Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm an Olympiad

Yes, I'm joining the Knitting Olympics. The Celtic Queen is, and she signed me up to. It's "Celtic Queen and aunt" so I'm an also ran. I would correct it but poor Stephanie has more than enough to do just getting everyone entered. I can't decide what to make though. I'm toying with the Knitter's Market Bag -- I've never done entrelac. I think I'll do it in neutrals, black, tan, cream, grey. That's my tentative plan, at any rate. (And it will use up stash yarn too! Yea!)

My first glove is going ok, I'm working on the thumb. I should finish up tomorrow. So what else have I been doing? Well, I made this from yarn and a pattern sent by my PGH Secret Pal, Holly. I still need to do the finishing. It's a little purse, if I were smarter I would have included something for scale. I still need line it and add the handles (Holly thoughtfully sent matching fabric and handles.) I think hers looks much nicer than my attempt, tho.

I've also been working on this, which has me frankly terrified. It's knit with Tess' Designer Yarn I got at MDS&W last year, the main yarn is the Cascade Silk and there's a subtle stripe in there of Microfiber Ribbon. It's the start of a sleeve on a tee knitted sideways. There will be a broader stripe of the ribbon in the center front and a bit of a decorative neckband with the ribbon as well. The yarn is way more expensive than what I normally use, and I'm terrified I'm going to screw it up. If I do, the silk can be saved, but I'm afraid the ribbon will be a write off.

And finally, Dave called tonight. I've been looking forward to seeing him all week -- I don't know why, but I really miss him alot this time. He called to say that they need him in Indiana this weekend. So he won't be coming home tomorrow night after all. But there's knitting group tomorrow and I still have that to look forward to. Yeah!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stuffed Up

So what have I been up to since my return from Paris? Knitting-wise I've been working on the Funky Gloves, which have now been renamed the Flashy Gloves. On account of the yarn, which is variegated, flashed badly. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, flashing is my favorite effect from variegated yarn. But this yarn just didn't cut it. Look at it there in the skein, it looks so good (the colors are fairly true). But it's so disappointing knitted up. Will I continue with the gloves? Yes. Will I use them? Yes. Are they everything I hoped they would be? No. Just let this be a lesson for all of you thinking about variegated yarn. The skein seduces you with it's mix of colors, but the knitted result can be very disappointing. Interestingly though, this yarn looks like it was designed to try and prevent this, because the color sequence reverses itself. It's green, red, yellow, blue, green, etc. for 4 repeats, then it's green, blue, yellow, red, green, etc. for 4 repeats. Wierd.

Otherwise, I'm a bit down in the dumps this week. Dave has gone away again. He's in Detroit now. I know, I tried to get tickets. I told him to tell his boss I was so enraged about him leaving that the only way he could go was if he got Super Bowl tickets. No go. At least he's home on the weekends. I was looking for him in the bed all Monday night, I kept moving over in my sleep trying to find him. I woke up all the way on the other side of the bed. And we're short-handed at work so I've been working OT. Not to mention that I keep messing up the jobs and making more work for myself. And it's cold and snowing. The younger Celting got to wear his "Magic" ensemble, as the Celtic Queen posted in comments. He truly was thrilled with it. Older Son has shovelling detail. He said one of the neighbors complimented him on his shovelling. I couldn't believe it! That's like getting a raise because you showed up for work once! (But maybe it will inspire him to do more.) Younger Son is avoiding me because he doesn't want to go to bed, so I'd better go track him down.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Secrets Revealed

Finally, Saturday. My last day in Paris. Dave wanted to visit the Louvre (he'd never been there), so off we trekked. We saw Mona Lisa (they don't let you take photos of her anymore, although I snapped one when I was there a couple years ago). And lots of other impressive artwork. Dave had a "Top 10 Things to See at the Louvre" list so we trekked up and down, hither and yon to take them all in. I ended up seeing alot of the Dutch Masters because I wandered off and got lost in that wing. Shortly after arriving I snapped this photo of Egyptian spindles. And I did see "The Lacemaker" by Vermeer (it was one of the "Top 10") as well, but no picture (sorry!).

And.....YES! I did make it to La Droguerie!

Wow! I have to say, hands down this was the busiest yarn shop I have
ever visited, by far. I ended up buying this yarn which I must really like, because this is the third incarnation of this same yarn (navy tweed) that I've purchased. I'm thinking I'll make a vest or use it with something else for a sweater.

