Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Entree to Entrelac: The Definitive Guide from a Biased Knitter1.  Learn entrelac! Armed with Gwen Bortner's latest book, I am confident I can master this technique. 

2.  Get my teeth cleaned.  For serious.  Like many people, I hate going to the dentist more than anything else, but I can put it off no longer. 

3.  Get a physical.  It's been a while...longer than I'd care to admit.  Not a good thing to put off!

4.  Start working through the design to-do list in earnest....because it keeps getting longer.

5.  Knit Tyler a sweater.  Finally, after ten and a half years of us being together, he will finally have a hand-knit sweater!  Albeit, it will look like all of his other sweaters (a black V-neck, perhaps with some ribs, but nothing fancy - he's just a basic guy.)  But this one will be extra warm and made with love!!

 6.  Master colorwork knitting.  I've made several colorwork projects that have turned out quite nicely, but specifically, I want to be able to knit a pair of socks that I can fit over my heel.  I just got Melissa Leapman's book for christmas, so should at least be on the right path.

7.  As always - destash, destash, destash.  This will be the third year of keeping track of projects made with yarn I shopped for in my stash.   In 2009, I completed 64 knitting projects with yarn from my stash.   In 2010, I only made 24 projects (with a stash-funded sweater still in progress)...which I suppose answers my question as to why there is still so much yarn in my stash!  Clearly, 2010 was more about re-stashing than de-stashing.  I suppose I can also claim (or blame) the influx of design work for the huge discrepancy in destashed FO's between the last two years.  There is also the issue of yarn that has been gifted to me, which I'm never sure if it counts as That Which Can Be Destashed.  My feeling is, the year it's given to me, no, but in the years that follow it can be counted as TWCBD. 

At any rate, my goal for destashed FO's for 2011 is going to be an immodest, improbable, and quite possibly insane figure of 100.  I'm all for blowing 2009 out of the water, and hitting triple digits would just feel good! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

best records of 2010

Majesty Shredding1.  Superchunk, Majesty Shredding - This album is amazing.  I think this is the greatest Superchunk album since Foolish.  It's hard to say, though, because it's tough for them to make a 'just ok' record.  'Digging for Something' was in my head for at least a week after I bought this.  And I didn't mind!

Grinderman 2 (Deluxe Edition)2.  Grinderman, 2 - It's hard to say what Nick Cave will do next; he always has a surprise in store.  While I did like the first Grinderman album, I find that I don't really listen to it that much.  Not so with this one - I've been listening to it tons since it came out!  In all honesty, it sounds like a Bad Seeds record - which makes me wonder if the Bad Seeds are done for good and this is the next phase for Mr. Cave.  Regardless, he's getting better and better with age.

Teen Dream [CD + DVD]3.  Beach House, Teen Dream - I resisted the awesomeness of this album at first.  It's true, I didn't want to like it - don't ask me why.  I'm clearly insane.  This is a case of Tyler playing it so much that I relented in my stubborn-ness to be greatly rewarded with an awesome album that is perfect for the evening commute.  When I've been on my feet all day and just want to sit down, but every seat on the train is full of weirdos, tourists with 80 suitcases, and several screaming children who are somehow all named Ashley, I just crank up this album and the urge to punch people subsides.

Warm Slime4.  Thee Oh Sees, Warm Slime - Really wasn't sure how they could top Help.  This record is definitely good in a different way from that one, but I think seeing them play earlier this year at Lincoln Hall sealed the deal.  Holy crap, they played so fast I thought they'd spontaneously combust at the end of their set. 

At Echo Lake

5.  Woods, At Echo Lake- Another situation where I honestly didn't think the band could top their previous release, this record was more than just a pleasant surprise.  A nice, warm blanket to keep you warm through the winter.  This was another band that we got to see live that made me really appreciate their records even more.

Have One on Me6.  Joanna Newsom, Have One on Me- I really fell off the Joanna Newsom bandwagon there for a while.  Nothing ever seemed as good as The Milk-Eyed Mender - but this record is pretty amazing.  Parts of it sound an awful lot like early Kate Bush, but in a good way (thankfully, not in the "Tori Amos attempting a pale imitation of Kate Bush" pretentious sort of way) - mostly in terms of production and polish.  It has the same intimacy of her first release, but you can tell there's been a musical progression that makes sense, and the results don't feel calculated and forced.  Really pretty music!  

I Will Be [Vinyl]7.  Dum Dum Girls, I Will Be- I looove the Dum Dum Girls!  Someday, I hope we actually get to see them play a show - so far we've been thwarted several times, but outlook is highly likely for this February.  My only complaint?  Must like the Vivian Girls' first release, this record is way too short!  Want more!

