, NY
Fredonia, NY
New Haven, CT
North Haven, CT

Four t.v. shows you love to watch:
(I don't watch much TV these days but...)
Gilmore Girls

Four places you've been on vacation:
Bassoon camp
Niagara Falls

Four websites you visit daily:
Music Cataloging at Yale (hey, a girl has to do her job!)
SBC Yahoo homepage

Four of your favorite foods:
Anything with sticks (chop sticks that is)
Black bean burritos
My mother's leg of lamb

Four bloggers you are tagging:
Anyone who wants to answer because it's a free country baby!

One other thing before you go...

I'll be adding this to my sidebar:

I'm sure most have you have already heard about this, but please check out this site for more information about the boycott. Sew Fast/Sew Easy is trying to make sole claim to the phrase "Stitch 'n Bitch" which is utterly ridiculous since it's been around since the 40s or earlier!! The only thing I wish the site would illuminate a little more is exactly *what* products this company makes, but I guess we'll all just have to read labels for a while...

I must be insane...

I say this to myself every time I have a "commuting related" incident. Take this week for instance:

Wednesday I was scheduled for OCLC training in Brooklyn. I would go to work, check in, meet one of my colleagues who had been to the LIU Brooklyn campus before, and head off to the training at 9am.

Apparently the weather had other plans.

Other plans in the form of not-so-gently placing a tree across the tracks and leaving us sitting on the train... for over an hour.

I arrived at Grand Central at 9:50am. My boss had given me directions over the phone and I blindly took off for Brooklyn. Do I have any idea of an express subway train will stop at my stop? Of course not. Do I get on one anyway? Of course I do. Do I get off down the line to try and catch a local? Sure. Do I end up back on an Express. You betcha!!

Long story short, I eventually find a train that stops at the stop I want and get out of the subway only to find that the building I need is not right across the street, but a block or two away. Mind you, of course, that it is pouring rain. I finally get in the building and discover I am a rat in a maze. I finally arrive at my training session at 10:40am only to find that they have barely started because of hardware problems.


Getting home wasn't a problem. Didn't get much done at home that night.

Life goes on and HWJF and I decide that since he has to work Saturday but is off Sunday I'll come to Princeton on Friday afterwork. I decide to stay at work for 20 min. extra to make up some of the time I lost on Wednesday. Big mistake.

I get over to Penn Station only to find out that due to a disabled Amtrak train, NJ Transit is delayed by at least 30 min.

No big deal. I've got a book. I'll wait.

With about 4 trains worth of other people.

Who all decide to get on the first train they announce out of Penn Satation.

And who all shove for the 1 little door at the same time.

At this point, I wish I could turn around but there is no way to fight the surging crowd. I get crushed along with everyone else into the doorway, down the escalator (which doesn't stop when you get to the bottom and no one in front of you can move) and out into the platform where the above mentioned 4 trains worth of people are all trying to shove onto a single train.

Where do I end up? In the vestibule between cars, an area that is as wide as the train car but only two people deep. There are at least 12 of us in there. The seats are packed, the aisle is full all the way down the train and I can't even get to my cell phone to tell HWJF I'll be getting in a *bit* late. Oh, and they have all sorts of signs about not riding between cars because it is dangerous, by the way.

The train leaves, I eat my hair in the wind (there is space between cars) and after sweltering with 12 of my (now) closest friends I am freezing. We get to the first stop.

And people want to get off. People who aren't necessarily standing in the vestibule. And there are people at the first stop that want to get on.


After much pushing and shoving people get off, people get on and I am still a sardine. At this point I've managed to get to my phone and HWJF plans to drive to the stop before Princeton to get me.


Eventually things thin out and I do get a seat. It took a while but HWJF found me and we went home to get dinner. I've never wanted a margarita so bad in my life.

The life of a NYC commuter. I'm just glad no one was hurt.

Jealous aren't you?

The silver lining....

The conductor couldn't collect tickets so I got a free trip.

Have to say, not really worth the $10.75 though.

And to further prove my lack of sanity...
I've really gone and done it this time. I have joined the Knitting Olympics.

What have a chosen to knit? Since I seem to keep putting it off for things I'm doing for others, I figured it would help to have a start date. So I am finally going to knit the headband from the kit I was given by Sami for Christmas. My first attempt at Fair Isle.

Considering the fact that I have a conference to go to and a super secret project to finish during the dates for this knitalong, this is definitely going to be a challenge to finish in 16 days. Sleeping may just be out of the question....


