Monday, April 28, 2008

Not a knitting receptacle

Last week was my birthday. See I told you that Hyde Park entry was holding me back! The only thing I asked for was a purse. I knew this was a safe request because Hubby has spontaneously bought me purses as gifts on two previous occasions. He got me this really nice bag that is a gold fabric, but not in a tacky way. The handles are just long enough to go over my shoulder, but short enough to hold in my hand if I want. And it's a good size with a few pockets for dividing stuff up. And it has a really cute pink interior. After I moved all my stuff over from my old purse, I still had more room in the new one. What was the first thing I thought, "There's enough room for a sock." But I resisted the urge. I think there is plenty of room, but I wouldn't want the interior fabric getting damaged. Although I do have to spiffy new DPN WIP tubes, so I wouldn't have to worry about the needles poking through. Still, I'm resisting the urge for now. But it has been grand fun and I really like.
Of course the other bag consuming my interest IS going to be a knitting receptacle. I'm talking, of course, about my Ravelry Bag. I've been working on it quietly and steadily while I was avoiding the blog. I have about 7 rows left to go on the back and then the flap. I concerned about the flap because I'm worried I might run out of green yarn. I've already bought two skeins of green and I don't know that I really want to get a third, but I have to do the flap and the handles still. I was considering doing the flap in green and white stripes to stretch things out. The other option is to skip the flap and have mom to a zipper when she sews the lining. Assuming she does zippers. I don't remember how she closed her own bag. I do like bags, especially purses, to close securely. I might have to think about the role of the Raverly ID bag. If it is just going to be a knitting bag a flap, and secure closure, might not be as important. But if it is going to be a knitting bag slash purse, then it will have to shut tight to protect my wallet et al. I suppose I have time to decide. I also have to figure out the flap decreases. I was thinking a triangle flap, but it occurred to me it will have to be like 50 rows long to account for the 20 rows on the bottom and the 30 rows down the side and if I start the decreases on row 2 that might be too soon and I'll have gaps at the top. sigh.
Anyway, since I'm lazy and didn't want to have to sew I decided to connect the sides to the front by knitting them in like you would
a button band. I didn't cut the green yarn when I switched to black for the bottom. So when the bottom was done, I just went back to the green and picked up and knit along the sides and edge of the bottom piece. Then I knit back and forth. When I started a row I picked up the next stitch along the side of the front and knit or purled it together with the first stitch of the row. Oh, I had slipped the first stitch of every row when I was working the front in order to have a nice, easy edge to pick up. Like on a heel flap. (Now she tells us, you say to yourself. Sorry.) Anyway, I didn't have my Vogue Knitting handy for the first few rows, so they are kind of bungled and I even managed to increase a few stitches, but after I looked up how to actually do it it moved along quite nicely. I'm rather pleased with it and have faith that the felting will take care of any wonky bits. I also am purling (RS, k WS) in the "corner" stitches, which I hope will lend some definition.
I have a crazed idea to knit a free standing Ravelry ball to make a pocket on the back, since it looks so plain at the moment. But the one on the chart I used is, as you know, huge. I would really want one just 30 rows high. Then I would sew it on with black and finish the swooshy details in duplicate stitch, which might be over kill. So I might have to think on that. I might wimp and just do a red patch pocket (because red is about all I'll have left!).
Anyway, it's bed time. Which should be lovely, considering it is pouring rain and the dogs got soaked and Samson was just laying on my pillow. sheesh.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Adventures in Hyde Park, Part 1

