Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hideous Knitting 101

Alright, it's time for another exciting installment of Hideous Knitting 101. Today's fashion faux pas is...this...thing:

So my reaction upon seeing this on Ravelry the other day was, "What the fuck?" And after a couple of days thinking about it, my reaction to the above knitted "garment" is still, "What the fuck?" The fact that 4 people "favorited" this stupid thing is a scary indicator that mental illness is now an airborne disease. This pattern, which, BTW, is called "Boyle Apron," comes from a new book called Maggie's Ireland: Designer Knits on Location---a book of the most absurd knitting patterns I have seen in a long time. Not since Loop-d-Loop have I laid eyes upon such nightmares. Want to see a few more? How about this:

Or this apparent Irish tribute to Rabbis?

Or this equally stellar candidate for the "What the fuck" awards? I *think* it's a shawl:

Yes, all these disasters from ONE book. And there are MORE. Lots more. Anyway, back to the Boyle Apron...

Hideous Knitting 101 report card:
Style: F I don't even know. I mean seriously. It's a thing that you cover your crotch with? I remain.
Fit: D First of all, how does this thing, you know, stay on? I can only assume that you tie it on. Second, it has NO purpose whatsoever. Why would you spend the time and money to knit yourself an apron, if you intend to USE it as an apron? Foul. I doubt anybody really would use this as an actual apron. So are we to assume that one would knit this solely for decorative purposes? Uh huh. Sure. I'm going to guess that this is a pricey thing to knit, since they indicated some brand of Irish linen to make it.
Color(s): D WHAT colors? In fact, nothing in the entire book is in any color but tan, brown, beige, white, ivory or navy blue.
Yarn: B Maggi's Knits Irish Linen: 52% cotton, 48% linen. Worsted weight. 126 yards per ball. (Um...Made in Spain!?!? WTF!?) Natural fibers are always a plus. The yarn does come in more colors than just shades of brown, so that's nice. This yarn runs about $8 a ball. Not terrible, but be prepared to spend $48 to knit a useless crotch flap.
Execution: C- It's a long rectangle with some textured squares and some other squares in a different color. Whoop-de-do. Not visually interesting nor awe-inspiring from a technique standpoint.
Just...don't make this. Ever. If I see anyone wearing one of these, I will have to bitch-slap them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Official!

Cat #6 is named Orson.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thoroughly Insane...

...on many accounts, not least of which is knitting.

On Friday I decided to knit something for my friend Yuko. She's leaving the USA in July (maybe for good) to go to Southeast Asia (I think Cambodia) to work with Team Boravuth, a group that promotes child education. She's a very sweet, kind, lovely person. All who know her will miss her terribly, but we understand that the work she will be doing is very important.

So I wanted to make her something very nice. Where she's going, I doubt hats and scarves would get much use. Dishcloths/washcloths? Meh. So impersonal! I decided to make her a tank top. I searched on Ravelry for some patterns and decided on this one. I just so happened to have 6 skeins of Patons Grace yarn in a light pink color, which would be perfect both for Yuko and for this pattern. I grabbed the yarn and cast on. I have knit 2 of the 3 bottom repeats so far. It seems to be going ok. Size looks good. Yuko is easy to knit for; she's quite petite. So small is always a good bet.

Ok, well sounds good so far right? Why does this make me insane? Well, we're having a farewell party for her in June. I get this done by June?? I realize that it's not even May yet, but I am a SLOW knitter.

I will be spending several days in North Carolina, visiting my sister in early May. Maybe this will be a good opportunity to work on this. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

And for the second bit...

Allow me to present to you cat number 6:

Come on, y'all. How could anyone resist such a face? Here's the short story:

On Saturday, Todd and I were in PetSmart buying supplies for the other beasts. I asked if we could walk by the shelter cats to say hello, which is something we often do. And this cat was there. He just looked up at me and I died in a fire. I went in and held him for a little and just knew that he needed to come live with us. We filed the application and we picked him up last night.


He's 4 or 5. We checked his teeth to be sure that he wasn't really like 17. He's a Snowshoe mix with light blue eyes. He only has 3 toes on each of his front paws, which actually looks really adorable! He's fairly large, but not enormous. I think he weighs 13 pounds. He's super chatty, very "chirpy," friendly and lovable --- very lovable. He likes the other cats, even though they aren't too fond of him yet. Well, Titus is fine with him and, believe it or not, so is Sophie. But the other three (particularly Fi Fi and Luna) aren't happy. Give it a couple of days though, and he'll start smelling like the rest of them and I think all will be O.K.

