Dec 30, 2011

the pom-pom that ate the world

Christmas is over, which is always very bittersweet in my books. As much as I love spending time with family, watching everyone opening gifts, the treats, opening my own gifts, the lights, the music... it's nice to have some peace and quiet. For the first time in over a week, I am all alone at home. I'm enjoying a West Wing marathon (thanks to husband for the complete series!), knitting, and drinking ALL of the coffee. Wonderful!

My mother received a pair of socks (along with the Boulder Flatirons woven shawl), which I had started for me, but had languished in my WIP pile for the last half of this year until shortly before Christmas, when I decided to pick them up again. When I did, I realized that the colors were very much my mom's colors and that she would love them. Thankfully, we have similarly sized feet, so they ended up fitting perfectly!

What I love most about them is that they are all-season socks. The yarn was a custom dye from String Theory Colorworks based on my favorite fruit of summer: watermelon. Knitting them in the summer, they just screamed juicy watermelons! When I picked them up in December, though, they were very clearly (girly) Christmas socks! What fun!

Knitty Gritty: Plain vanilla socks, knit 2AAT toe-up with afterthought heels. Yarn: String Theory Colorworks Inertia in Lanatus.

The other Christmas-related FO was finished Christmas Eve Eve, so just in time. I haven't blocked it yet, nor added a name. I plan to make one of these (in different patterns) for husband, myself and my mom as well, so I figure I'll do the annoying stitching of the names all at once. My dad's stocking:

This went fast. I think it took maybe a week of non-monogamous knitting. I probably could have finished it in three days, to be honest. I used Bartlett Yarns Fisherman 2-ply Aran for all of it, which was a treat. According to the website, the mill has been around since 1821, and the yarn was beautifully rustic - it had that real sheepy smell. I mean that in the best of ways. I would take breaks from knitting and just shove my nose into the yarn cake to breathe deep the wonderful smell of wool. Obviously, it knit up beautifully as well.

Knitty Gritty: Pattern is Holly Christmas Stocking, which is also available as a kit with Bartlett Yarns yarn. Used Bartlett Yarns Fisherman 2-ply in Cranberry, Spruce Heather and Lt. Sheep Grey. I chose the afterthought heel option (pattern also offers a short-row heel option). 

I also finished my sockhead hat a while ago (just never took a photo, as it went straight from finishing to my head). I stopped a lot earlier than the pattern said to, just because I got sick of the endless stockinette. As dull as the pattern is, I do love the hat a great deal and plan to make another one soon!

Knitty Gritty: Pattern is Sockhead Hat, knit in Sanguine Gryphon Eidos in Alcibiades. Used size US 2 needles, and stopped after about 6" of stockinette (rather than 9). 

I have a random FO to show. Random, because I hadn't planned on working on it this past week, or even casting it on. Christmas day, I went to go check on the goose (we cooked it using a steam-roast method), which was steaming on the stovetop. I opened the foil a little and naturally burned the fuck out of my fingers. I'm talking giant blisters, intense pain, and a need to look up the different degrees of burns. The worst part - you know, other than the searing pain - was that the worst burn was on my left index finger. My tension finger. The finger I need in order to keep tension/gauge when knitting. Fuck. After a day, the pain had subsided and I figured I could knit with the giant bandage on. I was a little worried about tension and working on something with an already established gauge, so I cast on a hat in some bulky yarn, then finished it the next day (gotta love those instant gratification projects!).

Then I decided it needed a pom. A big one.

Now, this photo shows the pom-pom after a significant amount of trimming. At the beginning, it was larger than the hat. There is no doubt that it is still far to large, but I love it.

Knitty Gritty: Pattern is Bicycle Wheels (although somewhat modified, as I didn't get anywhere close to gauge - no I didn't swatch, but I could tell from the get-go). Yarn used is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Icelandic, which was a DREAM to work with and has me wanting to buy a truck load more. The colorway is Banded Agate, my personal favorite of BMFA. 

I have several new WIPs on the needles:

Some vanilla socks in the Agatha Christie colorway from Schaefer Yarn Company (base is Heather), which goes along with my current read-a-thon of all of Agatha Christie's books, in order. I started these socks as I was reading The Secret of Chimneys (obviously), but have since finished it and am on to one of my all-time favorites, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (if you haven't read it, go do so now. It's brilliant). I'm going to try and knit as many Agatha Christie inspired projects as I can this next year (not exclusively, but will try to always have something on the needles!).

