FO: Lateral

So, on Vampire Diaries last night . . . I kid, I kid.  Though there was one part during which my jaw dropped and I sat with my mouth open for like two whole minutes before I realized what was going on.  If you watched, you know what I am talking about.  If you are behind, catch up please, I want to discuss!

This week's FO has been keeping my feet warm all week because, surprise, the temperature dropped back into the thirties again.  I had thought March would be our salvation from cold, but it looks like not even the prospect of April will be able to save us.  Luckily I finished these socks over the weekend and was all set to wear cozy cashmere blends on my feet.

Lateral is my third project from Cookie A's latest book Shapes + Form.  It is a simple pattern, but it looks lovely and it was nice to knit a Cookie A sock without being married to the chart.  Despite its simplicity it does have that Cookie A feel that I have found runs so consistently throughout all her patterns.  I did sub in the heel from Hermoine's Everyday Sock as that is my current favorite.  I find that it fits the shape of my heel well while still having durability that seems to cope well with how hard I am on my socks.  I also just love how the garter stitch looks when it is picked up for the gusset.  Something about it is just so charming.

This was my first skein of Tempted and I love it.  It is her Lil' Luxe Grrl, which is a MCN blend with just under 400 yards, in the Oasis colorway.  I found this skein on destash on Ravelry for a very good price and have hoarded it for months.  I have worn these socks twice this week and they have been super cozy -- totally decadent for socks.

For more lovely FOs, head on over to the links on Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday -- GI Joe: Retaliation

One of the advantages of working at a facility with an IMAX theater is that I get a discount on tickets.  So anytime a movie comes that I think Chris and I might enjoy I give him the option to go.  And then we go about half the time.  But then there are those films that I start talking about as soon as we confirm the contract and drag Chris despite his skepticism because I only get the discount on two tickets (I know, it's a weird loophole).  GI Joe: Retaliation?  One of those movies.  Chris and I were dating when the first GI Joe film came out.  It was the day before we each started different graduate schools and so we decided to check out the movies.  He hated it.  More than when I drug him to see Transformers 2 at midnight.  Just convincing him to go to the theater last night involved bribes including lots of popcorn and gummy bears.  So there we were --  Chris expecting to hate the movie, me hoping to get some knitting accomplished.  And we actually both enjoyed it.

Let me say, this is not a deep, meaningful film.  If you are looking for that you probably should not watch a movie based off a toy line.  But if you want a film that is visually stunning, full of action, has a lot of heart, and is just this side of campy, this is one you should check out.  I liked the last GI Joe, but I have never successfully rewatched it.  This one I may actually try to see in the theater a second time.  The visuals were great, both of the hot men and their fight sequences.  Most of the impressive vistas were previewed in the trailers, but that does not diminish their effect.  I've seen many films in IMAX in my two years there and the best I can compare it to visually is Mission Impossible: 4.  And that wasn't even in 3D.  I especially loved how the cinematography in the cities focused on smoke and pollution, symbolizing the rotting within.

For me the best part of the movie was the acting.  Not necessarily the quality of the acting, but the way that the actors clearly did not take themselves too seriously.  The interplay of Channing Tatum and The Rock was completely believable and the overdramatized dialogue of the ninjas was sparing enough not to pull you out of the experience to realize just how ridiculous the premise of a movie about a man covered in nanobots impersonating the president.  I did call a specific plot point based on the trailer, but it actually did not diminish the experience for me.

Overall, if you are suffering from cold-induced cabin fever and are looking for a good popcorn flick, check this one out.  It is particularly good for knitting because a lot of the action actually takes place in daylight, unlike a lot of films these days.

I had one row of my Drizzle on the needles when I got to the theater and knit two inches by the time we were done.  Considering I spent a lot of time staring at the screen with my knitting in my lap, I think that was pretty good progress.