Halcyon Digest
8. Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest- I am the casual Deerhunter fan - I'd say of the two of us, Tyler is the bigger fan.  I don't listen to their records much - usually only when Tyler plays them - but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy their music.  I really like this record, though, and find myself getting the songs stuck in my head fairly often. 

Lux9.  Disappears, Lux - Two things made me really appreciate this album and this band:  1) Seeing them play over the summer @ Millenium Park.  2) Learning that they record everything live - an ethos I can really get behind.  Really loving on this Chicago band, and excited to hear what they put out next.

10.  Ultimate Fakebook, Daydream Radio is Smiling Static -This release came along exactly when I needed it to.  It's been so long, I almost forgot how amazing UFB was is.  When I am having a terrible, terrible day, there are a few bands whose albums I reach for that almost always pulls me out of a funk.  UFB is one of them (Sloan is another!).  Bonus:  the entire album is free to download!

Monday, December 27, 2010

santa's got a knitting bag

enjoying some holiday catnip
ohhh man, was santa ever good to me this year.  i received many thoughtful, useful and fantastic non-knitting gifts this year, to be sure.  tyler and i had a great time in kansas city, and though it was quite the whirlwind trip, we packed a lot into the three days we spent in town.  i was quite productive on the train ride to and fro (more on that, and my trip to the yarn shop, in a later post!).  better yet, when we got home, the cats were both happy to see us and robin looked healthy and well-hydrated (which we were a bit concerned about - he didn't receive any fluids while we were gone, but followed the vet's instruction to give him extra fluids the day we left town, and then get him caught up when we returned.  we now know that we can leave town for 3 days and he will be ok, which is a small comfort.  that is, however, probably our max.)

at any rate, there are some new, enticing additions to my knitting library - i hardly know what to cast on first!  

top to bottom:  Brave New Knits by Julie Turjoman, Mastering Color Knitting by Melissa Leapman, and Twisted-Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher.

not only that, but there was a knit simple magazine stuffed into my stocking, and next year i'll be having some rebecca danger monster ornaments on our christmas tree!

as if all of these things weren't enough, i got some fun gadjets and organizational things as well.  first off - a project bag based on a japanese lunch bag - it's like origami for my sock projects:

i also received some extra cords and needle tips for my interchangeable needle set, a magnetic namaste carrying case, a knit kit for all of my on-the-go knitting, and some notebooks to keep track of all of my design ideas, gift knitting, etc. (not pictured:  more sock blockers!)

not to mention, while i was away, my copies of malabrigo book 3 arrived in the mail!  it's christmas in spades around here. 

last but not least - tyler got me some lovely skeins of quince & co. yarn, which i have been dying to try!  it's always good to have a husband who knows the way to your heart, although a fairly specific wishlist also doesn't hurt (he did pick out the colors himself, though!).  

2 skeins of chickadee in honey
3 skeins of osprey in peacock

Monday, December 20, 2010

happy holidaze

in a few days, we'll be on our way to kansas city for the holidays - hope everyone has a great time with their loved ones and safe travels!

before i leave town, just thought i'd share another photo of the beautiful shawlette i received for my birthday, complete with yarn and pattern details.

pattern:  haruni (available for free on ravelry)

yarn:  malabrigo sock in 'terracotta'

it's snowing in chicago tonight, and really putting me in the holiday spirit - makes me want to finish the sport-weight sweater that's been on the backburner for the past month or so as i scramble to finish my gift knitting.  really looking forward to that seven-hour train can bet i'm strategically planning out my knitting projects for the journey!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

randomness - not just knitting

it's crunch time - i just realized i have less than a week before i leave town for the holidays, and of course, not enough time to accomplish all that i need to do before that happens.  i'm sure 99% of the population is in the same boat (or a similar one) as i am right now.  at any rate, here's a summary of what's been shaking this past week:

1.  shalloboi played our holiday show at martyr's on monday.  this is the first time merilee has played cello with us, and we didn't have a whole lot of prep time beforehand - everyone's schedule has been understandably crazy this month, so we really only had one full-band practice prior to the show.  and yet, it went really well - perhaps better than if we were feeling well-rehearsed - sometimes a little fear is good for you.  check out this video clip and judge for yourself!

2.  robin is doing well - he has to get fluids every day now, but he's still fighting the good fight.  he's even mildly tolerating the taking of pills - i suspect the mild resistance i've been getting is just for show.  i might be deluding myself, though!  tilly is also doing well - she doesn't seem to begrudge robin the extra attention he's been getting - though she does try to eat his special food when i'm not looking.  better that than the other way around! 