I can't tell you what pattern this is, as it is a surprise for Heidi. The yarn is her own - Grant Creek Yarns in Northern Lights on the Glimmer base (so much prettier in person. it's gloomy here today, so the photo is crap). This is the last photo of it until they're finished and in her hands, or rather, on her feet :)

Phew. It's been busy here at chez nelago, even with the holidays! I'm kind of impressed with myself for getting WIPs taken care of, and not going overboard on casting on new things. Hopefully the new year will be just as productive!

Dec 16, 2011

That's a lot of yardage!

That's what she said.

Sorry, couldn't help it.

It's time for an update on my weight loss progress! Since December 1st, I have lost drumroll:

21.8 skeins of sock yarn!!! 

yeah, that's almost 5 pounds. I'm pretty damn proud of myself, and am feeling pretty motivated to lose the fluff! 

In other news, I got a surprise package in the mail today from the lovely and talented Claudia of Wollmeise - two gorgeous skeins of yarn as a Merry Christmas and thanks for being a moderator of the group. I'm so blown away by the kindness and thoughtfulness! Lookit the pretties:

Both are two newer colors - unbeschreiblich on top, and Holly on the bottom. Also, both are pretty impossible to photograph... they're so much prettier in person! Claudia is fantastic :) 

Lastly (for now), the kitties wish you all Happy Holidays...

... and humbly request someone bring them some effing tuna-flavored egg nog, NOW. 

Dec 10, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

This is my favorite time of year. It starts with thanksgiving - the zenith of holiday meals - which moves directly into that bright and cheery, sparkly lit commercialized bonanza known as "the holidays." AKA christmas! I am that person who flips on the christmas music radio station the day after thanksgiving and then doesn't switch it off until they go back to playing shitty easy listening. I am also the person who leaves christmas lights on for half the year, the tree up until February and has all her shopping done by Dec 1st. I am the person most of you hate. I don't give a rat's ass. Hate away, it's the hap-happiest season of all, and I'm having a wonderful time.

I've recently been in the mood to knit stupid socks. As in, socks where novelty outweighs functionality. My christmas socks are prime example. They are based on the British holiday dessert christmas pudding - a boiled or steamed plum (or dried fruit) pudding that is often left to dry in a bag on a hook for weeks. Sounds delicious, right? Don't worry, it is then doused in brandy, set on fire, and then drizzled with a sweet cream sauce. Not quite as bad. I mean, anything that involves both booze and fire gets at least one thumb up in my book. While I did some growing up in England, and grew to love their food, I have to admit that the British desserts kind of baffle me (except for treacle pudding - that shit is pure gold). I had originally planned on making a hat based on this, but couldn't find a pattern that was sized for an adult*. If I was going to 'design' my own christmas pudding accessory, of course it had to be socks! I adapted the artichoke ankle sock pattern to make it look more like frosting, added on some holly and voilà, christmas pudding sock.

Oh yeah, they're that cute in person.
knitty gritty - adapted pattern (links above). brown: wollmeise twin in ebenholz; white: wollmeise twin in natur; green: wollmeise twin in 'oh tannenbaum'; red: wollmeise twin in ruby thursday. Added an extra repeat to the artichoke pattern to fit my big ol' feet. Used an afterthought heel and my generic toe.

In the spirit of the season, I am also knitting Kristin Benecken's 2011 Advent Shawl (Rav page). I wanted to knit last year's, but just didn't have the mojo for it. This year was shaping up similarly, but then I just went for it. Yes, it is taking up a lot of my knitting time. Yes, I am already a few days behind. However, I have made a lot of progress, I am using beads for the first time ever (LOVE), I am using stash yarn and the patterns are really fun! It's neat to get a different stitch pattern every day, and I really like the stitch sampler look of the shawl. I kind of feel like I deserve a parade for using stash yarn. I had REALLY wanted to knit this in a christmasy red, but didn't have any in my stash. Normally, I would just buy some, but I'm trying to turn a corner here, and that means not just buying when I have stuff that will work. So I went with the gorgeous DyeForWool silk/baby camel/merino blend in Hugin & Mugin that I had in my stash. The color works well for the shawl, as it reminds me of a cold winter's night (and I picked beads to look like snow). It is also impossible to photograph, but whatever. Here are the first two days (I am now on day 8):

I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of the month (by christmas would be great, but that may be impossible). The yarn is so fucking soft, I am going to lurve this shawl when it is finished! Of course, now I am queuing up a ton of other shawls with beads...