He had the most GOD-AWFUL name that could ever be given to a pet ever: Sudoku. I have NO idea who decided that would be a good name for him. But it's got to go.

So what to name him? We're still tossing around some options, which include the following:

Orson, Caesar, Henry, Wolfgang, Ivan, Oscar, Julius, Ash, Teddy, Vulcan, Cupid, Kuma, and Todd's offering...

Lando Catrissian.

But I don't know if any of these names really suit him. Although Lando Catrissian isn't half-bad! I was pretty much dead set on either Orson or Henry when I first started thinking of names for this little guy. Any one of those up there is most certainly better than Sudoku! RETCH.

On the way from the car to my office today a name suddenly occurred to me. One which was perfect for his personality and his look and which would fit in really well with the names of his siblings.

So what do you folks think of...


And don't you just lurve his widdle feets??? Me likely. :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Check-In

So I just wanted to report that my WW weigh-in yesterday showed a .4 gain. Grrr. Not disastrous, but still annoying. It's obvious that I cannot waiver AT ALL from the prescribed set of daily points I am allowed. We're supposed to get 35 "flex points" a week to use (or not use) at our discretion. Yeah if I get anywhere NEAR using them, I don't lose a thing and this week showed the half-pound gain. :-(

Someone at work told me about watching the Biggest Loser or that she saw a magazine article about a woman and her fiance who went on the show. The woman lost 107 pounds in 6 months. W.T.F.? So that's like 18 pounds a month. That's insane. Of course, she had a nutritionist and personal trainer with her all the time. So that explains a lot. But how is this woman going to cope with that? I mean, after the personal trainer goes away (which he will because, hey, he goes where the TV show sends him) and the nutritionist too, what will happen to her? How can someone sustain that kind of extreme weight loss over just a 6-month period? It's really setting people up to fail. And that makes me sad.

So really, I can't complain about my 5 pounds a month loss.

Anyway, enough of that.

Todd told me last night about a woman named Susan Boyle who appeared on Britain's Got Talent and how she brought the house down. I hadn't heard about it. On our local news radio channel this morning they talked about her too. I asked Todd to find me a link to the performance so I could see what the big deal was all about.


Grab a tissue box and enjoy:

Tonight is Lost and I am looking forward to it, as usual!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Great Shoe Purge of 2009

To be soon followed (hopefully) by the merciless razing of the spring wardrobe!

Anyway, for those of you who don't use Facebook or know me on there, I wanted to mention here that this past weekend I did a major purge of my shoes.

Here's the problem with me and shoes. Well, ok, with me and every frickin' thing:

Firstly, I. like. stuff. I can't help it; it's in my nature. Secondly, shoes are more complicated than one might think. In fact, let me explain what caused the Great Purge.

Back in 2000 (or possibly 1999 URK) I bought a pair of heeled, loafer-ish shoes to wear with pants. They were black patent leather and had just the right heel height and heel thickness that I like. They looked nice and fit great. As you may well imagine, wearing these shoes over the course of 9 years or so caused them to wear the hell out. This wear and tear actually started to show in, say, 2003. So sometime in 2003 or 2004 I decided that I needed to buy a replacement for these shoes. I bought something. Meh. Not ideal. A few months go by and I bought another pair of shoes. These are worse than the other replacement pair. A year goes by, and I bought another pair.... You can see the trend here? So what ends up happening, in many cases, is that I end up with 4 pairs of shoes, when really it should be one. AND I never actually got rid of that FIRST pair. I'd say that over the last 15 years or so, one out of every 10 pairs of shoes I have ever bought have been ones that I love to wear and are my "go to" shoes for specific occasions. The rest just accumulate in my closets, plotting my demise.

Well my loafer buddies REALLY had to go. The soles had deep gouges in them and the heels were worn down. The stitching on the top was coming undone and fraying badly. They looked like I took them out of a trash heap. I couldn't in good conscious purchase any more shoes until I seriously took stock of what I had and got rid of the crap.

