Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monkey Pants have left the building
Ladies and gentlemen (are there any gentlemen besides my husband reading?), Monkey Pants and Hippo Dignity is moving.

You can now get your fill of the monkey pants at http://sarahjanet.wordpress.com. Please update your RSS readers and bookmarks and come on over and say hello! Exciting new photos are waiting for you over there, and all the archives can be found there for your convenience. (Should you wish to read everything I ever wrote.)

Thanks so much for reading Monkey Pants and Hippo Dignity. I hope to see you over at Wordpress!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Gryffindor Sock's Cultural Tour of Disneyland
I'm home. Sigh. I had all these plans about blogging while I was gone, but (a) the wireless was REALLY inconsistent in our room, (b) I was really freaking tired whenever I was in our hotel room and was usually asleep, and (c) I was barely in our hotel room. We also didn't take very many photos. (I know. It was weird, and I'm a little annoyed - I have NO PHOTOS of Jana and only one of Ben. But they have a few photos, so I'll get those from them and will put them up at some point.) Some days we didn't want to haul the camera around, and Jamie forgot it once, and Jamie usually had the camera and isn't an obsessive photo taker of people like I am. Anyway.

Fortunately, the first day I was there by myself, which left lots of time for a cultural tour with the Gryffindor sock! As you may recall, my first pair of Gryffindor socks for my sister went on a Cultural Tour of Britain last summer, so I decided that my own pair would be perfect to take to Disneyland. (I'm not knitting many socks at the moment, so I need to get these started so I can have them for a Harry Potter intensive July.)

Let me set the scene for you. On Tuesday, I got out of bed at 5:50am in order to leave home at about 6:20 or so for an 8:00 flight. When I opened the door to take a photo for the blog (even at 5:50am I'm thinking of you!), this is what I saw:


Yeah. We had to have the plane de-iced before we could take off, so we were a bit late leaving and arriving. Fortunately, the flight was excellent. I had my own personal TV, so I got to watch The Holiday, which I LOVED. I knit on my Central Park Hoodie, which I'd packed as my secondary plane knitting. However, it was too early and I was too sleepy for Mountain Peaks, so I got all the way to the decreases on the back of CPH. Once we got to LAX, my luggage arrived fairly quickly (I'd tied some extra CPH yarn on the handles for easier recognition, since it's such a bright green), and I was off to catch the shuttle. Which unfortunately took a while, but eventually I made it to my hotel, where I checked in, dumped my stuff, changed my shoes, grabbed my sock, and headed to the park.

The yarn I left in my main pouch of my purse, and the needle I tucked into a well-hidden part of my purse. I'd heard conflicting things about knitting in Disneyland (the official word is "sorry, no," but as I quickly learned nobody actually seems to give a rat's ass.) I had a variety of plans for how to get around this, but nobody even blinked at it even when they laid eyes on it, so my carefully planned subterfuge was totally unnecessary. Upon our arrival in the parks, the sock stayed in my purse for a while. After all, it wasn’t even in sock form yet, so it felt it should keep to itself for the first few hours.

The parks were really busy, so I got a fast pass for Buzz Lightyear and headed to California Adventures, where I rode Soarin' Over California (one of my favourites, but the sock is apparently afraid of heights so it stayed stowed in the underseat compartment.) in the singles line, where I only waited about 10 minutes as compared to the 100 minute wait in the regular line (and man, was that satisfying!), and then we headed to Grizzly River Run where we both got wet. The sock was only a little damp thanks to my very reliable MEC bag, but it was still quite disgruntled. Fortunately, it was really warm that day and we both dried off quickly.

After that, I got another fast pass in California Adventures and headed back over to Disneyland. I went to get in line for the train, and when I realised how slowly it was moving, decided it was the perfect moment to cast on for my sock. I had a convenient spot on a bench, and made excellent progress on the cuff while chatting with two little girls who liked my green toenail polish. (I got a pedicure in anticipation of wearing sandals a lot.) The train finally showed up, and I went and got a fast pass and rode a few rides. I ended up waiting for the train AGAIN at the Toon Town station, by which point I managed to finish the cuff. (That was seriously the longest wait of the whole trip. For the train!)

After I had some dinner, I had a bit of time before my fast pass was valid, so the sock and I went on a photo shoot. It was hilarious. I couldn't believe more people weren't giving me weird looks, but I guess I'm still not the weirdest person in Disneyland.

