A Good Yarn

Monday, April 30, 2007

Another film and other stuff

On Thursday night I saw this film:

It's about a 12 year old boy, Dvir, living on a kibbutz in Israel in the mid-70s. For those who are unfamiliar with them, a kibbutz is sort of like a commune - the idea was for Jews to join together and create a community that was self-sufficient and where everyone contributed and was taken care of. The director of this film grew up on a kibbutz, although he says this is not strictly autobiographical. In the film, Dvir's father has died and his mother has recently returned from psychiatric hospitalization. He has an older brother, but his brother is more focused on girls and his army service. Dvir is just starting his bar mitzvah year and has to perform a series of tasks. He's also doing his best to care for his fragile mother and is beginning to feel an attraction to a new girl at the Kibbutz. The film is a nice growing of age story, but it also looks at the relationship between this ill mother and her son and more broadly at the less utopian elements of kibbutz life. I enjoyed this complicated look at life and the performances by everyone in the film.

I took the weekend off from the M-SPIFF to go to Sioux Falls for my nephew's baptism. My dad was in from Florida, so it was nice to spend some time with family. Here's the cutie-boy in his baptism suit:

and here's one of my sister, Jason and me at brunch on Sunday:

Even though he's crying in both of those pictures, that's pretty unusual for him. He's such a good baby. I think in both cases he was sucking on a pacifier and had it taken away for the picture, so he was just a bit annoyed with us. I don't blame him.

On the way down to South Dakota I stopped by Mary Lue's to check out what's left in the shop. They are moving to Mankato this summer, so everything is on sale, which I think I mentioned before. There's still a lot left in the shop, but I just picked up a few skeins of a nice basic sock yarn:

and yes, I do love these colors:

I gave my sister the Tofutsies sweater and she seemed to really like it. Actually, she opened all of the presents after the baptism, so everyone saw it and ooed and ahhhed over it, which is always what we knitters love to hear!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Thanks everyone for the very nice feedback on my movie reviews. I still consider this primarily a knitting blog because the main reason I blog is to be part of that knit blog community - it's been so much fun to get to know some of y'all and especially to meet and knit with some of y'all. But my life isn't all about knitting so I couldn't see just writing about knitting. I'm equally passionate about both film and knitting and if I had to chose one or the other for the rest of my life, it would be so hard to do. So, I'm really excited that at least some of you enjoy the reviews and especially that you take my advice and see of these films - so cool!

Speaking of that - the hit of last year's M-SPIFF was a locally made movie directed by a Minnesotan, Ali Selim, called "Sweetland". If you haven't seen Sweetland, you just must. It's so sweet and wonderful. It will be out on DVD on July 10th. The number of people who have it on their Netflix waiting list will determine how popular it is and how many copies Netflix buys - help an independent filmmaker and put it on your wait list, please!!

So, back to this year's M-SPIFF. My plans to see a bunch of movies on Sunday didn't quite work out, mostly because of a series of bad decisions by me. But, I did see a couple and I have seen one every night this week. Here they go:

First up is a Norwegian film called "Reprise." I couldn't find a poster for it, but here are the two lead characters:

They're best friends who are both writers. At the beginning of the film they both mail their book manuscripts out to publishers. The one on the right is Philip. His book is immediately published to great acclaim. The one on the left is Eric. His book is rejected. However, Philip has a mental breakdown after becoming obsessed with his girlfriend and ends up hospitalized. Eric and a few of their other friends come to pick up Philip and bring him back to his apartment in Oslo. Eric continues to write and eventually he also is published. Most of the time all the guys just sort of hang out and party and talk and be guys together. It doesn't sound like much, but it was really entertaining. A lot of the film is told in flashbacks, so you have a constantly shifting timeline, although it wasn't at all confusing. The actors are all really good, especially the leads. The film was directed by Joachim Trier, who is getting a lot of buzz about being one of the up and comers.

Next I saw a documentary, Filmmakers in Action. The subject was really interesting - it showed how directors are fighting against any sort of manipulation of their films. There are a lot of ways in which films can be manipulated - you immediately think of colorization and of the pan and scan process of full screen DVDs. But there's also dubbing and inserting commercials for television broadcast and those little logos in the corner on a television broadcast. There's even discussion of whether putting subtitles on a film is mutilation of the film. It is pretty interesting to think about - directors make a million different choices in making a film, all for very specific reasons. Once you've jacked around with those choices, have you destroyed the integrity of the art?

