Saturday, September 29, 2007

recent stash acquisitions

OK so I've done a bit of stash enhancing over the past few weeks as a final hurrah before Christmas. Without further ado...

I went to Aylin's Woolgatherer in Falls Church during my trip to see the Yarn Harlot. Very nice store - a bit hard to find (it's in a shopping center, but you have to walk around the side of a 7-Eleven, enter a side door and take the elevator/walk up to the third floor). I checked their Web site in advance so I knew what I was getting myself into, though. They were having a sale - 15 percent off all yarns except new arrivals - so I got a skein of Malabrigo:


I'd love to make Foliage from the new Knitty with it. It's so, so soft. I couldn't decide between all the gorgeous colors - I literally pulled out every skein and contemplated it. It took me a good 10 minutes to decide.

Aylin's had a nice selection - I wish I knew brands offhand but I'm bad with that kind of thing. They had a clearance room in the back and I found a random skein of Rowan Cotton Braid to match one I got in Scotland four years ago. It was more than half off! One quirky thing is that prices are not on the skeins, they're in a stack of papers hung every so often from shelves. I found the system was kind of nonsensical - it's listed alphabetically by yarn name rather than manufacturer (and then sub-alphabetized by yarn name), which I think would make more sense. So if you were deciding between Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Rowan Cocoon, they wouldn't be listed on the same page under "Rowan" - they'd be under "Kidsilk Haze" and "Cocoon," probably completely different pages. There was a sock yarn I picked up that didn't seem to have a yarn name, only the farm name, which confused me (and one of the workers came across kind of condescendingly when I asked for help because I was confused). Oh well. Maybe that's just the anal retentive copy editor in me, wanting to improve their organizational system.

I also got some Colinette Jitterbug. It was pretty picked over but I nabbed this gorgeous wine-colored yarn:

Colinette Jitterbug

Then ... I went to a yarn store in D.C. and didn't buy anything! Shocking I know. Jamie and I went to Stitch DC in Georgetown on a mission to get her her started on knitting socks. This branch of Stitch DC (there are two others) was a tiny store in this pretty rowhouse on Wisconsin Avenue NW. As the employee led us to the sock yarn stash, she apologized for its spotty collection. She wasn't kidding. There was some OnLine (some kind of German yarn, I think that was its name), about four balls of Panda Cotton and not much else. It was a tiny store but they had a nice (pricey-looking) collection.

Then, in Charleston, I visited Knit. It's right off the main shopping street (King Street) and across the street from a really yummy pizza shop. Yum, pizza and yarn, my two vices. It's closed Sunday and Monday so I had to wait till our third day there to go. I was afraid they'd be picked over because they had a massive sale the week before. I couldn't have been more wrong. In fact, they had garbage bags and Ziploc bags all over the place, especially in the front room, which was the sock yarn room (yes they had a sock yarn room, people). I was knee deep in bags of yarn, it was pretty fun. They had a massive selection of Koigu (at least 30 colorways, six-10 skeins per colorway, at the minimum) so I had to get some:

Charleston stash enhancement, part 1 of 3

They had a nice selection - some Austermann Step, Trekking, OnLine, lots of Tofutsies, and some Jitterbug. I got some Wildefoote:

Charleston stash enhancement, part 2 of 3

It's so soft and silky. And Rio de la Plata that is just really bright and happy and fun:

Charleston stash enhancement, part 3 of 3

As for non-sock yarn, they had at least one other room. Every Rowan you could imagine, Noro, some Noro-like variegated yarns, and a ton others. I kept trying to remember them all but it was kind of sensory overload. The people who worked there couldn't have been cooler - they apologized for the bags of yarn everywhere but they took it in stride, apparently they were in the middle of a big move after the sale. Josh came along for his first trip to a LYS. The store had three miniature schnauzers so he hung out with them, petting them, while I shopped. The dogs were really friendly and adorable (though the friendliness might have had something to do with the leftover pizza he had). Josh also gets mad brownie points for buying me all this gorgeous yarn in Charleston. He is the best.

Oh yes... before all my traveling there might have been a moment of sheer weakness and coincidence that I checked out Yarn Pirate's Etsy shop right after she uploaded a ton of overdyed skeins. I bought a skein of a Yarn Pirate overdyed BFL in Sally. It arrived yesterday and it is the yummiest fluffiest yarn I have ever seen. And the color is a deep variegated blue-ish purple with hints of burgundy. I can't wait to knit it up.

All that being said ... it's an understatement to say I've been on a stash enhancement binge. I did it all knowing it was my last hurrah. That's right I'm on a yarn diet again. I'm hoping it lasts until 2008. The only shopping I'll be doing is in my stash.

