A Good Yarn

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I mentioned I have one more FO:

Project Name: Felted Beaded Bag
Designer: Tall Tale Yarn Shop
Pattern Source: Kit from Tall Tale Yarn Shop
Yarn: some sort of sport weight wool
Yarn Source: Yarnover 2006 - Tall Tale Yarn Shop
Date Started: 5/19/07
Date Completed: 5/30/07

Comments: For Project Spectrum this year, my goals were to knit up some of my sock yarn and to do a beaded knitting project for each color grouping, so this is my beaded project for April and May. I bought the kit at Yarnover last year. It was a pretty quick knit, but it took me a while to throw it in the washer to felt and then to sit down and sew in the zipper. I actually sewed the zipper in twice because it looked horrendous the first time. This time isn't perfect, but it's ok. Here's how the bag looked pre-felting:

and the finished project:

I have enough yarn left over to knit another bag, so I'll probably do it again one of these days.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What I've Been Knitting

I haven't shown y'all what I've been working on for a while. I have one more little FO, but I need to do a little finishing first, so I'll wait on that. I also have been knitting up my Yarn of the Month samples. When I was trying to get the baby stuff done before Jason got here (or before his baptism, once that was a lost cause), I didn't knit up the samples that came in the mail. I thought it was a couple of months' worth, but when I gathered them all together, I'll bet it was at least 5 or 6 months. Shame on me!! I thought about cancelling the subscription, since I obviously wasn't knitting them up, but now I'm going to keep it. There have been some samples I've knit up that were fantastic and I'm excited to discover a new favorite. There have also been a couple that I was surprised I didn't like. So, I still think it's a useful service and I'll just be better about knitting them up when they arrive. I'm knitting them into strips and sewing them together into a blanket. I thought it might look kind of cool and patch worky, but it actually looks God-awful, so I guess this will be a cage liner at the Humane Society once it's bigger. No pictures to save your eyesight. Maybe when it's ready to send off.

What's not so awful is this:

A bunch of us in one of my knitting groups fell in love with the Zephyr yarn, so we all picked out our favorite colors and decided to do a knit along. I'm making the Weeping Willow shawl. Here's a little bit closer look so you can kind of see how it's going to look:

Pre-blocked lace is not that pretty. I do love the Zephyr yarn. It's soft and pretty and the silk gives it a little sheen. Lace just gives me fits, though. I spent one entire night just working on one row - figuring out what row I was on, fixing problems, trying to figure out where I was in the chart, etc. When I'm chugging along in a rhythm, it's great. When I lose my place on the chart, ugh! Last night I started one row with k1, yo and it was supposed to be k2, yo and I didn't figure it out until I got to the halfway point and I had one too many stitches. I had to pick all the way back to the beginning through a billion ssk and k2tog. ARGH!!!

I started this on my Knitpicks Options needles and then last week I bought one of those new Addi lace needles. Comparing the two, I like the Addi better. Both have about the same pointed tip. But the Addi tip is longer, so it seems easier to "scoop up" the stitches for decreases. The KP Options join is perfectly nice and smooth for regular yarn, but for laceweight, it did drag over the join a little. The Addi join is much smoother. Both cords are about the same flexibility. Addi turbos are brass needles, but the lace needles aren't coated in nickel like the regular Addis. They have some sort of resin coating, which makes them a little less slippery than regular Addis or the KP Options, but I found I actually liked the little bit of drag for this yarn. It's not as much as a wooden needle, but it does help keep those tiny little stitches on the needle until you manipulate them. I will definitely use Addi lace needles when I knit lace in the future.

I also started a pair of socks. It's so close to the end of this Project Spectrum colorgroup, but I didn't want to cheat and start the next colorgroup. So, I straddled the line:

I've got the green and yellow of the current PS group and the red of the next PS group. I even threw in a little blue for the first group and some purple and orange in case it takes me until August to knit these. Colorful, eh? This is the Lorna's Laces yarn I bought at Yarn Over last month. The pattern is Shimmer Socks from Magknits. It's my first short row toe. Kind of neat and I think it'll fit pretty well on my toes. I didn't do such a great job of knitting the wraps on one side, though, so it looks kind of messy.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you're enjoying this day off as much as I am. It's so awesome to have a relatively guilt-free day off. Being self-employed, I can pretty much take whatever time I want off any day. But I'm always thinking about all the things I should be working on that still need to be done.

