Category Archives: knitastic

WIPs, FOs, and other stringy acronyms.

Two weekends of acquisition

As much as my last two weekends have been filled with torturing Thirteen as I try to help him help himself on big social studies reports, blistered palms resulting from digging holes for perennial planting in our extraordinarily rocky soil, and singlehandedly (well, I did use the washer/dryer) washing almost EVERY SINGLE piece of clothing in the house in one weekend — well. LOOK, just LOOK at what I’ve gotten over the last couple of weekends:

A new project bike! Nighthawk 450, gifted so generously from Rick and Janice to commemorate the happy occasion of our marriage. Considering that Mike already has a project bike I am so commandeering this.

The next day we hoped in our little car and trailered this lovely pedestal cast iron tub home from Tarrytown NY. For only $60!

it’s SO nice on the inside:

and once again may I say: I love our small car lifestyle!

The occasion for the tub is not so happy. Suffice it to say (for now!) that there is an awkward and annoying leak that is persistent and getting much worse and necessitates the renovation of our upstairs bathroom about 2 years before we were ready to pay someone else to do so. Family Tip Grundzilla will be performing this engaging and fruitful activity next weekend. Theoretically Fruitfully. Wish us luck.

And then this weekend I went to Rheinbeck for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival and got ALL THE THINGS:
rheinbeck party

OK, I didn’t get the sheep and the llama. But I wanted to. Badly. Think Nine and Thirteen can be swayed off of horses in 4H and onto the fiber-bearing animals?


I’m working on Mike’s xmas gift. (um, yes. Christmas 2011.) Normally I make Mike and the little dudes xmas hats, but this year I wanted to do something a little special for him, and asked him to pick out a mitten pattern from my ravelry favorites. Clearly, he made the best and most obvious choice and picked the Octopus Mittens.


Normally I’m a terribly slow and inconsistent knitter, but these mittens are so rewarding to knit. Between the variation of the orange yarn and the neat pattern, I can’t wait to work on them and see what happens next. This photo is from this morning, and I managed to finish knitting the hand and half of the thumb in the car on my way home from Pittsburgh (oh Mike is awesome for driving) – I can’t wait to cast off and see how it looks all put together. Of course, I will still have to knit Mitten #2, but I am hopeful that it will be almost as exciting as the first one was!

Now, I know some of my new blog/twitter friends are knitters – show yourselves!

I’m blogging a photo a day for the month of February. You should too! #29in29

This is my glamorous travel methodology

It turns out that when you’ve got a cool. 6 1/2 hours ahead of you and a TV in the seat in front if you, you can get a lot of knitting done.


All my yarning

I’ve been on a huge knitting kick lately. I love to use ravelry – it makes it so easy to keep track of your yarn and the patterns you’ve intended to use it for. People used to (and many still do!) make a copy of the pattern and put it in a bag with the yarn and store it neatly somewhere until they’re ready to begin work on it… but I have never been that organized, and I hate using a bunch of ziploc bags if I don’t strictly have to.

Here’s a terrible screen-shot of all the yarn in my stash:

I downloaded an excel spreadsheet and added up all the yarn I have – starting quantities and what I currently have, after knitting a bunch over the last year or so.

Beginning Quantity: 15.10 miles!

Current Quantity: 14.02 miles!

I’ve knit 1.08 miles of yarn! AMAZING!

Even though my queue has a list of 24 patterns in it that’s already matched with yarn, even though there’s a bunch of yarn not currently matched to ANYTHING, and even though I will roughly NEVER finish that list of “to-knits” up, this makes me feel accomplished and excited.

Youth Football


It’s been lovely weather at youth football games so far this year. Sunny, not too cold, and I’ve been able to sit and knit on things happily. This week I worked on a Monarch Lace Shawl (for a gift for xmas, so don’t spread it around!) and got 5 inches done. It was kind of a stressful game, so I was happy to have something else to focus on while Eight’s team tried to secure their place in the playoffs against an undefeated foe. (They did NOT, but they played very well and had a good time.)

Next weekend it will be colder, but still sunny. I think that will be Eight’s last game of the season. Not bad this year – we’ve had amazing weather for all of his games.

The knitting this fall has been awesome. I’ve finished two things already and feel like I’m in a great place for my holiday gifting (i.e., all the yarn is in hand and gift patterns are selected).

Craft night!

Last night was the inaugural local NJ craft night. We’ve been talking about this for, oh, at least 2 years (and probably closer to 3 b/c that’s when I moved to NJ). and FINALLY we got together at my place for some makin’stuff.

I’m really excited! I cast on for the Scoop Neck Vest – you can see another photo here. I am not using the fuzzy yarn because this is something I’d like to wear in the spring, and alpaca is hecka warm. I’m using a cotton-model blend from knitpicks in a very classic KarinaJean color: TURQUOISE. of course, knitpicks calls it “reef.” That’s a much more modern name than TURQUOISE.