In actual knitting news ... this picture doesn't show it, but I'm almost to the toe decreases on my mom's first sock:

sock progress

I'm starting to get nervous about the toe - I'm afraid my next attempt at kitchener will go wrong. Maybe I should research the three-needle bindoff. One positive, though ... I haven't mentioned this but at the Yarn Harlot reading in northern Virginia, I consulted fellow knitters and they helpfully pointed out where I went wrong on the toe of my first sock. I had the stitches divided 20/20/20, when it should have been 30/15/15, with the 30 going for the top of the foot. D'oh. I don't know that I care to rip it out and fix, though. I'm lazy like that.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm back!

Charleston was so, so fabulous. We stayed at a great hotel. It was a couple buildings from the water - not the Battery, which is at the south point of Charleston (where all the massive fancy homes are) but along the eastern part of town. We were in the French Quarter, staying on Vendue Range. I found it funny that one hotel on the street was the Inn at Vendue and another was the Vendue Inn. Confusion much?

our hotel, the Anchorage Inn

It couldn't have been a more perfect spot because we had restaurants within a half-block of us, and the main shopping street wasn't too far, either. Best of all, at the end of our street was Waterfront Park, which had about a bunch of swings and beautiful views.

pretty cable bridge

We hung out there two nights after dinner just enjoying the sea breezes on the swings.


We took a few hours each day to check out the gorgeous old houses along the Battery.

ridiculous house no. 16

ridiculous house no. 52

This was my favorite:

houses along the Battery

It was just massive. Its roof reminded me of variegated yarn (of course):

close-up of roof

There was lots of pretty wrought iron. There is one ironworker responsible for about 500 pieces around Charleston - I kept wondering if we were passing by his work.

gorgeous ironwork

pretty ironwork

Josh loved the laptop backpack I got him, I was so glad. He got me "The Office: Season 3," flowers (yet to be delivered!) and bought me yarn at a store in Charleston (yarn pics to come). Such awesome gifts!

Of course the food was amazing. We had great meals everywhere we went. We ate at the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse our first night because it was really close to our hotel. They had a great blonde ale called the Southend Blonde, and we ate smoked chicken wings. They were very different from typical wings but really tasty. It was in this cool building, too:

Southend Brewery/Pub

On our final night there, we went out to a really nice dinner. But first we had drinks at a rooftop bar across the street from our hotel (I wore my ridiculous high heels, I wasn't planning on walking very far, but that would soon change, haha.) The moon was full and we had gorgeous views of the harbor and all the rooftops around Charleston. I wish I had taken some pictures, but it was pretty dark out. Then we walked down Queen Street, this alley-type street with lots of art galleries. We had spotted a place with a great menu on Queen Street the night before but didn't take note of its location. Of course I walked about five blocks in my ridiculous shoes and kept saying "just one more block! Just one more!" We finally found it and we weren't disappointed.

82 Queen

They had lots of little nooks and crannies for dining spots, inside and out. We sat in the courtyard with little lights. And the food was sooooo good. I had (this is a direct quote from the menu) "Sautéed Rock Shrimp,Sea Scallops & Jumbo Lump Crab Meat with Shiitake Mushrooms, Baby Spinach and Sunburst Squash tossed in a Mozzarella Cream with Cilantro-Lime Pappardelle Pasta." It was delicious. Josh had a lemon herb chicken breast with basil pasta and feta cheese. We split a great bottle of wine, a Jekel Riesling. The service was a little slow - it was a Tuesday night and there weren't many tables, but that's no excuse. Anyhow, the food made up for it. I would definitely recommend the place if you want a really nice meal out. One downside of eating outside, my legs are all bit-up and itchy now but it was worth it.

OK that's all I've got on Charleston ... a post on the good stuff - recent stash enhancement - will come later but for now I've got to bake brownies for tonight!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I met the Yarn Harlot!

I got to the book store four. Hours. Early. (I vastly underestimated my shopping time. However, I was not the first one there - there were six or so women knitting in the Borders Cafe. We all exchanged pleasantries, and I got to working on my sock. After about an hour, I noticed people were starting to hover around the front door, so I knew people were lining up to get tickets for the book signing, so I skedaddled over there. I ended up being 10th in line. We all sat down in line (hoping no one needed any science fiction books) and knitted.

knitters in line

My friend Jamie, who lives in Md. but teaches in D.C., showed up after work! Girl drove through D.C. at rush hour to get there. What a champ. We got decent seats, about six rows back on an aisle. She went to Safeway to get sandwiches for dinner, I kept knitting and looking around in awe at all of the beautiful knitwear - and in amazement at the sight of 100+ knitters knitting at once.

crowd of knitters

Stephanie came out at 7:30 and spoke for at least an hour - it was probably more like 90 minutes. But first, she had to fix the mic stand.

