Saturday, December 26, 2009

Forgotten Present and a Movie

I am so mad at myself, people. So very mad. Remember this cute little bag, my very first felting project? I've been working on hand-sewing beads all over that sucker. Dad, working in the emergency room, had to work until 5:30 pm on Christmas, so I was going to have all day on Christmas to finish beading it. All day! It was turning out so beautifully, too! Then I was going to stick it in a pretty box and watch Mom's face light up when she opened it. I apparently left the damn thing behind in Maryland when I was packing. I am furious at myself. I mean, sure, she's okay with getting the present later, but I was really excited about it, because it was turning out so well! Grrr.....

Instead of spending the whole day beading (since I didn't actually have the materials)(grr again), Mom suggested we go to the movies. We went to see Avatar. Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet, go. Right now. It was absolutely freaking fantastic. I'm not so sure that the 3D part was necessary- I was having a little trouble focusing on it, and it was an extra $3:50 a ticket!- but the story was incredible. There really wasn't a dull moment at all. It wasn't really a kids movie, as I was afraid it would be. It does some really good character development, and has a great plot. The visuals were also amazing. It wasn't like they just made the forest look like another Earth; rather, they created entirely new, beautiful organisms from scratch. Additionally, unlike in Beowulf where the characters moved a little jerkily, the computer-generated characters here were smooth and life-like. My poor mother made a mad dash for the bathroom as soon as it was over, because she had really had to go but didn't want to miss a second of the show. I don't want to say any more without giving it away, but really- go see it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All Snowed In

We got 17 inches of snow yesterday. That is a lot of snow, people. Alright, maybe not to folks from way up North, but to someone who's only ever seen a couple of inches at a time, that is a lot of snow.

I'm trapped at my grandparent's house (the rapid move-out from my apartment is a story for another time). While I am bored out of my mind, I am, at least, enjoying the scenery outside.

I have to say, I'm pretty damn impressed by the icicles:

This is the back deck. Note that the snow is higher than the seats of the chairs:

I am amazed at the way that cars got snowed in:

I'd never actually seen a snow plow at work before:

Doesn't it look like these plants should be coming up from a dune, rather than a snow mound?

I also took several pictures of the prettyness on my walk:

Friday, December 18, 2009

FO: Red Scarves

I finished knitting for the Red Scarf Project at the very last minute. I actually finished up the second scarf the morning of the 15th, which was the deadline. This is why I didn't manage to get any good FO pictures. I did, however, snap a quick picture of the box:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dog Update

I showed you Ani, but anyone wonder what's been happening with Mia and Napoleon? No? Well, either way, they've been looking pretty adorable lately.

My mother's latest fix for Napoleon's constant-freezingness is a hooded sweatshirt:

Yes, it looks ridiculous, but at least he seems to be a little warmer. Here's a side view:

And for anyone who is fooled by that innocent looking face, this is what the vets have to do every time Napoleon visits:

He tends to lunge for hands, throats, or whatever he can get to. He was banned from PetSmart Grooming after we tried taking him to get his nails clipped there once. My mother bought the muzzle in hopes that she can cut his nails herself at home.

In Mia news....

She's been working on her begging skills:

She's staring hopefully and longingly at my mother's food. I'm surprised she doesn't get a crick in her neck!

Here's a close-up of those pretty brown eyes. Notice the nice bow; she had just gotten back from the groomer when the picture was taken:

She is very satisfied after she is indulged with a snack:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

At least someone appreciates my knitting...

My boyfriend may not overly appreciate my knitting, but his dog sure does. I'd show you a better picture of the shawl, but Anika here (Ani for short) just did not want to be moved!

Hiding her face from the camera, or burying it in the shawl for comfort- I'm not sure which one it is!

A book, a cell phone, and comfortable knitting- she's a pretty lucky dog right there!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Traditions

Crystal over at Bead Happily Ever After has invited everyone to answer some questions about holiday traditions. Why not share my Christmas habits here, too? So, here goes:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Both. I love wrapped presents, but for some items, or if I'm in a rush, a gift bag is just more practical. It's also m more environmentally friendly, since it's reusable.

2. Real tree or Artificial?

Artificial. I grew up with an artificial tree because I have a younger brother with horrible, terrible allergies. Now, I'm used to the convenience of having a tree in the closet, rather than having to buy one and lug it back. I'm going to my parents' house for Christmas, though, so I probably won't even bother putting up one in my apartment.

3. When do you put up the tree?

This year, not at all. In family tradition, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down?