Knitting for Butterflies

You want to do something fun, knit a gift for someone while you are at work with them.  The baby cocoon I am knitting  (Evidently it is a cocoon.  People don't really react that well when you call it a baby sack) is for one of the women who works in the store with me.  My office is part of the storage area behind the registers and so every time someone needs something they have to come back there.  Monday night I realized that the baby shower for my coworker is next week, so I really needed to get moving on this cocoon (seriously, I feel like I'm knitting for a mama butterfly).  I took it with me on Tuesday to work and tried to knit on it while on lunch.  Only the entire hour they needed to get things out of the office, generally sending her because she often helps organize the storage.  So as I sat, knitting away and watching a podcast on my computer, I had to keep shoving it under the desk every five minutes as she came into the office.

As you can imagine, after an hour of this sporadic knitting, plus scarfing down a sandwich, I did not make a lot of progress.  It looks no different than it did the other day and I'm working hard not to get discouraged.  I would say that I'll work on it as much as possible this week, but I'm sparing pretty much every spare minute at home trying to finish our taxes.  We are going to meet up with my family at the beach for Easter Sunday, and I want them done before we leave.  I'm hoping to get a lot of knitting done on the two hour ride there.  Provided I don't fall asleep, which has been known to happen a time or two.

To see more WIPs, most likely not ones for caterpillars, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Slogging Mondays

Since I finished Twigs and Willows last week I decided to take a look at my knitting basket.  Realistically I should be working on the baby gift, but I really want to have a sweater on the go.  I could swatch for one of my laceweight sweater quantities, I do have several different ideas waiting in the wings, and it would be seasonal appropriate by the time I finished.  But what I really wanted to knit was my Riding on the Metro.  So I bit the bullet and frogged all the way back to the beginning.

Based on the result I got last time around, I decided to go down a needle size and knit the size small rather than the medium.  Even though this is a cotton yarn, it is a cotton blend, and so it has more drape than I initially thought.  Clearly I need to work through my fear of cotton yarns because they are much more appropriate for the climate here.  Well, if the climate ever becomes typical North Carolina weather and no longer this weird cold.

I seem to have started to make Mondays my slog days.  Last week it was finishing up my Twigs and Willows sleeves, this week it was getting to the point to put the sleeves on holders on Riding on the Metro.

Already this is looking a lot better.  I have not tried it on again, but I really like the fabric and drape that I have gotten with the US 6s rather than 7s.  My sister gave me a cropped jean jacket that someone gave her but that isn't quite her style.  At first I was unsure, but now I have this dream outfit in mind that involves the sweater, the jacket, and some crazy 60s-inspired head scarf.

I know.  I'm crazy.  But I am really excited!  If only cotton did not make my hands hurt after a day-long slog.



On Saturday I had one of those days at work that just ends in chaos.  I came home cranky and angry and exhausted, feeling like the world must be out to get me (I'm known for a bit of dramatics when I have a bad day).  All I wanted was to sit and knit until I could make myself feel better.  Maybe even eat an entire tub of ice cream.  But as I looked at my knitting basket I thought about how wound up and stressed out I was and about how I would be putting that energy into whatever I decided to knit.  So I decided to go for a run and as I ran I tried to focus on all the things I am grateful for, rather than all of the things that drag me down.  I totally blame Amy Beth and her Gratitude KAL for this idea and the very lengthy list I came up with.

For example,  I am grateful for a job that I love that helps me pay the bills and provides me with insurance.  I am also grateful that my husband has a job, so that we cannot only pay the bills, but also go out sometimes or splurge on that extra bottle of wine.

I am grateful that even though it has been freezing cold it was just warm enough to run in shorts and a tshirt and the sun came out just for those few hours I would be outside.  I am grateful for the gorgeous trail on which I get to run and the trees that are beginning to trade bare limbs for flowers and flowers for tiny leaves despite the cold weather.

I am grateful for all the people you see outside on a nice evening.  For the sweet old dogs who trot on over to say hello and for the little kids who point at my blue hair and their moms who smile and say "Yes, isn't that cool?"  I am grateful for the retired couples out for a walk holding hands, who demonstrate that life is still beautiful as you age.  And I am grateful for the elementary school kids who are also out running and who tell me how much they like my Avengers tshirt.

I am grateful that my body will allow me to push myself, even when it isn't necessarily happy with me.  For the fact that runs get easier, mentally, after the first mile.  And for little moments when it seems God put something in my path to help me keep going.

