Sunday, February 27, 2005

Back From Vacation

Sleeping and eating and sandy warm beachings, these are a few of my favorite things.

Vacation Update
Overall, it was a wonderful vacation. The hotel went out of their way to make life luxurious. With a couple of exceptions, food was extraordinary (and plentiful) and the weather was nothing short of perfect (for you old GMA/KnitList fans).

Travel down to Mexico was painless. Travel back was a bit more stressful.

When we got to Cancun, we made it painlessly through immigration, baggage claims and customs. Travel to the hotel is always a pain, but next year we'll know how to do it better (you'd think after 6 years of travelling to the same hotel in Cancun, we'd have gotten it right by now...but they keep changing the rules!).

When we got to the hotel, the staff scurried us up to the concierge level for check-in and orientation. This is the first year they've had a concierge level with lounge and it is SPECTACULAR. Then they brought us to our "suite".

I could have lived there for the rest of my life and been completely happy. These pictures show our living room with balcony, our bedroom with balcony and our master bathroom. There was also a powder room off the foyer and a full wet bar.

We ate at all our favorite restaurants in Cancun. We were convinced by a cab driver on one of our first days there to not go downtown because of an impending Carnival/parade and to go to a more local restaurant. When we got there, we realized it was a restaurant we had been to before, and didn't particularly like. We decided to just eat there anyway, and it was no better than we fact perhaps worse. We had one other disappointing restaurant experience down there, but other than that, all VERY positive.

Vacation Knitting
I did end up taking a sock on vacation with me.

You can see I didn't do a whole lot of knitting while away.

Readers' Comments Questions
I was quite glad to see my friends made funny, snarky comments while I was away...thank you for entertaining readers while I was gone.

Perhaps next vacation, I'll ask one of them to do a "Guest Blogginng" appearance if they'd enjoy doing it for a brief period.

I'll be back to regular knitting updates on the zipper cardigan when I get back to Albany this coming week.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Blog is on Vacation

Just picture me here:

See you in March

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

And a special happy birthday to the love of my life.

Pictureless Party
Thanks to the quick snapping fingers of Carol S. (see Marilyn's blog for a picture of the always funny Carol S.), I have a few pictures to share of the knit-birthday-snarkfest party at Liza's.

This is the amazing hostess of the multi-purpose event, Liza. she is holding a beautiful wrap done with Kaffe-designed colors. You'll also see the guest of honor and new knit friend Meg in front of the window reviewing Kathy's new book from Marianne Isage called "Strik a la Carte". Another extraordinary book.

This is the standard "Kathy takes a lousy picture" picture of the birthday girl opening a present while Meg isn't paying attention.

Finally, the couch potatoes of the group, me and my beloved, and as usual, we're separated by fiber (but more beautiful fiber you will never see...Kaffe has designed some of the most amazing fabrics...if any quilters or sewers want a source for this, let me know).

I was able to complete all the knitting of the tweed, zippered cardigan.

I began sewing it together, and I'm thinking I will try and pin in the zipper and bring it to a local tailor and pay them to sew it in.

I'll post pictures in my next post of wherever I get to in the construction.

Readers' Comments Questions
Thank you to Tineke who sent me the text of one of the most amazing speeches by a Christian minister named Dr. Robin Meyers. It has inspired me, and if you care to understand the need to change the makeup of the senate and house of representatives, just read this inspiring speech.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Knitting Birthday Party

Friend, Kathy had her birthday a couple of weeks ago, and friend, Liza pulled together a wonderful knit/birthday party for her.

Pictureless Party
You and I will have to rely on Marilyn to post pictures of the shindig, since this idiot forgot to bring his camera.

Suffice it to say, with snarky guests like Kathy, Carol S., Marilyn, Liza and a friend of Liza's that fit in perfectly (Meg), we had some very fun times.

Two quote-worthy events were when Carol S. called me a "big throbbing peony" and the other was when we all questioned a recent post of Wendy's where she names her i-pod Irving.

We all decided to name our colostomy bags Carter and knit cozies for them.

I do have a picture of progress on my latest project.

Just a little more work on the last sleeve, and then I can sew this sweater up and get to work on my niece's first communion wrap..

Kitty Porn
Since today's entry is so brief, I felt it required a little Gage to lighten it up.

