RIP

Riiiiiiipppp… went the sad pattern/yarn combo:

Summer sock got frogged!

A week ago Saturday, I took the plunge and frogged the sock progress I had made. I didn’t find the process too painful though; the yarn is too brightly colored and happy for feeling sad. I thought it was beautiful all unraveled in my project bag. Though it does border on looking like an insane clown wig at the right angle.

On a much sadder note, the world lost Nora Ephron yesterday. She wrote my all-time favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally. I discovered it the summer before I went to college, and that movie became my go to for the next several years. It is so funny, full of memorable lines and always left me in a better mood. I can’t tell you how many times I turned it on when I was sad, said the dialogue along with the actors and cuddled up with ice cream.

When I went to London to study abroad, I took a film studies class. I went to my first small discussion group, headed by a very hip, film savvy teaching assistant who asked us to introduce ourselves and say what our favorite movie was. I was nervous to say When Harry Met Sally – I didn’t know if that would be film snobbish enough, and anyway, this was England, maybe they had different tastes – but I said it anyway. And he said it was the best romantic comedy of our generation. And it’s true.

And when I bought the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack, it introduced me to another love of mine, Harry Connick Jr. His version of It Had To Be You that appeared on that soundtrack was our first dance song at our wedding.

When Harry Met Sally will always be special to me, and we have Nora Ephron’s great writing and wit to thank for it. Rest in peace.

Adventures in dyeing

Last Saturday morning, my LYS (Starstruck Cat) offered a class in dyeing your own yarn. My friend Mary Ann was leading the class. She is our local expert, who creates A Good Yarn, which I have used for many of my sock projects (she also created this beautiful sock blank I have been working with).

Last fall, I took her sock blank dyeing class and created this beauty (not totally true to color – it is a bit brighter in real life –  and this is when it was still wet):

Fall leaves sock blank

So I was excited to try something different this time, and dye on a regular skein. I’ve been really into tonal yarns lately, so I wanted to do variations on a color. I picked two shades of purple and a blue, so there was enough differentiation, but still subtle.  I chose to divide the yarn in thirds. My initial plan was each third would be one color, in hopes of getting a little bit of self-striping action going on. But at the last moment, I decided to go crazy and use one third to have all three colors in different amounts. I mean, if you can’t get a little crazy when you’re making it yourself, when can you? Here it is while it was still wet, just after I finished applying the dye.

the yarn while still wet with new dye

Here it is wrapped up in cling film ready to go in the microwave:

Yarn wrapped in cling film to put in the microwave

Ater that, it cooled, got a bit of a rest, was rinsed, and then hung out to dry. Here mine is (far right) hanging out with some of the creations from the rest of the class:

Yarn drying

As a note, I was super jealous of the girl using the hot pink. Why hadn’t I thought to do shades of pink?!

We had a test skein for the class that we had all sampled our colors on to see if they were what we wanted. Mary Ann said she would probably use the leftover dyes to finish it off and then process. Wanting to help (and wanting to get my hands on that pink!), I offered to dye it up for her while we were waiting for our yarn to dry.

This is what it ended up as:

The sample skein with all of the colors

Seriously – does that not make you smile? I LOVE how this turned out, even though it’s kind of loud. It is just about the happiest thing ever. It made me smile just revisiting this picture today. It’s all of the colors we used as a group, and I think this is proof we all have good taste. I think it is just YUMMY. And making it made me feel like a kid in a candy store – any color of dye I wanted at my fingertips!

After finishing off the multi-color project, I took my yarn home to let it dry more completely. The colors got a bit more muted as it dried because of the bamboo content in the yarn we used. That was totally fine with me, because it feels lush. Here it is in it’s final glory:

Finished yarn

Dye project is all wrapped up!

I had a super time being able to create my own color scheme. Now, I just have to decide what this beautiful sock weight yarn will be – any ideas?

It pains me to be a hooker.

As you’ve gathered from a couple of my posts about my charity blankets, I do dabble in the art of crochet. Just blankets, actually.

I noticed while finishing blanket #1 that the hook was really starting to hurt me. The flat part of the hook was causing me pain as it flipped back and forth between my fingers. I had seen a “comfort hook” at JoAnn’s and decided it would be worth trying that for blanket #2. Once I got to the store, I realized that the comfort hook was flat for the entire handle, which I thought would increase the pain, so I ended up purchasing a round bamboo handle hook instead.crochet hooks standing up

I took my new hook home and started to plan blanket #2. Since I’ve crocheted the same blanket every year for 6 years, I decided to mix it up a bit and create one with three colors instead of my standard two. And since it’s been a year of red, white and blue patriotism (my husband becoming a US citizen, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics in London), I decided to do the same with my blanket.

