Friday, December 31, 2010

FO Friday

Welcome to the last FO Friday of 2010!  I, for one, decided to send the year out with a bang.  No, I'm not huddled up with a zillion of my closest friends in Times Square.  But I did manage to finish a project.  Yay!

As promised, I put the finishing touches on Eliza last night, and this morning, for that matter.  I knit ear #2, then knit it again, and again, and... It turns out that it's really hard to knit symmetrical body parts, even if they do belong to a heavily stylized elephant.  Ditto for the embroidered eyes.  In the end, I decided to embrace her imperfections rather than drive myself batty trying to make her perfect.  Hmm... that smacks of a New Years resolution.  I should write that down somewhere so I don't forget.

Anyway, enough babbling.  Here she is, in all her slightly lopsided glory!

And again from a slightly more flattering angle, because she really is pretty stinking cute.

I'm super happy that she's done, and excited to stick her in the mail as a belated Christmas gift.  Hope her new keeper is as happy with her as I am.

I'm off to get ready for a houseful of folks tonight, but before I do, I'm heading over to Tami's to check out everyone else's successes.  You should, too.

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.21

Here we are, at the very last Wednesday of 2010 -- the year knitting went from something I did here and there to Knitting -- A Way of Life.  Seriously.  I'm never not knitting *something* these days.

I finished the Snowbaby Hat just in time for Christmas (I couldn't wrap it til Christmas morning because it took forever to dry after blocking), and Mr. Right's mom loved it.  It earned me the biggest hug I've ever gotten from her and a kiss on the cheek.  And then she checked my finishing work, proclaimed that I had done a beautiful job and hugged me again.  I couldn't have asked for a better reaction.  Phew!

I'm determined to finish Eliza this week, now that my finger is mostly healed, so check back on Friday for the final unveiling.  I promise!  For now, she still looks like this:

I've also unearthed that cable lace vest that got buried during the holidays.  I'm resolving to pick it up again, but just for a little refresher, here's what it looked like when I stuffed into my knitting back about 6 weeks ago...

It's pretty, and I'm excited to wear it.  But lately, I've become inexplicably obsessed with making mittens.  It's supposed to snow like crazy here tomorrow, and what sort of self-respecting knitter goes into an impending blizzard with only one pair of mittens???  Not this one, that's for sure.

And so.  Instead of knitting an elephant ear or the top of a vest, I cast on for a new pair of MITTENS!  I love mittens. I love the coziness, I love the super cool patterns that are available, I even love the word.  Mittens. Mittens. Mittens!  Phew. Glad I got that out of my system.  Anyway, after realizing that I had no Progress to report for WIPW, I got up early this morning and cast on for a pair of Chevalier Mittens.  Then I spent the whole morning working on them (I love vacation).  Here's what we have so far, after having tinked a few rows due to the dreaded KBMC syndrome -- that's Knitting Before Morning Caffeine...

That's the back of the hand side, with the beginnings of the cabling.  Here's what the palm side looks like...

I'm loving the yarn and the pattern so far, though this is the first thing that I've knit entirely from a chart and it's a little scary (see tinking, above).

Hope everyone is having a great week.  For more crafty loveliness, head over to Tami's blog and check out everyone else's progress this week. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

My mom, in her very proper picture with Santa, circa 1950...

I, on the other hand, was slightly more suspicious of the big guy when my turn came 25 or so years later...

Apparently, we all keep Christmas in our own ways.  And however you keep it, I wish you all the merriest of Christmases!

ps.  Check out Sepia Saturday for more good, old fashioned Christmas cheer!

Friday, December 24, 2010

FO Ho Ho Friday

Happy Almost Christmas, everybody!

I can't believe it's almost here, though I should since I've been wrapping presents for the last eleventy billion hours or so.  I have one left to wrap...

It's finished!  But it's taking forever to dry after being blocked.  I have the box ready, the paper set out, it just needs another hour or two locked up in the guest bathroom with the heat vent open.... I hope.  Otherwise I'll be giving a slightly soggy hat tomorrow.

