Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lion Brand 2006 catalog

A couple of weeks ago, I got a Lion Brand catalog in the mail. It seems very much like they're trying to make their brand image a bit more upscale... they have it available as a pdf here.

A couple of sample pages:
Lion Brand catalog

Lion Brand catalog

This catalog is much more about the projects than the yarn, and they're putting some thought into the designs. A lot of the patterns featured are for sale, not freebies, and I can definitely picture people paying for some of them. If you look at a lot of their previous free patterns, it's all huge ponchos and shapeless sweaters. If they're getting away from that, it's a great move. As much as it pains me to say it, I don't even completely hate the Fun Fur offerings (except for the "mink" coat). This rug/pillow combo, for example:

(lefthand page)
Lion Brand catalog

How cute would that be in a kid's room?

See what I mean? Isn't there a rule that Fun Fur projects should be tacky messes? How did they find something cute and appropriate to do with it? I need to lie down.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

As promised... of my crafty purchases. :)

First, the beads I got for my Simple Knitted Bodice:

TLC Amore:
TLC Amore

Amore, detail to show fluffiness
TLC Amore

TLC Cotton Plus (I got 2 skeins of each color)
TLC Cotton Plus

TLC Cotton Plus, close-up
TLC Cotton Plus

Monday, September 25, 2006

Too early for Christmas decor

I worked over at the Crofton branch on Friday, where I got to meet fellow knitters Kathy and Catherine (Hi Kathy, who reads my blog!). I don't get over to that branch very often, basically just for emergencies when nobody from their area pool of subs is available... but knowing that there are knitters there, I definitely hope I get to work there more.
(Plus, interesting things seem to happen over there. The first time I worked at that branch, there was a fire drill. This time, the police were searching for someone on the run in the area, complete with helicopter surveillance. Seriously.)

Today, I went over to AC Moore to take advantage of their 20% off all yarn sale. They're such wonderful enablers. I got some TLC Cotton Plus for the stash, and some "Vanilla" TLC Amore that I'm going to use for a blanket for my grandmother for Christmas. I wanted something that would be machine washable for her and not too heavy, and Amore's a pretty nice, fairly light acrylic. I also got some beads to use on my Simple Knitted Bodice, along with some beading needles with huge eyes so that I can actually get the beads on to the yarn. (Pictures on the way tomorrow.)

I also decided to finally go check out David's Natural Market in Gambrills. I've driven by it a bunch of times, but I've never gone in. I ended up just wandering around, humming along with the in-store radio playing Vaughan Williams' 5th Symphony (and it isn't exactly a hummable piece, so I was probably getting some odd looks). Since I still owe my SP a final package, I picked up a couple of things to send to her. It's a neat place, and I have to go back... it's closer to me than Trader Joe's, and it's bigger and has more stuff. Like every kind of flour know to man, which is exciting when you're into bread baking. Plus, they have Dirty Chips! A few years ago, I was on a roadtrip, and picked up a snack bag at some little independent convenience store... and I haven't been able to find them since.

I got home, and I had to go spend some time outside because it was absolutely gorgeous out. I went over to the BWI Trail, which is a paved biking/walking path that goes around BWI Airport. I have to say, it's a bit surreal to be walking along surrounded by trees and suddenly have a plane pass overhead only a couple hundred feet up (the one parking area is, quite literally, across the street from one of the landing strips). I don't know who came up with the idea to put a trail around BWI, but it was a stroke of genius. I walked about 2.5 miles, and snapped a picture of this nifty plant:

BWI flora

Yes, it really was that pink. The full path around the airport is about 12.5 miles, so I'll have to take a few hours one Saturday or Sunday and walk around the whole thing.

As I was on my way back home, I decided that I wanted to get a pedometer, so I went to Target. And I made the mistake of venturing into the Halloween section.

I went to Target for a pedometer...

You can see the pedometer sitting there in the front, dwarfed by Halloween purchases. I got a couple of bags of candy, a 4-pack of Jones Soda "Monster Mojito", and a LIGHT-UP sparkly skull. For $3, I couldn't NOT get it. When illuminated, it's simply resplendent.

And yes, Target has Christmas stuff available now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Today's unexpected errand

So, it turns out that it's quite unusual for a 1998 car to still have its original battery (for the record, I knew the battery was old, but I didn't know it was quite THAT old.)

And old batteries like that tend to go kaput.