I also treated myself when I bought the yarn and purchased the knitpicks interchangeable needles. they are SO SUPER. They’re nickel-plated, and very very fast. I’d picked up some addi turbos recently and fell in love with them, but they are SO EXPENSIVE. these knitpicks needles were super affordable, and they are so great to knit on! and when I say I treated myself, I mean it: I also got a few sets of the nickel-plated double pointed needles too. I’m planning to get rid of a bunch of my old needles. I don’t really need all the odds and ends I’ve picked up over the years.
any bets on how long it will take me to finish this project? Hint: the corn baby? still not complete. (I AM THE WORST FRIEND EVER.) anyway, is anyone on I’m on, as karinajean. obvs.

knitting. the beast that won’t die.

even though I’m still putting the corn baby to bed, so to speak (don’t worry Joy! I made the larger size in anticipation of hot summer weather, so hopefully the bambino won’t be too big when you finally receive your very late shower gift), I am still thinking about things to knit. It’s awful! gramma once told me that her favorite part of weaving was the planning, and I know she meant the cool math that she did to come up with her beautiful patterns and to do the “impossible*” but I love the planning most too. I love looking at yarn and patterns and touching them and thinking about them. So today I ended up buying two patterns! argh! it started when a friend of mine linked to the orangina tank (which is very cute) and I continued browsing her patterns and saw this very cool sweater (I prefer the long sleeve version, and I’m thinking about using andean silk because it’s way cheaper and also looks lovely. It’ll be a lot warmer b/c of the alpaca content, though. Something to keep in mind. And then when I went to buy the sweater pattern I came across these crochet hat patterns which are in styles I’ve been trying to find for AGES. I can sort of crochet, so I bought that pattern too.

So, yeah, I know, more projects in the imaginary queue. but at least I’m not buying yarn for these projects! the reason for that is this off-the-top-of-my-head list of projects that I already have yarn for and/or are in various stages of completion:

  • I owe a very cool lady this chemo cap, and I also need to figure out how to cable correctly. Doh.
  • God, I still have this eyelet skirt on the needles. I always tote it to the beach with me b/c the yarn is cotton aka not a hassle to knit with. but it’s a Lot of knitting. Hvae I mentioned I always have to size my needles down to get gauge? even more knitting.
  • I have the yarn for the cheesylove sweater too, and I’ve always meant to make it. you know how these things go! it’s awfully cute, though. I love it. even if it is super cheesy. and not only will I learn how to make a sweater but also fair isle hearts!
  • I also have the yarn for the sitcom chic cardigan. I secretly wonder if the raglan shoulder shaping will do my figure any good, but shoot, I have the yarn, and I can always use a cardigan.
  • Speaking of cardigans, I have the yarn and pattern for the sweet mary jane cardigan. I love the bed jacket shaping! it’s cute and classy, and I have to admit that the photo really sold me on it. it looks SASSY.
  • I’m also still working on those regia ringel socks that I started over a year ago. Ahem. But! I did finish the first one and start the second! that’s something, no?

I think that is enough airing of the hair shirts. suffice it to say, I have a lot of things all lined up and I want badly to do them but most of all to plan plan plan and buy yarn and if only I could spin straw to gold, I’d also be able to wish all my pretty yarn into these pretty projects. sigh.

*note to gramma’s impossible: she wanted to weave us all checkerboards, but someone told her it was impossible with the type of loom she was using. She sure showed him. she did the math and figured it out and busted through it and they were the coolest travel checkerboards ever. additional sidebar: I definately got my crafty stubbornness from my gramma. she is so cool.

things I’ve learned lately

1. I am a terrible procrastinator. I think the reason why is b/c I am bored. it’s true. I’d much rather be at home reading the pile of books that I need to get through, or sewing a skirt, or knitting the things that I have promised to people. Instead I am at work for 8+ hours a day and I find myself thinking about books, or looking at skirts online, or drooling over yarns and patterns on the internet.

the key to why I procrastinate is this: I am bored, therefore, I am way more interested in what I’m doing if I have to do it in a crunch/last minute situation.

the catch-22 is that when I’m at work screwing around at the internets, the day takes at least 5x as long to get through as it does when I’m at work actually being productive and getting things done. go figure.

2. I found out I have a very old version of WP installed here. I need to update it, but am a tiny bit nervous about the procedure. It’s an autoinstall from my host, so it shouldn’t be HARD, but these things are never guaranteed to be easy.

3. I cable all wrong. When I am making cables there’s a bar across the bottom of the knit stitch, like I’m holding the yarn in the wrong place before I twist the stitches. I need to consult elizabeth zimmerman about this for sure. of course, my only other experience with cables was this owl dishcloth knit several years ago for my mom, but I DID think it would come back a little better. and I’m even using a brilliant cable needle that my grandmonther gave me that used to belong to my greatgrandmother. I thought it would guide me, in a way, but that’s not really happening. sigh.

knitting olympics!

a friend of mine pointed out the the knitting olympics. how fun! it is wildly tempting to do, but I have to admit that I’m bad at knitting on a deadline. Plus, I don’t really have a functional tv on which to watch the olympics, and that might be key to maximize knitting time.

but if I WERE going to do it, I might actually go ahead and knit the sitcom chic cardigan. I bought the yarn, I just have to get down to it, pretty much.

