Thursday, January 31

slowly spinning

Some of you might have wondered whatever happened to my spinning wheel and all that roving I received for Christmas. Well, I've been working on it. But it's slow going.

After receiving the roving and book, I read a little and then just set to it. Somehow I don't feel like this spinning thing is that hard, but what I'm creating isn't high art, either.

A month later, I want to ply my singles. (Translation: I want to twist what I've spun, so there are two pieces instead of one. This will make it stronger and thicker.) In order to do this, I need to have an equal amount of spun yarn on two bobbins, which I will then spin together into one yarn. One bobbin is rather fat with wool, but the second one needs more and since I ran out of yellow superwash I've grafted on some of the merino top that Christopher gave me. It doesn't really match, but I don't care. At this point I am just learning how to spin, and the merino is fairly easy. The color combination also reminds me of Harry Potter, so maybe it will be fine. I'm also missing what is called a Lazy Kate, which would make plying easier. A Lazy Kate attaches to the wheel and holds the bobbins with my singles while I'm plying them onto the bobbin that's on the wheel. It keeps the singles from tangling. (Does it feel like I'm speaking a foreign language? I certainly feel like I am.) Anyway, I'm missing one of them, and I could probably rig something up, but I'm slightly unsure of what I'm doing and so I haven't.

I can do it! I can do it! (Right?)

Saturday, January 26

some knitting news

It's really been forever since I've written about what's on my needles. I'm not sure whether that's because I'm unable to complete a project, or maybe because I'm trying to focus on other things. In any case, I have been knitting. Quite a lot, actually.

First of all, I've been slowly trying to fix Christopher's sweater. Perhaps you remember the surgery I performed last fall? I had to take a month off from that project to recover, it was so nerve-wracking! In the meantime, there was an article in Interweave Knits about arm-cap construction, and I also received a copy of Sweater Design in Plain English. Using both I was able to come up with a new design for the sweater arms, and I've been knitting a new arm while unraveling the old one. (You might remember that I actually blocked the sweater before I decided to fix it, so the yarn is very kinky. I've discovered however that the my lumpy new sleeve evens itself out with a little steam blocking, so I'm forging ahead.) I'm nearly done with the first one, which I will sew to the sweater and test before embarking on the next one.

I've also made a great deal of progress on the Forecast sweater I started last October. It is ingeniously knit from the neck down, a technique which was new to me but one which I am now a huge fan of. I am a sleeve short of having it done, but I've somehow misplaced my #7 double pointed needles, making it impossible for me to finish. (I don't have any great photos of it in its current state, so these are some earlier ones. Just imagine it with a button band and a right arm.)I've also started a shawl. Strangely, in this case I was completely swayed by peer pressure over at Ravelry. The Victorian Lace Today group was organizing a knit-along for any of 4 patterns from the book, and I jumped on board. I haven't really been longing for a shawl, though I do love the patterns in the book. This one is the Spider's Web half-hexagon. The knitting has been going very fast; I started at the beginning of January and am now on row 115 or so. (That might not seem like a lot, but at this point each row has over 300 stiches, so it takes a while.)
Strangely, I can't wait to start another project. I am trying really, really hard not to cast on another cardigan, and there's a baby blanket that is just calling for me to make for my sister-in-law. If only I could find those #7 needles and finish my Forecast...

Friday, January 25

white winter warmth

This is the radiator in our bedroom.We keep it turned off because it gives off too much heat.

Thursday, January 24

White winter view

This is the view from our living room window. I took this photograph last February. Last summer, while visiting Christopher's grandparents in Maine, his grandmother mentioned our balcony. In fact, she kept talking about our balcony. We weren't sure what she was talking about, as we have no balcony. Then I remembered that I'd sent her this photo, which includes part of our fire escape.

Edited to add: I recommend checking out the other participants in this winter wonderland week. You can find a list of them here. (You might need to scroll down.)

Edited again to add: Mary Jane asked what else I see out the window. Other than the trees and street, if I actually stick my head out and peer I can see an art museum. We can see the Verrazano Bridge far, far away. And we see a line of airplanes flying towards and over us into LaGuardia airport.

Here's a less white photo of the view (though it was snowing, so maybe it still counts towards the winter whites??)

Wednesday, January 23

warm winter whites

Hot chocolate. What better way to stave off the cold?I'm going to have to start taking white photos soon, which is hard since I'm at work during daylight hours...

