Sunday, August 31, 2008

Urbane sweater progress

You've probably noticed that there haven't been any real knitting posts in a while. Well look what's done!!

That's right, 95% of the Urbane sweater is done! Close, but no cigar quite yet.

It takes a good hour per inch of torso, and the only thing keeping me going is that there will be NO seaming when I'm done. Thank goodness for top-down seamless sweaters. The sweater looks awfully skinny, but the ribs relax a lot during blocking, so it'll look more normal when it's done, promise.

I couldn't resist casting on with the Jojoland Melody sock yarn. I'm planning to make the Knotty or Knice socks from the 2008 Fall Interweave Knits (ravelry link here), but the pattern looks really big (72 stitches around the ankle!). I always do the toe the same way anyway, so I'll mull it over until the toes are done, then go from there.
Once the toes are both done, they'll migrate over to some circular needles. I recently broke both size 0 and size 1 circs (stupid bamboo!), and Tina was kind enough to lend me her size 1's, so I can do the socks two at a time. Oh I cannot wait until the sweater is done!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kangaroo PDF

The entire kangaroo pattern (previously in these two posts, part 1 and part 2), as well as some new diagrams, are available in one PDF. A few typos were fixed, and some parts were clarified too. The PDF is available as a free Ravelry download, just click on the button!

And if you're not on Ravelry yet, join! It's free and takes just a couple days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Even cuter kangaroo

Look at this unbelievably cute kangaroo by Isla!!!

I can't believe she knitted it so fast after I posted the pattern. I posted the second half of the pattern on August 16, and she finished it on August 21! I am so impressed. I'd comment on her blog, except I don't know German. What a great idea to use self-striping sock yarn! (Which I am sure is all one big word in German). She is too adorable I can't stand it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boise part trois

Here's the yummy yarn I got from Fuzz, the yarn store I visited in Boise. It's Jojoland Melody, a superwash wool in fingering weight.

Different colors are plied together, and the overall color changes gradually, so that when you see different parts of the ball side to side, it's shocking how different they look.

I'm planning to make some socks for myself, maybe with a nice slipped stitch pattern to show off the color variation in the yarn. Does anyone have any good pattern suggestions?

The rest of the Boise trip consisted mainly of a belated wedding reception, which served Basque food. Boise is home to the largest Basque population outside of Spain, oddly enough. The main dish was this huge paella (the paella pan is like 2 feet in diameter), which was cooked on a special cooking table/burner built specially for paellas. Sadly I couldn't eat it because of all the meat in it, but it did look lovely with all the bivalves and crustaceans arranged just so.

It was assembled in front of the guests bit by bit. Here it is at the end.

No trip is truly enjoyable without a trip to a used bookstore. We happened to run into one, Trip Taylor Bookseller.
Of course, I went for the knitting books, and found just two on the shelves. Can you spot them?

I got the lace book.

There was a massive cookbook selection, but I held off, since I've yet to really cook a lot from the bunch I bought recently. One of the titles was too funny I had to take a picture: Dehydrated and Delicious! Yummy!

I was very, very tempted by this whole set of Alias books. But since everything had to fit in the same carryon bags on the return flight, they stayed in the store. Psst, in case anyone wants to get me a prezzie.

The bookstore is the daytime home of a handsome French poodle, Apollo, who is the nicest dog ever. He's not yippy or annoying or slobbery or stinky or grody at all. He just comes up and leans his head against your hip, so that you can pat his curly little head! I was so enamoured I didn't get the camera out. Seriously, you have to go to Boise just to meet this dog! He was the true highlight of the whole trip!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Boise part deux

The the Boise trip was really very fun and a lovely break. It's a wee little city, so I was able to see the whole downtown, no sweat. And the weather, coming from humidity-cursed St Louis, was crisp and perfect.

One of the first things I did was wander around the little boutiques, and I found this great vegan wallet/purse. Cool, eh?

Then DH and I bought sturdy shoes so that we could bike. I am thinking of wearing these when I play golf too, for a pink extravaganza.

