Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Knitting with resolve - Part 2

Here's a continuation of how I do my gauge swatching. I left off with my gauge swatch still slightly damp after having been rolled up in a towel and having the excess water pressed out.

While it's still damp, pin your gauge swatch out in a square. You can stretch it more or less, depending on your needs. You'll want to measure it now to check, but keep in mind that, after being stretched out while drying/blocking, it will shrink back a little bit again when you unpin it. I couldn't be bothered to get out my very nice, but very heavy, blocking board for this, so I just pinned it onto a piece of foam board I got at a craft shop a couple of months ago to block my mother's shawl. Those nice, strong T-pins aren't really necessary for such a light yarn, but are great for holding down heavier ones. Leave the swatch pinned out until it's completely dry. Yes, I have cheated before by using a blow-dryer. Just don't dry it under direct sunlight - bad for the colours and bad for the fibres.

Here is the dry swatch, unpinned. Now is the time to do the final measurement. Do you have the right number of stitches and rows to four inches? Count half-stitches too, because even they add up if you're talking about a sweater circumference of more than 30 inches! If you have too many stitches/rows, your needles size is too small, so go up a size and try again. Yes, again, from the beginning. Now you see why I had to make resolve to do this, because it sure as heck doesn't come naturally! If you have too few stitches/rows, your needle size is too big and you need to go down a size. If it's way off, of course, you can guess-timate and go up or down two or more sizes.

After a while, you'll get a sense of whether you're a loose or a tight knitter. Moocow is a tight knitter. In fact, she snapped one of my Crystal Palace Bamboo double-pointed knitting needles. I'm a loose knitter, which means I usually have to go down two, even three needles sizes.

There, you see? I had to do two swatches before I got the right gauge. The first one (on the right), knit on 3mm needles, turned out too big (with too few stiches and rows per inch). The second one, knit on 2.75mm needles, is just right.

And, just so you know, both swatches are 40 stitches wide, so you can see what a big difference even 0.25mm in needle size can make over a short 4 inches.

As a finishing touch, I write the wool, needle size and gauge of each swatch onto a sticky label and stick it on the back of the swatch so I can refer to it later. You can't really tell from the pictures, but the Baby Cashmere is really soft, and has very nice drape. If I can get the colours I want, I think it'll make a great Union Square Market Pullover! I just need to finish my other projects first......! Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/28/2006 02:51:00 PM

Knitting with resolve - Part 1

I've been trying to put these pictures up for days....almost weeks, now! Since Blogger refuses to let me put them all up in one post, I'm splitting them up.

Here's the Union Square Market Pullover I so adore from the Fall 2005 issue of Interweave Knits. I should have been doing other things, such as working on my aunt's scarf (finished, now. That's how long I've been trying to post these pictures!), or finishing one of my sweaters. But the yarns from Elann had arrived, and they were so soft and touchable, I couldn't resist. Since I'd made a New Year's resolution to make proper gauge swatches for all my sweater projects, that's what I proceeded to do. I'm trying out the Peruvian Collection Baby Cashmere in cashmere blue.

Here's the first step: knit a square using your chosen yarn and the stitch pattern called for in the gauge description. For example, the USMP calls for 27 stitches and 39 rows to 4-inches in stockinette stitch. You want to case on more stitches and knit more rows a) in case your gauge is too fine, and b) so that you have a good-sized area to measure. I knit 40 stitches and 45 rows. Since stockinette stitch tends to curl up at the ends, and to the back at the sides, I knit a couple of rows of garter stitch to start, and began and ended each row with a couple stitches in garter stitch. Once you have your square knit up, cast off.

Next: Wash the swatch the way you intend to wash the finished sweater. This will let you know if the colours will bleed, if it will shrink, pill outrageously or otherwise fall apart on you. If it does, well, you probably want a different yarn. Here I'm just soaking the swatch in some lukewarm water with a bit of laundry detergent added. Then I rinsed it in several lukewarm baths of clean water until no soapy residue remained. The other nice thing about washing and then blocking is that you can usually stretch it a bit (if the size of the piece/gauge isn't quite right). In fact, it probably will grow a bit, it you don't felt it, which is why you shouldn't skip this step. Also, this tends to even out any unevenness in your stitches.

