Monday, October 31, 2005

Meme, Photos

Edited to add: many of you have asked about the pictures I submitted for the company contest - thanks for your interest and kind comments! I posted the photos and a few others to Image Zone.

I've been tagged by Agnes with a knitting meme! Although it is a rather dubious honor to be tagged because I sound depressed :-)

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. Super soft, easy on the hands, luxurious.

Your favorite needles?
Addi Turbos, hands down. I hardly knit with anything else except for birch DPNs or bamboo circulars if the yarn is extra slippery.

The worst thing you've ever knit?
There's a tie between the Tivoli Tee and the Diane tank because I messed up both of them so badly, although with Diane you can't tell.

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
Toughie. I guess I would have to say the Not-Knit-Round-Scarf, aka lacy capelet, from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch. I had a tough time with the yarn used in but I really enjoyed the pattern itself.

Most valuable knitting technique?
Knitting continental style. I spent a month practicing this and will never go back to the English style.

Best knit book or magazine?
In terms of techniques, Vogue Knitting Quick Reference. I carry it in my knitting bag at all times. It's been a lifesaver when I've forgotten how to do something. For designs and photography, I love Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick and Interweave Knits. Very inspiring. I look through both when I need a pick-me-up.

Your favorite knit-a-long?
I've only participated in one, the Tivoli Knit-a-Long, and didn't fare too well. Doh.

Your favorite knitblogs?
My favorite blogs are a mix of knitting and life experiences. I love knowing how knitting fits into people's lives and reading about the other experiences that shape the writer. So with that in mind, I have to say A View From Sierra County written by Birdsong and Knotted Thread written by Kelly. And Knit Knack by Rebekah is a hoot!

Your favorite knitwear designer?
Veronik Avery who designs for Interweave Knits.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)
The item I wear the most is the Give the People What They Want cardigan from Yarn Girls Guide.

But my favorite to wear is Marilyn by Debbie Bliss.

Who to tag?
How about it, Birdsong and Roberta?

I leave you with this photo of my camera-hogging cat, Little Kitty. She loves being photographed and is one of my favorite subjects.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

I haven't fully recovered from the knitting doldrums but managed to work on the Zippered Cardigan a little bit. I have to finish the decreases on one more front and then it's seam time. I said that to myself a few days ago, though.

Recently I've been distracted by the thought of knitting a shawl. I have the Shoalwater Shawl pattern in hand plus some lovely Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb in Iris Garden, but the Leaf Lace Shawl is so pretty too. Stop! I must stop! I can't finish the cardigan and I'm thinking about a shawl??? Just because it's freezing in the office? Stop.

In other news, I am one of the winners in a photo contest sponsored by The Company I Work For (TCIWF). The theme of the contest was Corporate Values. TCIWF has 6 major values that everyone is supposed to adhere to, with several mini-values in each category. I submitted 4 pictures and 2 were selected out of a pool of about 600 photos. Not bad, eh? TCIWF will professionally print and frame the photos poster-size. They will be displayed at the annual awards banquet and then given to the contest winners afterwards.

That's about it for any interesting news this week. It's finally cool in Sacramento and I'm happy to be wearing sweaters, corduroys and tall boots. Hope you're happily knitting or wearing your knitting wherever you are.

Until the next day in the life...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Random Knitting Thoughts

Thank you all for your encouraging words about this dratted knitting funk. Cassie said to do what moves me right now, which is spot-on with how I feel at the moment. What moves me is reading. Suddenly I have a voracious appetite for books! This makes me happy. Reading has been a dear pasttime. This past weekend I eschewed a 10-mile hike in Lake Tahoe to finish Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was a satisfying read, not too heavy but certainly the most serious and thoughtful book in the series so far. I won't ruin the story for anyone but if you liked the previous Harry Potter books, you should enjoy the latest. There are interesting twists in the end! New books have been added to my shelf: The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Both should be good snuggle-down-under-the-blanket kind of books. Perfect for autumn reading.

So these books had nothing to do with knitting except I noted the knitting references in the Harry Potter book - many sweaters from Mrs. Weasley. Will be interesting to see what they look like in the movie. Speaking of movies, I saw Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit over the weekend. Gromit knits! There was a cute scene where he picks up his needles and knits a bit on a jumper. Everyone looked at me when it happened.

The last random knitting thought - Katie Holmes, as the whole world knows, has been impregnated by the sly Tom Cruise; in an interview picked up by CNN, she says she is organizing a baby room and learning how to knit. Eeeeww. I don't know why this bothers me but it does. I don't approve of the Holmes/Cruise thing because I think Tom Cruise is a total control freak who brainwashed this young woman but WHATEVER, now she wants to knit. For the baby. It's just too, tooooo sickeningly pefectly young motherly.