Which brings me to this: from Jan 1st through Feb 14th, the Wollmeiseholics group on ravelry will be having a big KAL (knit-a-long). Yeah, I'm organizing it, so this is of course a bit of self-promotion, but it'll also be fun. Details are in this thread. For it, I am finally going to start the evenstar shawl I have been planning on knitting for over a year now. I will knit it in Wollmeise Lacegarn in himbeere (PINK. very very PINK), and already have the beads for it. We'll see how it goes...

*Why is it that all the funny, cute, silly, goofy, kind of novelty hat patterns are sized for babies? Do designers think that adults wouldn't wear a hat that looks like a cooked turkey? Do they not realize that holidays = drinking heavily = perfect time to wear hats that make us look total asses? 

Nov 28, 2011

Bite me, Barbie

Oh, Thanksgiving. My absolute favorite holiday of the year - where friends escape their families and come to my house for a delicious meal and countless bottles of wine. This year featured drunken charades, which ended with my friend Jeff attempting to mime out "Dick Cheney," only to have guesses such as "Dick Rain-shackle." (attempted to mime "chain," then "sounds like rain," in case you're wondering). My personal favorite was getting someone to mime out "Ken Burns Effect." Yeah, I'm kind of a bitch...

So now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to focus on looking a little less like a beached whale. In an effort to actually have some accountability in yet another weight-loss goal, I've come up with a way to tie it into dealing with my yarn-buying addiction. For every two pounds that I lose, I get one credit (1 credit = a skein of yarn. However, for every five pounds husband loses, he can take a credit away. Also, for every two pounds I gain back, I have to destash my most recent yarn purchase.

Last year I attempted a yarn-buying fast, which failed rather quickly due to a total lack of accountability. This time, I am going to attempt to change that through public shaming. I have created a group on ravelry for fellow fluffy people (and not so fluffy people) to set their goals and reward system, check in, get support, and even prizes. (Sweatin' For Skeins) Since I'm owner/moderator of the group, there is already pressure to keep up with my goals and not post failures. The second public shaming involves actually disclosing my weight *gulp* to the (knitting) public. Considering that I have actively avoided even knowing my weight for many years now, this is a pretty big step. So here goes.

I weigh the equivalent of 1, 398 skeins of sock yarn

What, you thought I was going to make that easy for you? Enjoy your math.

I bought an exercise game for my wii (since I work from home, I can take breaks with it) - Exerbeat. It's kind of fun, and has competitiveness I need - trying to beat my scores, and more importantly, husbands' scores. Plus, I get to yell obscenities at the stupid instructor. I'm pretty sure the voice of the aerobics instructor is the woman who does the voice of Barbie. It's fucking obnoxious and makes me want to kick her in the shins. (I'm writing this while watching husband do some of the exercises - makes me wish I had a video camera, it's pretty hilarious.)

Anyway... Knitting! I've done some! Look!

I finished Liz's Red Sox Socks. They turned out really well, although I somehow ended up with one afterthought heel being a bit bigger than the other. Oh well, if they don't fit right it'll be easy to fix.

Knitty gritty: basic vanilla socks, CO 64, women's size 8, afterthought heel. Wollmeise twin in Ruby Thursday and Natur for heels and toes.

I have a couple of other things I've been working on, but I'll put those in a separate post. That's it for now!

Nov 14, 2011

singular of sox?

Oof, two weeks since my last post, eh? That's no good... However, guess what I've been up to?! That's right, I've been knitting! After some marathon knitting - including knitting most of the drive up to Tahquamenon Falls for some too-late-in-the-season camping - I finally finished my Farmer McGregor Socks!

I absolutely fucking LOVE these socks. They were super fun to knit - definitely not boring, but also not über-challenging - and CHECK OUT THAT POOLING! I have longed for pooling like that, begged for it, offered to sell my soul for it. Since I wear a women's size 11 shoe, I always have a pretty large cast-on count. Where the average 64 stitches seem to give everyone awesome stripey pooling when it comes to hand-painted yarn, my 72 stitches gives me blotchy, lame-ass pooling. This pattern (where I CO 80) worked its little magic and lo & behold, AWESOME POOLING. I am definitely knitting this pattern again, along with every other pattern in Alice Yu's new book (Socktopus - 17 Pairs of Socks to Knit and Show Off).

The knitty gritty - Wollmeise 80/20 Twin in Johannisbeer und Brennessel WD. Knit large size on US size 1.5 chiagoo needles, 3.5 pattern repeats for the cuff. ravelry project page

It feels really good to cross another WIP off my list :) But now, it's November, which means Christmas knitting. Ugh. Don't get me wrong, I love knitting for other people. I just don't like that I am a chronic procrastinator and always end up having to knit my ass off just to get stuff done in time (meaning I also don't get to work on anything for myself during that time). I want to knit myself some christmasy socks, but alas, those will have to wait. I'm sure I will remember this next year and start early. Heh.