Here's the result:

8 pairs are going to Goodwill (Several of these I NEVER wore. One pair, I don't even remember buying.)
1 pair went to Donna because they were too big for me. AND...
23 pairs went into the trash.


So all told, I purged 32 pairs of shoes from my closets. That's a lot o' shoes.

I did, however, purchase 6 pairs of shoes over the weekend to replace what got thrown out. I think for me I have to start choosing quality over quantity with shoes. I can't buy the $15 shoes at Target or Payless anymore. I'm not saying I'm going to start spending $400 on a pair of shoes. I can't (and won't) do that. But $60, yeah. This is what's nice about stores like Famous Footwear. You can buy $75-$100 shoes for $40-$60. So that's what I did. I'm so looking forward to my new purchases! These, these and these in particular.

I Hate It When...

...I do dumb things. Here's the latest and my not-so-greatest:

Part the firste:

Sunday I spent Easter at my parents' house. It was a lovely day and I was in a great mood too. My dad cooked up a storm; and made probably the best roasted chicken I've ever had. He seriously outdid himself.

I brought my pysanky with me to show my parents. Because he's Highlander, my dad is interested in all kinds of creative activities. Naturally, he has a wide variety of paints and shellacs, so I figured I could put the clear coat on it to make it nice and shiny and better preserve the dyes on the egg. He pulled out a water-based clear coat made by Minwax, I think. Awesome, right?


I basically totally destroyed my pysanky. It was too painful to take pictures of it to post here, so suffice it to say that it's...really bad. The clear coat caused all the dye to run and it's now a ruin. I was nearly despondent for the rest of the day. Why didn't I test it on the bottom in an inconspicuous area? Because I'm an idiot. And I was excited about glazin' it all up and just rushed right in. And the thought that a water-based clear coat would re-activate all the dye and cause it to run honestly never occurred to me. Nearly 5 hours of work went down the tubes in 30 seconds. And I really liked how it turned out. Sigh. SO depressing. I guess I'll try it again next year. :-/


Part the seconde:

So after the food frenzy yesterday, it was back to the yogurt, pretzels, and apple today. Only...I wasn't feeling the pretzels. You know? Of course you do. So I went to the bookstore to seek out a moderatly healthy, point-friendly-yet-tasty snack to consume with the yogurt. That's another thing: I can't just eat yogurt. I absolutely HAVE to have something...else with it. Something crunchy or crispy; something to CHEW.

I stumbled upon something new! A rather large box that had a Fiddle-Faddleish, sweet popcorny kind of thing in it. I winced as I started to read the nutritional information and... it was pretty good! There were 5 individual bags in the box, one serving per bag. Each serving was 120 calories, 2.5 fat and 5 fiber. So only 2 points in my world. DING! I bought the box. It was $3.49.

Here's a picture of the dreaded box of delusions and lies.

I get back up stairs to my office and open the box. "Hrm...," I thought to myself. The bags within were TINY. Like airline-snack-size tiny. You could have put at least twice as many bags that size in the box they were in. I felt the contents of the package from the outside and then said out loud, " Oh, COME ON!" Seriously it felt like there were 3-4 small clusters in the package. I opened it and confirmed my suspicions. I should have put the pieces in a measuring cup (yes, I do actually have a set of measuring cups at work, thank you very much!). I'm positive that it was no more than 1/4 cup of stuff. I was so pissed off. How'd it taste? Well...ok. Basically like Fiddle Faddle but with a cranberry edge to it. So totally NOT worth 2 points. I'm the kind of person that likes to get a lot of "bang for the buck" with my points. And that just totally left me shocked and dismayed. In fact...I remained.

So don't buy it!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lots to Tell

Let me update you all on what's been going on over the last few days.

First of all, here are pictures of 3 pairs of the socks I've made!

Hope you can see the tubular cast-on in the second photo.
Time consuming, yes. But also, SO worth the effort!



These striped kind of weirdly, but whatever. The balls were from the same dye-lot, so I have no idea why they look so different. I still like them, though!

Saturday 4/4:
Awesome Pysanky Day at Beth's

Saturday was a super day that started with learning how to make Pysanky, Ukrainian decorated eggs. Thanks to Beth's excellent instruction and vast variety of supplies, my very first pysanky was a success. Here are a couple photos of the finished egg. Note: my digital camera is NOT cooperating at all. I took these with the Photo Booth application on my MacBook.

