Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No-More-Humdrum Mittens Swap

Okay, I've joined my first swap. I never was a big fan of hats or mittens until I started knitting. Now, I'm ticked off when I can't wear my fabulous hat because it's too warm out. So, a mitten swap seemed the perfect place to jump into the on-line swapping world.

How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
I've been knitting for about 5 years. When my sister-in-law told us she was pregnant with the Chickpea, I got it into my head that I had to make something for my soon-to-be niece or nephew. As a librarian, there was only one way to learn...check a book out of the library. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting and Crocheting.

Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Intermediate. I've got most of the techniques down, but I've still got a bit to learn.

What are your favorite colors? Any you dislike?
Red, purple, green...really, I like them all. Deep shades and bright shades most of all. Pastels are okay, but not the first ones I'd go to.

Do you like Latvian type patterns? If so, what are your favorite patterns?
I like them, but don't know them well enough to have a favorite.

Do you desire mittens for yourself, your "special someone else" or your child?
For me, please!

What is the measurement from your wrist to the tip of your longest finger?
8 inches

What is the circumference of your hand at it's widest point?
7.5 inches

What other things do you enjoy knitting?
Socks, hats, sweaters in the round...I hate seaming. But mostly socks and hats.

What sort of needles do you enjoy working with? (straights vs circs, bamboo vs aluminum)
I made the switch to circs early in my knitting career, after losing straights mid-project to my cats. I'd get up to go to the bathroom and come back to a missing needle. There's one that I still never found. I use DPNs for socks and hats. And mostly I use bamboos.

What’s one project you’ve not yet tried but are dying to make?
Lace. I've got Eunny Jang's Print O' the Wave Stole in my queue, and some gorgeous Cornflower Sundara Silk Yarn. I'm just a little nervous about starting it. I've never done lace, and I've never worked with silk.

What’s one yarn you’ve not yet tried but are dying to work with?
Silk, see above. And bamboo.

What other hobbies do you have? Do you spin? Sew? Garden? Cook?
I love to cook. And now that it's winter, I get to do a lot of soups and breads. I'm trying my hand at sewing again (waiting for my copy of Bend The Rules). Does beer count as a hobby?

Besides yarn, do you collect anything?
Geek boy and I collect pint glasses from local breweries. Other than that, not really. I'm trying to beat the clutter.

What kind of goodies do you enjoy? Sweets? Salty? Anything you hate or are allergic to?
I'm lucky enough to live without allergies. I'm definitely a fan of the salty...nuts, pretzels, trail mix, stuff like that. Not a big fan of chocolate (unless it's coating some nice salty pretzels).

Do you have any kids? Pets?
We are owned by two cats. And, while we don't have kids of our own, we time-share four of the five kids next door. This means that they love to "help" the Geek Boy with his outdoor projects. In return, he does things like helping them build a quarter pipe skate ramp for their driveway.

What is your favorite part of Winter?
Soup and bread on cold rainy/snowy days, curled up on the couch with Geek Boy. Wearing hand knit scarves, hats and mittens.

What is your least favorite part of Winter?
Shoveling snow, particularly at work. Driving in the snow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Things That Warm a Knitting Beer-Geek Girl's Heart

So, when last I posted to this blog, I had just had the meal of my life at Brigid's. Well, on Monday, the Geek Boy went back (without me *sniff* I had a work meeting). On Monday nights they have a beer tasting in their upstairs room, and he stopped in to find out how they did it and if we could arrange an event there. He only stayed at the tasting for a little bit, then it got crowded and hot, so he made his way down to the bar for a little something to eat before heading home.

While sitting at the bar, the guy next to him struck up a conversation, asking what he had tried and what he thought. Geek Boy mentioned a few beers and said he was particularly impressed with an offering from the new Dock Street. Good answer. Apparently Random Guy at the Bar was their brewer. It seems that when Brigid's offers these tastings, many of the brewers hang around. So, not only did I miss a trip to my new favorite place, I missed a chance to meet some well-known local brewers.

So, how did this warm my heart? One of them, who happens to be from the brewery that makes on of my top two favorite Saisons in Philly, commented on the Geek Boy's scarf.

(Pardon the crappy photos...I'm never home when it's light out these days.)

He told him it was custom made for him. Brewer guy thought it was very cool. Brewer Guy thought my knitting was cool!

And this comes just two weeks after another random compliment.

Last spring when we went on our cruise, I made myself a pair of Peekabook Mittens. And they were great. Kept my hands warm on deck, but I could easily pop my fingers out to take pictures. On our way home, Geek Boy asked me to make him a similar pair, but "the kind with fingers and the mitten part over the top." So, I made him a pair back in October out of Socks That Rock mediumweight.

So, a couple weeks back, Geek Boy goes into the coffee shop one morning and the guys there comment on his gloves, wanting to know where he got them. He told them they were custom made (I love the fact that he refers to his hand-knits as "custom-made," one of the 16 gazillion reasons I love him). Apparently, that morning they were having a conversation about convertible mittens, and were trying to decide if they were manly enough to be cool. These were. I wonder if I can work a deal with them to make them all mittens in exchange for a year's worth of free coffee. I think we'd make out in that deal.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Most Amazing Meal...EVER

So, this past weekend, Geek Boy and I headed to the Art Museum with some friends for a scavenger hunt. What a blast. If they are in your area, grab a bunch of friends and go! It was well organized and so much fun.

