Monday, June 30, 2003

And They Said It Couldn't Be Done ...
I'd like to thank the Academy, the producers, and all the little people! The SFH (Sweater from Hell), aka the Aran Cardie, is ready for its closeup, Mr. DeMille!

The Front

The Back

The Neck

Sleeve Detail

Front Detail

Back Detail

SFH gets wrapped in festive birthday paper & ribbons and mailed to my mother in Portland, OR in time for her birthday this Saturday. It's too bloody hot to wear it in Oregon this time of year, but I think she'll enjoy snuggling up in it this fall. Funny how, like childbirth, the pain of making this sweater faded away immediately after seeing it in its fully-assembled glory. I'm actually thinking of making another one for ME! Somebody take my temperature, I must be running a fever.

ChicKnits Rules!
Bonne Marie has done it again! Go NOW to her webpage and buy her latest downloadable pattern for the "ChicKami," an adorable knit camisole in DK weight yarn. Bonne's patterns are as well-thought out as her website. Using PayPal, I had my ChicKami pattern (in Adobe Acrobat PDF format) purchased and downloaded in under 3 minutes! Now that's speed chic!

On The Horizon
The Dump Truck Pullover for my 6yo nephew is humming along. I haven't done intarsia in years, so fiddling with bobbins was kind of weird at first, but it's coming back to me. Pictures tomorrow. Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, June 27, 2003

Promises, Promises
Yeah, I know I promised pictures of the SFH (Sweater from Hell), aka the Aran Cardie when it was finished. Well, technically it's finished, but I don't like the buttons I originally chose and am going in search of new ones after work tonight. So neener, neener, you gotta wait one more day to see it. It'll be worth it, I promise!

There's something magical about assembling a sweater -- taking a lumpy mass of knitted fabric, sewing the seams, weaving the ends, sewing on buttons, then ... a beautiful sweater appears. I hung the Aran Cardie on a hangar and just stared at it for the entire evening. I can't believe that a project that caused me so much grief turned out so lovely. There's only one hitch ... it's going to be too big for my petite mother. Since it's made with Plymouth's Encore, I'm tempted to wash and dry it on gentle cycles and take advantage of that 20% wool content to shrink it a bit.

Amy Knits! Premieres: The Friday Five

  1. How are you planning to spend the summer? Trying to lose the weight I gained over the past year.
  2. What was your first summer job? Babysitting Berkeley Johnson, Child of Satan, and his sisters.
  3. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go? Ireland, ancestral home of my curmudgeonly Irish spitfire of a grandmother. She died last November and I miss every single day.
  4. What was your worst vacation ever? Any vacation I took with my ex-husband. He always managed to reduce me to tears over something.
  5. What was your best vacation ever? My first trip to London 5 years ago with my present husband, the love of my life.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Move Along Folks, Nothing to See Here
Not feeling up to snuff today ...

Progress Report: Got one side seamed (sleeve and side seam) of the SFH -- just need to seam the other side and weave in all the ends. Picked out some buttons yesterday on the way home from the doctor's office -- nice wooden ones that will look great against the oatmeal-colored yarn. I promise to get some pictures up tomorrow :-)

About to Start: The Dump Truck sweater for my 6yo nephew to wear this fall. The pattern is by EweCanKnit. There was a choice of a dump truck, a bulldozer, and a school bus. My SIL let Andrew choose which one "Auntie Amy" would make for him, and he chose the dump truck. It'll be made up in Reynolds Utopia yarn, a rather nice acrylic yarn. It's soft, and most importantly for use with grubby little boys, it's machine washable!

