Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lambertville

Not too long ago (although longer than I had hoped) I had promised to tell you about my weekend. Well, that weekend was two or three weeks ago now. I had read an article in Country Living Magazine, which I never read, and which is not really my style (decorating or otherwise), but which I somehow ended up reading anyway. The article was about the Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market in Lambertville, NJ complete with pictures of the author's purchases. Not realizing, of course, that this is the same town I had visited over the summer with my email knitting buddy, I decided to drive down for lack of something better to do.

It was a very dreary day, so there weren't many vendors there, but it was definately fun to explore, especially all the vintage linens. I bought a few things but I can't wait for a warm sunny day to go back. Maybe my email knitting buddy will go with me sometime...(hint, hint)?

Anyway, the town is adorable , and from what I understand has recently gone through its own little renaissance. You kind of pass downtown Lambertville on your way to the flea market, so I visited there afterwards. It is filled with tons of antique shops, more than I've ever seen in one place- even more than Tarrytown, NY. Some are small and junky and dusty, and others are extremely large with tons of antique vendors all in one building. Also, some were very cheap (for antiques anyway) and some were very expensive. I had bought a couple hankies at the flea market for less than $4 each. I went into a little shop in town and similar hankies were selling for nearly $30 each!

This adorable little town (even on this dreary, rainy, and later, foggy day) took me so long to go through that when I found out that just across its bridge is New Hope, PA, I was wishing I had crossed earlier. It was too late by this time, and my feet were hurting, so I didn't stop to explore further, but New Hope looks like Pennsylvania's answer to Woodstock (NY, that is). Very cute, with lots of arty and hippie-type shops, and people milling about everywhere. Between the two towns, you could spend a whole weekend shopping and enjoying the views.


Bridge to New Hope


Lambertville Train Station (now a restaurant)


Antique Shops

Between the flea market and downtown, I brought home a few little treasures. The three tools on the left are all crochet hooks, believe it or not. The hooks are so small they are hard to see in the picture. Next is what I believe is a yarn darning needle. The last tool on the right is something called a sewing "stiletto", or so I was told by the dealer who knew nothing else about it. The four tools on the right came all together and I bought them for the hooks, so that's why I am unsure of the rest of what I bought. All of these are made of ivory or bone, or some of both.


Antique Sewing & Crochet Tools

These are some keys that I bought from the same dealer as the left-hand crochet hook. I have seen some craft projects using keys like these, and while I can't think of exactly what to use them for right now, I know I will see something in a magazine one of these days. There was actually a craft project in that same Country Living Magazine using keys like these, but nothing that's my style.


Antique Skeleton Keys

These are the hankies I mentioned. I love the punch needle embroidery on the top one. It is so small and intricate and amazing. The other one is plain white with some lace edging that someday I may try to embroider. I don't know why I am into linens like hankies, gloves, tea towels, and table runners lately but I suspect it is the yarn diet... you know lack of fiber. Actually that's not true. I have loved things like this for a long time, but only antiques or just very intricate things, not just your basic linens from the local Target.


Antique Embroidered Hankerchiefs


Close-up of the Punch Needle Bouquet

One of the few non-antique shops I went into was called Fiddleheads. This was a very cool gourmet food and flower shop on the main street. I actually didn't buy any food or flowers there. I did, however, get a few packets of lavender wash powder for delicates (only a knitter would understand and appreciate a product like this, I think) and a lavender candle. I love lavender. When I was going to yoga-lates regularly (and for the record, I will be returning as soon as things slow down at work), the instructor rubbed lavender oil on our temples when we were relaxing with our eyes closed at the end of the session... it is so calming. Last summer I had made some lavender lemonade and it was so yummy!



So, I obviously watch too much TV, even now as I write... Here's what I am thinking about:
1. I really want to see that new show Spring Awakening as soon as half price tickets show up at the TKTS booth. The music is by Duncan Sheik and I really like the looks of the choreography on the commercials, as well as one of the guys' voices.
2. How many "past lives" has Rosie had on Will & Grace? I have thought about this many times... every time Karen says something like "I saved you from the streets of Mexico" or some such nonsense, and Rosario says "You pulled me out of business school, you witch". Tonight (in repeats, of course) it was something like: "Here are Rosie's things... [thing1], [thing2], and here's her diploma from University of Texas Medical School," or something like that... anyone remember any others?

And in knitting news...