Luckily, I seem to be rocking the Christmas knitting as well. I don't know where this productivity is coming from, but I'm not going to question it. I finished a gaiter (the male version of a cowl, in other words, the exact same thing as a cowl) for husband in time for hunting season - opening day is tomorrow - as an early xmas present. Looks cozy, doesn't he? I have to say, my hands were pretty damn cozy while I was knitting this.

Knitty gritty - Fisherman's Rib Gaiter knit with the luscious Malabrigo Rios in glazed carrot. CO 60 with yarn held double on US size 10.5 needles. I added flaps on either side of the bottom etch to tuck into his shirt (dickies, if you will... snicker).

Next up, I have one sock finished of Red Sox socks for my friend Liz.

This went fast. Two days fast. I've never knit a sock so quickly. It feels.... weird. I'm using Wollmeise for these in Ruby Thursday and Natur, and I am pretty geeked about how great the first one looks. I'm pretty positive that she'll absolutely adore them (here's hoping they fit). One down, one to go. Assuming I finish these before next week, I can guarantee that I will be itching to give them to her early. Husband is very familiar with this tendency of mine. Not only can I never wait to open my own gifts (November begins the perpetual and 5-year-old-like "so what'd you get me?" questioning), but I also cannot wait for recipients to open the gifts I have bought/made them (November also begins the perpetual "wanna know what I got you?" questioning). It's a problem, but I think it adds to my adorable charm.

In other news, I have to gush about how awesome my friend and dyer-extraordinaire Heidi is. First of all, I LOVE her yarns (Grant Creek Yarns). She has a great eye for color, wonderful bases, and just awesome technique. It is pretty clear from talking to her that she loves to dye yarn, and it shows in her products. Anyway, for a while I had been badgering her to dye up a yarn based on a typo of one of her colorways - Electric Bungalow (typo of Electric Boogaloo), which I envisioned as spectacular 70s wallpaper-inspired colors. She rolled her eyes and called me crazy, which is pretty fair. Anyway, I got a package in the mail from her a few weeks after my brother died with none other than Electric Bungalow in exactly the colors I had envisioned! Totally unexpected, totally overwhelming. I kind of teared up a little, as I knew that she did NOT want to dye these colors and as a result did so because she was hoping it would make me feel better. Basically, this is yarn dyed purely out of the kindness of her heart. :)

Oh yeah, did I mention it's on her Glimmer (w/sparkles!) base? I mad heart this skein, and immediately wound it and cast on. I have so far started two different patterns with the yarn and am still not satisfied - but the perfect pattern will be found! After the xmas knitting is done, of course... Anyway, here is a pic taken while camping up north of one of the attempts:

I love how the yarn matches the scenery. I am so very grateful to Heidi for being an awesome friend and a killer dyer :)

 I leave you now with another pic from our little camping trip. It was insanely cold, but at least we had the campgrounds to ourself! The photo is from our campsite, shortly before retreating into the tent to warm up!

Nov 1, 2011

the proof is in the score - these be unlucky

I know I haven't posted in a bit, but I think it goes without saying why. I won't dwell, but it is still difficult to "get back to normal." Still, grief has proven to be an excellent motivating force when it comes to my knitting. Focusing on the needles keeps me from breaking down completely, and for that I am grateful.

So, I mentioned this in my last post, but I finished my "lucky" Lions socks a while ago. I was supposed to have them done before football season started, in an attempt to sway my dear and kind of pathetic Detroit Lions. Well, I finished them four games in - more like four wins in. So they weren't really hurting for luck, but more is  always better right? So the first game I wore them, and we won. YAY LIONS! Socks must be lucky, right? Well the next weekend I was away and didn't have them with me, and we lost. Well, clearly it was because I wasn't wearing them, so that doesn't count, right? Next game, I wore them, and we lost. We also looked like crap. At this point the socks were 1-1. This last weekend, I purposefully didn't wear the socks, and we kicked the crap out of Tebow and the Broncos. Since I hate Tebow, this was a double win (although my brother was always a Broncos fan, so that's a bit of a bummer... but we rarely saw eye-to-eye on professional sports). I think that makes the socks 1-2... sort of. Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that these are now officially off-season socks. I might wear them to the game we have tickets to, but ONLY if the outcome has no bearing on the playoffs.

Yeah, I'm that superstitious.