After the hunt, Geek Boy and I decided to head over to a new-to-us beer bar. We've known about it for a while, but we don't venture downtown very often. That may change. Brigid's is a small little bar in the middle of a Fairmont Park neighborhood. Parking is tight, and we lucked out with a spot right across the street (bonus, it's a neighborhood, so no parking meters). They describe their cuisine as "homestyle." But your mom would have to be Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown all rolled into one to have this kind of homestyle food. The menu isn't extensive, printed on just one side of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. And you have to order everything at once; no ordering an appetizer while you decide what you want. We went all out, ordering appetizers, entrees and desserts. When the waitress stopped by to ask how we were doing I pointed at my empty plate and told her that first, I never eat all my vegetables, and second, I would never order this type of entree anywhere else again, because it will never be as good. Apparently this made the chef very happy.

Brigid's is also a great place for beer. They have a great selection of bottled beers from around the world (especially Belgium). On tap they had some local stuff, Victory and Troeg's, as well as some new-to-me stuff. I had a tripel, the name of which I can't remember, and it was very tasty. Then I ordered a Blanche de Bruxelle--somehow, wheat beers have grown on me this summer. Geek Boy also had some great stuff, but I can't remember what they were (reminder: charge the Palm Pilot and actually carry it with you!).

We're already planning to take my folks there for dinner one night, and to get our good beer friends to try Brigid's brunch with us. This has become my hands down favorite restaurant in Philly. If you're inthe Art Museum area, definitely check it out. Hey, it's even made Philadelphia Magazine's list of 50 best meals under $50 (for two). (The Grey Lodge is also on that list...another great beer place in Philly.)

As for knitting...I finished the raspberry tomato.

Obviously, it needs to be blocked. I'm hoping to have it ready to wear when we go to Tria this weekend with some friends. The Mission Falls Cotton went the distance. I didn't have to dig into the "2nd dye lot" skeins. To make it last, I decided to do the neck edging in a different color. I also really liked the look of doing the last two rows of the edging in a different color. Kinda wish I had thought of that before I bound off the bottom. Oh, well. I still really like it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Serving Time

That's what I feel like I've been doing over the last week.

Last Thursday I was called for jury duty. Technically, I was a standby. So, I dutifully called Wednesday night to hear that all regular and rescheduled jurors were to report, as well as stand-by jurors numbers one through two hundred ten. So, I got there early, expecting a full house. I obviously have no idea how the system works, because that somehow equals only 50 people. We waited until 3.00, when they finally took a panel of 45 people for the one trial that day. Apparently I look fair and impartial, because I got seat number 12 on the jury. Which meant back at 9.30 the next morning for the trial. Luckily it was short--the deliberation took longer than the actual testimony--and we were out by 3.00.

But that made for a lot of sitting around time. If one needed a gauge by which to measure just how much time is spent sitting and waiting during jury duty, well, you could show them this:

By the time I got home on Friday, this is how much progress I had made on my latest sock. Also factor in three false starts. It's just a simple pattern of a knit row, and a knit through the back loop row, with some slipped stitches thrown in for detail. The yarn is Sundara Yarn Sweet Briar Rose sportweight. This is quite possibly the most beautiful yarn I have ever knit with. And, I don't think any of my pictures truly do it justice.

Since Friday, I've had a Knit Night with some friends, spent time manning the library table at the local Arts Festival, and spent time waiting for the police chief to finish his budget meeting with borough council before going in for my turn. So, how much waiting time is that?

A lot. That's why I'm dubbing these the "Serving Time" socks.

Lucky for my mom. I gave her a pair of socks back in January and she just loved them. Every time she wore them to work, she'd call me during the day to tell me how much she loved them. Then the message became how much she loved them, and she needed more. She prefers dark colors for her socks, so these will be perfect.

And for the end of the Summer of Socks, how about another visit from Santa?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question:

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

I can read anywhere, anytime. But I am also extremely distracted. So, I have a book on the nightstand that I read before bed. This book is usually read with at least one cat crawling across my head.

There is also a "carry around" book that I keep in my purse (kind of like a sock in progress) for those times when I'm meeting people and get there early. The carry around book is usually a collection of essays of some sort, so that if a month passes between readings, I can pick it up and not worry about remembering a plot. Think David Sedaris or Laurie Notaro. These books are usually read while sitting in my car, or, better yet, while sitting at a bar, sipping a beer and waiting for a friend.

Reading anywhere but in bed does bring out my ability to be easily distracted. If someone walks in the restaurant, I have to look. If the kids next door are out, I have to see what they're doing. Who's walking down the street? But I've always been like that, and it doesn't affect my ability to make progress on and retain what I'm reading. In fact, my last reading in public venture was at a Kildaire's bar, enjoying calamari and a Sam Adams while reading Social Networking Software in Libraries. I'm sure the bartender went home that night with a "You won't believe this one" story.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Queen of the Discount Bin

I admit it. I'm a cheap yarn snob. Or perhaps a frugal fiber aficionado. I like good fibers. I've learned over the years how much nicer they are to knit with. (Although I do also believe that good acrylics have their place too...especially for things that are going to be worn and washed hard.) And I love a good bargain. Which is why I always scour the sale bins at my favorite shops.