Just a quick post to call your attention to the fact that there is actually an article in today's New York Times about Spinning! Now, mind you, it didn't tell me much of anything that I didn't already know (gee... people are spinning... and they aren't all over 50... shocking) but I thought it was cool for a couple of reasons:

1. It's in the New York Times! That has to count for something.
2. It mentioned Maryland Sheep and Wool and a few other places, books and vendors that I may just have to check out now.
3. One of the interviewees is a former Yalie. :) That always makes me happy.

Thoughts anyone?

My thought of the moment: I *really* need to get back to that spindle....

Sock resources...

I got a great question from Sarah in the comments the other day, which I neglected to address in my last post (sorry! And I wonder why I don't get many comments....). She writes:
I've never made socks before, but I would like to give it a whirl! Any tips of the trade or recommendations for patterns?

Well, I am by no means a sock expert, but there are two main books that really helped me out with socks. The first is the Magic Loop book. I made my first pair of socks from this book using the Winter Sock pattern (which I gave to my Dad for Christmas and who liked them so much I made him another pair this Christmas!) in Lion Brand Wool Ease. Not only do you learn the technique (which I find a lot less clumsy then dpns), but you end up with a very cozy and usable product at the end, which will probably fit someone in your life! This pattern also is very well written and makes learning what I like to call "sock architecture" very simple. Once you understand the construction of this basic top down sock, you'll be able to transfer your knowledge to other patterns. And the Magic Loop method can be used on sleeves and other parts of knitting too.

After you are comfortable with that book and what you have to learn there, the next book I VERY highly recommend is Queen Kahuna's Crazy Toes and Heels sock book. I think this book has just about everything else you could possibly want to know about sock knitting. It includes patterns for toe up or top down, one at a time or two at once (which I incidentally do like to do , but is just too much for working with on the train without annoying my seat mate), some different cuff patterns, and, most importantly, formulas for working out the number of stitches you need to make a perfectly fitting sock no matter what size needles, yarn or feet you are dealing with. That last part alone makes this book worth it's weight in gold to me. I received this book for Christmas in 2004 and have used it for every pair of socks since. It takes away all the guesswork that can sometimes be associated with sock knitting. While I've been working on HWJF's socks I've had him try them on a bunch of times, just to make sure, but the formula has been correct every time. I wouldn't trade this book for anything.

One other great thing about this book too, Queen Kahuna herself is available via a Yahoo Group, so that you can ask questions about the book and get things clarified if you don't understand them. I haven't read any mail from this group in a while, but I found it very helpful when I first got the book. Nice to have access to an author directly! (A quick look over there and it seems they are talking about the very popular Jaywalker pattern right now!)

Of course you can also find a lot of other sock information online, almost too much in fact! There are several sites that describe the Magic Loop method and illustrate doing two socks at once. Anyone out there want to share some of your favorites?

You could also join one of the many sock knitalongs or groups out there for some great advice from more experienced knitters.

For now, it's back to HWJF's socks for me....

Doublereed Day

What does it look like when you put about 60 bassoon players in one room? Something like this:

HWJF and I spent our Saturday at the UNH Doublereed Day. We had to get up pretty early to get there from CT and we had to drive through this:

And this:

What a ride! I was glad I didn't have to drive so I could work on this:

We were waiting for it to turn over to snow as we headed north but it never happened. Rain all day. In New Hampshire! Go figure!

When we arrived we had just enough time to register before the day started off with the bassoon band (in the first picture). This basically involved reading various bassoon quartets as a giant group. I was the only person who brought a contrabassoon (at HWJF's urging) except for someone from the school who played the school instrument. So I had a lot of fun honking away on the bottom parts and making sure the oboes (who were in a room below us) knew we were there! I really wish I knew how to put sound files on ye olde blog, because if you've never heard the sound of 60 bassoons and two contras playing together, you really should!

After the band there was time to look at the goodies the exhibitors brought with them. If you think knitters and crocheters have a lot of toys, you should see what bassoon players have! There were reeds and tools and instruments and music and just about everything else one could possibly need (or want). One of the major motivations for the two of us making the trip was that one of HWJF's students is getting ready to buy a bassoon before she goes off to college. The bassoon day gave her a chance to try some instruments with HWJF's supervision and showed her parents some of the options. While all this was going on I got to knit and take pictures.

Here's HWJF with the whole clan looking at a couple of instruments:

And then they got to play them together:

I felt very sorry for A's parents. I remember what we went through to buy my first good bassoon. There is a lot to think about for such a big investment. I think they definitely went away feeling like it was worth the ride and got some good information.