Yes, I understand that my choice in foot accessories has NO bearing on the outcome of a football game.

But fuck if I'm taking any chances...

beer tastes better when wearing hand-knit socks! 

Most importantly, they're done! Another WIP bites the dust :)
The knitty-gritty: String Theory Colorworks Continuum (MCN) in Pluto, knit on size US 1.5 Chiagoo circs (magic loop), with an afterthought heel (black heel, toe and cuff in Wollmeise Twin, colorway "Schwarz").

I also finished my fucking clapotis. So the story here is that last year I knit a clapotis for my maid-of-honor. I finished it in about a month, and was really really happy with the result. So much so, that I decided I absolutely needed one of my own. So in February, I happily cast one on for myself. Now, if you've never knitted this pattern (and I hear there are one or two knitters left in the world who haven't, but that might just be knitting legend), it's so fucking boring. Dropping the stitches is fun, but beyond that it is about as exciting as watching my husband play facebook games. I really needed to force myself to finish this damn thing. It's not as long as I would have liked, but it's long enough. I do love the finished product, but I don't know that it is worth the extreme boredom.

That's Harvey modeling the shawl


Isn't it lovely? I have read on various forums that the pattern designer and her minions are very anti-blocking of this shawl, but I don't give a rat's ass. I like the way it looks blocked out, and I'm the one that has to live with it, right?
The knitty-gritty: Clapotis knit with one skein Wollmeise 100% Merino in colorway Versuchskaninchen II (one of my all time faves). Don't recall how many increase rounds I did (I think I stuck to the pattern), did 20 straight repeats. US size 6 needles.

So, two WIPs taken care of, four to go. Of course, some xmas knitting will probably take priority here soon... ugh. I mean YAY!

Oct 18, 2011

It is knit.

A week ago, I was ready to write a blog post about finishing my Lions socks and moving on to my next project. A week ago, I was so proud of myself for working my butt off on those socks, sticking to my FO plan. A week ago, I was happy and carefree. 

A week ago, I got a call from my dad that my brother had died. My sweet, kind, loving little brother. My brother, who had tortured me as a kid (there was an incident involving my pillow and a dead cockroach which still sticks in my mind), and had turned into a great and loyal friend. My brother, who was so very excited about coming to visit me this Thursday - going to a football game, apple-picking, going camping, hanging out watching Buffy. 

When I heard the news, I was pretty much broken for an hour or so. Then, in order to keep from breaking down completely, I picked up my knitting. Not just any knitting, but the scarf I had started back in March as a Christmas present for my brother. Mark has always been a joy to knit for, as he really appreciated everything, from a little cork person ornament to a Futurama brain slug to his Jayne hat (Firefly) last year. Any knitted gift he would show off, use and treasure. Last Christmas, he asked for a scarf for the next year. We agreed that he needed a Doctor Who scarf (as worn by Tom Baker). We had grown up watching the show in England, and he had convinced me to start watching the new series, which I am now obsessed with, so the choice seemed pretty obvious. I had about a foot done as of last week; I had knitted on it a bit here and there, but hadn't really gotten too far. So when I heard the news, I picked it up, and just started knitting. I knitted and knitted, allowing the garter stitch to hypnotize me and calm me. I kept thinking "I can't rip this out. I can't give it to someone else. I can't leave it unfinished. It's for Mark, it always was, and still is." 

On the flight to Boulder, I knitted, drank some scotch and cried. Once in Boulder with my parents, I continued to knit. I would stay up until the wee hours of the night knitting, because I knew that, to quote Buffy (which Mark and I both love), "I have to do these things, 'cause when I stop, then [he's] really gone." By Monday, the day of Mark's funeral, I had over five feet finished. A half-hour before we left for the funeral home, I bound off and wove in the ends. I have never felt such finality in finishing as I did at that moment. I placed the scarf at my brother's side in his casket. There are no photos of the scarf, and I am ok with that. It was for him, for no one else but him. The process, that was for me. So it seems appropriate that the only photo I have of the scarf is of it in process.

The service was beautiful and brutal. I still have trouble believing that he is really gone. Anyone who knew him, even just a little, knew that he was an incredibly special person, a true gentle soul. He was a better person than I am, by far. He cared so much about others, and truly and unconditionally loved his family and friends. I know he would've done anything I asked of him (and yes, I sometimes took advantage of that... did I mention how much a better person he was than I?). I guess he was just too good for this world. He will be missed, more than I can put into words. 

Oct 9, 2011

FO Finishing Frenzy!

The frenzy is only anticipated at this point. But I am confident that finished objects will be flying through the air any time now.