"I'm married to a sound guy."  --Stephanie, on fixing the mic

She was so, so great. Her speech was hilarious - she talked about CHOKE - Cultural Humiliation of Knitters Everywhere (I believe that was the acronym), it's a scourge to knitters everywhere. God forbid you knit and are single - there is clearly no hope for you, your fate is sealed. That sort of thing.

Stephanie speaking

At the end of the Q&A, I thought it was really great that she did "preboarding" (her words) for people with small children, or people who just had a really long trip ahead of them, no questions asked. I was No. 10 for the signing so I hustled upstairs quickly.

I was so nervous ... I really wanted to say at the minimum, your sock recipe was so great! It totally worked for me. Or, hey, I love "Knitting Rules" and I swear it opens itself to Page 136 all the time (because I'd hunch over it when trying to figure out the gusset).

Jamie was a peach and took lots of pictures:

the first-sock picture!

The picture she took of me ended up on her blog - and I am tickled. I am also identified as Laverne, which I think is even more awesome.

This is my favorite picture of the evening. I got to hold the traveling sock! And the sock for my mom is now imbued with some Harlot knitting mojo.


I spent the day after the signing bopping around D.C. looking at the World War II Memorial and knitting on the National Mall. I also spent a few more hours in a Borders, knitting, because I clearly didn't do it enough the previous day.

I got all the way to the gusset by my trip's end:

sock progress

Now I'm off on another adventure, to Charleston. Maybe I'll finish the sock by the end of the trip!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

almost there ...

Gracie is already asleep on the bed behind me so I'll keep this brief. Besides, I have to be awake really early tomorrow.

I've been busy running around with pre-trip errands - getting my car cleaned, doing laundry not-at-home because our dryer crapped out and, coincidentally, the washer got stuck in the closed position at the same time. I didn't realize how much I loved having a washer/dryer till I had to make a 25-mile roundtrip to wash a single load at my aunt's.

Believe it or not, I've been knitting too. No pictures for now, but my mom's first sock is about three inches long. I even took it to the car wash today while my car was washed and vacuumed and made shiny and spotless inside for all of $12 (not counting tip). I love this place, it plays R&B music from the late 80s-early 90s (lots of George Benson) and all the guys argue about football and they sell orange and grape soda (well, today that's all they had so I passed on a drink).

Even more of a surprise (to myself) I've been walking/running steadily lately. I was afraid I'd neglect it in light of all my errands but no, I've been really excited to go. On Sunday, Josh and I took a long walk around Ghent before going to lunch at No Frills. I had to be at work for an early (2:00ish) shift so the fact that we did that was pretty impressive. Yesterday I got up super early and ran/walked by 9 a.m. Amazing! Tomorrow will be another day like that because I have an 11:00 appointment to make.

Lest you think I've made an impressive life change, I've also been subsisting mostly on fruit snacks and edamame because I don't want to grocery shop before my trip but hey ... at least the edamame is healthy.

This will probably be my last post before my voyage to D.C. to see the Yarn Harlot and my trip to Charleston. Bye for a little. =)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

no pirate booty for me

I've decided against joining the Yarn Pirate Booty Club. One, I just paid my student-loan and credit-card bills this morning. Two, I realized that if I'd sign up, I'd feel guilty about it all the while in northern Virginia and Charleston. Three, I tried to sign up at 1:00 this afternoon (Eastern time, mind you), thinking that that was the same as 4 p.m. PDT. D'oh.

I cast on for a Steelers sock for my mom! I am loving the Claudia's. Super squishy and really really soft.

start to my mom's sock - FROGGED

(About 10 minutes after I took this photo, I dropped four stitches - 2k, 2p - off the needles and couldn't pick them back up, so I angrily frogged it.)

Friday, September 14, 2007


Everything was going so well ...

getting ready to bind off

I was a little worried about the ending. I mean, the decreases meant my top-of-the-foot needle had a lot fewer stitches than the two bottom-of-the-feet needles, so I figured the toe would not look perfect. I figured it was time to end the sock when I literally couldn't proceed with the top needle anymore - I had four stitches on it, so I couldn't K1, K2tog, ssk, K1 on it. I guess I could have transferred stitches to that needle to help, but I wasn't sure if that was the right way to proceed.

