Thursday, January 06, 2005

Yarn as therapy

So I started feeling a bit under the weather yesterday and I'm now taking those Cold-Eeze zinc lozenges in hopes of combating this thing before it gets out of hand. Lounging around the house, taking it easy, I started looking around for something that would make me feel better. And what else makes a knitter feel better than yarn accompanied by a hot cup of tea?

I brewed myself a nice cup of jasmine tea in my "Shiitake Happens" mug. It still manages to make me smile everytime I see it.

I decided it was time to examine the yarns I recently acquired. Over the weekend, we went to the yarn sale at my favorite LYS, Knitting Arts in Saratoga. The place was totally packed, but I managed to pick up a few things I'd been dying to try out. I got 2 balls of Crystal Palace Merino Frappe, 80% merino wool/20% polyamide in New Sage, a lovely light green color. I have no idea what I plan on doing with this, but after seeing the "Spiderweb Capelet" in Stitch 'N Bitch Nation, I knew that 2 balls would be enough to do something. Perhaps it's time to crack open the stitch pattern books and try out something new for a scarf? Suggestions are welcome...

The big happy of the day was finally getting my hands on a ball of Rowan's Plaid. I've been admiring this yarn for quite a while now, so I grabbed a ball in shade 160 - Crushed Shell. I looked through several pattern books trying to find inspiration, but I finally decided to try the stitch pattern that I came across on another blog: I thought it'd be interesting to see how the Plaid looked when knitted in this pattern. I first started out using US #11 needles, the suggested size for this yarn. But I quickly realized that this pattern creates a very dense fabric, so I'm now in the middle of testing it on US #13s instead. Here's how it looks thus far:

Man, I need to learn how to take better pictures. The color is way off. In actuality, this yarn is light tan and baby blue. Eh, it's not my camera so what can I say?

In addition to these wonderful treasures, I also received in the mail my monthly samples from the Yarn-Of-The-Month club. I absolutely love being introduced to new yarns, ones that I would not have necessary noticed in a store or sought after online. For instance, the yarn called "Phoenix" by Southwest Trading Co. is 100% soy silk. I'm amazed at how versatile the soy plant is - you can wear it or eat it! The other yarns included were: "Cantina" by Manetto Hill, "Cotton Denim" by Debbie Bliss, and "Two.Two" by Classic Elite (wonderful stuff).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

We're makin' progress...

Whew, I survived the holidays and now it's back to the normal routine. And that means... my TV shows are back on and I can finally find out what the heck happened! By this, I refer to the Amazing Race ("to be continued"?!!), Desperate Housewives, Lost, and of course, the new season of Alias (a little late for a new season, don'tcha think?).

Thank god for video games, though - they kept me busy over the last week. I was glad my husband got Half Life 2 from my sister for Christmas, as that kept him away from the PS2 while I played Jak 3. Whenever I got frustrated or burned out, I turned to my knitting and he took over the controller to play. Somehow, we both ended up finishing the game at the same time. Not surprising, though, since he's much more skilled at gaming than I.

So about that knitting... I wanted to get a couple things out for Christmas, so I had to put a few personal projects on hold. I crocheted one of those Little Brown Bags from BagSmith for my mother-in-law. I first saw one at the Yarn Garden in Portland when we were up there for Thanksgiving. They were out of the kits so I ended up ordering one online from One Fine Yarn. I was a little weirded-out at first, as I had never worked with nylon cording before. It was so stiff compared to the soft Rowan wools I had been working with. But, like any good elf, I had to crank that puppy out in time for Christmas so I marched on. My fingers felt slightly calloused by the end, but it turned out really cute. Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry that I didn't have time to take a snapshot before I sent it on its merry way. But it did look just like the one in the picture.

Okay, so Blogger just crashed (grrr....) and I didn't get to save the rest of this entry so I'm going to attempt to re-write a truncated version of what I had before. (mental note: save, and save often).

I also crocheted some jewelry using the sample yardage of Rowan Lurex Shimmer in Claret that I got from my yarn-of-the-month club subscription from ImagiKnit up in the city. I really liked using this yarn because the shimmer played well with the metallic beads I used. Using an F hook, it stood up surprisingly well to being ripped out and re-crocheted (since I was making it up as I went along). I bought some findings (clasps and whatnot) from Michael's to finish off the items. I also didn't get a chance to take any pictures before I had to get them to the post office.

So now I finally got a chance to start working on projects for little ol' me. First in line was the Amy Vest from Jo Sharp's Book Number Two. It's done in Silkroad Aran Tweed. There are two versions of the vest, one in plaid and the other in argyle. I'm doing the argyle version because it's "in" right now and I just like it better. I bought the yarn from Elann a while back and it had been sitting next to my desk, screaming to be stitched. I got up at the crack of dawn, 6am, to place my order, so I really, really wanted this stuff. Everyone knows that there are very few things in this world that I would get up that early for, and yarn is one of them.

So far, it has been coming along rather fast in spite of the fact that the tweedy flecks get stuck in the stitches and you have to make sure you pull the loops all the way through each stitch. Not sure if that makes sense, but I'd imagine that is the nature of knitting tweed. I jammed throught the first half (front) of the vest in less than a week. Then I decided to knit the three diamonds that you later sew on the front. Now I'm working on the back half, and this is how it's going so far:

I also roasted coffee today using the i-Roast we got for Christmas from my in-laws. We did a couple batches a few days ago using a dryer hose to funnel the smoke out the kitchen window. This did not turn out well, as the top of the chaff collector kept popping off, blowing chaff and smoke everywhere. This time, we decided to trust the hood vent over the stove and scrap the whole dryer hose deal. I was worried there would be massive amounts of smoke, setting the detector off and scaring the dog into a tail-tuck position. But, I was pleasantly surprised when there was actually less smoke than before, and the hood vent actually did its job of sucking all the smoke up and out of the house. I did two batches, the Indian Pearl Mountain Nuggets, and the Sumatra Mandheling (which I messed up during the virgin run of the machine). Both were taken just past second crack. So far, I'm really liking the i-Roast. It seems way more powerful than my previous FrestRoast+, and I'm able to roast more at a time. Here's the Sumatra cooling off in a mesh colander: