Friday, December 30, 2005

It’s a Scarfapalooza!

Finally, the long promised pictures of my fantastic voyage into knitting.... rectangles. Although I am knitting now I haven’t the courage to venture beyond the basic rectangle... the scarf. All ends were woven in and all that were intended for Christmas gifts were completed.... by Christmas morning. Yes, after spending the mornning with mom, dad, brother & sister, I went home and finished knitting scarves.

First up, black and grey wool. This was intended to be a Christmas gift for my father until a coworker advised me that it was too skinny for a man, that I should make it thicker for it to be more masculine. So, this will be going to... someone else. I’m just not certain who or for what occaision yet. Perhaps I'll keep it for myself....

Second... based upon the “Classic Stripes” from “Knit Scarves!” by Candi Jensen. This is for my pseudo-brother-in-law, Jeremy (he’s married to my dear cousin Erin, who is like a sister to me). It’s Lion Brand Wool Ease, yes it is an acrylic blend, but I really liked the colors.

Here, we have a scarf for my cousin Holly. It’s Plymouth Yarn Company Baby Alpaca Grande, and I LOVE IT. It’s incredibly soft, plush and cuddly... and its super bulky which means it knits up REALLY quick. I love that in a yarn. I threw some cheap fun fur on the ends for cuteness.

Now, a scarf for Meghan, Hollys younger sister. It’s basically the same as Hollys, made with the same yarn just in pink instead of blue. I have some of the pink, blue and white yarn from these two scarves left over and I do believe that it is enough to make another scarf.... and I do have a friends birthday coming up in two weeks.... I’m just saying.

This is the scarf that scared me. It’s “Mohair and Lace”, also from “Knit Scarves!” by Candi Jensen. This one is for Erin. Thanksgiving evening, after dinner, I had Erin & Jeremy look through the “Knit Scarves!” book and pick out scarves for themselves. Jeremy chose “Classic Stripes”.... no problem - its knit and purl - easy as pie! Erin, however, chose “Mohair and Lace”. I looked at the pattern and developed an ulcer. It has decreases, yarn overs, and this lacy pattern at the ends. I did not think I was going to be able to do this considering my remedial knitting skills. But, I wasn’t going to ask her to select a different pattern. I would just bitch about it to everyone who would listen. Even those who wouldnt understand what I was talking about.. “It has YARNOVERS!” “It has this WEIRD thing where you insert the needle into the next stitch, wrap the yarn around it FOUR times, bring all the wraps through and somehow SOMEHOW that magically turns into LACINESS”. Eyes glazed over in boredom.
So, I knit Erins scarf first to get the nastiness over with. Much to my suprise, it wasn’t that hard. The first row of magical laciness went a bit slowly while I caught onto its trickery, but after that it was much much easier (and A LOT quicker) than I thought it would be. For this I used Angel Hair from Jo-Ann’s, an acrylic, wool, nylon blend. Yes, its another cheap yarn BUT it knits up soooo soft and cuddly and cozy. The best part? She loves it, immediately put it on and wore it for the rest of the day.

Now, for a work in progress. I started this, intending for it to be a Christmas gift for my father. However, I’d purchased the yarn last Saturday afternoon but by the time I realized that I didnt have enough yarn to complete it on Sunday afternoon, my LYS was closed and I would have to ship his gift off Monday in order for it to reach Boston in time for Christmas. I ended up doing some shopping Sunday night.
Luckily, his birthday is in 3 weeks so he’ll still be able to enjoy it this winter. I don’t remember what brand it is, but its a bulky merino wool. I’ve considered felting it, but don’t think I will. First of all, don’t felted items reduce in size by something like 50%? Second, I’ve never felted before and don’t think I want to experiment with my fathers birthday gift.

In addition to knitting, I’ve also been crocheting.

First up, an afghan for my friends Shauna and Jesse. Shauna and Jesse married last April and moved to Salt Lake City. I visited them there last month and helped them move into their new home. This is their belated house warming gift. I had meant to take it with me when i went to visit them, but forgot it at home and didn’t realize that until about Reno.
I met with Shauna and Jesse for lunch on Christmas Eve day, they were in town visiting her family, and was able to give them the afghan then. Shauna said it was very warm and snuggly and that she looked forward to using it on the couch in front of their fireplace. Its made with Lionbrand Homespun. Another cheap yarn, but when you're using 8 skeins....