I cast-on for, and then frogged, the Shedir hat... again. This time, I was paying attention to what I was doing and so the cables were not the problem. I realized though that I wanted to do one less repeat than the pattern called for. Also, the booga bag's body (tongue twister?) is finished, but the i-cord handles are not. I am slow on both of the projects because I want to wait for my next knitting group since these are things I can work on while chatting (well, only the cast-on and first eight rows of Shedir).

I am waiting for the yarn I ordered to finish up another project. It should be here in a day or two.

Also, here's a preview of an FO:




I will have full details in a few weeks after they have been gifted.

The new surprises are up at Knitty! I love both of the sweater's in this quarter's surprise. Thermal is a basic scoop neck sweater with a waffle texture similar to that of long john's (long underwear). The other sweater, Dragonfly, is very cool. The "shaping" is all in the decrease in needle and yarn size. This one looks like it might be a bit complicated. When I first looked at it, I thought there was only the large "dragonfly" in the center front. Then I realized that the entire bottom of it has smaller dragonflies all over it. The stitch pattern looks... interesting, to say the least.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Out of Yarn!

No, not really... I am just running out of yarn for a project that I am nearly finished with and is"due" in mid-February. Unfortunately, I bought it all the way up in Woodstock, VT when I was there on business. I will have to break the yarn diet and call the Whippletree Yarn Shop and have them send me some (I am so hoping they have the same dye lot). Although, according to rule 2c, this is not actually breaking the diet.

I saw a thread on Knitter's Review regarding how people are doing with their yarn diets so far (sorry I don't feel like looking for the link now). It was a four page thread! I guess a lot of people are doing this and most having less luck with it than me, surprisingly. I thought I had so little will power, but I guess I am gaining it back because the diets (yes, plural) are both going pretty well.

Speaking of diets, this article from CNN is interesting. I may go further into this topic in a few months... we'll see how things go.

Also, did anyone else know that Anthem by Ayn Rand is now in the public domain?!?!? I had no idea. I mentioned this book only a couple posts ago. It is by far one of my all time favorites. I always knew there were free books online in full text because their copyright was out of date, but because it takes so many years, I didn't realize Anthem was available already (legal only in the US). You can find it here. I hope everyone reads this one and now that it's online, you don't have to remember to go out and buy a copy.

I hope to get up some pictures and more knitting content this weekend. Bear with me, there are very big changes going on at work and I have been working 11-12 hour days since before Christmas. I am knitting, just no time/energy to take pictures and post about it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

More Crafty Stuff

I actually have a bunch of pictures to post of last weekend's outing, but I don't have time to post them now. So, I just want to post the many links I have piling up that I want to keep track of.

First, I was looking for ideas for recycled sweaters that do not involve felting. This seams to be rare. I have an Old Navy sweater that is nearly brand new, but stained. It is acrylic or some such thing and machine washable (and so, of course, not feltable). The only idea I could find was a coin purse made with a lining so that felting is not necessary. Any other ideas out there?

Also, I am loving these paint chips cards, especially since I deal with these kinds of materials on a day-to-day basis in my day job.

Here's another sewing tutorial for a lined drawstring bag.

I think this calendar page at craftlog is so cute!

Hopefully I will have some time to come up with something more substantial to say in my next post.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Specimen Days

I finished reading a book. I haven't finished a whole book in many, many months due to reasons I won't go into here. Let's just say I used to finish a book per week (or at least per month). So, I will divert from knitting for this post because I think the occasion calls for it.

This book only took me a couple weeks to read: Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham. This is the third book I've read by this author.

The first, The Hours, won a Pulitzer prize. I have read it at least four times, although not in a couple years. It is one of the best books I have ever read and definitely deserves such a prestigious award. The movie, unlike most, actually does the book justice. Don't get me wrong, the book was far better, but the movie is a great one, and the Phillip Glass score makes it all the better.

The second, A Home at the End of the World, was disappointing (and the movie was terrible).

I have had this book sitting in my bookshelf for quite a while because of the lack of opening a book in so many months (not counting knitting books, of course, and no, this isn't why I haven't read fiction in so long).

Specimen Days is not in the league of The Hours, but it is great if you can handle the third part. It will be obvious why I say "if you can handle the third part" in a moment. I was afraid that The Hours was a fluke until I read Specimen Days. The three parts of this book are unrelated on the surface. The first, set about 100 years ago is about a boy who "hears" his dead brother in machines. The second part is set in the present and is about terrorism and cults.

The third part is set about 100 years from now. This is the strangest part, mainly because I cannot personally imagine a world such as is described in
only 100 years from now, and is therefore unrealistic to me, much more than your average science fiction. However, it is imaginative, to say the least. It involves a whole new race on earth that basically looks reptilian, yet acts human.