In other knitting news, I’ve been knitting socks and they’re coming out BEAUTIFULLY. and don’t think these are new socks, I started them just under a year ago and am still chugging away. I set them aside for a long time, and in my move I lost the directions (which I’d customized to my own, long and skinny feet), but have since found them and bring them with me to physical therapy. I’m on the ribbing of the 2nd sock and I HATE 1×1 ribbing, by the way, it definitely is horrible and tedious and time consuming. I can’t WAIT until I finish it and can zip around and around in stockinette.

gosh so pretty

a friend of mine pointed out the new loop-d-loop book by Teva Durham, and BOY is it gorgeous. As she said “I never want to do anything ordinary again. if i don’t love the pattern AND yarn, it has no place in my life. ” And while I’m sure I’ll keep plugging away on my little projects, I have so many things that I have half started that I don’t love enough to work on obsessively. Maybe that’s my problem with finishing?

I am going to look this book up in the library, fershur. There’s a great review here for those knittingly inclined (JOY). And if I can’t get it through ILL than I guess I’ll have to track down my local yarn shop, hey? Oh, the “awful” things I will do for knitting! What “self-sacrifice!”

the year of knitting for ME.

I’ve noticed a lot of my friends seem to be knitting for themselves, which makes me feel PILES better about it. I am interested in only knitting for myself too, lately. I finished up a pair of voodoo wrist warmers that I MEANT to wear when riding my bike (nevermind that I haven’t really gotten back on that bike since it turned wet and chilly, despite my new and uninstalled fenders).

I have a charming eyelet skirt on the needles, and have had since summertime. I’m still working on the first 1/2 of it. It’s kind of slow going. It would be faster if I took it out of the bag more often.

When I was in TN I finished up a new pair of mittens. I had lost mine last winter, and needed a new pair badly! It went very well when I was visiting and gave me something to do with my hands.

Right now I’m working on a pair of Regia Ringel Socks. (the colorway I’m using isn’t on there exactly, but it’s greens and blues. They are going WONDERFULLY. I am so excited by how quickly they’re growing (especially now that I have finished the 1×1 ribbing at the top) and think I’ll walk over to the local yarn store today on my way home to try to purchase some plain black sock yarn so the heels aren’t stripy. It really is fun to see what colors come out of the skein next, and I have a seriously hard time putting the sock down. But it’s all for the best, because if I put it down I don’t want to have to worry about not picking it back up, no?

I am totally knitting away tonight. Maybe I’ll get to turn the heel!


Some vignettes, to keep you busy while I keep on with the good work (and by good work I mean my edumacation):

A Haiku for a fine fellow:

Who’s the host with the

most? It’s John, who will set out

fresh towels for you.

Story from the streets of Pittsburgh.

It’s very very icy here. It snowed and snowed and snowed, and then it melted and rained and melted and snowed and melted. So where there was once 8 or so inches of snow there is now a slippery wet slab of ice. And we didn’t have a shovel, so our walk is a slippery wet slab of ice.

Today it was weird and warm and rainy and snowy and melty. And, Michelle just bought a shovel. So I thought I’d take advantage of my late morning today and hit the steps, shoveling them off so the ice would really vanish by tonight. I opened the front door and thought “I didn’t THINK it had snowed that much…�? and then UpstairsNeighbor spoke to me from the sidewalk, asking me not to shovel the from steps or the walk because snow would be better to walk on than ice and in fact she had just tossed all that new snow onto the steps. Goodness! Now, we’ve kind of had this conversation before, and I kind of didn’t know what to say. But when I got home tonight and the steps were icy and treacherous I went ahead and shoveled half of them and left a note essentially saying that with my bad knee and ankle I need a flatter slippery surface to walk on and if she’d like I would only shovel half the steps.

Another story from my street: there might be a water leak under it. There was a river going down the hill. It’s winter, and Pittsburgh apparently has the most freeze/thaw cycles of any other place in the country. Maybe. Apparently I also have a bad habit of over exaggerating statistics. And by exaggerating them, I mean making them up.

An email I got recently:

“I just searched in Google for apartment in nyc tiger and found ranked 26. I have a related website about Real Estate – General that’s purely informational (so I’m NOT a competitor of yours) and I’d like to link to your site.

I consider my site to be one of the best resources for this type of information. I get a decent amount of visitors to it so if I link to you, your site should get some decent traffic from it.

I only link to good quality sites… I think you’ll find my site to be high quality as well. In exchange, I would ask that you also link to my site. I’ve already linked to you and will keep it there for a few days until I hear from you. Please let me know asap if you’re interested and i’ll send you my information.

It sounds cool, no? But I did a google search and I got nothing. Not even number 36 was me. Wouldn’t it be neat if I were affiliated with nyc tigers in apartments? Sorry to disappoint, kids. I’m not.

Incidentally, I did a google search for karinajean and my pataki letter popped up. Not the journal entry, but the actual letter file. I wonder how those crazy websearching robots find this stuff?

Stories that aren’t mine from the streets of New York:

The Mister tells me of some weird things going on downtown in the big apple.

As in: the man who pulls up, pulls a stack of boxes out of his car and waits. Someone leaves the building and gets into his car and drives away without saying a word. Dude checks the gun he’s carrying in his pocket, picks up his stack of boxes, and enters the building.