There is definitely a legal difference between Europe and the U.S. and it seems to me that part of that difference may even lie in our views of filmmaking. The Europeans pioneered the "auteur" theory of film. Under that theory, film is a direct expression of the director's personal creative vision - the director is the author of the film like a writer is an author of a book. And in Europe, directors have not only financial rights in film, but a moral right, which they can defend in court. Directors have been successful in stopping all of the different manipulations I listed above in France and other European countries based on their moral rights to control their film. In the U.S., there is no such thing as a moral right to film. You have the copyright which usually is not held by the director, but rather the producers of the film. And in the U.S., we somewhat embrace the auteur theory, but we more think of film as a group effort. The screenwriter creates the basis of the film, the actors breath life into the words, the composer adds music, etc. And the director has the big picture control, but it's not just his or her sole work. Quite often, the director doesn't have control of the film (known as final cut). So, I think in part our laws reflect that theory. We're also more money/business oriented - it is called show business after all.

So, interesting topic. A lot to think about. But the execution of the film itself was not good. A lot of it was directors talking about how they feel about these different manipulations, which was fine. But they would often have one person talking and then they'd cut to some pictures of the next person who was going to be interviewed while you could still hear the current speaker and then return to film of the person being interviewed. So it was sort of like a little sneak peek of who was coming next. So weird and distracting. And in between different parts of the film, they had this young, sexy actress serving sort of as a narrator, I guess. She would read some monologue about the issue or a couple of times she was supposed in a conversation with some of the directors. She was wearing a different outfit every time she appeared on screen, but they were always really sexy and she had dark red lipstick and a ton of makeup on. It just was so weird. It was like, we've got this boring series of interviews with old white guys who are directors, so let's throw this sexy young thing in to liven things up.

Monday was:

Bothersome Man, in English. Another Norwegian film. This one was a little more strange. It's about this guy, the title character, who finds himself delivered to a life that he doesn't quite fit into. He doesn't seem to have a memory of where he came from or who he was before, but he does remember things being different. He's told he's an accountant and he finds everyone at work is very pleasant and his boss is very anxious to make sure he's not overworked. He meets a lovely woman and they move in together. They make love often, but it doesn't seem to have an ounce of passion. Food has no taste, alcohol has no effect, there's no smells anywhere. Everything is just gray and steady and boring. It looks like everyone lives in an Ikea catalog. The man wants more, but that doesn't seem possible. It's obviously a comment on suburban life and materialism. There were some really funny parts, but it was just a bit theoretical and cold for my tastes.

Tuesday was:

This was another one that was just ok for me. It's set in 1980s China and is about a Chinese orphan who is sent to apprentice a botany professor and learn Chinese herbalism so she can come back to the Orphanage to take care of their gardens. The professor is a harsh and demanding taskmaster, but she stays because she falls in love with his daughter. Of course, a lesbian relationship isn't really accepted in society so the orphan marries the professor's son, who is in the military, so he won't be around but she'll still be able to stay with her sister in law/lover. The film is really lovely and lush. However, it was pretty simplistic and very, very slow paced. I was completely taken by the lead character, who was played by Mylen Jampanoi. I found out her father is Chinese and her mother is French - she has incredibly gorgeous eyes and just looks very exotic. Apparently she recently married a Bollywood star called Milind Soman, who is also extremely gorgeous. It's like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt getting together.

Last night I saw:

This is a joint Irish/Romanian film based on a true story. In 1999, a group of 41 Romanians got travel visas to enter Ireland supposedly to participate as a choir in a music festival. But no one ever saw any of them again after they left the airport. The immigration scam became huge news in Ireland. In the film, an Irish conman, Mickey, goes to Romania to escape the gangster he owes $50,000. He meets up with an old Romanian friend he once snuck into Ireland in a shipping container. Unfortunately, they were discovered and Mickey landed in jail and his friend was deported back to Romanian. While Mickey is hiding out from the Irish gangster he manages to get entangled with two gangsters in Romania - one called "The Frenchman" who is certifiable and the other a gypsy. In order to extricate himself from all of his problems, he comes up with the idea of putting together a "gypsy chorus" by charging $5,000 per head and getting all the visas he'll need to get them to Ireland. That way he'll be able to pay off the Irish gangster and escape the Romanian ones. Simple, eh? What follows is face paced, highly stylized and great fun.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


It's that time of year again - The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (M-SPIFF). So, this blog will be very film intensive for the next week or so. If you don't enjoy the film reviews, don't worry, knitting will be returning soon. I didn't go to the Thursday opening night this year and I had to miss out on Friday night, because I went to a party held by one of my law school buddies. We had a great night eating and catching up so I'm glad I went to the party, but I do hope one of the documentaries from Friday night is shown again in the "Best of Fest".