Last, we have some bootie slippers. My little cousin Janae saw me crocheting some Ugg-style booties from another Candi Jensen publication, “Candy Babies”, and immediately started in “I want some boots. make me some boots too. PUHHHLEEEAAAAASSSEEEEE!”. Considering the pattern calls for Berrocco Suede, which is ribbon like in its thickness, I had no clue how I would make booties for a 5 year old from a pattern thats written for a 3 month old. I can adapt patterns, but not THAT well. Then I realized.... CHEAP YARN! I picked up some Lion Suede and traced Janaes feet. By using the bulkier Lion Brand yarn and 1 size larger hook than the label recommended (K instead of J) and adding 1 round to the soles, they should be a perfect fit. I know that a lot of knitters and crocheters scorn the cheaper acrylics and acrylic blends, but they can be great. Since Janae can be a bit of a diva, I went with hot pink. However, its taken on a reddish look. Are they too much like Santa boots?
She likes them, but I need to make her another pair - theyre a little too big around the ankle, so they slip off her feet rather easily. I have some purple Lion Suede so I think I'll make another pair and just add a row or two of decrease to the top of the foot before beginning the ankle. They work up very quickly. I was able to complete both of the original booties while watching Mr & Mrs Smith.

One thing I've noticed loading up these photos.... my digital camera sucks. Now, I have something to shop for with all of the overtime money I'll be making this next month. January is a crazy month at work, with new accounts starting and I'm sure I'll be working at least one Saturday, if not more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

QUICK! Someone issue an Amber Alert....

my Christmas Cheer is missing.
I USED to be one of those annoying people.
The day after Thanksgiving I didnt take the day off to go shopping... I would go to work and spend the day decorating my cubicle for Christmas. I participated in the office cookie exchanges, the Secret Santas, all of that stuff. However, I never went as far as to wear the tacky Christmas sweaters and jingle bells. I’d have my holiday shopping done early and would spend the extra time making personalized gifts for my favorite neighbors and coworkers: ornaments, scented bath salts, cookies, fudge... whatever.
The last few years though, I can’t get into my holiday groove.
The first year that it happened, I understand why. My grandfather had died a couple of months before hand and I did not handle that loss very well. He had, and still does, meant so much to me that I was afraid that if I started crying over his death I wouldn’t be able to stop. As a result, I jsut kinda went numb. For a LONG time. I went through the motions of that holiday season, minus some of my usual traditions. I didn’t decorate, I didn’t make personalized gifts for everyone. I did make some special items for my neighbors who had helped us so much after my grandfather had his first stroke and after he died but other than that I was numb.
I did eventually come to terms with my grandpas death, but since then I still can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit. I’m enjoying the holiday season, especially watching my little 5 year old cousin, Janae, get excited about Santa coming. Other than that, I’m not feeling it.
I’m trying to force myself into the holiday spirit. I’ve decorated my cubicle, I’ve made a good portion of my gifts, joined some of my coworkers in adopting a needy family and am participating in the office Secret Santa. With all of this, I’m doing a little better than the past couple of years but I’m still not back to my usual seasonal self.
I wonder if this is something that will pass. If I will regain my Christmas Cheer. I miss feeling the magic of Christmas, the giving spirit and the kindness that so many people seem to acquire this time of year.
I can only hope so.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Procrastination Central...

So, I've been a little lax on the blogging lately.
I have been busy trying to prepare for the holidays. Note that I said
Since Christmas I have completed 2.5 scarves. The first one that I
completed needs to be shipped to my father in Boston before it gets so late that
I have to spend 3 times as much FedExing it to him. But, before I send
that off, I need to find something else for him. Problem? I have no clue
what to get him. He has everything he wants, and on top of that he lives on his
sailboat so space is limited. Any suggestions?
I was going to go to my first SNB this past Sunday morning. I was
invited to join the group last Friday night, and I got up Sunday morning, was running a little late to begin with, then traffic downtown was insane because of
the California Marathon. By the time I got to the part of town where the
SNB was being held, it was only about 20 minutes before it would be over and I
would have still had to look for parking. I'll drag my butt out of bed
earlier next Sunday and make it there on time.
Since I was unable to make the SNB Sunday I tried to do a little
Christmas shopping. I went into the stores and walked around but just could not
find anything I want to get for anyone. I have hardly any of my holiday
shopping done.
I have gotten my christmas cards and they are all addressed and just
waiting for personal notes in each one before they can be sent off. Theyve been
sitting on my dresser like this for a week and a half now.
Work - hasnt been too bad actually. I'm in the calm before the storm
though - January will be absolute madness. Tonight is our office holiday
party though, and tomorrow morning I've agreed to help do the year end
preparation training for the department I used to work for. The morning
after our office party I have to be here at 7 am and I have classes all
the way up to 2 pm. I havent prepared all of my handouts and exercises for
the class yet and I'm leaving work in 2.5 hours.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A MeMe!!