About a month after it goes up.

5. Do you like eggnog?

I love eggnog! It's terribly unhealthy, which is probably why it tastes so good. I also love eggnog flavored ice cream.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

My favorite gift was definitely the American Girl doll, Felicity. She came in a different dress when I got her, though. I loved that doll- my mother made me a bunch of dresses for her, too.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

My mother is terrible to shop for. She's a practical person who doesn't like to have anything around that she doesn't actually need. Anything impractical or dust-collecting is a no-no. She doesn't like anything scented, either.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

My grandfather. The only thing is that I don't buy for him, I knit for him- he loves anything that I make him and wears it with pride.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

Nope. I used to have one when I was little; I don't know what happened to it.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

I mostly like to hand-deliver them, if possible- if not, then mail. There's just something about a tangible card.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

I really can't think of anything off the top of my head.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

For some reason, ever since I was younger, I've always loved The Year Without A Santa Claus. It's a little silly, but I still enjoy it and try to catch it when it's on TV every year. It's a classic.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

I keep an eye out for stuff all year- it's a trick that my mother taught me. That way, I don't do the frantic shopping right before Christmas. As for knitted gifts, I generally start knitting them around September.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

I don't like to regift.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Christmas cookies. Definitely the Christmas cookies. Every year, my mother used to bake baskets full of them to send with my father to work- butter cookies, coconut macaroons, chocolate truffles- it was fantastic.

16. Lights on the tree?

Yes, of course! Is it really a full-decorated Christmas tree without lights?

17. Favorite Christmas song?

I've always been rather fond of The Twelve Days of Christmas- although I always get a little confused once you reach 9 or so of the order that the items go in.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Travel home to my parents.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

No, but I wish I could- it would be a helpful skill.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

It's always been Christmas morning for us. My brother's birthday is Christmas Eve, so we've always tried to keep that a separate, non-Christmas day for him. Before he was born, though, I was always allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Traffic, traffic, traffic.

22. Favorite ornament theme or color?

I have some beaded ornaments that were made by my great grandmother. I also love glass ornaments, because you can stick them in front of a colored light and it looks really pretty shining through.

23. What do you want for Christmas this year?

Webs Interchangable Circular Needles. I'd also really like a toaster. Yes, I'm a bit practical.

24. Angel on the treetop or a star?

We've always had an angel holding a candle.

25. Favorite Christmas dinner?

I love a good honey-baked ham, as well as some crescent rolls on the side. Sometimes, if we're feeling productive, my mother or I will also make some additional, non-traditional foods as well. Past ones have included meatballs, croquetas, and a tortilla espaƱola or tortilla de patatas (yes, we like our Spanish foods).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dog + Yarn

This is Napoleon, my brother's girlfriend's dog.

Apparently, my parents saw fit to leave the door to my old room open at their house. This room is not puppy-proofed, since we haven't had a puppy around until Napoleon, and the door was always closed when he was around, since I've been gone. Well, our dog, Mia, decided that she wanted to be in my room, so unbeknownst to me, my parents started leaving the door open. Behind that door lay yarn.

This is the where the yarn started.....

...And continued....

...And ended up. Napoleon was so proud to show off what he'd found to my father. No one had the heart to scold him. After all, it was just some cheap Bernat boa, and I wasn't there to be upset.

Finally, after all that work dragging the yarn all over the place, it was time for a nap.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Basic Raglan Sweater

During the huge Webs sale last January, I picked up several skeins of Ella Rae Classic Wool in a beautiful, variegated blue. Since then, I've been waiting for the right pattern to make with it. I needed something simple so that it would showcase the yarn. Enter Pink from Custom Knits.

This is the perfect pattern, and exactly what I'm looking for. It's simple enough to show off the pretty variegations, and it also is knit from the top, meaning that I will have to do no seaming and that I can try it on as I knit. Exactly what I'm looking for!

As you can see, I'm mostly done with the torso- I think it's coming along nicely!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FO: Herringbone Scarf

Christmas is quickly approaching, and I'm trying to get my Christmas knitting done early so that I don't have a massive day-before-Christmas-knitting panic. Exhibit A: A scarf for my grandfather.

Pattern: Night on the Town (ravelry link) (non-ravelry link)

Yarn: Patons Angora Bamboo

Colorway: Urban Gray

Mods: I didn't want it to be quite as wide as the pattern called for, so I only cast on 26 stitches.