And I am grateful for our craft.  That I live in a world in which I can come home, pop a pizza in the oven, and crash onto the couch to watch The West Wing and knit all these good things into a pair of neon socks.


FO: Twigs and Willows

When I dreamed about going to college as a kid I always imagined myself in the library, wrapped in a warm sweater or sweatshirt, hunched over a dusty pile of books.  Now that I'm done when I look back I have some of those moments, and they are some of my favorite mental images.  I may not be in school anymore, but this sweater totally brings me back.

This is Twigs and Willows, from Alana Dakos' new book Botanical Knits.  I knit mine out of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Pumpkin, a sadly discontinued colorway.  This is my second sweater in Wool of the Andes, and I still think it is one of the best values in worsted yarn (especially if you get it during a color-themed sale).

If you follow that link, you might be a little surprised by how much my version differs from the original.  I knit the 38.5" because the 35" would have given me zero ease and the pattern calls for 1-2 inches.  Well, that went interestingly.  I actually finished sewing the pieces together on Tuesday and was so distressed that it was so large that I shoved it in a bag and swore off of sweater knitting.

But then my buttons arrived.  I ordered these from Gnome Acres and they came so very fast to save my sweater.  On Thursday morning I got up early to sew them on and it all came together.  The coziness of the sweater is magical.  I wore it to work, I wore it home, and I am wearing it now as I write this.  I love the simplistic nature of its oversized slouchiness paired with the femininity of the branches.

I guess like a lot of things that I knit, this sweater is an example of how you can do everything right and still end up with something completely different.  I got gauge, I knit to pattern, I made sure all parts were the correct lengths, and it still came out as something unexpected.  But I love it!  It's perfect for this crazy weather that is sixty degrees one day and thirty the next.  I can actually pull it on without unbuttoning it, so it truly is the perfect, cozy-in-the-library sweater.

To see more lovely FOs, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Geektastic Thursday: Knit and Crochet Blog Week, Year 4

It's that time of year again.  With the arrival of spring comes the annual Knit & Crochet Blog Week.  Earlier this week Eskimimi announced that she would be hosting this event for the fourth year in a row, on April 22-28, the topics of which have yet to be announced.

If you don't already follow Eskimimi's blog, I highly recommend adding it to whatever blog reader you currently are using now that Google Reader is leaving us.  She writes about a variety of topics relating to the craft and always has the best photography (also really cute graphics when it comes time for the challenge week).  If you are unfamiliar with Knit & Crochet Blog Week, it is a seven day period in which knitting and crochet bloggers all post responses to the same prompt and tag them so that they are all in the same collective search.  I highly recommend plugging any of these tags into your search engine to see just how diverse the various responses can be.  I missed out on the first year, but reading all of the posts introduced me to a lot of other crafty bloggers and really helped me to find the online knitting community.  Last year I successfully completed the week for the first time and really stretched myself with regards to my content and style.  This year I hope to do the same and find even more new friends to inspire my crafting.

Speaking of my crafting --

Wonder what could be waiting in the wings for tomorrow.


Baby Knitting

Red Coat is coming! Red Coat is coming!  Ok, so maybe I am not over last night's episode of Pretty Little Liars, but I don't think I'll be over it until June.  And even then I think we will all still be processing.  Luckily I can process while I am knitting.  Speaking of which . . .

There has been a rash of pregnancies at work.  Three women are due within two weeks of one another at the end of April / beginning of May and another is due by the end of the summer.  One of the women is on my team and you know what that means.  Baby knitting.  Luckily it is almost impossible to go into craft stores right now without being smacked in the face with baby knitting, so there are a lot of places for inspiration for people like me with no baby, no thoughts of baby, and no friends with a baby.

This is the beginning of a Sugar Bear Cocoon by Kate Oats.  I would really like to knit a sweater for this little girl, as her mother is extremely knit-worthy, but she is due at the beginning of May and I just cannot inflict that on anyone, let alone someone who has trouble regulating their body temperature.  I cannot remember what this yarn is, but it is an acrylic/nylon blend in a sport weight.  My coworker adopted a safari theme for her baby shower because she is from South Africa, so I am hoping to get a cute little button -- a giraffe or something.