And, Secret Projects revealed! I was working on this ensemble for the younger Celting's birthday while travelling. (I completed the hat while delayed on my flight to Philadelphia, much to the amazement of my fellow travellers). Don't you just love the colors? The yellow is even more eye-popping in person. I'm a big believer on truly BRIGHT colors for young children. Makes them easier to spot in crowds. He also received a "regular" blue (not really) sweater. And some ugly men, as my mother always referred to action figures. He was honestly as excited about the knitted goods as the ugly men. Celtic Queen has raised him right!

Here he is excitedly ripping into the bag.

The dog was less thrilled about them, as you can see. (Although she does try to eat my fuzzy mittens every time I go over.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Love Paris in the Winter...

So let's see, we left our heroine walking about Paris. La Droguerie was closed, but in our search for another yarn shop I saw this window display of felted boxes and snapped a picture.

And as I said, we went to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame herself,

and the rose windows --


and South

and of course Joan (whose reputation was "rehabillitated" there, according to the sign.)

Finally, I really like this exterior shot -- with flying buttresses apparent.

Then back to the hotel to sleep. We had a great room:

Ha! I'm joking. That's really Louis XIV's room at Versailles, where we went the next day (I took my Funky Gloves for knitting on the train on the way out and back, and almost finished the first cuff). Versailles was....Versailles. As someone said to me this week when we were discussing the trip, "After seeing Versailles, it kinda makes you understand why they cut off Marie Antoinette's head." (Although I personally think Marie got a bum rap there, but who knows?) Dave and I were both a little wierded out by the Levee and the Couchee. It just doesn't seem decent to receive people formally from your bed.

We saw this statue at the top of the Queen's staircase:

The placque says it was to commemorate some royal's wedding (can't remember now whose). It amused me no end -- just what exactly do you think that quiver there represents? Hmmmm?

After returning from Versailles we went to the Eiffel Tower, arriving just after dusk.. The top floor was closed, so I still have not made it to the top, after three trips! I don't know if it was security or not. There were soldiers patrolling the grounds of the tower with machine guns, though. I wanted to get a picture of them holding their guns on Dave, but he wouldn't go for it. (Although he did accidentally walk into a soldier {and his machine gun} while looking up at the tower when we walked up.)

Then dinner and off we went to Le Caveau De La Huchette (just around the corner from our hotel) for a night of jazz and dancing. Dave wants to learn more swing dancing (he did take some lessons for awhile a few years back and again before going to China). He was very impressed by the 60+ (a few very +) gentlemen who were dancing with the cute 20 year olds at the club. He's also busy learning to play the jazz standards.

So, did I make it La Droguerie? You see my yarn counter has gone up....Tune in tomorrow!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Le Retour de l'Indigène

I'm back! The trip was great, I tried to squeeze in everything I possibly could. It started off inauspiciously. I was delayed at the airport because of weather in Philadelphia. (I completed an entire [secret] knitting project while we were sitting on the runway waiting to take off. The other passengers were suitably impressed.) Then, after take off for Paris I started smelling something really bad -- I wondered if the plane was on fire. But no, it didn't smell like something burning. But WHAT, I thought, are they going to serve for dinner? It really smells like stinky feet! Stinky feet? Wait a minute... Sure enough, the guy across the aisle had taken off his shoes. It was REALLY bad. Eventually, the air recycling system kicked in, but still I'd get a whiff of it every now and then during the trip. I didn't get to sleep hardly at all. Every time I'd drift off for a few minutes the guy behind me (who was travelling with Mr. Stinky Feet) would kick my seat. So I arrived in Paris all bleary-eyed and bumbled my way through customs. Really. I followed some people who I thought knew where they were going, and they led me right out of the security area. Without my baggage. (But Dave was there.) I had to go back and explain to the nice French policeman that I needed to get my suitcase. I could just tell from his expression he was thinking "Stupid American!" But I managed to escape from the airport and we made it back to Paris. We decided to spend the day shopping. I of course wanted to go buy yarn. So I looked up the address of the La Droguerie and we consulted several maps and then took La Metropolitan. We walked out of the station and there was La Rue du Jour right there! And La Droguerie! It was like a sign! There was a sign alright:
For those of you who don't read French, it says " La Droguerie will be closed for inventory from Monday January 9th thru Friday the 13th. Reopen Saturday the 14th at 10:30." Can you believe my luck? So Dave and I walked down the street looking for another yarn shop I had read about. We walked for about an hour and a half but never found it. We did find something else though.
So you don't feel too bad for me, it was about here that the day started getting better. We visited Notre Dame (it was like a stone's throw from the hotel)
had a nice lunch and then went to see a concert by Evan Christopher and Tom McDermott at Le Chatelet. Dave had met Evan at a jazz club the night before and he graciously invited us. The jet lag was definately catching up with me, so I was not at my sparkling best. The concert was fabulous, though, definately the highlight of the trip. Afterwards we had dinner and then I collapsed in bed.