3.  caitlin knit a beautiful scarf for me for my birthday, and i just have to share a photo because it's really amazing.  yes...i am apparently still milking the never-ending birthday.  i'm going for the record.  i have no idea what pattern this is, or what yarn she used - will try to find out and post later.  all i know is, if i tried to knit this for myself, it wouldn't turn out nearly this good.  love, love, love it. 

4.  the malabrigo book 3 is coming!  i know i've been saying this every other week, and that's really not news.  but  a preview has just been posted on their website - check it out, it's pretty cool!  my designs are the ostrich toy, the felted handbag, and orange ribby socks.  yet another reason to look forward to 2011. 

5.  cooking up a new sock pattern - will be submitting it to the twist collective for fall 2011.  if they don't take it, i'll most likely be self-publishing.  it's actually something i've been gestating for a while (ie, til i had the time to devote to it - and now that all of the holiday knitting is done, there is no time like the present!).  i'm also starting to get my design to-do list in order for next year.  there's a lot of things in the hopper, and i'm chomping at the bit to get cracking!  now that i know how to better arrange my time for an entire year, i anticipate things being less haphazard on my end.  it may not seem like that to anyone else - also, i doubt anyone else is paying attention and cares - but i like to use all of my time efficiently, and i prefer to plan ahead so that there isn't a mad rush to get things done.  for example, i start my holiday knitting in july.  i might be starting in january this year, since i'll probably spend the summer working on design proposals for fall and winter, if this year is any indication. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

nest egg redux

this pattern was released earlier in the year, but i have since updated it with expanded sizing - now both children and adults can sport this fast-knitting cabled beanie!  links are below and on the pattern page (on right-hand navigation bar) to purchase via paypal.  enter "nestegg2010" (or click here to purchase - coupon code will automatically be applied) for 15% your entire pattern purchase from now 'til the end of the year - happy knitting!

buy now | add to cart | show cart

yarn: one skein malabrigo rios (shown in 'solis' and 'ravelry red')

needles:  set of US #7 DPN's and US#7 circular needles

cable needle
ravelry red!
stitch marker
darning needle

sizes:  Child (Adult S, Adult L)

finished measurements:  16" (20", 24") circumference

pattern details:  pattern is knit from the bottom-up in the round.  both written instructions and chart are included. 

Friday, December 10, 2010


last night we finally made it to the christkindlmarket - hopefully not our last visit this season.  our mission?  drink a few boots-worth of glüwein, and get some bird ornaments for the tree!

i think we were successful on both fronts, but i'll let you be the judge of that.

tyler and i both love the christkindlmarket.  it's a schlocky tourist trap, yes, but anywhere you can get a bavarian pretzel (or potato pancake, or bratwurst) and  a nice boot filled with hot spiced wine can't be all bad.  daley plaza always looks so pretty with the little booths and christmas lights, and it's become a tradition for us to go at least a couple of times and drink in the spirit of the season.

we always make a point to go to the sweet house, although usually we don't buy anything - we just mock a few of the weirder items (mozart balls, anyone?).  the main destination for us, other than the beverage line, is the ornament vendors.  some of the ornaments are really ridiculous (with price tags to match!) - i just can't imagine any scenario in which i would hang a glass pizza on my tree.  they're fun to look at, and they have some really beautiful glass ornaments that look like the kind my grandparents had on their tree.  we still don't have our christmas pickle.  maybe next year!

however, we're more into the unbreakable ornament variety, since we're not sure if the cats might still try to give the tree a climb. maybe next year we can start buying the traditional heirloom fancy things - i'm pondering getting some garlands to hang ornaments on, away from the curious paws of the kitties. 

our preferred source for the traditional german clippie bird, as we call them, is käthe wohlfahrt from rotherburg, germany.   we got a pretty nice assortment this year.  if anyone was wondering how many bird ornaments you can get for $15, here is your answer:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

how to stay warm...

...when you don't have any heat because the repairman broke the heater when he came over to 'fix' it, and the actual part they need is on backorder til friday (and that's presupposing he knows what to do with said part)!

1.  make a pot of hot tea, drink while wrapping gifts.  be filled with the spirit of the holidays!  and caffeine.

 2.  listen to some good music.  this is my 'listening pile,' filled with records i got for my birthday, and a few i picked up on impulse the last time i was at reckless.
 3.  find a sun puddle to warm you up.  this one appears to be at capacity, however. 

4.  make some tiny snowmen! 

pattern:  teeny-tiny mochimochi snowmen pattern
yarn:  pick up sticks small balls

5.  carbo-load.  you'll need the extra insulation, and beer makes everything better. 

5.  snuggle a cat and bust out the hand-knits.  i'm wearing my honey cowl, my owl cardigan , and some noro stockinette socks. 

6.  heat up your clothes in the dryer before you get dressed in the morning.  we're lucky to have free washers & dryers in our place!