On the upside, I can get a lot of something I might have otherwise passed up. Last summer, I picked up a bunch of Berroco Denim Silk for $3 per hank. A few weeks ago, at the same shop, I grabbed about 900 yards of Berroco Lullaby for the same price. And then there's the 100% cashmere I added to the stash when my favorite yarn shop went out of business ($8.50 a ball...I bought all that was left).

The downside to this, is that I have to work with what I find. And usually these yarns are discounted because they've been discontinued. So, I have to search for patterns that fit the yarn.

Back when Mission Falls stopped making their 1824 Cotton, my now defunct favorite yarn shop had a small collection of the stuff in the sale bin for (you guessed it) $3. I grabbed it up, thinking someday I'd find something to do with it. But everything I looked at seemed to require just a little more yarn than I had available.

Then Mission Falls came back! Matching the yarn/dye lot was not going to be possible, but complementary colors could work. And thus:

My version of the Tomato top from No Sheep for You. I'm calling it the Raspberry. I also have a pale green that I may use for the neckline, depending on how much of the raspberry (actually it's called Cosmos) is left.

This is my first attempt at fair isle. I've done some color work before, but not like this. I love it! It's not perfect, but my floats are pretty even. I tried to be very conscious of holding the yarns loosely, but not too loosely. I have this squished up on a pretty small needle, so I can't be sure for a few more inches of exactly how successful I've been (a lot of my Denise cords have broken, probably my cat's fault, and I haven't replaced them yet, so I have limited resources).

I see more fair isle in my future. Time to go raid another clearance bin. Anyone know of any good fair isle socks?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It Is Supposed to Be the Summer of Socks

Well, I started out strong. My first pair of socks done in just under two weeks. A second pair started right away and going strong. Then I got side tracked.

My cousin is expecting her first baby in October. In June, her husband was offered a position in one of his company's foreign offices. Offered is a polite term. There really isn't a choice if he wants his career to keep moving. So this moved up the baby shower time line to mid-August (Dad-to-Be is moving this weekend, New Mama is staying here to have the baby).

Two little hats for the new little one. The blue is the Pea Pod hat from IK. What a great pattern. And I even made it from the recommended yarn. When one of my local shops closed, she had a going out of business sale and I bought up all she had of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere in this color.

The bumble bee hat is based on my favorite baby hat, made with Plymouth Wildflower. There's not real pattern. Just random striping. My cousin really liked it because it turns out black and yellow are her college colors. I just picked them because she's not finding out if she's having a boy or a girl.

Speaking of which, here's my new entry for Summer of Socks.

(Pardon the kinda crappy picture...these are someone else's design, and I was trying to get the color of the yarn, without giving away the pattern, which is a really great pattern...look for it in the SoS Design Contest.) A pair of socks, one pink, one blue, for the New Mama to wear at the hospital. These (obviously) were not ready for the shower. But I'll be seeing her this weekend, right after Dad-to-Be leaves for foreign shores. So, even if she doesn't want to wear mismatched socks, hopefully they will make her smile.

The yarn is the Knit Picks Color Your Own that I dyed while reading Harry Potter. I'm really excited about how it came out. If I didn't already have so much sock yarn, I'd get some more and stock up on Kool-Aid. And I have enough left to make a pair of baby Jaywalkers in each color.

After these are done, I'm going to try and go gangbusters on some socks for me again. After the cool weather last week, I'm really feeling the need to have at least 5 pairs of handknit socks for the approaching cooler seasons.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

It started raining yesterday and continued all through today. It's damp and chilly. The usual capri pants and Birks that I wear almost every day just weren't cutting it today. That, coupled with a staffing crisis at work, could really have started my week off badly. But not so.

The cool weather was a perfect opportunity to wear newly finished Bird of Paradise socks. Anytime the grey got to me today, I just slipped off my shoes and looked at my socks. Happiness!

These are not Summer of Socks socks. I finished them in late May, maybe. The yarn is Sundara Yarn Bird of Paradise, from the Petals Collection. The pattern is the one included with the yarn. I started these socks while we were on our Tall Sails and Ales cruise. The yarn attracted lots of great comments while I was knitting. The captain of the boat asked if the yarn came with its own batteries. While knitting on the plane, a woman commented on how much she loved the colors. The guy she was traveling with said he couldn't believe they let me on the plane "with those things." I told him they actually let me on with 10, since I had another sock in progress in my bag.

Anyway, it was rainy and a Monday, but I had Happy Feet!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Drinking Our Way through Belgium, Eating Our Way Through the Village

Geek Boy and I have had some fun culinary experiences this week. When we took the class with Lew Bryson at the Fermentation School, we put ourselves on the waiting list for the Belgian Beers 101 class. Tuesday afternoon, Geek Boy got a call that two spots had opened up. So, Wednesday night we headed back downtown (driving this time, since it was close to 100 that day). The class was led by Volker Stewart, one of the founding owners of The Brewer's Art in Baltimore. He offered a great selection of beers and lots of great information about the brewing tradition in Belgium.

Most interesting was a conversation we had before class. Geek Boy mentioned that we had been to Lew Bryon's class and Volker mentioned that he and Lew had similar career paths. They had both started out as librarians! I think I may have a new career goal.

Today, Geek Boy faced his fears about public transportation and New York city. We headed to New York and met up with some friends for a food tour of Greenwich Village. Oh, it was so good. We got to sample several pizzas, Italian pastries, cookies, cheese and olives, bread, olive oil and gyros. We came home with fresh coffee and some great olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

We got there a little early, and came across this place:

Too funny.

