Monday, August 31, 2009

Or I'm just super dedicated to creating the best pattern possible for all of you. Am thinking I'll go with the latter to explain why I bought 5 skeins of the above colorway of Ultra Alpaca today when I popped by my fave LYS in Lexington.

I could not leave this amazing green there - it was just so unusual. A gorgeous deep jade green heathered with dark red. Sounds weird, huh? It's not. And it might be a super secret new color since I can't even find it on the Berocco website to link. All mine. Awesome.

I finished up the brown cardigan with hooks and eyes, and will take some nice photos soon. It's pretty perfect. (Although I do realize the pics I used in my last post suck and it might not look as perfect as I keep saying it is.)

However, in the meantime I'll be knitting another one, a little shorter - with a cool detail on the back, which I've already figured out. Something a little more fun than the classic brown one. And then I'll do the pattern with two versions in it. Two versions. Am I getting ahead of myself here? Someone stop me.

Maybe I just need one to wear to Rhinebeck and another for Stitches East.
How's that for justification?

In the meantime, I had begun Rosamund's Cardigan out of this lovely yarn from the stash. It's purple with blue heather in it and exactly on gauge. A great find in the trunk, and thanks to Emily who gave it up a couple of years back. But it'll just have to wait a few more days while I catch up on the Lucky Green.

On the cocktail front, I had visions of grandeur last night that didn't work out. While watching Don Draper effortlessly muddle maraschino cherries into rye on MadMen, I figured I'd do the same. As soon as the commercial break came up, I grabbed the Jim Beam, the cherries, and lemon. It was quick and I was done by the time the fabulous country club party resumed on TV. But I'm not as smooth as Don Draper and neither was the drink. Hmmm.

It was, however, fun to muddle maraschino cherries...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The sweater that almost didn't get finished - this is the one I began here, brought to Denmark, knitted up on cars, trains and planes and then thought would be too small around. I came home, tossed the notes out (crap, crap, crap) and shoved the knitting bag into the stash to be forgotten and frogged. But then, I couldn't do it.

It kind of haunted me. I found myself trying on similar things in the stores and finding all sorts of shortcomings with them. Why aren't they heathered brown? Why isn't the hem folded over stockinette? Do you find the real problem with being a knitter is that sometimes store bought just doesn't cut it because you know you can make EXACTLY what you want??

So I took it back out and put it back in about 4 times. Wished I hadn't thrown out all those notes - and finally wrote new ones based on the piece I had. Sighed and rethought the shape. Finally I figured I'd go with what I'd done instead of what I'd thought of in the beginning.

In the end, I'm glad I went with this fit instead of the bigger, belted vision I'd had in my head. Putting this on and seeing how it opens out instead of closing up, I think it's actually more flattering than the belted things I'd tried on in the mall. It's a nice straight line. It's a little more modern feeling. And better for my curvy shape, I'm thinking.

The alpaca is a little clingy, but really more "skimming" than anything.

It's another lame photo shoot in Maya's room on a rainy day, but when I write it up, I'll do prettier pics and try my hand at styling an outfit that works around this guy. In the meantime I just like it so much I had to post.

The neckline also ended up a little different than my first thought. (Here it's safety pinned, dark photo, so give me a little leeway. It lines up just fine in real life)

I deviated from my original plan and made it wider and more open - I think it looks better with the big, loose short sleeves than the basic crew type neckline in my original drawing. And, I love those wide sleeves too. love love love

Here it is on Carol a little earlier in the process. Pre end-weaving, pre blocking. Hence the wonky cockeyed way it's laying. But you're knitters, you get the idea.

Am debating a single button with a loop, double buttons with a toggle, or hooks and eyes. I kind of like the simplicity of the big stockinette collar and center panels and am leaning towards hooks and eyes. The cardigan is such a versatile piece, I almost don't want to accesorize it with something - with hooks and eyes, it'll match everything, right?

But I always have THESE and it's such a crime to leave them unused....

Especially the little metal-etched off white ones. Am loving those...