I hope I didn't just offend anyone with that knit rant. I think knitting baby things is cool. Just the whole learning how to knit because I'm pregnant sounds so fake to me.

Oi. All right, things for you to think about on a Monday.

And Vicki, I plan to be at the Guild next Thursday!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Knitting Funk

I just can't do it. I can't make myself pick up the needles and knit right now. My knitting bag is sitting on the couch, stuffed with the pieces and parts of the Zippered Cardigan but I haven't touched it since Monday night.

What is wrong with me?

I still enjoy reading everyone's blogs and keeping up with your knitting triumphs but right now I have lost a bit of motivation. I'm not in a bad mood or unhappy, just not inspired.

Even my cat senses something is amiss. I have thrown a pile of yarn on the yarn room floor, oddball skeins that I plan to donate. Each is zipped up in big plastic baggie. Big Kitty has taken to dragging the bags of yarn from the yarn room and leaving them in the hallway or in the doorway of the master bedroom. Is she trying to tell me something?

You know, not knitting has freed up an enormous amount of time. I have cooked dinners this week and started reading the latest Harry Potter. Still, I feel a bit adrift somehow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Public Service Announcement - Freecycle

Lately I've been hearing a lot about a virtual grassroots organization called "Freecycle". Actually I knew about this group a while back ago but didn't sign up until last month. The goal is to offer gently used items for free rather than throw them away, kind of like swapping household items with your neighbor. The groups are designed such that they are local and moderated by a volunteer in your town. Kind of a nice concept. You won't have to go very far. However you can sign up for as many towns as you want.

Since signing up, I've seen everything from bed frames to appliances to chickens and a rooster (must go together) to construction materials being offered for free. Someone was even giving away yarn but I was too late!

If you're a packrat (like my SO), there's got to be something in your home that you don't need but are too lazy to pack up and donate to Goodwill (like me). Perhaps you'd be willing to send out a short email and let someone who needs it come take it off your hands.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Did you know that Kermit the Frog has just kicked off a world tour to commemorate his 50 years in Hollywood? He's come a long way. I didn't know frogs lived this long but he does have a Dick Clark air about him.

My fingers are tapping the keyboard waiting for inspiration and cleverness to begin flowing. It hasn't happened yet. I am at a loss for anything meaningful to say except "Hello World". Maybe it's because I did nothing this weekend. Wonderful nothingness. No trips, no excursions, just a normal Saturday running some errands, getting the house cleaned up and spending a decadent amount of time on the couch.

I discovered that my cable company is finally carrying DIY and I eagerly watched my first episode of Knitty Gritty. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but perhaps I'm just not hip enough for this show. The episode was about skirts. Lisa Daniels was the guest designer. The patterns were interesting and easy-looking, but the show's host seemed so impatient with the designer. And there were 3 youngish knitters of varying experience on the set. They introduced themselves in the beginning and promptly faded into the background. I wanted to know what they were knitting so furiously, why they knit, what they liked about it, etc. but there was nothing like that. The show was only 30 minutes and even less, really, with commercials. I can understand why they would move along like that but still...

I have made slow progress on the zippered cardigan. It's a fast knit when I'm doing it but I haven't had much time lately. So far I've finished the back and 2 sleeves. I just cast on for one of the front pieces. That's it. I need to run off now. Hope you all have a good week!

Until the next day in the life....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Nothing to Do With Knitting

I brought some socks with me to our weekend camping trip to Yosemite National Park last weekend but progress was slow. It's hard to knit during the drive when the road curves and bends every hundred feet or so.

Instead, I did a lot of hiking! Almost 20 miles worth. Every year we make at least one pilgrimage to Yosemite and last weekend was probably our only one for 2005. It was gorgeous! Some fall colors were beginning to show, the skies were deep blue, the air was just crisp and cool enough. We took a couple of short hikes up to Vernal Falls and the Tuolumne Grove. You can see more pictures on Image Zone. Our main hike was new to everyone - a fantastic trail to the North Dome, a smallish rounded hump of granite that was directly across from Half Dome. It took my breath away, the view. It was one of the best I'd ever seen of Yosemite and we've done quite a few hikes there. Half Dome is the gold standard of hikes. If you go to Yosemite, you have to hike up to the top of Half Dome at least once. It's 18 miles roundtrip and takes all day. There are cables along the short side that you use to pull yourself up.

Along the way to North Dome we took a short detour to Indian Arch, an amazing natural rock formation. It's huge as you can see from the photo with the 4 guys. The arch looks so thin and brittle, yet once we were on it, it could hold a few of us up. Maybe not for long though.