Back on April 16, a Wednesday, She Who Sets the Deadlines, the other Associate Editor and I took a field trip to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Boss Man couldn't come because he had Important Meetings at the Office he couldn't get out of, and an interview. Poor Boss Man.
The trip took about an hour and a half, I drove because I like to be in control like that and my car has a navigation system.
When we got there we wandered a bit, then met our guide who took us to the American Pie Bakery for a snack. Obviously he knows how to handle editors. I wasn't hungry so I just had a cup of chamomile tea with this freaky tea bag thing. It wasn't a normal bag with a little tag on a string, instead it was like a long ribbon of tea bag material. It actually was a little hard to manage.
While snacking, we met with the college's farm liaison who told us about the benefits and importance of using locally grown produce. He was, and still is, a farmer before he joined the school, which helped in setting up the program. It was interesting to hear because when I've talked to other institutions about this topic they've said one big hurdle is convincing the farmers that they are serious and will take the produce (providing it is up to snuff quality wise). The Liaison told us the college uses 3 1/2 tons of field greens a year. As though that number isn't impressive enough, remember this stuff is light and fluffy. We also got a tour of the cold storage facility where they store all the produce before it goes up to the kitchens. They try to turn everything over quickly so everything stays fresh and there is no waste. The Liaison pointed out that buying local isn't really more expensive when you factor in the amount that might spoil on a long trip from out of state.
Then we took a little tour of the campus and randomly stopped in a classroom where the students were learning about fish. The front room was small and had little tables and a projector for lectures. The back room, which was separated by a door and big glass window, was where they did the lab practicum, if you will, and actually cut the fish. The chef/professor was one of the original students who attended on a GI Bill when the college was still in New Haven, CT. It surprised me a little because I'm sure he said he was a WW II vet, but he didn't seem as old as my father-in-law (who ran off and joined the army when he was 17 so you don't get much younger than that). But then the chef might not have had quadrupal bypass surgery in the last year, which can wear a person out.
Do I need to point out the overwhelming fishy smell in these rooms? It hit us in the first room, but I grew accustomed to it while we were talking. Of course when we crossed into the second room it was fishy all over again and the Deadline Setter and I looked at each other in panic but couldn't figure a way out. It wasn't really the smell of bad fish, it was just sooo much fish that it was overpowering. And if they are constantly cutting fish in there I'm sure it's not sparkling clean in between so there must be some residue to stink the place up.
I asked the chef, Corky :-), if they discuss the difference and ethics of wild versus farm raised fish, etc. And he said they give them the information but don't say either is right or wrong, so they students are armed to make their own decisions. So there is a critical thinking element, which you might not expect at a cooking school. Although it made me feel good about these interviews you read, or the fancy menu entries you see, discussing these matters. I also asked Corky about mercury in fish and he said the only four species to really worry about are shark, sword fish, tile fish and...I can't remember the other one. He also pointed out that if someone is eating a can of tuna every day they have more diet issues to worry about than mercury. Which seemed a reasonable observation to me.
The school is set up on a progressive entry basis meaning that every three weeks a new class starts (although they are working on switching to a semester format). The way it works is the newer classes do all the prep work for the upper classes--who do the cooking. So nothing gets wasted. The professors in the kitchens let the professors in the prep rooms know what they need and then for their practicum the students will fillet 10 salmon and butterfly 20 trout or whatever. When we were there they were working with cod, which are HUGE and ugly.
To be continued...
(this post was holding me back, it was long and out of control and we weren't even at lunch yet. So I realized I had to post it and move on, or you will never hear about the progress on my Ravelry bag!)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Jitterbug!

The problem with working part time in a yarn store is all the easy access to yarn. Especially on pay day. A girl can't be strong all the time. Remember how I was whining that I had left over blue Jitterbug and it wasn't going to be enough for peds?
Well, when I walked into Knitting Central today, what should I behold? A new batch of Jitterbug. So I snatched up this lovely purple one. It's a bit more berry than in the picture. I took it at night with the flash, so it's a little off. As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the blue I already have, which will make for some wild socks. Won't really be able to tell until I work it up. There is a little blue in it and there is a little purple in the other, so they might be more harmonious. Now I have to decide if I should pull out what I've knit with the blue and try to cut them in a little with one color for the toe, one for the foot, etc. Really, I'll have to knit up the purple socks before I move on the the hybrids. Oh, what a chore. snicker.
There were some other colors, but they were kind of boy colors and there isn't enough yarn left over from Hubby socks for what I want, so I went with purple. I don't have purple socks, so it was a safe color.
I finished duplicate stitching my Ravelry ID on my bag. It took a few tries. First I messed up the "a" the other day, then I messed up the "g" as you can see to the right. Trust me, it's wonky on the left side. I thought I'd have to pull the entire left side out, tail and all, but I was able to just pull the top out and alter it. The "m", happily, came off without a hitch. Of course I didn't take a picture of the current state. That would be sensible. I have started adding the white accents to the ball. At first I wasn't going to, but there isn't much and I think it will really enhance it in the end.
I've been invited to a knit night on Tuesday. It should be fun, but I just don't know what project to take. They all have deadlines of some sort. I could take the alternate size of the Cat's Pajamas Socks, but that might take too much concentration. Cynthia left me the scarf based on the Cat's Pajamas Socks, but again, concentration required. I might end up taking the Ravelry Bag, just because it should be straight stockinette stitch by then. Ignoring the plans I have for attaching the sides in a funky way. Well, I have a few days to decided.
In the mean time, it's now midnight(!) and I'm up waaaay past my bedtime.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Home again, Home again