This is an oak leaf and acorn pattern. All aspects of the egg's design I drew on first in pencil, then again in the WAX. OMG I was so nervous when I applied that wax for the very first time. I think this went through 6 different waxing and color dipping processes. First was yellow, then green, orange wash, orange, brick, and black. It was so cool to see the egg come together at the end with the final black dipping. I still need to apply some sort of clear high-gloss sealant. I'll get around to it...eventually. Again let me apologize for the craptastic pictures.

Sunday 4/5: Sakura Sunday

An extremely fun day with may friends in Fairmount Park at the Japanese House and Garden and the Horticultural Center. The weather was absolutely fabulous, too. Here's a picture of me that Katie took.

Come on now, you know I HAD to have one of those hats....

Tuesday 4/7: A Heartwarming Surprise

First of all, I had my weigh-in on Tuesday and I am happy to report that I am down another .8 pounds. So this brings the total to almost 12 pounds. S.L.O.W. but at least it's coming off, right?

It also happened to the first Tuesday of the month, which is one of our scheduled knitting nights at the Barnes & Noble in Exton. I hadn't been at one of these meetings in quite a while. In fact, I think the last time I had seen anyone was back on Groundhog Day! So I was really looking forward to knitting with my friends.

Once a nice group of us had arrived, Pat announces that they have a little gift for me --- a sort-of "fuzzy hug" from all my friends. My lovely knitting comrades noticed that I've been a little sad as of late, particularly since the loss of Mr. Chesterfield back in November. When I opened the bag I was greeted with a divinely gorgeous hand-knit scarf made from Noro Silk Garden and a card signed with a sweet personal message from each person. Every one who signed the card knit a part of the scarf! I think this is the most thoughtful gift I have ever gotten. I love handmade things and this fantastic scarf really was knit from the heart from all my dear friends.

And I have been more than a little down in recent months. This scarf was truly a testament to the power of real friendship and how important it is to never forget those who really do care about you. Some photos:

This is probably the best representation of the colors.

I wore it today (all day) at work and received many compliments, naturally. It is absolutely stunning. I really enjoyed telling everyone how all my friends made it for me.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Please Stop Raining! Please?

I don't think I can take another soggy, dreary, soaking-wet day. My morning commute was ridiculously bad today. It's always the days that Todd is off from work and I have to drive in that have THE worse weather. Like today; today it was pouring rain. And I absolutely HATE driving in the rain.

I'm really looking forward to egg-making tomorrow! Even if I do have to drive in the rain, I don't care. It will be early enough that traffic won't be too frustrating, especially since it's a Saturday morning. Speaking of things "Easterish," Look at this adorable pattern I saw on Ravelry this morning: Bunny Nuggets. Are these not the cutest things?? Oh and it's free! I might try my hand at knitting a few. They seem to be pretty simple to knit --- kind of like a cat-nip toy. God, I love Ravelry, seriously.

So last night I attempted to cast on socks toe-up. Oy. Back story: I made 2 pairs of socks (the first 2 pairs ever, as a matter of fact), a couple of years ago doing them toe-up. I decided after the second pair that I would try doing it the other way, cuff-down. And I've knit about 4 pairs of socks this way in the last 6 months or so; three of those pairs in the last 2 months. Anyway, I couldn't remember why I decided to start knitting socks cuff-down.

Now I do.

Sweet Jesus, that toe cast-on is a nightmare. I've seen a couple of different cast-on methods and none of them are very intuitive or easy to maneuver. I tried one that I hadn't seen before, where you cast-on 12 stitches, knit across them, and then you pick up 12 stitches from the back so that you have 24 stitches on two needles that are parallel to each other. Then you start increasing every other row by doing a KFB 2 stitches from every end. Yeah, I don't recommend doing it this way. Picking up those 12 stitches punched me in my soul. I tried it 3 times. And not only is it hard, but I don't like the way it looks either. I've heard of something called "Judy's Magic Cast-On," which is supposed to make this toe-up cast on much easier. So tonight I am going to try it again.

Why am I even bothering to do toe-up socks again when knitting them cuff-down is infinitely easier?

This yarn.