When blog material is scarce, a cat picture will always make up for it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Midweek Blues

A nice warm comforter on a soft, yet firm bed and my knitting would be the perfect cure for my blues today.

Bio Rhythm Lows
If anyone has been tracking my bio rhythms based on my blog mood, you can put me low on the emotional scale today.

I actually snapped at two client project staff yesterday, which is completely unlike me.

Ahhh...back to that warm bed with knitting again...even the thoughts of it raise my spirits.

I was hoping to tell you that I had completed the first sleeve by now, but I still have some more work to do on it.

A rescheduled "surprise" party for knit/blog friend Kathy is slated for this Sunday (the original date was a surprise...the snow date, no surprise at all). I was hoping that Thaddeus would have been able to wear the completed cardigan when I got to see my knitting pals, but it doesn't seem likely.

Even if I've finished all the knitting by then, I won't have been able to install the zipper and sew up the rest of the seams.

Other Knit Meet-up
I get to meet up with Selma (the inappropriately nicknamed, "axe murderess") this evening at the local Starbucks. For those of you that don't know, Selma is a radio show host on the local NPR station, and the last time we were together (buying yarn), one of the yarn store workers actually recognized her voice. I felt honored to be with someone so famous.

During that yarn buying spree, Selma had bought some lovely variegated Morehouse Merino as part of a scarf kit. She ended up making this beautiful scarf using their pattern.

Both Selma and I liked how this pattern stitch looked a lot like stockinette, yet didn't roll and broke up the colors of the variegation.

For anyone interested, the scarf kit is from Sheep's Clothing (the Morehouse retail store) and the design is called Baudelaire (although I couldn't find it on their site). The hat in the picture is "Headgear I" by Catherine Lowe, aka the Couture Knitting Workshop.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Superbowl Sunday

It would be a good day to go see a movie...if there was anything interesting at all to see.

Costume Malfunction
I can only hope that Sir Paul McCartney doesn't have a "wardrobe malfunction" at halftime which exposes his left ball to the audience. Without the kind of surgeries that Janet Jackson had to her breasts, his ball will be hanging down to his mid-thigh.

It can probably be safely said that I'm not a football fan. Despite living near Philadelphia, it would be hard to imagine how I could care any less who wins today's game.

I wonder if Thaddeus knows whether this annual U.S. holiday causes brisk business at the video rental store he works?

I'm progressing at a much more satisfactory pace with my current project.

You'll see that I've finished the back and front, and I've made substantial progress on the first sleeve.

In comments when I first started this sweater, someone asked how I would be handling pattern repeats as I increased and decreased at various sections of the sweater.

My general rule is that the first two stitches and the last two stitches on every row will always be stockinette. If there are enough stitches in next section to do a cable cross-over, I will do it, otherwise, it's stays stockinette.

The only exception I made to this rule was toward the top of the two front sections. I had 5 stitches remaining when I got to a 3x3 cable cross-over, so I just did a 2x3 instead, so I didn't get an elongated stretch of stockinette.

New Project
My youngest niece is having her first communion in May, and my sister asked my other sister to make her communion dress (she's very talented with sewing). Here is the dress my sister will be making:

She asked me if I could make her a shawl to go with it.

I wanted to get yarn that was silky and nice looking and would have a good drape with a lacey kind of pattern stitch. I also wanted it to be able to have fringe that wouldn't fray.

After searching the web for a while, I realized I would need to actually see and touch the yarn I wanted.

I ended up going to the yarn store in Schenectady (Ye Old Yarn Shop) and finding a Sirdar yarn called "Silky Look".

It's not an inexpensive synthetic yarn, so I'm hoping it will look great. I liked the feel of it, so I think it will be a perfect yarn for my niece's special day.

I'm expecting to start the shawl directly on the heels of the cardigan, and will probably take it with me to Cancun to work on there.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Nancy mentioned that as a reason for my spike in hits, was because I mentioned Marilyn's site and the clickers didn't find what they expected. Marilyn went on to discuss readers' expectations on her blog.

I think what Nancy meant was that I said Marilyn was going to post Lisa's KnitList questionnaire responses on her site, but Marilyn hadn't gotten to it by the time I published my link. I don't think she meant folks had unmet expectations of Marilyn's site. How could they since Marilyn is practically perfect in every way.