Tuesday, January 22

White winterness

I learned from Mary Jane about the White Winter Week being hosted by Shari at The Glass Doorknob, and I have decided to join it. This means that I have agreed to post a photo dealing with "winter white" every day for the next week. Hopefully I can find something; it may prove to be a challenge. It will be interesting, in any case.
My first post is a picture I took when we went snowshoeing last week outside of Seattle. We came out of the little warm cabin at the top of the mountain and were putting on our snowshoes when I noticed a rather outgoing little bird.

Sunday, January 20

we are back!

And, though our apartment is a wreck, it's really nice to be home! Dinah, my dear cat, is on my lap (and licking my neck) as soon as I sit down and the heat, ah! Seattle might have a more moderate climate, but it's also fairly humid and I've never been so continually cold to the bones. It's really good to be back in our very sunny and warm apartment.

There was some interest in souvenir yarn, and I'm happy to say that we made it to a yarn store in Seattle: So Much Yarn. I was not going there intending to buy yarn; I'm trying to shrink my stash and all I need is more yarn. But... well... once I was there I just couldn't stop myself, especially when I discovered that they were out of #7 double pointed needles, which was my excuse in going in the first place. The store was bright and big and had a huge and varied selection. The women who worked there were very friendly and we discussed my hat, which it turned out one of them had also knit and had problems with.

Anyway, I was so cold in Seattle that I was longing for alpaca, and I ended up with 2 skeins of Mirasol Yarn Miski Alpaca, which I would like to make into a very warm and cozy scarf. (This less than a month after I swore I'd never knit a scarf again.) There's not a lot of yardage in this yarn, and I'd like something that really concentrates on my neck and shoulders. Can anyone recommend a pattern?

ETA: With this recent bitter cold, I am also now wanting an extra warm hat, but I don't think there's enough yarn for both a hat and a neck warmer...bah! I should have bought more! (I noticed that Webs carries this yarn... maybe I need to put in an order...)

Wednesday, January 16

what we've been up to

It's been hard to blog. After two nights in a hotel-with-amenities in Vancouver, we've returned to Seattle, where we are staying with friends in their apartment. Our friends are very thoughtful, grounded people, and internet access is not a priority of theirs. Every few days we take Christopher's laptop to a cafe and check our email, but finding time to blog hasn't been so easy.

A recap of the past few days:

On Friday, our final day in Vancouver, the clouds at least made an effort to part. We enjoyed some intermittent sunshine and partial views of the mountains as we circled Stanley Park. Christopher still seemed to think I was missing out, but I thought it was pretty darn cool. We ate lunch at a cafe on the far end and the cut across the center of the park. I've never seen such mossy - or thick - trees! I was also amazed at the interesting color combinations, inspiration for future knitting projects, perhaps?

We took a late train back to Seattle on Friday night and on Saturday explored Pike Place Market.
On Sunday we met up with an old friend of mine and we went snowshoeing at a resort in the Cascade Mountains. For some reason the ski lift only runs on the hour, so since it was 10:15am, we walked up the mountain to the Nordic trails. Going up seemed a little psychotic, but once we got to the flatter trails we enjoyed ourselves. The top of the mountain was covered with clouds, which created a somewhat eerie effect as skiers emerged from the white. At the top was a little hut, warmed with a wood-burning stove, and we had lunch. My friend, who is French, brought salami and avocado sandwiches, an orange, stroopwafels and dark chocolate. It was the perfect thing to eat after climbing a snowy mountain.
Monday rained horribly and we laid low. Yesterday was one of our hosts' day off, and he joined us on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. The clouds cleared for the occasion and we were able to see the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains, though Mt Rainier remained hidden.
I'm liking this city, getting to know it by wandering up and down its hills. The food is certainly good, and the climate doesn't seem too harsh, especially since we've been told that this is the worst time of year to visit. It ain't too bad, except if we were to move here I'm not sure how we'd support ourselves as artists...

Friday, January 11

a second day in Vancouver

Christopher and I got a late start on yet another rainy day in the Pacific Northwest. After eating breakfast and buying transit tickets, we hopped on a bus to British Columbia University, where the Museum of Anthropology is. The museum is full of wonderful objects from this area, but we found it lacking in explanation of the culture that created them. We browsed the bookstore for a book that could put these objects into context, but came up empty handed. One thing we did learn: the story a totem pole tells is only known by the family it represents, so for an outsider you can only interpret what is on it, not its meaning. Aren't they wonderful? I just wish I knew how this bird-cart was used...