I've actually been home since Monday night. I have a 5 pm train out of Philly. I take back what I said about it being a civilized way to travel. The train randomly stopped on the tracks out of Penn Station and south of New Rochelle. With no explanation offered. Well, after we'd been sitting there a while, a guy came on the loudspeaker and said something obscure about letting another train go east before we continued north. Anyway, we were supposed to get back to my desired station at 8:19 and didn't get in until 9, which made for a late night.
I took some time to read the plaque explaining the sculpture in the freaky big room at the convention center. (You probably can't read that.) It was all about how the rail shapes of the sculpture (it did remind me of a roller coaster) was meant to honor the original use of Reading Terminal as a train station. And there was stuff about glass forms that represented various constellations. So I found Orion, which is my favorite constellation because I can always find it in the sky. I actually think the dippers are a little tricky. So I suppose I developed more of an appreciation for what was going on. However, my mom and brother had the same reaction to the room and the stuff hanging from the ceiling that I did, so I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my "what the heck?" reaction.
Speaking of them, we had a nice visit. The food at the Hard Rock was fine. There was a bit of shocking moment when the music stopped and this guy started yelling for everyone's attention. But it turned out to just be the birthday for the 8 year old boy at the next table--so everyone in the restaurant yelled "happy birthday" and we got back to our meal.
Oh, and remember that wine the other night? Yeah, well, as I was carrying it back to my room I spilled some on my superhero sweater. Aaarrgh! I rinsed it with cold water as soon as I got in the room, so I think it survived. I think I'll wash it in the normal manner before I start busting out the Wine Out or other extreme measures.
As for knitting. I moved along on the Arrrgyle Socks much faster than I expected. What with how fiddly they are and on US1 needles and all. But I suppose this is the third time I've attempted them (kept calculating an incorrect number of stitches to cast on. Yeah, is was fun creating the chart in excel 3 times, why do you ask?) so I guess I've got the hand of it. When I hit the eyes I took a moment to count--17 bobbins in play. No wonder they kept getting tangled. It wasn't so bad. I actually made it passed the nose and was trying to figure out how to manipulate the yarn for the mouth when I stopped working on them.
I went to a number of sessions on the first floor of the convention center on Monday. As soon as I came down the escalator I was greeted by this:
Which got another "what in the world" reaction from me. Can you tell I'm not into the modern art so much? In case you can't make it out, I took a close up. Yeah, bowls and cups and little Chinese restaurant spoons. They are all stacked under an set of escalators and there are numerous "do not touch" signs around it. Which of course made me want to touch it, but I didn't.
At least the sessions made more sense than the art.
I finished the lettering for "ravelry" on my bag on the train ride home. So I can safely say it took about 7 hours. Wheeee. No picture because I haven't taken one, and don't you think this post has enough pictures as it is? I got the "a" in my ID done last night while I was watching "Enchanted". It's a Disney movie about a cartoon princess who is sent to NY City but retains her bubbly personality. It was so preposterous it was good. But then I looked down and realized I had managed to mess the "a" up. Rather than dealing with it, I went to bed. Tonight I yanked it out, and rather than redoing it, I came up to drop all my pictures into my posts.
Well, the bag was looking good.
I guess that's about it for now. I'm sure there was other stuff I was going to tell you about my trip, but it escapes me at the moment. Maybe I'll go work on that "a" now, maybe I'll clean the kitchen. Or maybe I'll just flop into bed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Philly: Day 2

