So! I've been really, really busy the past two weeks, and not just because I've been gearing up for the Olympics (which I'm a total geek about). I have been knitting up a storm! Now that the big gift has been given, I can write about it.
My dear friend Jen is having her first baby (a girl!), and I decided to make her the Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting (click on the link and you will find another link to a free pattern for the blanket). It's made in the style known as log cabin knitting, a simple technique which requires no purling (great for beginners) yet produces stunning results. I thought this was the best opportunity to tackle log cabin knitting for the first time. Come along on my tour, won't you?
July 28: This date fell on a Monday. Jen's shower was to be held on Saturday, August 9, which meant I had just under two weeks to knit a BLANKET. I. KNOW. I changed my gifting plans at the very last minute to make her the blanket in the colors of the nursery - taupe, green and white. I bought the yarn above on my lunch break: it's Vanna's Choice yarn from Lion Brand (yes, Vanna White has a yarn line - did you know that?) The colors are (L-R): Taupe, Dusty Green, Linen and White. I really like this yarn; it's 100% acrylic but doesn't feel crunchy. It feels quite light when knitted, and all of the colors are very pleasing. Go get some at your local Michaels or Joann if you need some nice blanket yarn.
July 31: Not bad for three or so days' work, right? The thing about log cabin knitting is that you knit one block at a time and when you start the next block, you pick up stitches from the previous block so that they all are knitted together; there's no seaming of a bunch of individual blocks. Knit, pick up stitches, and knit again. That's it! It looks more complicated than it actually is. The first block I knit was the white one, followed by the tan one and then the green. If you look closely you'll see that I've picked up stitches for the fourth block to be knitted with the taupe yarn.
August 2: I've finished the first four blocks of the blanket - woo! Just so you know, I knit a portion of the top block while watching the X-Files movie. My hands were just starting to get sore right around now. Sigh.
August 3: As you can see, I picked up stitches for and knitted all of block #5, the white block on the left of the piece.
August 5: Progress, progress, progress. The blanket is now six blocks in size; the sixth block is at the top of the piece and is also made of the white yarn. Look to the left of the piece and you will see that I picked up stitches to knit block #7 in the tan yarn. You'll need a long circular needle to make a blanket as you will be picking up more and more stitches; my weapons of choice were a Clover US #8 24-inch circular and later an Addi Turbo US #8 40-inch circ.
August 6: Yes, I knit the tan block on the left in one day. Did I mention I deprived myself of much sleep to finish this in time? This photo was taken last Wednesday at my LYS of choice, A Mano Yarn Center. I was in serious Panic Mode at this point and was certain I wouldn't finish the blanket in time (it had to be done by Friday as I had other plans), so I made the executive decision to not knit blocks #8-10 per the pattern and instead just knit two more blocks in the size of my choice using the green and taupe yarns.
August 7: There's the finished block #8 at the very top of the piece; it is knit with the green yarn. I made it eight garter ridges (or 16 knitted rows) wide. My hands and arms were KILLING me by this point. Oy.
August 8: This photo was taken late Friday morning. After getting only a couple hours of sleep I finally FINALLY finished the blanket. I never thought that would happen. I knit block #9 in the same size as block #8 only in taupe yarn; you'll see it at the bottom of the piece. I crocheted a border around the blanket using single crochet and each of the yarns from lightest to darkest shade. Now I just had to weave in the ends and wash the thing.
August 9: The day of the shower and the blanket is done! In this picture it is washed and blocked; it measured 34 x 44 inches, FYI. I LOVE how it turned out! It was worth all the sleepless nights.
A close-up of the single crochet border.
Garter ridges are pretty.
And here is Jen after opening her present! She loved it. Yay!
A conversation that took place this week at the local LYS:
Woman: Why are you so anti-social?
Me (looking up from my knitting and mentally picking my jaw up off the floor): Excuse me?
Woman: Why are you so anti-social?
Me (wondering if my expression clearly shows how taken aback I am by her inquiry): I'm not. I'm just a quiet person.
Woman (trying to laugh it off): Oh, I'm just giving you a hard time.
Me (to myself): YEAH RIGHT.
I will say that I can be a little subdued whenever I am in a large group (I'm much better when dealing with people in a one-on-one or small group situation), so this woman is not entirely wrong. I admit to being quieter than normal when I go to the LYS because I like listening to all the conversations taking place while doing my own thing in the corner. HOWEVER, why one would even ask that question of someone else is beyond me. I mean, really.
It looks good, no? I'm really very happy with it. It fits snugly where I want it to fit, and has enough give where give is needed. Now my goal is to finish the sleeves before the end of the week so that I can say I finished the sweater in a month! I'll put up more info on my modifications once it's all said and done.
I just had a thought: my mom would be so mortified if she 1) knew about this blog, 2) saw that I put up a picture of myself in a streaky mirror, and 3) put up a picture of myself in my Christmas snowglobe pajama pants. Sigh.
