A Good Yarn

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Home, Sweet Home

The less said about the Vikings game on Sunday, the better, probably. I will say, that I am really psyched about our new, close up seats this year. It sucks to pay so much to watch a losing team, but it's so fun to see everything so well. STILL loving Adrian Peterson, too.

Sunday night I attended the Socks in the Cities KAL get together at The Yarnery and I finished the first of the Quidditch Socks:

I stuffed the leg with yarn because they look a little better with the ribbing slightly stretched, but it's way too small to fit on my fat leg. Since I made the leg shorter, I should have also adjusted the stripes to make them closer together, but I don't think Michael's really going to care much.

The Yarnery has decided to continue the Socks in the Cities KAL to be an ongoing event. Every month there will be a featured sock yarn that members will be able to get a discount on and there will be a prize drawing every month for members who have finished a pair of socks that month. Periodically there will be KAL get togethers too. We had a great time knitting, chatting and eating cookies on Sunday - the time flew by. So, if you're a sock knitter here in the Twin Cities, join the SITCKAL!

A couple of weeks ago, Amy posted a sort of meme - things around the house that make you smile. I've seen it on a few other blogs too and it seemed like a good idea. I was starting to feel a deep-seated need to take a vacation, but I don't have the funds for a vacation right now, so taking a moment to appreciate what I've got right here at home seemed like a good idea. Then a whole lot of people lost their homes due to the fires in California. I heard an interview with a guy about how he got a reverse 911 call to evacuate and they had about 30 minutes to pack up the car and get out of Dodge. So that also made me take a look around and think about what I really, really love (material-possesion wise. You know I most appreciate my family and friends, of course) and would want to pack up and bring with me. So, here's what I came up with:

This is what I call my knitting nest. It's my favorite spot in the house. I have my super comfy recliner so I can kick back or even lay back and knit and watch my favorite tv shows or movies. Next to the chair I have a little ottomon that I hide my latest yarn purchases in, so they don't count as official stash, yet, but they're not sitting out staring at me accusingly. I keep the current works in progress on there so I can pick one up and start knitting at a moment's notice. Next to that is a nice big basket that my dad gave to me a couple of years ago for Christmas. There were gourmet treats in there originally, but now I keep the extra balls of yarn for all of my current projects, a couple of projects that are lined up to be next on the needles, my Options needles set and my bigger notions bag. Everything I need to knit is right there within arms reach and I'm so happy and comfortable being there. In case of a fire, I would definitely grab all of my current WIPS and throw them in that basket and bring the basket along.

As a side note, I'd also like to point on the green walls on this and many of the other pictures. I absolutely adore my green walls and I'm so glad I painted them this summer. Pretty much every day when I'm sitting and knitting, I take a moment to appreciate how bright and cheery my favorite room is.

You may have noticed this little basket tucked beside my chair in the last picture. It's my measuring tape collection. I love all my super cute measuring tapes and I get so much pleasure from taking out one of these little gems when I need to measure something. I sort of like this basket because it matches the walls, but I am looking for pretty big bowl, maybe a nice goldfish bowl or something, to put the tapes in so I can see them all, not just the ones on top.

On the wall next to the front door I have this memo board, which I tuck in little cards I've gotten or mementos from events. My favorite thing on the board is the valentine that Red made me that says, "Renee, you are nice. From Red" If I had time, I probably would take this with me in an evacuation. I also have a box of photos waiting to be scrapbooked that I would definitely take with me. If I had time, I'd start bringing my photo albums too. Losing my pictures would just be heartbreaking.

This is a bowl of sock yarn that I keep in the living room as "art". Whenever I buy new sock yarn and I haven't officially entered it into stash yet, I keep it in the bowl for display purposes. It's overflowing since I went on the shop hop. When I took this photo it was just my Wollmeise. Oh, you haven't seen my Wollmeise yet, have you? I've been keeping it secret to myself because I love it so much. Some day I'll take pictures and post about it and officially enter it in the stash. This photo represents the stash, though. I get immense pleasure from my yarn collection. Most of it is in the basement and sometimes when I go down there to do laundry, I'll just go through a random box to look at and fondle the yarn. So pretty, so soft, so out of control. In case of a fire, I'd try to bring some stash with me, but there's no way I could fit the whole thing in my car. I was trying to figure out what I'd bring. Maybe just the boxes of sock yarn - they're all in smaller, handled boxes, so they're easy to carry. I have the stash from Maryland Sheep & Wool in its own box, so maybe I'd bring that one. I have all the red yarn that isn't sock yarn separated into its own box too, so that'd be easy to choose. For sure I'd bring that bowl of yarn from the living room, though.