The train ride was great for getting some knitting done. And I did take some photos of the sock on location (our friends actually got the point of saying, "Hey, you need a picture of the sock here!"). Pictures will be posted when the pattern is ready.

Some other random bits. A big thanks to Tina for her suggestion to try Dogfish Head's Festina Peche. I was out with my mom yesterday, and we stopped at the best beer distributer within driving distance in our state. And they had a variety pack of Dogfish Head. I came home and put a bunch in the fridge right away. I'm not a big fan of their IPAs (I'm not a big fan of IPAs in general...the intense hops flavor makes them taste like potpourri to me). But this is wonderful. A great hot weather beer. Thanks, Tina!

And if you're looking for a reason to tip one back, or just take a swig of whatever is most refreshing to you, head on over to The Fairy GodKnitter, and read her beautiful tribute to her neighbor. It's late and it's been a long day, so I'm just having a Vitamin Water in Norma's honor.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Move Over Ben and Jerry!

About a year ago I joined a cooking club. It's a lot of fun. If you're not familiar with the concept, basically, we rotate houses each month. The person who hosts is responsible for coming up with a theme and making the main entree. Everyone else contributes appetizers, side dishes and desserts. We have had some great themes: Greek BBQ, Farmer's Market Fresh, Cooking with Booze. Our hostess for August has come up with the theme Healthy Junk Food. We are supposed to lighten up our favorite fast food or junk food treats. People are bringing calzones, plantain and zucchini chips, pizzas. And I offered to bring dessert.

Now, sometimes I bring an old standby for these dinners. Like Cooking with Booze...I made Manhattan Mushrooms (mushrooms cooked in sweet vermouth). And sometimes I try something new. When it's new, I try it out a week before to make sure it's palatable. For our junk food fest, I decided to try my hand at a light version of my favorite vanilla ice cream with cherries and chocolate chunks.

Geek Boy agreed, it's better than the $4 pint.

Bookwoman's Cherry and Chocolate Ice Cream (approx. 9 servings)

2 1/2 cups 1% milk, divided
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 bag frozen cherries, each cherry cut in half (I was going to use fresh, but these babies are already pitted)
juice of half a lime
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 big Hershey bar, chopped

Combine half of the milk and both egg yolks in a pan over medium heat. Heat until bubbles form around the edges, but do not boil. Stir frequently.

Remove from heat and add cream cheese, stirring until smooth.

Combine cream cheese mixture and all the remaining ingredients except the chocolate bar. Cover and chill completely.

When it's cool, dump it into the freezer can of your ice cream maker and let it rip.

The final product is a bit more purple than the original, the cherries bleed into the mixture. But it still tastes pretty darn good. Can't wait for Sunday!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Learning to Think Like a Blogger

I'm still relatively new to this blogging thing. This blog has been around for a year, but not until Summer of Socks started did I get down to really posting on a somewhat regular basis. So, I don't think in terms of an event's blogability.

For instance, Geek Boy and I like our beer places and beer events. So we were quite excited to see a Session Beer class at Tria, given by Lew Bryson. After a winter of big beers, we've been enjoying some quaffing beers, such as Booklyn Brewery's Summer Ale and Saranac's Beers of Summer. So, we were all over this class.

Tria puts on a nice class. The room is cozy, without being crowded. And the "tasty snacks," were indeed, quite tasty (can't wait to try and make my own fennel almonds). Lew Bryson was a riot. And is very devoted to session beers. The definitions offered of session beers always came down to drinking between 6 and 10 beers in an outing. I can't fathom that. But then again, I have slightly less body mass than Mr. Bryson.

Anyway, there were seven beers offered throughout the class. Some were okay. Nothing terribly exciting. Some were "old hat" to us, like Troeg's Summer Pils. Two were stand outs for me. The first was "1809." A little sour, but in the way that I really like a beer to be. Geek Boy noted that it is similar to my favorite beer, Monk's Sour Flemish Ale. The other was LindemansGueuze, an unfruited lambic, made by combining old and young lambics. Even without the fruit, it's still a rather sweet beer, but not in a cloying way.

Best of all, it was a nice evening, weather wise, so we walked from Penn's campus to the Fermentation School.

Before the class started, we were noticing all the beer geeks with their cell phones out, geeking away, including one first spotting of one in the wild. Even Geek Boy was in on it, playing his favorite cell phone game. Me? I had knitting in my bag, and worked on that while waiting for class to begin. I also happened to have Geek Boy's digital camera with me (still in my bag from Monday's outing with a friend from college and her twins, Thing One and Thing Two). Only after we left, did I think what a great location shot I could have had for Summer of Socks. Either the sock enjoying being surrounded by beers, enjoying fennel almonds, or, if I was really brave, Cable Rib Sock meets Beer Guy.

Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Knitting, Winding, Splitting and Dyeing

Progress is moving along on the cable rib socks. I think I have about one more cable repeat to go before starting the toe.

I apologize for blinding you with the whiteness of my leg. Yes, I am that pale (my personal theme song is Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale). I like this pattern. It's easy to work, interesting, and the rib makes it very stretchy.

