Tuesday, November 27, 2007

FO: Giant Sea Urchin Beret

Once upon a time, I used to be a pre-med. I thought I would devote my life to saving small children from malaria epidemics in Africa. Thankfully, I reached the understanding that I was not meant to be a medical doctor before I wasted my time and everyone else's by groaning my way through the rest of my chem labs and even through med school with a big frown on my face.

But I did enjoy science a fair bit and I liked my freshman year bio lab well enough. Our TF once handed us male sea urchins and told us to inject the male urchins with a chemical that caused them to ejaculate. Then we were told to take the...um...stuff...and fertilize sea urchin ova. After that, we had the fun of looking through a microscope as the cells rapidly divided.

That's basically all I was thinking about while I knit this the other night:

Giant Sea Urchin Beret
Pattern: Bulky Beret by Lipp Holmfeld in VK Holiday '06
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool, 1.3 balls in color Mulberry
Needles: US 13 24" circulars and DPNs

This may be my absolutely most wearable knit. The thing is, I am not a hat person. Not at all. I hate how they make my head look, I hate how they flatten my hair. Yuck. When I wear a normal hat, I keep thinking of Tom Hanks' line in A League of Their Own when he mutters to the umpire, "Did anyone ever tell you, you look like a penis with that little hat on?"

But this hat is different! Yes! Different! Better! Not hair-flattening! Love-worthy! So much so that I stuck a little feather on it and called it macaroni.

Yep, Yankee Doodle ain't got nothin' on me. I actually stuck them together because these are the colors that make me happiest. Deep green, gold, and vibrant purple. I am a bit obsessed by that little feather pen. When I'm down, I dip it into (violet!) ink and scribble away in my journal and imagine I am Charlotte Bronte.

And here is me modeling it in oh-so professional fashion without even changing out of my pajamas. I have also decided that Rowan needs a big round of applause for creating the most perfect plum-purple shade EVER. It's not coming out right in the photos, but the true shade is like the purpliest of purples that leans juuuuust enough towards burgundy. Big Wool is also a scrumptious yarn and I finished this in an hour. You heard me. One measly hour. Truly, a last-minute knitted gift. Only this one is a gift for me.

Totally off-topic, but if you haven't seen No Country for Old Men, get thee to a movie theater!

It was so good that I went through an existential panic attack during the last scene. Ok, that doesn't sound like a positive recommendation, but the movie gripped me in a way that very few movies have over the last year. It's incredibly sad and incredibly thought-provoking. Tommy Lee Jones' weathered face and his understated performance are both just wonderful and Javier Bardem continues to convince me that he's a fantabulous actor with (gasp!) depth.

In addition, I also saw American Gangster this weekend and was a bit disappointed. Denzel is Denzel and Russell is Russell. Not much else goes on other than glamorizing the drug business and painting most of drug law enforcement as crooked. But the common denominator in both movies: Josh Brolin. Who knew that Brand from The Goonies would become a fantabulous actor in his own right? Somewhere, Andy Carmichael is very, very glad that she gave Troy back his letter jacket.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Brought to you by the numbers...

...2 and 8!

Meaning the winners are, in order of my hand pulling numbers out of a hat, Punkin and Tiennie! Punkin, the Cluckers has your name on it and Tiennie, the mag and Louet Gems are antsy to get to your house. So you two need to email me and lemme know your mailing addys so I can send some lover-ly goodness your way!

All your comments were so fantastic, though, and it really got me excited for the holiday season...which is upon us in about, oh, ten seconds. I was also lucky enough to start reading some of your blogs! Over the weekend, I was extremely grateful for friends. I have never really been particularly lucky in the romance department, but my cup runneth over in the friends department. (I'm trying to learn how to scoop some of the leftover friend ju-ju into the romance cup.) I discovered that one girl I've been peripherally friends with for over a year actually loves knitting, too! We had a little gasping session over sock yarn.

Och, and I've kissed the Blarney Stone:

Mighty handsome, no? He'll keep me calm while I try to adjust to the pace of the next few months. This is what my life looks like right about now:

I've committed to writing a screenplay for a friend and I am starting research on it in a major way. I'll continue working on my novel, but I think I need to re-familiarize myself with that thing we refer to as a "library." In my downtime, I am a bit obsessed with Six Feet Under. It also lends me some insight into my screenplay plot so I'm starting to pore over every detail. That last book is my favoritest knitting book evah. I flipped through it a few times and I seriously want to make every single project in the book. Every last one. We'll see how far I get, but most of the projects are small-scale, so I think I'll be reaching in a lot for quick Christmas gifts.