In the afternoon there was a lovely recital by the hosts of the day, followed by a master class with jazz bassoonist (yes, I said jazz) Michael Rabinowitz. 60 bassoonists learning to swing looks something like this:

If you haven't done it before (and even if you have) improvisation can be quite scary. There were a lot of brave people in this group who gave it a shot and some of them were quite good!

I got some serious inspiration for this year's bassoon camp from a CD HWJF got from one of the exhibitors. The Caliban Bassoon Quartet Christmas CD. And what was so exciting? They played the theme to "Hockey Night in Canada"!!!! I must find out if this is available for sale. I want to play it!!!

The drive back to CT wasn't so bad. The drive to NJ today on the other hand:

No I don't have the pictures reversed. What you might almost be able to see from these pics is SNOW! We woke up to snow and ice on the ground and a tricky drive out of CT! Luckily it cleared up by the time we got to NY and was clear for the rest of the way to NJ. What crazy weather!

It's ok though. I got to finish this:

One freekin' huge HWJF sock done, one to go!! :) He has already tried it on and inquired as to when the other might be done. I think I may have him liking socks sooner than later. :)

After finishing that sock, I went on to start sock number two. Now, I have never actually tried to make any of the socks I've knit in self striping yarn or variegated yarn match each other. Never seen to point. But given that these aren't for me and I'm trying to get someone to change their mind about socks with these, I figured I'd better give it a try.

Would you believe that I achieved this result the first time I cast on? Seriously. Even I am impressed with myself.

My goals for the rest of the weekend involve more sock knitting, watching the second Harry Potter movie tonight after HWJF gets out of work tonight, and more sock knitting on the train ride home tomorrow since I have the day off.

Life is good.

I'm a little behind...

... but I just read that it's National Delurking Week!

I love this idea! We are all comment whores after all. So go leave lots of comments! I'm working on it myself... (Shh!! Don't tell the boss!)

In the meantime, do turn your attention to the two new knitalongs you'll find in the sidebar. Both being sock related. 2006 has been named the year of the sock! I love me some sock knitting and the happy feet to go with it, so I joined up for both of these knitalongs. As you can see I currently have 5 pairs of socks for myself, and I've decided to set myself a goal to double that this year. We'll see how close I get especially with these huge man feet to knit for now considering my busy schedule.

Expect a full knitting update this weekend including a finished scarf, sock progress (or not), possible sleevage and some serious bassooning thrown in. Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Where did it go?

The last week I mean. Why does it seem like every time I turn around lately, another week has flown by? Why does the vortex otherwise known as time continually suck me in and spit me out about a week later leaving me wondering, "What the heck just happened?" I guess that's life in the working world...

So what has happened in the last week and a day or so? Well first I got a nice surprise in the form of foliage. My Christmas cactus has decided to bloom (although a bit late for the holidays) and I got a couple of great pics with the new camera:

Aren't they pretty? I always think the fact that a cactus can bloom is such a weird but neat thing.

I managed to get quite a bit of knitting done during various train rides. My Mom requested a scarf from the yarn leftover from her mittens. I've gotten through one ball and this is what I have so far:

I think one more ball will make it plenty big. To recap: I'm using Paton's Canadiana which is 100% acrylic (Mom's allergic to everything else) and the pattern I'm using is exactly like the Morehouse scarf I wear all the time, which you can see here. It never even occurred to me when I started, but it looks like we'll have Mother/Daughter scarves at the end of this project. :)

The other thing I've been working on is the first sock for HWJF:

I'm quite pleased with the fact that the strips are actually coming out the way they're supposed to. I'm actually quite a bit further along than this pic shows at this point now, done with the gusset increases in fact, and the strips are a little more wonky now, but I don't think it will be a problem. I had him try it on last night and he actually said he was excited about them!

HWJF had to work all this past weekend so I spent my time in CT. Saturday I actually had the whole day to myself. I must say it was a very nice thing. I didn't get out of my pj's all day. I think Simba approved of this idea:

But don't let that sweet and innocent act fool you. My little monster darling is quite the yarn cutter! Luckily that didn't slow me down too much from finishing up this:

Yep! The body of Samus is finally finished! Ends weaved in and everything. And I even managed to finish the cuff for the cables. Just two sleeves to knit and I'll be as good as done. My only worry at this point is that the extra inch I put into the length on the body is going to make the cable band hit me in an unflattering place. Unflattering mostly because I'm afraid it's going to be too tight in that unflattering place. But I figure if all else fails, I'll just block the living daylights out of it.