Lesson learned...if you need to hobble around the house to find your camera while wearing a sock with 4 dpns sticking out of it, and all of your floors are hard wood, walk on your tip toes, not on your heel. There's no graceful way to explain the head injury when you slip and fall in that state.

My knitting was on a bit of hiatus this weekend in order to plow through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was so worried about having the ending spoiled that I did almost nothing but read. I didn't watch TV, go on line or listen to the radio (except for Car Talk, which was a rerun). I did take time out for the Harry Potter party at the library. And for my friend's party celebrating the 6th anniversary of her 29th birthday.

On Sunday I did take a reading break to wind up some yarn (using the Tinkertoy swift that Geek boy hunted down for me back around Valentine's Day...some women get jewelry, some get Tinkertoys),

split it into two balls,

and make my first attempt at dyeing my own yarn.

The yarn is Knit Picks Color Your Own, half dyed with pink lemonade and half with ice blue raspberry lemonade Kool-Aid. This will become a pair of footies for my cousin who is expecting her first baby in October. She and her husband have decided not to find out whether the baby is a boy or a girl, so, for the hospital, a pink sock and a blue sock.

I bought this yarn a few years ago, but never got around to doing anything with it. And when I thought about making the socks for my cousin, I was torn, because I didn't want to go buy new yarn. Then I remembered, I had dyeable yarn in my stash. I used the tutorial on Knitty. What fun! Although it did disturb Geek Boy a bit when he came down for dinner, which was salmon coated with creole mustard, and found pink and blue bowls of yarn in front of the microwave. It was almost as disconcerting to him as when he found mohair chilling in the freezer.

As for Harry Potter (no spoilers here, I promise), I finished Monday morning. On the whole, I was impressed with how Rowling pulled everything together. I'm sad that it's over, but glad I went along for the ride. I fail to think like a Blogger until after the fact.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend Fun

Lots of fun stuff this weekend.


Geek Boy and I escaped from work early with the intention of taking part in Friday the Fikenteenth at the Grey Lodge. We had gone years ago, before the Grey Lodge was so firmly established as a beer bar. It's been a really long time, apparently, because the crowd was out on the sidewalk. When we turned the corner and saw the crowd, we decided to go with Plan B. (Geek Boy and I do not do crowds.)

So, we did a weird loop and got back on 95. Luckily, shore traffic in our direction wasn't that bad. And we got off downtown and headed in the direction of our favorite Blegian bar, Eulogy. However, Triumph Brew Pub had recently opened a new location just across the street. So, we decided to head to Triumph for appetizers and sampler, and then to Eulogy for dinner.

Triumph's calamari is great. Their beer, like the beer in New Hope, is okay. We first found Triumph at a brew fest a few years ago, where they had brought their Jolie Blonde. And that was fabulous. They have never had it on tap when we've been there, and the rest of their beers just don't live up to the hype in my mind. I will say this, though. This was the first restaurant I've been to that has a unisex restroom.

Eulogy, however, never disappoints. The waiter did not laugh at me when I told him I couldn't remember the real name of the beer I wanted, but it translated to "Mad Bitch." Dulle Teve. And it was just as wonderful as I remembered. Their food is great too.


I have started a new Saturday morning routine. I sit on the front porch listen to Car Talk and knit. This is he most relaxing part of my weekend. And I've been getting lots of progress done on my Cable Ribbed Socks from Favorite Socks. This was last Saturday's sock

Fret likes to help

And here's where it is this week.

This is my second pair for the summer of socks. I'm not setting any records, but it's good progress for me. I'm just four rows away from turning the heel. Unfortunately, the color does not allow good pictures of the cables. I did start this using Grumperina's method of cabling without a needle, in keeping with my attempt to try something new with each pair of Summer of Socks socks. However, this cable is a little different, in that you don't knit the held stitches in the normal order, so the new technique did not save any time. But the next pair of cabled socks will definitely use it. It's not as scary as other techniques I've seen.

Our niece, Chickpea, turns four this week. So we had her birthday party yesterday. Her mom invested in a slip 'n' slide for the occasion. But four year olds don't really grasp the "running start to slide head first" concept. The girls very dantily walked through the spray of water. Except Chickpea. She ran, and often slipped to fall on her butt at the end. It was very fun to watch.

Meanwhile, our nephew Geek Boy, Jr. (because he looks like a little version of his uncle) just gets cuter every time we see him. His new thing is the "boy growl." Everything he does is accompanied by a gutteral roar. I nearly fell over laughing while he carried his little bike up a hill and grunted with every step.

After the party we headed to Franklin Fountain for an ice cream party with some friends. I'm not a big ice cream person, so I didn't have anything, but, oh my goodness, the concoctions are amazing. If you're in the Philadelphia area and want a good ice cream experience, head down to Market Street.

Today is the big day. We're going to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I can't wait. It's all leading up to next Saturday.

Meanwhile, I've started listening to The Book Thief. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite books of all times. The writing is just incredible. I find myself rewinding to listen to paragraphs over and over. When he describes the foster father and "the sheer brute force of his gentleness," I fell in love. Ive only just started, and hope that the author sustains this beauty through the end. This is also one of those books that I think is enhanced by listening to it. The narrator, Allan Corduner, brings the whole thing to life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Reading

I work in a small public library. Every so often there's one book that makes the round through the staff. A group of us has very similar tastes, so one will read a particular book and come in to work one day and convince the rest of us we need to read it. I did this a few weeks back with Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. The most recent book making the rounds is Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach. One woman came in one day raving about it. In particular, she had listened to the audio book and said that McEwan was a wonderful narrator.

