Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Swapping for Happy

It's a good day here in cold, wet and gray Colchester. I made a mental list of some reasons that it is a significantly better day than yesterday.
1. I managed to come up with an extra layer of green to wear today (making that a green long sleeve t-shirt, a green hoodie, and a green hoodie over that. Plus neon green socks- I know, I'm good)
2. I'm on day 4 of wearing nail polish with no chips so far.
3. A bunch of the girls in the flat and I are going out tonight to go to dinner and then see Valkyrie (probably spelled that wrong, apologies to Tom Cruise)
4. We discussed the evolution of birth control in my Feminism class (a favourite topic of mine)

No...those don't seem like good reasons...oh! Could it be that I got my swap buddy's name for my Valentine's Day Single Girl Swap? That must be it! I'll be a good swapper and not publish her Ravname or show/tell you what I'm getting her until I get conformation that she has received it, but I'm going to tell you that IT'S GOING TO BE AWESOME! I can't wait. Normally I sulk around and wear black on Valentine's Day, get flowers from a "Secret Admirer" aka my dad and listen to My Chemical Romance as loud as the stereo will go. Not this year. This year I'm getting a swap gift, and it's going to be awesome. And then I'll take myself out for dinner. Boo yah, happy-couple-people!

And lastly, reason for happiness #5, my Noro socks are nearly done.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

For the Love of Noro

So you've probably noticed I've been in a bit of a slump lately. The slump has taken over all aspects of my life (except eating. Somehow I've gained 5 pounds since Tuesday. Not sure how that happened.) including reading, sleeping, class (I'm attending them all, I just could care less what the teachers are telling me) and most of all, knitting. I swore to myself that I wouldn't cast on for a pair of socks until I finished a scarf and a sleeve of the stripey hoodie (Now called The Clash- they're British, right?) but you know what? Something had to change. So I said screw it and grabbed that beautiful skien of Noro Kureyon sock yarn off my desk. Two hours in, I have a leg.

The picture taken in an artificially lit room doesn't do it justice- the contrast at the bottom isn't quite that great, and some of the stripes in the middle are actually green and not that over-flashed turquoise that the picture shows. The colors are wonderful and I can't put it down! The color is the same color as my very favorite Lizard Ridge square, I can't get enough of it. There's blues, purples, greens and even a little magenta. I can't wait to see how they turn out! Oh, and the hottie on my desktop is none other than future-hubby, James McAvoy. He was the sexy beast in Wanted that had a wonderful scene walking around with no shirt on, his muscles rippling with drops of water left from the shower. Mmmmm. He was also the half-nekked centaur in the Chronicles of Narnia. Not bad for half-horse ( I could say something REALLY naughty here, but I won't. My gramma reads sometimes)

I need to start doing the heel on the sock, and I haven't decided how I'm going to do that. I'm leaning towards an eye-of partrige heel in just one color but I think a short row heel would be cool, since that would be easy to continue the striping sequence. I'm also at that akward point where it's the exact same color coming from both sides of the skien (the stripes are made by working different ends of the same skien, so while there's a million colors in there, it's only 1 ball of Noro. Pretty neat, huh?) and I don't want to have a 3-inch blob of navy blue. I may have to do some trimming to get back to a color sequence while still making it look faded. I'll figure it out. I'm going to think on it while I jam with Alex tonight, and then make the heel and turn it afterwards. At this rate, I'll have the first sock done by Tuesday's knitting night. I might do that since it's such a quick knit, and I really hate kitchener-ing in public, it's too hard to concentrate and I need to wear my glasses when I do it.

But anyhoo, I love this sock and I think I may be seeing the end of my homesick/exhausted/back to school slump because of the wonders of Noro. Plus I think knitting socks like this satisfies the urge to knit the infamous Jared Flood 2-row Noro Scarf. It's basically the same thing, right?