The Verdict: I wanted something warm, soft, and fashionable. I also wanted something a little more complicated than seed stitch, but still masculine enough to give to a man. This scarf totally fits the bill. It's so incredibly soft and warm, perfect to keep Grandpa warm on cold days. I love it, and I know that he is going to love it too. I just wish I didn't have to wait until Christmas to give it to him!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I felted!

I just finished the felting my first felted project, a small purse that I am going to give my mother for Christmas. She complains that she doesn't have any small, dressy purses, so I wanted to make her one. I used the pattern Suzanne's Purse. After it came out of the washer (and man, that thing did NOT take long to felt), I patted it with towels and stuffed it with grocery bags to maintain its shape while drying.

Right now, it doesn't look like much- just a plain black bag. But I plan on buying beads and sewing them on to the bag. For a first felting project, not bad!

Friday, August 28, 2009

FO: St. James Sweater

So what have I been doing during my internetless time? Well, to begin with, I finished my St. James Sweater. I love the fit of it. It's fitted, but not too tight. I also like the color, and the adorable ties. The ties were a pain to do, but totally worth it.

The only thing that I don't like is that the stitches are a little uneven. While I probably am partly to blame for this, I think that the big culprit here was the yarn. Some yarns just seem result in less even stitches.

Pattern: St. James

Yarn: TLC Cotton Plus, Light blue

Mods: None

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It’s Been Awhile

I promise I didn't forget about you- my internet was down, and my landlady was out of the country so it couldn't get fixed. I went THREE WEEKS without the internet- and it felt longer. But I'm back now.

During my internet-less time, I got a TON of reading done- I was averaging a novel every two days. I also got a lot of knitting down. I'm working on a top and a scarf, and I'll provide pictures soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009

So very, very tired.

I've settled into work, and my apartment, but I'm still having a lot of trouble. The main problem is sleeping. I wake up in the middle of the night and toss and turn and can't go back to sleep. My nightly schedule looks something like this:

9-10: Fall asleep at my computer because I'm so tired from not sleeping the night before.

12 or 1: Wake up. Toss and turn for hours.

2 or 3ish: Fall back asleep.

4ish: Wake back up, toss and turn until 6ish, give up.

I'm exhausted and barely have the energy (or the time) to knit. I did, however, finish the St. James Sweater. I'm still waiting for someone to take pictures for a modeled shot, but I can give you a sneak peek:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mostly Moved in- And Knitting Pictures!

I’m almost done setting up the new apartment. The kitchen is unpacked, the bedroom is unpacked. I have a bed, a table, a desk, and a few chairs, although I’d really like a sofa. I’d also like to know where I stuffed a few things while unpacking too quickly and not paying attention.

I took a few knitting pictures for y’all the other day. However, I took them before I got most of the furniture, so while all the other blogs out there have pictures of WIPS lovingly draped over a table or other piece of furniture, specifically chosen to show off that piece of knitting, my pictures are on the floor.

The St. James sweater is close to being finished. All I have left to do is knit one more sleeve, seam the undersides of the sleeves, and then knit the neckline.

I’ve also started working on a nice, basic scarf pattern for the Red Scarf Project. For those who don’t want to click, the Red Scarf Project provides scarves to foster kids who are supporting themselves through college. They send out care packages, and this is one of the items in them. It gives me a chance to try out some scarf patterns I've been waiting for an opportunity to knit.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Moving and Working

So I promised knitting updates. I know. But with the start of this new job, combined with moving into an apartment, I've been REALLY REALLY REALLY busy. Like, almost-not-knitting busy. Additionally, I've been really stressed with adjusting to so much new stuff in my life. In fact, to add to my stress, I got locked in my apartment this morning- the deadbolt requires a key to open it (even from the inside), and the key wouldn't turn. That was some fun panicking, let me tell you. Since I live in a basement apartment, I finally had to go and bang on the door to the upstairs, so that my landlady would wake up and let me out.

Anyway, where I'm going with all of today's ramblings is that I will try to post this weekend, when things will quiet down a bit. I haven't forgotten about the blog- I've just been crazy busy. For the record, when I do post, you will get pictures of my almost-completed St. James sweater, a new nice basic sock to get my sock-knitting mojo back, and a charity scarf.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Job Hunt (And a Sweater Pic!)

I know this is a mostly a knitting blog (did "Constantly Knitting" give anyone any clues?), but I want to tackle an issue that has been difficult for many people lately: the job hunt. As many of you may know from the "about me" section on the sidebar of this blog, I recently graduated from college and was (desperately) searching for a job.

