Either the people choosing the in-store music at Borders are really hip, or my taste has become mundane. I was recently at the ubiquitous bookstore when I realized that I own every CD that they'd played while I was there. Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, the Decemberists, and KT Tunstall were all played during my visit. I know, it's not like they broke out the vinyl, but it was a little disheartening. Any illusions of hipness were shattered.
Today was the first summery day in Chicago. Due to the holiday weekend, the throngs on Michigan Avenue were especially large and slow-moving. Not really a haunt of mine, but I spent the afternoon shopping with one of my coworkers. We visited a former colleague who just got into an elite medical school, shopped for sunglasses, went to the MAC store and the Apple store, and had dinner. It was a full day.
The three sweaters in three weeks miracle is not to be. Fuzzy, fuzzy yarn is not what I want to knit at the moment. This is probably due to the weather. It's hard to get really excited about a mohair-like cardigan (though French and styled quite chic) in 80 degree weather. I started a new sweater. It's my How to Avoid the Summer Cold cardigan, made out of the fabulous non-crippling weight Blue Sky Cotton. For when it's too warm out for a sweater and too cold in the office to go without. I understand why other bloggers have declared their love for this yarn. It has a great hand. The fabric is a little denser than I had expected, which has everything to do with gauge, I know. It's an interesting pattern. The raglan "seams" are lacy affairs, worked with yarn over increases instead of knitting into the front and back of the stitches. Very cool.
In other knitting news, I called my Colinette source in the UK, thanks to the magic of Skype. It seemed as though it had been a while since I'd ordered those seven skeins of Giotto to make a jacket (see, addictive fiber!), so I checked my PayPal receipt. This was not a case of short attention-span. I also pondered my many difficulties with mail delivery. So I rang them up and they were very polite and apologetic. The color that I ordered is on back order and they neglected to send me an email. The man who answered the phone (a man in a yarn shop!) had such a charming accent that I was totally mollified. They'll let me know if there are any changes. I've a few other things I can work on in the meantime.
My local yarn shop (well, one of them) had a huge sale a month or so ago, during which they gave out gift certificates for obscene spending. The phrased that differently. They expire on Thursday, so I went over there on Friday to see what I could find. Not much. That's not say that they haven't interesting stock. They just want more for it than I want it. I don't pay retail for Colinette or Debbie Bliss. Life is too short. True to form, I cruised the sales bins and found two luscious skeins of Manos yarn, in a deep burgundy color, 50% off. Fantastic. They're going to be a scarf for a beloved family member. It has been observed that said person already has a scarf, but has that ever stopped a knitter? I plan to ply it with mohair in a complementary color so that it will look fabulous and expensive. That is, when I find the perfect mohair. I'm a bit wary of trying to find something online, since my tomato colored yarn turned out to be much closer to the dreaded burnt orange. I'm not knitting a 1970s dream kitchen! Still, it's not so bad. The mohair has to go with something, which is much harder to do. Guess I'll have to clip a tiny piece off to stick in my wallet, to be carried around to many yarn stores. Or I could just guess at one on the Purl Soho website, sending an email: "Do these yarns look good together? Keep in mind, the scarf is for a man". That might give them a laugh or two.



The Classy Drug Rug 2 is finished, and it's not druggy at all. Even though I had 100 yards more than the pattern calls for, I still didn't have enough to do the hood. I had enough to make about half of the hood. Since the yarn is handdyed stuff, I didn't feel like shelling out $18 to finish the hood. Besides, it looks fine without one.
My hair looks really flippy in that picture. It's supposed to curl the other direction, but I find the flip a little fun. Not too Carol Brady, thank god! I'd also like to point out that this sweater looks fine on a lady. Best pal Lewis declared that I should give the next CDR to him, as it would never look good on a woman. I laughed, since it's a ladies' sweater patttern. He wears a lady sweater when he gets up in the morning and has his coffee. I plan to wear mine similarly, though I wore it to dinner at my grandparents' tonight. It will be nice to slip into in the morning, when I want to check my email, read the mail, etc.
I've had two new sweaters in two weeks. I'm not sure that I can keep up this pace. Well, maybe. I've picked up a new portable project: one of my UFOs instead of casting on something new. I'm working on the last piece of my Phildar wrap cardigan, the shawl collar. I really hope that I have enough yarn to finish, since I think that the yarn has been discontinued by Phildar. I can always sew it up with something else (like that pale blue coned mercerized cotton. so much easier to sew with than fuzzy yarn!), but I can't very well knit it in another yarn. I suspect that this is the reason that it became a UFO. It will be really beautiful when it's done, but it may take more than a week.
Did you know that there is an antismoking sidewalk evangelist in Chicago? He works the sidewalk in front of Old Navy on State Street, with a little PA system and some handbills. I encountered him on Saturday, while trying to talk on my cell phone. He was just too much of a distraction. "You can't get into heaven smoking that evil weed" he declared confidently. I looked around for someone with a joint, thinking that pretty nervy considering the police presence and sheer number of people on State Street. Nope, he was referring to tobacco. I don't know how the Old Navy people tolerate him berating people in front of their store. There aren't a lot of people who will stand up for smokers, but a lot of people are turned off by crazy evangelists. Especially ones with PAs.