That's my down comforter. I love it! It's starting to get cold at night here, now. I like to turn my furnace down to 60 at night and then just snuggle under the comforter. I really need a new mattress - mine is really old and lumpy, but I still like to stay in bed in the morning because it's so warm and comfie under my comforter.

There are a couple of pieces of technology that I can't live without. The first is my laptop. A couple of months ago I switched over to a laptop and now I use that both at home and at the office, so I always have all of my documents with me. Plus, I have it with me all the time so I can check my email or read blogs or whatever if I have some free time while I'm in between hearings or something like that. I absolutely love my laptop. But I also live in mortal fear that I might lose it, because everything is on there. If there was a fire, I'd DEFINITELY grab my laptop.

My other electronic must have is my cell phone. I also use my cell phone for a mobile phone, my home phone and my work phone. So I always have it with me. And it's bright pink with flowers on it, so I love it!

And finally, there are a few products I can't live without. These are what I like to think of as my "Good Things" like Martha or like Oprah's Favorite Things. From the left, I have the Wellpatch Migraine pads. I get tension headaches once or twice a month and unchecked, they are just horrific. I used to get them at night quite a bit, and I couldn't lay down, I couldn't sit still, the only thing that seemed to work was taking a Tylenol PM and driving around in my car until it started to kick in. Then I discovered these pads. I can feel a headache coming on and if I take Exedrin and put on one of these pads, I can usually avoid it. It seemed like they stopped making them at one point and so I stockpiled them, worried what I would do. But they were actually just repackaging them, so they're widely available now.

Next I have Vaseline Intensive Care Hand & Nail formula. My hands get really dry in the winter, but I don't like greasy lotions. This one is fantastic feeling and if you massage it into your nails too, it strengthens them up better than anything else I've found. And it smells nice, but not too strong. This is another product that I thought was discontinued for a while. That bottle in the picture is actually one I got in London - I was so excited to see it! But, it was only be repackaged (again!) and is also widely available.

Let's see, on the right, at the top is Being Gutsy by Rusk. This is my can't live without hair product. A couple of years ago I kept my hair straight and wore sort of a bob. My hairdresser gave me this product to give it extra body since I have very fine hair. It's amazing. Your hair feels like it has product in it, which is kind of a bummer, but it's not greasy. And the difference it makes in the body is well worth it. When I went back to curly hair, I stopped using it temporarily, thinking I didn't need more body. But my hairdresser suggested I try it to make the perm last longer and I realized it did more than that. It keeps the curls looking full and pretty without being fuzzy. Now I can't live without this. My hairdresser said they took this off the market for a while before, so now I live in fear that it'll be discontinued again.

Beneath that is my mineral powder. I have oily skin and get a shiny face and I love the look and feel of mineral powder.

Next to that is Soak, which most of you have probaby tried. I adore this stuff. It really does make your knits look and feel wonderful. I'd never wash my handknits in anything else.

Finally, something that isn't really in my house, but I keep it with me at all times. My Tide pen. I am a huge klutz. And I have an ample bosom, which I call my shelf, because every time I eat something, I end up spilling and the shelf catches the food and it sits there. But the Tide pen really works. If you drop a piece of lasagna down your shirt, you're probably out of luck, but a bite of lasagna and it's much less noticeable after the Tide treatment. Coffee drips? No problem! Until I embrace the bib as a fashion statement, the Tide pen is my constant companion.

So, that's it. The things that give me little thrills every day and some of the stuff I'd grab if I had to go. Obviously, I'd grab some clothes, too. I have too many to get them all, so I decided I'd just grab a suitcase and throw whatever I could grab in the front of the closet. I'd also grab a couple of books to read - my current read and just whatever was on top of the stacks. I wouldn't bring any of my CDs or DVDs. My ipod is always in my purse, so I'd have some music to listen to. Everything else I guess I could replace or live without. So it'd be some clothes, a couple of books, my pictures, my laptop and cell phone, my current knitting projects and then whatever yarn I had time to drag to the car. For some reason, I feel like yarn is more irreplacable than books or magazines or CDs. Each skein is unique and special. I think that's why when I really like it, I buy it, because I feel like I'll never have that chance again. Yeah, I've got a weird relationship with yarn.

So, what do you appreciate/can't live without?