The interesting thing about this novel is that all the parts are related in some way. I won't say interconnected, as The Hours was, but definitely related. A man, woman, and boy reappear in each part with the same names in each. A bowl is purchased. The setting is a changing New York City. A building is burned and remembered. A poet's words are recited.

Without a doubt, I need to read this book again. Now that I know the whole story, I need to go back and look for more relations, or connections, or find if there are
interconnections, such as in The Hours.

Sorry for the diversion. If you need a knitting break, read this book... or The Hours... or Anthem... or Blindness...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Where I Knit

Julie recently asked that all us knitter's out here in blogland post a picture of where we knit. Here's mine:



This is a corner of my tiny apartment, where I had planned to live very temporarily. It has now been more than three and a half years since I moved in. It's okay though. I have the kind of neighbors who will pick up my sunglasses from the ground and place them on my driver's side mirror, and who will ring my bell before I get a parking ticket if I forget to move my car on Tuesdays. Also, it's cozy. The radiator (seen in the back of the picture) provides so much heat that I can go from wool socks and sweaters to boxers and a tank top within 5 minutes of the gurgling sounds.

Also in the picture, you can see my new pillows, some needles, my alpaca, tools and accessories, yarn in totes, yarn in a root basket, yarn in a glass vase, yarn on shelves, yarn on the table...

Here's the Booga Bag I started a few days ago. I love this colorway of Noro Kureyon (color 148). This in-the-round stockinette-stitch pattern is just what I need right now because I don't have to look at it while I knit. I am trying not to strain my eyes because of the last month or so at work (minus Christmas week) I have been staring at data for 10-12 hours straight. I am worried my eyes are getting worse because of it. Hopefully this kind of work won't last too much longer. My eyes (and stress-level) can't handle it. Anyway, the main part of the bag is more than half done so far.



A few days ago I made these:



A pin cushion and sewing book from some coordinating scrap fabric I bought at Purl Soho, and influenced by these. These are an accomplishment for me, especially the blanket stitch on the edge of the book. I don't think I ever tried that before (
I told you I was a sewing novice). The pincushion is stuffed with those little polyester plastic beads, leftovers from my gnome. The buttons sewn on top are for decoration. There are a few pages in the book and I just put a bunch of sewing needles in there so they are at easy reach (instead of having to dig through my sewing box). I used Martha's instructions for both. Aren't they cute?



Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Projects

I finished taking apart and unraveling this sweater that I posted a week or so ago. I had never tried doing this before. I was inspired at some point by Brooklyn Tweed and when I saw this 100% shetland wool sweater at a vintage clothing store in downtown Saratoga for only $12, I nabbed it. Since it was a [presumably men's] size large, it turned out to be a lot of good wool.



After carefully using my seam ripper on the seams, I started unraveling. There were parts that were unsavable, like around the collar, because I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to take it apart. Remember here, that this was a somewhat old sweater, seams just beginning to be felted together, and old, fragile wool. So, I gave up on some parts. I got a lot out of it though. I haven't figured out the yardage on it, but I suspect that I have more than enough for a woman's sweater (which is probably not what it will become).

Anyway, after cutting, unraveling, winding on my arm, and tying it up in skeins, I washed it using Soak soap and hung it to dry. The first color I washed was the off-white and so much gray came out that I thought that the sweater must have been filthy. I realized after washing all colors that it was all (or mostly at least) dye. It is amazing how much dye came out. Maybe it had never been washed before?... a possibility since it actually looked barely worn.

Here's the result. It looks like less than it actually is because I have the skeins piled on top of each other. Six colors- off-white, gray, black, maroon, hunter green, and navy. Anyway, we will see what this becomes.



In knitting news, I started Clapotis. This is the Autumn House Farm yarn I bought from Rhinebeck. I am working it on my size 6 ebony needles that I bought in Maine. This is where I was as of last night, along with my beautiful new stitch markers. I am much further along now.



I also started the very beginnings of the Shedir Hat.

Here is the picture of my newly sewn pillows that I promised. The pillow forms are the $2.99 ones from Ikea and the fabric is Anna Griffin for Windham Fabrics Sloane Pattern #24610. I love this fabric. I bought it a week ago at Purl Patchwork.



I am about halfway through finishing my Wild Stripes blanket. I sewed on the piping today and pressed it. Hopefully next weekend I will sew the lining to the knit fabric.