Yes, my car battery went belly up while I was at work. As luck would have it, this was the absolute most perfect place for it to happen, since I could get some help and a jump from a couple of folks there. I got over to the local Toyota dealer just before the service department closed, and they were able to squeeze me in for a quick battery change today instead of having me leave my car overnight... 20 minutes later and for LESS money than the estimate, the car was all taken care of. Quite possibly the most painless car trouble ever.

I also kicked back and got a couple of Simple Knitted Bodice rows knitted while waiting in their large and elaborate waiting lounge. :) You know how normally, auto repair "lounges" consist of 7 cushionless chairs and a 13" TV that only gets very staticky antenna reception of Jerry Springer? Not this place. Big screen TV, and a multi-piece couch that went all the way around the room, plus another couch island in the middle... it was downright cushy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Simple Knitted Bodice in progress

Here's my Simple Knitted Bodice so far:
Simple Knitted Bodice progress

I'm using Misti Alpaca Worsted, and OH MY, do I love this stuff. It's mostly a peacock blue, with a bit of reddish brown heathering running through it. It is very snuggly, and working with it just makes me want to buy more.

Simple Knitted Bodice, stitch closeup

Simple Knitted Bodice, increase column
(This one's closer to the real-life colors. The brown is subtler than it is the first picture.)

I'm through about 3 repeats of the increase section. I still need to find beads for the lace section, but as luck would have it, there is a bead store right near my apartment. This would be a good excuse to go check it out...

You know how every woman who goes on What Not To Wear gets herself a fabulous pair of knee-high black boots? Well, I've been looking for a pair for myself for about 5 years, but every pair I've found has been too big or has been too ridiculously expensive. I finally lucked out today and found a reasonably priced pair that fits me. Yes!! I'm up over 5' tall in these things. ;)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thoughts on new Knitty

Well, the new Knitty came out last week... I have read some scathingly negative reviews, and I've read some "EEEEEEEE!!!!! EVERYTHING IS BEEEEYOOOUTIFUL!!!!" reviews. I think it's somewhere in between: there were high points, and there were low points.

For starters, I'm a bit grossed out that they gave the featured spot to Suss Cousins for a basic, no-shaping, v-neck sweater. Read the sweater description; most of it has nothing to do with the sweater, but is instead about how you absolutely MUST try this fantastic yarn... which is also by Suss Cousins. It feels more like a sales pitch than a sweater pattern. I'd also like to point out the strategically placed copy of Hollywood Knits in the background of the lower two pictures. Ugh. I don't know about you, but I don't go to Knitty expecting to be accosted by Suss Cousins telling me how much I need her yarn.

About the Intolerable Cruelty skirt... Here's the thing. I know it's frustrating for larger knitters to see a sweater pattern they like and then see that the largest size it's written for is 40". I have to deal with the opposite of that; lots of times I'll see a pattern, and the sizing starts at 36", which is too big for me. Thus, if I see something that's designed for smaller people, I'll generally try to make it. Intolerable Cruelty is one of those. It quite obviously adds a few pounds in the rump area, so it's designed for people who don't have a lot of junk in the trunk, as they say. However, knitted skirts are almost always a remarkably bad idea. This particular one also features one of the cardinal signs that the design may have serious flaws: the model is slightly contorted in all of the pictures. There's not even a front view, just three shots from behind where one of her feet is propped up on something. So, while I will most likely NOT make this, there is a part of me that's incredibly curious about what it actually looks like.

The good: I love Serrano, and it's definitely something I'll make. I also figure that I'll make one or more of the sock patterns. I like Ivy, but I can't tell what's going on with the fit problems in the pictures (there's some odd fabric bunching). Lucie is very cute. I love the cables on Sherwood, and am already trying to plot out an adult sweater with a similar pattern. (Of course, I have enough cabled sweater patterns in the "want to make" list to last me for years, plus a book of Celtic knotwork construction that's full of designs that could all be converted into spiffy cables...)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Drop spindle progress

Handspun yarn!
Originally uploaded by 2chacha.
Since I had to wind off a batch of the merino from my drop spindle in order to play around with the Karaoke roving, I thought I'd share. So far, I have about 67 yards of worsted-ish weight yarn, with some definite thick/thin spots. I figure, If Manos can have thick/thin spots, it's not so terrible if I have them too. :) There are a few overspun spots, but not too bad, all things considered.

I still have plenty of roving left, and a friend told me that this stuff would make a really fun shrug or bolero. As long as I end up with enough yarn, that's probably what I'll do with it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Impulsive cast-ons are a bad idea

Well, I had a chat with myself about the Icarus shawl. It was coming out just fine, and I liked the way the pattern was showing up with the yarn... but I don't actually wear shawls. Nobody I know wears shawls. There was a strong likelihood that the finished shawl was going to end up sitting in a closet or just draped over the back of a chair. So, since I wasn't far into it (less than 20 rows), I frogged it. The yarn will be used for something else, but not a shawl. Note to self: don't just cast on the first project you find that matches gauge for a yarn you want to work with.