Will Finish Someday: One of those ridiculously endless Einstein coats for my sister. Can you say "garter stitch hell?" I'm making it out of Lopi, in a really lovely heathery burgundy that I got cheap at Smiley's. This coat is knit in sections, each new section building on the other. It's an efficient method of creation, but the downside is that you end up wrestling with this HUGE, heavy horse blanket of knitted material. So far I've completed the bottom panel, and the right front and upper back. I have the upper left, sleeves, and collar. I may have to put this monster aside until this fall. It'll just be too hot to wrestle with this beast during the summer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

In the Home Stretch
Finished the neckband on the SFH (Sweater from Hell) yesterday and started sewing it up. Should have pictures tomorrow! In the meantime, here are some pretty flowers for your viewing enjoyment. Springtime in San Diego is elusive and fleeting, but this year we've had a prolonged "June Gloom," a weather phenomenon where the desert east of San Diego heats up and acts as a chimney, drawing cool air from the ocean. This creates a grey, misty atmosphere over San Diego for much of June. As summer progresses, the coast areas heat up and the "gloom" recedes offshore until early evening, when it moves back over the beach areas. If you look toward the coast on a summer evening, it literally looks like a grey wall hovering off the coastline. The benefit of this cool weather has been the extended life of the spring flowers. Usually, they start getting fried by now, but they've gotten a few weeks of extended life:

Monday, June 23, 2003

Block Party
Got the SFH (Sweater from Hell) blocked on Sunday:

The pieces should be completely dry by tonight. I must confess I always get a bit anxious when it's time to assemble a sweater. I think it dates back to the mid '80s when I wanted to be a contract knitter for The Knotting Chamber (see entry from 6/12/3), and brought several of my sweaters for them to inspect. The manager admired my tension and technique, but said my assembly was not up to their standards. Although I was thoroughly crushed, it spurred me to learn how to finish my sweaters properly. But the fear of my sweaters not being good enough still lingers, all these years later. Amazing.

Introducing Fern, Queen of the Garage!

This is Fern. She (literally) wandered into our lives about 8 years ago. We were living in a dumpy little beach house on Fern Glen Street in La Jolla, California. My husband was still smoking at the time, and would smoke outside on the driveway. One evening, he felt something brush up against his leg. He looked down, and there was a lovely black kitty cat. "Hello," my husband said. "Meow," said (yet unnamed) Fern. Next night, same scenario. On the third night, we put out a small bowl of milk when she showed up. On the fourth night, my husband went to the store and bought a single can of Fancy Feast. No one on Fern Glen Street claimed her. She was in good health, appeared to be about 1-2 years old, and had been spayed. She had no collar. So she came to live with us. Eight years, a new house, and many cans of Fancy Feast later, Fern (named after the street we lived on) is still our beautiful furry girl. She likes to be outside during the daylight hours, and finds many hiding places in the garage to curl up at night. This packing box is her (current) favorite.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

A Day at the Fair!
Even the most dedicated of knitters needs a day off! So let's go to the San Diego County Fair, in lovely Del Mar, California. The fair is actually held on the grounds at the horse racing track of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The track and clubhouse were built by the late singer Bing Crosby back in the 1930s. High stakes horse races are held July through September of every year. But not today! Here are some highlights:

What a face! A baby calf makes big eyes for the camera:

Three little piglets in a feed bowl:

This sweet little bulldog represented an Adopt-a-Bulldog program:

The Adopt-a-Greyhound program was popular with the kids, too:

Ugh! The Fried Twinkies have made it to the West Coast. Make an appointment with your cardiologist after eating one of these:

Me after eating a Fried Twinkie. Can't quite muster a smile -- my stomach hurts:

DH after the same Fried Twinkie. He looks a bit better.

DH trying on a 2003 Corvette for size:

The Skybridge from the fairgrounds to the horse track infield. We opted not to ride this year, as the price for a round-trip ticket for 2 went up to $12!

