Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out with the Old, In with the New 

Thankfully, Cobra and I are still among the living. We discovered last week that I didn't have food poisoning as I thought I did, but actually a highly contagious stomach flu. A few of my coworkers and their kids caught it, and as I last posted, I passed it on to Cobra just as I began to feel better. It was an ugly sight.
Because we were so ill, we unfortunately missed the big Christmas festivities with his family, which was very sad indeed. Luckily, Cobra's mom is amazing and decided to make a replacement meal for us and some local family and friends last night. We gorged on salad, Tofurkey, green beans, au gratin potatoes, the works. It helped to make up for our total inability to eat the previous week. We got to give and receive out gifts in a lower pressure setting as well.

Two of my good friends from high school are staying with me this weekend, and we're having a great time wandering the city, chatting about everything and anything and just enjoying each other's company. Being with them, and my lovely boy, will really be a positive way to bring in the new year. Although we were slow in figuring out our plans for this evening, I have to say that I'm really looking forward to a New year. For real, because 2006 kinda sucked for me.

At least I did some good knitting, though. You can see most of my completed projects here, minus one item. I was hoping it was going to be minus two items, but it didn't happen. Oh well, I'm still planning to start a few new things for 2007.

Have a wonderful, safe and happy holiday! Look for some pictures of actual knitting in 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I've Got a Belly Full of Something, and It Ain't Holiday Cheer 

Or, How my Holiday Diet Started with a Bang.

After hitting my head on Sunday, the week was starting to get better. I was still feeling a bit dazed and out of it, but things were looking up. I had my performance review at work, and received an overall "exceed expectations" rating with many compliments from my boss. After receiving cards and candy from co-workers, I was starting to get excited for the upcoming holidays, especially since Cobra and I were making good progress in securing gifts. Two of my good friends are coming to stay with us for New Years. Our office Christmas party, a catered brunch, was enjoyable.
Ok, well this was actually a bit of a hitch because of the Secret Santa exchange. I got the name of a fellow that I really know nothing about. Really, the things I know about him are 1) he's from Ethiopia 2) he has the cutest little girl I've ever seen in my life and 3) he tried to impress me with his ability to knit one time on a project that I was working on, and in his masculine braggadocio, he worked a purl stitch and messed up my pattern. So, I asked another coworker what he might like, specifically if chocolate would fit the bill. She said "oh yes, he likes chocolate very much," so I bought him chocolate. After I gave it to him in the exchange, I said "Did you like the chocolate."
"Oh no, I don't like chocolate."
I felt really, really bad. I offered to take it back and get him something else, but he said he would give it all to his wife.
Oh well, I can't do anything about it now, and I got a set of makeup bags for travel, so I'm happy.

Yup, things were getting better.

Then, I got a pretty bad case of food poisoning on Thursday night. I'll spare you the gory details. Word to the wise: avoid Taste of India brand Jodphur Lentils. I did go to the hospital that evening, just to be on the safe side and I'm slowly getting better. Today I was even able to eat a few things, as opposed to just drinking liquids, and it gave me enough strength to knit a few rows. My stomach is still feeling pretty edgy, so I'm still treating it gently.

The saddest part about this is that Christmas is basically a two day feast at Cobra's Mom's and Aunt's house, but I'll probably only be able to pick at a few things. I'll just have to bring home lots of leftovers to have when I feel better.

I'm still determined to have a nice holiday, even if I don't get the full effect. And I'm still hoping to finish my stockings by the end of the year. Must perservere.

Thanks to all of you who check in with me, even on pity party days like today. I wish I could send you all presents and hugs. Lacking that, I hope that you all stay safe, happy, and HEALTHY through the holidays and the new year!

Edited to Add: Just as I'm feeling better, now Cobra is sick! Poor guy. We may be spending Christmas home, by ourselves, sipping warm broth.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Half of Hanukkah 

Tonight is Hanukkah: Night Four and my holiday has been somewhat bumpy. Definitely good, but not entirely smooth.
Over the summer, my bike got stolen (which is a whole sad story about urban youth gone awry). Cobra's brother was very kind and recently found me a great new bike at a thrift store. Cobra, being a certified bike mechanic, laid down some change getting new parts and tires for this bike and got it all ready and ride-able for me. I assumed that this was going to be my Hanukkah present and mentioned this to him last week. He then told me that he was so excited to give me my gift, which is something I really needed, and he wanted to do so for Hanukkah. I, of course, want to maintain his excitement for my holiday, so I agreed to exchange gifts while feeling that deep inner sense of panic when one has only one night to get a gift for one's beloved.