I'm a big fan of Ian McEwan. I'm always amazed at how long he can build the exposition of his stories and bring the ending together so quickly, yet satisfactorily. One book in particular, Enduring Love, was a book club pick. I went into book club not having read the last 70 pages. Since my rule is, if I didn't read it, I can't ask you not to spoil it, we had an extensive discussion about the ending of the book. I couldn't believe how much I had missed. New characters, weapons, all sorts of good stuff. And yet, the ending didn't feel rushed or contrived.

Now, On Chesil Beach is a much smaller book. And since I'm a dedicated advocate of audiobooks, I checked this out on my coworker's recommendation. Wow. There's not really much more to say but, Wow. It is such a simple story, essentially taking place only over a very short period of time. It is beautifully constructed. The language is exquisite. He transitions from Edward's thoughts to Florence's seamlessly, weaving a picture of two people so constrained in their own thoughts. McEwan's narration is wonderful. And there's a very interesting interview with him at the end. I was very grateful for it, because it did address a question I had about the story. A small detail that I could have lived with my own assumptions about, but was pleased to hear that I did pick up on something intentional. If you are looking for a wonderful, quick read, I can't recommend this highly enough. (In fact, I recommended it to another coworker who has recently become hooked on audio, but she was already reading the book at the suggestion of the woman who got me listening.)

Now, to finish The Little Friend and Slammerkin before July 21st. Because then, it's all Harry all the time so that no one can ruin it for me..

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Eye Candy

I can't imagine anywhere but Philadelphia...

...where straight men will dress in sequined costumes and march in a parade.

If you're not from around these parts, this is a small contingent from a Mummers String Band. After New Year's Day, they make appearances at smaller venues. From what I understand, if you didn't grow up around here, it just doesn't compute.

Photos from our little borough's Fourth of July Parade.

Now for a nice relaxing evening with the Geek Boy. Season 3 of Dr. Who starts tonight. And I just got a case of Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale. We haven't had this before, but Garrett Oliver has never let us down before.... And after a winter full of big beers, we're enjoying the lighter session beers this summer.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

One Pair Down...More to Go

So, my first Summer of Socks socks are done and have been delivered to their recipient. This is the quickest pair of socks I have knit.

Started: 6/21/07
Finished: 7/2/07
Yarn: Zen String Serendipity in colorway Ben
Pattern: Wendy's generic toe-up socks

Not only did I finish these in less than two weeks, I also knit other stuff during the same time (the Pea Pod hat for The Trendy One's new of that when the whole new baby package is finished).

And I took Bendy out on the town.

Posing with my bouquet at my sister's wedding. I did not knit during the reception, although somewhere there is a picture of me knitting while we were all getting our hair done. If you want to get strange looks from your dearest friends, pull out a sock in progress at a wedding where you're the matron of honor and pose it for a picture.

Since one of my goals for doing Summer of Socks is to try new techniques, I cast on my second pair. I used Judy's magic cast-on, and cast on two at once on one circular needle. I love the cast on. My problem when doing toe-up socks is that I always seem to lose one stitch when I take out the crochet chain. And then there's closing up the holes. This way avoids all of those issues. However, I found the two-at-once-on-one-circ method too fiddly for me. It probably didn't help that the pattern I was using had lots of M1s and SSKs, and there's a reason Grumperina uses the term "Stubbi Bluntos. "

So, tonight I ripped and rewound the yarn. I love this yarn. It's Sundara's sock yarn. And I really want this to become something. I have now cast on for Cable Rib Socks from Favorite Socks.

But before I ripped out, Santa did some posing with the ill-fated two-at-once socks.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Diving In

So, the summer of socks has begun. And I've discovered that sport weight sock yarn moves fast. Thursday morning I had a meeting first thing. So, I didn't go into work first. That gave me an extra 45 minutes in the morning. I settled into the couch, put on MSNBC and grabbed some sock yarn.

The appeal of the Summer of Socks is that I have so much sock yarn, and yet I rarely make time to make socks. There's always something else more pressing to be made. For instance,
my best friend, The Trendy One, and her husband just adopted a little boy. So, here's a baby to knit for that came with no warning. (None for them either, they got the call Thursday as the birth mother was in labor, and brought him home on Saturday.) This little guys is so special to his new parents that he needs some extra special knits. And then there's my cousin's baby who is due in October. I thought I had plenty of time to get some projects together for him or her, but now my cousin and her husband are being transferred to London in August, and my aunt wants to have the shower before they leave. And without a commute on public transit or anything resembling a real lunch hour, socks get left in the "eventually" pile.

Now, I have no delusions that I will even come close to having the highest sock count (especially not with Wendy as a co-participant). But, I have a personal goal of getting at least a few socks stored up for winter.

My first pair, I'm calling Bendy:

Yarn: Zen String sport weight in the "Ben" colorway
Pattern: Wendy's generic toe-up sock pattern
(Wendy + Ben = Bendy...I'm quite the clever one, aren't I?)

I bought this yarn shortly after Wendy posted about it. I ordered directly from Angelina, and the service was fabulous (as are the stitch markers). The socks are intended as a belated birthday present for my sister-in-law, whose son is the cutest boy in the world...named Ben.

