Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hey, hey, wait a minute Mr Postman

Every now and then the mailman is my best friend. It happened last Saturday when he brought my passport. We leave one week from today! And, it happened yesterday when he brought me a package full of springy presents!!! As I told you, I won the contest on Shelly's blog regarding the coming of spring. Here's what I got!

There are springy notecards and a springy pen, seeds for flowers, two skeins of a flax-y yarn to make the Market Bag, which she included the pattern for!!! I'm so excited, I've been looking for a bag like this to make! And these adorable stitch markers, which Shelly told me she made herself! The pic is a little blurry, which I didn't realize when I was taking it...

Bee, sunflower, and ladybug... aren't they so cute?

In stair news, there is someone currently working on my stairs at home as I type this! Its someone we know, but Erm is home today helping him out anyway.

In knitting news, I am only working on two things right now. My Rusted Root and I cast on for a pair of socks for Erm last night! I am using a new yarn that I am excited about (Araucania) and the Earl Grey pattern from the Yarn Harlot. They look like they are easy and will go pretty quickly but that little cable up the sides will keep me interested enough that I won't want to stab myself with my Addis before I'm done. Also, Erm has made it clear that if I run out of yarn (as in the Birthday Socks) he does not care if the toes are a different color. Now that I knit my socks two at a time on one needle, this is perfect, since if I get to the end of the ball and the socks aren't done, they will both have the same exact length and at least he'll have matching mismatched toes.

I am trying to think of what project(s) I want to bring on my trip with me. There are no hard and fast restrictions about what you can and can not bring on a plane as far as needles and yarn are concerned, however, its up to the security officer if he wants to let you through with it or not. I've done my research and found out that long circs are not okay, because you can use that cord to strangle someone. So socks are out, for the plane at least. I bought two skeins of Malabrigo in Stonechat back in the fall with the goal of making a scarf for myself out of them, and maybe a hat or something with what was left over. So I may bring that. I am definitely open to suggestions!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Its time to play the music... Its time to light the lights...

The Muppet Socks are done!

For some reason NO pictures of these socks do them justice, but here they are:

My favorite thing about these socks is how well they fit. Its taken me awhile but I think I figured out how I have to modify socks to really hug my foot. I have long feet (I wear a size 9) but they are also narrow, as are my ankles and calves. The first pair of socks I made, I cast on the amount of stitches for the generic size 9 sock, and they are huge. They're comfy and gorgeous, but they are loose on me. So, the next pair of socks, I decided to cast on for a smaller size foot, but knit for the length of a size 9. Worked much better on the leg, but still had some sag in the foot. I was feeling creative and adventurous with these socks, so I decided to try to make them fit me perfectly. I cast on 68 stitches and worked the leg as I normally would in a diagonal rib. The heel flap isn't ribbed but continues the diagonal motif, as you can see (sorry for the dark pics):

Then in a flash of genius, at the end of the regular gusset decreases, I decided to do two extra gusset decreases only on the inside of each foot. I knew this would mean these socks have a designated foot to go on, but I wanted to see what happened. Lo and behold, this was the change I needed in my socks! We'll see what happens when I wash them, but if they don't stretch out, I may do this for every sock, as these really hug my arches the way they are now.

So, since I did those extra decreases on the inside, there were uneven amounts of stitches on either side of the center of each sole. So when I got to the decreases for the toes, I started by leaving the inside of the foot the same (the same side with the double decreases) for a couple of rows and only decreasing on the outside. I kept trying them on to make sure they were decreasing at the right rate. You can totally tell just looking at them which sock belongs on which foot now...

This is them without my feet in them

And there you have it. My custom Muppet Socks. They really fit like a dream. Oh, I also continued the rib pattern all the way to the end, which was pretty easy, but I'm not sure if I'd do it again. Also, I got a little impatient and didn't knit as far as I should have before starting the toe decreases. I thought I taught myself the lesson with the Pumpkin Socks where I did the same thing, but I guess not. Hopefully next time I can remind myself that I need another 1/4 inch!