Christopher seems concerned that I hate Vancouver. I don't, but I have to confess that I'm not sure why I'm supposed to fall in love with it. The weather probably has something to do with it; it's been misty and wet since we got here and the incredible mountains that supposedly surround the city have not appeared. Tomorrow, our last day here, there is a chance that the sun will actually come out. I'm crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, January 9

we are away

In case you didn't know (and I don't think I mentioned it here), we're on vacation. We arrived in Seattle on Monday night, walked around and visited friends yesterday and then headed to Vancouver, BC this morning. We'll return to Seattle on Friday night and get a little more time there before going home.

I've been a photo fiend. A highlight from yesterday: touring Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library. Those of you who knit will recognize it as inspiration for Jared Flood's Koolhaas hat pattern. The building is rather incredible, full of amazing little pockets and inspiring study spaces. Seattlites are very, very lucky. Today we wandered around a chilly and wet Vancouver, poking around and seeing a little of the local color.I had been told that this was a more temperate climate and so only brought my trench coat, beret, mittens and scarf to wear outside. Oh, for my warm and wooly shawl! Oh, for my winter coat!

More photos can be seen on my Flickr account.

Sunday, January 6

winter pie

We've been very social since before Christmas, going out nearly every night. Last night we enjoyed a delicious lamb roast at the home of friends. I offered to bring dessert and chose the Apple Custard Tart from The Kitchn (formally known as Apartment Therapy: Kitchen). Though it's not exclusively a recipe site, I've found in the past that their recipes are not only dependable but surprisingly good. (Just try the Israeli Couscous with Chard or the Chickpea and Chorizo Soup).I only had 1/4 tablespoon of cinnamon on hand (the recipe calls for 3) and therefore substituted a small amount of allspice for the missing cinnamon. The result was a very complex but delicious flavor that we all agreed we preferred to cinnamon.
Sometimes I wish I could just cook and cook...

Friday, January 4

a summation of gift knitting

We are getting farther and farther from the holidays and I just realized that I still haven't posted photos of the gift knitting I did. Here's a quick rundown.

First of all, I made a brioche stitch scarf to match the hat I made my father for his birthday. I'm very happy with how it turned out, though I have to admit that I found knitting it rather dull. Sorry, Dad. Be glad it's as long as it is! Pattern: Reversible Brioche Stich Scarf by from Lori Law
yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted

My mother received two knitting objects from me.
First, an alpaca neck warmer. She looks great in it and basically wore it for the rest of our visit. She also wanted to find more neck warmer patterns so she could make many more of them for herself. pattern: Buffalo Girl by Therese Chynoweth, from Summer 2005 Interweave Knits
yarn: Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud

and a pair of Fetching mittspattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool

I also made a puppet for our nephew Isaac. It was a fun and quick knit, and a real hit with his parents. I've also heard rumors that Isaac and his mother have been very busy feeding the puppet. pattern: Elliott the Dragon by Jil Eaton, from Interweave Holiday Knits 2007
yarn: Berroco Comfort

I have to admit that my holiday knitting isn't done, though I've moved on to other things. I am making a pair of Endpaper Mitts for my friend Laura. The gift is more of a belated baby shower gift, for her child who is now nearly 2. I promised I'd make something for her instead of the baby, and it took until last December for us to come to a decision on what that'd be. Anyway, I've made one mitt and am going to have to discipline myself to do the other one.
Pattern: Endpaper Mitts by Eunny Jang (link above)
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (maroon) and Koigu KPM (lavender)

Tuesday, January 1

Happy New Year!

We had a very low key New Year's Eve last night. Our activites included seeing Sweeney Todd, an Austrian dinner at Cafe Steinhof and then fireworks in Prospect Park.

It was rather perfect, in my opinion. We didn't have to pretend that we were excited for the New Year. We didn't get drunk. We just enjoyed each other's company and where we were at each moment. And it was fun to feel like we were part of a larger party, celebrating with everyone around us. By the time we left the restaurant they were passing out handfuls of mini champagne poppers and wacky flashing lights, and everyone was very merry. And walking up to the park I felt a little as if we were part of a greater event, since we were joined by hundreds of other people headed to exactly the same place.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos (it was dark!), but it was quite incredible to watch the fireworks through the trees. Check out this photo of it here.