Our first stop was a visit with one of my absolute favourites when I was a kid - Mary Poppins! I happened to see her and Bert show up, so there was virtually no line to see them. I wasn't really bothered enough to wait in lines for characters, but with no line, I couldn't resist...


(As always, click on photos if you want to see larger versions.)

They were very nice and I actually had quite a good chat with them. They were very accomodating about the sock.

Next, we went to visit several other characters, but in a slightly different form.

There was Pluto


(and unrelated to the sock, I hope you're appreciating the difference in weather, here. Flowers! Warm sunny weather! I weep, I weep. It's still snowing here today.)





and Ariel.


We then wandered over to the castle, where one of the Disneyland photographers kindly took a photo of us, again without blinking. All of this nonchalance about a person taking photos of a partially knit sock really makes me wonder what kind of weird shit they get asked about on a regular basis.


We also saw some REALLY cute ducklings in the moat. They were teeny!


(I do have better photos of the ducklings but they don't have the sock in them. They kept swimming away if I was juggling the sock and the camera, so I put the sock away for a few minutes to take pictures of the duckies.)

Around the side of the castle is Snow White's wishing well, and the sock wanted to make a wish. Luckily, I had a quarter.


So the sock got to make a wish. (And although you can't see them, there are other people around the wishing well. Didn't even blink at a ball of yarn and a sock holding a quarter while someone took a photo.)


Next, the sock decided to storm the castle!


Unfortunately for the sock, I'm pretty sure that door is fake. So the sock decided instead to fulfill its lifelong dream of being a princess.


(No, I didn't buy my sock a tiara. I took that photo in the store. Although it does look awfully cute, doesn't it?)

Perhaps then, if it has managed to become a princess, the sock is the rightful ruler of Britain!


Nope, doesn't look like it.


The sock decided another route to fame and fortune might be more successful. Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y S-O-C-K!


No? I don't think they'd embroider Mr. Sock on the back of a pair of ears even if I had been willing to purchase it a pair. (Which I did not.)

Perhaps, then, the sock could get a few tips about becoming invisible from the master! Can you spot the sock?


Anyway, the sock decided to abandon fame and fortune and concentrate on the rides. It thought about the teacups


but eventually decided to start with Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters!


(I know, it's an awful picture, but the line was moving really fast and it is HARD to take a photo with one hand while holding up a sock with the other and moving up a ramp while also trying to listen to your instructions for defeating Zurg!)

The sock got its own blaster


and in the photo you can email yourself, the sock is heavily featured, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be working right now. (Seriously, the sock was doing the blasting in the official photo.)

Next up was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Since I'm such a fan of it, the sock was determined to ride despite the fact that it clearly wasn't tall enough.


But it managed to smuggle itself in inside my purse. It put down the lap bar


but it clearly wasn't doing much.


So the sock rode in the little pouch for loose objects. It still seemed to have a good time.

We went back to the hotel at that point, and although we went back in the evening, I didn't take any more photos, since it was dark and really crowded. The sock did get to ride Pirates of the Caribbean (where flash photography is prohibited), Space Mountain (where I was too busy going "wooooo!" to take the camera and sock out, and it totally wouldn't have worked!), and wander around, although unfortunately the fireworks were cancelled that night. We had a good time together! I got quite a bit knit.

Unfortunately, after that first day, I wasn't by myself anymore. (That part is not unfortunate - although I had fun by myself, it was a lot more fun with the others there.) However, I didn't have nearly as much time to take sock photos the rest of the trip. The sock did make one final appearance in the Lego store, though!


That was on Saturday night, and you can see how much I accomplished. I only knit in line for rides, and then on the shuttle to and from Universal that day, and by that point I was almost finished the gusset decreases, which I finished in the shuttle to the airport yesterday. I knit Mountain Peaks on the way home, since I didn't have a tv this time and could concentrate on the shawl. The CPH and Mountain Peaks were on Denise needles, so I knew they'd get through security, but on the way home I risked my KP Circ for the sock. I made the airport party in Vancouver wait to make sure the sock made it through ok, but nobody even looked twice. Disneyland over 5 days, going in and out multiple times a day, Universal, and three airports - nobody even blinked. The only time I got any sort of remark about it was the flight attendant leaving LA who made me put it away until the seatbelt sign was off. All in all, it was a very successful knitting trip.

And a very successful trip altogether. We had a great time, did lots of fun stuff, enjoyed the weather (although it went down hill the last few days, it was still SIGNIFICANTLY better than here!), ate some very tasty food, and all in all had a fabulous time. Dear Disneyland, I miss you already. Love, Sarah.