Sooo, did I get to shop at La Droguerie? What else did we do? Tune in tomorrow to find out more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My Bags Are (Almost) Packed

And I'm almost ready to go. I just have to pack some toiletries, and my carry-on which will have my knitting projects and reading material. I'm taking three projects. Two are secret and one is the Funky Gloves. I decided to go with my original idea and just knit gloves from the multi colored yarn. As of now I haven't restarted them.

I am taking off tomorrow from work so this is it until Monday the 16th. I may be able to post between now and then (Dave said he had internet access) but I can't guarantee it. I will post pictures and tell all (well maybe not all) when I return next week!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Je Ne Sais Quoi

Thank you all for your kind words about my Fuzzy Feet. I like them myself. I'll be stylin' at the hotel. I finished another project today!

Socks! The yarn was from Holly, my Pgh. Secret Pal (Thanks Holly!). But the bad news is this:

A Partial Skein!! Curses! And I have no one to blame but myself. (Don't you hate it when that happens?) Because Holly, in her infinite wisdom, sent a toe-up sock pattern with the two balls of yarn. I could have just happily knit each sock until I ran out of yarn and used up both skeins. But I forgot. Now I have to think up a use for it so I can add it to the tally. See it, over there in the sidebar? Remember, yarn in should be no more than 1/2 yarn out. I may need to bend it for La Droguerie. We'll see.

So with my socks done I started blithely along on some gloves. I had purchased a bright primary yarn with the intent of using it for some funky multicolored gloves. But then I was perusing my copy of Knitting Fairisle Mittens and Gloves and decided I'd make Fairisle Gloves with black and my multi. I've done it before with scarves and it looks good. So I started off. This is as far as I got:

Not enough contrast, see?

The darker colors in my multi blend into the black. So I thought about it and decided gray would be a better neutral to pair with (although I'd rather have the black because my coat is black, but you can't have everything.) So I'll try this pairing tomorrow:
I think it will be a better marriage. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Warm Fuzzies

I have Fuzzy Feet! I finished them this morning and felted them right away. Donna, the
Sweet Sensations felts like a dream. I think they were in the washer for about 10 minutes or so before they felted down to size. I tried them on and they fit perfectly. The cuff is not as felted, which I expected because the carry-along gets in the way, but that's ok because it makes it easier for them to fold over. I couldn't be happier with them. And, since I knew I'd be felting my Fuzzy Feet this morning, last night I dug out my Fizz Mitts and ran them through the washer. Here's the before pic. They took two runs through the washer to felt, and even then the left mitt was still bigger than the right. I ran it back through with the Fuzzy Feet this morning.

Here's the final size. I also felted up a scarf to match. Everything is still a little damp. They're all sitting in the warm spot in my room, drying. I can't wait to wear my new mittens on Monday! They'll be traveling to Paris, too. Wonder what Dave will think? Anyone else remember that James Bond movie with the fur mitten? Which one was it?

Friday, January 06, 2006


I e-mailed about the knitting group and they are only meeting on the 7th and the 21st of January. Just my luck! So naturally when Dave called me at lunch today and told me that they had broken something at the mill and he would be off for several days and asked if it was possible for me to fly over tonight.....Well, I was very tempted. But no, the demands of children and work prohibit it. Maybe I should have tried for the Concorde.

Here's my second Fuzzy Foot:

I'm about to turn the heel. I hope to finish tonight and felt it tomorrow.

And here's another of the eight pairs of socks I knit for Dave to take to China.

These are the Cabled Socks.

Notice how I managed the toe decreases so that the cables move uninterrupted to the end of the sock? What can I say, it was plain light colored knitting....

Thursday, January 05, 2006

One Foot Closer to Paris

One Fuzzy Foot down, one to go. I finished the first of the pair and here it is pictured with my foot, pre-felting. It is not easy taking a picture of your own foot, let me tell you! I want to get the pair done to take with me to Paris.

