Spinning Off Into Insanity

Last night I tweeted that knit night just became ten times more awesome.  Why do you ask?  Well it all starts with the fact that I have the coolest knit night people ever -- my roommate Andrea who we are teaching to knit and our friend Nicole who has been knitting longer than I have.  We meet at the greatest yogurt shop ever and have a blast and the woman who manages the place seems to really enjoy having us there in the corner.  But last night, oh last night, Nicole brought a bag of goodies for me.

A spindle!  And fiber!  And how-to info!

I've started to toy with the idea of learning to spindle spin (there's no way I can afford a wheel, but a spindle looks like fun), and  I may have mentioned this in front of Nicole last week.  Last night she scurried out to her car in the middle of a sentence and came back in with a spindle that she had bought but decided that she did not like.  Well who am I to turn down new toys.  Especially when they're free!  I tried to read the instructions so that I could get started, but I'm having an ADD day and so it'll have to wait until the next time I'm working a late shift and feel a little calmer.  But in the meantime it is tons of fun to look at, and if anyone has any resource suggestions for a new knitter please let me know.

For more constructive WIP Wednesday posts, follow the link!


A Klean Knitting Korner

Now that I am no longer in school I'm finding myself actually doing all the things I always claimed I never had time for.  Like cleaning out my closet to donate all the clothing I have hoarded accumulated or organizing the pantry.  On Sundays the museum opens late (for another week and then I lose my sleep-in day) and usually I try to get up in time to fit in a run before work.  Today I just decided not to.  Because clearly I am lazy.  And a bird woke me at six a.m. and I could not get back to sleep.  So instead I decided to organize what I affectionately call my Knitting Korner.

This is the view from my bed.  I love having my knitting stuff at the foot of my bed because it makes me smile every morning when I wake up.  I use baskets a lot to store things.  My mom sold Longaberger baskets when I was a baby so I've inherited a few and a love of storing things to show them off.  The top basket holds a few small UFOs that are hibernating and some FOs that need ends woven in.  Underneath I have a picnic basket that holds most of my leftovers.

I need to do some projects out of leftovers.  Maybe a super stripey Daybreak?

The highlight of my Knitting Korner (really of my room) is my yarn cabinet.  I inherited this from my grandmother, it was her tv stand in her bedroom, and it is in contention for my favorite piece of furniture ever.  It has shelves inside and I try to keep it all organized with socks and lace on the top and sweater quantities on the bottom.

Looking at it from this angle I really don't think I need any more yarn.  How awesome would it be if I had so much yarn it did not fit in the cabinet?  So awesome, that's how awesome.

And at the end of the day, if it's functional on the inside, then on the outside it really should be all about the pretty.  Hey look, another basket!


The Post Has Landed

I can't decide which is more fun --  Opening my own swap package or reading the posts as the one I compiled is finally opened.  Thursday the box I had so much fun packing finally reached its destination in the UK.  I know!  The UK!  I can't tell you how hard it was to sit on that little bit of information.

So I will keep the rest of my excitement to myself and let the lovely Heather tell you all about it.  There may or may not have been a bit of on the spot poetry tucked away.  But I swear, I'll never tell.  I will say this -- I took it as my chance to buy things from individuals, not companies.  Well . . . mostly . . .


The Return of Knit Night

This post comes to you way later than I would like courtesy of a chinchilla who loves to chew modem power cords and way too many episodes of Downton Abbey.  Seriously man, how am I so addicted to the equivalent of a PBS soap opera?  I don't even watch romance anything!  Well, unless a former Doctor is on it.

So I have lived here without any real knitting friends for many many months.  One of Andrea's friends, who really is my friend too (we share custody of the friendship most days), is a knitter and we often say we should get together and knit sometime.  But we never did.  Last week we finally decided to make a plan, grab Andrea, and schedule our very first knit night.