Top Down Goes Bottoms Up

I finished the sleeves on my top down raglan sweater. I had that finishing high, the end felt so near. Then I tried it on. It was poochy around the armhole. It added an element of sag where I don't need any help with that. If only I had tried it on earlier! I have a blog-crush on the designer of this garment, so I refuse to have any ill will towards her. It was probably a case of bad math when she scaled the pattern. Well, misleading math, because sizing doesn't follow a neat geometric line. So, I went to her website and checked for errata. Sure enough, the updates to the pattern included a much shorter raglan seam. Damn. Since I adore this project and its pricey Debbie Bliss yarn, I had a think on it and found a way to salvage this thing, short of tearing it all out. What I will do is run a lifeline into the row below the bottom of that deep v neckline, then tear back to it. Obviously, wine will be involved, as half of the sweater will be gone afterward. Then I will pick up the stitches at the lifeline and knit it from the bottom up. I am not thrilled about this, but other solutions do not spring to mind.
I've been having a hard time of it lately, and this knitting setback only seems to symbolic of it all. It's really frustrating.


I have finally finished my Colinette sweater! The long awaited last ball of yarn arrived this week and I put in that final push to get it done while the weather is still cool enough to wear it. This morning, I bound off the neck and put it on for the first time. I love it. The sweater is cozy, with its turtleneck and long, long sleeves, and a flattering color. It suits my personality. My mother laughed when I told her that, but I caught her petting the sweater on my back a few times during the day. She's making a shawl out of Giotto now, so its hand shouldn't be a revelation to her, but a lacy shawl and a ramble-around-the-house pullover can show off a yarn very differently. I think I'll wear it tomorrow too, unless the weather improves.
Colinette yarn is addictive. I have another project out of Giotto in the pipeline, a ribbed cardigan in a lovely purple and blue colorway called Florentine. There's a brioche stitch shell in the new Interweave Knits made out of their Wigwam yarn (which resembles a shoelace) that really caught my eye. That is, until I realized how much it would cost to make. None of my handy British sources carry Wigwam, so I would end up paying $22 a skein. No. Maybe I can find a good substitute, though I can't recall seeing any other yarns with that unique construction. There's also a beguiling tank top in the Colinette Muse book, out of their new Lasso yarn. It's described as having a "morish" quality, a very British phrase that means absolutely nothing to me.
Besides, I'm not exactly hurting for ideas. I've got a few things tucked away in my stash. My other London sweater, with the embellished raglan seams; a cotton wrap cardigan à la DVF from Paris; a mohair cardigan also from France; some Phildar projects; and a few UFOs that wouldn't require massive efforts to complete. I've just got to sit down and sort it all out. I've decided not to start a new project until the current major projects are done. I can check the Colinette pullover off the list now, but the Classy Drug Rug 2 is still in progress. The fabulous cowl sweater is getting more attention now because it feels so close to done. I'm nearly done with the first sleeve, which went pretty fast. The ribbing around the cowl neckline will probably take longer, but at least it will be on circular needles and not on dpns.
I left my knitting at home in my rush to get off to work on Saturday morning and read my book instead. There was more train ride than text, though, and I could only pretend to read for so long. There was a woman on the train who strongly resembled Jerri Blank from Strangers With Candy. Funny and unfortunate. She was wearing black acid washed jeans. How long has it been since the acid wash was popular? Ten or fifteen years? Yikes. There was also a man, dressed in painter's whites, who seemed to want to strike up a conversation. He seemed like he'd be needy and hard to shake, so I answered his questions in a short, icy tone without raising my eyes from my book. I don't want to be a bitch, but I'm tired of getting stuck in conversations on the train. He moved on to the woman sitting across the aisle and received a similar reception there. I'm glad that I rebuffed him, since I later saw that he got off at my stop. It would have been very difficult to extricate myself.
The Mother's Day present went over well. They're beautiful needles and she admired them greatly. I don't think that she'll actually knit with them, which is a shame. She still uses the needles on which she learned to knit when she needs elevens, but I think that she'd love the glass needles once she tried them. Maybe she'll hang them on the wall, but at least she likes them. My grandmother was greatly pleased with the terry slippers that we gave her as a part of a Burt's Bees kit. She needed a new pair of slippers, she informed us, and even put them on while we were there. Seems like a successful present.