Then: PRESS out the water. Don't wring the swatch (or, God forbid, your sweater). Support your sweater so that the weight of the water doesn't stretch it and pull it out of shape completely. Once you've gotten a good amount of water out, lay it out on a clean towel, roll it up in the towel, and press more water out. Once it's damp, but no longer dripping wet, you can probably stop. If you're blocking something like a shawl, where the yarn is really fine and it's likely to dry out before you can pin it all out, you can always re-wet it by spraying it with water.

As you might have noticed, this is not a set of explanations for knitting a gauge swatch for something you intend to felt. That's a little different. I'm moving to a place where I'll have my own washer soon, so I intend to do some felting then. Now, onto the next post for the follow-up! Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/28/2006 02:22:00 PM

A shearing we will go...

My friend Andrea and I were invited to our advisor's farm in Knox, NY (just outside Albany) on Saturday to see his sheep getting shorn. Andrea has been -and I will soon be - enrolled as graduate students in the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy programme at SUNY Albany. Gary Kleppel, the programme director and our advisor, owns a small farm where he has four wool sheep (his wife, Pam, spins) and he is very active in the area trying to help local farmers hold onto their land in the face of high land taxes, competition from commercial farms and encroaching developments.

I arrived in Albany late Friday night, so Andrea and I overslept Saturday morning to arrive a little over an hour late to the sight on the left......the second to last sheep being sheared. That one isn't actually one of Gary's. Barb, the lady who trained his sheepdog, brought her sheep along, too. She has quite a variety, since she trains sheepdogs for work and for competitions, and a dog can be assigned any kind of sheep to work with during a competition. I've actually seen sheep being shorn before, in New Zealand, but I think this young man (17, if I heard correctly) is still apprenticing with his mother. You could really tell, as he nicked the sheep and the fleece came off in bits rather in one piece.

Here's Gary giving us a demonstration with his sheepdog, Tory. His other dog, Hope, is a lost cause and is a house dog, as she isn't willing to bite the sheep, and the sheep know it. After this, Barb gave us a demonstration with her dog, Rhett, and it was pretty amazing to see him driving the sheep away, and then herding them back into their pen so effortlessly. Rhett is going to be competing soon.

After all the sheep are shorn, the fleeces have to get skirted. That involves removing all the heavily matted, dirty and poor quality wool from the topknot on the head, the tail, and the legs. That's Barb at the skirting table teaching Pam how it's done. Andrea and I pitched in, too, pulling away the nasty bits (and let me tell you, the tail region is NASTY!) and removing as much of the grass, twigs and other plant material from the fleece as we could. All in all, it was great fun for a Saturday morning.

Then Andrea and I headed over to her friend Betty's place for lunch. We had homemade pizza in Betty's pasive solar house, which she designed and built herself. In fact, Andrea and I almost rented another of Betty's houses. It was lovely, and the sun room in front was delicious in the cold winter, but it was just too far from school and work.

Andrea and I have signed a lease on an apartment on the second floor of a yellow Victorian in another little town just northeast of Albany city. It's the cutest place, with the original tin ceilings, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two living rooms! I'll be helping Andrea move in first this weekend, so maybe I'll have some pictures soon.

Gary says the news isn't official yet, but he thinks there will be good news regarding funding for me in the BCP programme! I'll hear from him on April 1st.

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/28/2006 02:11:00 PM

Monday, March 27, 2006

Striped Wooly

Quick and easy to knit up in seedstitch. My first pom pom is on it (a little wonky, but good enough to hide the hole at the top...) I came up with the pattern as I went along. You can just make out the slightly rolled rim. It took a couple of tries before I found the stitch pattern that I wanted - something stretchy, that would show up with a subtle textural pattern, and NO GAPS. What's the point of a hole-filled winter hat, after all?? What's really special about this hat is the lovely, chemical-free and environmentally-friendly Green Mountain Spinnery yarn that was used. Their Green Mountain Green is 40% kid mohair, and 60% fine wool, which makes a very soft, warm, and stretchy hat that doesn't bind. The color is all-natural. It was a joy to work with the yarn - so much that I bought two more skeins to make something for myself!

Posted by MooCow to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/27/2006 08:11:00 PM

Wisdom Woes

I need to get a wisdom tooth out, but my last experience with a wisdom tooth extraction was so traumatising, I didn't want to go back to the same oral surgeon. It took him over an hour of drilling, pulling, and bearing down until my jaw was about to pop out of its socket, and afterwards I could barely open my mouth for days.