Saturday, October 27, 2007


Thursday night I saw "Outside the Actor's Studio: 10 Years of the Scrimshaw Brothers", a series of comedy one-acts from Joshua and Joseph Scrimshaw. The Scrimshaws are hilariously funny and immensely popular around here. Most of the bits they did were great. There was one piece that didn't work for me. But it was a fun show and if you're looking for something light and fun to do tonight, their last show is at 10:00 at Bryant Lake Bowl. They're doing a couple of other shows between now and the end of the year, though, so if you can't make this one, check out one of the others.

Last night I took in this movie:

The film is based on a book written by Dennis Lehane, the author of "Mystic River". This one is the 4th in a series featuring Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. The film is directed by Ben Affleck and stars his brother Casey at Patrick. I was stunned with how good Casey Affleck was. I've seen him in a few other films and he's always sort of annoyed me and seemed like a second rate character actor, but he very successfully carries this film. It's set in South Boston, where a 4 year old girl has been abducted. The girl's mother is an alcoholic and drug addict who seems more than a little too happy about being the center of attention. Her older brother and his wife hire Patrick and Angie to help find their neice - thinking that their neighborhood ties might get them access to people and information that the police don't have. The film is a very satisfying mystery thriller, which kept me engaged throughout - I really, really, really had to go to the bathroom (those movie sodas are so huge!), but I couldn't leave because I didn't want to miss anything. There's also a whole other level to the film, though, that explores right vs. wrong and Patrick struggles with doing the "right" thing - but how do you know what is the right thing. That's something I struggle with all the time in my work and so I found it just absolutely fascinating and so well-done. I would highly recommend this film.

I was lucky enough to get a few more knitting books to review and I'm woe-fully late in getting to that. It seems like I'm always rushing off to one thing or another, and I really wanted to give myself some time to carefully read and review these books. So, finally, here I am. First up is my very favorite:

This is another book where the sub-title is a very nice description of the book: “24 Original Designs Updated for Today’s Knitters.” Mr. Fassett takes some of his beloved patterns from the last 20+ years and re-imagines them – sometimes just updating the color schemes to be more contemporary, but sometimes taking a motif from a sweater or coat and applying it to a smaller accessory like a bag or pillow or scarf. I’ve been a huge fan of Kaffe Fassett since I started knitting and his first new knitting book in ten years doesn’t disappoint.

Kaffe Fassett emerged as a knitwear designer using yarn in knitting like a painter’s palette. He tried to break the myth that color knitting is really complicated and beyond the reach of a beginner knitter. He continues to preach that gospel with this new book, with many picture captions describing how simple the garments are to knit, using just one or two colors per row, even though there are dozens of colors in the full garment. He only uses stockinette stitch and most of the designs are very simply shaped. There are no gigantic oversized coats or sweaters as Mr. Fassett used as his canvas with these designs originally, but there are some simple rectangles and squares in the form of afghans, pillows, stoles, scarves and sweaters and vests with very little shaping. These are not tailored or close fitting garments, but rather knitting artworks that are wearable.

The book itself is hardcover, but there is no dust jacket – which I like because I hate beat up old dust jackets. The book is drop-dead gorgeous and even if you don’t want to knit any of the projects, it would be a lovely coffee table book, so I appreciate the hard cover. According to Mr. Fassett’s introduction, the pictures were taken at Charleston House in Sussex and I agree with the designer that this is a perfect backdrop for his designs. Most of the garments are shown in more than one picture and there are quite a few pictures that are very nice close-ups, so you can really see the details. There are also a few pictures that are just extreme close-ups of the knitting – you can see the pattern and design, but you can’t tell if it’s a sweater or blanket or pillow. Mr. Fassett appears in some of the pictures, looking as gorgeous as his designs.

The book opens with an introduction from the designer and then a gallery of the designs, which is a feature I really like. It gives you a quick overview of what’s in the book if you’re just looking at it in a yarn or book store and if you’re trying to remember if a certain design is in that book, it’s nice to be able to look at one page. The first half of the book shows the pictures of the designs and a few pictures of just the house. As I mentioned, it is really beautiful. There are also comments for each of the pictures, with Mr. Fassett talking about how easy or difficult the design is or where he came up with the idea for the motif or even giving some ideas for other color palletes you could use. If colorwork still seems too daunting to you, there is one design that is strictly striped, but still uses many different colors and maintains that “Kaffe Fassett” look.

