Monthly Archives: January 2011

Trading Snow for Sand

That’s right. In about 10 days I’ll be sitting on the beach in Tulum, Mexico with Tami. Plans are in motion. I ordered a new swimsuit. Tami and I picked out a place we want to eat ceviche. And I changed my desktop at work to this image:

(c) th00.deviantart.net/

And, as any knitter must do for an upcoming trip, I lined up a new project. This fall I wrote about Lilia and her lightning quick response to translate a knitting pattern from Finnish to English (seriously, how cool is that?!).

copyright: Pitsikuduja

Neulottu naisen jakku has been on my queue for a while and I finally found the right yarn – Peace Fleece Worsted. It’s a happy, happy green that’ll help get me through the end of winter. I cast on last night, and by Tulum, I should be working on the radial pattern.

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Peace Fleece Worsted in shaba

If you’ve been to Tulum, feel free to share tips on where to eat or what to do!

Problems! Problems!

I can’t remember much of the movies I’ve seen. We’re talking major plot points and main characters. The up side is that I get a lot of mileage out of the movies we own. If I let a year go by I can just about watch everything over again without a lot of spoilage. The down side is that I look the fool in most any conversation about a movie that I saw more than two weeks ago:

Friend: Have you seen such and such movie?

Me: Yeah, but…

Friend: Remember the scene where (the main character lives, the main character dies, everything blows up in a fiery crash)?

Me: Uhhh not really.

And then we awkwardly have to feel around for a new topic of conversation. What I do remember is a) whether or not I liked the movie and b) random bits I thought were funny/sad/poignant. Case in point – The Motorcycle Diaries. Have you seen it? Nevermind – I can’t really talk with you about what happened in the movie or where those guys were going on their motorcycle.

Anyway, there is this scene where the motorcycle spins out of control on a backroad and after several failed attempts to get things under control, the pair of riders crash in a ditch. They’re shouting to each other in Spanish the whole time – all sorts of expletives or directions or cries for help – and yet all the subtitle says is “Problems! Problems!” It’s like the subtitle man just got sick of it all one night in the studio – If they don’t know Spanish it’s their own damn fault. TWO words – that’s all I need to give em here.

Wheeeee!

Problems! Problems! became the code between my friend and me for the sorts of mishaps and follies that don’t really matter in the whole scheme of things, but they sure put a damper on your day. I had two of those last week. First, SOMEbody broke my lucky garden gnome that I won at a grad school white elephant gift exchange and who’s been with me through three apartment moves. Nobody’s confessing but I have my suspicions.

cat aftermath

I'm using Gorilla Glue and doing some brain surgery tonight

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The chubby sibling will be easier to force a confession out of...I'll just shake her metal bowl of food.

Next, and much worse, is that the gray wool sweater I knit for Read’s classmate was lost en route from Cleveland to Cambridge. USPS records show it was delivered on January 3rd, but the classmate was home and never got it. Did someone swipe the box off the porch? Sigh. I insured the package, but even if USPS ponies up the funds,I still have to reknit it. Problems! Problems!

Commissioned sweater

The Lost Sweater

Snow Day Projects

Eighteen inches of snow dropped on Boston last night, which could only mean one thing…SNOW DAY!! Can anything inspire a purer joy? At least when you’re still new to the Northeast…

Snow Day

The view out our window at 7:30am

Snow days  – with all of their white reflected light – are  great for indoor photography. While we were still in bed, Samson did his famous “Great Men of History” series for the camera. Read calls the following  “George Washington Crossing the Potomac.”  And were any of you fans of Calvin & Hobbes? If so, you might understand why I turned Teddy’s new favorite cardboard house into a Time Machine. Teddy teleported to another time and place, and Mr. Washington took his historical reenactment skills to the streets, leading us in a snowy expedition around the block. All the curbside cars looked like frosted cupcakes.

Crossing the Potomac

Great Men of History #1

Teddy's Time Machine

Teddy's Time Machine

Teddy's Time Machine

Whoosh - he's gone

Snow Day

Snowy march around the block

Next to goofing around with the pets, snow days call for soup and craft projects. I made the soup first – Chicken Sausage & Artichoke from Sunset magazine – and served it with homemade bread. Excellent. Then I finished a really cheap but good-looking organizer for my long necklaces. All you need is an inexpensive wooden picture frame, little metal hooks, and a handheld drill (the drill isn’t mandatory but it does make things easier).