So I went looking for a different oral surgeon, and I thought I'd found one who was experienced and trustworthy (doesn't it seems a lot of dentists these days do all sorts of procedures on you that you don't need so they can charge your insurance company?). I called the dentist's office to check whether or not he accepted my type of insurance (even though I'd gotten his name from my health insurance directory), and was told by a rather curt receptionist to call back at 11 a.m. when the insurance lady would be in. So I called back, and was assured that they accepted my insurance. Okay, then. I made the earliest appointment I could, for a whole week later.

I called them again the day before my appointment to verify the procedures for insurance, and they told me everything was in order. I took the subway (almost an hour's trip) out the next day for my appointment at 1:30 p.m., and my mother took time off work to be with me. I got to the dentist's office and was told by the singularly unrepentant dental assistant that they had stopped accepting my dental insurance as of that morning!!! I asked them (quite reasonably, I think) whether they hadn't had my cell number, which I knew very well I had given them. No smile, no apology, just, "We told you, we only found out this morning." Call me funny, but I consider "morning" to be between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 a.m. Being that the appointment was for the afternoon, I don't think a call would have been too much to ask for. And who was this dental surgeon? David M. Blank, DDS, at 120 East 34th Street in New York, NY.

So, I'll need to make a new appointment somewhere else, and probably have to wait at least another week before I can get this tooth seen to. Just when I'd gotten my gumption up to get it out.....now I have who knows how long to scare myself thinking about it. All of you out there with smaller teeth/longer jaws/wisdom teeth that don't need removing, you don't know how lucky you are!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

3/24/2006 01:09:00 PM

Finally! I haven't been able to post photos for several days. I stopped by the library a couple of days ago and picked up a couple of books. From bottom of the pile to the top there's a non-Mary Russell mystery by Laurie R. King, Keeping Watch. And then there's the second book in The Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, Tears of the Giraffe. The next three are by authors I haven't read before. Two by Quinn Fawcett - Mycroft Holmes Mysteries - Against the Brotherhood and Embassy Row. And, last but most definitely not the least, a book I've read about and have been dying to read called The Briar King by Greg Keyes.

I'm really excited about finding this Mycroft Holmes series, now that I've read through all the available Mary Russell books. I think Laurie R. King is going to be concentrating on her Kate Martinelli books instead for a bit, so I might have a while to wait for the next Russell book.

Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother, is an interesting character who appeared very little in the original Sherlock Holmes stories (known as the Canon). An immensely important and influential figure in the British government at the time (as the story goes), he's always struck me as a much staider individual when compared with some of Sherlock's more Bohemian ways. Not to say that he isn't brilliant because, according to Sherlock, Mycroft is most definitely the superior brain. But whereas Sherlock is a man of action and rather high-strung, Mycroft rarely leaves his rooms, his club or his place of work, and his work seems to consist mostly of processing and retaining huge quantities of information. I can't wait to see how his character develops in this series! I already have the impression that he'll be allowed to get out and about more in Fawcett's rendition. I also know that Moocow would not approve. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Books at 3/24/2006 01:09:00 PM

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


When I received my fuzzi felt in the mail I wanted to get started right away with a Blackberry. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the right gauge with the needles I had (I tried 6mm and 6.5mm). I figured I needed 7mm needles, and they're not a size that US knitting needle manufacturers make.

So I went on Ebay and ordered a pair of Pony 7mm circulars. There they are, courtesy of the Royal Mail and ArtofYarn! Now, I'm sure there are a lot of wonderful knitters in Hong Kong but, when I was living there, it wasn't the easiest thing finding quality yarns (i.e. not scratchy acrylic) and needles. I learned how to knit and purl when I was in Hong Kong, but never really did anything with my knowledge (and had to teach myself all over again later) until I came back to the U.S. for college, and I think that is the reason. That and the fact that there weren't many good knitting books written in English available. Aaaaaaanyway, what I wanted to say was that my first pair of circular needles was a pair of Pony needles (manufactured in India), which I used to knit the Peppermint Kimono Scarf and a shawl for my mom. I do miss the food in Hong Kong but, for books and knitting, I'm glad to be back!

I started the Blackberry in R2 Fuzzi Felt yesterday. This is going to be for my supervisor at work (even though I've quit, YAY!!!). I believe I will christen it Fuzzberry, for obvious reasons.