So I reviewed the grafting segment of the Harlot's episode of "Knitty Gritty" and watched the video before proceeding ... felt like I knew what I was doing ... and then I did it and got this:

my first sock!

It's an ugly, ugly toe. I just don't know what I did wrong. Did I try to kitchener too many stitches? Did I not tighten as I went? Honestly it kind of deflated me after the past two weeks of rocking this sock ... I really felt good about the whole thing. I guess that's how knitting is. You get all cocky, and boom, the gods laugh at you and give you a wonky toe. (My roommate said "it's just custom for your big toe!" She's the best.)

In new project news ... I cast on (but frogged after two rounds because I created yarnovers) for my mom's sock in this beauteous colorway. I've been feeling a little lonely lately so maybe working on some Pittsburgh themed socks will put me in the right state of mind. =) Back to cast on again.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

just another Thursday.

I just rented Disturbia, the second season of Extras (I looooove Ricky Gervais) and the first season of a saucily named British sketch comedy, Manstrokewoman. What was I thinking? That's a lot of TV for two nights. Well, I don't have any plans tomorrow so I'm sure I can knock a lot of the TV shows out.

In other news ...

I am weighing signing up for the Yarn Pirate Booty Club on Saturday. I lovelovelove her yarns and last time around, I sat there with the subscription in my cart and then Xed out at the last minute, feeling guilty because I hadn't learned to knit socks yet, money stuff, etc. This time around I am a sock knitter! I'm going to think it over. I have to keep in mind that I'm going to the D.C. area next week and plan to hit two yarn stores and a few days later, I plan to visit Knit in Charleston. (I must weigh the factor that I can't get Yarn Pirate yarns at these stores in my decision making process.) I think I would prefer the delayed gratification of the Booty Club, because ...

After my return from Charleston, I will be on a yarn diet. (Again.) It went very well the first time around, and that was only a month. I'm sure I can do it until Christmas. I just have to avoid my LYSs. After all, I will be too busy knitting Christmas gift socks to be thinking about buying yarn.

The new Knitty came out today ... I totally want to make Mr Greenjeans. It's a one-button cardigan with a stockinette body, a pretty part ribbed, part cable bit under the bust and three-quarters-length sleeves (looove). I think it could be the rare cardigan that could flatter my shape. I already added it to my Ravelry queue.

All right, it's time to get my exciting night of DVDs started. I'm going to cast on for a Christmas sock. No, I haven't finished my first sock, but I like to learn a new technique in silence. I will finish the toe tomorrow!

Monday, September 10, 2007

hi, Mom!

My mom is on Ravelry! And, uh, welcome to my blog. =) I write lots of sordid stuff on here, you know, that's why I never told you about it. (In all honesty I just forgot.)

Hope you find Ravelry as addictive as I do!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

creeped out

So my doorbell just rang ... and some guy standing there with a pest-sprayer container is standing there. He says my landlord asked for spraying. Now, first alarm, my landlord wouldn't call for pest spray without letting me know so we could arrange a time. I live in a building of condo units, so the only person I deal with is the woman who owns this unit, not the whole building.

I know that the condo management sends someone 4x a year to spray ... but I haven't seen the standard letter posted next to the common area, and it seems like the last spraying was pretty recent. And I was home alone, so I was especially creeped out. At least he was nice when I told him no thanks, I didn't know about it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I finished the gusset!

a daylight shot

Woo hoo! I am so pleased. I've had to pick up a couple stitches here and there with a crochet hook, but never more than a couple rows. I don't even freak out any more when it happens! (If it unraveled more than two or three rows, maybe that'd be a different story.)

Also, yesterday morning I started a Penn State group on Ravelry - it's called Knittany Lions. I had been seeing university groups pop up on there and finally took it upon myself to start one. A little more than a day later, there are already 12 members! I have no idea what is involved with being a moderator but eh. Not too worried about it.

Back to reality today ... today markst he start of a full workweek (a six-day one at that). I will have to work my knitting in around work now! And my road trip to see the Yarn Harlot is 13 days away ... and Charleston is 16 days away!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

a confession

I'm off my yarn diet. This is what broke it:

Thank Ewe Sock Yarn, Firedancer

It's intended for socks for Alli, my sister-in-law-to-be. It made me think of the Cincinnati Bengals and, consequently, her. The fact that it was on sale was even better. I got it here.

Then after I bought that I bought a bunch of stuff at the Hook and I's Labor Day sale, though:

Plymouth Sockotta 6655


Silja Strompegarn sock yarn

Country Classic Yarn for Sox

From top: Plymouth Sockotta, Regia 4-ply Tweed, Silja sock yarn, and Country Classic Yarn for Sox. I'm all stocked up for Christmas presents!