Good thing it's only six weeks until my next vacation. So what does one knit in Cuba?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007
Flash your Stash 2007
I was fairly new to the whole online knitting world during last year's Flash Your Stash, so I only observed and didn't participate. Besides, my stash wasn't that impressive then. These days, although I won't be winning any awards for stash size, despite what my husband thinks, it is a respectable collection.

I tried to think of something imaginative to do with my stash, but I was pressed for time and not feeling very creative. I did, however, label the whole stash on Flickr if you want to know what something is! If you click through to this first photo, everything has a note on it.

Flash your Stash (with notes!)

Is it a bad sign when it's actually not as much as you were expecting?


I had to go shower so I could go have a pedicure with Erin, but once Jamie got over the horror (actually, he mostly just rolled his eyes), he took over the photography. Here are some gratuitiously artsy shots!




(Why yes, our new camera does have a super macro setting!)






And just for the sake of full disclosure, here's the tub o' acrylic. I didn't unpack it because it isn't very decorative, but I did take a few quick photos.


So there you go. My stash. Hey, it's not like I'm collecting decorative plates, here. It's useful! And won't you all be sorry when there's a month long power cut from a huge snowstorm and you don't have a yarn fort to keep you warm?


Sunday, March 25, 2007
"That was nice," said Plop. "What's next?" *
First of all, thank you for all your nice comments on Rogue! I am very happy with it myself.

You'd think that after finishing Rogue, my very first sweater for myself, a beautiful and flattering sweater that I love so much, I might be at loose ends for what to knit. Now, I do, of course, have about fifteen other things on the needles. Since it's been a while since I posted about anything other than Rogue, a baby sweater, and sock pal socks, let's have a bit of a refresher, shall we?

In the "slow but steady" category, there is the Mountain Peaks shawl, which I am knitting with the gorgeous hand dyed silk my sister bought me for Christmas. (Beth, you should know that any time I've mentioned that my non-knitting sister bought me hand dyed silk for Christmas to another knitter, they have been VERY impressed. And that's before I mention all the other yarn! Even my stitch and bitch friends, who think it's weird that I knit for you so much, agree that it's a good deal when I get such things in return.)

Uh, anyway. Shawl. Last time we saw Mountain Peaks, there wasn't much of it, but it was going well. It looks approximately the same these days, but with another repeat of the same chart. So bigger, but with nothing new yet. I'll take a photo when something new is happening, because let's face it - in progress lace photos are basically a case of "and here is a slightly larger blob." The knitting of this shawl has been greatly improved by the arrival of my Magnetic Chart Keeper from KnitPicks the other day. I would like it a little bigger, but it's still extremely convenient. I actually forced myself to stop working on this the other day because I want to have plenty of it to knit while I'm on the plane. Since I'm flying by myself, I think lace will be perfect. Not too heavy, but interesting. (Not that flying with Jamie would really interfere with that. He has this weird capacity for doing nothing and will sit on a plane for three hours and do nothing except look out the window and maybe look through the in flight magazine. Weirdo. Flying with Jana involves much more giggling, but we're all on different flights for this trip.)

In the traveling sock category is poor Rachel's Christmas socks. The first sock is actually pretty much finished (I should finish it and cast on the second one, because I keep not working on it so I don't run out of sock in an inconvenient place.), and yet I still haven't posted a photo. That's because they're always in my purse. Sorry, Rachel! They will be done eventually.

In the pretending May is still REALLY far away category is one of the ongoing baby projects. It is making good progress. Given that I just heard about ANOTHER baby yesterday (one of Jamie's relatives), I should really get on this. Photos on this one will not be around until post-gifting, as giftees are reading.

Now, you'd think that would be plenty to keep me busy. Knit on the sock when I'm out, work on the baby project when I'm home, knit an occasional row on the shawl but mostly save it for the plane. No problem!

But there's that pesky knitalong nagging at the back of my mind. I have a lead! It's not the end of March yet and I'm already done three sweaters! There's still hope!

So I had no choice. I had to cast on for another sweater.


This is the Central Park Hoodie. I cast it on Friday night while I was (impatiently) waiting for Rogue to dry, which took FOREVER. If the outside was dry, the inside was damp. If I turned it inside out, the outside got damp again. Argh.


(I'm just about to do the second cable.)