Speaking of Paris, I got a hot tip on the bus this morning that there was a new knit/crochet magazine with an article about knitting in Paris. I was immediately on the hunt, and tracked it down at lunch today. It's the premiere issue of Easy Knit and Crochet Ideas. They say "Don't miss the ... yarn shop La Droguerie..."(and they provide the address). Also, and maybe more important, "Take your yarn to the American bookstore Brentano's, which hosts a knitting gathering on Saturday mornings." Woo Hoo, I'm there baby! Now I don't feel so bad about missing our Knitting Night next Friday. I'm sure it will be a poor substitute guys, but I can still get my group knitting fix. I'll get busy and make some stitch markers to share. I'm going to try to track down an e-mail address to verify there will be a meeting.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Early Evening

It's a quiet night at home for me and The Boys. We have nowhere to go so we're all going to bed early and get some much needed extra sleep. Since the rush of deadline work is past I'm back to my previous routine of a project for home and one for the bus. My bus knitting is a pair of brown socks (with yarn given to me by my Pgh SP -- Thanks again Holly!) and my home project is the Fuzzy Feet. Donna who commented yesterday was MY Pgh Secret Pal. I never officially "outed" it so this is it! I'm devastated that she figured it out by herself, though. I thought I was so clandestine! Wonder what gave me away? Anyways, Donna, the yarn I'm using is the same as the purple/white/black yarn I sent you -- "Sweet Sensation". Stay tuned for how it does felting.

Our photos for the day are my "Fairisle Sampler Socks", one of the eight pairs of socks I knit my husband last summer to take off to China.

Although he did wear several of the other socks, I'm not certain he wore these (he didn't feel they were very masculine).
Notice how the pattern morphs in the gusset. That took some figgurin'! Here are some close-ups of a few of my favorite motifs. The yarn is J&P Coats Royale Fashion Crochet thread in the size 3. Dave's safety regs specify all 100% cotton clothing, so this made a nice cotton sock yarn. I used size 2 needles. It was a fun exercise in Fairisle knitting. I would recommend it to the adventurous sock knitter. All the patterns are from Fabulous Fairisle by John Allen. The color choices are my own.

OOOh look! Creating Textiles found a Random Resolution Generator. Check out mine:

Finally a resolution I'm likely to keep!

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Eat more junk food.

Get your resolution here

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Project

I started a new project. Blogger is being difficult and apparently won't allow me to upload an image, or I'd show you. I'm making a pair of Fuzzy Feet. And I've already used up one more skein of yarn. That's 7 so far.

Dave contacted me from France. He's working in Fontainebleau which is about an hour south of Paris.

And I LOVE my new coffee maker! I got the Cuisinart "Grind and Brew" for Christmas. It's programmable. So this morning while I was in the shower suddenly the smell of fresh brewed coffee wafted up from downstairs...

Yeah! Blogger relented and allowed me to upload my image:

Notice the beautiful stitch markers. I've never used this yarn before, I hope it felts ok. We'll see. Otherwise I'll have some BIG slippers.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! So what did everyone spend New Year's doing? It's supposed to indicate how you will spend the next year. I kind of hope not, though, as I spent the day waiting on my husband to get ready to go out, grocery shopping, cooking, and doing laundry. I did manage to squeeze in a little knitting, just in case. I then fell asleep in my clothes, no less at 7:oo PM and slept for 13 hours straight. So what does say about my year?

The holidays are over, and I took my husband to the airport and dropped him off for his flight to Paris. He will be there working for at least a week, and I will fly over and meet him on the 12th, then we'll return together on the 15th. He says no more out of town work for awhile. I hope not!

I did manage to cook up my traditional New Year's dinner of pork roast and sauerkraut and I made some of Aunt Donna's Christmas soup. If any of you made a ham for New Year's (we had one for Christmas Eve, I froze it) this is a good way to use the hambone. If I was as organized as Aunt Donna I suppose I could make it on Christmas day, as she did, but I'm not so I get to it when I can over the holidays which just happened to be today. It's a great winter soup and I'm afraid it shows too much of my German peasant heritage that I like it so much. It takes all day to make, but it's worth it and I only make it once a year.

Aunt Donna's Christmas Soup
1) Combine and boil 1 hour:
2 1/2 lb kielbasa, sliced
1 qt. sauerkraut
1/2 tsp marjoram
water to cover
2) Add and simmer 1 1/2 hours:
3 potatoes, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 med onions, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
1 qt tomatoes
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3) In a separate pan, make a roux by stirring together 5 Tbs butter and 3 Tbs flour, cook until flour smell is gone (approx. 2 minutes), stir into soup.
Make dumplings by mixing:
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/3 cup water
Stir until smooth, batter will be runny. Cut in small pieces into simmering soup. Simmer 1/2 hour longer.
Some notes on preparation. I usually increase the recipe by about 1/2, it makes a BIG pot of soup, but fortunately it freezes well. I also usually cut up some extra ham and throw it in as well. If you don't want to take all day to make it (I started mine at about 8:30 this morning, it was ready to eat at about 3:00) you can do step 1 a day ahead and refrigerate it over night. (Aunt Donna did this, and she would skim off the fat before starting again, so it's slightly healthier too. I can attest that the taste didn't suffer.)
Enjoy it with some good bread and your favorite lager.