Lots of great exhibits, lots of fun. Have a nice weekend, everyone :-)

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Not much to report on the knitting front. Plugging away on the back of the SFH (Sweater from Hell) aka the Aran Cardie -- stopped last night right at the point of starting the armhole shaping. I'm *hoping* to finish the back by Saturday, get this baby blocked by Sunday and start the neck/buttonhole band by Monday. Then a quick spritz and reblock of the neck, sew on the buttons, and send it up to Mom by her birthday on July 5th. Say a rosary for me, folks! Hmm, the mention of rosaries reminds of me of my childhood and the many years I spent in parochial school. Good old St. Stephen's in Southeast Portland. Climb in the Way-Back Machine to the year 1972. I had the last of the "old school" nuns -- the ones that nightmares are made of! Think of "The Penguin" in The Blues Brothers movie, and you're not far off. Which brings us to:


Many of these little jewels ended up in Sister Elizabeth's desk drawer, never again to see the light of day. When a toy was confiscated by a nun, you never, ever got it back. Clockwise, from left: Klackers (glass balls on a string that you clacked up-and-down against each other -- "you'll put your eye out!"), Wacky Packages Bubble Gum (gum was absolutely verboten, and this brand had these awesome product parody cards that the nuns thoroughly disapproved of), Candy Cigarettes (nuff said), and Wizzzers (a high-speed spinning top -- boys loved to run up behind a girl with long hair and shove this mega-RPM toy into her hair and get it so tangled that the only way it could be removed was to cut her hair). Ah, memories!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Takin' Care of Business
Woo hoo! Finished the left & right front of the SFH aka Aran Cardie. Here they are in all their unblocked glory:

Had to frog the back down to the beginning of the armhole decreases. The pattern says to knit the left/right front and back to 13" before starting the armhole shaping, but that doesn't work if you want the left/right neck front decreases to start along the top edge of the 3rd full diamond, and not have the neck slant cut through the diamond. You actually have to knit the left/right fronts to 14" to get this to happen. So I have to knit that extra inch into the back, too. Hmmph. This entire sweater has been like a Texas Two-Step (knit, frog, knit, frog, twirl yourself in frustration). If some lucky person happens to inherit this pattern booklet from me, they'll find copious little notes pencilled in the margins.

Aren't These Cute?

I've been eyeing these in the Sundance Catalog forever. But at $495, I'm ain't about to get 'em any time soon :-( The Sundance Catalog cracks me up -- especially the jewelry. The markup on their jewelry is outrageous. When I was silversmithing on a regular basis, I used to copy at least one item per issue in the Sundance Jewelry catalog, for about a tenth the price:

Pretty cute, huh? And it cost me under $10 to make. Take that, Robert Redford.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

They're Baaaaack
Well, they've never actually gone away. Here we have a perfectly nice, simply patterned Fair Isle yoke sweater, knit in 1985 of Germantown wool purchased from Super Yarn Mart (anyone remember that place?):

Another view, showing the fair isle "floats":

And yet another view. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the dark areas are actually navy blue and forest green. My colors didn't have enough contrast, but still looked lovely closeup.

So what's the problem, you ask? MOTHS!

This sweater has lasted very nicely until last summer, when the dreaded winged beasties laid their little progeny on it, which hatched and MUNCHED holes all through this lovely sweater. Grrrr! The lesson? Wash all your woolens in Eucalan, and liberally equip your closets, drawers, etc. with cedar eggs! Don't let this happen to you! This has been a public service announcement from Knitters Who Should Know Better, Inc. Have a nice day.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day
Well, despite best intentions I didn't quite finish the left & right front of the SFH (Sweater From Hell), aka the Aran Cardie:

Watched two Pay-Per-View movies this weekend while working on SFH: Two Weeks Notice (Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock -- predictable but cute romantic comedy), and Drumline (don't recognize any of the kids in this movie, but Orlando Jones, the 7UP guy, played the conflicted-but-basically-goodhearted band director of a southern college). DH had a nice Father's Day -- he played golf early that morning and shot a 76 (vg), DS gave him his acoustic guitar as a present (a rather nice Ibanez). DH eventually wants to take up the dobro -- the acoustic is a way of getting his feet wet (and not spending any additional money right now :-) That evening we barbecued hamburgers and watched Clint Eastwood in Bloodwork on DVD. Not a bad little thriller. Jeff Daniels plays a sort of retro-hippie role and there's a pretty good plot twist at the end.