The Tuolumne Grove was an easy hike to a small stand of sequoia trees. Sequoias are some of the longest-living trees in the world. They are gigantic but lovable at the same time. They are fairly rare since their living conditions have to be just right - the amount of water, the deep, loose soil, the elevation and temperature. My friend McGinnis pictured here is 6'4. He's standing about 6 feet in front of the tree.

So, not much knitting was accomplished. Thought about it a lot...I wonder if I could knit socks that could withstand all the hiking abuse. I haven't tried any sock yarn heavier than fingering weight so I have no idea what to use. I have sport weight but I'm not sure that would cut it. Any ideas or suggestions?

Until the next day in the life....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Knitting ROI

As I was doing an impromptu sweater inventory in my closet last night, it occurred to me that while the number of handknit items in my collection has surpassed 10, I actually wear only a few on a regular basis. My favorites are Give the People What They Want cardigan, the Einstein jacket, the warm and girly Marilyn pullover and the Side-to-Side Ribbon Pullover.

It could be that the seasons dictate which sweaters I would wear, but even so there are certain ones that I gravitate towards more often than others. It could also be argued that these are the best fitting but that's not really true either. And then there are people who knit for knitting's sake and not use the garments or give them away altogether, but that's not my MO.

So why then? Well, after a moment's thought...I think it simply boils down to the best combination of function and comfort. Comfort is fit, softness and the degree to which the yarn does not irritate my skin. Fit is VERY important because if it doesn't fit, it isn't comfortable. Function is convenience, versatility and ease of care. If I'm going to worry that the sweater will get wet, must be dry-cleaned if it gets a speck of dirt on it or can only be worn in specific situations, it will probably spend most of its time in the closet rather than on my person. Versatility is a huge plus - I will wear something a lot if I can wear it on the weekends, at work or on a casual evening out. Given all of this, it won't surprise you to know that I wear the 2 cardigans the most often. Both of them are simple knits and I'm happy to say they've held up well so far.

Although I unofficially select each project based on the sweater's function, comfort, technique/stitch, style and yarn it seems I get the biggest bang for my knitting buck with the projects based on the first 2 criteria. This may change which projects I knit up in the next few months. The tweedy cardigan I'm working on now is a good choice - I'll most likely use it right away.

(By the way, the number 10 isn't random. Fran from the Knitter's Review forums once said you could consider yourself an intermediate knitter if you've knit at least 10 sweaters.)

Thanks for letting me ramble on. Which sweaters - or scarves, handbags, blankets, socks - have you knit that you use the most often and why?

Until the next day in the life...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Running and Knitting

oakland_marinaThis weekend was the 2005 Bridge to Bridge 12K race in San Francisco! Karl and I drove down to Oakland on Saturday, spent a leisurely evening in Jack London Square and then ran the race this morning (Sunday). A more detailed account of the race can be found on Fit to Knit! and I posted some pictures on Flickr.

OK, confession time. I have made un-progress on the Tivoli. After I first tried it on, I just kept on knitting and didn't check the fit again...this was last weekend while I was in Oregon. Well, after I frogged a bit and reknit the 20 or so rows, I tried it on again and realized with horror that I had made some horrible mistakes. First was that the size was simply too big. I could've lived with this but secondly, the waist decreases were off. I mean, they weren't positioned correctly. It was so obvious and I was so mad at myself. This is the second sweater in a row that I impatiently screwed up. Is this a sign? Am I burning out? I felt like it that night. So I put the sweater away for now. I need some space and time from it. In the meantime, I got back on the horse and started knitting the Zippered Jacket from the 2004/2005 Winter Vogue Knitting issue. This is a very fast knit. I started yesterday (Saturday) and have already finished the back of the cardigan. It is supposed to have some small easy cables but the yarn I'm using is a thick/thin slubby yarn. It doesn't show the cables at all so I'm not doing them. However I am keeping the 2 purl stitches in the middle of the stockinette expanse as a design element. It will be repeated up the sleeves and on the 2 front panels.

silk_bagThe other knitting-related news is while in Jack London Square, I picked up this super-cute silk tote bag from an Asian import store. It's the perfect size for WIP knitting projects. I was very tempted to buy more than one but that would've been a little much, no? Karl was indulgent and made no peep about the purchase. He knows I have so many bags! But he can't really talk because he has about 20 backpacks himself. Anyway, this knitting tote is just darling, so chic and ethnic. It will probably pull double-duty as a hip bag for work too.

Whew, another weekend down. I've got a few more fun ones coming up and then hopefully I can settle in and enjoy the longer, cooler evenings at home.

Until the next day in the life....