The Fuzzi Felt is kind of cool. It's constructed from two strands, one which has an almost suede-like feel and is fuzzy, the other which looks a big like lopi yarn, and they're twisted together. These two very different strands make it kind of difficult to splice ends when I'm joining in a new ball of yarn, but I've been managing. However, I've knit two balls of it and found two knots already. I think I'll keep a knot count. My knitting yesterday produced the back piece, which I will now place on stitch holders. I think I'll do the sleeves next, since they take the longest. After I finish the sleeves, I can also sew them to the back piece first (because of the raglan construction), and thus break up the task of finishing. It looks kind of charcoal-grey in the picture, but that's just overexposure. It really is black.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/22/2006 08:46:00 AM

Monday, March 20, 2006

Peppermint Kimono Scarf

Is it just me, or is there something very wrong with Blogger's picture-posting function? For the life of me, I can't get it to post more than 5 photos in one post. I know it isn't a file size issue - I checked. And I can't even use the "Blog This!" button in Picasa, because something is wrong with that, too!! I had all these pictures I wanted to put up but, with all the problems I've been encountering, I decided to show you some pictures of the lace scarf I just finished blocking today. (That's a picture of it pre-blocking, all scrunched-up looking.) I've always loved lace, but serious lace-envy caused by reading Eunny's blog is what motivated me to start knitting a lot of it. Now that Eunny is having her series on lace techniques, I couldn't resist blogging about some of mine.

Isn't it pretty? I used the stitch pattern from the Kimono Shawl designed by Cheryl Oberle (in the book Folk Shawls), but pretty much went my own way with how many horizontal and vertical repeats I did. I used almost every last single bit of one skein of KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud.

This is going to be for my aunt Jean. I bought Alpaca Cloud in pink and in blue, and ended up using the blue for a shawl as a Christmas present to my mom. Then I found out that my aunt wanted a pink scarf, and I was itching to start another lace project, et voila!

Pattern: Adapted from Kimono Shawl by Cheryl Oberle in Folk Shawls.
Start Date: 14 January, 2006
Finish Date: 20 March, 2006
Yarn: KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud (100% baby alpaca) in Peppermint
Yarn Source: KnitPicks
Cost: $3.99/skein, I used 1 skein. Gotta love KnitPicks!!
Needles: 3.25mm Pony circular, 80 cm
Finished measurements: 16" x 42"

About the pattern: This particular lace pattern was very easy to memorise. It wasn't difficult but, by the same token, it wasn't exciting knitting, either. But it was something pleasant to do and touch during my morning and evening commutes to and from work! I like the simplicity of the pattern. I'm thinking of knitting one in natural-coloured silk to send to my tea ceremony teacher in Japan.

About the yarn: This is my second project with Alpaca Cloud, and I do like working with it. There are several nice colours to choose from (my only beef with KnitPicks is that I think they should offer more yarns in less intense colours; I like pastels, tweeds and heathers!), and the price really can't be beat. It's feather-light, but very warm. My mom wore her shawl in New York in February, and she said she was sweating! I'm not sure whether to believe that or not, but it illustrates my point. ^_^

Anyone who knits lace will know the incredible change brought about by blocking. I think that's part of the magic of lace knitting. I have to say, though, that I'm not terribly fond of the smell of wet yarn!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/20/2006 08:33:00 PM

Friday, March 17, 2006

Road to Enlightenment

I don't know when it started, but I've branched out a lot in my reading. Maybe this is my way of making up for all those years of reading mainly textbooks and journals. I used to be much more of a fantasy fan.

It seems to have been with the whole Da Vinci Code craze, and not having a lot of English language material available when I was teaching in Japan. Usually, I tend to resist reading those books that "everyone's reading," but beggars can't be choosers. I really enjoyed it; not having been much of a mystery/thriller reader, it wasn't all old-hat to me. It was fun enough not to require too much brainpower, but intelligent enough not to put me to sleep. Then I went on the read everything of Dan Brown's.

After that, I began having withdrawal symptoms. I'd become a page-turning adrenaline junkie. Then I found Jeffery Deaver. Instead of starting out with The Bone Collector (which was made into a movie, with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie), I decided to read The Coffin Dancer first. There were so many plot twists, so many unexpected developments, that my head was reeling afterward, but what a rollercoaster ride!! Of course, now that I've read all of the Lincoln Rhyme books, and a good many of Deaver's other ones, there is a familiar pattern developing. But they're still smashingly good reads when I'm in a certain mood!