Same Title, Different Book
Before there was this, there was this:

Published in 1987 by Ballantine Books, it features 20 recreations of sweaters worn by stars of yesteryear. A young Marilyn Monroe wears a sleeveless pullover, and Judy Garland sports an angora-sleeved cardie with lovely bullion-embroidered flowers. I originally paid the cover price of $11.95 in 1987; it's currently going for anywhere from $39.95 to $52.94 on Amazon (not that I plan on selling it :-)

Friday, June 13, 2003

Happy Friday!
It's not only Friday the 13th, it's the 40th Birthday of one of the major cultural icons of my generation, the Kenner EasyBake Oven!

I never got one of these as a kid. I'm not sure why ... but lots of my friends had them and I got to experience the dubious pleasure of baking half-done cakes under a 100-watt bulb.

A few more inches of progress on the left/right front of the Aran Cardie:

My goal is to get the fronts done this weekend (yeah, right).

New Projects on the Horizon!
Woodland Woolworks is having a sale on this. I have 3 projects in mind that use this yarn. The first two are from Vintage Knits:

The last possibility is from Rowan #29:

Can you tell that I want a little cotton jacket to wear? :-)
Have a nice weekend, everyone. Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there :-)

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Blast From The Past
I recently purchased a copy of Vogue Knitting: Very Easy Knits. Imagine my surprise when I ran across this:

This sweater was first published in the Fall/Winter '87 issue of Vogue Knitting. I immediately fell in love with it and made it in black angora to wear to a holiday Christmas party that year. Unfortunately, I didn't know how easy it is to felt angora, and I ruined the sweater the 2nd time I washed it. Which is the reason for this in my stash:

This shoebox of red angora has been following me around since late 1987. It was supposed to be a twin to the doomed black angora sweater, but I never got around to knitting it up. I think I was afraid it would get ruined like the black sweater. The little white piece of paper on top of the yarn is a receipt from The Knotting Chamber, a long-since-closed yarn store that was on the 2nd floor of an old purple-and-white Victorian house on SE 36th & Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon. I used to love going there on my lunch hour and wandering through all the rooms stuffed floor-to-ceiling with yarn. The receipt shows a purchase of (18) 10-gram skeins at $6.50 each for the red angora. A Bernat Aero 24" cable needle ($4.00) and a little box of stitch markers were also in the box. There is also a partial skein of the black angora. For sentimental reasons I can't bear to part with this yarn. In 1987 I was a poorly paid secretary (ahem -- that's Executive Assistant nowadays :-) I really had to scrimp to buy the yarn for those 2 sweaters! I have no idea what to do with this yarn. I guess it's my own fuzzy albatross.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Left, Right, Left, Right, March!
Make about 2" progress on the left & right front of the Aran Cardie last night:

Have to knit 13" in pattern before starting the armhole and front v-neck shaping. Both sides are being worked simultaneously so the decreases for the v-neck will be exactly aligned. I'm getting so sick of looking at this project. It's been a beast from the get-go. It's not the pattern -- as aran patterns go, it's pretty simple. It's an indication of my life right now that I can't concentrate on this darn project. I desperately need a vacation from work and life in general! Fortunately, DH and I have a mini-break scheduled for the 4th of July holiday weekend. We're going to hop in the car and drive from San Diego to Tucson. Yes, Tucson in July. We like the desert *that* much. We're springing for a 4-star hotel for 2 nights, and I'm *definitely* taking advantage of the hotel's spa for a much needed massage and pedicure. Can't hardly wait!

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

WIP It, WIP It Good
Here's what's on the needles:

Looks like a relatively simple Aran Cardie, right? Wrong! I picked this puppy as one of my first projects after a 15-year knitting hiatus, and it's been kicking my b*tt! Wonky cable crossings, dropped stitches, misinterpreted directions, you name it -- it's happened with this project. Oh yeah, we have a *deadline* to boot! My mother's birthday -- July 5th. Can she do it? Roll that beautiful bean footage and let the audience decide:

The Back

The Sleeves, right before starting to shape the Sleeve Caps

The Sleeves, done (photo perspective is *off* -- sleeves really are the same length)
The clock is ticking -- stay tuned and see if our plucky heroine can pull this one off!