I have a pretty consistent cycle of working on/starting/finishing projects. It goes like this:

1. Cast on one project, all kinds of excited, work on it feverishly and monogamously
2. Get about half-way through above project, spot a new "must have" pattern or receive a new yarn that absolutely positively must be played with IMMEDIATELY!
3. Project adultery is a slippery slope, more and more projects cast on, until all needles are occupied.
4. *optional* purchase more needles, cast on more projects
5. work on all projects here and there, ignore a couple more than others
6. get frustrated and depressed that I haven't finished anything in SO LONG
7. dedicate myself to finishing projects, focusing on one at a time, until all WIPs are done!

I have just started #7. I currently have 3 pairs of socks, 3 shawls and one scarf on the needles. The blanket of death doesn't count. That's a lot to get done, and I am working really hard to NOT cast on anything new until I get shit done. I do have some Christmas gifts that need making, but I think I can take a shark bite out of my WIPs before I have to deal with those...

My current focus is a pair of socks that I had wanted to have finished before football season. Um... yeah. Anyway, they'll be done before we go to the Lions game we have tickets to in December - it's like my subconscious knew I'd fail in my finishing goals when I was making decisions on which game to go to. My subconscious is kind of an asshole.

I finished one sock the other day:

I love these socks (or more accurately, this sock). This is the absolutely scrumptious String Theory Colorworks Continuum (80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon), in the Pluto colorway. I love Caitlin's self-striping yarns. They knit up beautifully, the bases are lovely and the colors are great. She's also super nice about custom and special orders, which is so very nice for a yarn hoar like me.

I'm knitting them magic loop on ChiaGoo bamboo needles, which have to be the best bamboo needles I've ever used. Normally, I really dislike knitting with bamboo needles. The tips are often too dull, and the damn things feel like they could snap at any time. These ones, which I bought to bring on the flight to/from Europe, are pretty spectacular for bamboo. They don't do that scary bendy thing that leads to nightmares of stitches tumbling off of splintered needles, and the tips are decent. And of course they have the lovely ChiaGoo cables. I'm not saying these will be my #1 needles or anything, I'm still devoted to metal, but for bamboo, not bad.

So now I am going to go work on Lions sock #2 and watch some Toddlers & Tiaras to feel better about my life choices. Husband questions why I watch this show, but these types of reality shows exist only to make viewers feel superior, and non-viewers to feel even more superior. So to those of you who judge me for watching, fuck you, you're just as bad!

Oct 2, 2011

damn comments issues

I am told that there have been issues trying to post comments; I am fairly sure that I have fixed the issue with the damn thing - people should be able to comment now.

Oct 1, 2011

sock yarn blanket = ultimate expression of love

Husband and I have an ongoing 'thing' of trying to convince each other that we love each other more. I scored major points by having "I love you more" engraved on the inside of his wedding band. But then, he doesn't give me crap about buying shit loads of yarn, so I guess we're kind of even. I have a pretty consistent ace in the hole though. If ever the man needs proof that I love him (more), I just point at the huge pile of mini skeins of sock yarn and the in-process nugget of ridiculousness known as the sock yarn blanket.

I started this sucker in January. I thought: "Hey, I've got piles and piles of sock yarn. I also have lots of sock yarn leftovers. Is there any way I can convert these things into a GIANT PAIN IN MY ASS?" Ok, so the little mitered squares are actually pretty painless to knit. They're quick, there's a little bit of interest to them, and no purling or seaming. I am sure you're asking what the big fucking deal is then, right? Well, it's the husband. The only thing he has ever requested I make him is a blanket. a KING SIZED blanket. If you're not familiar, a kind sized blanket = THE SIZE OF TEXAS. I tried it in worsted, but it was too heavy and boring. I tried it again in worsted with a different pattern; again, too heavy and boring. So then I decided to do the sock yarn blanket. It would provide a ready excuse to buy more sock yarn, allow me to knit with all sorts of different yarns and colors, and would provide a little bit of instant gratification. Sounds like a good deal, right? Well, let's do some math.

My squares are about 2 inches square.
king blanket = 110" x 96" - so let's just say 100" x 100"
100" divided by 2" = 50 squares
50 x 50 squares = 2500 squares


That is a fucking ton of squares. Now, I have already decided that he is NOT getting that large a blanket. He is getting a 48 x 48 square blanket. So only 2304 squares. Much better. (you can't tell, but I'm rolling my eyes right now.) The idea is to make 16 12x12 square blocks and then (ugh) seam them together. It'll make knitting them easier, as I don't have to haul around a giant blanket, and maybe I'll get to 12 blocks and he'll think that's good enough. How far have I gotten, you ask?