It is very slow going on this cocoon.  I love the way the texture pattern is working up, but it seems that no matter how much I knit I cannot see measurable progress.  Hopefully I can kick it into high gear before baby Elise decides to make her debut.

To see more works in progress, check out the gang over at Tami's Amis!


Coconut Muffins

Yesterday I told you I had an urge to bake but I was out of eggs.  I ended up finding one lone egg in the back of the fridge, but the lovely katherinelynn_04 posted a link in the comments for some really interesting substitutions  I am really tempted to try baking one of my regular recipes using a banana instead of eggs to see if there is a difference in taste or texture.  Maybe that will be a future experiment.

While I was thinking about baking and going through my blog feed I came across the latest from Smitten Kitchen -- Coconut Bread.  I usually have a stash of coconut in the cupboard for cookies or granola, so I decided to give it a go.  But of course I only had one egg, so I had to cut the recipe in half.  And then because I was halving the recipe I decided that baking it as bread was not the best plan and opted for muffins instead.  I eliminated the butter but kept the full teaspoon of cinnamon since I was spreading the flavor across eight muffin cups.

These were delicious.  My husband, who is not a coconut fan, ate two before leaving for work last night.  I always know that something is a hit if he goes back for seconds.  We are going to the beach with my family for Easter Sunday and I think these may have to be brought along as a breakfast treat.  The texture is denser than my usual muffins, and because it is a bread recipe it is not as sweet.  I'm thinking next time I'll sift a little bit of confectioner's sugar over the top -- just for presentation's sake.


Knitting, Sewing, and Tissues

As most everyone who knows me can attest, I have a really hard time sitting still.  I fidget  I doodle, and if left for too long I find hangnails and scabs to be quite fascinating.  Essentially I have the self-control of a six year old with chickenpox.  This makes me amusing to my coworkers, endearing to my family, and an absolute nightmare when I am sick.  Which I have been for far too many days.  Well, about three.  All I know is since I came home from work Saturday night the pile of tissues next to the couch has grown quite tall and I am midway through my second season in my rewatch of The West Wing (can we just talk for a minute about how much this show impacted my generation?  It is incredible to rewatch this as an adult).

The only thing saving my sanity during times I have to sit still is my knitting.  If I can keep my hands busy, maybe I can keep ahead of my six-year-old self.  Yesterday all I did was knit on the sleeves for my Twigs and Willows.  Even though I was sick I ended up staying up till midnight working on seaming the pieces together.

This morning I got back up, made some coffee, and started stitching again.  It is amazing how fast projects can be completed when given real focus.

By afternoon, all the pieces were done and the sweater was soaking.  It feels good to have accomplished something despite forcing myself to sit on the couch, taking naps, and not going for a run because I cannot be that far away from tissues and water.  I've got some color back in my cheeks, and I have to work late tomorrow, so I am hoping one more morning of sleeping past seven will get me back on track.

In the meantime, I feel the urge to bake something.  Though I am completely out of eggs, which are key to most of my recipes.  Maybe it is time for me to experiment again.  It's not like I won't be here to clean up after it.


Geektastic Thursday: Veronica Mars

Seriously, you guys, how could you possibly think I would have anything more important to geek out about this week?

In case you missed it last night, here's the stitch.  Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, and Kristen Bell have found a way to finally -- finally! -- make the Veronica Mars movie.  Yesterday they launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $2 million within a month.  With that amount they can convince Warner Bros that there is enough of a demand for a continuation of the Veronica Mars series and get permission to film and produce a movie followup to the television series.  Well last night, within something like eleven hours, it was funded.  And the donations keep rolling in.

Veronica Mars hit airwaves when I was a junior in high school.  We had rabbit ears at our house (the kind you dance around with and add tin foil to), and The WB was one of those channels that was really touch and go on our television, so it was not until I was in college that I really got a chance to watch the show.  By that time the series had been cancelled after its third season, leaving viewers with a disappointing cliff hanger.  But, five years later, the show is still as good as it was on first airing and the fans are still rabid for more.