Central Park is from the fall 2006 issue of knitscene, making this the first project I have knit from a print knitting magazine. Previous to this it's been online patterns or books. I'm knitting it in a very bright shade of Cascade 220. (I actually forget the colour, and it doesn't have a label because it's a cone. Ack!) It is a very bright and cheery green - I'd probably call it a Kelly Green. It's knitting up very quickly - the advantages of size 8s after a sweater knit on 5s! I'm hoping to finish up the back pretty quickly and then tackle the front sections before I leave, but we'll see how the week shapes up. I am pretty busy this week, so that may be a pipe dream.

Of course, the real question is...how much knitting do I bring to California? The shawl for the plane, and some socks for lines. But do I bring the sweater for back up mindless knitting?

Oh, the dilemmas.

*The title of this post comes from one of my favourite books of all time, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, by Jill Tomlinson. It's about a baby barn owl named Plop who is afraid of the dark. My entire family can probably recite a good 60% of it, and it's a family classic. I highly recommend the audio book. (There's also a decent but not quite as excellent picture book version, but the chapter book is better.) Plop is always hungry, and eats everything his parents bring him and follows it up with "That was nice. What's next?"

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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Rogue in the Wild
Rogue is done.

Conveniently, I finished it the same day we bought a new camera! So we had a photo shoot out in the yard today. It was a rather high speed photo shoot since I finished the sweater about 5 minutes before we had to leave to have dinner with Jamie's family, but it definitely got the job done. Unfortunately this is a crappy time of year for outdoor photo shoots. It's muddy everywhere, especially in our alley, I was standing in a puddle, and the snow is all gross and brown. Oh well. The sweater's nice! (Ignore our kind of decrepit fence, too.)


I clearly need work on my "posing for pictures of knitted items without looking like a dork" skills.


I love the hood.


See above re: looking like a dork. And this is apparently not a good nose angle. I swear I actually have quite a small nose.




It is DONE! Hooray! I wore it to dinner tonight (with no coat! Hooray!) and got many compliments on it. As you can see from the photos, the fit is really good. The cables look awesome in this yarn. And it's all mine! This is officially the first sweater I have made for myself.

Here's the knitty gritty:

Pattern: Rogue. Possibly the most photographed pattern on the internet, and with good reason. This pattern is excellent. It is easy to follow, well written, and thorough. Two thumbs up! I knit it in the 48" size.

Yarn: Bartlett Fisherman's Two-Ply in Light Sheepy Grey. This yarn was great to work with. It's still very sheepy, so it smells nice and wooly. There was occasional bits of straw or whatever in the yarn, and it changed consistency a lot when I washed it. (And the water was quite nasty afterwards!) But it holds its stitches like a hot damn. If you want to learn how to cable without a cable needle (which is the only way I cable any more), this would be a great yarn to learn on. It takes some serious convincing for it to unravel. Great for cables. Very woolly, though. If you want soft, this isn't for you. But it's definitely going to be well used in the long Edmonton winters. I ordered ten skeins of this yarn from KPixie, but I only used seven of them. (I have no idea what to do with the other three.)

Needles: The hem facing was knit on size 3 KP Options, and the body on size 5 Denises.

Modifications: I added an extra repeat of rows 33-38 in Chart A to add a bit of length. I'm 5'10", and I like my sweaters reasonably long. It's a really good length, although I wish the pocket was about an inch higher. Other than that, I pretty much knit it as written, aside from a few minor mistakes here and there. This pattern doesn't need modifying!

Start Date: January 10, 2007
Finish Date: March 24, 2007 (I knit a lot of other things in between.)

What I learned on this project: Closed cables were a new thing for me, and I really like them. This is also the first time I've used short rows, but it won't be the last. I really, really like the fit of this sweater. Just the right amount of shaping. I also learned how to do three-needle bind-off, although I ripped it out in favour of grafting the hood. My seaming skills continue to improve, although they're still my weakest link and my least liked element of sweaters.

This makes sweater number for the year. Woohoo!

Expect lots of photos in the next little while. I need to learn to use the new camera before we go to Disneyland (in 10 days! Yippee!) and it's conveniently Flash your Stash next weekend. Plus my laptop has a built in drive for the SD card, so I can upload really easily. We got a Canon Powershot S3 IS, and it's really nice. Much fancier than the old one!


Thursday, March 22, 2007
Mmm, yarny.
Mmm, yarn. At my Stitch n Bitch last week, someone mentioned that the yarn store in one of the nearby suburbs was changing over to an online only store, and were having a closing sale. I'd only been there once before, but it was a nice enough store, although their pattern selection was ridiculously out of date. Still, a yarn sale is incentive enough for a 20 minute drive, and since I had a free Friday afternoon, I headed out to check things out.

It wasn't actually quite as epic a sale as I'd hoped, but I still picked up a few things that I haven't seen in many other stores around here, since everything was at least 10% off.

I picked up two bags of Mission Falls Wool, which I like for baby stuff. I got a nice turquoisey colour


And kind of a burgundy-ish red that was really hard to photograph well. It isn't this pink, I swear.


(If you're really interested, click through the pictures to my flickr account, where you can see closeups. Flickr is sucking tonight, though, so in the interests of posting EVER, I'm not going to put them here.)

I also picked up 7 skeins of Briggs and Little in a nice bright blue. I thought about using this yarn for my Rogue and then ended up with the Bartlett, but I might make a cardigan or something with this. Possibly a sweater for my mother-in-law. It was definitely a good deal!


But the really good yarn I got last week is this.


That's Handmaiden Lady Godiva and it is absolutely glorious. Karen and Paul gave me a LYS gift certificate for my birthday (to which I say: woo!) and I decided that allowed me to justify the purchase of this kind of expensive but unbelieveably gorgeous yarn.


Oh, man, it is nice.


I have no idea what to make with it. I have two skeins. Suggestions welcome.

In other knitting news, Rogue is knit. It is not seamed, but it is knit. I am having a few logistical issues with the drying process, but soon! I'm hoping it'll be dry by tomorrow so I can have photos for the Sweater a Month KAL update. Plus I want to wear it to Stitch n Bitch on Monday. Pictures to follow. Upon finishing it, I immediately began to work on Mountain Peaks, which is coming along really well. I finished the first repeat of chart one and have started in on the second. (Of three.) So far, so good! (Knock on wood.)

Batteries in the camera died, so hopefully more pictures will follow next post.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Last minute knitted gifts is right!
Well, nothing like finishing your gift 12 hours and five minutes before the baby shower starts. Yikes! After a strong start last week, the baby sweater took a bit of a dip over the weekend. Saturday I was busy having a birthday party and didn't touch it, although I did get quite a bit of Rachel's sock done. Sunday, I wasn't in a very knitty mood due to some bad news about my grandma, and then I went for yet another birthday dinner with my in-laws, where again, good sock progress was made but the baby sweater continued to be ignored.

When I got home on Sunday night, I buckled down and knit 90% of the first sleeve while watching the Amazing Race. I finished the first sleeve off tonight before dinner, and then started the second one before heading out to Stitch n Bitch.

Of course, because I'm an idiot, I left the book at home, so I had to trust my memory (always dangerous) and do frequent comparing between the two sleeves. I got home just after the main increases finished to discover that I was actually right, which was quite encouraging. I finished up the sleeve around 10:45 or so and then began to seam.

For such a teeny sweater, seaming was surpringly time consuming. The good news is, although the yarn is kind of a bitch to seam with (yeah, I know, use a smooth matching yarn - didn't have any, and did I mention the twelve hours to spare thing?), it is also very forgiving to seam with.

I wove in the eleventy million ends (damn intarsia!), and with 12 hours and five minutes to spare (aka at 1:25am), I finished.


Of course, I immediately got out Mr. Bear for a modeling session. His shortcomings as a non-baby-proportioned bear were quite obvious, but you get the idea.



Pattern: Sweetheart Pullover from Knitting for Baby.
Yarn: KP Crayon in red and yellow. I didn't use very much yarn - maybe two balls total?
Needles: Addi Turbo Lace Needles, sizes 4 and 6
Started: March 7, 2007
Finished: March 12, 2007 (ok, technically it's the 13th, but whatever.)
Modifications: I changed the intarsia on the front from a heart to a flower. I think I could have done a better job with the charting of the flower, but I still like it better than the heart. Lessons definitely learned for next time, if there ever is a next time with intarsia. Don't hold your breath.
I also modified the neck. I really didn't like the fairly constrictive neckline of the original pattern, so I just picked up stitches around the edge and knit a few rows of stockinette. It rolls in the same way as the original neckline, just several inches further down so it will hopefully be easier to stuff the baby into.

This is my second sweater of the year. I'm a member of the Sweater a Month Knitalong for 2007, and although I'm not optimistic that I'll actually make twelve sweaters this year, this does get me technically caught up again. If I can finish Rogue by the end of the month, which I really want to, there might be hope yet! I've got the yarn ready for my next baby sweater, and between that and the Central Park Hoodie maybe I can knit another two sweaters by May. I'm not so convinced that the summer is going to be sweater knitting weather, though. Maybe I'll sub in a few shawls.