I'm super happy with the way it turned out, but I did have some trouble with laddering on the decreases.  I'm not sure why, as I've never had a problem before, but I just stitched it up a bit when I was weaving the ends in and it seems like everything's A-Ok.  I definitely see myself knitting another of these in the future.  I want one to keep!  It's fun and fairly fast, and it will give me a chance to learn how to hold one color in each hand.

The only other FO I have to share this week is this:

It's Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Cheesecake.  I've never made a cheesecake before, and this one is for Christmas dessert.  It browned way faster than expected in the oven, and so I turned the heat down and pulled it out a bit early.  Then when it cooled, it sank.  A bunch.  Is that normal?  I dumped the blackberry topping onto it, but I'm worried it's not cooked all the way through.  How do you know with a cheesecake? I guess we'll find out.  Come back next week for details of the spectacular dessert or epic failure.  I'll let you know which way it goes.

Until then, a very Merry Christmas to all of you and yours!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Work in Progress Wednesday v.20

**Editor's note -- I wrote this lovely post, then went to upload the pictures and realized that I left my camera at my office.  45 minutes away.  So instead of decently lit shots, you get crummy phone photos.  Sorry!  Now you'll appreciate this week's FO Friday photos even more, right?  ;)

*  *  *  *  *

Happy Wednesday before Christmas, you guys!  There's not much to report in the way of knitting progress around here, sadly, but I haven't missed a WIPW yet, so why start now?

The cut on my finger was worse than I thought, and a full week later, I still can't quite manage to make any progress on Eliza.  The cut runs over the back of my index finger, right where the yarn runs when I knit.  Not so convenient, really.  So I'm still staring at a one-eared elephant over here, but who knows... maybe there's a Christmas knitting miracle in store.  We'll see.

Instead of elephant-ing, I've been working like crazy on that stranded colorwork hat for Mr. Right's mom for Christmas.  Happily, that doesn't seem to bother my finger much.

I'm just about halfway done with the crown decreases now, which are zooming right along.  The 15 rounds of stranded colorwork took me about 3x as long as the rest of the hat total, but I did alright for a first-timer, I think, just s  l  o  w going.  I'm planning to finish it up tonight so I can get it blocked tomorrow.  Nothing like cutting it close!

That's all for me this week, so I'll leave you with the obligatory Christmas tree picture...

... and encourage everyone to head over to Tami's blog to check out all the fancy dancy WIPW progress that's going on this week.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Big Birthday Surprise

As some of you know, my very own Mr. Right (finally!) turned 30 yesterday.  And, being the scheming sort of SO that I am, I've been plotting for the last 6 months to pull off the surprise of the century.  Long story short -- it worked! 

The longer version is this:  Since we've only been in Colorado a couple of years, most of Mr. Right's good friends are in different parts of the country and he almost never gets to see them.  Last June, I snuck into his email account and stole the addresses of his best friend from elementary school, his best friend from high school, his college roommate and his good friend from work here.  I emailed all of them (who I mostly don't know at all) and invited them to come out for his birthday.  I figured if one of them showed up, it would be a screaming success.

With the exception of Elementary School Guy, all of them (!) agreed to come.  I rented us a house up in the mountains for the weekend, and everyone bought plane tickets.  And, while Mr. Right was visiting his folks after Thanksgiving, I cooked.  A lot.  I made 24 chocolate cupcakes (with cream filling and chocolate ganache on top), 2 lasagnas, 26 twice baked potatoes (to go with a couple of tri tips that I picked up) and 3 gallons of beef barley soup.  Phew!

Since the plan was to make Mr. Right think the house in the mountains was his birthday present, I froze all the food and stashed it at our friend A's house, since he was the only local attendee, so he could bring it with him and Mr. Right wouldn't be wondering why I was packing food for an army for our weekend in the mountains.

So on Thursday night, we headed up to this cute little house in the Rocky Mountains...

That even had a river out front.  It was almost frozen, but not quite, so we could still hear the rushing water...

Mr. Right was a happy guy...

And on Friday, High School Guy (Mr. Right's friend K) and his girlfriend, H. arrived...
I didn't know either of them at all.  And they turned out to be great -- super fun to hang around with just plain easy.  Yay!