Oh- I nearly forgot! We had a party last night and I got kissed! (And it wasn't by Mr. Electronics, either! Talk amongst yourself about possible candidates. I don't want to jinx anything by coming up with a nickname and then publishing it on a blog)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The itch

I've got the itch. It's terrible. I keep fondling yarns and having dreams of new lace socks and having urges to cast on with the 6 skeins of Cascade that watch me from my desk as I type this entry. My four new sock yarns taunt me with visions of shimmering lace and eye of partrige heels. Oh- the misery!

Hehe...I bet you thought I was talking about a skin rash, didn't you? I wouldn't put that on a blog, silly goose!

I've just come from the Colchester SnB and have been inspired to cast on yet another pair of socks. I am completely enamoured with Louise's skull and crossbone socks in black and lime green, and I'm craving to do something with all my new hand dyed yarns that I got from Eric and Mandie over Christmas break! Torture! I've gotten quite bored with my 2 current projects (Joey Ramone hoodie and the never-ending bamboo scarf that I started for the airplane trip back here) but I keep telling myself that I need to finish at least 1 before I start a new pair. I'd love to finish them both, but the hoodie is getting bigger by the stitch and harder to drag around in a purse. I need something small and portable and lacey...hmmm...what on earth could I make? Hmmm...oh! Duh! Socks!

See? The itch is bad...

I'm still on the noctournal side of the day and although I'm doing better, getting up before 2 just isn't happening. Too bad I've got a class at 11 tomorrow. I'll do my best. I might have to invest in sleeping pills to get myself back on the right sleeping schedule. I am actually sleeping when I go to bed now, so that's an improvement to the bags under my eyes and my atttitude. I can be quite the bitch when I'm fully rested, you don't want to see when I'm sleep-deprived like I was last week.

So while I'm up until 3, I have been writing. Not essays or papers like I should be of course, but I'm dipping my hands into a little sci-fi novella which is turning out to be great fun! I know I'm already a giant dork, so a little sci-fi/romance couldn't hurt, right? God I love writing. 10 pages in so far and I just can't stop.

I think that pretty much sums me up right now. I'm outta here!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oh. My.

I know it's been a while since I last posted, so I'm going to fix that now. I had a bit of a dramatic return so I'll just clump everything into little chapters to keep it organized.

Clump 1: The heater.
Our flat is heated by the good old hot-water-running-through-a-twisty-black-thing-on-the-wall method which is normally pretty nice. Before you jump in the shower, you throw your pjs on it and get back to nice warm snuggly fleece pj pants. It's not nice, however, when you get back from Christmas break after 10 hours of flight time and a 3 hour drive to discover....your water heater has exploded. There is water all over the carpet....I mean, seriously, whole room. And...the carpet is rotting, which produces a not-so-great smell, which gets worse by the minute. The windows have to all be open (despite the fact that it's cold. Okay, not Indiana cold, but when you're heater isn't working and there's water all over the floor and the windows are open to un-stink the room, it gets cold. Plus the electrical sockets (you guessed it! On the floor) aren't working, the same as your hairdryer and curling iron which you also left...on the floor. So...5 days later the heater's been replaced (3 day process in which I couldn't be in my room- ugh) the carpet's been cleaned (not well, still Febreezing every time I walk in the room and I still have my windows open) and as soon as this all is nearly fixed, the light goes out. It's not as easy of a fix as it should be, and it goes out at midnight when I'm trying to get my reading done. Since we have one big light overhead and can't replace it by ourselves, we have to wait for maintenance who were already sick and tired of me and my rotted carpet room (you can't fathom the smell- it was something like...let's see, mildew, cat pee, vomit and stale Indian food all rolled into one...I get chills thinking about it) but yes...light is finally fixed. The stink is nearly gone, and I have a working heater. Things are...better.