The lunch break is running from 11 to 2:45, which is pretty darn nice. And also means no demand for the email stations again. hehehe.
I hit Reading Terminal Market again, this time I got a salmon and goat cheese frittata with a little field green salad--and a chocolate cupcake. Chocolate frosting this time.
The mint one last night was very yummy, obviously since I went back. The cake was just the right consistency and the icing was very subtly mint flavored. I'd been concerned it would be cloying. I'm going to have to make time to go back tomorrow and get some to take home to Hubby. I think I can manage not to squish them, or at least I hope so.
I hit two sessions in the morning, which were informative, but I still managed to get the heel flap on the CPS knit. I was lounging in my room, but didn't trust the numbers I had for turning the heel so I came questing for the computers to check the "Heels by the numbers" website, which is really very handy to know about. Anyway, my numbers were indeed funky, well they might have worked but not for the heel I really prefer.
Since I was over here anyway, and housekeeping hadn't been to my room yet, I did a quick sweep of the show floor and then hit the press room to refill my water bottle. Usually I quest for free bottles of water, but I'm not seeing any--making refilling the one I bought this morning the way to go.
Mom called this morning and we decided on the Hard Rock Cafe across the street for dinner. I hope I don't have to make reservations. Well, there is a convention in town, but it looks like there are plenty of social events that should keep the crowds occupied.
Did I mention I'm on the 20th floor of the hotel? It's freaky high. I can't see Ben Franklin from my room, but I can from the windows right when you get off the elevators. You can see the asparagus buildings too.
And the convention center has this freaky big room with marble floors and some weird sculpture handing from the ceiling that you have to walk through on the way from the hotel to the session area. I took a picture of it, but with out a fish eye lens I don't think you get the impact. I could see a wedding reception being held there. It makes me wish I had clicky shoes on so I could make lots and lots of noise when I walk through.
Speaking of shoes, in a moment of insanity I brought my little blue flats that aren't good for walking. When I was back in my room for lunch I switched to my brown Timberlands, not perfect with stockings, but better. Even though it looks funky.
Ok, it's almost 12:45, hopefully housekeeping has been by. I want to flop. If I'm quick I might be able to get the heel turned and the gussets picked up before I have to come back. I didn't plan the stealth knitting very well this trip.
By the way, can someone tell my stupid head that a convention is not the time or place for a headache? I'm actually holding up rather well. I popped two Exedrine... at 5:30 when I woke up, but I'm finding the dark spots to sit in the rooms. Which is another reason I want to relax a bit.
Right, off to make use of my hotel room!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dateline: Philadelphia

I'm at a convention in Philadelphia. (See I really do travel.)
There are women here in prom dresses. I'm running around in jeans and my superhero sweater. It's really quite strange. But I think they have some event tonight, so they aren't just dressed up for the fun of it.
Amy Tan was the keynote speaker tonight. She was really funny, which made me glad I came down tonight rather than rushing down in the morning.
The show floor opened after the keynote, there was food and drinks. Never saw that before, at least not on the floor. I've already collected some Tasty Cake chocolate cupcakes, a note pad, a flashlight (!) and numerous chocolates. And I turned in my ticket for a glass of wine. wheeee!
Now I'm going to head back to my hotel and flop.
I grew up about an hour south of Philly, so the idea of ever staying in a hotel here never crossed my mind. But here I am. I took the Amtrak down, such a civilized way to travel, and arrived at the hotel around 4. After registering for the hotel and the convention, I hit Reading Terminal Market, which is right across the street from the hotel. I think I was there once with mom when I was a teenager.
Man, you could get lost in there, and I don't think it's really that big. It's really cool, I wish we had something like that near us. I told Hubby I'd do my best to stick to our healthy eating regime while I was down here. In support of that I found a place making big salads and got their version of a chef salad, mixed green, prosciutto (sp?), grilled chicken and some veggies. Really, I think it's a bit protein heavy, if anything, although I did get a piece of foccaci (sp?) bread as well. I was starving, but the event that included the keynote started at 5, so I dumped it in my room and took off!
And as yummy as that sounds (I had a bit of chicken and it was very tasty), I also bought a mint chocolate chip cupcake from the Flying Monkey Bakery. $1.75 for a cupcake, it better be damn good. Luckily there is a Starbucks in the the lobby, so I'll be able to snag a cup of tea. There is tea in the room, but the choices are chamomile or Earl Grey, neither of which I'm in the mood for at the moment. Of course I still have to finish this wine....
I do have the camera with me, but no way to download the pictures. I don't have a laptop, I'm actually on the public computers at the convention. But as it's 8:45 at night, no one is in line. Still, I should wrap it up, I have a long day tomorrow. Sessions start at 8:45 am and my mom and brother are coming up for dinner tomorrow night.
But first, in knitting news, I finished the black detail on the ball on my Ravelry bag. Since hind sight is 20/20, I think I could have done the black by intarsia also. The lettering is moving along apace, as I suspected. I got "rav" done on the train down. During the keynote I worked on the large version of the Cat's Pajama's Socks. I finally made it past the first pattern round, sheesh, and can start the heel. Remember, I'm just doing an anklet to test the size. I also brought my arrgyle socks, which are at the point where the skull comes in.
I'm not sure I can work on any of this while I'm tipsy. Of course the wine will wear off once I get some food in me. And since the food is in my room, I really must go!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Baru in pink room

