Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is it Tuesday?

One minute I'm in Yosemite, with a couple feet of snow and big, fat flakes falling from the skies and now I'm in D.C. where it was apparently in the 80's yesterday. By the time I got here the winds were announcing the rapid decrease in temperature that comes with a cold front.

I was a camera-snapping crazy person last weekend but alas, all of the pictures are still on the memory card and not on the computer. Then I had to pack and fly across the country for a meeting. At least I got to knit. And stop at G-Streets on the way to my hotel. Yes, I know. I wasn't supposed to buy any more you-know-what. But there's something about G-Streets. My Burda jacket was from G-Street fabric. My Jalie polo was from a bargain one $2.97 yard of G-Street fabric, and the kitchen curtains were from seven yards of $2.97 per yard fabric. G-Street has some surprising fabrics in their bargain pile, if you look (and it is a pile). But their other fabrics are nice too, albeit a bit on the pricey side. But sometimes fabric calls to you. I bought two pieces of rayon, keeping in mind that I need a dress for an upcoming wedding. Yes, I know I only need one dress, buy I couldn't make up my mind.

I did get a lot of knitting done on the plane ride. Not as much as I hoped but it wasn't entirely because my seat-mate wanted to chat. I admit at first I was thinking please shut up and let me just knit and zone-out to the tunes on my iPod for the next 4 1/2 hours, but I was nice. The plane was quite an international mix of people due to a group from the Defense Language Institute in Monterery who were going on a tour of Washington. The seat mate to my left was from Bangladesh and the one on my right was from Poland (yes, I got the middle seat -- ugh). Mr. Bangladesh...his name was pronounced sigh-eed, but I don't know how you'd write it...anyway he was very talkative. Which was kind of nice. He was so surprised I was knitting. He said only old women knitted under trees (huh?) in his home country. He was also surprised that I didn't have children and he wanted to know if my marriage was arranged (his was). He offered me a bit of a Bangladesh snack - it was like spicy fried rice spiced up with curry. It was in little metallic pouch, just like a bag of chips. It tasted good too! He was interested in my iPod, asked if it was 1 "gee bee" (don't think I've ever heard anyone refer to gigabit as a "gee bee") and said he was thinking of buying one on the internet. He was impressed by the fact you could by so much on the internet. He's in an 11-month program at the language institute and this was his first trip to the US and first to Washington. The whole group looked very happy, nice, and eager to be on the trip. It was a refreshing change from a plane load of business travellers.

So now I'm here, sitting in a hotel room, listening to American Idol on TV and blogging via the free hotel internet. My knitting is in my big tote bag/purse and I might just sneak it out tomorrow during the review if I can. I've found that knitting actually helps me concentrate on listening. But I've never knitted in front of co-workers, except for when waiting to board an airplane, so I'm going to have to wait and feel out the scene. Maybe I'll just take long breaks to the ladies room!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Off to see the snow

I know most people living in colder regions (hi mom!) will think we're nuts, but we're driving up to Yosemite this weekend where there will be lots of SNOW! We've had some pretty chilly, rainy weather here lately and the predicted snow level tonight will be about 500-1000 feet. This is the forecast for my area tonight:

Tonight: Cloudy with occasional light rain . Snow may mix in. Low 36F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.

This is the forecast for Yosemite tomorrow:

Tomorrow: Cloudy with snow showers and flurries becoming a steady accumulating snow later. Cold. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 70%. 2 to 4 inches of snow expected.

Yay for snow! The dilemma I have now is which of my big woolly sweaters to bring. I have two gorgeous Dale of Norway sweaters, one of which was purchased during a visit to Norway about 14 years ago. In addition I have a lovely wool/possum mix cardigan from New Zealand that is very warm and snuggly. The possums, not to be confused with the non-furry variety in the US, are a bad problem in NZ so they are allowed to trap and kill them for their food and fur. You can buy mixed wool/possum yarn from NZ and trust me, it's very, very soft.

I'm also looking forward to knitting on the drive up and back. Next week I'm flying to DC for work and plan to knit on the flight. I might just get this UFO sweater done!

Thinking about that possum wool cardigan has me thinking about New Zealand and the wonderful time we had there in 2003. It also makes me think about Tim Tams. Yummy, chocolaty goodness! Fortunately my husband's co-worker just returned from Australia and brought him some, which we are savoring, not munching down like we did during our NZ roadtrip. If you ever get a chance to go to NZ, go!