Because she was coming to knit night Andrea decided that she needed to have a knitting project.  Next thing I knew she had found an LYS five minutes from our apartment and we were meeting there after work to pick out some yarn and needles.  Evidently being best friends with a knitter has rubbed off more than I thought because she ended up with some gorgeous purple alpaca and silk and a set of Knitter's Pride straights (I swear I didn't point them out to her).

And then we held our first knit night at the local frozen yogurt shop.  So. Much. Fun!  It is definitely turning into a weekly or bi-weekly affair.  Even the staff found us entertaining.

I was forbidden to take photos of Andrea knitting, but I couldn't resist a shot of Nicole showing her how to purl!

I did not realize how much I missed having a knitting community -- both the welcoming atmosphere of a true LYS and the entertainment of knit night.  It was such a great break from the stress of work and planning the wedding.  And don't worry, I'll return with reports of Andrea's knitting progress.  She bought her first knitting bag on Etsy today.  Only good things can follow.


Lost in Cowl Land

I don't know how everyone else is doing with the Great Cowl KAL, mostly because I'm hiding from the Ravelry group in shame, but the latest pattern has become a slog for me.  I spend hours and hours on it and I'm still struggling.

If you're knitting the pattern you can probably tell from the photo that I have started the short-rows early.  This is a great pattern to use up all of a ball of yarn because she has you cast on a giant number of stitches and then knit in the round until you are a certain percentage through your yardage.  And since I am knitting this out of the only skein of Kitchen Sink Dyeworks I will ever own I would really like to use it all.  But I just can't.  I know it will result in a beautiful item, but I can not stand to knit a single round more of stockinette on this cowl.  If I did not have a deadline I could work on something else at the same time to break up the monotony, but I will let nothing stop me from finishing this cowl.

At the same time I think the item in my mind has become a little different from the original pattern.  It snowed two days ago and now it is back in the 70s reminding me that yes I do live in the south and it would be really nice to knit something I could wear more than a few days out of the year.  So I'm starting to envision something thinner and drapier.  The yarn is a merino bamboo blend so I think it will work as a more spring-y item.

Then again it could be that I just really want to play with my new toys.  It was Chris' and my anniversary yesterday so he bought me the one gift I'd been hinting at for months -- Knit Picks Interchangeables.  I'll do a more comprehensive review once I get to play with them more.  I'm so excited!

But first, cowl.

Hey look! It's Wednesday!


Not Quite Snowy

Man, I step away from the blogging world for a weekend and I feel like I have missed everything!  Several more people have gotten their swap packages for the Blog Hub swap.  My partner still has not received hers, but I'm sure it will be there soon.  I also wanted to thank all of the people who commented on my sweater FO. I forgot how welcoming the Tami's Amis group is.  I need to take the time to go check out more of the posts before Wednesday's Mr. Linky gets going.

I took a few days off from the majority of the internet because it was a holiday weekend here in the US.  This does not mean that I got to go on a vacation or enjoy some time off.  My work schedule works out so that if there is a holiday I know I will be super busy.  I barely got any knitting done.  And then last night something crazy happened -- snow!

This is not a common occurrence for me.  I may have yelled at Andrea to get back inside to grab a camera and take the above photo of me.  I count myself lucky if I get to see a tiny bit of snow at all during a season.  Because there was so much last season and due to the very mild winter we have been having I had given up hope of snow, just enjoying the fact it occasionally dropped below 40 during the day.  But last night saw me dashing outside to enjoy the tiny bit of snow we got.

I was so into it all this morning that though I left myself enough time to unearth my car I actually forgot my knitting.  That did wonders for my progress on the latest installment of the cowl KAL, let me tell you (oh my gosh, I am so bored! I know it'll be lovely but so much stockinette!).

The cemetery I blogged about has finally been cleaned up from last year's tornado and it looked quite lovely with a light glitter of melting snow.  Every time I pass it I think it would be the perfect setting for some FO shots.  If only I had my Roisin completed I may have been late for work.