I have so many projects suddenly on the needles and more that I can't wait to start. Even as I am telling myself that it's after Christmas and I need to stop and just knit some things for myself, there are things I am thinking I need to start for other people. I was reminded just today that my great aunt will be 90 next month and preparations for the event are under way in the family. I have been wanting to knit something for her and my grandmothers for a while, but I have never found anything great (other than small things like dishcloths) to make them. I thought that I would make my very small grandmother something from Vintage Knits- a cardigan, but found I have absolutely no appropriate yarn for the pattern. I can't break my yarn diet already. So, I am thinking of alternatives...

Anyway, that's all for now. It's getting late and while I had a relatively productive weekend (including far more reading than usual), I have gotten nothing done to prepare for work tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sew-y Stuff

A friend of mine got a sewing machine for Christmas. If you knew her, you would understand why this is funny... Anyway, we chatted about the possibility of taking a class at Make Workshop, possibly together. She doesn't know how to use the sewing machine and I haven't used a real one [successfully] since the 8th grade. I have been wanting to take a class there for a while, but haven't had the chance yet. This is also funny because I have been saying that I may ask for a sewing machine (from mom) for Christmas next year, if I am still into it then.

While I have lots of knitting projects in line (and only 2 on the needles), I am enjoying looking at the occasional crafting/sewing blog instead of just my usual knitting blogs (which I love, by the way). I definitely don't want to get hardcore into crochet, sewing, embroidery, or anything else for that matter (as I have stated before) but I want to dabble in it all. This is all because I think knitting is the one that will stick long-term (i.e. I will still be knitting at 80) and I want to become a master at that (instead of a jack-of-all-trades). But the other things are fun diversions for those ruts, or long vacations (like the week and a half off from work I just had)- granted they are rare.

Anyway, I am loving the elf shoes that Cristina at String Theory made (love her new blog name, by the way). From her post, I started browsing All Sorts, where I found lots of craft-sewy stuff, like these cute scotty dogs, the elf shoe pattern, and what looks like a very clear tutorial on her Criss Cross coasters.

From there, I was brought to the Pincushion Challenge which is funny because I have it on my list to make myself one (ever since I saw the adorable felted ones at Brooklyn General that were a bit pricey). Turns out, my 2 favorite pincushions from the challenge were the two that were given and received by the same person. So, they are both shown in this post. In the "given" set, I love the ottoman-shaped cushion and the cute needle book. In the received, the needle book is my favorite part.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Inventory

I have tallied up approximately how much I spent on yarn this year, based on receipts that I actually kept (which is likely most of them, knowing me). The number is not pretty. I will not share it in case my mother is reading (or anyone else for that matter)! Let's just say that a nine month yarn diet will do me good.

As for the stash, I did an approximate count. The reason it is approximate is because I have a lot of leftovers and more yarn that is "random" (not for an actual project) than I thought. When I had enough for a large project, like a sweater, I put it in that category, even if I don't have a pattern or idea for it yet. So, without further explanation, here is what I could make with my current stash:

Sweater/Tops: 13
Lace projects: 13
Small projects such as scarves, mittens, hats, and bags: 31
Pairs of Socks: 12
Blankets: 1
Misc/Extras: more than I thought

Knit From Your Stash 2007

Wendy has started this group, which I found out about via Tres Chic Veronique, who by the way, has enough yarn in her stash for 26 sweaters(!) among other things. I think this is fitting for me. The rules basically say to knit from your stash for 9 months. This was a little longer than I had planned on going, but we'll see how it goes. One of the funniest rules is:



I love this button, which I assume Sheri made for this group. I think I might be able to do this based on these rules. Wendy's plan was made for 9 months so that she could go to Stitches East in October. Even if I go to some fiber festivals this summer, I think I might be able to only buy accessories and sock yarns, if I am so inclined. I wonder how much money I'll save this year? I guess there's no way to know since I have never tallied what I spend on yarn.

I had planned on putting together a picture page of my stash with information about everything (i.e. what it will be used for, etc), and I did start taking pictures a few weeks ago. However, I don't know when I'll get those up, so I might just do what Veronique did and take an "inventory" based on what I can knit out of my stash. I have a feeling I may be embarrassed by what I find, but hopefully it is not as bad as I am thinking. Coming soon!

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

This is my fourth post today! A record for me (I think)!