Sunday found me out with knitbuddies Robyn and Sami. About a month ago someone brought up the idea of going cross-country skiing. Being that I was put on skiis just about as soon as I had mastered walking, I was totally up for this idea. I managed to remember to bring my gear back from NY after Christmas, we found a place that did rentals called Winding Trails, and off we went. Now Sami and Robyn had never been skiing before so I got to play ski instructor for a day! It was a lot of fun and I had two very good students. I surveyed the grounds a bit while they went to rent equipment in here:

They even had some decent equipment for rental:

After a short crash course we went out on the trail, managed to negotiate some not-so-beginner-thank-you-very-much hills and arrived safe and sound back where we started. We even got a rather nice looking man to take our picture:

See! They survived my instruction! It was a great day. I'd love to go out again before the season is over if I can.

And I should have known it was going to be a great day when I opened my Christmas present from Robyn:

Sock yarn! My friends know me well....

Happy New Year!!


Hope everyone is happily easing into 2006 at this point. I definitely had a great holiday weekend. As I mentioned in the last post, HWJF and I had tickets to the NY Philharmonic Friday night with friends. It was a nice night and my walk to Penn Station to meet HWJF yielded a couple of festive Empire State Building pictures:

The crowds were insane but I managed to make it over there in plenty of time. You see, the plan was to meet our friends for dinner and then head for the concert. Unfortunately, HWJF and I ended up being late to dinner thanks to a transit problem, but we did manage to have a quick meal at Pasha and get a quick pic:

Then it was off to the concert which was amazing! We had great seats only a few rows back. The bassoon concerto was the very first thing on the program. Cameras weren't allowed of course, but Judy LeClair wore a lovely blue gown and played quite beautifully as well. The audience really shocked us by applauding between movements (which isn't normal for a NY audience), but it was nice to know they were appreciating someone playing my favorite instrument!

We managed to get a quick pic after the concert too:

Normal people will rarely see this many bassoonists all in one place.

I also managed to get the final FO pic of 2005 that I was promised:

Doesn't he look cute in his hat, scarf and mittens?

Then it was off to Grand Central to head back to CT for the weekend. HWJF and I didn't have any big plans except perhaps a visit to an art gallery in Hartford. But by the time we actually got moving in the morning (we didn't get home until almost 2am Saturday morning), got some very necessary food shopping done and got lunch, the gallery was closed and the weather was getting bad. We decided to head home none too soon. The roads were terrible and we saw about 10 accidents, some involving multiple cars, on the way home. We also came a little too close to becoming one of them. Not fun.

When we finally made it safely back to Hamden, we made a quick stop at Blockbuster and headed home. We watched the first Harry Potter movie (more about my late uptake of HP in a later post), and then actually cooked a nice dinner that we actually ate at the kitchen table. (Those that know our usual schedules know what an event cooking a real meal and eating at a table like normal people truly is. Let's just say this isn't a daily occurrence.) Part of "Big Fish" later and I feel asleep, but managed to wake up in time to catch Dick Clark and the ball drop.

New Year's morning found us equally ambitious on the culinary front as we made pancakes for breakfast. We may have had a bit too much fun with that:

Can you see the mustache and toupe?

We decided to take it easy again and basically ate our way through the day. We had lunch at a local noodle place and then went back to Hartford to have dinner at Braza. If you live in the area and haven't checked this place out yet, definitely give it a try. I'm no rabid carnavore, but I really enjoyed this restaurant. There is a salad bar and appetizer bar full of seafood and other goodies to start, and then they start bringing out different types of meat for you to sample along with sides of things like fried plantains, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and more. The atmosphere is quite nice and the best part is that the staff doesn't hover around you non-stop which is something I hate. I'd much rather enjoy my meal in peace.

We went for coffee afterward which ended up being an unpleasant end to a otherwise lovely day as in the 2 min. we were in the coffee shop getting our coffee to go my car got towed. Luckily, HWJF had a good friend in the area that saved our butts by picking us up and taking us to get my car, but the price tag was something neither of us needed. We still count ourselves lucky though, at least it wasn't stolen.

Today it was back to NJ as HWJF had to work. I'm off and blogging in a Panera in Princeton and loving every min. of it. It's so nice to have time to concentrate and do a little of the "playing around" I'd like to do with the blog for a change. If I have time, you'll see several sidebar updates today and a little rearranging now that 2005 is in the books.

Resolutions you say? I basically just have one. I want to learn to do colorwork in knitting. That is my main goal for the year. I'd also like to beat 2005's FO total if I can, but that isn't as pressing.

But first I have a scarf and some socks to finish... which I'll tell you about next time!