I'm just doing these in plain stockinette stitch. I tend to prefer socks with stitch patterns; it makes it easier to make sure they come out even. But the color seemed to just want to speak for itself.

Knitting socks in sport weight just flies! I can't believe how much I've accomplished in just a few days. I think it's a definite possibility that I will have these done in time for the 4th of July picnic with Geek Boy's family.

Do you like the Santa? I think he's going to be the sock model for the summer. Geek Boy has a thing for animatronic Christmas decorations. So, a few years ago, my folks got him this Santa. We didn't want to haul him up and down from the attic every year. To avoid this, we just decided to we would deck him out in seasonally appropriate wear. Each summer he sports a different Hawaiian shirt. This year he's wearing the "hops" pattern, when Geek Boy isn't wearing it. The Shrek ears are in honor of the fact that we just went with The Sisters (my cousins and sister) to see Shrek the Third, a tradition that continues despite the fact that"the kids" are now in their twenties.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cruise Wear

Since the only thing I have on the needles is a great big raspberry colored square of cotton, and I haven't been home to actually cook anything or try any new beers, I'll revisit some older projects.

This was to be the week that we prepared to go on our big boat cruise with friends. But we gave that up for our wonderful trip on the Maple Leaf. Now, a cruise through the Carribean in May and a cruise through the Pacific Northwest on a sailboat in April require entirely different kinds of preparation. For the former, spring tops, shorts, maybe even a new bathing suit. For the latter:

As my friend Richael would say, "Woolies!" (And a little microfiber.)

Four of these items were specifically knit to keep us toasty on the trip. At the bottom of the picture are two versions of His Hat, the black and grey one for Geek Boy, the blue one for me. Crime of Fashion was my first attempt at colorwork, another knit specifically requested by Geek Boy. When I saw the pattern and told him about it, he immediately requested one...and then patiently waited through a whole winter season while I dealt with 450 rows of black stockinette stitch. On top, Sugar on Snow, Peek-a-Boo mittens and Lake Park hat. Now, Crime of Fashion stayed home, because Geek Boy always fears losing it somewhere. The rest all travelled cross country with us and were extremely useful on the trip (there is a picture of me with Sugar on Snow around my neck, His Hat on my head (along with two hoods) and the Peek-a-Boo mittens on my hands. I was the poster girl for hand knit woolies!

And I have to say, the Peek-a-Boo mittens were great. They kept my hands warm and yet let me easily pop out my fingers for taking pictures. Geek Boy's latest request is something similar...although he wants more along these lines, with fingers and all.

On books...I'm currently listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point in preparation for a leadership workshop next week. I really like the way this guy writes. He's very engaging, and also very good at reading his own work. It's also interesting to be listening to it with the framework of this workshop in mind. When I read Blink, it was for pleasure. Now, I'm trying to see how some of his concepts can be put into action at work. Should be interesting.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Eye Candy Saturday

A branch on Newcastle Island, Britich Columbia.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Twu Wuv

Here is my most recent finished project. From the front:

From the sides:

And a close-up on the texture.

Just in case you're wondering, I am not a victim of gauge. These are socks that had been requested by Geek Boy. When I first started knitting, I promised myself that I would not force handknits on him. However, when he asks for something, it automatically becomes the next project. So, back around the end of Frbruary, he casually mentioned, "Maybe you could make me a pair of socks?" No problem. I already had the yarn just waiting for the request.

The details:
Started: early March
Finished: May 2
Pattern: my own, basic sock recipe and a texture pattern from a Harmony book
Yarn: Fortissima yarn for main part of sock, KnitPicks Essential for toes and heels--mostly because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough to do two whole socks without changing out the heels and toes.

After the initial request, I spent some time going through all my Barbara Walker, Harmony and Stitchionary books, trying to find a good texture pattern. Not too fussy, but enough to keep it interesting. I don't like doing socks for me that are just plain, no way was I doing men's size 10.5 socks plain (these puppies are worked over 96 stitches). I love my Geek Boy, but there are some limits.

I'm very happy with how they turned out, however, when I turned them inside out to weave in the ends, I discovered that I really liked the wrong side of the pattern better. Oh well.

I did also in the middle of making these, take some time off to work on another pair of socks. Because after a sock and a half of grey, I needed some color. We were also travelling and I didn't want to chance taking a sock-in-progress on the plane. Although I have never had trouble getting my knitting on a plane, I didn't want to lose what work was already completed on these. So...

Sundara Yarns Bird of Paradise colorway...definitely not grey!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Frankly, my dear, it wasn't that bad

After years and years of avoiding it, I finally broke down today and watched Gone with the Wind. I had a friend in high school who was obsessed with this movie. To the point that her senior prom dress had hoop skirts. And it just put my off wanting to ever see the movie or read the book. Then I picked the book for one of my book clubs at work. And, even though we spread it out over two months, I sitll managed not to read more than two pages.

However, the follow up book for this book club, and the reason for choosing Gone with the Wind, is The Wind Done Gone, the "unofficial parody." I've been breezing through it, but realized that I was probably missing a lot. So, this afternoon, Turner Classic Movies was doing an Oscar winner thing and I decided to break down and watch it. Of course, I didn't turn it on until about 45 minutes into the movie, so I was lost on lots of stuff. Like, what is the actual relationship between Scarlett and Melanie? And who was the father of Melanie's son (or did I misunderstand her dying declaration)?