I finished the Puff Baby Blanket:

Project Name: Puff Baby
Designer: Jil Eaton
Pattern Source: Minnies
Yarn: OnLine Linie 44 Ravenna
Yarn Source: elann
Date Started: 2/14/07
Date Completed: 5/19/07

Comments: I made this for my new baby nephew, Jason. I absolutely love how it came out - it looks exactly the way I wanted it to. However, I cannot recommend this project. I really thought it was going to be a quicker knit, because it's a bulky yarn. However, I didn't really think it all the way through when I started. It started out very nicely - I love the knit/purl diamond texture. That was fun. But, it's a two sided blanket that is "quilted" together, so I had to knit a second blanket out of plain stockinette stitch. So boring. If I had to do it over again, I might have knit the second side in the same diamond pattern and just been very careful in the tying. Anyway, then you have to sew the two sides together. The great thing about knitting a blanket is there's no sewing! Except this one. Then there's an i-cord border that really finishes it off, but that's so futzy and boring to knit. Finally, there are a billion bobbles to knit and tie on. I thought that was going to be the worst part, but it actually turned out to be not so bad. And I love how it turned out, so it was all worth it. I just hope it's not totally worthless because it's all lumpy from all of those bobbles. Here's another look, showing some of the other side:

On the plus side, I knit it exactly following Project Spectrum - I did the blue part in February and March and the green parts in April and May.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Time Keeps Flying

This week just zoomed by, didn't it? I had a conference, so I was out of the office for most of the week, but I did get some knitting done. I showed up and in the first session I saw 6-7 other knitters sitting nearby, so I had to go out to my car during the break and get mine, too. It was cool! I also had to go to Fargo again, but this time we flew instead of driving. So much better! On those short flights, you barely get into the air and it's already time to start coming back down. The schedule was killer, though, so I was really tired. I did see my boyfriend's new movie this weekend:

It was ok. Johnny was awesome, of course. We get to see a lot of Johnny, which is cool. I mean a lot. It's pretty nice to look at too. I saw Pirates 2 at the drive-in, so I think I lost a bit of the details of the special effects - like how cool Davy Jones looks. The movie is so dang complicated, though. I can't imagine all of these kids seeing the movie can follow who all the characters are and what their agendas are, etc. I'm a little bit over the Will Turner/Elizabeth Swann pairing too. I don't think Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly have a lot of chemistry. If you love the first two films, I think you'll like this one, though and it does tie things up pretty nicely. There is definitely room for another one if they choose to keep going though. There is a little post script after the credits, if you stay that long.

I got a couple more skeins of sock yarn club yarn this week. The final skein of the Posh Sock Club came:

I wouldn't pick this out at the yarn store, but it's probably my favorite of the club. This month she used her Emily yarn and I like it much better than the Lucia. It seems softer and less tightly spun.

I also joined the Amazing Threads sock club and got my first shipment:

I don't know if you can make it out, but there's a little clear vinyl zippered bag on the bottom. We also got a needle gauge/ruler and the yarn was Sockotta with a cable/lace pattern. There's a sock club group at the store to knit the pattern together, but it's so far away from me that I probably won't be attending the group.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Other Outings

I did make it out to Shepherd's Harvest for a little while on Sunday. This is the second year in a row that I've been really worried about a sick dog at SH, so I may make alternative plans for next year to break that curse. Of course I indulged in a little retail therapy. I don't spin, so I bought a couple of patterns and magazines and a little bit of yarn.

The Trekking Pro Natura is 75% wool, 25% bamboo. The bamboo gives it a little bit of sheen. Same great Trekking colorways.

I didn't know CTH came in solid colors. This is a little bit brighter turquoise than it looks in this picture - I think the sun ducked behind a cloud. I bought a cute mitten pattern to make with this yarn.

I bought enough of this yarn to make a sweater for myself. It's a worsted weight 100% merino wool that feels very soft and cushy. It's spun by Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan.

Yes, all the yarn I bought was blue. I'm aware of that. I guess it matched my mood. I just was very drawn to those blues. I had a lot on my mind, so I forgot to bring my camera, but those animals were absolutely adorable!