Or how about the fellow the Mister was chatting with outside who suddenly walks away, embraces a woman, and then leaves the plaza in an opposite direction from her?

I sat in his plaza once. I read a little book, took my shoe off and fixed my ankle brace. Not so weird apparently.

I’ve been knitting the Misters xmas present and it’s going very well once I get a chance to sit down and knit. I also have made tremendous use of my yarn ball winder and the yarn swift my mom gave me over xmas. It makes a huge difference, before I’d hang the skein of yarn around my neck and wind loops off, throw them on the floor with some semblance of order, and then stop and turn the yarn ball crank. It worked but took forEVER. The swift is an incredible quality of life addition to my fiber arts.

Mmm, that’s all. I have some homework to do. It’s Fun! Glamorous! Exciting! At least it ought to be when I’m done and I can tell stories about how I walked uphill both ways to school drop off my math homework.

But before I go, I love fontifier.

A brand new spanky new year. And now! With Lists!

It’s a new year, and just like the student I am I don’t consider it beginning until the new semester begins. It’s so rewarding to have a real definite start date for a new bunch of classes and new learning – much nicer than going to work, having a day off, and coming back to the new year in the office.

I had a good winter break. I drove up to see the family and the little car made it just fine.AND, I had pleasure of finishing nearly all of their presents before Christmas day. That’s something very unusual for me, usually I’m handing out at least half of my gifts unfinished. Ok, so, I still haven’t given Kelly+Mariss their gifts, because I haven’t finished them. And I just finished Michelle’s yesterday, and started the beau’s gift this evening. But on Christmas eve I was able to give my mom her gift entirely completed. And on Christmas morning my stepsis, her hubby, my stepmom AND my nephew all opened entirely completed gifts. And my other stepsis opened a ¾ completed gift, and Poor Dad was the only one who had to open something that wasn’t even started. And even better, I finished the gifts before any significant distance was put between myself and the recipient. I whipped out the last stitches of the wrist warmers for stepsis before she left for home, and I finished the last couple of embroidery stitches on stepmom’s shirt (ok, I didn’t ENTIRELY finish hers when I wrapped it up. But mostly!), and I entirely embroidered Dad’s shirt before pulling out of town even though it required me getting up way earlier than I wanted to and working frantically until finished. The early was nothing compared to the 3 nights of 4AM crafting I put in. What was tough was how I was giving out 4 gifts in the same genre of stepmom’s, so I couldn’t work on hers while she was around.

I also realized that the holiday season is one of those seasons full of unmet expectations. Not to be morose, but I don’t know that many people who honestly look forward to the season with unchecked joy and anticipation. Not anyone over 12, anyway. It’s a time that we’re supposed to buy buy buy our way to the perfect gift, but don’t worry, it’s also about family love and it’s really the thought that counts. I love giving people things, and I love making them even if I am a grouchy crafter and I stay up until the early morning cursing and watching TLC and trying not to bleed on my home made creations, but I always feel like I’m not meeting someone’s expectations. I walk a line of trying very hard not to disappoint anyone. And I think a lot of people feel that way.

To change that mood killer, check out my nephew in his incredibly cute hat that I made for me and that fits him just perfectly:

Anyway, it’s the new year, all spanky and clean. It’s been cold here in the steel city and I do appreciate it. Probably because I haven’t been out waiting for the bus yet – we’ll see how I like it tomorrow morning when I get up and at them and on my way to school for my first class of the semester. And in the spirit of Me and the New Year, I present you with two lists:

My Crazy New Years Resolutions.

* To cuss less. I am not a sailor. I am a lady. I must remember the distinction.

* To do my homework in a more timely fashion. I mean it.

* To continue watering my plants.

* To spend more time crafting while I watch silly TV shows.

* Budget. And successfully.

* To have more dinner parties, or at least, to have more time with friends. Especially Kelly, who is so rock’n’roll she deserves her own special shout-out sans hubby. Really, you put the love in Pittsburgh, my dear.

* To read more books, and make full use of the library that’s right on campus and right next to my building for pete’s sake! Also, see number 2.

My Crazy Crafting List (in no particular order, really).

* Sew my beautiful orange glittery felt skirt.

* Sew my very elegantly beautiful woolen skirt.

* Sew my glamourous silk and tulle skirt.

* Knit the 3 hats I’ve been thinking of: swim cap ala fits me, bobble hat that may or may not give me carpal tunnel syndrome (see above), and easy peasy regular hat with the Incredibly Soft Yarn I bought online at least a year ago and don’t know what to do with yet.

* Knit me wrist warmers. I love them. And I made them for everyone else so…

* Finish my photo album and help Michelle make me a new one from the Kennedy Family record album I picked out.

* Fix my webpage. Catch up. Put up pages of our amazing transformation from hovel to home.

Sound good? Happy new year, dahlinks

So, I hear I haven’t updated for a while.