The movie wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I wasn't overly impressed. But, it was a pleasant way to pass the afternoon.

I did start to take a break from The Wind Done Gone to read Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Very, very creepy, in the best way. I've actually had to stop reading it before bed, because it was getting me too wound up. Then, Geek Boy mentioned he thought he had read that Joe Hill is actually Stephen King's son. That was news to me, although it is (according to one site I read) the worst kept secret in publishing. But I am loving this book!

Next up on the bookshelf...Swimming to Antarctica by Lynn Cox. Selection for yet another book club. I read Grayson back over the summer and really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pacific Northwest Love

I have two unlces who have served in the Navy. One is retired. One is still active duty. At one time, both of them were stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. And so over the years, we have all spent some time visiting the Pacific Northwest. And we all love it up there. After my first trip, I came home and started looking for jobs in Seattle (life on an island would have driven me crazy, but having family close by made relocating across the country seem like a good idea).

My mom's favorite thing about Washington is the ferry ride. She can't visit her brother without spending some time on a ferry. She could probably spend all day riding on the ferries, without going anywhere in particular.

This is a particularly hard time of year for my mom. My Grandpop's birthday, the anniversary of his death, my Nanny's birthday, the anniversary of her death, and their wedding anniversary all fall between January 11 and February 14. And it's only a year since my Nanny's death. So, I thought she needed something pretty and fun. On Nan's birthday, I sent her flowers at work. And I started working on a special project for her.

I had some gorgeous yarn from Sundara's Petals Collection just itching to be knit up. And I ordered Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road through interlibrary loan, knowing it had just the right pattern in it.

Friday Harbor socks. Designed to reflect the wake of the ferries around the San Juan Islands. I set a new record for myself with these socks. Knit up in a little over one week. (Previous socks have taken me months to finish.)

The yarn is Lenten Rose from Sundara Yarns Petals Collection. A gorgeous purple and grey. I gave them to my mom a few days after my Nanny's birthday, and told her the name of the pattern, the inspiration for it, and that the yarn came from Seattle. She called me at work the next day to say she had planned her outfit for work specifically so that she could wear these socks, and proceded to show them to all of her co-workers and to tell them the story of the yarn and the pattern. Most of all, she couldn't get over how soft and warm they were.

This was only the second time I did something other than a short row heel. I hate picking up stitches and avoid it whenever I can. But I was trying to stick with the pattern here and finally got it. The second heel turned out better than the first, but I think only I would notice it. (Or my mom is too nice to point it out.) The pattern called for ribbing on the soles of the socks, but the picture in the book shows pain stockinette stitch, and I decided to go with the picture for speed's sake. I had a few other issues with the pattern, for example, the number of repeats called for would have resulted in a HUGE sock. So, I just stopped when I got to the magic "two inches before the toe" place.

I go back and forth on gettting my own copy of this book. I'm not a big fan of lacy socks, and a lot of these socks are lacy patterns. My feet tend to get very cold, and I need my socks for warmth. Lacy holes, to me, defeat the purpose of socks. I didn't realize until I started knitting and really looked at the charts for these socks that they were lacy (the picture just looks like cables). But, interlibrary loan is my friend. And the ILL person at my library doesn't mind reordering books for me, if I decide, months after initially looking at a book, that there was one pattern in there I want to take a second look at.

So, inspired by how quickly I got these done, I'm trying to get a few more pairs done for myself before the cruise (espeically since they specifically recommend bringing wool socks). So, once I finish the blanket and sweater for my cousin to be (ETA, Friday, February 16), I'll get cracking on those.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Booze Cruise

Yes, it's been a while. But I promise (myself) that I will make an effort from here on out. I have some cool (I think) knitting to show off, but I'm too tired tonight to pull out the camera and pose my knitting for pictures.

So, let's talk beer instead. Geek Boy and I have been planning to take a Carribean cruise since about September. It's supposed to set sail in May. Now, I feel about cruises the way many people feel about flying. It's not natural and I had no intention to ever do it. But, 10 friends were going on this cruise and we decided it might fun. I figured I could get my doctor to hook me up with some sedatives, just in case. The cruise runs 9 days, which is a little longer than we usually like to go away, being the homebodies that we are. But we figured the chance to go away with a group of friends was worth a shot.

Then the Geek boy found this. And a quick call to the office manager confirmed that there were still spaces left. She penciled us in. So, after work, over pork roast (I love cooking in the crock pot...nothing like having dinner ready when you get home from work) and some good beer, we weighed our options. The final the risk of being labeled party poopers by our friends, we are opting for five nights on a sailing yacht with seven strangers. Should be interesting.

And, I'm finally heading into the home stretch on Gregory Maguire's Wicked. This is the third time I've started this book. It's not that I didn't like it...quite the opposite, actually, but life just kept getting in the way and I'd have to put it down. Last month I made a resolution to start it and see it through to the end. And I'm so glad I finally did. The only thing that has me confused right now is how someone read this book and thought, "Big musical number!" I just don't get it. Luckily, it's coming back to town this summer and my mom's agreed to go with me. Geek Boy would go if I asked him to, but this is a test of love that he just shouldn't have to take.

Knitting pictures...of cool Sundara socks, Marnie's Crime of Fashion, and a patriotic baby sweater...coming soon