Progress, progress. I'm almost done with the first sleeve on my top down raglan sweater. It's not as quick moving as you would think, because it's knit in situ. Moving the whole garment around and around slows the progress a bit. Now that it has a sleeve, it is an identifiable shape. Excellent. The conductor on my regular train home even wished me good luck with the sweater when I detrained this evening.
It will be gratifying to have this one finished. Which brings the inevitable question, what next? I've got loads of things in my stash, and a few UFOs that could stand a bit of attention. None of them are warm weather garments, so the satisfaction of wearing them upon completion would have to be deferred. School Products finally has their redesigned website up. Now, it is possible to see and purchase their designer bargain coned yarn, "from factories in Italy". A savvy shopper could easily identify most of these yarns, I'd say, if viewing them in person. I bought about a pound of mercerized cotton yarn, which is totally unlabelled Karabella Zodiac yarn, for summer garments. I have a few cones' worth of other colors hidden away, but I am unsure of the yardage. That can be a disadvantage when trying to choose a project. This could be solved by a simple science class project-like task. I could spool off all of the yarn from one of the cones and weigh the cone itself. Then, I would be able to weigh all subsequent orders and accurately measure the weight of the yarn (rather than the yarn and cone, since I can't knit the cone into anything). My engineer grandfather would be so proud of me for figuring that out. I wonder if he has a good kitchen scale.... Maybe I'll do that in my copious free time.
I got on the Skype bandwagon today, after disgust at my last cell phone bill. When your phone company sends you a notice about exciting new rates, be assured that they're only exciting for them. I never go over my minutes, but when I want to make international calls, I end up paying through the nose. No more. I spent a few pennies and now have everything set up so that my cousin in London can call me as a local call, and I can call him for about two cents a minute. This appeals greatly to my AV nerd side. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, since my mic input level is kinda low. I don't want it to sound like an old-school transatlantic call, so a trip to Radio Shack (ugh) is in order. I need an adapter for my microphone, so that I can have a little more control over my input levels. Because you know I've got to have an SM58 and a set of cans instead of some sort of lightweight headset for all my calls.


It was a really beautiful day out today, but I was in the office all day. I wore nice weather clothes: a vintage inspired dress and my fabulous Dr Scholl's platform shoes. I even wore my contacts and makeup. Figured it was time to look like I cared after several days of sloth. Great, but this brought much commentary at work. No, I don't have a date or anything, I'm tired of looking like shit. This morning, I did a fake and bake, as to not expose my freakishly white legs to the world. When I washed my hands afterwards, the water must have run up (down?) my arms, because I'm a little stripey. Exfoliation will ensue. Maybe I'm just too pale for self-tanner, even the gradual kind. Despite studious application, I keep having mishaps. And my tans are invisible to anyone but me.
Decided to wind yarn into balls (that is, peloter. Why do the French have a word for that and we don't?) for the next project. Under certain lighting, my lusciously soft organic cotton yarn from Blue Sky looks burnt orange instead of tomato red. I live in horror of burnt orange knitting, and really, that color in general. I'll have to wear that garment only in flattering lighting, I guess.
I finally bought KT Tunstall's album, on impulse, today. Now I understand. I listened to it all the way into the Loop today and think that it will make good knitting music. I've decided that I can like it despite one of the songs being used constantly to promote a shitty sitcom.