Then there were endless hours sitting in front of a computer at work waiting for work to come my way. And so I downloaded some e-books and started reading the complete Sherlock Holmes. We had a copy at home when I was younger, and I'd read a few in abridged form, but they hadn't really captured my imagination. I think maybe it's been watching all the CSI stuff on TV lately that has gotten me hooked into the whole forensics and detecting thing.

Oh, was I sad when I came to that last story. I can sympathise with the English public that repeatedly wrote to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle imploring him to write more Sherlock stories. Unfortunately, that isn't an option for me now. But then.....Ah! but then! Then I stumbled across The Beekeeper's Apprentice. (I think it might even have been the inspiration for the name of this blog.)

Moocow vehemently believes that fictional characters shouldn't have alternate histories written of them, that they should never be resurrected by anyone other than their original creator. In general, I tend to agree. But I truly feel that Laurie R. King has preserved the integrity of Sherlock's original character, whilst at the same time improving on it, giving him more depth, more time, more adventures, and a young, female apprentice (Mary Russell) as intellectually brilliant as he is. Add to that the fact that King writes delightful (and grammatically correct) prose, and who could resist? You know, it really is a pet peeve of mine, but I abhor people who use "that" when they should be using "who." After all, people are human (one would hope)! You can debate over descriptive grammar versus prescriptive grammar, but my sentiments still stand.

Now I've read all the Mary Russell books and am anxiously waiting for the next installment. But the ravening beast must be fed! So, what have I been reading lately? Maybe it's all the ruffles, lace and retro elements in fashion recently, but I've found I really like reading Victorian-era books. Anne Perry has two great Victorian mystery series, the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels and the William Monk novels. I prefer the Monk books; they're meatier, I think the character development is handled much more deftly, and there's a significant element of courtroom drama thrown in as well, with the character of Oliver Rathbone (an attorney), that is missing from the Pitt novels. Kind of like Law and Order in Victorian London.

Boy, was I shocked when I found that Anne Perry (nee Juliet Hulme) had been convicted of murder when she was sixteen. (You can read about it here, I kid you not.) Maybe that's why her treatment of motive, guilt and consequence are so profound in her writing. I really recommend reading something of hers.

(Sorry about the lack of pictures, but I didn't want to infringe on copyright, or steal someone else's bandwidth.) And for Puri-chan, I've added some links to free e-book sites, since you asked abuot them.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food For the Soul at 3/17/2006 01:11:00 PM

Knitting with Noodles

I wrote in a previous post that I would be starting my second Blackberry (this time actually in black) as a present to my supervisor soon. Well, here is a picture of my first effort. This also happens to be my first completed (though not the first to be started) adult-sized sweater.

I don't know about you, but I really like cardigans, shrugs and boleros. Perhaps it's because I feel the cold so easily. When I was living in Hong Kong I'd catch more colds in the summer from air-conditioned rooms than I would in the winter. (There was a study published recently supporting what the Chinese have believed for centuries: feeling/being cold can weaken your immune response so that you are more likely to catch a cold.) When I saw the Blackberry pattern I knew I would be making it. Then I went to Smiley's annual yarn sale in Manhattan and got 4 bags (12 balls) of Lion Brand Kool Wool for $2/ball!

Pattern: Blackberry by Jennifer Thurston in Knitty's Fall '05 issue
Start Date: 1 December, 2005
Finish Date: 21 January, 2006
Yarn: Lion Brand Kool Wool (50% Merino, 50% acrylic; 1.75 oz/60 yds) in Ivory (#098)
I used 10 balls.
Yarn Source: Smiley's annual Manhattan yarn sale
Needles: 6.5 mm Aero single-pointed, Size 10.5 (6.5 mm) Denise Interchangeable Needles
Gauge: 11 sts & 14 rows/4 inches-squared in st st
Size made: XS

About the Yarn: This was my first time knitting with Kool Wool, but it probably won't be my last since I bought 4 bags each in black and a deep, wine red whilst at the yarn sale. It was a fun yarn to knit, kind of bouncy and noodle-like. In fact, with the cream colour I was using, it really did resemble udon-noodles! I've had a couple of months to wear the finished product now and, unfortunately, I have to report that Kool Wool pills an awful lot, even with gentle wear. It's a good thing that this was such a quick (and inexpensive) knit, otherwise I would be a lot more upset. I wouldn't use this yarn for any heirlooms!

