A Good Yarn

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

C is for Cashmere

Oh my gosh, I'm so far behind in my blogging!! I feel like I'm falling out of the blogging family, because I am posting so infrequently and don't have time to read and comment as much as I used to. I need to get settled into a schedule that includes some computer time!

Anyway, I'm going to try to get as caught up as I can without having an unmanageable post. Maybe I can post twice this week! Since I'm so far behind with it, I'll start with the ABC-Along

C is for Cashmere

Like most knitters, I love yarn. And the yarn I love most of all is cashmere. I just love the soft feel of it as you knit it. And the drape of the fabric that cashmere makes. And cashmere is mostly on the thinner side, which I prefer over the big fat yarns. I grabbed some of the cashmere and cashmere blends out of my stash for this picture. Apparently what I REALLY like is some red cashmere. Because that's a lot of red.

Speaking of red, I have a finished object, too:

Yes, my legs really are that ghostly pale. Scary. Here are the particulars:

Project Name: Monkey Socks
Designer: Cookie A.
Pattern Source: Knitty
Yarn: Wollmeise - Maria's Deepest Purple colorway
Yarn Source: Wollmeise
Date Started: 12/2X/07
Date Completed: 2/16/08
Comments: As I mentioned before, this is my first pair of Monkey socks and I really like them. It's a great pattern that isn't hard to knit, but keeps things interesting. It fits really nicely on my foot, too, I think. This was my first time using Wollmeise and I love it. It's very tightly spun, so it's not as soft and cushy as something like Socks That Rock or Smooshy, but it is a great yarn for textured knitting. The texture really pops. And the colors are amazing. So, so beautiful. My poor photography doesn't so it justice. I love how the heels look too:

As always, I made the legs shorter than the pattern called for. Otherwise I followed the pattern exactly. I accidentally knit the second sock one repeat longer on the foot than the first, so I had to rip back and re-do the toe - just my own inability to count. I had a ton of yarn left over in the skein - probably enough for another pair of socks if a different color was used for the heels and toes. I highly recommend you add some Wollmeise to your stash!

I mentioned my beading projects in my last post and here's the last kit I made:

My bad photography strikes again, but that pendant is a really pretty stone with some sparkle in it. I like the detail of having the toggle at the front instead of in the back of the neck. Super easy necklace.

I guess that'll be it for now. I have a couple of movie reviews and my top ten of the year list for you next time. I've bought some yarn that I may come clean on. And I've started a couple more projects. Come on back, now, ya hear?

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thanks Carrie!!

I got a great little gift in the mail last week and I was so busy running around, I didn't even know about it at first - lesson to everyone, check the mail, even if you're busy!

It's my Pay it Forward gift from Carrie. So cute, huh? She made a beautiful little knitted bag - that must be great felting yarn, because the fabric came out perfectly. She also sewed that cute little pouch and decorated the little Moleskine notebook to match - gorgeous! The inside of the pouch is the purple fabric you can see on the notebook. I'm so impressed with Carrie's sewing skills - it's just perfect! And everything's in my favorite color, purple! Thank you so much for the surprise during this hardest of Minnesota months, February. The long dark days and the endless cold is always hardest to take in February, before the days get noticeably longer and the snow starts melting in March. For my friends who signed up for Pay it Forward with me, I've gathered my materials, so you may see a little surprise of your own sometime in the next few weeks.

I did a little crafting for myself last weekend. I gave my friend Florence a "Kit of the Month" subscription from Bead Monkey for Hannukah last year. I bought one for myself as well so that we could do the beading together when we got the kit each month. We started off with a free kit I got for signing us up, the Fiore necklace. I made mine in pink:

Sorry for the quality of these pictures. It's really hard to photograph yourself in the mirror and get the little beads in focus too. This was a little bit challenging kit, but it was fun and I like how it came out. I have a lot of pink clothes that I can wear this with. I hadn't done any beading in a while and it was really fun. Since I had all the tools out, I made a couple more kits I bought at Bead Monkey too.

That's their Signature Pearl necklace. I love pearls and I like the colors they put together for that kit. I haven't worn the third necklace I made, so I'll post a picture of that after I do.

I've also been knitting a little bit. I finished up my third preemie hat:

I followed Chelle's pattern that I also used for the first one, but this time I used worsted weight yarn. I probably knit it at a gauge that was a little too firm, but it'll work. As you can see, I ran out of yarn at the top, so I switched in an unmercerized cotton and then made a pom pom to sort of cover that different yarn. I think it looks ok and it'll work. It's slightly larger than the other two I made, but it's still being modeled by a grapefruit, so I think it'll work.

I did a little more knitting (and a little ripping), but I'll save that for next time.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Packed with Fun

What a great week last week was. I mentioned in my last post how great the Obama rally was. Afterwards, we tried the new Japanese place downtown, Musashi. I thought it was good, but not great. They have a really large menu, with lots of different things, so it would be a great place to with a big group. I had a bento box, which included soup and salad, an appetizer, teriyaki chicken, a sushi roll and tempura chicken. The serving size was very generous too. So, it was a good value. My brother got a sushi platter, which was really beautifully presented. I enjoyed everything, but if I'm downtown and I'm choosing, I'd prefer Nami or Origami. It's definitely worth a trip if you are with a group, want a good portion size or the location is ideal for other plans.

Last Sunday was of course the Super Bowl. And what a game. We really had fun. We watched at Buffalo Wild Wings and I won the grand prize drawing, too. Unfortunately, it wasn't a big screen tv or a trip to the Pro Bowl. It was just a MGD lighted sign. I never win anything, though, so I was excited just to hear my name called.