Mr. Fassett is a Rowan designer, so it’s not surprising that all of the yarns used in the book are currently available Rowan yarns – mostly Cotton Glace, Handknit Cotton and Scottish Tweed. As with most Rowan designs, the sweaters aren’t generously sized. Most of them fall within the range to fit a bust of 32” – 44”. Some of the sweaters and vests only come with instructions for one size. However, the designs do include a pretty generous ease and are simple shapes, so it wouldn’t be difficult to fiddle a bit and make it either smaller or larger. All garments have a schematic and they are all knit from charts. Since the chart is the full garment, some of them may need to be blown up to see them well. Some of the charts are in color, so if you made a copy, you’d need to use a color copier. A lot of the motifs are fairly easy to memorize, however, so you may not even need to refer to the chart that frequently. There is one page with a short description of some knitting techniques – such as intarsia, fair isle, blocking, sewing, reading charts and getting gauge. The book is almost entirely just pictures and patterns that speak for themselves.

If you're a veteran KF knitter, you'll eat this book up. If you're a fairly new knitter, I'd urge you to give it a try - knit up one of the pillows and see how fun and easy it is to knit up 20 different colors in one project. As for me, I always wanted to knit the Foolish Virgins Sweater and never got around to it. Now I can knit the Foolish Virgins Scarf and try my hand at a number of different KF motifs.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Abundance of Riches

Last week I picked up the door prize that I won at Needlework Unlimited during the Shop Hop:

I was just thrilled with my prize! It totally makes up for not winning anything last year. I got a skein of some cotton sock yarn:

And a skein of Megaboots stretch - I have never knit with this yarn so I'm really excited to try it out because I've heard such good things:

I also got two skeins of Colinette yarn (Silky Chic and Firecracker) and a couple different patterns for scarves that use these yarns.

Those bright and cheerful colors are right up my alley, too! There were also a couple of patterns and some yarn bobbins tucked in there too. Thank you so much Karen/Needlework Unlimited!

My luck lasted a bit longer, too and I won a prize on Darlene's blog for being the 50th entry in her yarn contest, some very cute stitch markers:

Thank you Darlene!!

And I paid for it, but I got some more yarny mail when the October Sock Club arrived from Amazing Threads:

Opal Socken Zirkus and a basic pattern for toe up socks on two circular needles.

And although the yarn is coming in faster than it's going out, I did finish one sock. These are my current car knitting, so I just work on them when I'm out and about and have some free time:

For someone who doesn't like lace socks, I seem to be knitting a lot of them lately, eh? I actually really like how these fit. They're from Socks, Socks, Socks and knit in Panda Wool yarn, which I really like a lot.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Back!

And I'll bet most of you didn't even know that I was gone. I feel sort of strange announcing on the internet "Hey, world! I'm going to be gone for a few days, so my house will be empty. Come on over and help yourself to anything you want." So, sorry for no warnings about my absence.

Before I left, I got a chance to see David Sedaris again. This was one of his best "readings" ever. He just seemed really relaxed and happy and the stuff he read was highly entertaining, of course. If you haven't read any of his books, I'll once again urge you to pick one up. Or better yet, get a book on tape so you can hear his words as they should be - spoken by the author.

I went to Utah for work. It was a nice, uneventful trip. I got a little bit of knitting done because we flew into Vegas and had a bit of a drive to Utah and back. I worked on the ribbed sweater for Michael, so it looks exactly the same as the front and I won't bore you with a picture.

I also had time to read on the plane, so I finished up this mystery:

It's the latest in the V.I. Warshawski series. If you haven't read this series, it's about a Chicago private detective named Victoria, but known as V.I. She's a tough lady from the South Side who went to college and then law school and eventually became a private investigator. She has a fondness for expensive shoes. She lives upstairs from an elderly gentleman who sort of watches over her and they share ownership of two dogs. I really like the character and the series. Unlike a lot of mystery series, this one hasn't deteriorated over time, in my opinion. Paretsky always includes some sharply pointed political aspects to her books and this one is no different. In this one, V.I. gets roped into coaching the girls' basketball team at her old high school when her old coach gets ill. She starts looking for corporate donations to pay for a real coach, including meeting with the family owners of "By-Smart", clearly based on the Waltons and Wal-Mart. She ends up getting tangled up in the family's internal squabbles and a murder investigation. Paretsky also explores the issues of immigration, low wages, health insurance coverage and teenage pregnancy. If you like a good mystery with a liberal bent, I'd recommend this one.

We spent the last night in Vegas because we had an early morning flight, so I got to have dinner at Spago in Caesar's Palace. Oh, fancy! Everyone really enjoyed their dinners. I had a blue-cheese encrusted steak with fingerling potatoes. For dessert, I had a sampler platter, so I got to try the strawberries with a vanilla custard, peach melba, a mocha cake ala mode and a creme brulee. I just love to try little bits of different things. If you're in Vegas and have some money to drop for dinner, I would highly recommend Spago.