We watched Into the woods at the Boise Shakespeare Festival (weird, I know, that it's not Shakespearean at all). The theatre is outdoors, and set up really well with grassy bleachers and "box seats" with tables. They sell yummy food, and you can bring your own too. Here's the happy crowd.
I was blissfully unaware of this woman screaming at me "NO CAMERAS!" until I finished taking this picture. But what's prohibited is taking pictures of the actors, so this picture of the creepy trees and the angry woman is a-ok.
The next day I participated in a dress-up bike parade, the Tour de Fat. I did not dress up, but I felt the numerous people wearing chaps (on bikes, looks very ouchy) and other crazy costumes made up for it. All the traffic was stopped for the parade, so even without a helmet, I was able to stifle my fear and spazziness, and biked just fine.
What's really crazy is that in such a bike-friendly town, no one wears helmets! But that is a tirade for another day, and people are allowed to be stupid if they want.

Then I went to the best farmers market, ever! Look at all the great produce and flowers!
We ate tomatoes on the street, like apples, and walked along blissfully, tearing huge chunks off a huge loaf of freshly-baked spinach-mushroom-ricotta bread. And after that bike ride, we ate like crazy, so no pictures unfortunately.

Of course, a trip wouldn't be complete without knitting, so I visited a yarn store in Boise called Fuzz. It's on the second floor of a building that they share with what looks like a fabric store. If a combo like that was near my house, I definitely would not have been able to finish my stash!

They were having a class on two-at-a-time-magic-loop socks, so I already liked it as soon as I walked in! About half the store was spinning and weaving supplies, which looked impressive, but I have no authority to comment. There are a couple big fluffy sofas there, which I think is a great idea for a yarn shop. I wanted to find a unique and local yarn, but couldn't find anything just right, so I ended up buying some sock yarn for myself. Here are some shots of the yarn selection...
but I forgot to take pictures of the yarn I got (and it's the kind of colorway that needs real light to get right). So, the rest of the Boise trip, and pictures of the yarn, tomorrow!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ravelympics derailed

Just a quickie post from a mini-break in Boise.

First of all, I can officially say I won't be making the Ravelympics deadline with the Urbane sweater. Not only am I totally behind, I'm going to run out of yarn too. I am halfway done with the sleeves and torso, and I have probably about 1.5 skeins left. Also, my excuse is that I didn't get enough knitting time on the plane today. As the flight attendant was coming around to make sure everything was "upright and in a secure position," she saw my knitting -- in the seat back pocket in a closed ziplock bag! -- and says "Your knitting has to be under the seat during takeoff and landing." WTF?!? Like it might come flying out of the seat back pocket and hit me really hard in the face, like a soft pillow might? I'm constantly amused by people who make up weird rules, and sat, knitting-free, until we were "at cruising altitude."

Boise is super cute! The downtown area is really little but very walkable and lovely. We ate at City Diner, which is in an old bank building with lovely stone columns in front.

And it's such a thrill when someone else has made the bed. Woohoo! I wish I could live in a hotel all the time.

We have been given bikes to ride for the weekend, since Boise is such a biker's town. Here is about half of them, waiting for the guests to claim them.

I haven't ridden a bike in over 10 years, so suddenly riding in traffic, without a helmet, is absolutely terrifying. The plan is to walk the bike everywhere, like a civilized person...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Uh oh

Perhaps I shouldn't have taken on a full man's sweater in skinny yarn design-and-knitting for the Ravelympics. And maybe I should have realized that the olympics are just over 2 weeks, and that I'd be traveling for all the weekends. In other words, the Urbane sweater may not be finished in time to get a Ravelympics medal. :(

But, the neckband (which had to be redone, arrgh!) and the shoulder caps are done, so from now on it's easy sailing. No nasty picking up stitches, short rows, or other such slower-downers. Here it is so far.

Yup, there are three balls of yarn attached right now, which is not annoying at all. The sleeves will be done together on magic loop, then I'll plan to use up the rest of the yarn on the torso, hoping that there's enough yarn and time to get it done. Send me some cheers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

State Fair

This past Sunday was the last day of the State Fair, and after a year of planning, a few of us decided to check out the knitted goodies at the fair. The Missouri and Illinois fairs are at the same time, and at the last minute we decided that the Illinois one was actually closer, and went there instead.