Baru in pink room
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

Because I just have to have is Baru puppy on our recent visit at the in laws. We were in the "pink room" and he is on the bed. You can see the lovely afghan my mother in law crocheted. She makes afghans to match all the bedrooms. The king size one for their room is great, but I don't have a picture of it.
Isn't my 3 year old puppy adorable?

Duplicate Vision

The duplicate stitch on my Felted Ravelry ID bag is moving along quite nicely. I'm around the bottom of the ball and have the swooshy thing on the bottom and one swooshy thing on the side done. No pictures because I haven't taken any yet. I just have to close the loop and finish the slashes that go through the middle. I'm thinking the lettering will go quicker because it's a little more linear and straight forward. The stitches should follow logically with less counting since they will be forming letters. Or at least that is what I hope. The "ravelry" will be easy since it will be positioned in relation to the ball, my Ravelry ID could be a little trickery, especially considering I haven't officially charted it yet.
After the duplicate stitching is done, the next question will be what color to make the bottom. I had figured I would just work in green for the bottom as well, but now I'm not sure I won't run out. The bits I did already used almost a whole ball, and that's with the logo taking up territory. Anyway, I'm considering doing the bottom in black, since I should have left overs. The bottom is just going to get dirty anyway so maybe the black won't show as much.
And I have to decide how many rows to work the bottom. I was thinking 15 but I might to 30 to match the color blocks. I'll have to measure again.
I wonder if I'll get the duplicate stitch done before I have to leave for Philly Saturday...probably not. I'll probably be stitching on the train.
My other projects are a bit in limbo.
I had some blue Jitterbug left over from a pair of socks I made. Even after weighing it, I wasn't sure how far it would get me. So I started a pair of toe up socks. Taught myself Judy's Magic Cast On in the process, that is a cool cast on and I'm glad I learned it. Anyway, I was thinking they would be peds, but now I think I'll be lucky if I make it over the heel. I've been at the point of working a short row heel for at least a week, but haven't had any quiet time. And not much motivation since I won't have anything to show for it. I'm willing to do the leg in another color and/or yarn, but we haven't had Jitterbug at Knitting Central for a while and I haven't worked up my Sol Joy or Madelintosh yet. (Which is a good argument to get those out.)
At the same time I realize that I have to work up the other sizes of the Cat's Pajamas Socks which the pattern is fresh and I have momentum. So I cast on for what I think the large size should be. I'm just going to make an anklet so I can have someone try the foot on for me to make sure it works.
Still, I want some mindless knitting for when I'm proofreading or watching a TV show I actually want to see. Which is another reason to get out the Sol Joy (the Madelintosh hasn't been rolled). I was swatching with my ball of Bearfoot the other day, but I have another patterned sock in mind for that.
I actually got a good amount of the duplicate stitching done Sunday night. Hubby and I watched American Gangster. He put on the unrated, extended version without realizing it was 3 hours long! It was a good movie, but good grief, it was a school night. It didn't end until 11 pm. But it was more of a talky movie than an action movie so I didn't have to pay close attention to the screen. Unlike Stardust, which we watched Saturday, which was a very visual, swashbuckling kind of romp.
Anyway. Lunch time is over, so I should get back to work.