I haven't written anything about knitting for some time (and I know I haven't finished my travelogue - I'll get on that, I swear), but I have been working on projects. Truly. Here's proof:
I am over halfway done with the Simple Knitted Bodice from Stitch Diva Studios. It is for me - ME! Mwahahaha. I have finished the Chevron Lace detail and Purl Ridges, and am about to start the hip shaping. I just need to try it on to see how it fits.
When this sweater is done I'll write a longer post in which I'll tell you all about the frogging, the re-frogging, and Clifford the Big Red Yarn Football.
Is this thing on? Sorry for the delay; technology seems to hate me nowadays. Anyway, shall we continue?
Wait, I forgot one thing. Do you know what I forgot to mention in my post
about arriving in Budapest? When we were going through our luggage
after checking in, I looked for the knitting project I had
packed for this trip. No, not the Budapest Slouch, but another project
- something I had been working on for weeks and wanted to finish.
Anyway, before we left I put it in one of the front pockets of my
suitcase because I didn't have room for
it in my carry-on. Upon arrival, I immediately looked for the project
in my suitcase...and it was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. I couldn't find it
ANYWHERE. I started questioning myself: did I really put it in the front pocket, or did I put it inside? Did some TSA agent with a yarn addiction swipe it? I got SO MAD when I thought of all the time I put into the
project and now it was gone and existing somewhere in the
great divide between Los Angeles and Europe. I wanted to cry, I was so
sad and mad. Best. Travel Day. Ever!
December 30: Budapest
Jen and I woke up to a very chilly New Year's Eve, uh, Eve. The first thing we did was turn on the TV and make friends with the German music channel, Viva. Oh, how we loved Viva! I'm going to write more about this marvelous network later, but you should know that the only channels we watched were CNN International, BBC World News, and Viva. Yeah, there was German MTV, but it showed American MTV programming with German subtitles, so it sucked. It was just like home!
We had a lot of ground to cover during our short time in Budapest (places were going to be closed early on New Year's Eve and Day), so we got started early and made haste to the hotel's complimentary breakfast buffet. Mmm, buffets.
Clockwise from upper left: oatmeal; wheat toast; scrambled eggs; spinach; pineapple; kiwi, and crepes, all washed down with orange juice and tea. When I am rich, I am going to hire someone to make this for me every morning.
The first stop of the day was St. Stephen's Basilica, home of King Istvan's mummified hand. I really wanted to see the hand, people. The church was a few blocks from our hotel, so I (very stupidly) thought I could handle being outside without a hat. No, I wasn't smoking crack. SO STUPID, I know, because it was FREEZING. We made our way to the church and all I thought of on the way was how I was going to lose my ears if I didn't cover them soon. Yikes.
The Virgin Mary statue.
One section of the church's interior. We were packed like sardines into one corner, so this was the best shot I could take.
A nice shot of the dome and a terribly blurry shot of the altar with its two Christmas trees. We were cordoned off from the pews so this was as close we could get without paying for the tour - the tour which included seeing King Istvan's hand! That's right - we didn't get to see the hand! (Well, we could have, but neither of us wanted to pony up the cash, plus the tour was going to take long.) Color us sad.
Another shot of the dome, this time with more detail.
This looks like it would be the main door to the church, but we in fact entered through another door on the side.
This is one of my favorite shots from the trip. I was in line to look at the rosaries for sale and Jen went to the plaza to take pictures of the church. See that person standing to the left of center? That's her. Hee.
Detail of the statues above the entry.
St. Stephen's Basilica with Christmas tree.
By now I couldn't feel my ears (!) so we went back to the hotel for my hat. This was when Jen and I started talking about how we (okay, I) wanted to buy a big fur hat because it was SO COLD. The "How cold are we?" topic came up often and in various permutations. After spending less than five minutes outside, I thought it would have been smart to have knit this. Sigh.
I love this picture.
Our hotel! It had a casino; you can see its entrance in the lower left of the exterior. The name of the casino? Las Vegas. Really.
I don't know why our hotel had a plane hanging in its lobby, but it did.
Now armed with a hat, it was off to the Chain Bridge. Lucky for us we didn't have to go far as it was right outside our hotel.
Jen's Requisite Photo In Front Of Royal Castle and Chain Bridge.
My Requisite Photo In Front of Royal Castle and Chain Bridge.
The Chain Bridge with its lions facing Pest. Did you know that Buda and Pest are actually two different cities? Buda is on the other side of this bridge and is where the Royal Castle is located. You can see part of it in the center of the photo.
The lion on the left...
...and the lion on the right. Remember what they look like. I'm just sayin'.
The Royal Castle and the Danube. So pretty!
The Four Seasons Hotel in Roosevelt ter. It was next to our hotel and faces the bridge. We were excited about eating and knitting at its famous coffeehouse but we checked it out and it was WAY fancier than expected, so we didn't go.
Everyone on the tour had to wear protective booties. Here is a shot of our feet.
The nicest concession stands I've ever seen.
The old smoking corridor, which was about the size of a closet. According to our tour guide, this was where the men would light up during intermission when it was too cold outside. I was surprised that it didn't reek of smoke.