It turned out fine as I was able to score a total deal on this for him along with the car kit. He spoiled me, as usual.

hanukkah menorah and present

Here is my new watch, draped over my tiny menorah. I love its art deco-style face and, of course, the pink band. This certainly was needed, as I was using a paper clip to hold my old watch face to the band.

Yesterday, Cobra and I decided to try to replicate this excursion and ride our bikes down the Mount Vernon trail to Old Town Alexandria. I was really enjoying my first spin on my new bike, which is lighter, more comfortable and has more precise gearing than my old bike. We stopped at Gravelly Point to watch the planes landing at National Airport.

watching the planes

We rode a bit further when, suddenly, my foot slipped off the pedal and I was headed towards the ground. I'm used to falling off my bike and anticipated having to get up, dust myself off and catch up with Cobra. What I didn't anticipate was the CRACK to the back of my head on the sidewalk.

I have to say that I find it fascinating that even as an adult, my first reaction in that millisecond after I realize "Ouch, this really goddamn hurts" is to stay where I am and start bawling. You know, just like a kid when s/he scrapes her knee. I still don't want to move until I get that wail out and have a comforting presence nearby. Of course, then I get up and move and get really embarrassed that all these people saw me crying like a baby.

So, I hit my head really hard and it really fucking hurt. Many people stopped to offer assistance and one person called an ambulance. I got checked out, I didn't have a concussion and I didn't need to go to the hospital. I sat for a while with an ice pack and it helped. I continued to be in pain, I still have stiffness and pain in my neck, shoulders, back and back of the head, but ibuprofen is helping. Lessons learned 1) no matter how much you love your new boots and how comfortable they are for walking, they are NOT good for biking and 2) I need to get a new helmet to replace the one that was stolen. Yes, this whole thing could have been easily avoided but I decided that I didn't need a helmet to ride on a pedestrian-only trail. Right.

Of course, there can be only one consolation for a knitter after such an ordeal.

real noro

After metroing down to Old Town, we stopped in Knit Happens. I got a skein of Kureyon, color 90, for my Lizard Ridge, and Jane Ellison's Naturally Noro. I plan to use the Paintbox yarn I got a while back for one of the sweaters in this book (I'm leaning towards Mavis sans turtleneck, Cobra's voting for Lizzy).

My other great consolation is that today, I was the 1,000th commenter over at Laura's blog and I won a surprise prize! I'm so excited, not only because she sends great packages, but because I've enjoyed reading her hilarious entries and meeting her in person twice. Thanks, Laura!

In current knitting, progress continues on my stocking; I'm done with about half of the decreases on the leg. I've decided to go down another needle size for the foot, so they will at least be the same length. As my travel project, I started a hat for Cobra.

cobra's hat

This is the Fisherman's Rib hat from Knitting with Balls. I'm making it in more of the Cherry Tree Hill Possum Yarn, which ironically I picked up from Michael at the last SnB yarn swap. Fisherman's Rib is a new technique to me, and it's so fun! I'm taking my time and enjoying this project because, with temperatures in the high 70's like we had today, he doesn't need it anytime soon. It scares, and yet I still like it.

Enjoy the second half of Hanukkah!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Knock Out Socks 

Nothing like a good sugar high to get one in the mood for some internetin'. When I went to the store today to get some okra for dinner, I thought I'd pick up a box of graham crackers so we could have something sweet but not too unhealthy around the house. Unfortunately, after dinner I remember I have half a bag of chocolate chips laying around, and Cobra magically brings out half a bag of marshmallows from his hiking bag. Next thing you know, I'm toasting the mallows over the burner as fast as I can, and we both end up in a sugary coma on the couch watching "How I Met your Mother." Good thing I went to the dentist on Saturday because my teeth hurt now.

Thanks for your supportive comments on my stockings in the last post. I am persevering with them, but very slowly. I did an initial wet-block of the first one, and will probably take it to the steam when they're both finished so I can attempt to even them out in the end. For now, I have decided to match the leg decreases based on position in the stitch motif, and will go by measurements on the foot. I'm trying to bring the joy back to this project, but I still get a little down-hearted when I see the discrepancy between the two. There's been a lot of dreaming about casting on of items around here lately, but I've resisted thus far.

With the stocking as my at home project, I have managed to finish up a few other items.

Acid socks

Embrace the detailed view of the leg pattern

Acid Socks for Cobra
Cascade Fixation Yarn in an Acid Green color
Size 3 needles
Stitch pattern on leg taken from this pattern(pdf), otherwise a pretty standard top down, heel flap sock

These babies have actually been done since before Thanksgiving, but a certain someone is hard to catch in daylight hours. So hard, in fact, that I actually took these pictures while he was still half-asleep in bed this morning. That's why the angle looks like the wicked witch of the east.