When I got back, I had tickets for a sneak preview of this movie:

One of my favorite movies of the year!! Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a guy from Wisconsin who cannot connect with other people, not even his brother and sister-in-law. They live in his childhood home while Lars lives in the garage. One day at work, one of Lars' co-workers shows him a website selling real dolls - sex dolls that are very lifelike. Lars orders one and when it arrives, he's convinced it's a real woman named Bianca who he met on the internet. Lars' family and everyone in town treat Bianca like a real woman because they're trying to help Lars. This of course leads to some really funny scenes, where the ridiculousness of this big doll being treated as a person is shown. But the film has so much heart. You just so want to join the town in taking care of Lars. Gosling does just an amazing job in the film. He's a man of few words, but a lot of intense emotions. Gosling conveys so much with his facial expressions and his body language. The rest of the cast is superb also. I was just blown away by the actor who plays Lars' brother, Paul Schneider. He's got his own complicated feelings about Lars and Bianca and their family and childhood and he also conveys so much through his face. I can't wait to see this guy in more films. I also just loved all the little details in the film - it doesn't lay things out explicitly, but it trusts the audience that they're going to be able to connect the dots and figure things out. I just loved this little film and I hope it gets a wide audience.

I've already seen three Lead Actor Oscar contenders (Ryan Gosling, George Clooney and Emile Hirsch) and it's only October. It's going to be another hard year to chose a winner.

This weekend also kicked off the new season of Talk Cinema over at the Edina Theater. The first selection was this:

It's a remake of an earlier film and stage play. Michael Caine plays a successful thriller writer living in an English mansion that looks like a normal country mansion on the outside, but inside is all poured concrete and stainless steel - all the furniture is highly modern and sparse and he has all manner of mechanized devices - a fishtank that slide up and down, lights and music that chance with a push of a button, an open elevator that takes you between floors. Jude Law plays an unsuccessful actor who is having an affair with Michael Caine's wife. He comes to Caine's house to plead his girlfriend's case for a divorce. In the original version of the film, Michael Caine played the younger man and Laurence Olivier played the older man. I don't want to go into too much detail, but the two men begin a series of battles of wit with each other. You get the feeling they aren't even really battling over the woman, but rather for intellectual supremecy over the other. The film is written by Harold Pinter and directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is highly stylized, both in writing and in look. The language is snappy and quick, and I especially enjoyed the first scenes, when the two men are meeting each other for the first time and sizing each other up. It's quite funny, but the humor almost disappears by the end of the film. I absolutely loved the look of the film too - all reflections and odd camera angles and extreme close ups. It is meant to be over the top, I think, and it worked for me, but my friend felt like it went too far. Overall, I didn't care of the movie much, though. As the film went on, each of the men got nastier and nastier and there are a number of twists and turns. For me, by the end, I really didn't care what happened to these men and I couldn't invest in what was happening on screen, because I felt like it could all be just a trick anyway. So, overall I'd say it was nice to look at and listen to, but I can't really recommend it.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Second Annual Shop Hop

First let me say that I accidentally erased my entire description of the shop hop. I guess you're lucky, because I'll probably be less long-winded the second time around.

Once again I really enjoyed the Shop Hop and I'm glad they did it again this year. I go to The Yarnery and Needlework Unlimited all of the time, but I had only been to Three Kittens and Zandy's once or twice in the last year and I hadn't been to the other three shops at all since last year. There is a lot of overlap from one store to the next, but each stoe also has it's own unique offerings and the vibe/personality of each store is different. We're really lucky to have so many great choices in the Twin Cities. The stores are all around the metro area, geographically, so a good part of the "hop" was spent in the car, going from place to place. I only ran into traffic once - going from the western metro to the southern metro as rush hour was beginning. I had a delightful lunch with Deb. We ate at a little place across the street from Coldwater Collaborative called 318 Cafe. It's really cozy and comfortable and the food was delicious. I had a salad with proscuitto, pomegranite and blue cheese. Yummy! The best part, of course, was the company. Since we live on opposite sides of the metro, I don't get to see Deb nearly as often as I'd like, so it was so nice to sit down together and talk. If I hadn't been on a mission, it would have been so fun to spend the rest of the afternoon knitting and chatting in that lovely space. But, I had yarn stores to see and fiber to buy! And I did buy a few things:

Mostly sock yarns - what a surprise! Some yarn for a hat and enough for a sweater. Some really pretty buttons, a bracelet kit and a couple of patterns. More than I need (well, to be honest, I don't need ANY more yarn, so any purchase would be more than I need) but not as much as I bought last year. Some of my purchases from last year I never did show on this blog nor did I knit them up, so I may be coming clean and officially putting them in stash in the coming months. As I STOP buying yarn. For real. At least until the new year.