FO: Gramps Cardigan

It's been a long time since I've done an FO Friday.  Actually, according to Ravelry I have not looked at the FO Friday thread in six months.  But participating in the Blog Hub Swap has made me more determined to revamp the blog and participate more.

But enough dithering -- you just came here to see the FO, right?

This is the Gramps Cardigan by Kate Oates (the grown up version).  I knit it up in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Opal Heather and it took about ten of the twelve skeins I bought.  I can not say enough good things about this pattern.  It is brilliant.  Kate has given a wealth of sizes as well as explained what kind of ease would lead to what fit.  I knit mine as the size medium, which gave me just the tiniest bit of ease around a tshirt.

The only modification I made was to knit the sleeves two at a time before I started the body of the sweater.  This was partly because I wanted to see if it would speed the process along (it did) and partly because I wanted to have something portable and distracting while I waited for my thesis defense.  I managed to miscross one of the cables, but decided to leave it rather than picking out all of that work.  It's not an obvious error and reminds me fondly of one of the most stressful days of my life.

I had never used Wool of the Andes before and was surprised how soft it was.  It really is a lovely yarn, and at $2 a ball made this sweater much more affordable.  I'm hoping to try out one of the sport weights later this year for another sweater, but I have too many other things on the needles right now.

You can tell we took these pictures at home because I'm laughing at my mom the entire time.  It was really cold and she kept making faces at me.

For more FO posts go to Tami's Amis!


#BHS2012: Day Seven

Today's parcel, the final parcel in my box, was well worth the wait.

According to Manni the Magnificent's note it is a Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Sign.  This particular one is meant to bring good luck to a married couple -- like, say, myself in six months?  I'm pretty excited to hang this up somewhere to be admired.  I feel like I recognize the actual artwork from somewhere.  I don't know if maybe my mom had some remnants of her time spent in PA sitting out when I was a child or maybe someone we went to visit had it in their home.  I seem to have a family connection to every part of this package, which has made it that much more interesting to open and explore.

I'm sure that it will come as no surprise that I am a little bummed to be done with my part of this swap.  It was so much fun and well worth the wait.  I'm already casting about looking for something similar to do.  Many thanks to Vivianne for organizing this international effort and to Manni the Magnificent,  for giving me a tour of her part of the world -- a place it just so happens has a lot of sentimental value to my family, and thus to me.  It has been a blast!


#BHS2012: Day Six

I can't believe my part of the Blog Hub Swap is almost over.  It has been so much fun!  Fortunately I get to relive it all once my package reaches its destination (it's going in the mail tomorrow provided the shipping is affordable).  I have been having a ton of fun and am definitely looking for more swaps and such in which to participate in the near future.

So for today's parcel Manni the Magnificent displays too much confidence in my abilities.

Or maybe not enough?  It's a pie mix in a box!  I have to tell you, when the box of goodies arrived last week I picked up and shook each parcel trying to figure out what it was.  This one had me stumped!  I've never had Shoofly pie, but I'm sure it will be delicious (plus it gives me an excuse to sing "Shoo Fly" all day).  Also, I'm ashamed to admit that I've actually never made a pie.  I've helped my mom make pies, but I've never done it myself.  Depending on how it goes, I may be eating the entire pie on my own out of fear that no one else will like it.  Either way, I see kitchen adventures in my future!


#BHS2012: Day Five

For Day five Manni the Magnificent has truly outdone herself and spoken directly to my heart in a way the flowers and trappings of impending Valentine's Day cannot.

Coffee!  I know many of my readers are farther from their student days than I am and several are from countries that are not as obsessed with coffee as mine, so let me explain my enthusiasm a little.  Actually, it's quite simple.  Along with knitting and a functional bathroom, I cannot live without coffee.  The past five years have seen my caffeine intake rise from the occasional soda to multiple pots of coffee a day.  I have started to scale back a bit and switch to lower caffeine content teas later in the day.  But my true love is still a good cup of strong black coffee.