All you really need to do is watch the Kickstarter video and you will completely understand the kind of show Veronica Mars was.  Murder, intrigue, and plenty of snarky, witty teenagers.  If you like tv shows like Buffy, Gilmore Girls, or The OC, you should definitely give it a try.  The WB.com rotates out seasons available for viewing online and Netflix has all three seasons for US viewers.  Or, if you live near me, you can probably borrow my dvd sets.  I am all about spreading the addiction.


A Running Boatneck

Yesterday morning I remembered why I hate the start of Daylight Savings.  It was so dark!  But then I got to come home and go for a run in daylight, so I think Daylight Savings and I are still friends.  Unfortunately I have also found the downside to casting on a lot of things.

Out of all of these projects I have made no measurable progress.  I took time on Monday to take stock of what I have on the needles.  In this basket of active projects I have 2 sweaters, a Christmas stocking, a pair of socks, an infinity cowl, and a baby present that I desperately need to finish in the next week.  I need to stop casting on, but with Amy Beth's Gratitude KAL starting next week there seems to be no end in sight.  Plus, this happened.

That is not a cute picot boat neck
Remember when I said that because I was knitting this pattern out of cotton blend that I was going to go up a size?  Yeah, that did not work. In fact, based on this I think I need to go down two sizes.  Two years ago I knit a great cotton sweater, but I overestimated the stretch in the fabric, leaving me with a bit of an awkward fit.  But this time I seem to have underestimated it.  I am not sure yet what I will do, which puts this at the bottom of the "things to work on pile".  At least I was watching The Walking Dead, so I was not completely wasting my time (Not a word!  We're in the middle of season two).

To see more works in progress, check out the board over at Tami's Amis.


Hints of Spring

There is something in the air.  Maybe it is because the temperature warmed up the same weekend that we started Daylight Savings, maybe it is because I let myself sleep in, but whatever it is I feel like I am on Spring Break.  And it is lovely.

Yesterday was so beautiful that after Chris left for work I walked up to the grocery store and bought a bag of veggies.  I'm pretty sure the guy at the counter thought I was a crazy hippy with my reusable bag, felt hat, and knitted shrug.  I brought home my loot, opened all the windows, and made a homemade pizza while jamming to Ivy.

Nothing says spring like fresh asparagus!

Today is just as fun.  The weather was lovely for a run and it was like nature ran out to say hello.  There were birds everywhere and a few trees were finally blooming.  The creek was singing happily and the air was just so crisp.  I tried to take pictures for you guys, but I just was not able to do it justice.

Now I think I'll spend the rest of  my day sitting by the open window.  Catching up on knitting podcasts and working some more on this.

Yes, there is finally warmth and I am already thinking of Christmas.


FO: Pretty in Pink

Happy Friday!  Once again you are spared any Vampire Diaries talk because the show is still on hiatus until next week, leaving me to do what we fangirls do best -- forget absolutely everything that happened until right before the new episode when suddenly we feel every emotion possible.  It's the only coping mechanism I know.  Last night instead of watching tv I got myself almost stranded on the way home from zumba when my car came *thiiiiiis* close to running out of gas.  There was lots of yelling.  And wondering if I had enough yarn to survive the wait until Chris left work (he's not allowed a phone) and could come find me.  But I made it to a gas station, and then there was a Bowie album review on NPR and all was right with the world.

This week's FO took me about a month to knit and is currently (of course) my most favorite knit item ever.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pretty in Pink.

Pretty in Pink modeled over Jaded Milkmaid

This is the Merging Ripples Shawl from Knitscene, Winter 2012.  My entire concept going into this project was to focus attention on the orangey color, Duckie from Unwind Yarn Company on her Journey Sock base.  I know I have mentioned it several times, but in case you missed it this yarn was dyed to match Duckie's outfit when he is singing -- my favorite moment from any John Hughes movie.

The pink contrast stripes are Seacoast Handpainted Panda in the color Berry, which I received in a swap from a very lovely person.  I have worn the shawl to work almost every day since its completion and have had loads of compliments that start out with "I wouldn't think those colors would work together but . . ."  Which means I have succeeded in my goal to stretch my color limits.