The pattern: The pattern was very well written and easy to follow. I particularly like the extensive sizing (from XS to 4XL; good thing, too. My supervisor is rather well-endowed), and there are notes to help you figure out which size you should be making. I love cables, but find cable needles too fiddly (perhaps I've never learned to use them properly - they slow me down considerably), so I just cabled without a needle. Not a problem, with such a bulky yarn. This really was a quick and easy knit. Don't let me start and finish dates fool you. I was knitting gifts like crazy this last Christmas, I usually have quite a number of projects going at once, and I'm easily distracted for weeks on end by work, or good books, or something.

One other thing to note: the raglan sleeves and extra bulk added by the cables and bobbles probably isn't a good idea for anyone with broad shoulders. Moocow wanted a Blackberry, too, but after trying mine on we decided it wasn't really for her. Fortunately, I have my eye on a pattern in the Holiday 2005 issue of Vogue Knitting. I can't find any pictures of it online, so I'll have to snap a picture of my magazine later to show you.

My Knit-o's: Yes, I did make some mistakes on this one. I must not have joined the yarn correctly in the middle of a row on the back piece, because there's something that looks sadly like a hole. Just a little one. I let it go, since I'd already sewn the whole darn thing up by the time I noticed it.

I also didn't pick up stitches around the edge (for the ribbing) as evenly as I should have. I picked up too many stitches at the bottom-side edges, which has caused some gathering, which affects the fit. This is especially obvious if I try to wear it with the front edges closed with a pin, the way Jennifer models it. It's a good thing I prefer to wear it open!

I'll get it right the second time 'round! Stay tuned for more pictures (dare I show you a picture of the fuzz on my poor Blackberry?) and updates on my second attempt!
Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/17/2006 10:02:00 AM

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Food and Culture in post-Katrina New Orleans

Just arrived in New Orleans! First time this far south, although New Orleans isn't really considered part of the real South. Coming in for landing, we could already see that the roofs all over city was dotted with the blue FEMA tarps indicating where Katrina had made her mark. It's muggy and warm, and threatening to storm. My travel buddy Jaime and I hailed a cab straight to the hotel. When we asked how business has been, our driver, Carlos, told us he'd been waiting since 10:00 am for customer. It was 12.30. After he was done with us, he said he was giving up and going home, coz it wasn't worth it to hang around for another ride. On the way in he pointed out the long yellow line that marked the water line....we followed it all the way downtown like the Yellow Brick Road. This picture is kinda dark, but the faint line can be see on the sound barriers along the highway. Before he dropped us off at the hotel, he gave us his cell number, and we both promised to call him for rides when we leave New Orleans.

Driving downtown, many of the skyscrapers had wooden panels boarding up windows that had been blown out.

Around the corner from our hotel is Mother's Restaurant. We bumped into the Mayor of New Orleans having lunch in the back room with his posse.

I didn't have enough moxy to take a picture of him, but I did take shots of my first New Orleans po'boy (all right, it was a weakling version of chicken, but I figured I have all week to do this!), and the incredibly long lunch line that just kept going and going.

Our hotel is quite nice, with lots of old beams, exposed brick walls, and a light-filled atrium in the lobby. Everything's in working order, except the snack shop is half empty, there was a sign announcing that the ATM has just been reinstalled, and the Omni down the street is boarded up. Several restaurants around us are still closed. Right outside is a streetlamp that was knocked over and hasn't been taken away yet. You can see it in the left foreground, right before the green newspaper box.

Posted by MooCow to Bumbling Bees - Food at 3/11/2006 05:06:00 PM

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My precious-es....!

My very first purchase from Elann.com was sitting waiting for me after I got home from work. I can't remember exactly when I ordered it (a little over a week ago, I think), but I think it has arrived in fairly short order. The unassuming, rather small, white box was stuffed full of yarn! *dances around giddily*

Here are my lovely try-out yarns, just one ball each. Elann has their own line of yarns, and I thought I'd experiment with a small selection. You know, squeeze the ball of yarn, stroke it, nuzzle it and, of course, knit some gauge swatches with it! After all, that was my New Year's Knitting Resolution: I will knit swatches for all my projects, and I will promise to knit proper (to read about good and "proper" methods of knitting gauge swatches, read the article Knitty has) gauge swatches for any article of clothing I attempt. From left to right, I have Peruvian Collection Pure Alpaca in light grey heather, Peruvian Collection Highland Wool in victorian violet, Endless Summer Collection Connemara in victorian rose and Peruvian Collection Baby Cashmere in cashmere blue.