The great thing about this coffee that Manni has sent is that it is local to her.  With the trend in consumer products moving towards free-trade and locally sourced goods, it has become just as fun to shop for coffee as it is for yarn (well maybe not quite, there is no Etsy dyed coffee -- yet).  I'm looking forward to getting home tonight and grinding up some of this for use in my coffee press.  Just close your eyes and think of the smell.  Mmmm...


#BHS2012: Day Four

I'm cutting it really close with this post.  It's after 8 o'clock here in North Carolina and Covergirl just aired their Taylor Swift commercial.  "Rock on, Covergirl."  But the question on everyone's mind is . . . what did Manni the Magnificent send for package number 4?

Seriously, how can I editorialize beyond the title?  You don't have to be an historian to appreciate period satire.  And more of Benjamin Franklin's often odd writings?  This will sit proudly next to my book of General Chamberlain quotations.


#BHS2012: Day Three

It's day three and I'm now halfway through my box.

For today's stop on our tour of Southeastern PA, Manni the Magnificent has taken us to . . .

Amish country!  I'm pretty sure I am going to have a hard time getting this little goodie home with me.  As soon as I opened the package my mom squealed because she recognized the brand from when she taught in Lancaster county.  Evidently this stuff is the bomb.  I've had apple butter before, but just on toast and things.  Manni recommends using it in tea, which sounds really good.  Can't wait to try it!

In the meantime I've been hanging out with the family.  My brother made his debut as Doctor Ted E Bear, our hospital "mascot" for children's events, at a community fundraiser for the devastation wreaked by a recent tornado.  Just so happens that this fundraiser was a zumba-a-thon.  In which he participated.  In the suit.

I've never seen a bear move his hips so well.


#BHS2012: Day Two

Day two of the Blog Hub swap.  I apologize for the quality of the pictures today, but I got no sleep last night because of course I had to go see Star Wars: Episode 1 in 3D at midnight.  Had too.  There was no choice for this fangirl.  And now I am exhausted and running way late.  But back to the point . . .

How could it possibly get any better than the delicious candy bar from yesterday?

Purple sock yarn, that's how!  One of the package requirements for each swapee was a skein of yarn.  I mentioned in my questionnaire that I don't have a really big stash like a lot of those involved in our online community and also that I would really like to receive local items.  The knitting world is a very big place and it is impossible to visit every location.  In response, Manni the Magnificent sent me a skein of Saucon Sock by Kraemer Yarns.  According to the enclosed note, Kraemer Yarns is located in Nazareth, PA, and is a very well known yarn shop.  I'm really excited to give this yarn a go.  I've never used a cotton acrylic blend for socks before, but from what I read this makes a very good summer sock.  And I happen to have used a gift card to order Socktopus earlier this week.  A perfect new pair of socks for work?  I think so!

I'm leaving this afternoon for my parent's house to deal with some wedding stuff, run a 5K, and pick up the last local items for the swap package I am sending.  I'll take packages 3-5 with me so I'll stay on track.  Hopefully if there are any more edible goodies I can hide them from the family so that I can keep them all to myself.  I'm such a greedy thing.


#BHS2012: Day One

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this on the blog, but I am participating in the Blog Hub's second annual international swap.  I have been working very hard on my swap partner's package and due to my enthusiasm have had to put myself on lockdown to keep from spoiling anything (when your boss asks if you have sent your "knitting secret santa box" yet, you know you are just too enthusiastic).

But yesterday I received my package sent from the far distant land of Southeastern Pennsylvania by one Manni, who I will now refer to as Manni the Magnificent.  According to the nice postcard on the top of the box, Manni has organized the package as a tour of her region, which is a totally cool idea.  As an aside, I was really excited to see that Manni is from PA because I have so much family history tied up in the state but I don't know the area much aside from using Harrisburg as a halfway point when driving to Syracuse, New York.

So what lovely item did Manni the Magnificent deem worthy of my first introduction to PA?