Right, so, a couple of people have pointed out to me that I haven’t updated for a while. Yeah, I know. It’s not the way Pittsburgh was supposed to work out for me. I was supposed to have lots of time for updating, and also for overhauling my crappy ‘making web page using Word because it’s free and easy to figure out’ system. Word is just fine if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and an easy connection to the interweb. When you’re sans modem/hookup, and not so eager to sit at the computer at home after trying to do school work all day it’s a little bit harder. Excuses, I know. I try hard to make have excuses but there you go. I slipped.

Anyway, in the spirit of excuses, you may be interested in some things that have happened to me.

* I fell down and hurt myself. So I’m always taking my time getting around, you know, walking slowly and trying to be accommodating to other people’s schedule so I get rides.

* I have become a knitting fiend. It seems to happen every fall around this time of year, I guess. It’s good, I finally finished my xmas presents from last year and started up on this year’s presents – which are going very well. I wish I could post pictures of them! But I can’t, because IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS YET. I’d spoil the surprise.

* I’ve been doing lots of schoolwork. Probably not as much as I should be doing, but working nonetheless.

These don’t sound like good excuses when I try to list them. Whatever. Excuses never sound good. It might not be the easiest way to get through life but I really do try not to make them unless they’re really a good reason. “Make excuses” sounds like a cop-out anyway. People may look at me funny when I don’t actually explain why x, y, or z did or didn’t happen, but that’s OK by me.

Oh, so there’s one picture of my knitting I can show you. It was my selfish making-something-for-myself-instead-of-working-on-either-other-presents-or-homework hat. So I worked hard on it, and quickly, and used up some of my stash yarn from a very old ebay purchase and when I finished I realized that it was way too small for me. I thought I was making an adult medium which would be marginally too small as it were for my massively large head, and through yarn substitutions and needle substitutions (I never seem to have the right tools around when I want them) it ended up being a probable child’s medium. So I have a present completed for my cutie pants nephew, I guess:

oh, heck. My handspring isn’t working. It works just fine when it’s on the charger but not at all when it’s not. Heck heck heck. So no digital pictures for a while. Heck. I wonder if I can track down a new handspring visor edge battery for cheap/free? Heck.

And speaking of snow, there’s a wonderful nor’easter that barely hit us. We only got around 6 inches of snow or so, probably less. I think the east coast got dumped! That’s so great. I love bad weather. We had a little moment when we weren’t sure if we could get out of the driveway and then down the scary lane with the miracle bamboo that just hasn’t died yet, even though it’s been so cold, and even though it’s thoroughly weighted down with snow right now and drooping far over the driveway. But we did. And then I nearly got the car stuck outside of school when I parked in an extra slopey and slushy parking space but I just left it there and trusted I’d get unstuck when I got back, and I did. Maybe the ice firmed up enough to provide some traction for me. Last night I thought I’d go over to a classmates house to watch the neighborhood Christmas parade, but after braving the roads to get some taco bell (no plowing, extra slipping) and realizing my new insurance card hadn’t come in the mail yet I decided to stay at home with the box wine, taco bell, and some Friday night TV.

So I’m trying to update a little. There’s a couple of new entries up that I haven’t put up in a timely fashion. Heads up, anything after July that isn’t from 10/1 is a secret update that I haven’t been very forthcoming with. So’s you know

Spring Cleaning of my Brain.

It’s starting to seem very nice outside. Is it spring yet? Honest?

I am so busy, but I don’t know what I’ve been doing at all. So here’s some lists:

Things that bothered me today at work:

  • Looking at a monitor, it hurt my eyes.
  • The bugs that bit through my nylons and gave me AT LEAST 5 bug bites. Yuck!
  • Office politics.

Things that I want to buy and am totally not going to because I’ve been a huge spendthrift lately:

  • A spinning wheel.
  • More books from Persephone books.
  • A little radio for running.
  • A mp3 player, even though I don’t have a computer at home, because looks so cool.

Things I wish I could stay in one place long enough to do:

  • Clean my room.
  • Finish Christmas presents for 2 special people.
  • Knit socks.
  • Knit a cool cardigan sweater from
  • Get back into spinning with my ridiculous spindle.
  • Learn to make books.
  • Learn to do linoprints.
  • Finish some more good books that I already own.
  • Learn CSS to make this web page (and my csa’s web page) beautiful and flash.
  • Fix my computer that daddy-o gave me, for which I dissected a tossed computer at work for parts. See if it works.

Things I love doing that I have been doing lately and want to do more of:

  • Reading good books.
  • Taking pictures with my wonderful 20 buck camera that I got at a barn sale.
  • Writing letters to people I love.
  • Making my bed.
  • Running in the morning (OK, I don’t LOVE that. I love the idea of doing it. The action, well, not so high on the love ladder yet.)

In an effort to accomplish SOMETHING, here it is: I am making a mailing list for this page. If you want to be included, send me an email! And as always, compliments are always appreciated…

My but it’s been a long time!

While I’ve been goofing off with the glamour of environmental engineering, it’s SPRING! And, also, I have turned 26 years old. Amazing.

A birthday story:

When we moved here from Tennessee I was the new kid, and I was (and am) very very shy. It’s a big surprise to everyone now, because I fake it pretty good, but I was so nervous about being the new kid, and having people over for my birthday. I can’t remember exactly what I wanted to happen, but I wanted to have a great party, and have an outdoor part, with the good smelling lilac bush and the cottonwood trees and green green grass. I wanted it to be a magical outdoors experience. So, I was waiting for people to come over for the party and I noticed something. It was snowing. Snowing! April 15, and it snows. Welcome to the northeast! That’s the way it is around here, I guess. Stinkers.