OK, back to listening to Lily Allen and working on this puppy (if I don't fall asleep first. Josh and I just had a big old dinner at PF Chang's and ice cream afterward (it's our anniversary!) and I am soooo sleepy.) I'm about five rows into the gusset. As fun as it is (I've never decreased before, this is a novel thing for me), I'm ready to be done with this sock. I want to ship it off to the second-sock orphanage and get to work with some new yarn! (My, this paragraph had a bunch of parentheses.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

oh gusset, I dislike you so

I think I could be content to knit the Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe for every pair of socks in my future and be satisfied. I feel like a knitting goddess - the heel flap is so lovely and the heel turn made me feel like a real smartie pants. Well, I knew what was looming ahead ... the gusset.

Picking up stitches there was really scary - mine were a bit twisted and definitely hard to knit, and I haven't gone far enough to know whether it will be gappy in any way. Potential wonkiness aside, I'm hoping it will be finished in time for her book signing, which is two weeks from now in northern Virginia.

Obligatory progress picture (from last night, pre picking-up stitches for the gusset):

20 minutes later ... a turned heel!!

Look at that beautiful heel turn! Sheer magic!

I already know that I won't be making this a pair right off. I'm going to hop into Christmas sock knitting, yessireebob. I've got five pairs to make. By that 10th sock I should be a pro at picking up in the gusset!

Monday, September 3, 2007

two reasons I am dumb.

1. Forty-eight hours after the fact, I realized that I missed my boss' Labor Day barbecue. I RSVPed and everything. D'oh. Cuz, you know, I was doing oh-so many pressing things over this vacation.

2. I am even dumber because I just spent two to three hours watching a "Rock of Love" marathon - that's right folks, the reality dating show starring Bret Michaels of Poison. I don't know whether I'll have enough brain cells left to carry on a conversation at SnB tonight. But oh I am excited to go just the same. =)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Steve Carell is a genius.

"She was a ho ... fo sho."

MAN I had forgotten how funny "40-Year-Old Virgin" was ... I DVRed it last night and watched a little this morning ... Steve Carell's "ho fo sho" line and "AGHHH KELLY CLARKSON" when he's getting his chest waxed made me laugh out loud.

Today I did a little shopping ... went to AC Moore and did not buy any yarn, thankyouverymuch!! It was a good run-through for tomorrow - I'm planning on checking out the Hook and I's Labor Day sale. Anyhoo, I got several new sets of DPNs (US 4 through 7 - two sets were on clearance!), a tapestry needle and two stitch holders, all for $20. I had a 50% off coupon so a set of Clovers were about $4!

Then I went to Best Buy, where I got a 2GB memory card for my camera - a major upgrade from my 256MB card. Now I can take 1400 pictures at once!!

Speaking of pictures ... I'm trucking along with the sock:

"Wow ... now this has some socklike qualities" -- my boyfriend

My goal is to get past the heel flap and to the gusset before SnB tomorrow night.
EDIT a few hours later: There's no way I will get that far before tomorrow night! I just tried it on and it needs to be at least twice as long as it is for me to get to the heel. Sigh.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

In 48 hours ...

One day in ...

I'm well on my way to a sock! This photo is a day old; I'm about nine rows into the body of the sock (plain old stockinette ... which is boring but fine, I like feeling as if I've got at least something on this project mastered). The yarn is Patons Kroy, which splits and fuzzes a little bit (I think maybe I'm tough on yarns, too) but overall looks quite lovely. It did a little bit of pooling in the cuff but is looking better the more I knit in the round.

I can't get enough of this project. Don't get me wrong, I've worked on it *a lot* over the past 48 hours. Several hours a day, I'd guess. But it's not enough. I went out with friends Thursday night ... and really wanted to bring it with me. Would have been pretty messy, though - after a couple drinks, I definitely didn't need to be knitting. This afternoon, I went to a sports bar for delicious bad-for-you food during Penn State's football game. I kept it in my bag the whole time ... but contemplating knitting. Brought it to the beach, kept it in the car.

Anyhoo ... it's been a lovely, lovely vacation (all three days thus far). I'm secretly hoping I can knit all the way to the heel flap by SnB on Monday so I can work on it with some real pros around. Then again it's been very satisfying figuring out all this stuff on my own, too!

This nice weather has been wonderful, too. I turned off the A/C tonight and threw open the back door, which means Gracie has lots of exciting sights and sounds:

surveilling the neighborhood