Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My New Healthy Lifestyle is Killing Me

I really tried to take a picture of my three-hour hair, but I look like absolute hell. My new healthy lifestyle is killing me. My friend's doctor told her, "how you take care of yourself in your 40's will dictate how you live in your 60's". I have no empirical evidence to support this statement, but it seems reasonably sound. I haven't heard any doctors say that your 40s should be a time to smoke, drink, eat what you want, etc. (If you have a doctor that will tell me this, please e-mail. My health plan is pretty liberal on which doctors I see and I'm open to change) So since December 1st I have:
  1. Given up smoking just because I don't want to die an untimely death. My family was surprised by this decision as it breaks with tradition. Most of my family members wait until they have a heart attack or stroke before quitting.
  2. Started eating breakfast at home. I've been eating yogurt and a little cereal rather than going through the McDonald's drive through for breakfast.
  3. Bringing Lean Cuisine to the office for lunch. This is mostly because I'm sick to death of paying $7 a day for mediocre (I'm being kind here) cafeteria food at the office.
  4. I've stopped drinking caffeine after noon. I'm not a conspiracy theorist but I don't think it's any coincidence that everyone needs Prilosec now that there is a Starbucks on every corner. I can do a double shot of espresso at 9 o'clock at night and fall asleep at 10, don't get me wrong but my stomach lining was screaming for mercy.

In the words of my boss, "Holy Hannah why don't you warn us ahead of time when you are going to try this stuff!?" Let me tell you all the gains I've made through my sacrifices:

  1. I have gained 9 pounds.
  2. I am a big bloated mess.
  3. I have zits. Every day a new one.
  4. I want a nap by 3:00 every afternoon because I'm off the vital 'eines (nicotine & caffeine). I fall asleep on the couch about 9 pm.
  5. We have a new phrase at the office, "Lean Cuisine will make you mean"

So today, I got out of bed early, put on my sweats and left the house at 6:30. To work out. My calves are killing me. I'm just saying right now, you will have to pry the wine bottle out of my cold dead hands. There are some things I'm just not giving up.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Faux Finished

First let me apologize for the pictures. I don't take good pictures. Mostly because I just don't take the time to bother taking good pictures. And I think I could use a new digital camera. Anyhow, I've got pictures.

Here is the little hat I made with Misti alpaca as a swatch for this faux cable stitch. I like the faux. When faux finishing walls was all the rage, I was right there. Armed with plastic bags, sponges, and damp rags, glazed with gusto. Some of them looked awesome, some turned out to be "do overs". I love faux jewels too. Give me big ol' sparkly czs anytime. I have an aunt who loves them because lab created jewels don't mess with the enviroment. I just like them because I'm cheap and practical. I'd rather have new granite countertops than a big diamond ring. And now, of course, my hair is now faux. Maybe a picture of that tomorrow. I hate posting pictures of myself.

Faux cables are a good thing. Since it is just basically 2x2 rib with the knits twisted every three rows, it can be substituted for any other 2x2 rib. At least I think it can. I can't think of a reason it can't. The back side looks like plain old ribbing so it would probably be a good scarf pattern too. I will recover from the current faux obsession eventually. I got over the towel thing and the tweed stitch. Someday I might even get over Fuzzyfeet. Or not.

And finally, pictures of my organizing work this weekend.

Yeah, I know this doesn't look like hours worth of work, but there are 10 boxes of magazines. I may need a knitting magazine/book intervention.

Monday, January 29, 2007

This Week's Obsession

Two weeks ago I spent all my knitting time with tweed stitch. Tangled up in multiple skeins of yarn, I made slippers, coasters, dishcloths all in tweed stitch. This seems to be the only way for me to truly embrace and learn a stitch by memory.

This weekend was a twisted stitch that looks like a baby cable when you are done. I started with a ball of Peaches 'n Cream at the salon on Friday. Saturday I started and finished an alpaca hat for my neice in the faux baby cable. Now I'm working on a sweater for her that uses the pattern stitch for ribbing.