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I'm continuing to work on the UFO sweater...the white Knitter's magazine sweater from 1999, not a sweater with an alien on it...although I probably should put it down, as Spinnity suggested. Despite her good advice, I think I will continue to torture myself with it. Call me crazy. Or stupid. Having not finished much in the way of knitting projects over my many years of off and on knitting, I want to finish this one. Besides, I do need the practice. But last night was a true test on my patience. I settled in for a nice night of TV watching and knitting. I picked it up, started knitting and then found a mistake which caused me to rip about 7 rows, knit a few rows only to have to rip them too. After an evening of knitting, with time out to watch (i.e., look at the TV and not my knitting) the Project Runway finale, I only succeeded to get my knitting back to where it was sans error.

However today I zoomed ahead. I usually knit in the car on the way to work, while my husband drives. That's good for a few rows. I can't squeeze in any knitting during the workday because I take notes during meetings and even if my meetings were more listening than note taking, I'd feel odd knitting. But this morning I had to sit in on a dry run of a presentation via the speaker phone on my desk. Alone in my cubicle, I picked up my knitting. I was amazed at how knitting actually helped me pay attention to the meeting! Normally if I'm listening in on a meeting my eyes and hands roam to other tasks around me or the computer and I end up missing what's being said. I got quite a bit of knitting done too. Yay, for knitting.

I was so hung up on UFO sweater yesterday that I forgot to mention my attempts at spinning last Saturday. Spinnity hosted a spinning party in her home. There were about a dozen or so spinners ranging from newbies to accomplished. I'm a newbie. My only experience was a few minutes on drop spindle at Stitches a few years ago. It didn't thrill me and I wasn't all that excited about pursuing spinning until I came across an offer for a spinning wheel that was too good to pass up. So I bought the wheel and it sat idle in my family room. The spinning part was just what I needed to get me going. I had a really good time and I even did some spinning. Well, wonky, twisted, beginner spinning, but it's a start.

I may be working on UFO sweater but my mind is definitely on the next projects. Ok, next projects after I finish Liv and the red mittens, which may get put aside until Fall, because I'm not knitting mittens when it's warm out. I picked up some patterns at Stitches and I'm already antsy to buy the yarn for them. Here are my plans:

White Lies Designs: Beauty and the Beads - I'm think Rowan Calmer might be nice for this. It's a fitted cardigan and I think the stretch in the Calmer would help with that. I'm not sure I'll do all the beading on this though.

White Lies Designs: Bella - maybe the Brooks Farm Primero I bought at Stitches.

White Lies Designs: Krista (not on their website) - it's a short sleeved open weave top I thought would be great in some white bamboo I bought at Stitches.

Knitting Pure and Simple: Neck Down Hooded Tunic (#244) - I'm obsessed with this one. I see this in a drapey silk blend rather than a wool, especially since I don't need wool sweaters in this temperate climate of the Silicon Valley (not to be confused with foggy, summer temperatures in the SF, where you could wear a wool sweater!). I'm thinking Rowan Summer Tweed.

I have put sewing on the back burner during my recent knitting madness, but my husband asked me last night (while watching Project Runway) when I was going to start sewing my travel wardrobe for our trip to Europe this summer. Yikes. He's right. I better carve out some time to sew a few things!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Project investment and UFOs

Has it really been two weeks since my last entry? It's not like I've been off doing great things, nor have I been sick or incapacitated. I guess life is just being life and ticking by.

So my entry today is titled "Project Investment and UFOs." All projects, whether they're sewing, knitting or remodeling projects, require an investment of time and materials. If the materials must be purchased, then the project requires money too. I generally don't start a project until I've done my homework (although there are many times when I've purchased the materials without doing enough homework). Having done my research beforehand, my expectation then is that the completed project, given good workmanship along the way, will meet my satisfaction. But what happens when I discover that the project is not going as expected? At what point do I cut my losses (of time and money) and stop. And what do I do with the UnFinished Object? Or do I finish the project and consider the time invested in the project as added experience?

These are questions I am asking myself today because I have two knitted projects that I'm not especially fond of. Of course I've also encountered this dilemma with my sewing projects. But since sewing is laying low at the moment, my attention is on my knitting projects.