How did she know?  But wait... this isn't just any chocolate bar.  This is a Hershey bar from the great town of Hershey, PA!  What's better, it is one of the few Hershey bars that still come wrapped in the traditional foil and paper, a part of the Hershey bar experience that I mourned as a kid when they changed to standard plastic.  Hey, I was an odd child.  I had weird passions.  Opening a Hershey bar without ripping the foil and being able to put it back in the paper missing a piece with no visible signs was one of my many talents.

Along with the chocolate bar, Manni the Magnificent included a small explanation of the gift.

So cool.  I can't wait to see where tomorrow will take us.  In the meantime I'm going to be the one running around with a sugar high from eating this entire chocolate bar.


Now With Added Guinea Pig

Yesterday I grafted the underarms of my Gramps Cardigan and gave it a nice bath.

Almost 24 hours later it is still not dry.  I blame the weather.   But then, I blame the weather for a lot of things lately.  After I finished this I shifted gears back over to my Rocky Coast Cardi and have been flying down the body.  I have to keep reminding myself that on this sweater I have yet to knit the sleeves, so it's not going to be the instant progress boost I had on the last sweater.

The pattern is surprisingly basic for such a stunning result.  I should come to expect this from a Hannah Fettig pattern, but I'm still in shock every time.  I'd say I may have this done by the end of the month, but the next pattern in the Cowl KAL is due out later today and I am going to take that as my travel project when I go to visit my family this weekend.

In the meantime I am loving knitting cables and playing "spot the guinea pig" with Cogsworth.

Evidently my knitting is perfect for burrowing.


Community Yarn

One of my favorite things of all time is getting mail.  I am a child of the internet and love my email, texting, etc, but there is something so fun about opening the mail box to see what's inside.  The added challenge of living in an apartment complex is getting to the mail before the office closes so that if you get a package you can pick it up and not have to wait an entire weekend to get whatever goodies were in your box.  This is the problem I had on Saturday which is why it took until today for me to get a sizable lightweight box sent to me by my good friend Erica.

Yarn!  Erica and I are both participating in designer Liz Abinante's Great Cowl KAL and I had whined to her that I was going to have to buy yarn for one of the patterns because I did not have any bulky in my stash.  Turns out that she had a stash of Rowan Biggy Print an a truly obnoxious shade of pink that she had bought on a destash and was more than willing to share.  So it looks like we may be knitting matching cowls in a few weeks.

The Cowl KAL, by the way, has been going great.  I finished the first pattern in just a few days, but have not taken any FO pictures because the buttons I ordered have not yet arrived.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to go through my "normal" buttons and find some for the finishing so that I qualify for the next pattern.  Then I'll just take those off and attach the nice ones when they arrive.  In the meantime it has been great fun to see everyone's finished cowls up on the group thread.  It was amazing how fast it took off when people started catching wind of what was going on.  And it has been like being a part of a knitting community more than anything I have done lately.  I'm pretty alone in my crafting here.  I have yet to make friends outside of work and even though I live only a few minutes from an LYS they are truly never open and so I have yet to find any sort of knit night that fits my erratic schedule.  The great thing about the Cowl KAL is that it has been filling that need for me.  In addition to the group enthusiasm, Erica and I had a skype date when the first pattern came out and I'm hoping we will try this again for the next.  Even Liz has been getting into the fun of it.  She has been lovely on the boards helping people out and was so sweet as to tweet responses when I had questions or wanted to share my excitement.  Maybe I'll look into getting more people involved in a group chat about the patterns, there is a chat feature on Ravelry.  In the meantime, I'll be tweeting away my progress with the hashtag #cowlkal and there's still plenty of time if you'd like to join in on the fun!


Shopping the Canned Stash

If you live in America and you are not watching Downton Abbey, you are probably watching the Superbowl tonight.  Usually I am all over the Superbowl, owing to the fact that I am usually a fanatical football fan.  This year, however, I chose to boycott watching the regular season due to stupid decisions firing John Kasay that I'm not going to discus.  Because of this it really feels fitting that the Superbowl would be New England and New York.  Again.  Does anyone care anymore (outside of that awesome Madonna halftime show, of course)?  So instead I am choosing to make my night productive.

