Friday, January 28, 2011


I wanted to have more pictures of this one, but I haven't gotten around to it. If I wait until I remember to get out the camera and take more, and make sure my hair looks good, and make sure the lighting's right, nobody will ever see this cardigan in all of its crimson glory. Phone photography, or what I've started calling "phonetography", is going to have to do.

Notice in this first picture that there is a lighter spot in my hair, just behind and above my ear. This is what happens when you don't make sure that your hair dye has fully saturated every section of your head. I gave myself calico head. I intended to re-dye it a few days later, but then time got away from me, and then the color washed out enough to not make the patches totally noticeable. Again, if I waited until conditions were perfect, nothing would ever get done.


Katje by Julie Weisenberger. Ravelry link here.

I bought this pattern a couple of years ago, because I really liked the great big hood. As a person with an unusually long head, normal hooded garments don't do much for me. I can't ever put up the hood without it looking ridiculously undersized. This one looked like it might work, and I loved the way it draped around the neck. I saw the sample at Stitches a couple of weeks later and tried it on, and fell even more in love with it.


Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in Merlot. I have a note that says that I used thirteen balls, and I think I wrote it before I added the rest of the bottom border, but it can't possibly be right. I think there was some confusion when a few of the balls made their break for freedom. I just weighed the finished sweater and came up with 548 grams, which is almost all of eleven balls, which sounds closer to the truth.

Addi Clicks, size 6 the whole way through.

I can't remember, to be honest. I know I started it on April 4th, 2009, because I put that in Ravelry and I never enter a date in there if I haven't cast on for the project. I cannot remember when I finished it. I seem to remember trying to get it done for...something...but I can't remember if it was for Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, or...nope, can't remember. I know that it was done before the accident. I want to say that it took about a month.

Taking out the bound-off edge and adding to the border took a little more than a day.

I haven't ever used Kathmandu, but I think it's a little less weighty than Silkroad Aran. The sample sweater felt lighter, and had more drape than my version. As a result of mine being heavier, it seemed to lack balance between the big, heavy hood and the cropped silhouette. It hit me at the wrong spot, and I spent a few months wearing it uncomfortably and tugging on the edges, wishing it were longer. I ended up adding an additional four inches to it, and balancing out the weight of the hood with a more proportional seed stitch border at the bottom.

I didn't make the knitted belt, even though I have one more ball of this yarn left. I probably won't belt it anyway, because that's not a good shape for me.

I wear this sweater all the time. All. The. Time. I have to fight the urge to wear it to work every Friday. It's comfortable, not itchy in the slightest and warm without being stifling. I wore it today, and it handled weather from 37 degrees and foggy to 65 degrees and sunny without seeming to be either too little or too much

The short rows at the neck make for a flowing, graceful hood. This is great for me, because, as you might remember, I can't tolerate hats. If I want to keep my ears warm when I'm outside watching the dogs play, this is the way I have to go. I'd probably use the hood construction again on other sweaters.

Actually, I'll probably make this one again in a different yarn. I love the pattern, and I get a lot of compliments on the garment. I feel good when I wear it, which is the ultimate gauge of success.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trione Winery, January 2011

I didn't make any resolutions this year, but if I had, this would be one of them. Take more pictures of us.

I go through phases where I really like pictures of myself. It's usually centered around events, like weddings or vacations. I used to think that it was due to the lighting in a particular spot, or that I'd taken extra care with my hair and makeup. It didn't occur to me until now that it was a matter of practice.

I have a friend, we'll call her Lazzie, who never seems to take a bad picture. She always looks good, never a weird look on her face, a droopy eyelid, never a head tilt that gives her three chins. Now, granted, she's taller and she weighs about a hundred and twenty pounds soaking wet, but that's not why. I figured out how she did it a few weeks ago. We were out on New Year's Eve, and I said that we should have someone take our pictures.

"Oh, wait!" she said. "I'll take it. I take the best pictures of me." She held her phone out as far from us as she could reach, and damned if she didn't take a really cute picture of herself. Me, not so much because of the aforementioned chin/eyelid combo, but she looked adorable and casual. She took a few more, and I started to look better by the third shot as well.

I watched her for the rest of the evening, and noted how she was doing it. When a camera pointed at her, she smiled, then adjusted her smile a little bit so that it wasn't overwhelming. She looked straight at the camera, then tilted her chin down just slightly so that it wasn't jutting forward toward the camera. She made tiny adjustments, not enough that you'd call it a pose, but enough that it wasn't completely candid. I don't know if she even knows she's doing it anymore, or if it's become second nature for her. Whichever the case, if she knows she's in a picture, she looks good in it.

Last weekend, we went wine tasting with Lazzie and her fiance. The first day, we took a series of "well, it's cute of everyone else, and it's a memory of the day, so......" pictures. It bummed me out.

The next morning, I took a few extra minutes getting ready. I put on the sweater I felt the most confident about, the reliable old Simple Knitted Bodice, and my favorite necklace. I made sure my lipstick was solid, brushed my bangs out of my eyes with a little bit of wax, and we were off. I felt good.