Dance marathon

No, I am not dancing my little heart out: I am working all the damn time. We're not actually having another marathon at the moment, it just feels that way. There's my whining for the day. This doesn't leave me a lot of free time for knitting and other diversions, like watching the Netflix dvds that I've had forever or finally reading those books that I picked up at Shakespeare and Co. in Paris.
Despite that, I have managed to finish the body of my tiny gauge raglan sweater. I thought that it would take forever to bind off the three hundred plus stitches for the hem, but it was really more like half an hour. I'd missed my train (again), so it was a great way to kill some time. Now it is time for the sleeves, but as I am knitting the sleeve from the armhole instead of as a separate piece, it is awkward and cannot commute with me anymore. Also, knitting on #3s for more than 15 minutes makes my hand hurt. So, that is moving along slowly.
Instead, the Classy Drug Rug II is keeping me company on the train these days. This starts a lot of conversations. Clearly, some people think that this project is for a child. Well, it would have to be a very large child, because it's for someone with a 41 inch chest! And there are the usual comments, such as references to grandmothers who knitted, observations about my speed, the dreaded C-word. Cute-get your mind out of the gutter! I've never heard the other one in the context of a knitting conversation, but you never know. The body of CDR 2 is done and I am working on the first sleeve. At this rate, it will be done within a fortnight.
I bought a new knitting book this week. Well, new to me, not to the shelves. I am looking for a fabulous project to make for a beloved cousin, and decided that the funky raglan unisex sweater in Loop-d-loop would be good. I like the idea of it: irregular ribbing, an open raglan seam to the collar, luscious Rowan yarn. Further inspection of the pattern proves that I like only the idea. The pattern comes only in one size, 48 inches. That is big, and the cousin in question is believed to have a 38" chest or thereabouts. That's a hell of a lot of ease! Also, one sleeve in the pattern is raglan and the other is set-in (poorly). WTF?! How did that seem like a good idea during the design process? A lot of the patterns in the book leave me scratching my head, so I am glad that I didn't pay full price for it. There are details that I plan to steal for other projects, and projects that require a lot of math for alterations, but very little to be made as-is. I can see that I will end up designing a sweater myself incorporating the elements that I like in the crazy sleeve sweater, but not before tackling a few other projects.
I just got my tax refund, in an unexpectedly swift manner. My thoughts immediately turned to impulsive purchases of luxury fiber, an AbFab afghan kit, a full set of Addi Turbo needles, etc. Instead, I went on a very responsible spending spree. Yes, that seems like an oxymoron, but keep reading. I bought bras this afternoon. I went to TJ Maxx and bought every bra they had in my size. All five of them. Bra manufacturers seem to operate under the belief that large breasted ladies like practical colored bras. And it's hard for anything to look cute in a D cup. The reward for pawing through the poorly organized, overcrowded lingerie racks at TJ Maxx? Well, I ended paying less for all five of the bras than one of them would have cost a block away at Carsons. They're all very practical, which is not the most appealing thing for a girl in her twenties, but I love a bargain.
I read the new Augusten Burroughs book in one night. It's very fast moving. The book on Georgian princesses that I purchased on the same trip is decidedly not. Yes, I realize that a book about George III's daughters isn't going to be a pagetuner. It's dry. I'm used to dry. It has print roughly the size of that in the phone book. That is a problem. I'd hoped to pass the book along to my grandmother, but there's no way that I can do that if it makes my young eyes ache after a couple chapters!
I thought that Mother's Day was tomorrow (it's not), so I went out on a Gift-for-Mom expedition before work on Thursday. This took me to a new yarn shop. An actress I know told me about it after she stumbled upon it during a trip to the Auditorium Theatre. It's very conveniently located for knitters who work in the Loop. Well, I went there, imagining a skein of beautiful but expensive lace weight yarn that my mother would never buy for herself. The owner of the store had a far better suggestion: glass knitting needles. Sounds as helpful as a rubber crutch, but they're made out of Pyrex, with art glass ends. They're really beautiful! The unexpected benefit of this beautiful, clear glass is their magnifying effect. Wonderful for fiddly little projects like my lace-making mom enjoys! I am so excited about this gift! Much better than my first idea, an AbFab kit (shipped from the UK. I love my mom, but I don't pay retail for Colinette!), or my second, a CO Bigelow box. She still hasn't used up the Origins sampler that I gave her for her birthday two years ago. So, magical looking needles fit the bill. They're wrapped up in tissue now, but maybe I'll be able to grab a good shot of them after Mother's Day. And, even though I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head, I bought some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool yarn for a good summer AC cardigan. It's very lightweight stuff, but warm due to its silk content. Predictably, I opted for vibrant blue. Maybe someday I'll make a yellow project to mix it up, get out of my color comfort zone. Not anytime soon.

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