Saturday I started out not with M-SPIFF, but with the last Talk Cinema film of this season. I missed the last show because I was on my cruise, so it's been a long time since I've been there and it seemed odd. This film was a great ending to the series and I will definitely be re-subscribing this fall:

"Once" was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award, and I can see why - it's incredibly charming but not your typical Hollywood romance. The film is sort of a musical, but not in your traditional way of characters bursting into songs to communicate with each other. There's music throughout and the music does communicate a lot about the characters and what's happening, but it's all very organic and natural. The film is set in Dublin, Ireland and is about an Irish guitar player who writes sad songs about the woman who broke his heart and plays for change on the street. One day a Czech woman stops by to admire his music and they strike up a friendship. She's a pianist and when they play music together, it's just magical. The lead is played by Glen Hansard, who is in an Irish band called The Frames. I just loved the music and hope the soundtrack is available - it's sort of folksy rock. The lead actress, Marketa Irglova, is also quite good - her voice reminded me of Aimee Mann. I really wish that I'd been to Dublin before so I could recognize the places these two walk around. If you like good stories and good music, I'd highly recommend this film. It has a 100% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes right now, although there are only 6 reviews posted. There's also knitting in it - the piano player's mother is knitting one night at home. "Once" is also part of the M-SPIFF, so it will be shown on Friday at 7:00 at the Oak Street Cinema. I'm sure it's also going to eventually be shown at the Landmark Theaters.

After Talk Cinema I headed over to Yarnover to meet up with a couple of friends. Even though I didn't take any classes this year I wanted to check out the market. I did pretty well in keeping my purchases modest - just a couple of patterns, a pair of Lorna's Laces sockweight and a couple of skeins of Alchemy yarn that were half off at Coldwater Collaborative - I thought I had bought all they had of the purple Synchronicity when I was there during the Treasure Hunt, but when I saw two more skeins I snapped them up. This is a long post, so I'll show the pictures later.

Last night I finally headed over to M-SPIFF and caught two films. The first was also a big hit at Sundance this year:

This was another charming, wonderful film. It stars Keri Russell as a waitress at a Pie Diner - she makes great pies with funny names like "I don't want Earl's baby pie" and is married to an abusive, controlling jerk, played by Jeremy Sisto. Yep, she finds she's pregnant with Earl's baby and it throws a bit of a wrench in her plans to save up money to enter a pie contest, win the $25,000 grand prize and leave Earl. She's sad and depressed until she meets her new OB-GYN played by Nathan Fillion, who is wonderful as always. Rounding out the cast are her fellow waitresses (played by Cheryl Hines and the director, Adrienne Shelly) and Andy Griffith as Old Joe, the curmudgeonly pie diner owner. These are all really funny, slightly wacky Southern characters (if you read the Crazy Aunt Purl blog, you know what I mean). It's also one of those films that captures the erotic nature of food - the pies look so amazing, especially in the opening sequence. This film has a ton of heart with great performances all around and I also highly recommend this one. It will be coming to one of the Landmark Theaters in early May, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it gets selected for "Best of Fest".

One thing that I wanted to note about Waitress - the director, Adrienne Shelly, was murdered in October in a way that is so bizarre that it spawned a Law & Order episode. She had an argument about the noise that a day laborer was making in the apartment below her while she was trying to work and he punched her and killed her. He covered up the murder by trying to make it look like she hung herself. She died before she found out the film was accepted by Sundance and didn't have a chance to enjoy the success that she's now having. She gives an excellent performance in this film and I'm sure she would have had a pretty successful directorial career as well. It's really so tragic.

The other film I saw last night was:

Lars Von Trier also directed Dogville, Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark. This film is a big departure from those films. It's funny and light, but it does have a layer of commentary about both corporate corruption and film pretentiousness. The film is about a guy, Ravn, who owns a tech company, but when he started it 10 years ago, he told everyone he was just an employee like them. He said "the boss of it all" is in America tending to his other businesses and blamed every unpopular decision on "the boss of it all". Now he wants to sell the business and make a huge profit, but the buyer, an Icelandic blowhard, refuses to deal with anyone but the owner of the company. So, Ravn hires an actor, Kristoffer, to play the part of this mythical person. It's supposed to be just for a short meeting, to show his face, but the meeting doesn't go well and Kristoffer has to stick around for a week and keep playing the part, not only to the Icelandic buyer, but also to the employees of the company. Of course, after 10 years' absence, these employees have a thing or two to take up with the boss, and hilarity ensues. Kristoffer knows nothing about this company or who his character is, but being a method actor, he really needs to dig deep and figure him out. Kristoffer's cluelessness and his interactions with everyone at the company create a lot of laughs and you find yourself cheering on Kristoffer as he starts to actually care about this company and wants to do what's best for them. Von Trier is famous for having conflicted relationships with his actors, so he's definitely commenting on the way directors control their actors and how silly actors can be. It very much has the feel of the old screwball comedies, with the characters behaving sort of outlandishly and the main character bumbling around. I enjoyed it a lot.