Below is the length - about mid thigh. It hides hips, is longer than any blousy shirt underneath, could go over a dress maybe AND isn't too long for a short girl like me. I'm thinking this will work well with boots and jeans too- I'll still have knees and a little leg between the shoes and the sweater. Plus it will stay hidden under my coat (Pet peeve - when long things hang out)

Am digging the hem. Honestly, there's not much I'm not digging here. Am hoping some of you will agree :-) Will get to the writing very soon, and will be hoping to find a few test knitters with Ultra Alpaca in the stash and a good eye for mistakes!

I found a group on Rav who test knits, but I know a couple of you who have been fab testers before might want to give this a shot? Totally understand if you don't want to - no explanations necessary, but if anyone does, please shoot me a comment with your email.

Sorry to go on gushing about my own shit, but I had such LOW expectations here and it turned out pretty groovy. Hence the name - Lucky.

PS. The Ultra Alpaca for this? 5 skeins = $35

With over 100 yds left. I just might make a well deserved drink later on today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm learning that I can't do any actual pattern writing while the kids are still around. It's all sound bites around here. 20 mins and something. 15 mins and something else. Beach, errands, friends, phone, whatever. It's good. But there's no writing, no calculations. Nothing my child and liquor addled brain can't handle on autopilot.

However I knit just fine in sound bites. I do it by spidey sense, based on gut (which I have plenty of this summer....). And I take notes. So, by next week, I'll have two completed sweaters and a pair of mitts completely finished and all ready to write up.

See? Just a neckline left to work on.

How much do I love thee, Ultra Alpaca? Honestly, my favorite all time yarn.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm not the only one churning out the FO's in our house these days. Everyone is hard at work. I don't know if I mentioned Maya and her buddy Molly's little business on my blog yet (and I'm way too lazy to go back and check) so let's just say I did.

Molly lives next door. She and Maya together are a commercial force to be reckoned with - and since Molly's parents have the same "less is more" approach to kid activities, let's just say the girls are together a lot. And the ideas never stop coming. They've written mission statements, price lists, and business plans for these ideas. And they cook up one scheme after another. Amazingly one stuck late this spring.

This operation here is part of "Skipping Hearts". TM (ha)

Molly and Maya have spent hours beading jewelry and sewing small quilted projects for stuffed animals, like sleeping bags and pillows. It's awesome. For now, the sewing machine is in the attic and it's hotter than hell up there, so the beading (aka portable) portion of the project has been going strong down here ever since we returned from Denmark.

So here's my new bracelet. Double wrap, small beads in rainbow colors. $6. I pretty much love it and would have paid more for the same in a real store.

I don't get a family discount, but since I also got a matching necklace, I've been offered 25% off my next purchase. Company policy. (again with the Ha) So, I have another small bead bracelet coming in blues and browns.

I figure I'll be able to afford it once I publish this puppy and you all run to knit one.

Almost there. (I know the photo is fuzzy, I'm being secretive.)

And look, my flowers are still happy and alive. The neighbors came home this morning, but I bought my own white hydrangea over the weekend - it was $20 at Lowes and it's huge, so I couldn't resist! I wish they had the darker colored - kind of rosey green - ones, but they didn't.

Now that they are home, I may have to sneak over at 2am if I want to get those again...

Nose back on the grindstone though.

I have knitting to do. And I have to finish up the pattern on the Green Apple Mitts and get it up this week. Am hoping today is my knitting designated work day for the week. Skipping Hearts is going to be in full swing on the floor, Zoe is at a friend's, and the weather isn't looking too promising. Perfect day for some work.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm totally impressed by my photo styling here.

But maybe not so much with my neighborly ethics, as stated in the title above.

But really --- I've been looking at these amazing hydrangeas and daisies across the street for days and the neighbor with the gorgeous flowers is in Switzerland for 3 weeks. She has this huge overflowing garden, and everything is in ginormous bloom. You can't even tell I've taken a few bunches. Really, just a few. And I'm not alone in my crimes. It's actually myself and the other neighbor who's dogwalking and watering said garden who have wandered in with scissors. We've agreed the flowers will all be withered by the time they return and shouldn't someone enjoy them in the meantime? The garden owner would surely want them to be enjoyed.

Besides, my dining room table does look so pretty.


But this really shouldn't be about my sticky fingers - it should about the mitts themselves, right? The pattern you're all waiting on? Bated breath, needles ready.