Yup. One block. Just finished it the other day. Now, I'm pretty damn proud of myself for finishing this first block. It looks great, I'm not bored, and it'll be a good weight. Oh yeah, and husband digs it (as if he would be stupid enough to say otherwise...).

How 'bout some more math?

If I knit one square a day, how long will it take me to finish this blanket? Well, 2304 divided by 365 = 6.3 years.

6.3 years

Oh, and I am not knitting at that pace. My goal is to have it done by our 7th anniversary (we just celebrated our first). It's the "wool" anniversary, so it's fitting (I am REALLY looking forward to that anniversary, btw).

Even so, that's a fucking long time to be working on a damn blanket. Clearly, I love him more.

Sep 27, 2011

sparkling zombies in heaven

Ok, so when I said that I would write up a post about the wonderful wollmeise shop experience "soon" I meant that as compared to "never." So you see? This post still qualifies as "soon."

Having read several other people's accounts of shopping at the Wollmeise brick and mortar store, I feel like I am just reiterating what they have already said. I also have this problem of not being able to come up with a better description, when asked, other than "so. awesome." Not particularly descriptive, but the simplicity and nondescriptness of it kind of harkens back to what was happening in my brain when I first entered the sock yarn mecca that is Rohrspatz & Wollmeise.

So we arrive in Pfaffenhofen after a rather long day of travel. It started the night before, when we met my uncle and his friend in Kaiserswerth for dinner and beers. Lots and lots of beers. And also Killepitsch. We were out until about 1AM and then had to get up at about 5AM to go to the train station. Needless to say, I wasn't in very good shape that morning. Then we board our ICE train to München. If you are not familiar with this type of train, all you really need to know is that it goes fast. Very very fast. Close to 200mph fast. That alone is enough to *ahem* exasperate post-drinking pain. Add to that that our seats were facing the wrong way (i.e., we were riding backwards) and it was all I could do to stay conscious and/or not covered in vomit.

After we almost miss our connecting train only to be squished in the aisle by the toilet w/several other people (they really like to pack those trains in!), we do make it to Pfaffenhofen and walk over to the store.

*queue angelic voices*

We walk in and husband immediately scopes out a seat at a table and plants himself there. He is immediately offered coffee. Now this may seem like just friendly customer service, and it is, just not directed at the husband. Oh no, by making him very comfortable and giving him a hot drink that will take a while to drink, they are enabling me to take my sweet time shopping. Brilliant! Myself, I am completely overwhelmed. I don't even think I could have come up with "so. awesome." I was so deer-in-the-headlights dazed by where I was. I just wandered around a bit, picking up skeins here and there, but really not comprehending where I was or what I was doing, let alone how to jump into the gathering of skeins of gorgeousness.

See what I mean? I mean, shelves and shelves and shelves of beautiful skeins of wollmeise... and they could all be MINE!!!! Well, I calmed down (sort of) and got to work. Luckily, Dani was there to help hunt down the colors for the other people I was shopping for, giving me the time to pick out my haul. Which I did. I ended up with a few more skeins than I had planned on, but I regret nothing. NOTHING. What made me absolutely ecstatic was finding the three colors that had topped my wish list for over a year now: Emil (oh how I love him), Traubenhyazinth and Vergissmeinnicht (in twin). I cleared her out of Emil, just because I am a total hoar when it comes to that man. And now, without delay, my haul:

You can see the lovely Emil at the bottom there - isn't he lush? Some of the other highlights (not that they aren't all totally gorgeous, but some are just a little more spectacular, in my eye):
Beautiful versuchskaninchen


my personal favorite - a wacky Mond im 7. Haus
My favorite thing about being able to peruse the shelves was being surprised by colors I had previously written off as not that interesting to me. The Veilchen above is a perfect example - I was blown away by the beauty and kicked myself for never giving it a second glance on the website! Same went for Tiefer See. I really hope some day I can go back and do it all again - it was such a wonderful experience and Dani and Claudia were so very nice. Hopefully next time I will have won the lottery and can just buy the place out. Can you image? Talk about a knitter's wet dream... 

Well, now that my stash is that much more out of control, I guess I have to knit all this yarn up, eh? I'll get right on that! 

P.S. So that the title makes sense - I haven't gotten much further in Twilight, as I have been re-reading World War Z. Sparkling = Twilight, Zombies = World War Z, Heaven = Wollmeise

Sep 20, 2011

Yes, it's a giant duffel of yarn. Stop smirking.