One note on the look of the film. The cinematographer is listed in the credits as "Automavision". I'd never heard of this before, but from what I gather, it's some sort of computer program that controls the camera and sets shots in a random way. It was somewhat disconcerting to me, because quite often, shots are framed in an odd way. I remember one scene where a character walks in the door, but his head is out of the frame, so I had no idea exactly who it was at first. Characters are often cut off, partly in and partly out of the shot and framed off to the side or whatever. Either I got used to it or it didn't always happen, because it didn't bother me most of the time. There were also quite a few really jumpy cuts in scenes. I remember the big brouhaha when "Breaking the Waves" came out and people got seasick from how much motion there was with the camera. I guess von Trier just enjoys playing with technology and using different methods to film his work.

I think I'm going to see quite a few films today since I'm going to be gone next weekend, so look for another really long post tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Combo Platter

I saw a sneak preview of this film last night:

I have mixed feelings about it. First, let me say that Ryan Gosling is delicious! Oh my goodness. I may have a new boyfriend. The film stars Ryan Gosling as a hotshot assistant district attorney who is leaving the DA's office to join a big fancy private firm. He's from "the wrong side of the tracks" so this is his key to the world of glitz and glamour that he's craved. Anthony Hopkins plays a wealthy man who murders his wife when he finds out that she's been having an affair with a police hostage negotiator. He's not only rich, he's also super smart and even though he's caught in his house with the body and the gun and confesses that he shot her (to her lover who arrives on scene), it's all just a clever plan by him to get away with it. Yes, there are some distinct similarities to Silence of the Lambs with Hopkins' portrayal of another brilliant, charming killer and the working class professional that he toys with, but I still really enjoyed the interplay between the two characters.

I don't want to give too much away, so this may not make much sense. But the whole thing just fell apart for me in the last 1/4 of the movie. For one thing, the big twists weren't really all that clever or surprising, so that was a letdown. Also, this is a legal thriller and so the climax of the movie hinges on legal concepts and maneuvers. And they were total and complete bullshit. I can go to a law-themed movie and set aside the "reality" of how the laws work and how courts work, etc. for the sake of the movie. However, this was just too incorrect for me to overlook, so by the end I just was irritated with the whole thing. As I said to my friend when we were leaving the theater, I can set aside logic and suspend disbelief to a certain point in movies. But once you reach the point where I can't suspend disbelief any more, then I start to question everything that came before, too, that I just accepted. However, I will say that the rest of the almost full audience seemed to really enjoy the film and the ending, so if you're not a lawyer, maybe you'll enjoy it too. There are quite a few funny lines and the cinematography is really cool and interesting to look at too.

My other sock club selections arrived this week and I'm thrilled with them:

This is the Sweet Socks Project Spectrum Club selection for April - it's called Princess and that's a fantastic name for it - so cute and pinky!

And this is the April selection from the Sweet Sheep Sock Club. This is from All Things Heather and once again, Heather has done a brilliant job. It's called Spring Fling, which is a great name. It also reminds me of tropical fruit Skittles. LOVE IT! It's a 50 merino/50 tencel blend, so it has a bit of shine to it. Also very appropriate for Project Spectrum with some lovely pinks and greens.

And finally I've been meaning to post a picture of this goofy thing for months:

I drive by this house on my way to work most days and as you can see, they have a Frankenstein monster attached to the front of the house and they dressed him up for Easter. Before that they had a green tophat and shamrock for St. Patrick's Day and before that a big sparkly red heart in his hands for Valentine's Day. I always make sure to look for him as I'm driving down that road, as I'm quite amused by it. I don't remember seeing it before February, but perhaps they originally hung him up for Halloween last October.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Project Name: Raglan Cardigan
Designer: Me and Ann Budd
Pattern Source: Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns
Yarn: SWTC Tofutsies
Yarn Source: Needlework Unlimited
Date Started: 2/24/07
Date Completed: 4/11/07