A few hours later, College Guy E. and his girlfriend J. arrived (after a 3 hour flight delay)...
I know E. pretty well by now, and both he and J. are awesome.  They even got to stay an extra day and gave us an excuse to take Monday off.  Bonus!

Shortly after that, A. arrived, having hauled all of our food up the hill.  Awesome guy, A.  Here, he's demonstrating what happens when you complain about having your picture taken...
Sorry, A. 

All in all, a spectacular weekend.  There was plenty of Guitar Hero-ing...
and a ton of eating, but no pics of the food, sadly.  On Saturday, we went snowboarding with varying degrees of success.  It was my first time on a snowboard, but I did okay, mostly.  I made it down the bunny slope twice, and then down a much longer (but still green) run, all without any trips to the emergency room.  I consider that a smashing success.

On Sunday, we sent to a Christmas festival in one of our favorite teeny tiny Colorado towns -- Georgetown.  They close down the main street, and haul in reindeer...

And they have horse drawn carriage rides...
And a really cute little outdoor market.  Unfortunately, on Sunday they also had sustained winds blowing at around 60 mph.  It was enough to pick up Mr. Right's full coffee cup off the table and dump the whole thing onto my pants.  Boo.  Short visit to the Christmas festival this year.

Before we all said goodbye for the weekend, we decided to take a group photo.  So Mr. Right lined everyone up on the porch, and set up the timer on his camera on the footbridge.  He had 10 seconds to skitter up the slope (it had been snowing), run over to the porch, hop over the rail and stand next to me...

He didn't quite make it, which apparently I found hysterical.  Also, turns out the railing on the footbridge wasn't quite level. Hmmm.  Let's try again...

We set up again in a spot with easier access, and Mr. Right spent an eternity lining up the camera just right...

Better, but maybe a smidge off-center.  So I cropped it for him...

And no one will ever know. 
I'm super thankful that everything went so well, and everyone had a great time.  I'm also super thankful that it's over -- surprises are tiring!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.19

I was SO hoping that I'd be able to write this post today and be all, "No elephant pics for you guys!  You'll have to wait til FO Friday for that -- cuz she's DONE!"  But I cannot be all like that.  Because she is still not done.  She would have been done, if not for this...

That's what's left of my right index finger after I tried to amputate the top half while slicing a loaf of french bread last night for Mr. Right's birthday party #2.  Bread knives are sharp (Ow.).  They are also serrated (Ow.), and sometimes slippery (Seriously. Ow.).  Out of respect for the gaping wound on my finger, I decided to take a day or two off from wrestling worsted weight yarn on size 3 dpns.  So here's our Miss Eliza, one ear and two eyes shy of her full pachyderm glory...

Still cute!  And I kitchenered that ear all by myself, with a bit of help from this youtube video.  If ever you need assistance with any sort of knitterly technique (please tell me I'm not the only one?), I highly recommend any videos by the knitwitch.  She's awesome at super clear videos and explanations.

Anyway, I'm still semi-hoping she'll be done in time for FO Friday, but we'll see.

Since I couldn't work on the elephant, and because I'm insane, I decided to start a hat for Mr. Right's mom for Christmas.  Brilliant!  Also?  Stranded colorwork.  Have I ever done stranded colorwork before?  Why no.  I have not.  I'm sure it'll be fine.  I mean I started at lunch, cast on twice (first long-tail wasn't long enough), could have sworn that I joined to work in the round (I didn't), and have managed one and a half rounds of ribbing so far.

But I have this stunning pattern by the lovely and talented Eskimimi, and this gorgeous yarn (ravelry link - sorry), and buckets of irrational optimism.  What could go wrong?*

Speaking of irrational optimism, I'm sure all of the other WIPW-ers are long done knitting their Christmas gifts and are busily basking in the warm glow of a stress-free holiday.  The only way to find out for sure is to head over to Tami's blog and see for yourself.

*Don't answer that.  Please?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.18

Aw, look at that... WIPW is old enough to vote!  They grow up so fast, don't they?  All those weeks, and yet so little progress.  Sigh.  I'm still working away on Elijah (recently re-dubbed Eliza) over here.  She's getting cuter by the minute.  I just wish I had more time to work on her! 