So, a good shop hop. I can't remember if I mentioned last time, there were 7 shops included. Each shop had a little give away. This year the theme was "tools of the trade", so the give away was a little knitting notion. Here they all are:

From the left, it's a couple of Chibi needles, some coilless safety pins, a stitch holder, a tape measure, some needle end protectors, some stitch markers and a little plastic zipped bag to store them all in. As you visited each shop, you got your little card stamped. If you visited all of the shops and got all of the stamps, you could put your card in for a big drawing. I have the luck of the Irish - which is no luck at all - so I'm not holding out hope this year. However, each shop had door prize drawings and I was lucky enough to win a door prize at Needlework Unlimited. I haven't gone back to pick it up yet, so I don't know yet what it is. No matter what it is, I'm happy to have won and I'm glad that I did the shop hop again. I hope they continue the tradition.

Saturday night I had dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen. Have you been there? This was my first time. For some reason, I was under the impression that it was a slightly upscale fast food restaurant - along the lines of Chipotle or Noodles & Co. I don't know where I got that idea, but it's a regular sit down restaurant with an extensive menu and a full bar. I was pleasantly surprised. The servings are gigantic, but for a chain restaurant, it was pretty good. My friend had the Chicken Masala and I had a Margherita Pizza and we both enjoyed them. We also saw this movie:

The film is about a group of 5 women and 1 man who form a book club to read the 6 Jane Austen books, one per month. Each of the people have a romantic issue that is modern, but also reflected in the Austen books. The actors all are good, grounding the film in real life instead of reducing it to stereotypes or predictability. The cast, both men and women, are all very attractive, although sometimes they aren't very likable. But if you would consider going to a movie called "The Jane Austen Book Club", then you'll probably enjoy this film like I did.

Sunday was spent knitting and watching football. I know I say this every Monday, but thank god for Adrian Peterson! He's just so much fun to watch and such an amazing player. Not to mention the only chance my team has to be successful. I worked on a pair of Quidditch Socks for Michael, to match his Quidditch Sweater:

I know in this photo it looks like the sock is blue and green, but it's just because it's so cloudy out and I couldn't get a good picture. It definitely has a blue tinge, but it's actually gray.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Combo Platter

I did indeed do the shop hop on Friday. I did all but one store, so I think I'll head over to that last one today and then post about the whole thing next time. Despite letting myself off the hook as far as buying something at every store, this time I just wanted to. But I bought less in total than I did last time, so I suppose that's good. I do like the things I picked up, too.

Thursday night I was going to attend a sneak preview of a movie, but it was all full by the time I got there. But a friend and I did get to enjoy a really good dinner at a restaurant I had never been to before, Namaste Cafe in Uptown Minneapolis. It's a charming restaurant in an old house. The rooms are painted orange and yellow and the art on the walls is gorgeous. I really coveted a picture near our table for my own green walls. We got two different curries and shared them - Kathmandu curry and almond curry. We both really enjoyed both of them. We got them only medium hot and they weren't very spicy, so I wouldn't hesitate to ask for the spice level you really like. I will definitely be making another stop at this restaurant.

Last night was our semi-regular movie night with some friends from law school. It was a small group, but we saw a great movie:

Gorgeous George plays the title character, a former prosecutor who has become the "fixer" for a big corporate law firm - fixing the sticky wickets of firm attorneys and clients, such as DWIs, blackmailing mistresses, etc. He's sort of a corporate version of Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. Clooney's performance in the film is amazing. Remember the days when George would deliver all of his lines with his head sort of cocked to the side and looking out from under his long eyelashes? Those days are long gone. He gives such a subtle, multi-layered performance. You can see the Clooney charm and intelligence and see how he could be a guy who fixes problems by smooth talking his way through things. But you also see a man who is just tired and scared. It's pretty amazing. The film itself is a sort of legal thriller - it's the kind of film that I think John Grisham wishes his books were. Really smart and complicated and fast-paced and just fascinating. I don't want to give away any of the plot because I think some of what makes it work is that it just jumps right into the story and you're sort of off-balance and then it goes back and explains how things came to be and things are revealed bit by bit. It doesn't depend on a lot of explanation, trusting the audience to connect the dots. It also has perhaps my favorite ending title sequence of all time.