Way easy and versatile. I'm digging the mitts. It took a few tries to get the wing-y cables at the depth I liked them. But once I decided, they took no time to whip up. I like how the cables and ribs look as they go into each other at the top and the bottom of the mitts - and how the cable Vs out as you go into the hand (pinky side below here) on the sides. More pics are on Ravelry and the pattern should be there in just a few more days.

In other news, I cut Zoe's hair this morning. She wanted bangs.

She was not drinking coffee, she just looked that way.

Now everyone is busy and I'm putting away my scissors and going to get back to other things. After all, fall is only a few weeks away...

Monday, August 17, 2009

the only kind of project I want to be knitting is something small.

It might be a better idea to have a big, but very lightweight thing to work on at the beach, so I could casually drape it over my thighs or my gut and work it as a gorgeous cover up, but when it hits 90, I just can't give a shit.

So I've been working on these mitts when I'm on the sand - and any sweaty and cottage cheesy body parts just go on display, without the benefit of a nifty body covering hobby. These can only cover about 2 square inches max of skin at any given time, and they're wooly, so that might be a good thing.

Yesterday I fully tempted the knitting gods by working on them while sitting in a beach chair in the water. Around small children. And you know, they must have taken pity, since it worked out just fine. No dropped yarn and no crazy splashing incidents to report. My guess is that there are so few 90 degree knitters, those gods must work hard to protect and be kind to the few brave souls they get. Smart gods.

I'm using Arcaunia Nature Wool leftover from my Sunrise Circle (thanks long ago to Amber!), since the apple green is just too cool and fabulous to let stash away and die.

I'm kind of revising the Blueberry Mitts I made and gave away as a gift. I liked them, but this yarn could take a little more definition. I'm using the gull cable pattern, but I wanted it to be a little more open between repeats, and I really like the bell ribbing at the end, so I'm making that longer and more apparent too.

On the second mitt, I'm playing with a little pattern in the cables - short ones, long ones --we'll see if I keep or decide to match mitt 1, modeled below. Mitt #1 is all cables of the same proportion from wrist to fingers. It's pretty, but I got a little bored.

So. These are super easy - and would match almost any kind of jacket, so I'm thinking they could just catch on. (ie. at least one of you may actually knit them.) I may add a fun button detail around the wrist too. A loop or a band - or a flap...

Anyways, stay tuned, because no matter what I decide, it will only take a day or two to get through it and then I'll retype the current pattern to post.

And it'll be free.

Woo hoo. Almost Fall Present for you.

On the cocktail front, a little present too.

My sister was here for a week and one night, while making dinner, she informed me that if I planned to keep up this blog persona I've been milking for how may years now, I should be prepared to supply guests with amazing cocktails when they visit. Seems she had just come from Maine and there may be some expectations up there in the Jordan camp in terms of my skills.

I figured she was right, yes I owe my public - all 12 of you - and got off my lazy ass to whip something up. You know, it was pretty tasty. Even my Mom had some, and she's usually the white wine lady. Or Diet Tonic.

(People, don't ruin cocktails with diet mixers. I digress, but this is important. Pass on the cheese and crackers and use the real stuff. Very important.)

Anyways, this is for a pitcher's worth - I tried to break it up for a drink portion

Kentucky Burbon (I used Jim Beam) - maybe 2.5" - about 2 oz per drink
Cointreau - a 3 count shot (.5 oz per drink)
Ginger Ale - one liter - 6 oz in a glass
Lime - squeeze three - or a half per drink

Add seltzer or club soda to your taste - the ginger ale and cointreau mix can be sweet. I probably put in another inch at the end. Add many ice cubes and mix. It was a great pre dinner drink on a hot night.

My other current drink for the hot weather is a shandy.

2 parts beer (a light or wheat works best)
1 part lemonade
1 squeezed lime

I can't take credit for that one, but it does hit the spot on a humid summer day!

Anyways, time to get back to school supplies - so we can get to the beach again after lunch!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Which proves it's time to get back into regular life, but before I do, I'll share just a couple of the 700 pics from Denmark.

These are some pretty buildings in the city. It's a district called Nyhavn, where cafes line the canal, and tourist take lots of pics like this one.

This was our home away from home.

And this was my drink away from home.

Here's some of the amazing half timber houses in the country.