The pattern itself is quite lovely.  It is worked bottom up, so the cast-on is a ridiculous number of stitches, but then the repeats gradually get shorter and the short rows more addictive.  I really enjoyed this variation on the two-color shawl, giving each color more depth and room to play out in texture and tonality.  Plus I am really in love with large shawls and this is a great way to get one without losing your mind in either stitch patterns or repetitive stripes.  Every stripe is just a little different, but not so different that I could not read while I knit, which is a big plus these days when reading time is at a premium for me.

If you would like to see some more finished knitting, please check out the links over at Tami's Amis.  There is always great fun to be had.


Distracted Progress

Last night I got online and saw some most exciting news.  Tulle skirts are in this season!  Clearly someone heard me say I want to dress like a four year old.  You know what this means for fall?  Capes!  Ok, maybe not, but don't rain on my parade.  I saw a lot of tulle and cape outfits at the theater last weekend.

But I'll come back from my crazy fashion spiral to tell you about what I've actually been working on (but I do have plans and yarn for a white cape.  Stay tuned).  I finally cast on for a project I've been talking about for months -- the Christmas stockings.  I purchased this ebook on Ravelry because it is full of charts but they all follow a theme.  The patterns are written for sport weight but I am knitting mine in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, which is a worsted weight wool.  This first one is a dark blue and will eventually have white snowflakes as the motif.

As always, I'm sorry for the bad quality photo. I know you are shocked to hear that it's raining again.

So far I just have a toe, but that would be because I am still distracted by this.

Yes, Twigs and Willows is moving forward.  I actually switched to a larger work bag so that I can take these sleeves with me.  It has been so cold and there is talk of *gasp* snow in the forecast again, so I'm hoping that if I keep at it I may get a chance to enjoy it before the season changes for good.

To check out more works in progress, head over to Tami's Amis!


One Rib Back, Two Fronts Forward

I love my days off.  They are the bright highlights of my week.  Not that I don't enjoy my job or think that my work is more draining than that of others.  But because Chris works second shift these are the days I get to see him in daylight.  They are the days I cook, the days I try to clean up around the apartment, and the days I really get to knit.

Look at all I got done on Saturday and Monday!  That's two, count them -- two fronts for the Twigs and Willows.  You know what my problem was?  I had started my decreases two rows early.  That was it.  But I was so aggravated I did not have any desire to go back and fix it.  I ripped back to the first three rows on the left front and then once I hit the chart that was it.

I know everyone is raving about the brilliance of Alana Dakos in this pattern collection.  But it really is amazing.  Everything about this sweater has been well thought out and is so deceptively simple that it is magical.  My plan is to start the sleeves two at a time tonight during Pretty Little Liars.  This can only end well.  Right?


A Weekend in Purple Fairyland

It is finally March!  The temperatures have plunged back into the thirties and there is the constant threat of more snow (seriously, I love winter, but more?).  So far March has been a lot like February, but with a lot more purple.

I know I went unexpectedly off the radar for a bit, but it was with good reason, I promise you.  This weekend was the first in a year-long series of children's theater productions that will help benefit the place where I work.  As part of the deal, we set up a merchandise booth at the theater and sold all sorts of fairy-tale inspired items to little kids and their grown-ups who came to see a modernized interpretation of Rapunzel.  It was an absolute blast and I got to dress up my normal work clothes with various crowns and a lot of purple nail polish.  I do not think I realized until I sat down to paint my nails just how much purple polish I own.

I wish I had taken more photos of the table, but we were so busy that by the time I thought to do so we had sold almost everything.  All weekend we kept having to return to our store to look for anything that might remotely relate to the show so that every child who was able could purchase some sort of souvenir.  By the end we had two rubbermaid totes of a few crowns and stuffed animals and that was it.

Rapunzel the Giraffe was a big draw
Because I was there the majority of the past three days I did get some knitting done.  The Lateral socks made a comeback and I finished up the first sock.

I was not able to try them on as often as I normally would, so I started the toe decreases a little late and ended up with a wider toe box.  The yarn is so lovely, however that I don't think I will care.  I stopped at my normal length to avoid floppy fabric and it seems to fit just fine.  We will see after I finish sock number two.  Which may be a while because I finally got moving again on Twigs and Willows.

More on that tomorrow.