"Honey, quick! Take our picture before we go to the next winery." A.B. pointed the camera at us, and in the couple of seconds that it took him to find shutter button (I don't have the fancy iPhone with forward-facing camera), I took an quick inventory of my facial features and made a few adjustments. I smiled a little more softly so that I wouldn't look too gummy. I tried to keep my head a little more level so that I would look less like a really short person craning to get into the picture, which is usually how the A.B.-and-me self portraits turn out. I put a tiny bit more thought into it, instead of grinning like a fool and hoping for the best. It made a difference! I love this picture.

Now, if we can figure out how to stretch A.B.'s arm so that he doesn't look like he's leaning back to get in the shot, we'll be in business. I guess we could let other people take the pictures, but, you know, baby steps.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One-sleeve Wonder

So exciting! So very exciting! Yaaaaaay!

"What," you may be asking. "What is so exciting? Did you finish the Tweedy Aran Cardigan already? How unusually productive of you. Congratulations! Is the just a closeup of the whole thing?"

No, not exactly.

"Oh, yeah. It does look like it's not seamed. Is that all that's left? Where's the rest of it?"

Just the sleeve.

"Yes....just the sleeve to sew up, and that's why you're so excited?"

It's just the first sleeve. I'm only as far as the first sleeve.

"Oh. Well. Hmmm."

But I'm super excited to say that I got this much done, because now I know that there's hope. It seems as though it's taking forever for me to get through even a few rows a day. Binding off that sleeve was the high point of my week. Which is kind of sad. Look, it was exciting, O.K.? Just go with it.

Here's the odd thing. When Winston reviewed this yarn last week, he brought up the apparent color difference between my yarn and the picture on the website. Look at how pink it looks under this light. It's just about the color on the website. This colorway does not look this pink in any other light I've had it in, either at home or in my office, day or night.

The reason I'm pushing so hard to get most of it done by the middle of February is that I need to know if I'm going to need more. If I know that I'm going to run out, then I'll go to Stitches at the end of the month and talk with the Black Water Abbey folks. That would be my only reason for going to Stitches this year, as I'm still working through yarns I bought there six years ago. This sleeve took about three ounces, which is about 3/4 of the ball. I have six balls total.

This is the light that's throwing the pink flare on the yarn. It's two plates of glass sandwiching what looks like really heavy soldering wire, with two dozen little white lights poking down through the top of it. It's creepy from above, like a bunch of wires plugging into the head of the Borg queen, but luckily I'm not tall enough to see it from that angle. This is the same light that I was talking about a couple of weeks ago, the one that makes my skin look warm. It's odd, because the light looks so white that it seems like it would make everything look cooler, but it turns out that the opposite is true.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winston's Review: Black Water Abbey Worsted


It’s me, Winston J. Schmidt.

It’s been a couple of years since my first yarn review, mostly because Suzanne is usually too smart to let me review her yarns anymore. Lucky for you and me, she doesn’t know that I can stretch up on my back legs and reach stuff on tables without making any noise, and that I also learned how to silently stick my face in her purse.

Well, she knows NOW, Winston! She reads her own blog! We are so going to get squirted! Squirted in the FACE!

Molly, this is my review, and I do it my own way. That’s why it’s called “Winston’s Review”. I don’t get a lot of stuff that’s just mine anymore, so I’d like to do this all by myself, O.K.?

O.K., but if we end up out in traffic, it’ll be YOUR fault.

Yarn: Black Water Abbey Worsted

Yardage/Weight: 220 yards per 4 ounce skein

Fiber Content: 100% New Wool from Ireland

Color: Mountain, although Suzanne’s worried that they’ve changed the colors a little bit in the few years since she bought it. Their Mountain on the website is way more pink than this one. This ball looks like it’s closer to Ash Violet, although I can’t tell the difference by taste. I need to watch out, though, because if she runs out on account of me eating it, then someone's not going to get chippy snacks next time we have Burrito Monday.

Texture: 2-ply, and kind of rough when I first picked it up in my mouth, but then the lanolin kicks in and makes it really soft. It’s not at all hard to cut through it with my teeth. I was able to break it in three places, including one spot in the middle of the rolled ball, in less than a minute. The other day, I tangled up a good two-thirds of a ball pretty quickly, but she was able to roll it back up without having to break anything but the end where it met the knitting on the needles.

Flavor: Sheepy! And it smells like freshly cut hay, which makes it irresistible. Really. She should lock it up in a Winston-proof box when she’s not knitting with it, even for five minutes, because a guy can only take that kind of temptation for so long.

Mouth Feel: It seems like it’d be scratchy, but it’s actually kind of moisturizing and soothing, like if Suzanne put lotion on her legs and then put on socks, and then took off the socks and I put them in my mouth. You know. Like if that actually happened.