And one of the gorgeous castles we explored. This one had a dress up room where the kids could try on costumes that exactly matched outfits in old royal paintings. How cool is that?

Those costumes weighed a few pounds.

And really, the best thing of all about Denmark - our cousins. We have one for each of my girls. They're on a ride in an amusement park here and I love how each of mine is turned towards their buddy.

Lastly, here's the and the one and only time I tried to make a cocktail. Pathetic.

If you're wondering what the green and pink shit on top is, remember they don't have ice cubes. Those are novelty elephant cubes which look a little like slugs. Embarrassing, huh?

It was supposed to be a simple gin and tonic, but after two entire days looking out for tonic,

I found this stuff, which explains the drink color. It's a blueberry flavored fizzy water - and it ain't cheap. My cousin swore there was tonic in Denmark, but I think they keep it for the nationals. If a foreigner comes near, they edge a six pack closer to them with their toes.

I took the hint and went back to the beer.

As for the knitting, these two days really were the first time in ages that I had any enthusiasm for it. I was on my way to the beach when I remembered I had an easy pattern all written up that just needs a knit through before I can post it.

It's for DK weight mitts, so I may even have the timing right on this pattern for you guys to do a little knitting. Since it's Small Fall Knitting. Small Free Fall Knitting, in fact...

So stay tuned, as I should be able to finish up this puppy and post it by next week.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Well, a post from home minus the photos, because apparently I left the connecting cord for the camera in Helsingor. oops. It could have been worse, this is easily replaceable.

I have no knitting photos anyways. Seems I planned poorly and when the sweater vest went awry, the Juno -- although very pretty, was just a little.... boring. I know that was the plan, but I guess 5 feet of simple stockinette with a few yarn overs just couldn't keep my interest, so both are going back in the stash as WIPs. Or UFOs or whatever it is I'm supposed to call the things we like to sweep under the rug. I'm way too distracted by all the new pretty things I'm seeing right now anyhow -- and I have a pattern that needs some writing.

But that will wait, because for now I'm just happy to be home.
I loved Denmark, and I loved being with my cousins, but home is amazing.


My kids are outside with the neighborhood kids and I can't even hear them. it's been 24/7 in Denmark. Even with a little guest house, they didn't have their own space, nor did I. And between language, routine and all the rest, they just weren't their usual independent little selves. But today? Woo hoo. I might start drinking early to celebrate (after all, they won't be needing me for much....)

I know how to use the appliances in my kitchen and will not break them or be confused and/or mocked. I think my cousin cringed every time I approached the oven or microwave. She must think me incredibly inept or just plain stupid. Things are just so different! Between the washing machine, the Danish cellphone, the computer keyboard with the keys all moved around, the routines at the grocery store, and the situation with the outlets, I just did everything a little wrong. Amazingly, I could work the TV just fine. Some things cross cultural lines.

We have ice cubes. I didn't expect this one. The Danes just don't seem to think they're a priority. Perhaps it's because it's just not so hot there. You don't get them in your drinks and they aren't in the fridge. I love ice cubes. I never really knew till they weren't there.

I understand every word around me AND can even pronounce them properly. There were a few incidents stemming from the fact that I am a traveler who does try to learn the language. The kids favorite is when I asked someone to pass me the serving spoon for the salad at a big family dinner. Turns out they have two words for fart - and word for the really bad fart sounds a little like spoon. So, yep, I asked them to pass me the nasty fart across the table. ha ha ha ha. I was a big hit then.

Another day I announced proudly to everyone I'd be making them a special dinner tonight - american style BBQ - one of our favorite summer dinners, barbequed kittens. The word for kitten is pretty close to chicken. Again with the ha ha ha ha

But our last night there, we made a big list of all the new words we'd learned - not the ones that are basically the same in both languages - of which there are many, but the new ones. The list is 125 words or phrases long. It only includes a couple insults and swears. We are hugely proud of ourselves.

and lastly,

because I love the water pressure in my shower. And I was able to turn on one of my 500 English language channels and do a workout video this morning (in my family room with lots of room and no audience) so I need one. The workout and the shower.

It is around 90 degrees here. That's NOT one of the reasons I'm happy to be home. But I'll suck it up, since I can add all the ice cubes I want to my coffee after I shower.