Clump 2:Jetlag
Since I travel more than the average 20 year old and sleep more than a bear in hibernation, I normally have no problem at all getting over a little jetlag. Not this time. I always have a bit of a hard time sleeping here since the only time it's actually quiet enough to sleep is between 10 am and 4 pm, when people are in class. This is worsened significantly by having 2 people who have gone completely nocturnal on either side of my room. Crossdressing-asshole-who-we-all-know-as- Luke is working on his dissertation, and he strongly believes that this can't be done unless it's past 4 am. He listens to Metallica and slams doors until 7. Ass. Joe, on the other side of me isn't as bad, but is still nocturnal, as he stays up all night playing World of Warcraft with people in America who as we know, is a very different timezone. So great. Since I'm one of the few people in the flat who still actually goes to classes, I miss out on that only time of day where it's quiet enough to sleep. As a result, I lay in bed for approximately 10 hours a day, and sleep for maybe 2 of them. I'm not so thrilled about that. I really don't want to buy sleeping pills, but I can't start sleeping through my classes because the people around me are on a very backwards sleep cycle.

Clump 3: Knitting
I haven't been knitting very much, as my waking hours are mostly spent wishing I could sleep. I'm still working on the yoke of the crazy stripey hoodie, which has been changed from "Alcide" to "Joey Ramone" but I may have to change it again since I got super sparkly buttons for it, which is not very "Joey Ramone". I'll take pictures eventually- I swear! I also started a scarf the night before I flew back. It's in Southwest Trading Company Bamboo, which used to be a tank top, and it's going really well. It's such a beautiful scarf. My completion anxiety is kicking in though (or maybe it's the not touching my knitting since Tuesday) and I just need to put in another hour or two on it and then it will be done. So yeah, no progress on that front.

Clump 4: Yesterday
On Friday my Romanian friend, Simona told me that she wanted to knit a scarf. we went to town to get needles and yarn. She also had a whole shopping list that we wanted me to help with, since her English is limited. Since I've been a tired grumpybutt since I got back to England, I wasn't so thrilled about that, but I pressed on. First stop, electronics shop. She flagged down a guy working there (who was kinda cute..not going to lie. I was thinking about things other than electronics for a while) and stammered for about 15 minutes on what she wanted (an Mp3 player) but when she found that they were more than 10 pounds, she changed her mind. I said sorry to cute electronics guy and we were on our way to stop at every clothing shop in Colchester (not really my idea of a fun day...I'm anti-clothes shopping unless of course it's shoes) and then finally got to the yarn store. On the way to the yarn store she had been explaining that she saw a scarf she liked but didn't want to pay 7 pounds for it. I told her that it would cost at least twice that to make it- it's not cheaper to make your own clothes anymore when you can get them for a few pounds at Tesco. She blocked this part out. 3 stores with yarn later (there are no knitting shops in Colchester, but there are 3 stores that carry yarn) she finally decided on some. (Thank God...I wanted to go to back to the flat and go to sleep) and she just went on and on about how expensive it was...yes. I told...numerous times. Sometimes us knitters DO know what we're talking about...
So I finally ducked out and crashed face-down in my bed. I woke up at 8ish when Alex (guitar-guy) banged on the door and asked if I wanted to play with him (I brought my electric violin back and we're going to do a few songs together on Jam night for the rest of the term) and that was worth getting up for. We sounded terrible but it was a good time...lots of much-needed laughing. He then asked if I wanted to head down to the pub to meet his fellow indie-musician buddies and I said I'd meet him there since I was wearing a pirate shirt and torn jeans and not looking very girly. I did a quick turnaround and head down to the pub. After being back in the US and not being able to go down to the pub whenever I felt like it, I practically sprinted. I spotted Alex and his musician-doods, and headed to the bar to grab a snakebite. I turned to my left and lo and behold! Cute electronics guy was in line next to me. Since I was looking a little more girly than I had been at the store, it took him a second to register who I was. We did a little more chatting in line and then he grabbed his pint and headed back to his table and said he'd see me later. Cool. Got my snakebite and sat down next to Alex, looked across the table and what? ! Cute electronics guy?! Yup. We did a little more flirting/chatting and it was all good. Then they all headed to a party at some girl's house- I didn't go since I didn't actually know the girl throwing that party. Anyhoo, before I got to the pub Alex had told his friends that he now had an electric violinist and that she was it was cool sitting down and the head of the Indie-music society introducing himself saying, "You must be the violinist. I'm really looking forward to seeing you guys on Wednesday." Score! I was feeling pretty invincible at that point and have held on to that feeling all day today (not an amazing feat considering I've been up for all of 2 hours, but still a good feeling nonetheless.) I should probably work on that pile of reading that needs to get done over the next few days, so I will talk to you later! Peace!