Red, white and blue for my next blanket

As you can see from the below picture, my new hook still has a flat piece in the middle, and the hook is not shaped as nicely as my original hook. I found it very difficult to handle. I was trying to hold on only to the bamboo piece, which made the hook feel too long. And the different shape of the hook made it more difficult to easily poke through the chains.

crochet hooks

I took my blanket along as a car project a couple of weekends ago. After two sessions of an hour and a bit of crocheting with the new hook, I was in intense pain. My wrist and fingers hurt intensely in a way they never have before, and nothing could easethe discomfort for hours.

So the long and short of it is that crocheting is hurting me now no matter which hook I use, but knitting is not. I’m therefore taking a blanket hiatus, so expect only knitting for a little while. Any suggestions on what I can do to ease the pain and get back to my blanket?

New York, New York

I’ll be up front – this post includes no knitting. Why, you ask? Because I could not decide on a project to take with me during my quick trip to New York City. I made do with books only.

Anyway, I was in NYC last week to attend a conference. It was a great conference, filled with a lot of great information, but we’re going to talk about the one evening I managed to slip out, have a meal and go to a Broadway show instead.

I stopped at the Playwright Celtic Pub for dinner, as it was near the theatre, and the only place that promised they could feed me in 20 minutes or less (I was on a tight schedule to get to the show). It turned out to be a very nice meal of nachos that I ate in record time!

Nachos at the Playwright Celtic Pub

I then dashed off to the Music Box Theatre to see One Man, Two Guvnors, starring one of my favorites (and fellow West Ham fan!) James Corden. I fell in love with the whole cast of Gavin & Stacey, which James co-wrote and starred in, while living in the UK.

One Man, Two Guvnors program

The show was very funny, with a lot of audience participation (perhaps more than there was meant to be during the show I saw last Tuesday) and some hilarious bits where James lost the thread a bit because of the audience. It tended to be on the very British end of the humor scale, but being married to a Brit, it was right up my alley. In fact, it made me miss England a little bit. I totally understood why James won a Tony award for this performance; he was much like he is in Gavin & Stacey –  funny, endearing and a little bit bumbly. The show is basically a slapstick comedy based on misunderstandings that arise from Francis (James) trying to work for two people at once without them knowing. I would highly recommend it if you are in the NYC area.

I had the biggest room I’ve ever had in NYC for this trip, which was great for giving me space to work during the evenings. I had a nice view of 6th Avenue, but unfortunately it rained for most of the time I was there and the view actually looked like this:

View from my NYC room

Despite the weather, it was still a great trip. Now off to work on some knitting to make up for lost time…

FO: Baby bib

I went to the baby shower last Saturday, and the baby bib I made was a big hit. So was the blanket, but the bib got more squeals.

So much so, that I was motivated to make another for my soon-to-be-born great niece. Besides, I had some leftover cotton and an extra button left – so why not?

This time, I opted to make the Girly Bib with the same Over the Rainbow color of Sugar ‘n Cream. It’s so sunny and happy, I can hardly stand it!!

Girly baby bib

Seriously, I smile ever time I look at it!

close-up of the bib and button

And the sweet little flower button! Fabulous!

It was a great, straightforward pattern. The only modification I made was to do four yarnovers when making the buttonhole to fit my larger button (from JoAnn’s).

It only took one afternoon. I could really get used to these super quick projects. I’m loving the instant gratification.

FO: Charity Blanket #1 for 2012

Finally! After six months, I’m proud to introduce you to the first charity blanket I’ve completed for 2012.

Charity blanket on queen bed

Here is it displayed on the queen bed in our guest room (which you may be able to gather is a London-themed room – a result of loving London myself and living with a Brit). It’s 5 feet wide and a shade past 6 feet long, which is the minimum for submissions to my charity group.

close-up of charity blanket

It’s my favorite pattern to crochet for charity: Blue Afghan. As usual, I’ve used the Caron One Pound so that it’s easy care for the recipient. I’ve used Azure and White for this blanket.

Though I make this same pattern year after year, I never get tired of knowing that it will go to a woman who has escaped a bad domestic situation with few supplies, and that it will keep her warm on her journey to her new life. It never stops being the most rewarding crafting I do, despite being the simplest pattern.

Each year, the woman who organizes the wrapping, collection and delivery of the Christmas packages sends us a letter that brings tears to my eyes. It always describes the joy when the woman realize there are presents not only for their children, but for them, too. And how many serendipitously end up with a blanket of their favorite colors. So I’m hoping this year there is a woman who will love nothing more than a light blue blanket!

I’d pay good money for an elf, part 2.

I’d pay good money for an elf – perhaps you remember me saying that earlier this year?

Well, I got a complaint from my colleague that her elf had not been pulling its weight. And maybe it was lonely and needed some extra assistance.

We have two other members of our team at work, one woman and one man, so I made them their own elves. Now the whole team has little helpers.

Little elves

Though they’re still not doing any work, they are brightening days in the office.