Pattern to follow when I have the time/energy to write it up.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Riddle

Q. What do you call it when a carpenter gets drunk?

A. He gets hammered!

Ah, how amusing. Extra amusing that it happened in my house on Friday! Erm got a quote for the stairs from the same Guy that did our ceiling, since he did a good job in the kitchen. Erm bought all the supplies, took the yukky carpet off the stairs and got all the staples out, etc. Prepped and ready to go. Friday he came home to let the Guy into the house to do some painting that he had left to do and maybe get started on the stairs. While Erm was gone, Guy got into this:

So Erm came home an hour and a half later to all our doors being open in the house, and he could hear belligerent drunk Russian yelling. And instead of painting and maybe working on the stairs a little, he did this:

He didn't give us an estimate for that hole

He also took all of the old stair treads off, in a fit of drunken ambition, I suppose. So, the view from the top of the stairs is this:

Luckily, I am very nimble and am practicing to be a tightrope walker, so I just walk right down the middle on that little board. Its fine. Actually, Erm took some of the treads that Guy didn't rip apart and took the nails out and we put them on the stairs, so there's a tread on every other or every third step. They aren't nailed on or anything and they rock and make some noise when you step on them, which is extra fun with cats running up and down the stairs all night. Erm had to bring The Guy outside where he asked Erm 3 times if he was bringing him home (Erm had called his wife to come and get him) and then tried to get in Erm's car... just to prove a point, I guess. We do have someone coming on Thursday to finish them and do them the right way and leave our liquor cabinet untouched, so hopefully by this weekend we'll be good as new!

In other news, remember that contest I told you about? Well, I am here to prove to you that real people DO win blog contests, because I WON!!!! It was random, so I don't think I did anything too special, but I'm really really excited to have won!! I can't wait to see what kind of springy present comes my way! Wahoo! By the way, her blog is right here. Thanks Shelly!

I also finished the Muppet Socks last night, but didn't take any pictures yet and haven't written up any of the fun stuff I did for them, so hopefully I'll be able to blog about them tomorrow!!! Now I can start on a pair for Erm and work on that blasted Rusted Root...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fill-In #116

Get yours here

1. Why do we have to work?

2. Cleaning and cooking are now habits.

3. I have the morning off!

4. I had never heard the phrase "sure, we can get a dog" and it is probably a good thing.

5. I wish I didn't stay up too late the way I always do.

6. How am I to know if my *&%$ing passport is going to show up in time?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to chaperoning yet another middle school dance, tomorrow my plans include seeing my mom and having my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner and Sunday, I want to get a new bookcase and new clothes for my trip!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You can't always get what you want...

... actually, I DID get what I want. And I HAVEN'T gotten what I need! We leave two weeks from tomorrow for our honeymoon and I still have not received my passport. Yikes! I have a bad history with passports to begin with, so I called today and expidited it. Hopefully I'll get it in time!

Monday I came home to what I wanted, which was a package of mini balls and skeins for my sock yarn blankie!

Naturally, I busted into it and knitted a square right away.

This past weekend was very productive for us. We had so much to get done around the house in the general cleaning category, which we did. We recently started doing some renovations/changes to the house, and this week I am getting new stairs! I wish I had a picture of the old ones... they were yukky off-white 20 year old carpet. YUK. The new ones will be hardwood, just like the rest of the house. I am also doing something cool with the risers. I'll take some good pics!

Another thing that had to get done was our kitchen ceiling. Up here in NH we had a ton of snow, and it was followed by warmer temperatures, then followed by colder temperatures, etc. This resulted in a lot of melting, then refreezing, which led to an ice dam on our roof which led to this:

That's some high quality water damage, there. We actually had a bit of it in just about every area of the house, but that was the bad part. So we got a semi-new ceiling, some new light fixtures... looks great now!

Erm managed to electrocute himself while playing with the wires, but he's ok now.