Comments: I knit this sweater for my baby nephew, Jason. I originally started another pattern with this yarn, but I read my gauge requirements wrong and it was coming out much too small. So, I ripped that one back and knit this one using the pattern numbers from "Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns". I chose a raglan sleeve and a v-neck cardigan with a 2x2 ribbing on the edges. I love the fabric this yarn made. It has a very nice, drapey feel to it and it feels like it would be nice and cool for summer nights. I used a size 2 needle for the body of sweater and size 0 for the ribbings, but I think I'd go down even smaller if I were to knit socks with this yarn. Here is how the back patterning worked out:

I wasn't sure about how the pooling would work out, but I liked the finished look. It looks pretty even and like a pattern, not just a blob, at least to my eyes. The blue, green and yellow just cried out for duckie buttons and happily I found some in the right size:

Speaking of baby knitting, I've also been working on the blanket for Jason. You know what the most boring thing in the world to knit is? A plain stockinette stitch square:

Last time I blogged about this, I mentioned that it was coming out smaller than the other side of the blanket so I was going to rip out and start over on a bigger needle. Which I did. And then it was too big and I didn't much like the fabric. So I ripped out again and re-knit what I had originally started. Note to self: next time, don't rip out the old stuff. Just start over with new yarn on the bigger needle and if it works out, THEN rip out the old stuff. I might be done knitting this already if I hadn't wasted so much time on the ripping and starting over and ripping and starting over. I'll just have to ease out this side when I sew the two sides together. It feels like I'm just knitting miles and miles and miles of stitches though:

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thank you!!

I received my Special Swap package from Lynne in the mail yesterday, and the timing was perfect! This has been a tough week at work. My caseload is pretty heavy right now and just about every case is falling apart - it seems like it's been one crisis after another. Ugh. Plus, Monday is tax day. And I haven't done my taxes. Because I owe a lot of money. And if I just ignore something, it goes away, right? So, my mind has not been at ease this week and a little present always makes me feel better (so sue me, I'm materialistic!) Only this wasn't a little present, it was a big present!

First of all, the box was awesome:

How much fun is that? There's stuff from England, Scotland, Ireland, hmmmm... The theme for this swap was travel/a dream vacation, so I suspected my trip was taking me to Great Britain. And I was right!

After I opened the box, the first thing I saw was my favorite thing, this case:

Oh, my goodness! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! It reminds me of the little overnight case that Grace Kelly brings over to Jimmy Stewart's place in Rear Window. And just like Grace Kelly, Lynne filled that little case up with lots of goodies:

So, in particular we have:

On the right, from a stop by the beaches of Wales, a little package with shells and stone. Everything is resting on a lovely piece of Irish linen. And directly from England itself, a little Spode china cup, a bar of Laura Ashley soap and a cake of soap from Harrod's, the best department store in the world! No trip to England would be complete without a little Debbie Bliss (one of my favorite designers, by the way) and this lovely little package:

took care of that:

I didn't have that book yet, either and I love it! Besides the DB book, Lynne also enclosed a couple of patterns for that yarn that I'm sure you spied inside of the case and a lovely letter. By the way, on top of that brown package was a little envelope that was in the case that held some vellum travel-theme embellishments, which I will definitely use in my papercrafting. Oh, and speaking of that yarn, from England there's a skein of gorgeous Posh yarn:

and no visit to the British Isles would be complete without a stop in Scotland, where you can find this Rowan Scottish Tweed:

My favorite color of pink! There was one more small box within the box:

A lovely Tartan box with a bottle of Scottish Linen Water inside - and I really do use linen water when I iron.

Lynne, as the Brits would say, it's brilliant! I just love everything. I am of Irish descent, but I've never been to Ireland, so that truly is my dream vacation. And right now I'm reading "Voyager" in the Outlander series, so I'm steeped in Scottish history and using Scottish phrases like "dinna trouble yerself" and "ken", so this theme was absolutely perfect. I'm gobsmacked!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Edward Scissorhands

I went to Edward Scissorhands at the Ordway last night. This is a musical/dance version of the movie by Tim Burton from 1990. The production is created by Matthew Bourne, who creates these sort of dance plays that are very popular. He combines the big production values of a Broadway musical with dance movement to create something that is very accessible, even to those of us who don't attend the ballet or frequent modern dance shows.

At first I thought it was sort of an odd choice of content, but having seen it, Edward Scissorhands is the perfect piece to be recreated as dance. It's sort of big and theatrical to begin with, so Bourne was able to reproduce it in movement very well. Even though no words are spoken or sung, you totally understand who all of the characters are and sort of why they act the way they do.

