Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Joyeux Noël!

French felt appropriate today, and I'll tell you why. Eventually...

I have quite a large family (and an even larger extended family) and we're all peppered about the globe. From California to New York, Florida to Australia (at the moment), and all across Pennsylvania. Between geography and vacation time, I've always been with a group of family members for Christmas. Whether it was my relatives or my husband's, we've never celebrated Christmas without some branch of our ever-expanding family tree.

This Christmas was just the two of us, though. It really brought new meaning my very favorite Christmas song of all time ever ever ever, "All I Want for Christmas is You." James and I had decided (weeks and weeks ago) that we would be spending Christmas together at home this year, and neither of us was really that concerned. Our work schedules also helped us into that decision, but that's another story... and probably boring. No work talk on Christmas. There. Anyhow, it was a wonderful holiday, spent with the only guest on my must list of life, my husband.

Oh yes, back to the French up top. Today we went to see Les Misérables and it was très étonnant. I won't give anything away here, but I can say that if Anne Hathaway is cast in any movie, I'm already loving it. I'll say it here first, she'll be winning an Academy Award for this role. Mark my words! Also, Wolverine Hugh Jackman was sensational, of course. A small (but incredibly important) role was also played by Bellatrix Lestrange Helena Bonham Carter, who I love! Really, she's just wonderful. I'd be hard pressed to name a better character actress. She is the cat's pajamas. Or the cat's meow. Pick your pleasure. So run, don't walk, to the nearest movie theater and go see this wonderful movie. Unless, of course, you don't want your mind blown.

In knitting news, I did start a new project the other day. And no, it's not a hat. And no, it's not fair isle. I'm knitting 22.5 Degrees by German designer Martina Behm. I will be eliminating the scalloped border on the finished edge for a simpler look. Here's Martina's ravelry designer page and website. I'm knitting this shawl in madelinetosh tosh sock in the lichen colorway. The garter stitch is really appropriate for this colorway, in my opinion. It's a beautiful sage green with little hints of a grayish almost sky blue thrown in. Below is a stitch-level photo that I took to show the patterning and color of the shawl, in the almost hopeless natural light of winter in Pittsburgh. A for effort, guys.

Whether you're with family and friends, or celebrating with the one you love, I hope your Christmas has been as wonderful as mine!

Feliz Navidad
Gelukkig kerstfeest
Frohe Weihnachten
С Рождеством
God jul
Buon Natale
Καλά Χριστούγεννα

Okay, I'm done.

Feliz Natal

Okay, now I'm done... For now.


Done. Seriously. Done.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Let us take our hats off (the needles).

This week, I finally finished my Sockhead Hat. Insert applause here. I'm quite happy with the look and feel of the finished object, and I'll be getting some use out of it this winter. The hat is quite slouchy, just like the pattern noted, and I'm happy with it. This was a great project for my weekly knitting group, as it was 4" of ribbing, followed by 9" of stockinette, and a crown. Mindless knitting kept alive by the wonderful company of friends and lively conversation. I also worked on it during a couple movies, and a few episodes of Frasier. And now it's done... Finally.

As if that weren't exciting enough, I (gulp) knit another hat this week. And not just any hat, I knit the Fitful Head by Aileen Ryder. This was knit in 6 different colorways of Knit Picks Palette, and the seventh color was Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Jade. This was my first time using either yarns, and I enjoyed them both. Palette was nice for this project because I needed seven different colors, which can get expensive. I may have also mentioned that I just so happened to have this yarn in seven different shades of green. The pattern was wonderful as well, and I guess I have a thing for fair isle crown shaping when I work on hats. I mentioned the crown shaping details on the Norwegian Snowflake Hats in an earlier post, and I really like the six-pointed star that developed on the top of this hat as well. This was also my first foray into the world of corrugated ribbing, and the jury's still out on that. I love the finished look, but the process... eeshk. Suffice it to say, I've had my share of hats and fair isle to hold me over for at least a few months now. Weaving in 38 ends will do that to you. My husband was a good sport and decided to model the hat for you in the shots below... Or maybe I forced him because I just finished today and the hat now belongs to him, but that's neither here nor there.

Is it a coincedence that the two most complicated fair isle projects to come off my needles were both for my husband? Has this ever happened to you? He's 100% worth it, though. He supports my crazy knitting adventures and that is no small task. Can't help loving that man of mine...

Oh yes, and my next project, whatever it may be, will be worked from (mark my words) one ball of yarn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I've been all about knitting hats lately.

Honestly, I took a look at the last few projects on my Ravelry page and I've really been on a hat kick. I've finished three hats this month alone, and the only project I have (lingering and languishing) on the needles currently is my Sockhead Hat. Please don't take this as a complaint, though. Knitting, no matter the project, is always fun. And speaking of fun... I already finished the pair of Norwegian Snowflake Hats that I was worried about starting. This was a great project, and I particularly enjoyed the crown decreases. The hat is squared at the top, and I love the look of the additional snowflake that comes together as you are finishing the crown. The public project pages are here (red) and here (navy). I may even have a chance to wear one of these hats, as the weather reports here in Pittsburgh are calling for snow on Friday, the first day of winter. How nice.