Friday, January 9, 2009

New hat, new yarn, free pattern!

Hey guys! So I'm definently NOT in Florida at the moment, as the moving van is nowhere near my parent's new house....but that's okay! I'm taking today to finish the hats that were ordered over the past couple weeks and haven't been finished yet. And I keep telling myself if I finish them, then I can go to tomorrow's Ravelry meetup in Zionsville. I do love the store, and it will be my last SnB before I leave the US for another 6 months. Yikes!

Since I've been avoiding all the projects that I want to/need to finish before I head back, I had a little baby hat spree and made 3 and have already given them all away. I'm most proud of this one:
Want to know how to make it? No?! Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.
On size 7 dpns with worsted weight yarn (I used Vanna's Choice in the "Fern" color) cast on 60 (15 per needle). Knit plain old stockinette stitch for 5 inches. Got it? Sweet. So now we've got to make the crown, so you're going to do another round and do a K2tog on the last 2 stitches of each needle. We now have 56. On the next round, we're going to knit 5, then K2tog all the way around. You'll be decreasing 8 stitches on this round. Next round- *K4, K2tog*, next round, *K3, K2tog* Got it? It's really easy and it makes a cute little spiral. If you want your spiral to be less extreme, do a plain knit row between each decrease row.
When you're down to 2 stitches per needle, knit those two together. Then on the next row, K2tog again so that we're down to 4 stitches. Cut yourself about 6 inches of yarn and loop it through those top 4 stitches and pull it tight and then anchor it down into hat and weave in your ends. Now we've got to make the Ogre ears, which are done like this:
Pick up 6 stitches in a circle-ish pattern at a place where ogre ears would typically be located and knit them on to 2 dpns. Knit 5 rounds like this. On the next round, knit into the front and the back of each stitch, making 6 new stitches (for our mathematically challenged, we now have 12 on the needles) Knit 5 rows even and then cast off very tightly so it doesn't curl. Got it? Sweet. Now do it again on the other side. After you've finished, weave in your ends and stick that hat on a nearby baby or cat, whichever is closer at the moment of completion.

That's about it...I worked on the turquoise/charcoal hoodie last night and am ready to start the raglan increases. I still haven't taken a picture of it, but I have named it which I guess is progress. It's name is Alcide, and either you get it or you don't...but I would feel like a giant dork if I explained where I got the name from. I think it fits. It might get changed again though, because I already have another design brewing for a certain ravelry group in which the sock would have to be called "Alcide" aswell, and I just can't have 2 projects with the same name. So I bet you're wondering what yarn I plan on using for Alcide, right?
Thought so. It's none other than Eric's Lizard toes in a special colorway I made him dye for me. If you haven't noticed, I have a thing for green. His website is and he's got some really great colorways. You should go check it out- his colorways are so original and the yarn is delicious- I love it! I will definently be buying more soon, once I can justify buying more sock yarn...I took pictures of all my American sock yarn today and will load it into Ravelry later....scary!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rock Day