And since this is a knitting blog, sort of, here's my Cardigan for Merry all blocked out:

As you can see, I was able to block out the cabled edge pretty much even with the rest of the front. Hopefully it'll look ok once it's all done. Here's a closer look at that gorgeous cable:

I love the cable. It's reversible, so I have grand plans to knit it up with a chunky yarn for a scarf.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Christmas Knitting

I'm all about the Christmas knitting now. After all of that lovely purple I was knitting in August and September, I'm in a world of gray and dark green. This is how my little knitting corner looks these days:

Knitting for boys is decidedly less colorful than knitting for me! Not that I don't like green. Especially when it's paired with a lovely purple, like in this sock yarn:

I was in Borealis looking for some yarn for a sweater that my niece Jessica requested for Christmas and I just couldn't leave that sock yarn behind, despite my vow to not buy myself any more yarn until the new year. It was just too pretty!! I may give myself a free pass tomorrow too. There's a shop hop at some of the local yarn stores again this year and it's this weekend. I was going to avoid it so as to avoid the temptation, but I'm feeling too left out. I'm not going to be so compulsive about buying something at every store this year, though.

And I am making some progress on those holiday knitting projects. It isn't all buying yarn, all the time. Here's the front of Michael's Quidditch Sweater:

I know it looks awfully long and skinny. The ribbing is supposed to be slightly stretch on the body, so it'll be wider and a bit shorter when worn. Hopefully. Michael is pretty long and skinny himself, so perhaps it'll be perfect without the stretching. An entire sweater in ribbing is really boring, by the way.

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Monday, October 08, 2007


Since the Vikings weren't playing this weekend and last weekend was my mother's birthday, I decided to head down to South Dakota to see the family. On the way out of town, I stopped by the new Mary Lue's location in Mankato. The new store is really cute. It's much smaller than the spot in St. Peter was, but it looks much nicer. They seem to be focusing a little more on their higher end yarns. If you want some Elsabeth Lavold Silky Wool, this is your stop - they have an entire shelf with color after color of Silky Wool. They also have tons of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in a bunch of different colors. They still have some of the sheepy gift items, but less than before. I bought a couple of patterns, but no wool, since I'm still trying to only buy yarn for Christmas gifts and they didn't have what I was looking for there. It's definitely worth stopping by - it's very close to the highway, so easy to pop in on your way through town.

I had a great time visiting the family - my little nephew Jason has grown so much since I last saw him at his baptism:

I'm on the horns of a dilemma about the little cardigan I'm knitting for Jason for Christmas. My first problem was that the bottom hem was flipping up like crazy and the whole thing was just curling up into a cigar shape. I figured the edges would stop curling one I had it all sewn togethet, but I'm not sure about the hem. Then I was worried that the alpaca is too scrachy. I could feel it through my clothes on my lap as I was knitting it and it was kind of scratchy, so I'm not sure it's appropriate for that soft, delicate baby skin. Then I started knitting the front and the cabled part was shorter than the stockinette part. Like, an inch shorter. So, could I block it out to the same length as the rest, or should I rip out the whole thing. I decided I should wash the back in hair conditioner and block it out to see what happens. So, the hem flipping has been solved - the edges and the hem lay nice and flat now. I think the scratchiness has been alleviated too. I still wouldn't wear it next to my skin, but with a shirt underneath, it's not poking at me. So, I think I'll finish the first half and try blocking out the cabled edge a bit and see how it goes.

While I was waiting for the back piece to dry, I finished up my Pineapple Socks:

Project Name:
Pineapple Socks
Designer: Lijuan Jing
Pattern Source: Jojoland Pattern Leaflet
Yarn: Jojoland Melody
Yarn Source: Needlework Unlimited
Date Started: 9/10/07
Date Completed: 10/7/07

Comments: This was my last project for Project Spectrum this year. And I only finished one week late - not too bad considering how late I started them. This was my first time using Jojoland Melody and I really like it. It feels nice and knits up well and I love the gradual color changes. I probably wouldn't make this pattern again. I'm not fond of lace patterns in socks anyway and this one was super easy to memorize, but it was sometimes difficult to manipulate the stitches. I knit on size 1 needles and they are very close fitting - almost too tight, really. I really have to stretch them to get them over my heel. I didn't fully understand this heel and toe structure, so I made the leg shorter than I intended. I made the legs 1" shorter than the pattern called for and they ended up being anklets instead of the short socks that I usually prefer. I don't know what this heel pattern is called, but it's really shallow. You knit the heel back and forth, decreasing on each end, and then once it's as narrow as you wish, you start increasing by picking up stitches on those ends you just knit back and forth on. You do the same thing with the toe, kitchnering the toe to the bottom of the foot, basically where your toes start on your foot. It's interesting, but not my favorite structure. Since I made the socks a little shorter than the pattern called for and my feet are only 9" long, I was able to get the whole pair out of one ball of yarn. Here's how much I had left:

Close, huh? Here's another view of the socks, the obligatory sole to sole pose:


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Stash Enhancement

Tuesday night was rainy as heck and it's getting dark too early to go to the park any more anyway, so we headed over to the Mall of America so that Red and Michael could ride the rides in the Park at Mall of America (formerly known as Camp Snoopy). They are doing major renovations to the park, switching it over to Nickelodeon and adding some new rides. In the mean time, several of the old rides are shut down, so there were only a few of the big rides open for the big kids. Just a warning in case you were thinking about taking your kids out there. The boys were perfectly happy going on the Timberland Twister over and over again.

Last night I had dinner and then saw "Speed the Plow" at the Jungle Theater. It's a David Mamet play about a Hollywood movie executive being lobbied by his best friend at the studio to make a prison film that might be a blockbuster and his temporary secretary/girlfriend to make a film based on a novel about radiation, maybe artsy, but probably not a blockbuster. It's also about power - everyone is trying to get it and keep it, in different ways. It's a good scenario to think about - art or commerce? The Mamet language is as fun to listen to as ever and the three actors all do a fine job with it. It's a pretty dark look at Hollywood and the world, though, and I felt so depressed at the end.

I've been doing pretty well with my vow not to buy more yarn - it's been almost 2 months now. I thought I'd share a couple more skeins that I bought BEFORE the pledge.

This is one of the last skeins that I bought. I was on the west bank for the Fringe Festival and I had about a half hour to kill between shows, so I stopped by Depth of Field, just to browse. Well, I couldn't pass by those gorgeous bright colors. It's Jitterbug in the Mardi Gras colorway.

This beauty is Handmaiden Silk Cashmere 4 Ply. When I bought that Smooshy yarn I threw this in the cart because it sounded delightful and the shipping wasn't going to be any extra, so I might as well make it worth it, right? Besides being so pretty, it's also really soft. Much too nice to make a pair of footies, like I was planning. It'll probably end up as wristers or something like that, that I wear close to my skin.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Projects

Thanks for all the nice comments about my finished Tomato. It's so much fun to finish a project and get so many nice compliments about it!

Since I finished up that project and I'm finished with the Harry Potter ornaments at least until I get the tree and see if I need more, I started two more projects. First, I'm making the Cardigan for Merry for my youngest nephew, Jason:

I'm using the yarn called for in the pattern, Knit Picks Andean Treasure in the Moss color. It 100% baby alpaca, so it feels really soft and nice to knit with, but I hope the alpaca hairs don't make it too scratchy for the baby. This is the type of sweater that my sister will always put another shirt on him underneath, so hopefully it won't be right next to the skin and will be ok. The yarn splits like crazy, so I'm doing the cables with a needle. It's also rolling like crazy. I'm going to have to do a good blocking job before I sew it up. Since I took that picture I have finished the back and started the right front. I really like the cable - and it's reversible!

The other project I started is for my older nephew, Michael. It's the Quidditch Sweater from Charmed Knits:

He likes the Slytherin colors the best, so I'm making it gray with a green stripe. Using just plain jane Lion Brand Woolease. It was on sale for $2.50 a skein at Michael's last week, so this will be a very inexpensive knit. I'm about halfway up the body to the armholes so far. A whole body in ribbing is really boring, but it'll be good for knitting in public.

I'm also continuing on with the purple Jojoland socks. I'm about 2/3 done with the second sock. I joined a Sock Knitalong hosted by one of our local yarn stores, so after I finish that sock, I'm going to start a pair of socks to match Michael's sweater.

Other than that I've just been enjoying The War still. Some of those stories are so amazing. It all wraps up tonight. I've liked a couple of the new shows. I'll wait until everything has premiered before I do my year fall tv review. Sunday of course I watched the Vikings lose in embarrassing fashion again. It was pouring down rain when we left Metrodome, too. I'm going to see Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf speak at the University today, but I'll try not to ask him why the only player who can make a play on offense sat out the last drive.

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