So I wasn’t surprised when it started snowing a couple of weeks ago. Welcome to the northeast! Where Mother Nature likes to tease us a little with good warm beautiful sunny weather, and then drop some snowfall on us. (A good thing about the snow was that parking rules were suspended and I didn’t have to move my car!)

An Easter story:

So usually I don’t do much for Easter. I have in the past had people over for Easter egg fun, boiling dozens and dozens of eggs and setting up an egg-dying table, raiding the neighbors garbage for paper to put down under the vinegary paas kits. At cooper we had a big “Spring� dinner one Easter, wherein we had 14(?) people at the dinner table and we ate and ate and laughed and ate. It was fun, and also hard to find seating for everyone. This year, I went back to Brigantine to spend the evening with Dad and Maggie. It was fun, they’re staying at a timeshare on a very different part of Brigantine than I saw. It’s grassier, more houses, and on the ocean side. I can’t understand how Brigantine stays so small town while the only car access is directly through Atlantic City. It doesn’t make any sense. Although, a fellow from the condo who saw us in church on Easter assured us that Brigantine was a very Catholic community, and actually, so Catholic that if all of the Catholics came to church they’d have to build 3 or 4 more.

Paul Harvey officiated over Easter Mass. No, really. The priest had a deep sonorous voice that boomed out, and his elocution? Full stops in the middle of sentences just like Paul Harvey. I honestly was waiting for him to end the homily with “and now you know…. The rest. Of the story.� He didn’t, though. Maybe because the Easter story isn’t too esoteric, and most people attending church on Easter Sunday already know the rest. Of the story.

Then in the spirit of Easter we went to Atlantic City and walked on the boardwalk. It was lots of fun, and early early morning is the best time of all to hit the Atlantic City scene. As in, not too many people. And I am still shocked by people smoking indoors!

After AC I drove up to my Beau’s Parent’s house for dinner, which was very nice. And I made a cake which seemed to go over very well. I think the cake is super-fantastico, a flourless chocolate cake with a chocolate cream topping and mini-chocolate Easter eggs floating on the chocolatly “nest.� It is a wonderful Nigella Lawson creation. That woman is so fine. And what a good cook! The cake is from the NYTimes, and I don’t know how long the link will last but I do think you should all read the “At my table� column every week because the way the woman writes about food is an inspiration. She alone is well worth the free registration required for viewing the NY Times.

A story about my nephew:

My brother used to date a woman who once had a dog named Sweetness. This dog was a wiry little boxer/pitt bull kind of dog, all coiled muscle and beautiful eyes. She was a sweet sweet pup. My nephew loved standing out in the yard and yelling “Sweetness! Sweetness!� It’s better if you imagine my nephew with a high-pitched baby voice and a habit of dragging out the vowels in the word so it sounded more like “Sweeeeeaaaaatnaaaaas!�

The Crafty void in my life:
Heck, but I haven’t been making anything lately. People ask me what I’ve been up to and I have nothing to say. Um, working? I go out of town a lot lately? I don’t know what I’ve been doing. This is what I NEED to be doing:

* Making use of the fun great wonderful beautiful embroidery patterns I have.

* Finishing dad’s Christmas mittens! And Maggie’s Christmas scarf! I am A Bad Gift Giver.

* Cooking at home more, and not eating out as much.

* Making socks! I have so much sock yarn and even the right size needles. I have good instructions for using the self patterned yarn. But do I have socks? No.

* Sewing aprons from my cool “how to get a husband� fabric. It’s neat and ironic. I love it.

* Knitting the Sitcom Chic cardigan from Knitty. Because I need it! Really! Plus, all of my other cardigans are falling apart. Especially in the elbows.

The Book I’m reading:

“Woman: An Intimate Geographyâ€? by Natalie Angier. It is so fantastic and interesting, like taking a tour of my woman parts. I have learned so many cool things that I had no idea about. The author is a science writer for the NYTimes and does a fantastic job tearing down our preconceived feelings about our bodies, based on old scientific theories since disproved, and rebuilding the concept of “woman” as an evolutionary gem. This book goes on my list of books that all women should read.

Um, maybe it won’t be so long until next time? Maybe?

My Knitting

Lorelei came over on Monday night and we had a little knitting party. It was great. I’ve never taught someone to knit before, and I’m a little concerned that I’m teaching her wrong, because she’s left-handed, but she seems to be getting it OK. I need to look up in Knitting Without Tears what Elizabeth Zimmerman says about teaching leftys.

And, I figured out pretty much what row I’m on for my lacy-late Christmas gift-scarf I’m working on! And I’m zipping along on that right now, too. I have been really pulling it out on the way home, I can get 2 rows in on the subway in the AM if I really get started right away.

When I was pulling out yarn for Lorelei to use, I found my sock yarn. Oh, right, I need to make socks – I had forgotten completely! And then this morning on the train I remembered my chinchilla yarn also. Damn. I had a whole line up of projects to work on before I get any new stuff, and I had totally, and conveniently, forgotten!