She's a couple of limbs closer to finished!  One arm, two ears and a couple of embroidered eyes still to come.  This is a really fun knit, and I'd make another one in a heartbeat.  Ysolda's patterns are really kind of genius.

And, just so you can all share in my vision of Eliza, here's how she'll look with a rose barrette clipped on her ear.  Once she has ears, that is...
Pretty cute, eh?  I'm tempted to skip arm #2 and head straight for her ears so I can clip it on, but I don't think the instruction follower in me will allow it.  We'll see who wins.

Sadly, that's it for me this week.  I've got Mr. Right back and we're heading off for the Big Birthday Weekend tomorrow.  Unfortunately, it's no longer a surprise, but that's another story for another day.  There will still be plenty of fun to be had, I hope!

At the moment, I'm off to check out everyone else's WIPW projects over at Tamis blog.  You should too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oooooh! Shiny!

Something you probably don't know about me.  For the last year and a half or so, I've been phone-challenged.  It all started in an epic midwestern rainstorm while Mr. Right and I were driving home from visiting friends in Kansas.  I pulled over because I couldn't see.  Anything.  At all.  It was nuts.  We stopped at a rest stop, and decided to switch places, letting the brave Mr. Right drive.  We counted to 3, both hopped out of the truck and ran around to the other side.  When we got back in 5 seconds later, we both looked like we'd been stuffed into the washing machine.  We laughed it off, and drove out of the storm and down the highway.

About 20 minutes later, I had a thought...  "Where's my phone?"  Yep.  You guessed it.  It had fallen out at the rest stop.  We drove back and arrived just after the back wheel of a semi truck had run it over.  Smashed to smithereens.

Some friends were kind enough to lend me a phone that they'd just replaced with something new. And while it was a pretty basic phone, it worked well enough, and I was grateful to have it.  A month or so ago, the battery started to die.  And then I dropped it.  And the result was that every time I picked it up, the back fell off and the battery fell out.  Bummer.  Even bigger bummer?  The battery allowed about 2 and a half minutes of talk time on a full 8 hour charge.  I slogged along.

Three days ago, the screen flashed and went to a blank blue light.  No contacts, no messages, no nothing.  Just blue.  I was afraid it was going to turn to dust in my hands.  Proof?  Here you go...

The poor thing served me well, but was in desperate need of retirement.  Finally free of my previous contract, I took the plunge.  And last night, this arrived...

It's an LG Optimus S. I think I might be in love.  I can call people!  Even people whose phone number I don't know by heart!  And I can send and receive text messages.  I know, right?  The mind boggles.

Right now, my favorite thing is this...

I can totally listen to Johnny Cash if I want, which I did this afternoon, quite happily.  My other favorite thing?  Whack-a-Mole.  Why yes.  I am easy to please.  What makes you ask?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to explore the wonderful world of Charlie Brown ringtones.

Friday, December 3, 2010

FO Friday

Hey, guess what!  It's FO Friday again, and this week, I'm only sort of cheating.  That's some serious progress.  With Mr. Right (still!) away, I've been a busy little beaver.

As I mentioned on WiP Wednesday, Mr. Right's Avast finally counts as an FO -- zipper and all.  I'm super pleased with the way it turned out, and can't wait for him to wear it when he gets home.  Apologies for the weak pic, but it's dark around here these days!

And now a close-up of the infamous zipper in all its antique brass glory.  Ooh!  Ahh!

Yay for sweaters that *finally* end!  And even more yay for sweaters that finally end well.  Phew!  It's such a relief.

In other FO news (I know, right?  More than one in a week!  Crazy!)... Remember all that felt?

I hooked it up with a pile of embroidery floss...

And a few hair clips...

(Pretend that I remembered to take a picture of the clips, okay?  They look like these.)
And voila!

Courtesy of the Purl Bee (the awesome craft blog by the folks at Purl SoHo), the world's cutest hair clips. Pattern is here.  I LOVE them.  They're fairly easy to pull off, though I have broken 2 embroidery needles trying to get the embroidery floss through the felt.  And I think they look kind of amazing.

I was so excited, I made a pink one, too...