Speaking of quick knits:

Simple Garter Scarf
Yarn: Trendsetter Yosemite, 2 hanks
Needles: US 19 Lantern Moon straights

I know those ruffle-y scarves are referred to as the potato chip scarves, but these chunky garter stitch yummies are my potato chip scarves. Yosemite is some fantastically squishy yarn (50% wool/50% acrylic) and the colors are vibrant. The total length in yards was about 150 and it's nice and long. I casted on 13 stitches this time with just one strand of yarn. The chunky bits remind me of circus peanuts.

I also, er, did some shopping. But part of it was on a gift certificate.

I got two hanks of Schaefer Anne yarn in the Althea Gibson colorway (I think). I can't figure out exactly which color this is because Schaefer doesn't label the colors. This is earmarked for the Trinity Stitch triangular shawl in Victorian Lace Today.

I also bought my first ever knitting bag:

It's the Sanibel bag from Amy Butler's Sweet Life line. It's huge and can double as a weekend bag when I go visit the 'rents in Joisey. I just keep cooing to it and singing, "I think I love you."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FO: Noro Sock...and a ThanksGIVEaway!

First we have a finished stockinette Noro sock. It's sad. It's rone-ry. But there's another one at the store that it can play nicely with when I take it in on Sunday. I've named her Rainbow Brite. 'Cause she's like, seriously bright.

Rainbow Brite Noro Sample Sock
Yarn: Half skein of Noro Sock Yarn sample
Needles: US 0 Inox circulars

I didn't really "conquer" the short-row heel and toe, but I did make progress. They ain't gonna lick me anytime soon.

Also, I put in an order at Blue Moon Fiber Arts to buy some sock yarn. I know, I don't need more sock yarn and I haven't even started knitting the one STR that I own, but I. Don't. Care. I got all excited about the Raven series but didn't really feel that I wanted to knit socks that were that dark. I'll wait until I find a perfect lace pattern and buy some Lightweight Raven for a shawl instead of socks. Although, this is making me feel mighty tempted to go ahead and order some anyway.

So, I ordered four skeins:

Clockwise from the top: Saratoga, Cluckers, Rooster Rock. I love these colors. The Saratoga has a blend of butter yellow, lavender, brown, sky blue, and orange-y rust. The Rooster Rock (which I'm sure everyone has seen) is brick, slate, brown, fuchsia, and beige. The Cluckers is sage, coral red, ochre, tan, and a grayish-purple. The Blarney Stone is...

Wait, what's that you say? There is no Blarney Stone in the photo? Well, it seems we have a problem here. Blue Moon sent me an extra Cluckers instead of a Blarney Stone!

At first, this made me terribly sad. I love the Cluckers, but I really wanted four different colors. I have specific plans for the Cluckers and Rooster Rock and don't know what I'd do with another Cluckers. I e-mailed Blue Moon and asked if I could exchange the skein because of the error. They are just the nicest people ever and I got an email today saying that they would ship me the Blarney Stone and I can do whatever with the extra Cluckers. How nice is that?

It seems that free knit blessings are just falling into my lap right now, since a non-knitting friend of mine also got me an issue of the Interweave Holiday Gifts after I'd purchased one for myself.

I've been so lucky this year when it comes to knitting. I started blogging and joined Ravelry around the same time and people have left such nice comments and introduced me to their blogs, all of which really make my days a little bit happier. I'll be honest and say that I'm just coming out of a few not-so-good years personally and this season, I finally have my head on straight, I know who I am and what I want to do with my life (at least right now), my family is all healthy and whole, and my friends are just some of the best. I am an incredibly lucky and blessed person this season. I know from reading some of the blogs out there that other people are going through some hard times and we all need a pick-me-up once in a while. And it's easy to get lost in the horrors of rampant consumerism during the holiday season and forget the whole point of just sitting back, taking stock of our blessings, and just being truly grateful for the good things in our lives. So in honor of giving thanks, this is my ThanksGIVEaway. Excuse the cheesy portmanteau.