The staircase. I kind of want to sweep down it while wearing a fine ballgown, opera gloves and diamonds.
The royal staircase. This entrance is used only by the royal family to get to their box. There were people at the bottom of the staircase blowing up balloons for the opera house's New Year's festivities.
Another shot of the royal entrance. The ceilings and fixtures were stunning.
We got to take pictures of the opera house from a balcony. This was my first shot of the ceiling.
Aaaaand here's my blurry shot of the interior. Gah. I tried SO hard to get a nice still, too.
The tour ended with us in the seats of the house. This is a shot of the ceiling from below.
And here is a close-up.
The stage! It's so very grand, no?
By now we were getting hungry, so we decided to start looking for food. My copy of Top 10 Budapest mentioned a place that had the best name we had ever heard, so off we went to find it.
Oktagon Square. We went here for New Year's.
Don't you love my stealth shot of this woman and her fabulous style? I'm not one for patchwork myself but this totally works on her. Awesome.
Andrassy ut at night. Sparkly!
We walked and walked and walked some more, and after some time we couldn't
find the restaurant and were getting mighty annoyed, not to mention really cold.
Grr. Just when we were about to give up:
There it was! The Marquis de Salade! Best Name Ever! That is about all I can say about it because we did not end up eating there. It's a long story. The proprietor should sell merchandise with the restaurant's name, because I was all about buying a Marquis de Salade shirt.
It was getting late (or so it seemed), and we were quite famished and even more cold. SO COLD. We walked back towards our hotel in the hopes of finding food and ended up on Vaci utca, a major pedestrian thoroughfare that reminded us of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.
Pertu Station was where we ended up eating because of its non-smoking section, which is pretty hard to come by in a place where smoking is still permitted inside restaurants. I was quite amused by the Hard Rock Cafe-esque logo.
My goulash and Hungarian beer. I really wanted some goulash while in Budapest and Pertu's did the trick. It was warm, spicy and just what I needed to warm up. I had a Hungarian roommate in college and I remember her goulash being much thicker, but this was very good, too.
And with our stomachs full, it was time to head back to the hotel - the warm hotel with our warm room and warm TV. Ooh, warmth. And TV.
EEEE! You all know how much I love Cash Cab, right? Look what I found: the German version of Cash Cab! Yay! I wonder if Ben Bailey knows. Someone tell him, okay? Also tell him that I LOVE HIM AND HIS SHOW, won't you? Thanks!
And now here is the first photo of my Budapest Slouch in progress. I used Wendy Bernard's Le Slouch pattern which worked so well for me before, but called the project the Budapest Slouch because it was made for the trip. The hat is made out of less than two skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Cafe au Lait, and was knitted on size 9 and 10 needles. Being that the yarn is a wool/mohair blend, I could not WAIT to get this done so that I could keep my head really warm!
We got some Britney video-watching in that night, too. If we only knew that we would be hearing the Craziest Britney News EVER later that week!
I was on Ravelry this morning (for those unfamiliar with the site, it's essentially Facebook for knitters.) Anywho, on Ravelry there are a bunch of groups you can join if you like, say, Gerard Butler or Newsies or Mythbusters (all of which I am a member, naturally, because I LOVE THEM), but I just noticed that there is a new group created by fans of the CBS TV show, The Big Bang Theory.
THE BIG BANG GANG.
Oh YES, that is what they call themselves. Because it’s good to have your group name be one dyslexic (yet hilariously unfortunate) moment away from porn. Bom-chicka-bom-bom!
In other news, you all know how much I love Cash Cab. This week Discovery re-aired the episode in which two fairly young and incredibly smarmy people did not know that the GODFATHER OF SOUL was JAMES BROWN or that Prince's movie and best-selling (not to mention BRILLIANT) album was called PURPLE RAIN, and I got to slap a fresh coat of hate on them all over again. I can't believe I forgot to mention them in my earlier rant about stupid contestants.
As for show host Ben Bailey? He remains as awesome as ever. I love you, Ben!
You may remember how way back in February I wrote about how much I wanted Keri Russell's hat from Sundance. I still do. I came pretty close to it with my Le Slouch (which I absolutely love, mind you, and get plenty o' compliments on), but Keri's hat NEEDS TO BE MINE. After months of searching the internet for signs of hat pattern life, I turned up with nothing.
I was checking out Craftster this week and discovered that Knitology has created a pattern for Keri's hat! I KNOW! EEEEEEE!
Want to make one for yourself? Click here for her Felicity hat pattern. Make sure to leave a nice comment while you're there! She did do all the work for us, you know. Ravelry-minded types: FYI, the pattern has already been added to the site. I've already moved it up to the top of my queue!
Did you know that today is the Annual Day of the Ninja? Now you do! So get your ninja on and attack a co-worker from behind with your mad stealth skills. Or, perhaps, give your favorite kickball team (in my case, the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas) a collective high five!
I personally would love to make myself my nieces a Ninja Sweater. How awesome is that?