Actually, this is what made me think of turning Elijah into Eliza.  How cute would this little elephant be with a rose hair clip on her ear?  Seriously cute, is what I think.  Either way, I have 3 more to make this weekend, and then I'll be set for Christmas.  At least in the hair clip department.  Once I get the felt out of my system, it'll be back to elephanting and vesting around here.  But I gotta say, it was kind of a fun break.

My other HUGE project at the moment is Mr. Right's 30th birthday.  He's finally hitting the big 3-0, so we're celebrating in grand style.  I've been scheming for 6 months now, and it's all coming together next weekend.  Man, it's exhausting to keep a secret from your SO for 6 months.  It's killing me!  I can't divulge any more details without spoiling the awesome surprise, but I'll post the whole story and pictures once the cat's out of the bag.   Promise.

Hope y'all have a spectacular weekend!  You should start it by checking out everyone else's FO Friday successes over at Tami's blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Work in Progress Wednesday v.17

It's WIPW again!  These things seem to be coming faster and faster, especially as Christmas gets *gulp* closer and closer.  Since Mr. Right's been away, I've had way more time to knit work on projects this past week.  It's been fun, but I'd rather have him hanging around interrupting me.  Ah well.

The Big News is that Avast is really, truly, FINALLY finished.  I took it over to my neighbor the other night for a zipper consult, and she spread it out on her kitchen table, showed me exactly how to do put in the zipper, then proceeded to sew the whole blinking thing in (and then add a second line of reinforcement stitches) while we chatted.  The whole operation from basting to done took about an hour and a half.  I'm so grateful I could cry.  Because really, with my mad sewing skillz, it would've taken me a solid week.  And it looks great!  I think I need to bake her something.

Totally off track, sorry!  This is supposed to be about all the stuff I'm working on now.  Right then.  Elijah is coming along great.  He has a head, complete with extra-cute trunk, a body, and a whole leg.  Oh, and pay
no attention to the shiny green knitting needle sticking out of his noggin.  Turns out it's super difficult to get a one-legged elephant to sit up properly for a photo...

I'm dying of the cute.  Hopefully, he'll get another leg tonight and some arms tomorrow so that he'll be all ready for FO Friday.  Fingers crossed!  I am contemplating a gender change, though.  Wouldn't he be SO cute as an Eliza?  We'll see what happens once all his/her limbs are in place.

That little felt project I was working last week is still in the hopper, even though I haven't had any time to work on it.  I still think I'll be able to finish one by Friday.  Lofty ambitions this week!

Finally, here's the cable lace vest ...

It doesn't look like much progress has been made, but I was able to navigate the row after the short rows, picking up the wraps and purling them in with no problems.  A few more rows of waist decreases done and I've just started the top of the vest with ribbing in back and cables in front.  Pretty good, considering.

S'all for me this week.  Head over to Tami's Blog and check out everyone else's WIPW projects.  Holiday presents galore!

Which reminds me...  Hanukkah starts tonight.  Happy Hanukkah to everyone who's celebrating!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adventures in Decorating

On Friday night, I bundled Mr. Right off to the airport for a 9 day visit with his folks.  9 days is a long time.  Just sayin'.  Anyway, I've been trying to keep busy over the weekend and found a zillion and four things to do.  There was cleaning to be done (boo), picture organizing (bleh), Christmas shopping (yay), and Christmas decorations to put up (double yay).  I started working on switching out the Fall decorations for the Christmas variety this morning, hauling boxes back and forth from the basement.  Good times. 

By early afternoon, the mantle and the alcoves around it were off to a pretty good start, with room to grow...

And since it was such a pretty day, I decided to put the outside lights up during the warmest part of the afternoon.  I left for Target around 2 (Christmas lights on sale!  Woo!), and noticed that it seemed to be clouding up awfully quickly. 

I got home around 3, and set about putting up the lights just as the first flakes started to fall.  And by first flakes, I mean the first snow we've had all year.  Seriously. 

I was able to get some of the lights onto the tree, and some on the bushes out front before the dog and I, and everything else were completely covered in white. 

So here's what my Sunday Christmas light expedition looks like now...

Pretty, but a little sparse.  Don't worry, there's more to come!  Just as soon as it stops snowing and I can manage to crawl around on the roof without maiming myself.