A whole New Year full of Beans.

Happy New Year!

I love saying Happy New Year.  I’ve been saying it for nearly a week, even though it just started yesterday.  I think it’s a really appropriate thing to wish to people to have.

I am starting the new year refreshed of mind, body and spirit.  No, really, I am.  It sounds silly, and it is kind of, but I didn’t come to work from the 21st of December until Today.  Which is OVER a week’s vacation!  (Ok, I did come to work on Monday. I kept getting messages about this non-urgent issue, so I thought I’d just show my face to make sure everything was ok. It was, no one was impressed with good thoughts or a positive glowing attitude that I had come in, I checked my email and ordered a teapot, and went home.)  And, I billed all sick time! Because I needed to rest my soul!  Heh.  No, really.  That’s what I needed, and that’s what happened. I wonder if I could get a note from my doctor saying that?  I wonder if I’ll need to.  “Karina Jean could not come to work this week or during the holiday season at all because she was resting her soul, lest it be broken along with her spirit.”

So, 12.20 we had our holiday luncheon.  And let me tell you, it was a far cry from the holiday parties of years past.  I don’t know why, even, but there was a DJ and the dance floor was open.  I mean, sure, I danced, but it was a little weird to dance during a LUNCHEON.  After that? I went back to work.  But not for long! And then I went for drinks with my department at the Helmsley Hotel, which was fun, and weird, and then to the back of this bar that’s like a tree house, because it has a canvas roof and a tree growing through the middle, and that was also weird, and then Matt picked me up and we met Michelle at Cilantro’s for some fun. 

Sunday and Monday I furiously worked on holiday cards and gifts for people.  And I went home on the 24th, and kept furiously working.  But I finished my mittens!  They’re great, even if they are very pointy (is that Latvian style?):



And I gave three presents this year that were unfinished (and this includes wrapping a ball of yarn labeled “Daddy’s Mitten” with one of my mittens, labeled “Kari’s Mitten”.  This sounds like it wasn’t too bad, but, I purchased three others, and I haven’t actually given several more, of which at least two are still being constructed, and at least two came very late in the year. And two of the presents I gave (mom’s!) were incomplete!  (really, should I send you that crock-pot in the mail? Have it shipped directly to you?) Plus, I haven’t finished sending out all of my holiday cards (ahem, new years cards).  But that’s ok! It’s a new year! All will be superfantastico!

Really, I did (re-)gain a lot of perspective while I was away.  I needed a big fat break from work and irksome things.  And the snow we got on Christmas upstate (nearly 2 feet!  Whee!) was fantastic, even if I did break my front tires enough to need new ones on a bad patch of ice.  And seeing my mom and nephew being hams?  Also fantastic.  And having quality down time with Michelle?  Again, fantastic.


(Daniel is not sick.  He’s just, um, thinking about something.  Really.  The restaurant was reputable and fantastic.)

It was a fantastic vacation. I am really starting to see the merit in making your employees take all of their vacation days by the end of the year, instead of allowing them to put off a vacation until they MUST take it or risk losing days – at least in a profession like engineering, where it’s easy to forget that the project WILL go on without you, to forget that you are not indispensable, no matter how important and depended upon you are.

Happy New Year!  (and no, I don’t know where the beans are involved. A hill of beans? The musical fruit? Sprouting, the seeds of life and scurvy prevention?  Cause there’s no scurvy in the new year! Yar!)

Yarn Riot! And my first ever 76 hour week. My last? Perhaps.

Things I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t been able to because I’m working too darn hard:

The yarn riot.  Fantastic.  I got 3 different kinds of yarn, all very colorful or very unique.  I am so excited to make mittens from this kind (very hard to see the colors, but it’s almost right) and another wooly kind of interesting yarn will make very very pretty socks, or a scarf, or something.  It’s also exotic – an Italian yarn!  whoo!  Third was some nice homespun-esque wool yarn, and lastly, about 5 or 6 pairs of double pointed knitting needles.  Yes!  I can make my mittens, and also, start socks (after holidays of course).

I dragged Colby with me from work that day, and we had a great lunch together. And, I met Linda on the train, which is always marvelous, and one of those freaky things that happens sometimes in NYC that could wig you out if you think about it too much, even if she WAS going to the same place as we were. And Peggy was at the riot when we got there, and she’s like the best hugger in the entire world (tho’ Colby thought she was just a lady there, and didn’t realize I knew her when she started hugging.  Colby said she thought it was some weird yarn ritual, and she’d have to hug strangers all day!)  Last night I started knitting some mittens from the colorful yarn.  Really, it matches my new coat very very well.  Not because my new coat is like Joseph’s, or anything, but it does match.

I worked a 76 hour week last week.  It’s my first, and hopefully my last.  I worked so darn hard and we’re not even going to make our deadlines.  It’s very frustrating.  Like, incredibly, incredibly frustrating.  But the other people (who are “holding us up”) aren’t slacking off either; it’s just that our deadlines were crazy to begin with. I’d like to put a list of things I did this year inside my Christmas cards.  I still don’t know what they’ll look like, but I think I’ll photocopy a checklist style thing and put the years highlights on it, like:

  • worked first 76 hour week of my career.
  • decided to apply to grad school.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything else that’s good and happy funny and not sad to put on the list right now.  I hope I do, I need some good year in review perspective!