In the past, as all of my older friends graduated in the years before me, everyone freaked out about the job thing. As graduation grew closer, the panic grew too- and then they all got job offers, and everyone was ready to go from school straight to the Real World.

It didn't work like that for me. I, along with the majority of my peers, graduated college in early May with no job. I had been searching for one before graduation, and after graduation it became my full time occupation. I applied to hundreds of positions, and most of the Washington DC metro area has my resume. Most companies, when they didn't like my resume, did not even bother letting me know. I just had to wonder if they'd even received it. As I received more and more non-responses, I got gradually less and less picky about the jobs I applied for- I'd apply for pretty much anything I was qualified for. I felt like I was in limbo- I had graduated from college, but wasn't yet out working. I was depressed and frustrated, and I took it out on those around me.

I did get a few interviews from all of this work. I began to joke that going on a job interview is a lot like going on a date. You pick out the perfect outfit to create exactly the impression that you want to give. You do you hair a half-hour ahead of time, so that you can make sure that all of the frizzy pieces have the chance to stick up so you can pin them down. You do your makeup carefully, and choose the perfect shoes and bag. The whole time, you're stressing. You want to create the right impression. You're hoping that maybe this time, you will meet The One. Whether it is The One person you want to be with or The One Job, you want it to be this time.

The rejections are hard, too. There was one job that I had three interviews for. The first was with the placement agency. That one was probably the hardest, because they subjected me to a barrage of computer tests. Really really hard computer tests. I thought that I failed and they were going to tell me they couldn't do anything for me and kick me out the door, but it turned out that no one gets perfect scores, and I did better than most. They sent my resume to the firm that was hiring. The firm, however, did not decide to interview me until the very last minute- I got a call on the day of the interview asking me to come in. I was in Virginia Beach visiting my parents, and I threw on a suit and drove all the way to Northern Virginia, hopped on the metro at Franconia-Springfield (closest stop), got stuck when the metro broke down, got lost from the metro to the firm, but finally made it. I was frazzled and exhausted, and I hadn't eaten since breakfast- but the job sounded so great that I didn't want to miss the opportunity. Apparently they were impressed- I made it to the next round of interviews. Then, however, I got a phone call from the placement agency stating that the firm had decided to hire another candidate. I had invested so much time and effort in this job- I was incredibly upset. Of course, I've had other rejections, too- this was just the hardest and the most memorable.

I was incredibly fortunate during my job hunt, because my parents were willing and able to support me while I searched. I really don't know how else I would have done this. I didn't want to get a part-time position, because I was afraid a full-time job would offer me a position, and I didn't want to quit any job two weeks after being hired.

I finally was offered a job on Monday. The pay's not great, but it's a job, and in this economy, who am I to complain? I'm employed, and will be working in a field that I wanted to work in.

So why am I talking about this now? It is extremely depressing to be searching so hard for a job and be so unable to find one. Although, logically, I knew that there were a lot of people in the same situation as I was, it didn't really feel like it. It felt like it was just me, all alone in this situation. I felt like a failure because I was unable to find a job. I felt like I wasn't good enough, and although I know that the rejections were not necessarily about me (someone else had more experience, etc), each one felt very personal. I was too depressed about the situation to want to tackle writing about it. I'm writing this for a couple of reasons: I'm hoping that someone who is in the same situation stumbles across this and maybe really, truly begins to understand that it's not just them, and that it will work out. I also am hoping that perhaps those more fortunate who are not frantically job-searching may better understand what it's like for those who do. I may only have a few readers, but hopefully this will help someone. It also feels really good to just get it off my chest.

For those of you who wanted knitting content, here's a consolation prize: the most recent picture I've taken of my St. James sweater:

I'm a little further along now, and I promise more pictures of this (and a new sock!) soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Progress and Unprogress*

Let' start with the bad news first, shall we? The Nine-to-Five socks and I are having some…problems. You see, the pattern says to knit the heel flap for 36 rows- "or about 2.5 inches." My 36 rows were nowhere near 2.5 inches- so I kept knitting until I got there. Then, when I picked up the stitches, of course, I had to pick up way more to accommodate all of those extra rows. So I picked up the stitches, and kept knitting along- I got about to the point where the sock actually starts to look like a sock:

By this point, however, I couldn't deny it- the heel/foot opening was way too huge. See?