Friday, November 26, 2010

FO Friday -- Gobble Gobble

Happy Friday, everyone!  Another week has whooshed by in a blink (is it just me, or do they really zoom by at a faster clip this time of year?), and it's FO Friday again! 

I have tons of FOs to share this week, though (probably not surprisingly), none of them are knitting related.  I have, however, been working my fingers to the bone...

Roasted turkey (Big thank you Crate and Barrel for making amazing brine and herb rubs), homemade pumpkin pie and not-so-homemade, but still awesome rolls.

Also on the FO list for this week...

Sausage stuffing (artsy camera angle, courtesy Mr. Right.  It's making me a little dizzy...)

But wait... there's more!

Mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and green beans with bacon and onion.

The brussells sprouts were apparently camera shy.  Probably not too tragic, as they tasted much better than they looked (I know what you're thinking -- ew!  brussells sprouts! -- But really, I swear!  They tasted great!)

Anywho, back to my final FO for the week, a very, very happy Mr. Right...

Who was so beside-himself-excited about his dinner that he photographed his plate.  And then proceded to eat leftovers for every meal since then in an effort to consume as much as possible before he left to visit his folks.  Pretty awesome compliment, that.

And since I've just put him on a plane for the next 9 days (Boo!), I fully expect to have at least one -- possibly more (!) FOs of a knitted nature to share next week.

Hope all of you Thanksgiving-celebrating types had a lovely holiday, and that the rest of you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.16

Happy Wednesday Before Thanksgiving to everyone in the US (and any celebrating expats), and Happy WIPW to the rest of you!

Personally, I'm gearing up to cook my face off tomorrow.  But in between roasting and baking and brining (not in that order), I plan to sneak in some more time knitting on my new projects.  Both of them are super fun, so I'm having a hard time putting them down.

Elijah is coming along nicely, once I got past that crazy disappearing loop cast on that the pattern calls for.  Seriously, it's only 6 stitches, but between Mr. Right (did I mention he's an engineer?) and I we spent 45 minutes or so going through the directions and diagrams and still didn't have it right.  Thank goodness for youtubeThis video finally did the trick though, and is a total lifesaver if you're looking to knit up an elephant.  I'm finishing up the trunk now, and here's what he's looking like...

Something still went a bit amiss with the cast on, unfortunately, and I did the first two rounds of stitches inside out.  Oops.  I think you can't tell unless you're looking for it and I know the recipient won't mind, so I'm soldiering on.  Not too bad, right?

He's not so cute yet, but I have high hopes for him.  I'm not quite sure about the stuffing though.  Does anyone have tips for how much polyfill one should cram in into one's elephant?  I want him to be soft, but not wobbly, and it seems no matter how much stuffing I stuff, there's room for more.  I'd love any suggestions from any of you who've knit (or crocheted!) any stuffies.

I have another new project this week, too.  And *gasp*, it's not knitting.  I know, right?  Who woulda thunk.  We'll keep it a mystery at the moment, but I'm hoping for an FO to share with you on Friday.  Here's what it looks like at the moment...

In the in between spots, I'm also still plugging away at the cable lace vest, which continues to go pretty well.  On Saturday, Mr. Right and I drove up to Wyoming to pick up some truck parts he'd bought, and I decided it would be a perfect time to knit lace short rows in the car on the way.  I am not super smart, sometimes.  So I knitted away for a while, juggling pattern and needles and row counter, and when I got to the end of the short rows, things didn't add up.  So 1 hour into our 12 hour day of driving, I crammed the vest back into the bag, grumbled a bit, and that was that.

Turns out I hadn't screwed anything up, I'd just misread the instructions.  There are different numbers of short rows on the left and the right, see.  And I expected them to be symmetrical.  Silly me.  So in the end, I was fine.  I just missed out on oodles of car knitting time.  I'm done with the short rows on the vest now, and I think it's looking pretty good.

I'm going to give myself a few more days of knitting on it before I put it down to finish up Elijah and start  working on an Ice Queen to give as a Christmas gift.  Once the Christmas knitting is finished up, I'll dive back in to vest-land.

At the moment, though, I'm going to head over and check out everyone else's progress over at Tami's blog.  You should too.