I finally finished the big knitted gift. Yippee! Ok, I'll just say what it is. The recipient might not be reading this and it's a surprise no matter whether she reads it here or opens the box. I made a baby blanket. The ends are woven in and it's ready to be washed. But I'm not all that pleased with it and I'm having second thoughts about sending it. It's a gift and I wanted it to be nice, but I think it just turned out okay. It's big (about 34x45) and I do like the texture of the seed stitch despite the fact that it probably took three times as long to knit because of having to flip the yarn back and forth between every stitch. Note to self: no more large seed stitch projects. Ever. The thing I don't like about the blanket is the yarn. It's an acrylic that is kinda plastic feeling. I had the yarn in my stash and it was always intended to be a baby blanket, but the recipient was supposed to be someone else and I never got around to it. So when I wanted to make a gift for my friend's new baby, this yarn immediately came to mind. I figured that acrylic yarn would be fine because baby blankets need to be mega-washable. However, since I started this project, I have become much more educated about yarn. I learned that washable yarn doesn't have to feel like plastic. I learned that if yarn doesn't feel good to knit with, the finished product probably won't feel so good either.

Sigh. Since I don't have anything else to send and I spent four months knitting it, I will probably send the blanket. It'll be ok, I guess. I don't believe my friend knits or crochets and if she does, I don't think she's a yarn snob who'd wrinkle her nose at my creation and never use it. But I feel a bit sad that I spent so much time on it and I'm not proud of the results. I should have quit after the first 20 rows when I decided I didn't like the feel of the yarn. I should have donated the crappy yarn and bought something nicer to knit the blanket with. Shoulda...woulda...coulda...

Project dilemma #2: a six year old UFO. Similar problem. The yarn is not the best. This one is mostly acrylic with nylon and wool. I bought two big bags of the yarn because it was on clearance. I could have afforded better but I didn't know any better. Six years ago my knitting was limited to airline flights and night shifts spent monitoring a satellite shortly after it was launched. Yes, really. Here's a picture of me in (knitting) action:

Those were long, boring shifts. This picture was taken around 4 am. I was going to send the picture into Knitter's magazine - hence the prominently displayed issue of Knitter's.

I finished the back and almost one sleeve and then stuffed it in a bag where it stayed until last week. Our knitting meetup decided to have a UFO-themed get-together to encourage us to finish those pesky UFOs, so I dragged it out. I spent a good hour just trying to figure out where I left off but I did manage to get a few more rows of the sleeve completed. I've since finished the sleeve and I started on the front but not only have I discovered my gauge has changed a bit, I'm not 100% happy with the yarn. Now that I've discovered yarns like Manos Del Uruguay and Brooks Farm and Rowan Cashcotton and so many others, this yarn just doesn't measure up. I'm knitting it to finish it. I'm knitting it because maybe I'll enter it in the Stitches student fashion show next year along with the above picture of me, the rocket scientist, knitting it during a satellite launch (well, after the launch). I also might need to employ some of the techniques I learned in a sweater altering class I took at Stitches this year to redo the trim on the back and sleeve so the gauge matches the newly knitted front. Eh, it makes for a good story and since they gave a gift certificate to a woman who showed off her handspun (by her) sweater, maybe they'll be generous after hearing my silly story.

Will I wear the sweater? I don't know. While I still like the style of both the sweater and the stitch, I don' t love the style, which is dropped shoulder sleeves, boxy with no shaping. I certainly don't envision it becoming a favorite sweater. If it fits, I'll wear it. The only adult-sized garment I knit for myself was a vest I did over 20 years ago. I did wear it and would wear it again if I were still the size I was 20 years ago. So I don't have much experience wearing sweaters I've knitted.

Should I stop knitting the sweater and return to Liv, knit in the very soft and lovely Rowan Cashcotton, or the mittens I started in a luscious red merino wool? The Brooks Farm Primero beckons. So does the bamboo I bought at Stitches. I guess I'm wondering if the Knitter's sweater is worth the investment. I do need the knitting practice. What would you do? I'm itching to buy some Rowan Summer Tweed for a pattern I picked up at Stitches, so I'm sort of making a bargain with myself. Finish the sweater and I can reward myself with the summer tweed. But at the same time I want to enjoy my knitting.