I should have just knit the 36 rows and stopped, ignoring the measurement. I have now ripped back to the cuff, but I'm frustrated with the sock, and I think that it and I need to take a break. It is currently sitting in a corner, thinking about what it has done.

And now on to the good news- my St. James sweater has reached the point where it's actually starting to look like a sweater! I love this part of top-down sweaters. It's very rewarding. And, to make matters even better- I tried it on, and so far it fits! No boob stretchage!

*Yes, I know that "unprogress" is not an actual word. But it really seemed the most appropriate way to say "reverse progress" without using two words.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Worst. Knitting Group Meet-up. Ever.

Actually, I'm sure the meet-up was actually quite lovely- the thing is, I never made it there. Instead, I spent two hours looking for it.

You see, I'm fairly new to the DC Metro area. I don't know many people my age here, so I thought that attending a meeting of the DC Metro 20 Somethings group from Ravelry would be a great way to meet people. I'm in my 20s, and I live in DC- I'd fit right in! I still think it was a good idea, but so very many things went wrong.

They said that everyone gets to the meet-up between 6 and 6:30, and googlemaps said that it wasn't very far away, so I figured I'd leave around 5:30, so that I'd have plenty of time to get there within that window. I got delayed because a woman subletting an apartment that I'm interested in called- so I left a little later, around 5:40.

Of course, I'm used to getting on I-295 and heading North, not South- so I got on it in the wrong direction. I quickly got off at the next exit to correct the problem- and my GPS tried to convince me to drive through a fence. I'm not exaggerating. The GPS kept insisting that I needed to go where that fence was. Of course, I decided not to do such a thing to my car- but this certainly slowed us down. As an added "bonus," I got to hear the weary, annoyed voice of my GPS yelling "recalculating…recalculating…" every time that I wouldn't drive through the damn fence.

Finally, I got back on I-295 headed in the right direction (yay!) At this point, my GPS was still informing me that I had plenty of time to get there. So, I was headed in the right direction, excited to go meet knitters my age- and the GPS had me get off at an exit. I followed its directions, and made a loop. Suddenly, however, things started to look really familiar- my GPS was driving me in circles in Northern Virginia. Great. The "estimated arrival time" predictor feature was increasing by the minute, and I was starting to hope that I'd get there by 7:00.

I finally figured out the GPS issue, and got onto I-66, where I was supposed to be. And then I stopped. Not because I wanted to stop, but because everyone else was stopped. It was bumper-to-bumper, only-a-few-miles-an-hour traffic. The arrival numbers were ticking past 7:00 as I inched along. At this point, I thought about turning back- but wasn't even sure my GPS could get me back.

After inching along, I finally arrived at my exit, then drove to my destination: the mall that had the Panera where I was supposed to meet everyone. I found the mall (yay!). I drove past the Panera (double yay!). But, of course, being Arlington, there was no frickin' street parking. I finally found a garage, and then drove around it forever looking for a space. Finally found a space, and breathed a sigh of relief- I thought I was finally good to go.

Then, I couldn't figure out how to get out of the parking garage. There was a sign that said "elevators" with an arrow, but the arrow was pointing in the direction of the car exit- definitely not the place for a pedestrian. I finally found a stairwell and got out of the garage.

I then wandered around the area for awhile, looking for the Panera. I walked and looked and walked and looked- I could not find the Panera in relation to the parking garage exit that I had used. At this point, it was about 7:45ish. I was exhausted (I had only slept 4 hours the night before) and hungry (I was expecting to eat at Panera when I met up with the group). I also had no idea how late the group stayed, but I was already almost two hours late. I figured by the time I'd find them, they'd be leaving. I gave up and headed back.

All in all, it was a two and a half hour round trip. From the Maryland DC suburbs to the Virginia DC suburbs. I really hate driving….

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marble Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was going home this weekend and use my parents' nice, huge kitchen. I haven't been able to make much more than pasta or grilled cheese sandwiches lately, so I was really excited to actually be able to bake.

My baked goods are very much in demand by family and friends. The favorite recipe seems to be my oatmeal cookies, but I'm really, really tired of baking oatmeal cookies, so I decided to go with the second most-requested: my marble coffee cake.

The cake has sour cream in it, which makes it really moist. It also has a cocoa-sugar layer in the middle, as well as a butter-flour-sugar-chocolate chip crumb topping. I love this recipe.

I had to make two cakes- one for my aunt and grandparents, and one for the guy I'm dating. Otherwise, someone would have ended up feeling left out!

Here's a picture of the cake in the pan:

Anyone drooling yet?