What sweaters are they auditioning for? Well, I've been wanting to knit the Cabaret Raglan from the Summer 2004 issue of Interweave Knits for a while. Yeah, it's an older issue, and I probably won't look that good in it. But I can definitely see my mother wearing it, and something about the style pleases me. So, that's what the Connemara (the pink stuff) is for, maybe.

Then there's the grey Pure Alpaca. I'm hoping that will be suitable for Essential Indulgence from IK Fall 2005. I LOVE that issue of Interweave Knits. I want to knit practically everything in there. Maybe it's because most of the yarns used are gorgeous, super soft, luxurious yarns - such as cashmere and alpaca - and because of the simpler lines of the styles that complement them. Of course, the recommended yarns are a little outside my budget, hence my search for an affordable substitute.

I really, really love the Union Square Market Pullover from the same issue, and I'm even willing to splurge on the yarn called for, Plassard Alpaga, but I can't find a place that stocks the stuff! And, from what I've been reading on other blogs and the KAL, it's difficult to achieve the required gauge. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Baby Cashmere (the blue) I got will have the same dense, slightly fuzzy look as in the original, but will be soft and comfortable, too.

Then there's the Highland Wool in Victorian Violet. It really doesn't seem to be terribly photogenic; the colour is not as washed out in reality as it looks in my pictures, and in the picture on Elann's site. I've been coveting the Yoke Pullover in the Holiday 'o5 issue of Vogue Knitting (another scrumptious issue)! I think it'll be fun to knit the fairisle yoke, and the shaping of the sweater looks perfect.

But, before all that, I am going to knit a blackberry for my supervisor at work, Denise. I'm about to leave my present job, and Denise has been so kind I really wanted to do something for her. Luckily, she admired the blackberry that I'd already made (in white) for myself (I'll blog about that at a later date). So, I ordered 19 balls of the R2 Ruzzy Felt that was miraculously on sale at Elann's, and I'm going to start working on that as soon as I can get (yes, you've guessed it) the right gauge. Knitting this shrug/bolero again should be interesting. So far, I've never knitted the same thing twice. I made some mistakes on the first one, and I'm definitely looking to improve with my second attempt. Apart from a baby sweater I did, all the other sweaters I've done (only 3, and I'm still working on 2 of them!) have been for me, so it'll be fun to knit in a different size. Stay tuned for more! Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 3/07/2006 09:36:00 PM

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Desiree's Birthday Hat

My friend Desiree's birthday was back in January. The day before we were to have her birthday tea party at Alice's Teacup, I went to Seaport Yarns in NYC for the first time and bought some lovely Araucania Atacama 100% alpaca to make a hat for her. Since I hadn't decided on a pattern yet I wasn't sure how much to get, but the very helpful ladies at Seaport suggested I get two hanks, and they even let me wind one up myself using their yarn swift and ball winder! They're such fun - I definitely have to save up for ones of my own.

Seaport Yarns is just amazing!!! I spent hours there, going from room to room admiring their selection of yummy yarns. There's so much stuff in there, they take you on a speedy tour when you go in and they find that you're a first-time visitor. But what amazing self-control! I only came away with the Atacama, an issue of Vogue Knitting, a special issue of Rebecca and some Clover Chibi needles.

After staying up all night to finish the hat - crocheted from a pattern in my copy of Lion Brand Yarn's Just Hats (the Basic Crochet Hat with the top knot) - I wrapped it all up nicely in a box lined with dark brown tissue paper. "Lovely, if I do say so myself," I thought. I could barely wait for her to unwrap it and try the hat on. I just didn't realise that it would look so much like.....a condom.....that first moment when she picked it up, by the knot, out from the box!! Why had the resemblance never struck me before? Was it a creator's love for the cute, little top knot, the alpaca, the colours, that had blinded me? (By the way, the pattern said to make that top knot 4 inches long - even then, I thought that would be slightly obscene! I only made mine about an inch and a half.) Anyway, Desiree professed to love the colours, and we all had a good laugh over the top knot, so I will consider my time well spent and not inquire as to whether or not she actually wears it. I'll try not to, honest! Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Crochet at 3/04/2006 09:46:00 PM