Chicken Sausage & Artichoke soup

Chicken Sausage & Artichoke soup

Materials for my new necklace organizer

The photo is of my hometown (Bryan, Ohio) in the 1920's. They still decorate the square like this for Christmas :)

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Pre-drill shallow holes to make screwing in the hooks easier

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Voila!

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Now I can fit more earrings in my jewelry box

Teddy returned around dinnertime but won’t say where he went, just that he had fun. Me too – what a great day.

Backlog of Christmas Knitting

Now that everyone’s opened their gifts I can post pictures of my Christmas knitting!

1. Natacha’s Gold Cowl

Technically this was not a Christmas gift but a birthday present for my kind, outrageous, Sagittarius coworker. She helps make the new job a place I want to go each morning. The pattern – Spiral Cowl –  is so easy and pretty.

When my coworkers saw the present they said, “Ohh you should sell those! You could be rich!” Rich??? I wanted to tell them how hard it would be to knit cowls en-masse and make a living from it…much less get rich. The yarn isn’t cheap. And then there’s the time. Maybe if I got into pattern designing. We don’t like to pay El Salvadoran or Guatemalan living wages for our clothes, so I’d be hard pressed to find people who want to pay an American living wage for the knitting. Besides, hobbies aren’t really for making money. They’re usually where I spend my money…making some gifts out of it is just a nice bonus! So there I am – standing in the office thinking about the global economy and my own destructive buying habits and the measure of a good hobby. But I forced a nice smile for my coworkers and said thank you that’s such a nice compliment.

photo

Natacha's birthday cowl

2. The Sweater to Restore Hope

Read overheard a classmate in the student lounge lamenting a lack of good sweater options for her husband. He gave her my email. I spent a couple replies making sure she was not under any of my coworkers’ grand illusions (You realize buying a sweater is going to be a LOT cheaper, right?). Much to my delight, I discovered around the third email or so that I had a genuine lover of handmade goods on the other line.  She stole a sweater from the hubby’s closet and met me at Mind Eye Yarn in Cambridge. We picked doublestranded gray and navy wool, with a shawl-collared pattern from Rowan Knitting For Him (thank you Belmont Public Library).

She paid for the yarn and needles and on top of that I asked for $50. I agonized coming up with an amount (After all, we already established I’m not making a living off this knitting stuff!) I wanted to acknowledge my time, but also be reasonable for someone who lives on a student stipend and still wants to buy handmade with her money. I researched other made-to-order sweaters online and found similar amounts. If you’ve had to calculate a price for your knitting, let me know in the comments how you did it.

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His burgundy sweater functioned as a template

Commissioned sweater

My new book - Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques - was invaluable for things like adding the collar

Commissioned sweater

The gift was completed during my Christmas travels in Cleveland and mailed off to Boston

3. Mom’s Christmas Slippers

I’ve had a Noro sweater in my closet for a couple years now and it just never quite made the cut for What should I wear today? It’s too hot for indoors, the collar doesn’t lay right, and while the colors looked right at home in Eugene, Oregon, they’re a little kooky for east coast living. This December I finally made the call to frog it.

the Noro sweater that is no more

the Noro sweater that is no more

I love Noro in alternating stripes – a look made famous by Jared Flood’s striped scarf - so I planned for a pair of  felted Fuzzy Feet slippers for my mom.  That next week I unwrapped an ugly gray suede shirt in an office white elephant exchange, and everyone was shocked to see how excited I was over it. I explained that it would make the perfect soles for my mom’s slippers.

Christmas Slippers

Before felting

BEFORE and AFTER felting the slippers

Teddy oversees the felting process

Pre-punching the slipper sole holes

Pre-punching the suede soles with an old fashioned leather puncher

Suede sole of Mom's christmas slippers

I sewed twice around with extra-strong thread so that every space has a thread running over top and underneath

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Ta-da! Mom said she liked them a lot. Dad even requested a pair