Here you see my canned food collection -- which is the crockpot user's version of a knitter's stash.  It's an assortment built up over times when finances were not as much of a concern and I had access to the discount grocery store.  But it has gotten a little out of hand, making it almost impossible to know what is there and what isn't.  I just spent the past hour making it look like this.  Not too long ago it looked like the rest of the pantry.

We'll get to that another day.

For tonight I'll be turning to my favorite cook book, Stephanie O'Dea's More Make It Fast Cook It Slow.  The goal of finding out what I have is to stretch my "can stash" as far as possible so as to cut down on grocery bills.  Maybe some Coconut Red Beans and rice for dinner tomorrow?


A New Kind of Love

You guys, I have a confession to make.  I'm in love.  Again.  I bill myself as not a romantic, but I tend to fall in love often.  Don't worry, Chris is aware and open to adding some outside cuddling to our relationship.  The gentleman who has stolen my affection is a little on the chubby side, a little young, and has some serious whiskers.

Meet Cogsworth,  the newest member of the Chic Geek household.  Last night Andrea and I went out to dinner and got to talking about pets and how empty the apartment has felt without Martin.  Next thing I know, I find myself standing in the pet store talking about rats and parakeets and holding a sweet little guinea pig.  It was love at first sweater snag.

I seriously did not intend to buy a pet.  It's only been a month since Martin died and I was not sure I wanted a new animal this soon.  But as soon as Cogsworth gave the pet shop guy attitude, I knew he was destined to live with us.  He pooped in my hand while I was holding him in the shop, which is evidently very unusual for guinea pigs.  I like to think that it was his way of saying that he wanted to live with me.

So today we're hanging out and bonding.  I brought his cage into my room and am holding him every once in a while so that he will grow accustomed to my voice and scent.  He has already climbed into the hood of my Star Wars hoodie to hide out while I was knitting, so I think we're off to a good start.


Muses on Washing

So I did something yesterday that I realized says a lot about me as a knitter.  Yesterday was one of my rare days off, and I spent it in the manner I frequently do -- cleaning, going for a run, and trying to decide how to clear out more clutter left over from my pack-rat student days.  Or at least that was the plan before I got sucked into the first season of Downton Abbey with the rest of you hipster kids.  Anyway, I was doing laundry between episodes and when I pulled my clothes out of the washer to hang up to dry I discovered something.  Somehow the swatch for my Rocky Coast Cardi had ended up in a pile of sweaters that had been washed.

Now, don't freak out like I did.  After having a moment of sheer horror that I had put knitting in the washer I remembered something.  I'm knitting this out of some Miss Babs Yowza I was given for Christmas.  Yowza is superwash.  Superwash means that not only can I put it in the washer, I can also put it in the dryer.  And really, the only damage was the fraying on the ends because it's a swatch so I never wove them in.

Something you might find surprising about me -- I hardly use the dryer (just for sheets, towels, and underwear) and I never, ever, ever wash my knitting in the washer.  Ever.  I am very particular about how I wash things.  I have a mop bucket in my bathroom that I use specifically to hand wash all things I deem too delicate to go through the washer agitation.  I have two laundry hampers, one for regular washing and one for handwash.  Maybe it's because I can't really afford to replace things, but I cannot bear the thought of putting my knitting through the washer.  It is a system that has taught me patience and really preserved a lot of my clothing to the point I still wear stuff I had in middle school (yes, I'm aware this makes me very hit or miss with fashion).   I like my system, but it is getting to the point I am beginning to wonder.  I have quite a few pairs of handknit socks and don't plan to stop knitting more.  Maybe it's time I give in and start using the washing machine the way God and Mr. Washing Machine Inventor intended?