Another great cure for when you're feeling bad is to go see one of the funniest people on the planet:

Jon Stewart was in town on Friday night to do a little stand up comedy and he was hilarious! He started out with the political stuff, which we all were expecting and wanting, but he moved on to more traditional comedy fodder, like religion and computers and life in general. He was very, very funny. And incredibly handsome. I'm really glad we went. Before the show we had dinner at my favorite downtown restaurant, Fire Lake. As usual, the food was fantastic. Greg had a buffalo steak wrapped in bacon and I had a prime rib. I started with the gathered green salad - a salad with blue cheese, craisins and candied walnuts. Yum!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back to Life

Thank you so much to everyone for your very kind words and support. It really meant a lot to me during a difficult time. I have been able to bounce back into some kind of normalcy much more quickly and easily this time. I think it's a combination of the fact that Finbar was my first dog as an adult and I was much closer to him and the fact that Fiona had been quite sick for at least the last six months, so I've been preparing for this for a while. There are odd times when I really miss her and it hits me that I don't have any doggie, but most of the time I'm ok.

I have done some knitting in the interim, but I'll start with the movie reviews. I also wanted to thank everyone who sent positive comments about the movie reviews. It's nice to know that people are interested in my thoughts about something else that I'm totally passionate about. Before everything went down with Fiona, I saw this film:

I had planned to tell you all that it's a perfect movie to take your mom to for Mother's Day, because it had a very strong family theme. I'm sure many of you have read the book already, but for those who haven't, it's about an Indian family living in America. The title refers to the son of the family, who is named Gogol, after the Russian author. He and his sister are born in the U.S. and are completely immersed in American culture and norms. But the film starts with his parents, Ashoke and Ashima, who are married in Calcutta by arrangement of their families. Ashoke is a graduate student in the U.S. so they move to New York so he can finish his studies and then begin a career as a professor. In certain respects, the film is familiar in its portrayal of the younger generation clashing with the more traditional older generation. We've seen that story many times before. But this film is a bit different and feels very real and authentic. Kal Penn from "Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle" plays Gogol and really captures his journey from adolescence through early adulthood. The real stars of the film, though, are Irrfan Khan and Tabu as Ashoke and Ashima. They are apparently well-known Bollywood actors and their performances in this film are so wonderful. Especially Tabu as the young bride in India, adjusting to the new life as an American wife and beyond. She really is so good. The colors of the film when it's set in Calcutta are magnificent. I also really have to mention the makeup. The parents are shown as very young people at the beginning and it goes through their middle-aged years and they look older, but it doesn't look phony. Some of the best age progression makeup I've ever seen on film. It's the little things like that that really contribute to a film.

After I had to leave Fiona at the hospital, I decided to see this film to cheer myself up:

Good call on my part. It was hilarious! This is from the crew that did "Shaun of the Dead." What they did for zombie movies in that film they do for the buddy cop movie in "Hot Fuzz", only even better in my opinion. Simon Pegg plays the Jack Bauer of the London Police force - he's a one-man crime fighting force. Only he's so good that he's making the rest of the department look bad, so he's sent out to some village in the countryside. There he finds Nick Frost as the slacker policeman son of the chief of police in the village. They team up to become the buddy cop duo fighting crime - in turns out this sleepy little village is chock-full of murderers. The film does an impeccable job of taking the fast editing, over-heated violence and the homoeroticism of the buddy cop movies like Bad Boys, Point Break or Lethal Weapon and turning it up a notch into hilarious parody. They get so many details just exactly right. For a movie-lover like me, it's comedy gold. Simon Pegg is just perfect as the leading man in the film, and you can't help but fall in love with him. And while the violence is meant to satirize the over the top violence of our action films, there are a few places where it may be too over the top for the really squeamish. But if you enjoy the Jerry Bruckheimer/Joel Silver type of films but don't take them too seriously, you're in for a good time in this parody.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May is not a good month

I haven't blogged in a few days because I feel like it's just silly to talk about stuff like everything's normal right now. I have mentioned a couple of times that Fiona's been sick and it looks like it's all going to come to end today. She's progressively gotten worse and we found out she has cancer in her bladder, her lymph nodes, her liver and her lungs, so things aren't looking good for her. She's in a lot of pain right now, so I will end her suffering today once the biopsy results make it official. Since she has been so sick for so long, I've had time to get used to the idea and prepare myself for it. The timing is just bad, because it was almost exactly one year ago that I went through the same thing with Finbar. I'm just going to take a few days off to feel sad and then I'll be back again with my usual unneeded yarn purchases, movie reviews and slow knitting progress.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Project Name: Heart to Heart Socks
Designer: Beverly Brookhart
Pattern Source: Socks Socks Socks
Yarn: Sisu Fantasy
Yarn Source: Yarn Cafe
Date Started: 4/12/05
Date Completed: 5/9/07