I promise, photos of my recent knitting and crochet projects are on their way.
In the meantimes, a meme!

TEN random things you might not know about me.
1: I completed the March of Dimes walk-a-thon when I was 10 years old. It was 20 miles long. I was the only person in the group I was with to finish it.
2: I was a complete drama nerd in high school and still listen to show tunes all the time while in my car and sing along at the top of my lungs.
3: My great grandmother taught me how to crochet (basic chain and single crochet only) when I was about 6. I didnt crochet for YEARS until she passed away. About a month after she died, 10 years ago, I started crocheting again and taught myself all the rest.
4: When I was a little girl I want to be an Olympic figure skater when I grew up.
5: I studied fashion design at FIDM in San Francisco for a semester. I dropped out because I couldnt afford to live in the city so I was commuting from Sacramento twice a week while also working full time in Sacramento. The stress got to me and I just couldnt handle it all any more.
6: I worked as a commercial portrait studio photgrapher while in college
7: When I was 10 years old, a painting I did won 2nd place at the California State Fair, Junior Exhibits.
8: Despite all of these creative tendencies and abilities, I now work in payroll. How the hell did this happen?
9: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my all time favorite books. It STILL makes me cry.
10: I have an unnatural fondness for leopard faux fur. It's tacky as hell, but I love it.

NINE places I’ve visited.
1: Portland, OR
2: Salt Lake City, UT
3: Scottsbluff, NE
4: New York, NY
5: Washington, DC
6: Orlando, FL
7: Quebec City, Canada (SO SO SO BEAUTIFUL)
8: Montreal, Canada
9: East Hampton, NY

EIGHT ways to win my heart
1: bring me flowers
2: hold on for that extra 3 seconds when you hug me
3: bring me coffee just because
4: be kind to senior citizens.
5: Get me useless trinkets with my name on them. When I was a kid and everyone else had the little license plates with their names on them on the back of their bicycles I could never find anything with my name on it. Vanessa was not a very common name in the early 80's. It left some kind of an impression on me.
6: humor my irrational fears and idiosyncracies
7: kiss me on the cheek
8: compassion

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1: Fall head over heels in love
2: Kiss The Blarney Stone
3: re-learn French and put it to use on the streets of Paris
4: Quit smoking
5: Lose the weight
6: learn to snowboard
7: ride a gondola through the canals of Venice. The city, not the Hotel-Casino.

SIX things I’m afraid of
1: having my heart broken
2: dieing alone
3: walking through parking lots alone at night. When I worked in the mall during college one of the girls from the shop next door was attacked walking to her car alone at night - it's freaked me out ever since.
4: Dealing with the whole dad v. step-dad thing and who walks me down the aisle, first dance, toast, etc. if I ever get married.
5: spiders
6: needles - I HATE having my blood drawn but I still donate blood every 8 weeks because I'm O- and am a perfect match for pediatric blood donations so I get guilt trip voicemails from the blood bank when I miss an appointment so I donate anyways.

FIVE things I don't like
1: Bloody Marys. Tomato juice, blech!
2: cleaning out the cats litter box. My LEAST favorite household chore.
3: turtlenecks. I feel like I'm being strangled.
4: narcisism.
5: driving the speed limit. I have a lead foot - I got my 1st speeding ticket 2 days after I got my license. I got my most recent one 3 months ago. I don't want to add up how many I've gotten inbetween

FOUR ways to turn me off
1: be rude
2: have those weird lobe stretching ear piercings, whatever theyre called. I think thats so freaky
3: be condescending to women
4: have not patience with kids

THREE Things I do everyday
1: drink coffee
2: tell grandma I love her
3: email my cousin Erin

TWO things that make me happy
1: baby animals of any kind
2: cozying with hot chocolate by a fire. I know, how very Danielle Steel of me.

ONE thing on my mind right now
1: I'm thinking about going into SF this weekend to see Erin and Jeremy (if she's not too busy with her upcoming law school finals) and do a little bit of my holiday shopping