So yesterday was Rock day, Peg explained. So we all need to meet and have a spin-in or get our knit on. So yesterday in the Village Yarn Shop, that's exactly what we did. I picked up Janet and her Kromski at noon and we were there by 12:30 and set up, spinning and having girl-talk by 1. Lots more people came and we had a full circle going and it was a great time. I got a ton of spinning done...
Here is my new favorite handspun, "Calypso" (bigger, lighter skien) and "Cousteau" (smaller, darker skien) I figured I'd stick with mostly nautical names because the colors are a most beautiful blue. The roving was Fleece Artist 70% merino, 30% silk, and it was a dream to spin. I can't believe I spun 2 whole things of roving yesterday, and then plied them together. It was 2 different colors, a dark blue and a light blue and I spun them separately and then plied them together. Nothing too fancy, but I love how it came out.
And I even did a little shopping (for my Brit Knitters and a little for myself of course!) Mandie knows I can't resist her Sheepyfeet sock yarn , shown here in "Wisteria" (very Desperate Housewives, I love it!) I also got some Alpaca-ey sock yarn from the store. You know I can't resist sock yarn, and heathered sock yarn is an even bigger weakness. I think it's Alpaca with a Twist, but that's upstairs currently in the "do not pack" room and I don't want to bug the movers. I was making them nervous earlier putting the wheel back together from it's ride in the Jeep. When they are making a living out of taking things apart, they must get confused when people are putting things back together.Back to Rock Day. There was also a gift/yarn/roving exchange. I took some fun thrummed roving and I think Mandie ended up with it. I ended up with some nice brown roving that had been Peg's. I think her awesomeness may have rubbed off onto it, making it wonderful to spin. I didn't get a picture of that. I also took a gift for the dishcloth+$5 present swap. I took a cute (well I think it's cute) knitted looking mug that I found in England. It came with Walkers shortbread inside, and I threw in a pink and green ballband dishcloth and a crochet 2-sided potholder. They're awesome, they take 2 hours to make, and even non-crafters like them. Seriously, my mom has a drawer full and wants more for the Florida house. I also took some stitch markers I made about a year ago. I called them "Cosmo" they were pink and black and I thought they were pretty cool. (And my blog is refusing to post pictures of them. Oh well, if you were there, you probably saw them, if not, use your imagination)
I ended up with Gloria's awesome gift, which was a bright pink washcloth with butterflies all over it, a dishtowel with a knit-top on it so it hook on to things like drawer handles, and 2 little notebooks, 1 of which is already in my knitting bag.
Lets see....I spent most of Friday night making a mess in the kitchen, which I do really well. In the middle of all that mess, there was a pot of acid dye and a little more than a pound of soon-to-be-green Patons Classic Merino in the Winter White colorway. It used to be a sweater for my mom that was too boxy with sleeves that were too small (early attempt at designing) and it got frogged, washed and dyed Friday night. The color was "Amazon Green" from Dylon and had a picture of a really green parot, so silly me, I assumed that the yarn would come out bright green. (or maybe even feathered!) Instead, I got celery. (My hands, however, came out a brilliant shade of Emerald)
It's growing on me. I was expecting something much brighter, but this is probably more along the lines of "colors I might actually wear". It was a fun process, I haven't dyed with anything other than Kool-aid before (unless you count washing red undies in the load of whites "dyeing") and it was fun.
So not a whole lot going on with my life outside of yarnyness. I finished the 4th Sookie Stakhouse book and am a little ashamed to say how fast I'm reading this set. I also started the 5th one last night. I really thought my "sexy vampire" stage ended when Buffy got cancelled. Apparently not. HBO does do a great job with True Blood and Charlaine Harris' books are amazing. They're quite refreshing after a semester of Charles Dickens, Anton Chekkov and Leo Tolstoy. I love brain candy like that.