Review: This is a tasty yarn with a complex finish. It’s also hours of fun, and has a good re-chew factor. I’ve had the same ball in my mouth three times, and it still feels supple and substantial.

In conclusion, I really like this yarn. I wish I could walk around with it in my mouth all day.


Winston J. ‘Bug’ Schmidt

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


First, I saw splotches. Then I saw Jesus. Then I saw an Afghan hound wearing earrmuffs. Earmuffs with Jesus on them. Wasted several minutes guessing at Christ's merch and licensing deal. Then I ate the apple.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

WTHAYW Thursday

What the Hell are you WEARING?


It's Bristow from a few years ago. Until recently, I didn't know what to wear it with, so it didn't see much time out of the drawer. The shoulders are a little roomy, and my own shoulders are a little wide for my height, so the silhouette was wrong with jeans or straight trousers. I had the same problem with straight skirts. It made me look top-heavy. It needed a skirt with enough body to balance it out.

The sleeves have always been too long, and I've debated for years about cutting them and moving the seed stitch border up, but now I've grown used to rolling them.

Calvin Klein from several years ago. It's 97% wool, which I'd never paid attention to before. You can't see much from these shots, but it's pleated all around from low hip down to the hem. The pleats stay crisp all day, while the rest of the skirt remains wrinkle free. I don't know how this is accomplished with wool, but it's wonderful. The skirt is weighty without being too heavy, and feels like a quality piece. Even though it's a few years old, it doesn't look dated. Either it's a classic, or it went out of style and back in while it was sharing a hanger with three other skirts. I bought it at Macy's on sale, a great sale if I remember correctly. I never buy anything from there that isn't on the half-off rack. It was a little big, but I'd planned to take it in. It then went into my closet and was promptly forgotten. I pulled it out a couple of months ago as part of my "dress fancy" campaign and discovered, to both my delight and dismay, that it fit, almost too closely. It's a size 8.

Sudini suede boots with leather crisscross detail, bought about four years ago on sale from Sierra Trading Post. I have a thing for Sudini boots. They fit my feet, they fit my calves, and they last forever. I was disappointed when Nordstrom stopped carrying them in favor of Munroe. They're not the same. Their brand motto: "Sudini - the shoes that make love to your feet." Totally worth the risk of buying online.

I still haven't replaced my beloved sterling hoops. I've now decided to try to solder the pin back to the body. Failing that, I'm going to find a metalsmith who can recreate them. Accountant Boy tried to cheer me up by sending me links to earrings on, but none of them looked right. There are a couple of potential candidates at a jewelry store downtown, but I don't know. I liked my cheap earrings.

In their absence, I'm trying out other pairs in my jewelry cabinet. This pair came from an employee sale at Accountant Boy's office. The gift shops from about a dozen wineries cleared the odds and ends out of their back rooms and sent it back to the corporate office, where it went onto long tables at 90% off. I paid four dollars for them, I think. This tells us two things, dear readers. First, that there's a lot of money to be saved by buying some basic tools and making your own jewelry, and second, that you shouldn't EVER buy anything other than postcards at a winery gift shop. They'll rob you blind then steal your glasses.

They're cute and feminine, and I like them, but they started to itch by the end of the day. I still miss my hoops.

The Verdict
I've worn the sweater and skirt combination a couple of times so far, but this is the first time with the boots. This pairing is better than the tights and shoes. Other than my knees, I felt warm and comfortable all day. I'd probably put it together once every couple of weeks, just to avoid the "if it's Thursday then it must be pleats and cardigan" syndrome.

I was going to dye my hair tonight, but now that I've seen it in this light, I'm thinking about giving it a few more weeks. On the other hand, that lighting is really kind to the roots. It's been more than two months, and they're starting to show when I blow it dry in the morning. We'll see what color it is by tomorrow at this time.

Lessons Learned
1. The lighting over my dinette set is fantastic. Start taking more pictures there.
2. Self-portraits are way easier with a tripod. Stop trying to balance the camera on boxes of cookies.
3. Quality pieces are timeless.
4. Bangs are still too short to be swept to the side without looking stringy. Commit to them straight across for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Gingerbread Eichler

This is what happens when you give an art project to a bunch of engineers. This gorgeous post-modern masterpiece didn't hold together for the trip to the front of the room. We got about five inches away from the table before it collapsed. In our defense, we weren't told about this part of the design spec, and we ARE all application engineers. You can't change requirements on the fly like that and expect good results from us. Plus, I was tipsy enough to end up with icing in my hair. It sure photographed well, though.

When I realized that I wasn't going to make my highest yearly post count without three meaningless entries a day, I decided to take a day or two off. That went about as well as you'd expect. Apparently, it takes more than seven weeks to make a new habit stick. No point in dwelling on it, when the answer is just to pick it back up again and keep trying. That applies to so many things in my life right now. Pick it up again and keep trying.

I've got a couple of finished sweaters to write up, and a new knitting goal for this year that I want to discuss. More on that tomorrow.