My absolutely fabulous trip to Europe concluded with U.S. Customs agents giggling at my giant duffel bag filled with sock yarn. I find it hard to believe that they haven't seen far more interesting or funny things come through customs (I remember a funny story from my former roommate involving customs agents inspecting an obscenely large, black dildo in a velvet bag...), but I'm glad I could provide them with a smile, especially considering what a shitty job they must have at times.

The only way this trip could've been better was if it had been longer (and if I hadn't left my capris in Düsseldorf). We were able to visit all of my family in Germany, including my grandmother, both uncles and several cousins. My grandmother is getting on in age, so it was particularly nice to be able to spend some quality time playing Canasta with her, which also allowed husband to learn the source of my poor sportsmanship when it comes to losing games (apparently in runs in the family). He quickly learned that the key to my grandmother's heart was to a) let her win and b) not question the rule changes that seemed to happen frequently. I was also able to meet the three cousins that had been born (and grown up!) since I last visited, including my absolutely awesome 13 year old cousin Camilla. She even convinced me to *gasp* read Twilight, which I had sworn I would never do. I'm reading it in German, though, so it doesn't really count. Plus, I haven't gotten to the "sparkling" part yet, so there is still time for me to bail out.

Aside from turning to the dark side, we also did some sightseeing in all three of the German cities we visited and spent a few days sans family in Bozen/Bolzano, Italy. Short little tour of our vacation through photos:

The Uerige pub in Düsseldorf, perhaps the most well-known of the breweries in the Düsseldorf Altstadt (old town), as it has the longest bar of the world.

Cute flower shop in Kaiserswerth, a historic old town near my grandmother. This building is wicked old (forget exactly how old... but very)

Now down to München (Munich to you Americans), with a dragon climbing the Rathaus. I won't bore you with photos of the damn Glockenspiel - most of my pics are of the throngs of tourists watching it (I don't get it). Dragon is way cooler.
The interior of the Theatinerkirche, which is fucking amazing. Perhaps my favorite church interior ever. I could've stood there for hours.
Münchener surfers. Didn't expect that, now did you? There is a HUGE park in München - the English Garden - with this river that runs through it - Eisbach - which is very fast moving, so they created this artificial wave in it, and people surf on it. It's really pretty cool. Also, it being a German park filled with sunbathers and people floating in the river, I hit my quota (and then some) of old man butts.
Now Italy. This was taken from the cable car between Bozen and Oberbozen, the latter of which offered glorious views of the Dolomites (which you can kind of see in the background).
And look! There they are!
Town square of Bozen, which I found to be absolutely charming. I could easily have spent several more days there, sitting in cafes, drinking outstanding coffee, my new favorite drink - Hugo (prosecco, elderflower and mint) or beer, watching the ridiculously chic Italians walk by.
And this. This is the reason I would rather live in Europe than in this overly-processed country. Drool.
We took a day to travel to Verona. I have mixed feelings about that city. It is quite beautiful, with plenty to see, a lot of history and simply gorgeous Piazzas, river views and buildings. However, all of these things mean that it is PACKED with tourists, and on a hot day, you really don't want to spend your day pushing through tour groups with their fucking flag-wielding guides giving you a nasty looks. I'm glad we went, but I'll only go back if it is the off season. The above pic is of love notes, love graffiti and eternal love locks in the courtyard of Casa de Julieta (Juliette's house). Cheesy, but kinda cute.
Ah, back in Germany. Cooler weather, better beer. We were up near Regensburg (old city, founded by Romans) for the last part of our trip. Of course we had to visit the Walhalla, set up in the hills overlooking the Donau (Danube). It houses busts of prominent Germans, and is just an incredible building, with a spectacular view. Another one:
So gorgeous.
In Regensburg, the Regensburger Dom (cathedral), which is stunning. Apparently it is essentially the same as the Kölner Dom, just smaller. Whatever, it was awesome.
Along the Donau, which runs through Regensburg, there were of course more opportunities for beer. This little building has been around for over 100 years, and has high water signs all over it from the multiple times the river flooded. You'd think they'd move...
Lastly, a pic of the maypole in Cham, where we were staying (where previously discussed awesome cousin lives with rest of family). You can't really tell, but the pig has this very pitiful, pleading look on its face. And that was our trip in a nutshell!

What, you thought I would end it there, with no photos or detailed discussion of the yarn? You should know better. Although you're partly right. The visit to the Wollmeise Mecca and the subsequent purchases warrant its own post, which will come soon. Promise.