Even without snow on the ground (yet), it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house. Full disclosure... We put the tree up (and the stockings, banister garland, and decorations) the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I've been listening to Christmas music since October... So I guess I should really say that it's continuing to look a lot like Christmas. Oh yes, and there are pine cones in a bowl on the dining room table, in case you were wondering. Here's a picture of our stockings hung in the stairwell (since we don't have a fireplace) with care. I knit the stocking on the left for my husband this year (for a few months), and the one on the right belongs to our chihuahua, Ringo. I don't have a knitted Christmas stocking yet, but maybe by next year.

And if anyone is curious, my stash is now down to 36! I'm slowly, but surely, getting to my goal of 30 by February 2013. Sadly, I can't type anymore at the moment. Somebody needs some attention...

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The weeks seem to be getting shorter.

This week has been quite busy. Not in a bad way, though. I was mailing Christmas presents, making marshmallows, enjoying two different holiday lunches at my office, finishing up the Christmas shopping, and of course there was some knitting and a Christmas movie or three.

First of all, let me take a moment to address the marshmallows. I've been making homemade marshmallows for years, usually sometime in December (when the Hot Chocolate really hits the spot), and they always get great reviews. However, I'm not a confectioner in any sense of the word. Anyone can make these. All I have is an excellent recipe from Ina Garten (or the Barefoot Contessa) in which my stand mixer does most of the work. Honestly, they are quite easy, albeit a little fiddly at the end. Patience required. If you thought you liked marshmallows before, well, just wait until you try these! In the picture below, there's a few pale pink marshmallows on the left, those are the peppermint... Thanks for the inspiration, Williams-Sonoma. The others are vanilla, and just as soft and pillowy.

I've also started a rather daring knitting project. Well, maybe not as daring as one I've done in the past, but certainly ambitious for me. I'm knitting a set of two hats. The Norwegian Snowflake Hat pattern is free on Ravelry and was designed by Tim Doran. I'm using the last three hanks of yarn from the 2012 Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival that I mentioned here. I'll be knitting two hats, one blue with white snowflakes, the other red with white snowflakes. Here's my public project page for the first hat. I've started with the red hat, and here's my progress so far...

As if knitting two stranded hats one after the other isn't ambitious enough, I've just added another stranded hat to the mix. This week, Knitty released their Winter 2012 Issue. For those that don't know, Knitty is a completely free online knitting magazine. 2012 marked the 10-year anniversary of this publication, and it's a resource I've always loved. Anyway, anyway, back to the hat. The new issue had two stranded hats, and the one that caught my eye is Fitful Head by Aileen Ryder. It just so happens (cough) that I already have seven different balls of fingering weight yarn in my stash, all in different shades of green. Between the available stash, the pattern requirements, and the fact that I'm trying to stash-down, this was a coincidence I couldn't ignore. In any event, I think I may end up spending the remainder of 2012 knitting stranded hats.

I hope I'm not as crazy as I sound...

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I just love a good BLT.

Today's post is a quick one, and is coming to you following a delightful Sunday BLT brunch. I guess I'm using the word "brunch" a bit loosely here, though. All we really did was eat an early bird lunch. Not that I'm too worried about any particular time of day, since I've found through extensive research that bacon can be enjoyed during any hour of the day... or night.

Yesterday, I finished a hat. The pattern is called The Natural and you can take a look at my public project page, if you'd like the knitty gritty details. It was a great way to use up one of those single skeins of worsted, Cascade 220 for me, that most of us just have hanging around in our stash. The pattern was pretty straight forward, and would be a great project for the beginner that's never cabled before. Below is a selfie that took me about 10 minutes to capture, as it was a new angle for me. However, it shows the basic cabled detailing along the hat, so I guess that means mission accomplished.

I'll be casting on another item soon (of course), but right now I really have now idea what that will be. For some reason, I've been a bit wishy washy about what to knit next, and I'm not sure where it's coming from. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon. I'd hate to waste a whole Sunday without knitting...

Friday, December 7, 2012


Photography can be tricky.

I finished a pair of Fingerless Mitts recently. However, the only picture I've been able to take is of the gloves on the table. I haven't quite figured out how to photograph gloves while wearing them, so this photo will have to do for now.

This is the second pair of mitts I've made from this pattern, and they worked up quite quickly. I think the total knitting time was somewhere around 5 hours. The pattern is in the book Knits Men Want by Bruce Weinstein. It's a great book, with patterns written for multiple sizes and gauges. This pattern calls for a diagonal purled pattern, but I just knit the hand in stockinette, for a simpler look. Also, this was my first time using Knit Picks Swish Worsted and it was a pleasure to knit with. It's not my favorite superwash merino, but you can't beat it for the price and array of colors.