I loved MarQ's comment about the Jude Law sweater picture..."what sweater"?

I'm assuming it wasn't a web malfunction, and it was just a funny comment that when Jude Law was in the picture, you didn't notice clothing.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Good Ideas Gone Bad

Have you ever tried designing a garment that should have been good, but just didn't work out?

Thin Lines Between Excellent and Awful
I mentioned briefly about the one good garment in the most recent Vogue Knitting by Brandon Mably. One of the things I like about it, is that the colors and design are like a finely balanced mobile. Any changes in color, texture or pattern might have resulted in something like this:

But the Vogue sweater (sorry, I couldn't find an on-line picture of it) had all the hallmarks of a very fine sweater indeed. I'd recommend checking out Brandon's book of designs. I've owned it for a while and take some inspiration from it.

Another example of good ideas gone awry is in this little gem.

It uses some of the same modular design ideas as one of my designs (Fiestaware), but there is no care in color selection of balance of patterning. The result is truly awful.

Here's my version of modular design.

Quick update on this one. I finished another cable cross-over, but still have a few to go.

God I wish I could put more time into my knitting during the week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol S. mentions two magazines I forgot, Spin-Off and Piecework.

I'm not a fan of Piecework, because mostly it doesn't apply to me, but I do like Spin-Off a lot. It's one of the few magazines that I read cover to cover when I get it.

Lisa asks why I didn't mention the Rowan magazines.

I honestly don't consider them magazines. I consider them more like knitting books. I actually like the Rowan issues and pick them up as well, although I've missed a few over the years.

I liked both Marilyn's and Stephanie's philosophy on purchasing/subscribing to knitting magazines. I am currently a lot like Stephanie in how I enjoy spotting a new magazine, and I wish I were more like Marilyn in not feeling compelled to own every issue of every magazine.

One last question...does anyone know why I had a huge spike in hits yesterday? They were almost double what they usually are, and I couldn't see why based on the origination of the hits. Was I mentioned on a list somewhere?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

To Subscribe or Not To Subscribe

Don't I always buy the magazines each month anyway?

Knitting Magazines
I always buy Vogue Knitting, Knitters and Interweave Knits. I often buy Family Circle Easy Knitting and various other knitting magazines when I see them on the stands.

Why don't I just subscribe and get them at the cheaper subscription cost?

I have this stupid thing that even if I hate a knitting magazine, I want to own it anyway. Family Circle Easy Knitting is a perfect example of that. They usually have gawd-awful designs and lousy articles and it's just a conveyor of crappy advertisement to yarn stores and products I could care less about. But I always end up buying it when I see it on the stands. It's a luxury I can afford, so I do.

I guess I just feel that when I subscribe to a magazine, that it is a statement that I support their editorial policies and design selections.

With all that in mind, I've realized there is no reason I shouldn't at least subscribe to the three magazines I will always buy (Knitters, VK and IK). The others, I'll continue to pick up when I see them.

More progress on the front of the tweed cardigan.

So far, I've completed 5 cable cross-overs on the right-front. I need to reach 13 before I start shaping for the sleeve, so I have a little bit to go.

Marilyn's Blog
Three reasons that you have to check out Marilyn's site if you haven't recently.

1. She has a great list of knitting book standards.
2. In her comments, Kathy mentions the new Marianne Isager book (which I must own)
3. She will shortly be publishing Lisa's response to the KnitLost survey.

I am ever so grateful to have met someone ever so rare as Marilyn (and Kathy and Lisa).

Readers' Comments/Questions
A couple of readers have mentioned the flashing or pooling in one of the scarves in the last entry.

Just a couple of comments. There is actually very little pooling in that scarf, the flash just misrepresents the contrast between colors. In fact, I specifically worked to increase the pooling on the second scarf I did in that yarn, because I really loved the colors, and wanted a more discernible color differentiation.

As some readers mentioned, pooling can be a very desireable thing in some garments, and I think scarfs can fit that category. I've even seen some sweaters where the change in patterning that occurs at the sleeve shaping is very appealing, although that is quite rare.

The double posting of my last entry was quite by accident. In fact, I'm not sure how it happened. I honestly think it was a blogger glitch, not QueerJoe dementia or overwork.