Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Beer, FOs & Sunshine

It's been a pretty exciting week! I've been knitting (and finishing things) like crazy. Also, Matt's sister and her boyfriend came to visit us for their Spring Break, so we've been showing them around our new little home these past few days. It's been pretty great because it's "forced" us (me and Matt) to do some of the things we've been wanting to do but haven't gotten around to doing yet.

(64): My remaining hand-dyed skeins//(65): Booked a trip to Portland for my bday!//(66): Finished Couer de Lion
(67): Spent some time in the sun//(68): Flights at the Bruery//(69): First Pinkberry (YUM)//(70): Finished some socks!

As you may or may not know, Californians LOVE them some craft beer. If you google "Southern California breweries" you will seriously be blown away by just how many there are around here, and we make it a priority to check out a new brewery everytime we go to San Diego/the San Diego area. Since Mel and Greg got in late Saturday night and Matt didn't have any time off, we decided to do something on Sunday. Daylight Savings Time got the best of me (sigh), so we didn't really have time to make a day trip to San Diego, which would have been exhausting anyway. So we spent Sunday at the OC Zoo, which was pretty good for a $2 zoo, and then we headed to Placentia to check out The Bruery.

I've been looking forward to visiting The Bruery for awhile now, but for some reason we just haven't done it. Which is really dumb since it's SO close to where we live. They're beers are all over the place here, but they're kind of pricey, so I haven't wanted to invest in them just yet. The tasting room is in an industrial park (like Green Flash), so it's easy to miss it if you don't pay attention. We arrived at about 3pm on a Sunday and it was bumpin'! We found a few seats at the bar and ordered flights, which was really fun since they have SO many beers available to try and I wanted to try them all. Some of the beers I sampled include a sour raspberry & rhubarb, bourbon barrel aged chocolate & coconut, a spiced brown ale with YAMS & a holiday ale with gooseberries. They were all really tasty, but I was still glad I got to try a bunch before buying because some of them were just too much and I don't think I could drink an entire bottle.

So that has been the past few days. As you can see from my photos I've been knitting a lot and trying to get outside more. Oh! We booked a trip to Portland for my birthday next month and I'm really excited about it. I haven't been drinking much beer at all lately (which you would never guess based on this post...), so I told Matt that I wanted to have a pint at as many breweries as we could hit & buy a skein of yarn from every yarn shop we stopped at. We are leaving on April 3rd & heading back on the 6th (my birthday), so there will still be time for cake & GAME OF THRONES. What a nice present, right?

I finished my Coeur de Lion, which I blogged about last week, but I also managed to finish two pairs of socks. Yep! My (two pairs of) March socks are already done and it's only the 11th. I need to buckle down and finish this wedding present, but I'm itching to cast on for another shawl or a sweater even. I let myself cast on some more socks because I'm flying tomorrow and need something to work on. That's legit, right? Well, that explains the first pair at least. Whoops? Mel & Greg are touring Hollywood today, so I'm planning on having a low-key day of getting caught up on my knitting and stuff. And packing. I need to pack. And book a shuttle. And workout.

So many things to do and none of them fun. I better get to it; it's an arms day today!

Happy knitting!

Friday, March 7, 2014

FO Friday: Coeur de Lion

Guys. I finished my shawl!

Pattern: Coeur de Lion
Colorway: Georgetown
Needles: Chiagoo Red in size 6

Unfortunately, I forgot my t-pins back home and didn't realize it until I had already soaked the shawl. Go figure. I laid it out anyway to let it dry and it grew a whole lot. I'll be taking it back home with me next week, so I can properly block it and get my mom to take some non-selfie photos for me. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I really am in love with this shawl, despite all the moaning I did about the edging. I split up the edging work over the course of two days (for my sanity), but I bet I could have gotten it done in one day if I had really wanted to. The yarn is absolutely beautiful and softened up after I soaked it. I was really concerned that it would be a bit too springy and wouldn't bloom, so I automatically went down a needle size when I cast on and I'm glad I did. I can't wait to *really* block this and let that lace edging shine! I'll be wearing this regardless because IT'S SO SQUISHY! I WANT TO DIE.

The color is very hard to capture, but I'd say this is a pretty fair representation. Sometimes it's royal blue! Sometimes it's purple! It's beautiful all of the time. I would highly recommend this yarn and someday (when I can justify buying yarn again) I will have a SQ of this stuff. I would love to try some of her Studio Worsted sometime because holy bananas is it lovely.

Finishing this shawl also means I let myself cast on for the wedding blanket I've been putting off. I'm confident I'll be able to finish it/wash it in time, but there is an i-cord edging that will probably take me a lifetime. If it looks like I'm going to run out of time I'm planning on just adding fringe instead. I cast on for the Hip to Be Square in Knit Picks Brava Bulky and I'm already halfway through the first ball. You have to love bulky knits! My knit time might be cut a bit short today, due to my ditziness, because I managed to pour boiling hot water on my hand this morning while I was making coffee and my fingers are still burning. It hurts to knit :( So I'm going to take a little gym break and then hit the ground running! Matt's sister and her boyfriend are visiting this weekend and I probably won't get too much knitting time in, so I'm hoping I can at least get through 2 balls between today and tomorrow morning.
Cross your fingers for me since I can't ;)

Wishing everyone a great weekend! Happy knitting!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Treats Thursday: Weekly Favorites

I had so much fun picking out my Friday Favorites last week that I decided to make it a weekly thing. Welcome to Treats Thursday! Ashley has fallen down the Podcast rabbithole something fierce. I never understood the appeal of podcasts because I thought they were all audio, so imagine my surprise when I realized nope! There are VIDEO podcasts out there. How great is that? Pretty darn great.

I've been dreaming of hand-dyeing again since my stash is running low (ha..ha..ha...), so mama dropped some fat stacks $$$ on some undyed yarn & new dye colors this week. I can't wait! I've been following Voolenvine on instagram for awhile now and saw that she recently got into hand-dyeing as well, so I checked out her blog only to discover that it's a video podcast! That's where it all began. I watched a few episodes of her podcast this week and she referenced The Dyer's Notebook a few times, so I knew I had to check it out. And hey! It's Gynx of Gynx Yarns! I've been wanting to try Gynx yarn for awhile now but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I almost fell down hard during her shop update the other night, but I managed to reign in it. For now :)

Anywho. I have watched probably 1/3 of her podcasts this week. That's ridiculous, right? Right. I just can't help it! She's such a wealth of dyeing knowledge, she's adorkable, and just fun to watch. I just want to dye everything on glitter yarn after watching her these past few days. Seriously, why didn't I order glitter yarn? Gynx gets a lot of inspiration for her yarns from video games & animes, so I had a lot of fun sharing her colors with Matt. He really likes the Rinoa colorway and I'm obsessed with Howl's Moving Castle (club colorway :( boo hoo) and One Winged Angel. Once I can buy yarn again you can be sure I will be buying all of the Glitz sock from Gynx.

So my newfound love of video podcasts is number one this week for Thursday Treats. If you have any others you love so much please let me know! Most of the patterns I fell in love with are sweater patterns (again), which goes to show how much I'm missing sweater weather right now. California! Why can't you be normal?

All photos borrowed from Ravelry
Clockwise from upper left
1. Engineered Seams by Judy Brien
2. Warble by Bonnie Sennott
3. Afterthought Heel Socks knit by Gynx 
4. Crew by Amy Miller
5. Cascade Falls by Amanda Scheuzger

When I first saw the yarn requirement for JudyIs' Engineered Seams I about died. She used 3 skeins of Tosh Lace! How is that even possible?! Imagine my relief when I noticed that the lace was held double, so it's not actually all that bad. Thank goodness; that would have been a deal breaker for sure. This sweater is just so weird that I love it (kind of like Crew too) and want to cast on immediately. I love the drapey neck and lines on the sleeves most of all. I know the details are kind of hard to pick up on in that dark shot, so I would encourage you to check out Scillala's FO located here. She uses a gray-beige, so you can really see the little details that make me love this sweater so much.

Warble is from Quince & Co's 2014 Scarves, Shawls, Etc. collection. There are a lot of beautiful accessories in the collection, but Bonnie Sennott's design is my absolute favorite. Bonnie has designed a lot of beautiful cowls including Birchleaf, Deephaven and Shallows, so it's no surprise that this one is my favorite. I'm a sucker for anything with lace and cables, so this design is really calling to me. Warble uses Chickadee, a Quince base I haven't used yet, but, I mean, c'mon; it's Quince! You can view the rest of the collection here.

I've already gushed about Gynx, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I went and favorited a ton of her FOs on Ravelry. I included this pair of socks because I love, love, love this colorway! It's so good. When I was perusing Gynx's colorways on her website, I saw this color (and noted it because Matt LOVES Naruto) and really didn't like it. At all. While creeping around on her Ravelry I saw these finished socks and clicked as fast as the wind. I needed to know which colorway this was! Imagine my surprise at how much I love seeing Naruto knit up. Gynx is busy dyeing for a trade show right now, but I will probably be messaging her for a custom order of this come April. 

Seriously go look at it again. So. good.

Crew is Amy Miller's latest design. Amy has been absolutely killing it lately with these sweater designs and I have no idea how she does it. I might just be imagining it but I'm pretty sure she publishes a new (amazing) pattern every week. Crew is a collaboration with The Plucky Knitter, so the pattern is only available though them for the time being. There was a kit update last night and you'd best believe I avoided it like the plague. I peeped at the kits Plucky Sara was composing for the update and I would have fallen down HARD. I love nautically inspired knits, so it's no surprise that I absolutely adore this sweater. Throw in BUTTONS and I am gone. I have a SQ of undyed sportweight yarn in my stash, so I might dye some up and cast on as soon as the pattern is available on Ravelry. If you're looking for some color inspiration the options that were available for purchase last night are posted on the Plucky Blog. So many good ones, but I'm in love with the Original and Dessert First.

Last up is a new design I saw in my Ravelry recommendations this morning. You can tell just how cozy that sweater is through the screen and I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. Cables are my weakness but since I am short and squat (sigh) they don't always look the best on me. Which is a major bummer for this cable fanatic. This is a great way to wear cables if the idea of a cabled sweaters freaks or bums you out. and I just love that. Consider this one added to the Queue.

Now I pop back to my mountain of WIPs. I will be back tomorrow because I WILL have FOs. It's on the internet now so it's gotta happen, right? After I blogged yesterday I continued to work on my Coeur de Lion and I'm seriously this.....close to finishing that stupid edging. I need to cast on for my gift knitting, so it really is crunch time right now. AH!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Coeur de Lion & Sushi Socks!

Another week and another sock WIP. I know, you're probably so bored of seeing these vanilla socks I keep knitting. I'm reaching the point where I need to set down the socks and knit all of the sweaters (see last Friday's post), but then I see my little stack of socks sitting in my bedside table and I want to keep on keeping on. Plus the California heatwave is back and the thought of being wrapped in wool is actually making my skin crawl. So socks it is.

I actually took this picture yesterday and since then I've made a TON of progress. I had a horrible time at the dentist's office on Monday (Almost 3 hours between when I left and got home + all of the pain), so I told myself that if I was still hurting on Tuesday I could use it as a do nothing day. Sure enough my mouth was in pain and so was my whole body from arms day, so I did NOTHING but knit all day. It was glorious. I managed to finish that second gray/green sock (sans afterthought heel), start my second sushi sock AND reach the leg. It was really ridiculous. Now I'm plotting my next pairs of socks...since I can't just be normal and cast on for a single pair. I still have to do the heels on all four of these socks, but since that is finishing work who knows when that will get done. Who knows? Not me.

Dreaming of more socks. All of the socks.
I've been trying super hard to not get distracted by things. I have all of the gifts to knit but none of the motivation to knit them. I'm pretty sure the recipients won't stumble upon this blog, but I'm still reluctant to post any ideas or even say the pattern names. I need to cast on for one of the intended gifts IMMEDIATELY. Like, I should have done it 2 weeks ago, but I'm insane and would rather spend my evenings back home staying up until 2am and working then. I speak from experience; welcome to my next two weeks. One thing that is holding me back is my need to finish something, specifically my Coeur de Lion, which I blogged about last week. 

Poor neglected Coeur de Lion
I love this shawl. The color, the garter body coupled with the lace bottom, etc. What don't I love? Edgings. I effing hate edgings so much. This edging is knitted onto the rest of the shawl and acts as the "bind off," which is nice, but it just takes so darn long. Each RS row binds off one stitch, so this shawl is seemingly neverending. I can only do 2-3 chart repeats (there are 16) before I have to set it down and work on something else. I'm glad that you can finally see what exactly is going on in the lace though! That's good, right? Today I'm actually supposed to be doing things, but I got sucked into a few episodes of Gynx's (super addicting) podcast and managed to get 4 repeats done this morning. Woohoo!! I really want to power through the rest of the edging during my downtime today so that I can block it before Matt's sister arrives this weekend. And, y'know, start on that mountain of gift knitting I signed myself up for.

Oy vey.

So those are my WIPs for the week. I'll be traveling next Wednesday, but hopefully I'll still be able to post some new WIPs by then. Nothing is worse than a lingering WIP. Off to the gym, the scale, and my invisible sobs. Just kidding. Mostly.

Happy knitting all!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Socks, Stitchin', Fitness

Hi guys. It's been an exciting weekend around here in Seal Beach; we got a winter storm! Woohoo!! I've been SO ready for this heatwave to be over and I'm sure the natives would agree with me on that one. It rained all weekend, so Matt and I spent a lot of time just hanging out (windows open), listening to the rain come down. Right now it's 59 degrees (woohooooo), but it looks like the 80s will be back this weekend. Boo.

Yeah, I'm a weirdo.

(57): Sushi Socks!// (58): Cross stitching Kanye// (59): Post-workout hot mess
(60): Cashew Chicken, heirloom carrots & golden beets...oh my! //(61): Cross-stitching cakes & sweets //
(62): View from balcony//(63): March socks in my hand-dyed yarn
This week has been full of working out, crafting and trying all of the new recipes. I weighed myself for the first time in like a year and a half and was so displeased with the result that I remember why I don't weigh myself. Then I had a little pitty party (as the trail of wine bottles I've consumed this year marched through my head) and hopped on the elliptical for 75 minutes.

It was kind of a hot mess.

I hit the ground running last week and while my workouts have fallen into the realm of normal, I've only taken one day off since last Sunday. I'm feeling good, but I also ache all of the time. All of the time. I haven't run since last monday, so I'm hoping the time off will be good for my foot and allow me to get back into it by the time summer rolls around. Fingers crossed. I've been working on incorporating strength training back into my routine, but I feel like a newbie all over again. It has been awhile.

Crafting wise I've been knitting (socks) up a storm. I'm finally at the edging of my Coeur de Lion, but it's one of those fiddly edgings that seems to take forever. I'm pretty sure I will never finish it, so it's living in my craft mess until I finish this second green & gray sock. I'm just so unmotivated. I should be focusing on gift knitting (wedding/babies/a very specific & dorky hat for Matt's dad), but I just want to knit all of the things for myself. Isn't that always the case though? I bought more yarn & dyes to play around with while I'm home for two weeks and I'm really excited to dye up some more skeins.

I've picked up my cross-stitching again. Matt has requested that I make him a little Kanye lyric something-something, so I decided on a line from his song "I Am God" (soooooo humble). I'm going to finish that up and give it a little croissant border. If I can figure out how to finagle a mini croissant. We shall see. I probably have more faith in my cross-stitching abilities than I should.

I also started the Sugar is Sweet sampler from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. I've been obsessed with this sampler since Amanda first posted a sample of it on her instagram, so when it came out on Saturday I bought it straight away, hauled Matt out of bed & headed to JoAnns for supplies. I haven't gotten very far at all, but I'm so excited to work on it. This is the first (of 5!) new mini samplers they plan on releasing this year. Yup! I'm in trouble. One of the things I love is that this sampler only uses 12 colors, so it keeps costs down a bit and you won't get confused with colors. It's really great for the aspiring stitcher!

Anywho, that's my week! Plans for the rest of the day include a date with the elliptical, finishing that sock & throwing some Mexican soup in the crockpot. Yummmmm. Oh and getting my nerd on with Pretty Little Liars, my not-so guilty pleasure.

Happy Knitting!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Favorites: Sweater Love

In lieu of a Friday FOs post (because I can only post so many sock photos), I've decided to post a few of my favorite patterns and finished objects knit by other people this week. I get a little trigger happy whenever I'm on Ravelry and I favorite A LOT of things because I love a ton of things. And I want people to know that I like their fabulous knitwear. So apologies, dear Ravelry friends, for clogging up your friend's page, but I just cant help it sometimes; I've gotta share the love!!

(All photos borrowed from Ravelry.com)
Clockwise from the upper left corner: Pomme de Pin by ByGabs, Ibisco by Thea Colman, Aisance by Kirsten Johnstone, Carrie by Meggied23, Wild Sheep by AnnePande

It's no secret that I love me a good sweater, whether it be a cardigan or pullover. A hot body (not in that way) keeps me from knitting pullovers because I just get so warm all of the time. All of the time. Be that as it may I can still appreciate a good pullover and once I get one stuck on my brain I am just crazy enough to knit it anyway. Which is why i have so many sweaters that I just don't wear.

It's a sad, sad world.

These are 5 of my very favorite sweaters that caught my eye this week and I wanted to share my love for each and every one of them. I've included the links above just in case you too go gaga for these lovely creations and want to cast on for one of your very own; I know that I need to.

Ah, the good ol' Pomme de Pin cardigan. I'm already acquainted with this sweater, because I currently have one languishing away in my UFO pile. It's about 70% done and just needs sleeves and a collar. Y'know, my favorite parts of knitting a sweater! This interpretation by ByGabs might just be what I need to finish that sucker up next time I'm home. Seriously, isn't it beautiful? ByGabs used yarn by one of my favorite indie dyers The Uncommon Thread. I lose my mind every single time she posts an update and, after looking at this sweater, can you really blame me? Not just that but the fit on this sweater is perfect and ByGabs looks great in it.

Ibisco is a new pattern by Thea Colman and I stopped dead in my tracks (well, clicks) the moment I saw it. Again, I'm not gonna lie, it was the color that got me more than anything. But look at that neckline! That lace front! This isn't the first time and it definitely won't be the last that I wish dolman sleeves were flattering on me. Thanks for my weird little torso, mom! Thea Colman is all around awesome. A cocktail pairing for every design? There's a lady after my own heart. And this design further solidifies that.

Kristen Johnstone is another designer I've admired for quite awhile now. I love the way she plays with lines and angles, which makes a great deal of sense since she's an architect by trade. Go figure! Her Raiun, Kabuto (like the Pokemon! /nerd) & Kakomu have been languishing in my queue for far too long. I think I've bought 3-4 different options to make Raiun (Plucky! Tosh! Uncommon Thread even), but I just haven't done it yet. I'm insane. Either way, Aisance is her newest design and it's going to the top of the queue once I figure out what to use for it (let's be real it will be Plucky). The thing that got me about Aisance is the way it hangs when worn. I love the longer in front/shorter in back design element. This sweater reminds me a bit of Raiun, but I think of it as Raiun's grown-up older sister, in a way. Kristen's other new design Gake is also worth checking out this week.

As I mentioned, I don't really wear pullovers that much. I also don't wear turtlenecks or big cowlnecks or funnelnecks, but Megan has been killing it lately with this style of sweater! Her Boden is beautiful and suits her well. Not only is it encouraging me to buy all of the SQs of Madelinetosh DK Twist but that's where my self-induced brainwashing began. I've been trying to convince myself lately that if I knit a sweater like this it wouldn't make me look like the frumpiest thing in the world (it totally would) and that I would wear it all the time because mine would be as awesome as Megan's (I wouldn't). I had almost escaped this internal banter but then Megan posted a photo of her Carrie (knit in Plucky cashmere!!!) and I about died. You can tell through the screen just how soft that thing is! And would it really be the end of the world if I knit one for myself and only wore it around the house? Probably not. I can only afford a SQ of Plucky cashmere in my WILDEST dreams, so I started thinking about some more affordable options and decided that my sweater will be made out of O-Wool Local. It will be soft and sheepy greasy and wonderful. But, seriously Megan, stop making me want to make all of the sweaters that will look horrible on me.

Last up we have one for the kiddos. My love of kid sweaters with animals (cats, weiner dogs, etc) knows no end, especially when sheep are involved. Especially blue sheep! And brown! This sweater is kidtastic, but it's not a baby sweater. This may be a boy's sweater with blue sheep on it, but I would wear the shit out of this sweater. I love the color combination here, but I also love when knitters stick their kids in real wooly sweaters. Another more girly interpretation can be found here.

The moral of this story? I love me a good sweater. What are you favorites this week (and beyond)?

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Couer de Lion

It might be hard to believe but I still knit things other than socks. I'm 95% sure that the sock affliction is a produce of California because before I moved here, I had no interest whatsoever in knitting socks. I knit socks because I can still wear them and they're pretty much the only knitwear I can stomach wearing in 70-80 degree heat.

Plus they're great little compact projects I can throw in my bag and we all know that I love those.

It should come as no surprise that I currently have 2 sock WIPs, like I usually do, but the other project I'm plowing through is a SHAWL. Yep. A SHAWL. I've knit quite a few shawls in my day, but I wouldn't say they're one of my favorite things to knit. Every so often I'll get it in my mind that I need to knit a new shawl and then it just gets out out of control because I love it so much. Which is exactly how I feel about my Coeur de Lion.

Coeur de Lion by Nadie Cretin-Lechenne 
This was my Ravellenics project for the year and I failed horribly at it. Most of this shawl is garter, which is simple enough, but after knitting all of the socks I just couldn't stand it. Especially when each row only adds one stitch, so I really didn't feel like I was getting anywhere at all. So I parked it halfway through the garter section and didn't pick it up again until the Olympics were almost over. I reached the lace section a few days ago and became obsessed with it all over again; I finished the first chart repeat in an afternoon!

The yarn is Studio Sock by Neighborhood Fiber Co. and I swear I lunged at it when I saw it on the shelf. I bought these skeins at Windy Knitty last time I was home in Chicago, but I've bought skeins from this company before. The color, though amazing, it also ridiculously hard to photograph properly. In real life, the skeins are electric purple, not as royal blue looking as in the photo above. The yarn is a joy to work with, but I'm second guessing my decision to use this yarn for this pattern. Studio Sock is definitely a sock yarn: it's tightly wound, springy and doesn't "cling" together. I'm a bit concerned about the lace "hearts" being lost in the FO. We shall see in a few days because mama is getting this thing done!

The socks of the week? More toe-up vanilla socks in yarn I dyed last fall/winter. This time I'm trying something new and doing afterthought heels! I finished the first of the green pair last night and immediately cast on with my Sushi Roll yarn (yay!) afterward. I think knitting two different socks at the same time inspires me to get them done faster, because then I don't just have a single pair to look forward to.

First afterthought heels! 
Sushi Rolls
I've been anxious to use my Sushi Roll sock yarn since I dyed it. I handpainted this skein (like the others), but I painted it in a different pattern than my other skeins. It's working up in a different manner, but it's not as splotchy as I had expected. I'll have to try a speckled skein next :)

What are you all working on this week? Don't let those (neverending) WIPs get you down!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Socks, Walks, More Socks

This week has been all about getting myself out of the house & being more active. Oh, and all about the socks as well. As I mentioned last time, I made myself a week to-do list (#listnerd) as a way to keep myself motivated throughout the week. I managed to accomplish all but one of the items on my list. Woohoo!

(49): First of many walks//(50): Finished my V-Day socks//(51):Frustrating run//(52): My favorites to date
(53): A little treat with Matt//(54): Farmer's Market Sunday//(55): The most Ashley skein of yarn//(56): "March" socks
Even though I'm not exactly new to Seal Beach anymore, it's exciting to explore around town and discover new things. As my leg is still giving me issues, I decided that each mile counts, whether I walk it or run it, so I set out with a weekly goal of 20 miles total. I soared past that goal and hit almost 25! I like to mix up my walks every now and then so I get to see more of my town and I've made it a small goal to visit more of the little shops and businesses on the main street of the downtown area.

We've been trying SO hard to reign in our daily expenses, meaning we haven't been going out as much as usual. We had a bit of a weekend splurge when we stopped by Beachwood BBQ, our favorite place in Seal Beach, for a few beers. We couldn't help it when we saw they had Pliny on the menu. We purchased some raffle tickets for a shot at winning a pint of the famed Pliny the Younger, and while we didn't win, all proceeds went toward cancer research. One more reason to love Beachwood.

We also stopped by the Farmer's Market and ended up coming home with a bunch of weird things: heirloom carrots, blue potatoes, golden beets, cabernet cheddar. I felt like I was in a fairy tale as I scooped each thing up and plopped it in my bag. I can add that to the (short) list of things I like about Southern California; there are so many different and fun things that grow here. I've made a little list of new recipes to try for this week and look forward to sharing my favorites.

The sock love continues! I already blogged a bit about my Valentines Day socks last week, but I also managed to finish my Monkey socks. Wooohoooo! Of course I couldn't resist casting on for another pair. Might as well keep on chugging while I still love knitting them, right? I also fell off the wagon a bit and ordered two precious skeins of sock yarn this past weekend. The skein seen above (55) is Shepherd's Sock by Lorna's Laces and it is SERIOUSLY one of the most Ashley appropriate skein of yarn. EVER. I love Lorna's because they are Chicago-based and they make it known. Most of their skeins are named after neighborhoods or landmarks in Chicago. Imagine my delight when their newest colors were named after the suburbs and there was one for my hometown! Not only that but it happens to be the perfect autumnal skein. I can't even handle how pretty it is.

I can't wait to share the other skein when it arrives on Thursday. A winter storm is *finally* hitting Southern California and it's scheduled to rain for 4-5 days straight. I am so excited to bundle up with my sock knitting and try to catch up on as many Oscar nominated movies as I can.

Happy knitting!

Friday, February 21, 2014

FO Friday: V-Day Socks & Cross Stitch

Valentines socks to add to the pile!

I cast on for these socks the same time I cast on for my ridiculous Monkey socks. I tried sooooo hard to finish both for today, but I have 3 repeats to go on those Monkeys. With two pairs of socks finished in January and two pairs in February, I am well on my way to victory in my 14socksin2014 goal. Woohoo! 

Like the other socks I've finished this year, I dyed this yarn while I was home a few months back. This skein is pretty special because I dyed it in a different way than most of my other skeins. I love handpainting my skeins, but it's pretty time and space consuming. My kitchen back home is a decent size, but it's pretty cluttered, so surface space is always at a premium. I wanted to try my hand at immersion dyeing with different colors, so I gave this one 2-3 different color dips in Valentines appropriate colors. 

I'm really pleased with the results but there is definitely a learning curve to hand-dyeing in this way. The results can be very temperamental! I used pretty low water quantities when dyeing and made sure I exhausted each color before removing the yarn (carefully) from the dyepot/adding more dye. I had hoped to create a speckled look with the blue dye, but, like I said, this method can take on a mind of it's own and the color spread a bit more than I expected. Handpainting is still my favorite, but I'll be experimenting more with this method next time I buy yarn to dye.

I can't wait to share my Monkey socks with you all. Vanilla socks may be my favorite, but these are SUPER fun, in both pattern and colorway. I'm hoping to finish them up today, taking my WIP list from the other day down a few notches. Since I'm such a list nerd (Matt makes fun of me so much), I tried making myself a to-do list for the week on Sunday night and it's really been helping me keep on track. 

Being unemployed (whoopee! ...not) has given me so much free time and it's been SO easy to get sucked into the internet and waste my entire day, especially knowing that the next day will be exactly the same. But having actual goals written down on paper? It's inspired me to keep my computer shut, get my butt off the couch and get things done. Like socks and books, runs and long walks (18 miles & counting!), blog posts and checking in with e-people I've lost touch with. I think the Sunday night list will be something I keep up with, as long as it keeps working for me. 

Oh, and before I jet off I thought of another FO I haven't shared just yet. Valentine's Day is never a huge deal for us and, if I'm lucky, Matt will get me a card or a bottle of my favorite wine. This year I told him I wanted to go on a little adventure to Temecula, which is a Southern California wine region on the same-ish latitude as Rhone in France. I didn't realize this until after the fact, but it was a little treat since I love wines from that region. More on the trip later, but I knew that I still wanted to make Matt a little something for Valentines Day. I considered socks, but then I got an idea. The PERFECT idea for a Valentine.

We both agree that it's too cute to look at. I cobbled together a few patterns I already had (Matt is based on the 10th Doctor Who! Ha!!) and added a few modifications. I really love it and plan on framing it for our someday home. Matt wants me to add myself, but this is more special ;p Their love is ridiculous. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday: I Want to Knit EVERYTHING

So guys. I have a lot going on right now and all I can think about is starting something new. That's silly, right? Right. Except I might just do that when I finish my February socks (14 in 2014, y'all!). Blame the Yarnover Truck and their fabulous 40% off sale, where I scored a SQ of Sincere Sheep Equity Fingering that needs to become Grace. Right. Now. It's actually been sweater weather in Seal Beach these past few weeks and it would be lovely to have a nice fingering weight sweater to throw on when I sit outside.

But I should finish up that Pumpkin Ale.
Let's count these bad boys.
(From background to foreground)

  1. Giant Granny Crocheted Blanket in Lion Amazing (Strawberry Fields)
  2. Pumpkin Ale in Manos del Uruguay Rittenhouse (Cinnamon)
  3. Couer de Lion in Neighborhood Fibre Company (Georgetown)
  4. February's Basic Socks in my hand-dyed yarn (V-day)
  5. Monkey Socks in my hand-dyed yarn (80's Hard Candy)
  6. Untitled Cowl design in Manos Alegria (Atlantico)
I've been working on the Alegria cowl the longest and hope to finish it up this week, along with both of my socks. This might be a bit of a lofty knitting goal, but I think I can do it. I'm a bit concerned about the Alegria cowl because that color was a dye mixup, so all of the skeins since that run look nothing like it. Sigh. This will teach me for not scooping up another skein!

The most fun project this week? That giant granny square. It might be because crocheting is still new and exciting or it might be the yarn that is getting the job done. I'm still an unbelievably slow crocheter, but it seems like I can whip through each ball of yarn in a day or two. I have 5 balls of yarn remaining and I think that will do the trick. The beautiful thing about this is that I can fasten it off when I run out of yarn and pick it up again if I decide I want to. Hooray, crochet! 

Ok. Let's go get some FOs for Friday. Happy knitting to you all! 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Man, it's been awhile

Wow has it been awhile since I was here last. Why is this? I've been all over the place. Well, not really. But it feels like it. I spent some time at home and then, just days later, we scampered off to Temecula, aka Southern California wine country, for a Valentines Day getaway. We stayed in a camper! On a horse farm! It was a really lovely time and we even joined a wine club while we were there.

I've been knitting all of the socks, but I got majorly distracted by crocheting while I was home. I've been dreaming of a giant granny square blanket for the longest time, but whenever I sit down to crochet I get so bored. All of the time. And I only ever manage to make one granny square, so I always have to look it up and refresh myself when I pick it back up again. Not this time though! I've used up 5 balls of Lion Brand Amazing that I dug out of my stash while I was back home. Yarn from Joann? Who am I? Seriously, this yarn is actually pretty nice and this comes from someone who really HATES acrylic yarn. So you can trust my judgement here ;) The colorway I'm using is Strawberry Fields and I'm really digging the color combination.

(29): View from a run//(30): FINALLY finished Christmas socks//(31): ...and started 2 more pairs
(32): Fabric junkie//(33): Farmer's market breakfast//(34): Beach run//(35): Local stout in Arizona
(36): Reunited w/ my monster//(37): Second socks. Ugh//(38): NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL//(39): Wandering Chicago...where's Caleb?!
(40): These two//(41): So I started crocheting. And I'm a monster//(42): Last morning with her
(43): Back in California, beat the Vortex//(44): More running, foggy pier//(45): Immortal love for V-Day
(46): View from our camper at 7am//(47): Too much time together/hatechu faces//(48): Rough run & still gimpy

So far this month has been a lot of outside time, crafting & ODing on suck-you-in TV shows. I managed to marathon both The Middle & Scandal while I was home. Since I ran yesterday, today I'm locking myself in with all my neverending WIPs and taking a long walk after lunch. Gotta stretch those legs! More on those WIPs tomorrow.

Friday, January 31, 2014

FO Friday: Christmas Socks

They're done!! And all I can say is THANK THOSE KNITTING GODS.

Yeah, one might be shorter than the other one (ever so slightly) and one fits better than the other, but oh well. They're done! How did I celebrate? By casting on for two more pairs of socks. Sigh. My root canal/tooth nonsense took much longer than I anticipated yesterday (I was gone almost 4 hours!), so I plan on doing nothing today but knitting and watching trashy tv. I might even treat myself to some french fries and a beer for second lunch.

I basically knit the same socks over and over again, so these socks were no different. I cast on 24 stitches (divided over 2 needles - woo! Magic Loop!) and increased to 60 stitches. Knit until 2 inches before my heel and did a gusset heel. And that's all there is to it!

I'm mixing things up with my next pairs of socks. I'm using my hand-dyed yarns (again) and cast on for Monkeys in my 80's Hard Candy colorway and (modified toe-up) Hermione's Everyday Socks in my Valentine's Colorway. Of course the same day that I cast on for them I received my Vesper sock "Love Story" colorway. Sigh. But I've come too far!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WIP Wednesday: This Sucks

Y'know, sometimes WIPS just really suck.

Finished socks, WIP socks, Future Socks

I mentioned last week that I accidentally left myself with two second socks to knit, which was pretty stupid for someone who wants to knit everything ALL OF THE TIME. A random cold snap in Southern California have left my toes cold and drove me to knock out the first of my second socks in near record time. Woo hoo! First socks of the new year and only pair of handknit socks I have with me in California. I was tempted to just start a fresh pair and wear these to death until I finished, but then I had a knitter's nightmare: holes in ALL of my handknit socks. So much patching...SO much patching...I took that as a sign to get my shit together and just finish these blasted Christmas socks.

Finished Socks
So much patching...

Fast forward to today, when I'm heel deep in that second Christmas sock and I can't remember ever hating a WIP this much. Well, there was that sweater I knit for Manos that I not-so-lovingly dubbed "the thing that I hate," but that was on a whole different level. Yeah, that was WAY worse and, now that I think of it, I don't think I ever got paid for it. *mental note*

Someday these socks will be done! 
You know what does help though? This will be my sixth pair of socks, meaning I almost have enough handknit socks to get me through the week, which is a benchmark I never thought I would pass. I've also realized that I love knitting socks with the crazy yarn that I've dyed. Since I dyed that yarn last year I've really kicked up my sock knitting. Part of it is pure laziness, since I know exactly how many stitches to cast on and about how many rows to knit, but I feel proud of it as I see the colors blend together and know that I *really* made that. It takes my sock knitting up a notch, because, let's be real, I will probably only ever knit vanilla socks.

And all of the cabled sweaters.

Valentines-ish or 80's Hard Candy
So now, thinking about the future, I can't decide if I want to use this Valentines Day-ish yarn on the left or this 80's ish Blue Raspberry yarn on the right. OR I could be patient and wait for my Valentines Day Vesper sock yarn, but that requires patience that I clearly lack. Life is hard, you guys ;-)

Today also marks the first day in over a week that I haven't been nauseous, so that means a quick run before a trip to the grocery store and a brief stop off at my LYS. Hope your Wednesday WIPs are going better than mine are. Godspeed, you knitters!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Week 4

(22): Cooking again//(23):Reading more (trashy) books//(24): Second 7 mile walk of the week
(25): Impromptu trip to San Diego//(26): Beautiful La Jolla//(27): First sock FO of 2014//(28): I trapped a dog

This week has been pretty low-key. I managed to work out almost everyday (in some capacity or another) and logged 20 total miles. Most of that is walking, but heck yes I will take it! My second walk was inland with a Starbucks as my final destination. Boy was that a mistake! That has to be the most boring walk of my life. I will definitely focus on walking along the coast or at least find some other scenic areas to check out.

I also finished my fourth book of the near year: Tampa. Wow is this book a hot mess. It was interesting to read a book from the POV of a sociopath, but I would only advise those with a strong stomach to read this book. The main character is filthy! I've moved onto the much tamer Wild, which is being made into a movie later this year. The main character is pretty self-indulgent, which is a reading pet peeve of mine, so we'll see if I get around to finishing it. I might need some happier eye bleach after Tampa...

Matt & I also hit San Diego for the weekend! It's always hard to coordinate schedules when there are only two cars available to Matt and his coworkers, so when Matt came home from work on Friday and told me we had the car for the whole weekend, my immediate response was to pull up Hotwire and book us a room. As you probably know, we have turned into beer snobs in recent years, so no trip South is complete without a stop-off at some brewery. And Southern California is chock-a-block full of them! Last time we ended up at Stone, which was AMAZING, so we decided on Green Flash this time around since neither of us have tried many of their beers. 

We skipped the tour, so I can't really lend any advice on that one. But one thing I really liked about Green Flash is that they offer many different sizing options for trying their beers. In most cases you can select 2, 4, 8 or 13-16 ounce pours, which is great if you're unfamiliar with their brews. We ended up selecting a few 2 ounce tasters (only $1 each!) and nestled under the sun for a bit. 

I decided on the Serrano Pepper Double Stout (YUM) and Matt opted for a West Coast Pale Ale. We also sampled the Symposium IPA, Saison Diego, and their Rye Barleywine, which packs a serious punch. Don't try this at home, kiddos. 

Green Flash also doesn't have a kitchen, so you can either pack a lunch (like we did) or purchase from one of their food trucks. I love stuff like that!! We left with a growler full of more stout and a few 4-packs of clearance (!!) triple IPA. You know how I feel about clearance and beer clearance? EVEN BETTER.

The rest of the weekend was pretty low-key as we explored the city a bit more and had a quiet pizza dinner (after I took a nap...whoops). We detoured through La Jolla on our way back to Seal Beach and even on a cloudy day it was super beautiful! There were SO MANY seals just hanging out in on the beach and even in the water. I'd love to go back there soon and stay for a weekend or so. I would probably live on that beach like a wannabe mermaid just to watch those stupid cute seals play all day.

And now things are back to real life. I have a stupid root canal scheduled for Thursday (yikes!) and a trip home next Tuesday. Oh and so much knitting "work" to get done if I want to stick with my goals for the near year. I can't fail before February because that is just lame. 

Oh and remember when I trapped a dog in the laundry room? I should probably go check on her.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday: All of the Socks (And some Pumpkin Ale!)

You know what's worse than a second sock? TWO second socks. I dyed myself some holiday yarn this year (Halloween, Hanukkah, Christmas, & Valentines Day), vowing to knit myself some seasonally appropriate socks to wear on each of those days. Well, Halloween and Hanukkah went on without a hitch, but Christmastime got a little bit too crazy to finish my Christmas socks in time. I did manage to finish one the first week of 2014, but the idea of having to knit another Christmas sock just wore me down. So I started another sock in another one of my skeins, which seemed innocent enough. And then I realized...I now have two second socks staring me in the face.

Christmas sock//not-so Christmas sock

I followed the same general formula for both socks and knit them both toe-up with a gusset heel. I'm ALMOST done with my second blue sock and then it will be time for some Valentine's Day socks, so that darn second Christmas sock probably won't see the light of day until March. Or May. I'd love to experiment with some tighter heels (I really love the slipped stitch heel), so if anyone has any heels that they absolutely love, please let me know!

Pumpkin Ale (is my Favorite) in Manos Rittenhouse (RIP) in Cinnamon
And my other active WIP is my current obsession. I finally cast on for Ysolda's Pumpkin Ale and I'm sucked in. It's quickly become one of those projects where I spend more time stretching it out and admiring it than I do knitting it. I'd love to finish it before I head home again (February 4th), but it's pretty slow going because of all the cables (swoon swoon swoon). The nice thing about this pattern is that the back is the only "involved" part, so once I finish this section I'll be on a stockinette island. Which is prefect because my size 5 needles (which of course I didn't pack) should be here by then. 

I'm planning on dedicating a few days next week towards finishing up my long-neglected O-Wool design, which I need to reknit because of TWO pesky stitches that are in the wrong place. I also need to work on my February design, which is meant to represent the Philadelphia aspect of my travels. I have a few projects that I've started, but they're out of Philadelphia yarns and don't really represent Philly as a whole. Maybe I'll have to knit up all three; maybe I'll have to knit up none. 

(I still miss Philly)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Weeks 2 & 3

Ok, so I dropped the ball last week on this whole "photo a day but only once a week" kind of thing I was doing. I've been stressed out about coming back to California and pushing to release another pattern to stick to my pattern a month release schedule. So I spent my last week at home torn between being excited about seeing Matt and being crushed about having to go back to California. It's gotten easier to be apart from him while he's living here and I hate that.

(8): Midwest is Best 2nd draft//(9): Ale House & 2nd book of the yr//(10): Favorite FO//(11): Thrift problems
(12): Clementine snuggles//(13): First Plucky SQ - Hotsy Totsy in Cozy//(14): New Penguin Classics
(15): Seasonally inappropriate apple cider donuts//(16): ...and Pumpkin Ale//17: Post-lunch cupcakes with Christie
(18): Back to California//(19): Visit to the Yarnover truck//(20): 7 mile walk & the beach//(21): New sweater 

So now here I am in California, recovering from the nonsense than was my (almost) 2 months at home. I knit a lot of things, ate a lot of food & brewed two batches of beer. I'm trying not to sink into the pit of despair that was my first 4 months here but it's hard. I walked 7 miles yesterday and man do my legs hurt! But I explored a new area, one that is lined with cute little shops and coffee shop chains alike, so I'm hoping that might be a potential spot to scope out jobs. I need a source of fulfillment and that, dear friends, is the key to my happiness.

A few friends around here wouldn't hurt either.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Working on my second "Midwest is Best" hat. I really love this stitch pattern and this color, which isn't really as light as it appears in the picture above. I'm hoping to have the kinks worked out, photos taken and pattern published by 1/13. It'd be nice to stick with my one pattern per month resolution, at least for the first month.

I'm also working on something else, but it's kind of a surprise for someone. Well, I guess that depends on if it works out or not. I'm still kind of a newb to colorwork and I think I pulled my yarn too tight. Crossing my fingers it blocks out or into the frog pond it goes.

Tomorrow I'm having a coffee date with Christie and we vowed to bring whatever we don't want to work on. I'm choosing between sleeves (4 of them!) and 2 pairs of delinquent socks, one too big and one at the heel. Sigh. I really want to finish those sweaters up. Y'know, before I leave for California next Saturday.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Photos: Week 1

Having a phone with a good camera and apps like Instagram have really made it easier than ever to document daily goings on. I've tried in the past to complete photo a day challenges and Project 365, but sometimes it's hard to find inspiration in daily life. Back then it was even harder for me since it seemed all I did was go to school and work and I saw that as the worst thing ever. So I'm trying this again this year, but I'm going to do it differently. I'll be snapping photos everyday, but I'll only be blogging them here on Tuesdays. Bonus shot from this week because it was New Years :)

(31) Happy New Year!/(1) Sailor Moonathon/(2)Sharing beers at one of our faves/(3)All of the gold hats
(4) Frolicking in the snow/(5) Last morning with Matt/(6) Dyeing all of the yarn/ (7) Another FO in deep stash yarn

Pretty uneventful first week of the year, but I've managed to finish 3 projects and have about 10 rows to go in another. Said good-bye to Matt on the fifth and helped him navigate some horrible travel delays. I always get super sad when we part, but the more time we spend apart the easier it gets. In the meantime I'll focus on making things and snuggling my cat as much as I can. Oh and surviving this polar vortex. Did I mention that it snowed like 12 inches total? Or that yesterday was a -52 windchill? Yeah, that shit cray. California is looking pretty shiny and awesome right about now. 

Time to OD on Pretty Little Liars. I bought myself a beautiful bottle of Spanish wine to drink. Oh yeah, I'm cutting down the wine to a few nights a week instead of every single night. I haven't had any in 2 nights (ouch) and I really miss wine with my supper. I'm sure it will only last so long, but here's hoping I can make some other healthier choices.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Just Checking In

It's freezing, my knees hurt & I'm about to finish my 4th (yup) project of the new year, because, clearly, I'm also insane. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about my goals and what I would like to accomplish this next year, but it's been hard to jumpstart certain ones since they mostly involve my life in California. I need some more time to think on them, so I won't be posting them here just yet. Matt's gone back to settle our (second) California nest and I'll be joining him there in just under two weeks. Here's hoping my ducks are in more of a row by then.

Things I will say:

*The weather in Chicago-ish this year? Absolutely ridiculous. Well, I spent the first 23 years of my life here, so I know what to expect, but the past two weeks have been back-to-back whammies of weather insanity. First we had 2 days straight of snow (NYE/NYD) and now we are in the midst of a "polar vortex." AKA don't even think about going outside because your nose will fall off. The windchill was something like -52 when I woke up this morning and I have hardly left my bed today because it's SO cold. And why be cold when you can be warm?

*I'm reaching the end of my time back home. Thank god. I've done pretty well with being patient and whatnot, but being here is very draining on my soul.

*It's always very nice to be surrounded by the comforts of my home. But still. Get me out.

*I'm crossing my fingers that this year will be better and I'm optimistic that it will be. I felt the same way when I first moved to California, but the past six months have been kind of miserable for me and I've felt more like I'm in limbo than ever before. I'm hoping the solitude of last year won't continue (for too long) and that I can use the quiet time in my life to figure out what I want out of life.

We shall see.

I'm off to finish my project, which might very well be the cutest thing I've ever knit. I'm hoping to share them all and publish another pattern by the end of the week.