I'm still currently working on the Sockhead Hat, but that's not really a surprise. Knitting 144 stitches per round on a US 3 needle in stockinette for 9 inches will take some time... and wine. This hasn't stopped me from casting on another project, though. I was a monogamous knitter for a few months, and I did enjoy the simplicity of it. However, I've been feeling creatively frisky lately, so working more than one project at a time has somewhat satiated my thirst for excitement. Wild, I know.

In other news, my yarn stash is down to 44 and I haven't purchased a skein since November 10th! Personally, I think I deserve a small reward. Yarn? No. Chocolate? Indubitably.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Christmas movies are the best.

I really love the holidays. I mean, I really love the holidays. Also, I have been known to enjoy a movie or two or ten. You are now probably making the connection that this post will be about holiday movies. When you combine my love for the holidays with my love of movies, well, things get a little crazy. And sparkly. And warm, cheerful, and egg noggy. I decided to compile a list (a la David Letterman) of my top ten favorite holiday movies. Now, I do reserve the right to adjust the ranking at any time, depending on my mood, the weather, or my knitting projects at hand. I mean, who can knit colorwork during a comedy?

So here's my list... With my two cents, naturally

10. Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell may not be one of my favorite actors, but Zooey Deschanel's singing really makes up for it here!

9. Radio City Christmas Spectacular (2007)
In 2007, they finally put this amazing show on DVD, which I bought promptly. The Radio City Rockettes doing the March of the Wooden Soldiers is one of my favorite memories of Christmas when I was younger. Oh yeah... BEST. KICKLINE. EVER.

8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Another classic! Oh, Charlie.

7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Growing up, I identified with Herbie the outcast elf more than I'd care to mention...

6. Home Alone (1990)
Culkin perfection. Also, I could listed to Catherine O'Hara scream any day. She's marvelous.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Boris Karloff's spooky voice makes this my choice for best narration ever!

4. Christmas Vacation (1986)
Okay, I really feel the need outline the entire movie here. Seriously, folks. It never stops. From Snots to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the lights to the turkey, the grandparents to the mailman. I love it all.

3. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
3 words... Horses. Horses. Horses.

2. The Family Stone (2005)
The only thing wrong with Diane Keaton is nothing.

1. Love, Actually (2003)
Oh yes, this is THE one. Laughter, tears, laughter through tears. All in London. At Christmas. It's perfect.

I really should mention, though, that there are some CLASSIC Christmas movies that I've never seen...

Miracle on 34th Street
It's a Wonderful Life
The Polar Express
White Christmas

I know, I know. I really should have seen these, but I just haven't. It should also be said that the first time I watched A Christmas Story I was 29, and I didn't love it. At least not as much as everyone said I should. So that's that.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


It might be just me.

I'm not sure what it is, but it always takes me about 15 minutes to put a pair of socks on. Seems absurd, right? Read on. It gets better. And I'm not talking fancy socks with tassels and fringe, or even hand-knit (he gushes) socks. I'm talking about plain old crew socks; the kind you get at Target in a six-pack for $10. I'm not a perfectionist, not really. It's not even that fact that I grew up in a climate where I only wore socks two or three times a year. Sure, sometimes I put a sock on and then I immediately have to take it right back off because there's some sort of fuzz ball in it that feels nearly as large as a fleck of dust does when it settles under your contact lens. The sock must then be turned inside-out, combed with one's fingers, re-prepped and applied once more. I'll admit, I'm probably making this process more complicated than it needs to be. We all have our strengths...

The answer is simple... Procrastination. I know that it's easy to procrastinate, we've all done it, but is there anyone out there that can make me sound sane by comparison? Here's hoping.

In fact, even as I type this entry, I have a sock on my left foot and it's mate strewn casually across my right thigh... just waiting to go to work.

I will put one sock on, and then a variety of things will happen. A text message. An email. A knitting pattern that I need to look up immediately. Online shopping. A show that I can't stop watching for even a second to confirm my right foot's exact location. There are things that just. can't. wait.

In other news, here's something that might be more interesting... Knitting! I'm excited already. Well, speaking of procrastination... I still have three hanks of worsted-weight Shepherd's Wool (pictured above) from Stonehedge Fiber Mill that I got in February at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival. I made a pact with myself (so if I don't make it, I won't really be that mad at me... I hope) to knit with all the yarn I purchased before the next PGH K&C. Well, I've already used the four hanks of Noro Silk Garden for a scarf (shown below) and I'm planning to make two fair isle hats with the aforementioned yarn. Since the 2013 festival isn't until March, that gives me a good three and a half months to make it happen. I think I can do it.

As soon as I finish putting my other sock on...

Oh yeah...  Speaking of socks... Here's the progress on my sockhead hat. I knew that this was going to take a while, but I don't mind at all. It's perfect TV knitting!

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