I have pictures of all of this for you but they are stuck in my camera because the batteries died. I also took pictures of my newly organized work room. I spent most of the day yesterday re-organizing. I wish I could tell you that I'm just so organized and on top of things around here that I did this proactively. No, this was prompted by the fact that I was losing things in the piles of yarn, magazines, unfiled patterns, etc. So all is well in the work room now. Pictures tomorrow.

The salon appointment did actually take the entire three hours. I guess I'd have to just book a full day session if I had long hair. I'm really happy with the overhaul. The double/triple process on the color was totally worth it but it's a good thing that I've been brown bagging it lately. The colorist told me that I can single process next time and maintain the look. Good thing too. I was the only one knitting in the salon and was getting "the look" from some of the other patrons, but Jillian the colorist was very excited to see me knitting. As it happens, she had purchased a kit and DVD at JoAnn the previous weekend and spent an afternoon teaching herself to knit. She was understandably pretty proud of herself. I love meeting a new convert!

Friday, January 26, 2007

New Look, Same Old Blog

I've switched the "new & improved" blogger. I haven't played around with it enough to decide whether or not I like it yet and I don't have time this morning. So, consider this fair warning, the new look could change from day to day. Feel free to weigh in on the readability of the colors.

I took a couple of days off work since I've been feeling crappy and my son doesn't have school today. Not that at 14 he really needs me hovering, but it's still nice. Luckily he doesn't need me to hover because I have a 3 hour hair overhaul scheduled for this morning. I was shocked and a little insulted to find out that the salon scheduled me for 3 hours to get a six week tint touch-up, some highlights/lowlights and a trim.

This being my schedule for the day, I woke up this morning thinking about what I need to take with me in the way of knitting. I mean, if I'm going to be sitting around "processing" I've got to have knitting with me. Last time I got this done I was without knitting and had to read "Town & Country" for an hour. Not that I am not fascinated by the engagements, homes and tasteful soirees of the northeastern horsey set, but honest to God I have to have my knitting. (Who are these people and moreover, who cares?)

I'm working on the Somewhat Cowl in this cashmere but I'm worried about taking my beloved cashmere to the salon. What if something spills on it? I wouldn't wear cashmere to get my hair colored, why would I tote it along with me?

I've got two sleeves on one big needle, but they are at the big and ungainly point. I of course have a pair of fuzzy feet on the needles, but what if they go too fast?

I'm thinking I have to take some cotton and refine this:
Not the best picture, but the beta version of my retro diner towel. Gotta run to my hair appointment. Hopefully the 3 hours will be worth it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stop Stop the Muffin Top

You have to practice this to achieve the desired cadence. So I'm interrupting my usual knitting broadcast to give you this unsolicited advice and public service announcement on a pervasive problem. Muffin Top.

Post-holiday, I'm betting just about everyone can find themselves battling the muffin top. My swing from crazy-overactive hyper-drive metabolism to slow-motion metabolism (don't worry me and Dr. Rebecca are all over this one), combined with quit smoking snacks have resulted in a 9 pound weight gain.

Listen, I'm not saying that 9 pounds is anything. I'm unconcerned. I'm still in the actuarial table as not even qualifying for being considered overweight. I've never had issues with my weight and I'm not here to say I have any inkling of what it is like to constantly battle real weight issues.

So, I'm not qualified to lecture anyone on weight. I'm here to talk about muffin top, which you can get if you are a size 2!!! For those who stay away from the television and pop magazines and conversations, muffin top is that little roll over the top of your pants. I've been battling the muffin top and here is my secret to getting rid of it. I bought bigger pants.

Yep. I bought one size bigger. It's comfy. My butt, partially due to the weight gain, seems plenty big enough to hold the bigger pants on to my person while the bigger waist band doesn't create the muffin top. And I've stopped worrying about the 9 pounds! This new plan to enhance my body image and make me more comfortable may lead down a dangerous road, but I'm embracing it for now.