Then of course we had the caucuses on Tuesday. Another amazing night. I could not believe how crazy it was. I've caucused probably a half dozen times or so and I've never seen so many people before. Long backup on the roads getting there, huge lines to get in the door. I really feel like people are hungry for change and hungry to play a part in that change. Awesome! Let's just hope it doesn't revert to politics as usual by November.

I saw a few movies over the last week, too. I saw a documentary that is nominated for the Academy Awards:

This is really a remarkable film, but boy it was sometimes hard to watch. It's about the U.S. policy on torture. It starts with a taxi driver in Afghanistan who is turned into the US military as being suspected of driving for some rebels who shot at a military post. While he was in custody he was beaten to death. Turns out he was completely innocent and the people who turned him in were the ones who shot at the military post. Ooops. The same people who ran the prison in Afghanistan were sent to Abu Graib and I think everyone's pretty aware of what happened there. A lot of the ideas of how to "interrogate" terror suspects at Abu Graib originated from policies at Guantanamo Bay. It's so embarrassing and depressing to know that my government is doing this. The director of the film also directed "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room". If you saw that film, you know his style. You're never in doubt as to what his viewpoint is, but he presents it in a very calm, rational way, giving the other side the opportunity to make their case. The author of the famous "Torture Memo", John Yoo is interviewed pretty extensively about why torture is legal and why the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to "enemy combatants". There are also a number of interviews with the soldiers who worked at the prison in Afghanistan and at Abu Graib. They're really open and honest and the message is clear that this is not just "a few bad apples", but a policy instituted at the highest levels (see Vice President, Secretary of Defense and Attorney General). I would highly recommend this film, but be prepared for it.

Not quite as impressive was:

Diane Lane plays an FBI agent who specializes in computer crime. She mostly tracks down identity theft and copyright piracy. But she gets a tip about a website where a kitten is killed (I know, it's horrible). So she ends up heading an investigation into this website where the killer moves on to people and the more people that log onto the site, the faster the person is killed. It's a pretty gross concept and the torture is not entertaining. I was almost drawn in by the thriller/mystery aspect and Diane Lane's great performance, but then in the last act, it turned incredibly stupid and the very last shot is just corny as hell, so I can't recommend this.

Talk Cinema this week featured another foreign film, this time from Beirut, Lebanon:

Sweet movie about the lives of a group of women living in Beirut. Sort of an artsy version of a chick flick, but I really enjoyed it. You got to see a little bit about what life is like for women living in Beirut, but it was really subtle. The lead actress also wrote and directed the film and she didn't hit you over the head with the messages. The actresses were just gorgeous too.

I'll save the rest of my week for another post. I did actually do some knitting and I got a fantastic gift in the mail.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

B is for Barack

B was easy for me. B is for Barack.

I love politics. When I first graduated from high school, I worked as a campaign staffer for a US Senator (Abdnor - yeah, that was when I was a Republican). Loved the job. I was a political science major in college. I have worked on dozens of campaigns over the years and seriously considered a career in political campaigning and legislative support, but chose the security of the law instead. So, it's nothing new for me to be excited during a Presidential campaign season.

Except I've never been as excited about a candidate for any office as I am about Barack Obama. I truly believe that he could be an agent of real, lasting change in this country.

Ever since Paul Wellstone died, I've felt pretty sad and hopeless about our country. Wellstone was a real hero in this state and a hero for progressives everywhere. His death was a real blow and I still can't think or talk about it without getting teary-eyed. Wellstone died and Norm Coleman was elected - a man I don't respect at all and am really depressed to have represent me. And then we had the war in Iraq. And the economy went into the tank. Pawlenty was elected Governor and cut every program and service in this state to the bone. Bush was re-elected. It's been really disheartening to see my state and my country on such a sad and depressing road.

But Barack Obama makes me hope for a brighter future. He makes me think that people can pull together and work for a better country for everyone, instead of everyone looking out for himself. He makes me think it's possible for people to be engaged and care. That the war can end, people can have real healthcare coverage, we can start planning for preservation of our environment instead of trashing it. The country can be run for the good of the people, not the corporations.

I had the chance to see Barack Obama in person yesterday at a rally. It was quite an amazing experience. People lined up for literally miles:

Those are people waiting to hear a politician speak!! And that's just one of the lines. I was up in the skyway and the line wrapped all the way to the end of the skyway and back up into a U on itself. There were so many people that it took two hours to get into the Target Center. The place was packed:

He spoke for about an hour and was passionate, thoughtful and persuasive. Wouldn't it be nice to have a smart President again? One who can actually string sentences together and use real words, instead of made up words? The biggest cheer was definitely when Obama mentioned that George W. Bush would not be on the ballot this November.

So, that's why for me B is for Barack. I hope everyone who is reading this in Minnesota will join me and caucus for Barack on Tuesday night.

I have also been Knitting Blue. (Afterall, B is for Blue too, which I am through and through):

I finished the first front for my niece's hoodie. I just stuck the fork in there to highlight the pocket - it was the closest thing to grab. I am almost done with the second front, so I just need to sew it all together, knit the hood and the edgings and put in the zipper. I was hoping to get it done by the end of January, so I'm sad I didn't quite make that goal. Hopefully by Valentine's Day, though.

I have also finished another preemie hat:

This one is grapefruit sized. Here's how it looks from the top:

Project Name: Cabled Baby Hat
Designer: Julie Hentz
Pattern Source: Knitting Pattern a Day 2008 Calendar
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Yarn Source: The Yarnery
Date Started: I can't remember - sometime in January
Date Completed: 1/29/08

Comments: Another preemie hat for Jeanne and Chell's collection. I started one more and when I get that finished (hopefully today), I'll send the three over.

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