I'm going out to my Grandma's house tonight to have dinner and hang out before I head back to England. I'm also going to visit Toffee's little grave. She's burried at G-ma's house, she loved it there. We always joked that Toffee was their favorite grandchild. That's about it. I'm outta here!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Projects

Happy New Year! Mine has been off to a (mostly) good start. It ended on a not-so-great note, having kissed a blind, 14-year old Pomeranian at the ball drop and then falling asleep shortly afterwards.
It started, however, with a sale at Stitches and Scones, made much better by a $50 gift certificate that I received for Christmas. See what it became? Okay...there was a little more than $50 in that pile, but it was so worth it. The row of red Cascade 220 will be a Central Park Hoodie knock-off, made top-down as I tend to do. I think some nice wooden buttons will work nicely (I have a thing for buttons) The second row has Happy Feet on each end, Brown for Nadia and red for Lucy. The greenish ones are for moi, the violently magenta and lime in the middle is for Louise, and that Dream in Color in purple is also for Nadia. The braid of roving on the bottom is also for me....I couldn't help myself. Besides- it was 20% off.

As Janet and I were leaving ( never go yarn shopping without someone there to talk you out of things like a life supply of Malabrigo, another spinning wheel or an entire alpaca, it's common sense) we ran into someone I hadn't seen in probably 6 years. She has recently taken up knitting and was trying to make a scarf for her daughter, Lauren, who I went to school with when I lived in Ohio. Good luck Connie!
After that I had some family stuff to deal with. It was my aunt's feonce's son's 20th birthday and there was lasagna and deserts to celebrate. It was awesome. Her cat attacked my hair and then I headed home to grab something to knit for the usual Thursday SnB (not going to let something like a new year get in the way of my knitting!) I doubted the ability of the white angora Koolhaas to occupy me for 4 hours of knitting, so I went home and grabbed the blue sweater, which my blog still hasn't seen. I also grabbed some turquoise Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted and the Christmas grey yarn and decided that they were going to become a hoodie. I think it needs Pewter Pirate buttons (told you I have a thing for buttons) and then I'll name it something Pirate related. I'll wait until I get past the hood before I make any rash decisions.

Back to my yesterday. Borders closed early and they kicked us knitters out at nine. So we decided that we were going to go to the Cheesecake factory for Cheesecake and foo-foo-girly drinks. I still have another 6 months to go before I'm legal in the American drinking age sense, but I figured I was wearing enough makeup and with a group of knitters, so I could probably pass for at least 21. I was shot down by the ID-Nazi waitress and had water. Sometimes, America, you really suck. I wrestled with my conscience over whether I needed Cheesecake #2 instead of dinner, but the darn thing got the best of me and I got Avocado Springrolls instead, which probably had just as many calories looking back at it. Oh well. They were good, but would have been much better served with a Passion Fruit mojito. 20 sucks big-time. I just love being humiliated in front of my knitting friends at the Cheesecake factory. I mean, seriously, I kissed a blind fluffmonster for new year's Eve. Can you give a girl a break, Cheesecake Factory?

Went home defeated, watched Indiana Jones, regretted doing so but worked more on Pirate sweater. Went to bed and read my book for a little bit. Woke up at noon, stepped on a scale, walked 2 miles on the treadmill. Thought about brownies the whole time.

Back to knitting. Here is the blue sweater that took up (and continues to do so) most of my Christmas break. It's a design by Stephanie Japel and I got it off of the Stitch Diva website for $7. The yarn, however, (it was stash so it doesn't REALLY count) was more like $100 but it's worth every penny. The fabric is delicious and I'm really enjoying it. I just need to put on my big girl panties and pick up the sleeve stitches and do another 6 inches of lace on size 4 needles, which I'm not thrilled about doing. I might take it back to England, I might not. If it goes to England, there's a good chance it will be (a) felted by accident (b) left due to lack of space on return trip or (c) worn to death to guard cold love handles from cold grey British weather. If it stays, there's a good chance it will be stolen by my mom so she can wear it to a Colt's game, and then felted by accident. Hmmm....decisions decisions.
As previously mentioned, I'm working on a second and much more luxurious Koolhaas in white. I hit the last repeat last night and and about to start decreasing for the crown. I may actually follow the instructions this time! Who knows?!
That's about it...I'm going to check out my super-healthy cookbook and see if there's something that won't taste like cardboard that I can make for dinner.