After my recent stash enhancement expedition, I think it's a fitting time for a yarn diet. I have actually been planning this for a couple months now. I probably have enough yarn to last me for the next five years (at least). In the next few months, we will see how true this is. I wonder how much I will be able to knit through if I don't buy any more yarn until, say, the end of March... or maybe the end of June...? I have a feeling not much, since knitting is a relatively slow process. Well, the plan is for the diet to go for three months, but I hope to be able to go until much later in the spring. I don't actually expect to be able to refrain during the summer months when fiber festivals are in season, though.

My other resolution (other than the forever-resolution to lose weight) is to have a far better 2007 than 2006.

New Blogger?

Am I the only one afraid of switching to the new blogger? Is this why people are moving over to Typepad or Moveable Type? I am afraid because, for the most part, it works well for me. I am afraid that as soon as I switch, everything will get messed up. Anyone had any good luck with this? I don't really want to switch (at least not anytime soon), but I want to make sure that by switching I am not screwing things up completely. I wonder how long they will allow old blogger accounts? Any ideas/opinions... anyone?

Santa Cruz Hoodie


Pattern Notes:
Santa Cruz Hoodie from Knit 2 Together

Yarn: Peru Chunky Luxury
Needles: size 10 straights & circulars, size 11 straights

I made this hoodie for my next door neighbor's adopted son, who is from El Salvador and is 4 years old. I wanted to make it a little big so that he could grow into it. It was finished before Christmas, but I still haven't given it to him.

I bought the yarn on clearance at AC Moore because I wasn't going to use something really expensive for a 4 year old. It is made of merino, alpaca, and silk though, so it was still not cheap. For the most part, I followed the pattern, other than mistakes, like not using the smaller needles on the ends of the sleeves.



After Christmas Updates

I went home to mom's house for the holiday and stayed for a few days. The tree was beautiful, as always, but looks pretty much the same every year. I have no idea how my mom finds the perfect tree every single year.



This is Debbie. She has become sad since mom took the counters out (her usual perch) and put in a pedestal sink. So she is reduced to this:


Look at that face!

And here she is in a stand-off with a squirrel on the porch:



I went shopping with my sister and mom on the 26th and found these great gloves at Ann Taylor. I love how they sort of look vintage because of the semi-long cuffs with buttons and ruffles.



Right before Christmas, I stopped by The Loopy Ewe and got these great sock blockers, as well as some Soak Wash that I have been hearing so much about.



I stopped by Barnes & Noble the other day and found some cute cards on sale, both very cheap, and that I love (again) because they are vintage-looking. I don't know when I will ever use Halloween cards but I thought they were pretty cool.





Other than seeing my best friend who is 6 months pregnant, the other highlight of my trip was hanging out with my email knitting buddy. She gave me these beautiful stitch markers that she made as a gift.



We stopped by Saratoga Needle Arts, the Stitchin' Post, and had some great Thai food. It's always nice to have a friend who appreciates yarn and who can understand knitting lingo. On our excursion I got all this yarn, as well as Socks and a back issue of Vogue Knitting.


Madil Kid Seta


Rowan Kidsilk Night


Fortissima Cotton


Mountain Colors

One of my favorite finds was this Stained Glass Hat Kit from Saratoga Needle Arts. Their knit-up model was so pretty I just had to buy it. It contains partial skeins of assorted Malabrigio and Manos del Uruguay yarns.



I have been working on various other projects during my vacation, including taking apart this sweater. It is almost completely apart now. More pictures after washing.



Here's a preview of a couple projects that I can't show for a couple months. First, a duck, which is puckered a bit, but it doesn't look as bad as in this picture.



Second, a preview of another project that you knitters may recognize:



Third, I started and finished knitting these on Christmas Eve and felted them on Christmas. This pair is for myself. After the two pairs I made for my brother and uncle, I decided I needed a pair for myself.



I bought a bunch of fabrics (yes, more) from Purl Patchwork. I love these cute little ornaments shown in Cutting Edge Magazine. It turns out that, yes, my tiny craft sewing machine actually does work, even for fabric. I made some pillows, but they are going to be redone. I'll post pictures then.


Other vacation "projects" include making light meals to freeze for lunches, like cheesy mac & cheese from Shape or Fitness magazine. Also, I have been catching up on my Netflix, including watching The Godfather II and 2001: A Space Odyssey (did anyone understand the ending of this???). Obviously I am getting pretty low on the list... oh well, I think some new movies are coming up soon.

Oh, and lots of blog reading (there's not much to do at mom's house other than laundry and knitting). I love Sandy's striped and fringed Irish Hiking Scarves (original pattern here). She also showed a bunch of socks that she was gifting for Christmas with these cute sock bands [pdf] from MoFo Design.

Happy New Year Everyone!