So stop worrying about standing up really straight so that the muffin top will disappear. Don't wonder during endless meetings whether or not the table is hiding the muffin top. Grab your credit card and march to your nearest retailer chanting, "Stop, Stop, the Muffin Top" in a sing song voice, and buy yourself a bigger pair of pants.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let the Swatching Begin!

Okay. I may have some winners on my hands. If you haven't shopped at the Garter Belt, let me tell ya, you are missing out.

  1. They have patterns designed by independent knitters, not knitters who have been commissioned by the yarn company to design a sweater that will sell skeins of yarn.
  2. The patterns are wearable and functional. I love the free patterns at the online mags, don't get me wrong, but I'm 42 years old. My need/desire for kitchy wristbands, dolls, and to-go-coffee cozies is pretty limited.
  3. The patterns range from fitted sexy tanks to weekend sweaters to sweaters a teenage boy would actually wear.
  4. You buy the patterns online and download them via PDF. This is how all online pattern purchases should be.

So that's my rant on the Garter Belt. This weekend I ordered these: Hyde Park Pullover because it is a textured turtleneck, knit in the round from the top down with worsted weight yarn thus meeting all of my criteria. I also bought this Adirondack pullover. It says unisex and quite honestly after gaining 9 pounds (a combo of my Graves disease getting over medicated and quitting smoking) I could use a nice big comfy sweater that doesn't show my now pervasive muffin top. (I've discovered another clever cure for muffin top that I will share tomorrow). The Adirondack is knit top-down in the round as well.

I'm going to buy this one as well, because it has a nice size range and might be a good sweater to knit for my nephews.

So I best get swatchin'. But I'm awfully busy making more towels. Here is my "diner towel" so far. Trek this is for you.

As you can see, although still struggling with the schneezle weezles, (yeah it's a medical term) Al is feeling well enough to resume his duties as head yarn inspector.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Feeling Better

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. Al is doing much better. Giving him his antibiotic has become like wrestling an alligator and he is eating like a trucker.

Earlier today I visited my favorite LYS, Yarn Cafe and met Idymosquito in person!! She asked about Al right away and I was happy to report his improved health. Its so great to meet another blogger in person. Idymosquito is currently blogless but I don't think you have to maintain a blog to be a blogger. Reading, commenting, etc. counts too. MFF and I had coffee and chatted for awhile and then it was time to get home for football.

I've ignored football all season because the Vikings were so terrible that after the first couple of weeks, I just couldn't watch any more. So today I had to catch up by watching the division championships. The weird light saber noise that CBS uses every time their graphic shows is going to drive me insane. I'm watching upstairs now because the sound of it over high def surround sound speakers was killing me.

Sitting around watching football is a great opportunity to get some knitting done. As I've done two grandma towels this week, I started a third. (Sorry the second one I gave to my sister without taking a picture). I've had it in my head to make one using a pattern that looks like a retro "diner towel". You know, the clean white with a bright primary stripe? I'll post a picture when I'm done and maybe the pattern if it works out. So far so good.

In my continued search for a sweater pattern, I purchased a couple patterns from the Garter Belt this morning. I'm going to swatch before I reveal my choices. So while I search I've continued to knit my old faithful, Fuzzy Feet. This pair was done in a combo of fuschia Malabrigo and Noro Kureyon #102. I did them in tweed stitch and the result is a retina-burning pair of mighty fine slippers. (If I do say so myself)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sick Kitty

Albert (you can call me Al) has a terrible cold in his snoof. It's very tough to be a kitty-kitty-cat with a cold in his snoof. I know it's hard to remember that I too have a cat, because he doesn't leave the second floor (which is a huge step from all those months that he wouldn't leave my son's room), but I do. And he is sick.

And when you are sick, sometimes you just need to be left alone. So this is a nice place to be alone if you are a kitty-kitty-cat who has a cold in his snoof and doesn't trust basset hounds.
He went to the vet today. He's on medicine and he's been hydrated (don't ask, needles were involved and he did not enjoy it at all. Plus he's leaky now) and they say he'll be just fine. He doesn't want to eat because he can't smell the food. This has led to the entire family dancing around with little bowls (my fiestaware bowls. Only the little tiny ones mom, don't worry, not bowls you'd ever use) of various kinds of cat food, people food, and warm milk trying to tempt him. Did I mention he would like to be left alone?