Part of that is because of the costumes and sets. They are incredible and convey a lot about this small town and the people in it. The whole show is just a feast for the eyes. The Danny Elfman score from the film is used pretty liberally in the show. I'm a huge Elfman fan and I thought his score was much, much better than the rest of the music. The storyline in the film is changed here and there, but the general story is the same and overall I really liked it. My favorite scene is the last one of the first act when Edward and Kim dance together among all these topiaries. I did feel, however, that the show wasn't as emotionally impactful as the film. Perhaps for me that's just the nature of film (and my boyfriend Johnny Depp's haunting portrayal of the pain and loneliness of Edward), but I was much more moved by the film than the play. However, I did enjoy the play and it was just stunning visually. If you want to dip your toes into dance theater, enjoy the visual nature of live performance or are just a big fan of the film, I'd say check this one out.

Since I was out late at the theater, I didn't have time to finish up my cardigan, but I did block it out and found some very cute buttons to use:

I am absolutely in love with the raglan decreases - probably because they look like mitered squares:

My plan is to sew on the buttons and work in the tails tonight, so I'll have a nice new sweater to give baby Jay-jay when he is baptised in a couple of weeks.

I got my April selection from the Posh Sock Yarn Club:

Wouldn't that have been perfect for the last PS color pairing? It's still a bit pastel and pale for my tastes, but this is actually something I would use.

And yes, that is snow you see under the yarn. I've been trying not to complain about the weather, but I just can't stand it any more! I spent most of March in sandals and short sleeves, I'm DONE with winter!!! We had snow last week and now again today. It was only 3 degrees warmer on Easter than it was on Christmas. ENOUGH!!! I'm tired of my winter clothes and want to wear the cute summer dresses I've bought!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

It's a quiet weekend around these parts, for a change. I'm enjoying not having to rush around from activity to activity for a change. I have an almost Finish Object:

All I need to do is block it out, work in the ends and sew on the buttons. But first I need to buy buttons. As you may recall, I started this sweater earlier and ripped it out because it was too small. Given the success of that second effort, I was emboldened to rip out another project - the second side of the baby blanket. It was kind of hard to see in the pictures, but the blue side has a diamond pattern knit in. The green side is just plain stockinette. Because of that slight change in texture, the green side was smaller than the blue side. I was going to just try to block it out bigger and try to stretch it a bit when sewing them together, but this morning I decided to rip the whole thing out and start over on bigger needles. I was two balls into the project, but oh well. It's just a big stockinette block and this way it'll look much nicer.

And in the continued spirit of confessing my sins (of buying way too much yarn), here are some sock yarns I bought recently. I am in love with the Jojoland because of the color changes, the nice hand and the reasonable price, so I bought three more colorways:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Yarn Harlot

As you've probably heard if you're from around here, the Yarn Harlot was in town yesterday to do a book reading. We have about 30 different yarn stores (literally) in the Twin Cities, but it took this long to get the Harlot to town. We have so many knitters around here that they had to have the reading in an auditorium instead of a yarn store or book store. In fact, the auditorium (capacity 400) was full and there was a waiting list of people who wanted to get in. That's a lot of love for the knitting and the blogger.

Stephanie's reading was really entertaining. She reads with a great inflection and sense of timing, so her stuff is even funnier aloud than it is on paper. The Harlot love gets to be a little over the top sometimes, so I was considering not going, but I'm really glad I did. I quite enjoyed seeing everyone and hearing her talk.

For those who haven't been to one of these things, she talked about how popular knitting is, but how society hasn't yet quite caught on. She had many lists - about the stereotypes about knitting and knitters, about how we can combat those stereotypes and about how we can respond if someone catches sight of the stash. She talked about some of her own experiences on the book tour and meeting people who think writing these knitting books is "cute" and "small". I had to chuckle when I was in Barnes & Noble today and her latest book was on the big new releases table right up front - prime real estate in their world. These books are funny and enjoyable, but they're definitely not cute or small.

I brought my camera, but I didn't take any pictures. In part, because I was sitting toward the back, so really the only good picture I could have gotten was just a big crowd shot showing how many people were there. I didn't get a book signed, so I didn't have a personal encounter with Ms. Pearl-McPhee. Plus, y'all know what Stephanie looks like by now, right?

I knit on the other project I've been working on lately:

You may remember that this is a baby sweater for my new nephew, knit out of Tofutsies yarn. I originally started it back in February as a hoodie, but it was really small and he would have grown out of it soon. So, I ripped it out and started it over with more stitches and as a raglan cardigan. I'm about halfway done with the yoke, so I'm coming close to finishing this one up. I really want to get some cute buttons to make this pretty plain knit special.