Comments: These were my "car knitting" socks for the last two years. I got a pedicure on Wednesday and finally finished them up. I think they are really ugly, but last summer I was knitting them at the drive-in and my friend Florence said she thought they were cute, so they're going to her. The pattern calls for very specific stripes, but I thought I'd cheat and use a self-striping yarn. I'm not sure why I chose this one. It has the colors I like, but in the wrong shades - although it's just perfect for Project Spectrum, isn't it? Green, yellow and pink are all present. I used little bits of the Elann Sock It To Me sock yarn for the hearts.I like the Sisu Fantasy yarn. It's super cheap and a nice basic yarn. It feels pretty nice knitted up. I wasn't so crazy about the Sock It To Me. It feels really rough.

I also wanted to show you this really cool gift I got from Amy. I gave her the skein of Posh Yarn from the sock club that I didn't like at the Yarn Harlot reading. I was just so happy to get it out of my stash and into a good home, but she is too nice to just accept the gift and gave me a present in return.

It looks like just a big long zipper, but if you start zipping it up, it creates this super cool bag:

Love it!! It's so much fun to zip it up and make the bag. And it's a great size. It's a little bit bigger than my sock bags, but still very small and portable. Great for a baby garment or pieces of a sweater or lace, etc. You really shouldn't have, but I'm glad you did, Amy!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back to Knitting

All of those trips to the theater for the Film Fest did cut into my sitting-in-front-of-the-tv-knitting time, so my knitting hasn't been quite as prolific lately. However, I did have some waiting-for-movies-to-start knitting time and that's just perfect for miles and miles of green stockinette stitch:

I finished the green side of the blanket!! Last weekend I also managed to finish seaming the two sides together and doing an applied i-cord around the edge. I started the bobbles, but there are still a few dozens of those left to knit and tie in:

Also in knitting related news, I got a couple of my sock yarn club selections from May this week. In the Sweet Sheep Shop Club I got a gorgeous skein of Vesper in a colorway called Sherbet:

I think that's the perfect name for that colorway. I love it! I also got my Sweet Sheep Project Spectrum Sock Club in a color called Sprung:

These nearly solids for the PS Club are so beautiful I always look forward to opening up that package!

In non-knitting news, I was reading my blog from last year at this time to jog my memory about something and saw that I posted about the bunny who loves to eat the long grass in my yard. Well, time hasn't changed much because I've got bunnies in the yard again this spring. One day I saw 4 of them all hanging out together:

Fiona doesn't bother them and they seem to be used to both of us, because there is often a bunny sitting right under the tree next to the house and it doesn't run away when we go in the backyard unless I start walking right at it. I sort of think of these bunnies as my pets. I wish I could pick them up and snuggle them, though. The picture is very PS appropriate with all that long green grass. Just like last year at this time I hadn't mowed the lawn for the first time, so the grass was long and ideal for bunnies.

And in another sign of the season, Frankenstein has been re-dressed:

The fishing opener in Minnesota is this weekend, so Frank lost the bunny ears and Easter basket and donned a bucket hat and fishing pole. Love it!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

End of the M-SPIFF 2007

I caught a couple more films before the M-SPIFF finished up for the year. First up, a documentary:

This is another documentary that was kind of odd and just not to my taste. Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst who obviously is also a film scholar. He applies Freudian analytical concepts to many movies, particularly the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch (two of my all time favorite directors, by the way). The film intersperses clips from the films with Professor Zizek's analysis. In some of the analytical scenes, Zizek is shown "in the film" - for instance sitting on a couch in Blue Velvet or in the basement in Psycho. It's extremely odd. Somewhat funny and sort of a good way to break up the "talking head" aspect of Zizek's analysis, but it just didn't work for me. Since I don't buy into Freud, I always didn't quite buy the film analysis, either. The film was directed by Sophie Fiennes, sister of Ralph and Joseph. She definitely had an interesting way of putting the film together, so even though I didn't love it, I'd definitely see her next film.

The final film I saw got the highest ratings by the audiences this year and just won the German version of the Oscars:

In English, it's "Four Minutes". It's a pretty interesting film about an older woman who is a piano teacher at a women's prison. A new prisoner shows up for lessons one day and shows a level of talent equalled only by her anger and violence. Both women are shut down emotionally, but manage to form a friendship and reveal their psychic pain to each other. The film ends with the prisoner's bravura performance at a youth piano competition (the four minutes of the title). It is a good film with really good performances by the lead actresses. I wouldn't be surprised to see this film nominated for best Foreign Film at next year's Academy Awards.