Thanks to everyone who has given me sweater ideas. I'm very curious about Idymosquito, as it seems she works at my favorite LYS. She appears to be blogless. The people at Knit Cafe are so great. I've often wondered if any of them are bloggers that I read. Or if any of them read this blog. It appears that one of them does, I wish I knew which one! Idymosquito, I'm going to ask for you by alias next time I'm in the shop. Which will probably be Sunday.

Taking care of sick kitty-kitty-cats bores me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Search Continues

You guys are great. Thanks for the ideas. I'm giving serious consideration to Rogue. Eris is out because for some reason the last couple of sweaters I've done are cardigans and I don't want to make another cardigan right now. If I did, I have the pattern for this which might fit the bill. "Heather", Kay's suggestion might be a possibility but I have no hard evidence that it is knit in the round.

Someone suggested Knitting Pure and Simple patterns, which I love. I have several. They are all simple and top down, but they are all endless amounts of stockinette. The Garter Belt has some great top-down patterns. I have most of Wendy's but again a lot of stockinette.

I feel like I'm ready for a little bit of a challenge. Not something that is going to make me crazy with tons of stitch markers and yarn overs that I forget to do (okay, I'm not looking to do lace). I'm not talking about detailed fair isle or anything but maybe something with some cables or color.

I'm going to continue the search, but I'm starting to think I may have to make something up myself.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In Search of The Right Sweater

I'm not saying that I'm looking for the perfect sweater because the gals over at Mason Dixon Knits claim that they have the pattern for the perfect sweater. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty swell sweater, but not perfect for me. I need a pattern. I've been searching through magazines and books and I can't find it. Here is what I'm looking for:

  1. In the round either top down or bottom up, but no side seams.
  2. I think it may be a turtleneck because I love turtlenecks.
  3. It is not endless, mind-numbing inches of stockinette stitch. There is a pattern involved.
  4. There could possibly be cables but not a ton of cables because I want to use my knitpicks Andean Silk and I only have 13 balls.
  5. It needs to be worsted weight as I have lots of stash in worsted.
  6. Most of the really cool kinda cabley patterns I've found are in DK or sport weight yarn.
  7. I know I could adapt them to a different gauge but that is too much math.
  8. It needs to look cool but not belly baring (I've gained 9 pounds quitting smoking)
  9. It might be tweed stitch as I am currently obsessed with tweed stitch.
  10. If it's tweed stitch I'm using my stash of brown Galway and Kureyon because I love the subtle stripey-ness of it.

So the search continues. It's like needing a dress for a wedding. You can picture in your head exactly what it will look like. You search every store fruitlessly for the dress in your head. The sweater in my head is perfect, I just can't find the pattern. I suppose I could use my Barbara Walker and Maggie Righetti books to draft the perfect pattern myself. But the math.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Happy New Year

I suppose I should address the fact that I have been away for so long, but denial is my friend so I'm not even going to mention it.

I hope you all had a happy holiday. My strategy of only knitting accessories and small items for gifts worked. I had a relatively stress-free holiday.

Since we last spoke, I've half knit and ripped out two sweaters. In frustration, I've turned to my old friend fuzzy feet and tried a couple of different variations. They are gifts so I can't post pictures until next week.

Last night, while watching the Golden Globes, I knit this:

It's a variation on a web project from Knitscene magazine. Let's face it. I'm much too lazy to spend time on embroidery for a kitchen towel. Thus the adaptation. I really love towels that button for the kitchen. They are hard to find these days. I have a couple that I bought at a church bazaar but they are holiday themed. So I'm pretty darned happy with this. Literally took me one night to make and I've already started another. I used one ball of Sugar 'n Cream in brown and part of another ball in a creamy tweedy sort of color. I think this would be really cute done in white with bright stripes in kind of a diner theme.

Hope you are all well, sorry for my lack of blogging and commenting.