Meanwhile, I started the Simple Knitted Bodice for the SKC knitalong last week, and have a pretty good start on it. I'm using some worsted alpaca that I had in my stash, in a heathered peacock blue:

Misti Alpaca, close up
It's gonna be pretty, and warm, and cushy. And I'm going to try my hand at beaded knitting for the lace section, as long as I can find some beads that I like that will fit on the worsted weight yarn.

Over the weekend, I went to a new yarn store, Lovely Yarns, with Coleen and Amie. It's in a really neat area (Hampden) with lots of little gift shops and cafes. It reminded me a lot of Carytown back in Richmond. Anyway, I got a couple of balls of lavender Cascade Fixation, which I think I'll use for socks... I'd do another Mon Petit Chou, but I haven't even worn the first one I made, so a second one would definitely be overkill.

I also have some new roving that I've been playing with.

SWTC Karaoke roving

3 oz of SWTC Karaoke roving, which is 50/50 soy silk and wool. I didn't even know that I needed it, but when I was getting the Simple Knitted Bodice pattern from kpixie, I poked through the spinning fibers available and found it. Up until now, I've just been working from a bundle of 100% merino, and I'd been wanting to get something else so I can see what different fibers are like. It's great stuff. The soy silk adds a lot of strength, so I can spin it thinner than I can spin the merino on my drop spindle. While I was getting a heavy worsted with the pink/blue merino, I'm getting a light worsted or heavy fingering weight with the Karaoke.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I wish the media people would realize that we don't need to see all the news coverage again. We don't need made-for-tv movies and specials. We'd still remember, even without them so forcefully reminding us. Are people really watching all of the coverage? Most of us watched it the first time around.

There's no way to segue from that to knitting or anything else, so other content will wait for another day.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A major award!

Let me tell you a bit about my Saturday.

First off, I won the Tempting II KAL drawing over at the SKC! Holy cow, how did that happen? I get a copy of Sexy Little Knits by Ashley Paige, which looks like a fun book with lots of cute patterns (although I probably won't be making a knitted bikini any time soon). And yes, my post title is in reference to A Christmas Story... a leg lamp would have been nice, but the book will probably be more useful. ;)

Secondly, my SP sent me a kpixie gift certificate with the attached note, "From Your Secret Pal, penny_karma". So now I know who my SP is! And I have to say, she has the absolute best timing. There are a couple of patterns that I'm going to be ordering from kpixie... and *poof* here's a kpixie gift voucher. How serendipitous. :) Now I just need to finish the last package for my downstream SP... part of the package will be some handdyed stuff, which I still have to dye.

Thirdly, my sourdough starter, which I thought might have been dead, is quite active. Crazy active, actually. It had been hibernating in the fridge since, oh, April, and I got it out on Friday to see if I had killed it. I figured I'd start over if I needed to... wow, I don't need to.

Knitting-wise, I've been working mostly on the Itsy Bitsy bag. Since the weather is cooling off, I dug out my big Manos felted bag that I've been working on for about a year now. It had to go on hiatus for the summer, because the last thing I wanted to work with during the summer was a big heavy wool yarn. When last we left things:

Manos felted bag

I want this bag done in the worst way. It's tedious; nothing but garter stitch mitered squares. However, I know it'll look great once it's done and felted, so I'm committed to finishing it. I may work on it while watching some of the Jerry Lewis telethon. Let me say this: the Jerry Lewis telethon is for a wonderful cause, and people should absolutely donate... but it's really embarassing to watch because most of the entertainment is just plain BAD. I can remember being laid up last year with the worst panic attack ever, and I sat through all of 20 minutes of the telethon before I had to turn it off during some horrible stand-up comic who hadn't changed his act since the 50s. (And seriously, I spent two days thinking that I had a really bad, really weird hangover, and then two more days where I felt awful but knew it couldn't be a hangover if it was lasting that long... after it went away, I figured out that it had just been a particularly nasty panic attack with a whole bunch of new and exciting symptoms that I wasn't at all used to.)

By the way, I know Amazon is a big evil corporation, but I kind of love them. Not only did they give me a Gold Box discount on Arrested Development season 3, but then they shipped it the day before it was officially released... so even with the free shipping option, it got here on Wednesday. Yay!