And going from small, arty films to huge blockbusters, the summer movie season started this weekend:

I love the Spiderman character and the last Spiderman movie was great, but this one really disappointed me. You probably already know what's in store in this film from the media blitz, but in case you don't - Spiderman fights several enemies this time. He's fighting his own inner demons when a black goo from outerspace lands on him and takes him over - thus the black suit. The goo brings out all of his feelings of rage and vengence. He's feeling vengeful because he finds out the man who really killed his Uncle Ben has escaped from prison. This man ends up running into a scientific experiment so his DNA is merged with a pile of sand and he becomes the Sand Man. This really isn't giving too much away because it's pretty much shown in all of the commercials, but eventually Spiderman frees himself from the black goo and it finds another host in Peter Parker's newspaper rival and becomes Venom - a sort of Spiderman-like bad guy with the black suit, but big pointy teeth. Spiderman's old friend Harry Osborn also continues to want vengence on Spiderman for his father's death and becomes a sort of Green Goblin, Jr. Phew, that's a lot of fighting!

Too much, in my opinion. This movie could have easily been broken into two films that were each a little more cohesive. With introducing two new villains and juggling the old themes, there's just too much going on. You don't have time to care about any of the villains and the plot just jumps from one thing to the next like a ping pong ball. There are some good pieces, including one part toward the end that I was thrilled by, but overall it was just too much. Some of the special effects were great, but one of the first scenes, involving yet another new character, Peter's lab partner who has a bit of a crush on Spiderman, was really fake looking. It took me right out of the action. As usual, I couldn't stand the wooden performance of Kirsten Dunst and her singing was horrible. When the black suit has taken him over, Peter Parker sort of turns into an emo version of himself, with floppy hair, eyeliner and pseudo-sexy moves. It was a pretty funny performance by Tobey Maguire, but again seemed so out of place with the rest of the film. The whole thing was just too disjointed to work.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day!

I saw a couple more films in the "Best of Fest" last night:

I couldn't find a poster for "Vanaja", so that's a picture of the title character. The film is about a 15 year old girl, Vanaja. She lives in southern India with her alcoholic father who is a fisherman. They are very poor, so she quits school and goes to work for the wealthiest woman in town as household help. "The landlady", as everyone calls her, used to be a famous dancer and Vanaja is hoping that the landlady will teach her how to dance. Of course she does, and things seem to be going pretty well for Vanaja until the landlady's adult son comes home from the U.S. to run for public office. I don't want to reveal too much more of the plot in case someone wants to rent this film, but I was quite troubled by a lot of it. This film sort of reminded me of Sweet Mud as another look at a person coming of age while trying to take care of their helpless single parent. Like Sweet Mud, we get to see a piece of life in a specific culture - in this case a lower caste girl.

The film is the director's first - his film school thesis project. It's really gorgeous - the colors in India are a treat for the eye (just look at that great shot up above). The scenes with Vanaja dancing are quite captivating. However, I did feel like the characters were not very fully drawn. They seemed to behave in a way that furthered the plot, not how real people act in the real world. The actors are all non-professionals found in India and they did a great job. There are a lot of great pictures, with explanations about some of set dressings and descriptions of the cast and process of making the film on its website, if you're interested in more info.

If your Spanish is a little rusty, the second film was "City in Heat". I wasn't going to stick around for the second film, but they posted the audience rankings of the films in the festival and City in Heat was the third highest ranked film. I'm so glad that I did, because I loved it. It was probably my favorite film of the festival. It's an Argentine film about a group of 4 friends around age 40 living in Buenos Aires. They are three men and one woman and the woman has had relationships at one time or another with each of the men, which of course makes things complicated. In their younger days, they hung out at a local bar and became good friends with the owner, Duke. Two of the men still frequent the bar often, but the third man and the woman aren't around much any more. They plan a get together one evening and something changes after that night. The film is set to a fantastic score of tango and jazz music (the woman in the group is a tango singer, so we get to see her practicing with her band fairly often). Seeing this film, you want to immediately hop a plane to Buenos Aires. The city looks fantastic and everyone in the film is just gorgeous. The film is funny, romantic and sad and I'd highly recommend it.