The Yarnery hosted the Yarn Harlot's visit and I think they did a really good job of organizing the whole thing. At first, I thought it was silly that they were requiring reservations to the talk (even I underestimated the power of the knitters), but since it was full and had a pretty lengthy waiting list, it's good that they did. They gave each of us a canvas tote bag, which was a nice surprise. They gave away a lot of door prizes, though as usual I won nothing (I have terrible luck). The evening started on time and I really didn't notice any major hiccups. They had a nice big basket of Fleece Artist for sale, so I did my part and bought this lovely skein (all I do is give!):

I was just drawn to that spring green. No one local had been carrying the Fleece Artist sock yarn before, so I had just recently bought this skein on sale at Little Knits:

LOVE the blue and the green and the brown. And it was on sale! So it's ok that I restocked my sock yarn collection with more Fleece Artist.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


There's embarrassingly little to show for the month of March, but I did do some knitting. I am working on a blanket for my new nephew, Jason:

It's a two-sided blanket and as you can see, I've finished the blue side. I started the green side, so I guess that fits in nicely with Project Spectrum for April (green, yellow and pink). When I started this blanket in February, I started with blue because that was the PS color for February and March, but I didn't think it'd be April before I started the green part. I also didn't think the baby would already be born. Oh well, I guess that's the way things go sometimes.

I may not have been knitting much, but I have been buying yarn. Here's a couple of my purchases:

Another skein of Jitterbug. The first time I bought Jitterbug I was very drawn to this pink skein, but I decided it was too wacky. When I went back to Needlework Unlimited and it was still there, I decided it was meant to be mine and snatched it up.

This is Great Adirondack Soxie. I have seen this yarn online, but had never seen it in person until I stopped by Three Kittens to check out what the new owners had done with the place. It's much more open and while still carrying a very nice selection, it's more organized and less overwhelming. When I saw the Soxie, I knew I had to have a skein to add to my sock yarn collection. This color is just gorgeous, I think.

Finally, I wanted to mention that I was lucky enough to be given tickets for the new musical, Edward Scissorhands.

I'm going on Tuesday night and if you want to go, you can get a 25% discount on tickets:

Get 25% off tickets for "Edward Scissorhands" at the Ordway Center.

Three shows only! Tuesday, April 10 through Thursday, April 12 at 8 PM.

Visit the Ordway Center Box Office or phone 651-224-4222 with the
promotional code TOPIARY to receive your discount.

Go to http://www.ordway.org/performances/0607/edward.asp for show details.

Based on the motion picture classic by Tim Burton. Devised/directed and
choreographed by Matthew Bourne ("Swan Lake", "Mary Poppins")

Offer not valid on previously purchased tickets.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cruise, part II and FO!

Finishing up the cruise - our other day in port was in Grand Cayman. The water is just as beautiful and clear blue as you've heard. Unbelievably pretty. It was hotter and more humid there than in Key West, but it wasn't too bad. We spent some of our time in port shopping and one of the shopkeepers I talked to was complaining about how it was such a cold day and she had to dig through her closet to find warm clothes to wear. So funny! Besides shopping, we also had lunch at a little place right on the water, which was so nice and relaxing! I had a delicious blackened mahi-mahi with beans and rice, and of course a pina colada. Right about now, island living sounds so good. Our big adventure on Grand Cayman, though, was taking the Atlantis submarine down to look at coral and fish and turtles, etc.

It was hard to photograph anything because of the windows, of course, but you can get an idea of the coral and fish in this picture:

We got back on the ship a little early because Mom was getting a bit tired and I didn't want to spend any more money. The last day at sea was almost just totally relaxing - eating and reading and drinking and not much else. I was happy to come home but sad to see the fun end. When I picked up Fiona at the kennel, they had put little blue bows in her hair. You can sort of see them peeking out behind her ears here:

Such a pretty girl! I had to board her for my work trip too, but I took her with me to Sioux Falls to see the baby. I think she's glad to finally just be at home, too.

This weekend just flew by! Saturday we went to see the Robot Fighting competition at the Mall of America. My favorite robot, Humdinger, won the championship. It has a spinning weapon in the front, which makes it pretty exciting to watch :-) We had dinner at the California Cafe. It used to be my favorite restaurant at the Mall, but I hadn't been there in a while. Overall, the dinner was pretty disappointing. Some of the bread wasn't fully cooked, so it was all doughy. My drink had a film of soap on it (the second drink because there was something in the first glass), and the food overall just wasn't as good as it had been in the past.