This post is very picture-heavy. You can see the rest in my flickr set here.

One of the funniest things (to me) was a big sign for the fair showing how to get to the different attractions. If you look closely, a very obsessive-compulsive person did the arrows--the thickness, length, and shapes of the arrows are varied to show the locations.
I'll start with the knitting. For the sake of not saying anything if there's nothing good to say, I'll say that my expectations for the knitting at the fair were super high. I expected to be blown away by absolute masterpieces. The whole fair system is somewhat confusing, as the town fairs, county fairs, and state fairs operate independently, and many occur at the same time. So perhaps the virtuoso knitters compete at the county/town level, and didn't show off their goodies here.

Well, there were a lot of bulky fun fur and fairly simple objects, but surely the knitters had a good time knitting them.

There were a few lovely knitted objects. This shawl was unfortunately folded up and it was hard to see, but the visible part is in a beautiful feather-and-fan lace pattern.

This sweater had very good detailed colorwork.

This cream-colored afghan was an aran-lover's dream!

The crochet was better than the knitting overall. I hadn't realized you could make doilies this nice.

This multi-colored one is especially gorgeous!

There was one piece of tatting, another doily. I'd never seen tatting before, so this was pretty cool.

Right after we walked in, they informed us that the "hobbies" section of the fair was closing, so we had to leave. :(

We moved on to the food section. I was surprised at how few baked good there were--no pies at all, and just a few cakes and breads. I'm assuming that a lot of the edible competitions happen earlier on, and the goods get eaten or they go bad sitting out for 2 weeks. There were two dishes still out, as part of the Spam competition. One is some sort of Spam dip served in a pineapple, and the other is a Spam-tortilla roll-up. Yikes.

Being a vegetarian, the produce and grais were way more appetizing.

Here's the obligatory giant pumpkin! The scale read zero, so either it was broken, or the pumpkin exceeded the limit of the scale. It was really huge, and came up about mid-thigh!Then came dairy, with all the cheeses, creams, and whatnot. Unfortuantely, there were no cheese curds left.

This is a calf and cow statue made entirely of butter!
We moved on to the various real animals in the fair. Most of the animals already went home, so there were just a few to see.

There was a competition of these animals. We had to ask whether these were baby horses or ponies, and learned of the existence of miniature horses. Ha! They are very graceful and thin, like ballet dancers.

This miniature horse is not a show horse because he is too stumpy, but he is cute and lovable so he's out for the commoners to meet. Look at his little bangs!

My camera ran out of batteries so I didn't get any pictures of sheep, or the huge bags of shorn wool. But here is an awesome plaque on the outside of the Sheep Pavilion.

I hadn't realized that the fair takes place on permanent grounds, and there are big buildings dedicated to each type of farm animal. I felt very sad for all the animals, as I'm sure they'd prefer to be lolling about freely instead of cooped up in cages (and, eventually, being eaten). Alas.

Of course, no fair experience is complete without some deep-fried food! I had some deep-fried mac-n-cheese. They tasted like mac-n-cheese from a box, except fried. That was a once-only kind of thing, ahem.

We had fries, corndogs, lemonade, kettle corn (!!), funnel cake, samosas, fried plantaines, etc. Again, not many pics of the food because of the camera battery.

Another hilarious (again, probably hilarious only to me) part of the fair was the "Ethnic Village." There's a little food kiosk for each cuisine: English, French, Dutch, India (they left off the "n"), Korean, Greek, Polish, etc.

The specialty at the Dutch kiosk was funnel cake, which seemed weird until they told us that funnel cake is Pennsylvania Dutch. Aaaah, o-kay.

The most decorated kiosks were the least "ethnic," and basically sold all sorts of weird fried things, like coke (!) and snickers bars. The take home message was that the world's cuisines consist of anything deep-fried.

Oh, except the cuisine from the Republic of Beer.

All in all, it was a grease-heavy but fun day. And we are all fired up to enter the fair next year, and win some ribbons!