In any case, these were an enjoyable and fairly quick project, considering they were made for size 13 feet. The yarn definitely takes some getting used to and adjustments for consistency. Indeed, I had to restart the socks three times before I got the sizing right. The yarn initially didn't feel as nice as I expected it would- it's less processed, so it has more of that raw cotton feel but it certainly softens with washing. Of yes, and the plying and elasticity make it not ideally suited for many stitch patterns, particularly cables and twists. I had to go through a few options until I found one that fit the yarn.

Cobra is proud of these socks and even shows them off to his customers. The color is exactly what he wanted and he likes how the stretchiness allows him to pull the cuff above his boots. He says, however, that they don't wick moisture away as well as wool. I have no cotton knit socks, so that's a good piece of information to know.

I finished up some others as well.

finished moccasin socks

moccasin socks side

Moccasin Socks from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac (November Project)
Woolarina Handspun Blue Faced Leicester for the tops and Cherry Tree Hill Possum Worsted (70% Merino, 30% possum) for bottoms
Size 4 needles

I just adore these! They are a perfect vehicle for a wonderfully made and shaded yarn, showing it off to a wonderful effect (thanks to Adrian for the inspiration!). Paula's yarn is soft and a pleasure to work with, addicting to watch the color and texture unfurl. When I initially bought the yarn, I thought it was two colored shades plyed together in a barberpole fashion. As I started to work with it, however, I saw that it's actually 1 green/turquoise ply with a cream-colored ply, which makes the color and texture emerge.

Of course, the genius of the design, which creates a separate bottom that can be ripped and reknitted if it gets worn out, means that I don't have to feel bad about walking on a beautiful handspun. Quite the opposite: the possum yarn is incredibly comfortably and has a wonderfully soft halo. They are warm without being cloying.

I see a color pattern in these socks - perhaps I will leaning towards a new palette in the new year.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stranded Camera 

You may recall that I finished my first Arch Shaped Stocking about a month and a half ago. What I may not have mentioned before, because it so thoroughly disheartened me, is that I started the second stocking. I was much more comfortable with the stranding technique, which is good but had a bad result. My gauge loosened significantly, and caused some discrepancy between the two socks.

Stockings Don't Match

As you can see, I got about five repeats of the pattern in on the first stocking, and only four on the second. I was mired in indecision as to what to do about this problem for a while, so the stockings have just sat in the project basket. This was a pretty crushing blow for me as I loved the project from the moment I set my eyes on the picture of it, and I was so excited for my progress with the technique.

In the meantime, the few other projects I started that should have been easy gave me troubles. My Odessa hat had to be started twice and my Moccasin socks were cast-on and ripped three times. Yes, these relatively easy projects were kicking my ass. The only reason was because, well, the stockings took away my knitting mojo.

Wanting to get this project sorted out, I thought nothing could put the wind back in my sails like a knitalong.

I'd made the decision, with the help of the suggestions of some SnB compatriots, to restart the sock on a smaller needle to adjust for my tension. So, I ripped out the old sock and, to celebrate the kickoff on Friday, I sat down with a size 2 needle, two sizes down from the other, and recommenced.

Tonight, I made enough progress to evaluate my gauge.

Stocking Start

Despite my effort, the stocking is again not quite to the right measurement; it's off by about one row per inch, a discrepancy that is visible.

Tonight, I decided to take the blocking route. I washed the first sock tonight and I'm going to do my best over the next few days to stretch and form it to a similar row gauge.

I'm also trying to be realistic and I'm trying to contemplate what I could do with just one beautiful stranded stocking. I don't celebrate Christmas, so it won't be hung by the chimney with care. Any ideas?

If the socks don't work out, I have another project I could potentially work on.

Lopi Sweater

This sweater has a story. One of my coworkers, a therapist, learned to knit twenty or so years ago. She started on this wonderful Lopi sweater and, as you can see, finished the body and started a sleeved. I suspect that she may have stopped at this point because I don't think she had DPNs for the sleeve. In any case, she dug it out of her closet recently and decided that she wants it finished and put to good use. So, she gave it to me! I don't have a timetable for this, not do I know exactly who the recipient will be (although it may be some Mongolians or Afghans). I'm glad I'll get to do the most fun part on the sweater, the yoke, and that I'm re-teaching this coworker how to knit as a thank you.

Send along good vibes for my stockings, I'll need them!