Sunday, we went out for brunch and then checked out some of the films at the Omnifest at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I had seen the Nascar film at the Omni Theater at the zoo a couple of years ago and we had been to the Jane Goodall film at the Science Museum before. So, we decided to check out the Vikings film, Australia and Hurricane. I had seen the Vikings exhibit at the Science Museum but for some reason had missed the Omni film at that time. I'm glad I had another chance to see it, because it was pretty interesting. I've been to Iceland and wanted to read The Sagas after my visit and this film renewed that interest. Australia was your typical Omni film, showing gorgeous landscapes and getting up close with the animals. I love that type of film. I hadn't ever really seen a joey getting in and out of his mama's pouch before, so that was kind of cool, and creepy. Kangaroos are adorable! My favorite film, probably not surprisingly, was "Hurricane". The film crew just happened to be in New Orleans filming about the disappearing wetlands when Hurricane Katrina struck and illustrated the point they were making all too well. It's gorgeous and devastating to watch. Seeing some of the wreckage on that huge screen is pretty overwhelming. The film particularly follows Tab Benoit and this 14 year old girl who plays the fiddle, so the music is pretty great, too. I'd highly recommend checking this film out before Omnifest ends on 4/15.

OK, I also finished up this little project over the weekend:

Project Name: Mitered Square Blanket
Designer: Sarah Bradberry
Pattern Source: www.knitting-and.com and Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic
Yarn Source: Many, many - it started with the stash and grew from there
Date Started: 4/2/06
Date Completed: 3/31/07

Comments: I first saw this blanket back in the pre-blogging days when I was subscribed to the big Knit List. Sarah Bradberry posted it on her website and I thought it was kind of cool, but kind of wacky, too. Flash forward a couple of years and the mitered blankets start appearing on the Mason-Dixon blog. Hmmmm, that looks really cute. Then the MDK book comes out and I can resist no more. I printed the pattern off Sarah's website, but still ordered the MDK book so I could look at the pictures up close and personal.

Tahki Cotton Classic is one of my all time favorite yarns and I had a bunch of different single skeins in my stash. Some were left overs from other projects, some were gifts from kind knitterly friends. I liked the idea of a mitered blanket in a very limited palette, but I wanted to use up stash, so I decided to just use a bunch of different colors. Over the last year, when I've been in yarn stores, I've always checked out the Tahki Cotton Classic shelves and picked up any colors that I really liked, as well as a few more neutral colors. All of the colors I had were bright and lovely, but I realized I needed to throw some neutrals in there to tone it down, just a little bit. I still wanted it brighter and more colorful than the MDK book sample, but not retina burning.

It may look like it's totally 100% random, but y'all should know that I'm genetically incapable of randomness. Way too rigid for that. I started this as a Project Spectrum project, so the first six squares are all themed, for each month. For instance, the first square started with pink and red, as those were the colors for that month. Then I made another square using the pink and another color and a third square using the red and a different color. The final square I used either pink or red and a fifth color altogether. Then I sewed those four smaller squares together to make one big square that is pink and red themed. Each month I did the same thing with the colors of that month. After project spectrum was over, I continued in a somewhat similar manner. Each new square I introduced a new color. I made one square starting with the new color, then made another square with the new color as the second color. I always sewed those opposite each other. I made the third square with one of the colors I had used in the first two squares (not the new color) and a fourth new color and then tried to make the fourth square complementary, but random. Even that got to be a little too patterned, so I eventually just started making both the third and fourth squares just complementary, but not necessarily using any color used in the first two squares. I think the overall effect does look random, but not too chaotic.

I thought I had bought too much yarn, but by the end I had used all but two skeins that are both the same color, so I set them aside so I can make something else with them. I of course have some partial skeins left, but I'll easily be able to use those up in baby hats and such. I don't know how many skeins I used total, because I never did count. Here's another picture of the finished product:

As I mentioned before, I sewed each four smaller square set together into a bigger square as I knit. I blocked the four squares first, and worked in all the tails. I'm so, so glad I did it that way. Blocking each square was very managable and made it easy to sew together. Plus I could intersperse the fun knitting in with the not as fun sewing together. And working the ends was a PITA, but it would have been far, far worse to have to do it all at one time at the end. After I sewed all the strips together and did the border, I think I could have steamed the whole thing one more time to make the seams lie a little flatter, but I haven't done that yet. I also think I probably should have made it square instead of rectangle, and added another row of squares down one side. I actually could have even kept it rectangle and added another row of squares both length-wise and width-wise, and made it a true bedspread. As it is, it just covers the top of my queen-size bed, but not the pillows and doesn't go down the sides at all. Here's a picture of it on my bed, but it's kind of hard to tell:

Once it warms up again and I take the down comforter off the bed, I'll put the blanket back on the bed and take another picture and you'll be able to see the size better. It's once again gotten down to the 20s at night here, so I still need my comforter.