Here’s a sad thing that won’t make that list:  My kitty Boots died.  He lived with my father in Albany, and I found out on Thursday that Maggie had found him, dead.  DanAaron told me.  I was initially afraid the dogs had gotten him (as they may or may not have gotten a cat before), but they said that wasn’t the case.

Bootsie was a great cat.  When I was 12 we got my mom a cat, Mittens, because we wanted a kitten so bad.  But then she and dad divorced, and she moved out, and was still so raw from her cat Venus dying the year before that she left us Mittens.  And then we thought maybe Mittens needed a friend, and the neighbors’ cat had kittens the next summer, so we took Boots.  DanAaron and Daddy picked him up and brought him home and then went to a scout thing, and I got home later that day and found this little adorable kitty sitting in the upstairs bathroom right where they had left him.  He was scared, and lonely.  I took him all around the house and showed him his litter box.  I wanted to name him Mr. Kuss Kuss, because had just started taking German and thought it would be a great idea, but luckily Dad vetoed it and we went with Boots.  Later that year Mittens was hit by a car and killed, and I remember holding Boots tight and crying as Dad went up to get Mittens out of a ditch.  We were good friends, Boots and I, he slept with me and loved climbing under the covers and curling into the warm spot behind my knees.  I spent many nights unmoving, because I didn’t want to disturb him.

Boots was also a real spit-fire.  He’d play roughly and suddenly, often when you were petting he’d flip over, hug your hand to his head with his front paws, and kick box your arm with his back paws.  We all had scratches and scars from him.  He was an outdoor cat, and would climb in my window at night when he was done running around.  He once killed 5 squirrels in a single day and left them propped up around the house in various stages of rigor mortis.  Every window you’d go to, you’d see a new dead squirrel.  I had to get a shovel and fling them deep into the woods.

This Thanksgiving Boots was extra sweet.  He followed me around, and slept with me in my bed again.  I snuck him turkey to his spot on top of the fridge, and he poked his head around the microwave when we reheated the dinner the next day, following the smells.  I’m glad I had this time with my poor old kitty.  But I’ll miss knowing he’s sitting on top of the tallest appliance he can find, surveying all below him.  Or, maybe he still is sitting on the very tallest appliance, watching the dogs mill about below him with an eagle eye.

What’s “on my plate.”

So, Lake Nasty has temporarily slowed down. I’m getting more time to spend doing what I like to do.

I’m knitting on my scarf for the battered woman’s shelter. That’s great, I really like getting something like this done. I can’t wait until it’s really and truly finished.

The last big of “charity knitting” (somehow that term, while it’s entirely appropriate, sounds wrong. It also sounds quaint and fun. I can’t decide if I like it or not.) I did was a couple of hats made from handspun yarn. It was a project for the spindlers list I’m on, which is a super chatty yah00 group focused on hand spinning with spindles. I signed up, received several skeins of handspun sproingy brown wool yarn from a woman in Hawaii, and knit up a couple of hats. They were sent to the Veterans Stand Down in Philadelphia. The Stand Down takes place yearly as a non-government affiliated venue for homeless veterans who might otherwise be reluctant to go in for the health benefits they are entitled to. (23% of homeless people are veterans! Visit the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans for more information on the Stand Down.)

I remember now that I got the bulk of the hat knitting done on bus trips home after work. There’s a great limited service (express) bus that goes from 10 blocks south of my office, to right outside of my office door to near my home, and then on up to the upper upper west side which runs until 7:20 PM. If I catch that bus, it’s a quick easy trip with a seat guaranteed because I get on at an early stop. Lately I haven’t been able to catch this bus because I’ve been working so late, but I’m going to make every effort to get back on the bus, and to knit my holiday projects there.

At home I’ve been knitting stripy hats. I have some really soft yarn from ebay, and I’m making them as surprise gifts for people who don’t expect them. After I’m done with the hats I’m going to finish the lacey item for a family member, and hopefully whip up some mittens for me. I have a long list of other knitting (hats and mittens, mostly) for other people as gifts, so I’m just going to crunch along on the list and see how far I get.

I may have to take a break from knitting at home to work on some of the embroidery projects I have planned, though. Embroidery isn’t nearly as portable as knitting! It gets too dirty in my trashed canvas bag (trashed because I rarely wash it, not through any fault of the canvas bag. And, it’s link-o-rama!) But I’ve got some serious embroidery work to do, too.

Other things I want to do include:

  1. Get my sewing machine fixed.
  2. Cook a really nice thing for a potluck this week, and another one in December.
  3. Organize my winter clothes so I’m not storing them on my desk.
  4. Swiff the living room floor at home.
  5. Rehang my pictures in my room from the era of the crumbling ceiling.
  6. Figure out CSS so I can have styling and easily updateable webpages sans using Word.

Not too bad! And now, I have to run so I can catch the knitting bus…