Saturday, December 31, 2011

I was a knitting fiend

Whew! I felt like December flew by. It was also the first Christmas in a while where I was "in the spirit." I chalk it up to my cancer trial this year and moving to a new home which has better ju-ju than our old one. There was much to be grateful for this season. Tonight we've been invited to celebrate the new year with my son's best friend's parents, who've happened to turn into good friends of ours. The father is German and loves good beer, so I'm hoping some kind of beer tasting is in the cards. ;-)

I didn't come anywhere near knitting the amount of stuff I wanted to for the month: O's teachers were left in the cold, as was my own mother, who cheerfully gave me permission to put her gift at the end of the queue. Aw, moms! (All this knitting reminds me of the Germaine Greer piece in The Guardian from a few years back about the hell of receiving handcrafted gifts -- I found it hilarious, but many took great offense with it.) Here's what I managed to foist upon my friends and family this year:

O's sweater, which I blogged about here.


A hurricane hat, meant for a teacher, but too small even for my son.

A simple knit hat to use up the leftover Malabrigo Rios from O's fingerless mitts.

And a little something for me -- Anne Hanson's Fartlek hat pattern, knit out of Zara Extra Fine Merino I found on sale for $1/per ball at Hub Mills in Billerica. Not only was the hat cheap, it was fun to knit and it's incredibly warm. Score!

I won't bore you with the other stuff I knit this month, including a test knit of felted mittens for myself. The loden-colored felted hands actually turned out wonderfully, but the knit cuffs of seafoam green baby acrylic? Ewww. All I can say, the color combo looked good under bad lighting. I'll still be wearing them; no one will see the cuffs tucked up into my new winter jacket, a gift from my mother.

Anyway, I hope you've all had a wonderful year and are looking forward to an even better 2012. First up on my plate in the new year is to see The Iron Lady. I also want to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And while I loathed the book (see here; I still kick myself for wasting even an hour on this execrable piece of "literature"), I liked the Swedish movie adaptation very much and Daniel Craig in the English version? Mmmm.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Christmas!

I was able to finish O's sweater in plenty of time for his Winterfest program at school. He didn't complain too much about wearing it -- except to say that it was hot -- but within seconds of the program's end, he'd pulled it off and stuffed it into one of my tote bags. Harumph.

Anyway, it was a mostly enjoyable knit, nothing too strenuous/mindboggling for tv watching. My Ravelry details are here; closeup photos are forthcoming. Now I'm thinking about knitting a version of this sweater for myself.

Can you believe that Christmas is under a week away? I've been listening to Christmas carols in the evening as I work on the couch and it's really getting me in the holiday spirit. My favorite is a CD my husband brought into our marriage:

It contains my favorite "carol" of all, Bach's "Jauchzet, Frohlocket" from his Christmas Oratorio, but "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen" has grown on me, and now I love to listen to its soothing harmonies as I knit on the couch or read. I've found as I've gotten older, I have less tolerance for the silly Christmas music playing in stores although yesterday I couldn't help smiling listening to Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting sing "Baby It's Cold Outside":

What's your favorite holiday music?

O is off from school this week, as well as next, so today we're going to work on decorating the Christmas tree. And then I need to focus on finishing up my knitted gifts.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Settling in

Has it been nearly a month since I posted? Unpacking has taken much longer than I suspected it would. We've moved to a house with less square footage, and although we have a large storage container on our 2 acres to hold our overflow of "stuff," we're stuck doing a lot of sorting and deciding. It seems that every day I'm dropping flattened cardboard off at the recycling center or donating household items to shelters. It never ends.

Some random photos:

My cookbook collection, about 80 percent of it. There are a couple more boxes of books out in the storage container. Sadly, this is my collection after culling -- I donated roughly 100 books before our move.

The livingroom is looking a wee bit more settled, but still there's a lot of work to do. This is the scene that greeted me this a.m. after my son's raucous playdate from yesterday and some furious knitting (mine) from last night. The sofa has been stripped of its slipcover for a washing, thus contributing to the disarray. The rattan chest a/k/a coffee table is going to be replaced shortly, and our tv stand, which is not in the photo, is awaiting a coat of paint. I can't wait to do the big reveal on this project!

Lastly, I've discovered our Victorian-style wall sconces are excellent tools for sock blocking! This sock is one half of a pair destined for my step-mother down in Connecticut, a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann Woodsman's socks.

I've been doing a fair bit of knitting but unfortunately most of it is holiday related so no pictures. I cast on Thea Coleman's Irish Coffee a couple weeks ago, but had to put it aside to focus on gift knitting. However as a reward for knitting three four hats over the last week, I purchased Anne Hanson's Fartlek hat pattern a couple nights ago and will be knitting myself a nice warm cap for the holidays. Ok, yes, I find the name "fartlek" amusing (and so does my son), but I really like the design and have the perfect yarn for it:

It looks a bit more colorful in the photo than it really is. The lighting today is quite poor.

In other Anglophile news:

  • My hopes for the coming season of Downton Abbey on PBS next month have been dashed by this review in the Telegraph. SPOILER WARNING: Read at your own peril.

  • Speaking of Downton Abbey, this Daily Mail article about Julian Fellowes' decidedly unaristo ancestors is a fun read and shows us the class divide in England is still alive and well.

  • Did you know that November was Wovember, a time to wear and celebrate wool? (I know I dug out my woolies!) Here's a fascinating expose of retailers who erroneously label clothing or fabric as "wool." I think this mostly happens in England; in America, wool means fabric made from the fleece of sheep or other fleecy animals or it refers to yarns spun from animal fleece. Will double-check on this!

  • Lastly, I've been enjoying -- nay, loving! -- the CraftLit podcast, which I listen to when I'm slogging though stockinette hell or walking our local bike path. Why it rocks? Half the podcast is taken up with craft talk, mostly knitting, and the other half is a recorded book from the public domain ... and yes, my Anglophile friends, the books are mostly British! Host Heather Ordover has the most evocative voice and spot-on delivery. I'd listen to her read the ingredient list on a spray bottle of Roundup. And the lady knows her literature. I love that she prepares a little introduction to each chapter, offering tidbits on the social history of the time, explaining political history and etymology of words. (Who knew that Bram Stoker got off on the word "voluptuous"? I didn't.) Anyway, it's definitely worth a listen, and I heartily recommend Dracula, even if you're not a fan of horror fiction. The readers are excellent and it's truly a scary book.