Leave a comment sharing what you're thankful for this month. It can be funny, cheesy, tragic, simple, complicated. You can be thankful for the moon. You can be thankful for cheese. You can be thankful for indoor plumbing or Johnny Depp. The cut-off will be 11:59 pm., EST, on Friday, Nov. 16. At midnight on Friday night, I'll pick two random comments. The first will get the STR lightweight in Cluckers and the second will get my extra copy of Holiday Gifts along with two skeins of Louet Gems in Crab Apple to make either the Sweetheart or Veronik socks featured in the mag:

The things I'm grateful for right now: Socks, Law & Order re-runs, the power of email, brand-new giant towels, and my mom's health.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

FO: I Love Autumn Scarf

I didn't even blog about starting this li'l thing:

Simple Garter Stitch Scarf
Yarn: One strand of Berroco Hip-Hop and one strand of Manos del Uruguay Wool
Needles: US 19 Lantern Moons

Really, though, there ain't nothin' to tell. I started it at the store last week during a slow hour and finished it that night when I got home. I cast on 16 stitches with the two strands and just kept knitting until the yarn ran out. It took up two skeins of the Hip-Hop in Karaoke and one skein of the Manos in Prairie.

Sometimes, simple is goooood. Autumn is my favorite season and I'm always so sad that it seems the shortest. The smell of the air changes and I just feel right. I grew up in New Hampshire where there are lots o' woods to explore and the scarf reminds me of a particular gravel path that always got littered with falling leaves as soon as October hit.

Speaking of leaves...I went for a run this morning (which is highly unusual for me nowadays, but I'm trying to make it more usual) and these leaves were just lying on the ground and waiting for me to notice them.

I have no idea what tree they're from, but their waxy sheen and brilliant color reminded me of a vintage necklace a friend of mine bought me two years ago:

I wish red were not such a difficult color to reproduce via photographs. The true color is just so much richer than what's showing up on my computer screen.

And since we're on the subject of things that make me happy:

Fairy tales and the scholarly discussions they inspire are two of my favorite things. I still love the expurgated, Disney-fied versions just for fun, but the actual fairy tales themselves are what's fascinating. Mostly because they offer such insight into the moral and psychological depths of different cultures and societies. Also, I love that the authors tell children that most adults are not to be trusted and that girls can be the heroes. Word.

And finally, my latest obsession: These beautiful, beautiful notebooks.

Barnes and Noble sells them for about nine bucks a pop. The graphics are done by MFA sutdents at the Savannah College of Art & Design and it's like carrying around a little work of art. They're good for journals, reminder books, sketchbooks (they sell ruled and plain), and whatever else you want to scribble. I think I'll ask my parents to get me a bunch more for Christmas.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ebony and Ivory...living in perfect harmony

The other day, my roommate C's girlfriend told me I have the craziest memory of anyone she knew. My other roommate, J, overheard this and started laughing. All this came about because I was rattling off a very long list of old Disney songs without forgetting any of the lyrics. I can't help it. I heart Disney. I also apparently heart many old 80s songs that should be forgotten.

But I started a new (and I hope very fast) project for the store and every time I pick it up, those lyrics just keep poppin' on up like a frickin' Pop-Up Video episode on VH1. Yes, I watch VH1. I'm only 27 and I haven't been able to keep up with the crazy MTV kids since I was about 19.

This here is the Helsinki Hat Scarf (very creative name) in Rowan 42. The yarn? Is the recommended yarn, Rowan Cocoon. It feels like cotton candy, just without the stickiness or the gaudy fluorescent colors. It's truly, truly beautiful. A bit pricey, as is most of the Rowan line, but scrumptious. The needles? They are ebony needles from Lantern Moon. My first pair. Definitely not my last. Someone kept raving about them and I buckled and bought them for this project since I promised my cousin to make him an Urban Aran at some point and it'll use the same size. They're so smoooooth. (If you get the obscure Dead Man on Campus reference, I heart you, too.) I think I love them even more than Addis. Dang, this knitting thing just keeps getting more and more 'spensive.

We also got in a huge shipment of Noro Silk Garden and I decided to rip out the Kureyon Lady Eleanor and start anew:

Methinks this will be given to my mother. She wanted a big shawl and I don't have the patience to go through another Clapotis, considering that I haven't finished the one that's on the needles.

I also participated in my first swap. Ravelry's Fiberflix group hosted a Halloween scary movie/yummy yarn swap and my lovely swap partner, Lisa (who unfortunately doesn't have a blog) sent me movie snacks (all of which I promptly consumed within a period of 24 hours) and Shaun of the Dead, which I watched twice over the weekend. Zombies + British humor + Queen = Good Times. She also sent me the most beautiful skein of Smooshy, ever.

The color is called "Dusky Aurora." I told her my favorite colors were the "in-between" ones. Burgundy, teal, plum, rust, etc. I was floored when I got the package and the yarn contained every last one of those colors.

I could stare at this yarn for a week. I think I have. Wow, I need to get a life.