In baking news, our friend Scott's surprise birthday was this past Friday night. When we go to his house he likes to offer us a drink by asking "Can I get you something to warm your cockles?", which of course I find hilarious. I was looking through my Cooky Book one day and came across a recipe for Cockle Shell cookies! So I had to make them!

They were really cute and went over well, but I don't think I'd make them again. It took a long time to roll those little buggers up!

Sunday morning I looked around and saw nothing good for breakfast and was in the mood to bake again. Enter these beauties:

Simple, delicious, beautiful biscuits. Martha Stewart's recipe.

Next time will definitely be knitting. I have looked in my knitting basket and realized that I have many projects in there that are fall/winter articles (a hat, a couple of sweaters, a poncho, etc). I still want to finish these, but have other things that I want to wear this spring/summer (Rusted Root, Coquette top, etc and of course more socks!) so I need to do a reorganizing.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New contest!

Ooh, I just came across a fun contest! Anyone can play, its here.

Its about the coming of Spring, which I think everyone (especially us here in New England) are very, very excited for!

Its going to be mid-50s up here this weekend, which will be great for some spring cleaning, running outside, and taking the dog for a walk! Oh wait, I don't have a dog... Maybe I'll take Joey for a walk.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lets see how far we've come...

So I was thinking, since its American Idol season, its coming up on my one year blogiversary! Well, in a couple of months, but still, its exciting. I was poking around Ravelry today and realized that I have a bunch of projects in there that I made/posted before Bricklayer Knits began. So, I wanted to share :)

This is a baby sweater I made for Brady, its the Simple Hooded Cardigan (Ravelry link) on Lion Brand's site. Its a free pattern and it was my first baby gift. I made it out of Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Charcoal Grey. Isn't it cute? Brady was 5 months old when I made this for him, Kelly and Scott took him for his first trip to Disney and we watched their lab, Cody, and I knitted this sweater while they were gone. I knitted it in the 12 month size, figuring he'd grow into it, and he'd have plenty of time to wear it. Well... not sure what happened, (yes, I got gauge) but Kelly put it on Brady and he almost busted out of the seams! Ugh! At least he loved the buttons! And, I made it in a very neutral color, so its hung up waiting for his younger sibling to come along and get full use out of it.

Those are both Fantine, a French Girl Knits pattern. I made them both out of Rowan Big Wool, which I LOVE. The pattern uses size 17 needles and the yarn is huge, so this sweater is a really fast knit, I highly recommend it if you need something quick. I made the brown one for myself with long sleeves, and I wear it all the time. Its starting to pill and I need to stop wearing it so much! I made the light blue one for Kerri for her 30th birthday last year. The picture doesn't really show off the color, its a pale blue, not grey.

These were my first pairs of mittens. I actually did make one other to practice, but ran out of yarn, so these are my first PAIRS. The brown pair is made out of Lamb's Pride in Espresso. My friend Keely knew I was trying to make mittens and asked for a pair in chocolate brown. I LOVE when people ask me to knit them stuff, I know they'll actually wear it! The red ones are done in Cascade 109. Those are for me, and red is my favorite color, so I went for it. The pattern is a Berroco design called Melinda. Its pretty easy, I picked it because I had not yet learned to knit in the round but was antsy to try mittens. The ones I made for myself now need gloves inside them to reach their warmth potential, so I need to find a new mitten pattern and maybe start lining my mittens, too. Note: We have ugly light blue blankets on our furniture because I have destructive cats that shed a lot. You can see Octavious planning some evil attack even here in this picture. (Just kidding. He's the cutest.)

My first socks! I entered a half-birthday swap last March in the Libra group in Ravelry. My VERY generous swap partner, Tammy (her blog can be found here) gave me, among other things, TWO sizes of Addi Turbos long enough for Magic Loop, the Getting Started Knitting Socks! book, and a skein of Zen String Serendipity sock yarn, in colorway November. She couldn't have hit the nail on the head more with the color! I LOVED this yarn, the book was perfect for teaching myself how to knit socks, and these are still my favorites out of all my socks. Thank you, Tammy!!!