I bought that yarn back in September and it's been sitting in my yarn-storage cubby ever since. It stares at me longingly. Sometimes, at night, I can hear it whispering my name....

I thought I could maybe cheat and just knit it cuff-down, starting with the outside of the ball, instead of pulling from the center. But I don't have enough sock-knitting experience to be able to gauge how much yarn I have to knit the leg before I have to start the foot. I thought there might be a picture of the finished product somewhere on line, so I could figure it out that way. Nope. And with this yarn, you really want to use every lovely inch of it. So toe up it is. Sigh.

The sock I cast-on last night was with some random sock yarn I got really cheap from etsy. I didn't want to test the cast-on process with the real thing, so-to-speak. I hope I get a least a little comfortable with the cast-on. I really want to make these socks. If, for no other reason, to stop the yarn cakes from their distressing and inconsolable weeping in the cubby. They're starting to upset the other yarns....

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Welcome April

Happy April Fools' Day. Incidentally, I hate April Fools' Day. This is probably because I hate practical jokes and pranks. I think they are hurtful and mean-spirited. Remember the TV show Crank Yankers? Or the current MTV trash called Punk'd? God those shows make me want to tear my eyes out. I absolutely despise that kind of humor. I just do not see what is so hilarious or awesome about embarrassing people or making them seem gullible or stupid. Even worse is when the "joke" makes the person really upset or terrified. How is that even remotely funny? I hate anything that involves false pretense, even if it is in jest, or the end result is pleasant. Not that I don't like nice surprises; I just don't like being lied to, I guess.

Or maybe I'm just a curmudgeon?

So weigh-in yesterday was a success! I lost 2.2 pounds over the last week, which brings my grand total to 11 pounds. I did get my 10-pound ribbon, which was nice. Although the weigh-in lady gave it to me, so there wasn't any celebrating or "way-to-go" encouraging applause from my group or leader, which kind of sucks. But whatever. I finally feel like I am able to see the loss a little. Especially around my face. Eleven pounds really isn't a lot of weight, but it certainly is helping me continue forward.

I forgot to mention that I'll be headed to my friend Beth's on Saturday for a "Make a Ukrainian Egg" party. And I am totally looking forward to it. Check out the ones she made a couple of years ago. Aren't they amazing?? I can't wait. I'm not a religious person at all, so Easter is kind of a whatever holiday for me. But I do like being creative, so these decorative eggs are right up my alley!

I'm kind of hankerin' for a yarn/knitting swap. But it looks like the Dishcloth Exchange and Secret Pal are dead. I've heard of a coffee/yarn swap that's supposed to be good, but I haven't been able to find any current info about one. A group on Ravelry was doing a "cats & knitting" swap, which would be great for me. But I think I missed sign-ups (deadline was March 30) and I wasn't sure about what the actual parameters of the swap would be. I mean they did have a spending limit and a list of items that should be included, but I think some charity-type knitting for cats was involved, which I think is GREAT. However, they didn't say exactly what we'd be knitting. So going into that blind is what held me back from signing-up, I think. Maybe now that spring is here, the swaps will start up again.

Speaking of knitting, I just bought way too much sock yarn yesterday. Noro Kureyon Sock. It was 45% off at Little Knits, and I just could not resist that deal. This yarn is usually about $19 a skein and I got it for a little over $10. Granted, there are a few websites that sell it around $14-$15 a skein, but Little Knits had the best deal, the best color selection, and I got free shipping too, so I couldn't resist. I also got two US size 1 (2.25mm) 11" circular needles. I usually work on 5" DPNs (an invention of the gods) and Addi Turbo 12" circulars (another invention of the gods). But it's hard to get Addi Turbo in that US size 1, 2.25mm. They make them, but they are not readily available. Addi's standard size 1 needle is actually a 1.5 in the US (2.5 mm). So anyway these 11" true-size-1 needles were a welcome addition. They are some brand I never heard of (HiyaHiya), but they are almost half the price of Addi Turbos, so that's a plus. Also, this brand makes a 9" circular! I HAVE to try these, but they were sold out in the sizes I would want.

Now I just need to get rid of some of the crap I have. I'm just so freakin' lazy. I really should be taking pictures and de-stashing. Maybe this weekend? Uh-huh. Sure.