Just when I think I can knit anything, I do something stupid like this. This was an attempt to knit Anna of Green Cables in Cascade 109 bulky (again). I thought it would be great to have a hat to match my mittens. Instead, I knit myself a funnel. I started on a size 9 circular and figured that since all I had for DPNs for the decrease were 11s... that would be ok and wouldn't make a difference. I think I thought I was going to come up with this new knitting technique that nobody else would have thought of and I would be famous. Instead, I have this hidden somewhere in the craft closet abyss and will hopefully one day frog it and do it the right way, Magic Loop style, same size needles the whole way through.
If you're still reading this, thanks for looking at some of my projects! Hopefully I'll have pics of some of my new ones soon...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Better conditions

I ran another road race on Sunday! This past weekend was GORGEOUS weather up here in New England... 50s both days! Sunday my cousin and I ran the Hynes Tavern 5 mile Road Race in Lowell, it was our second year running it together. This race and the one from last week are part of a 3 race series... and I missed the first week! Three weekends in a row, they all start and end at an Irish bar, they are 3, 4, and 5 miles, respectively, and everyone gets a medal at the end! Its so much fun. And, if you get all three medals, they all go together to form one BIG medal, which is an added incentive. This was this year's medal:

How fun is that? I have the hand on the right and the hand/arch/crown/claddagh symbol one in the middle. Missed that one on the left.

So this past Sunday was the last leg of the Wild Rover. I've really enjoyed running these races, both last year and this year. I've learned a couple of things about myself and my running as well... like that I am not even warmed up until around 3 miles. And that I shouldn't open my Goo before I'm actually ready to put it in my mouth, since it is VERY sticky and gets everywhere. I've also figured out that it helps if I look at the race course and its elevations and plan my music around hills, since I really really really hate the hills. Hopefully whatever race I run next I'll be a little more prepared for and shave some time off! I think I just need to get more into my training. Either way, I'm just happy to be running!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Fill In #114

This is fun! Get your own here

1. PMing people on Ravelry who were looking for patterns was my last random act of kindness. I'm new to RAKing!

2. Another place I want to go is Alaska.

3. I think you should follow your instincts in matters of the heart.

4. Coffee, tea or port is what I like to drink after dinner.

5. Me and E's minds sometimes go down separate paths.

6. Our housing crisis reminds me that there is free will.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a date at home with my husband, tomorrow my plans include light fixture shopping and dinner with friends and Sunday, I want to run a good race and not fall down!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

I've made so much progress on my blue socks! These are called the Muppet Socks, because this is really only a color a Muppet could pull off...

I went with a simple spiral rib for these ones. I needed something simple enough that I could memorize and figure out where I am when I pick it up. I love stripes but I think regular ribbing would have bored me (and looked even more manly), so spiral rib it is!

I'm extra excited about what I'm doing with the heel flap...

Not sure if you can see there, but I'm making some kind of diagonal pattern with my slipped stitches. We'll see how this works out. The yarn came with reinforcing yarn, so I think I can get away with a different heel flap than I usually do. But, I'm afraid it might be too wide. We'll see what happens...

I may also try to do something funky with the gusset and toe to keep the diagonal pattern going. Stay tuned...

The Bad

That's our cookie jar full of Chocolate Crinkles that I made yesterday during the snow storm. Not good for the pre-honeymoon diet! I've been able to only eat one so far...

The Ugly

That is my busted knee from after my 4 mile road race on Sunday. The whole race was just ugly. Me and my cousin were late (my fault), I was not fully prepared/trained (also my fault), and also not...well rested (again... my own fault). So the first mile was spent trying to catch up with everyone else, and luckily, I hit my stride and the rest of the race was actually great! We decided to walk and cool down after, and thanks to the layer of ice under the snow and my clutziness, I completely wiped out. In front of people. You know when you wipe out, and all you can do is laugh because you're so embarrassed? That was me. And then its even worse when people ask if you're ok, you just want them to pretend it didn't happen. So that's what I remember about my race. That and running in the snow.

I love any weekend when I can enjoy my three favorite hobbies!!