30 November 2009

First Musical Monday of Advent!

Happy Musical Monday (aka Music to Knit By Monday) everyone!

I am currently in the middle of a crazy crush of school work... some major things due in the next 48 hours (and saying it as 48 hours instead of two days makes me panic just a hair more!). So, this post will be just a solitary Musical Monday for now. I've got some major FOs to show off from the holiday weekend, so I'll update you once everything is in on Wednesday.

For now though, it's the first Musical Monday of the Christmas Season! This round of holidays is my absolute favorite, along with the music that goes with it.

Our selection today is a classical piece by Benjamin Britten, "This Little Babe." It's part of a larger work called A Ceremony of Carols, but this is by far my favorite movement. Traditionally it's sung with boy's voices (boy's choir) for the soprano and alto, but I personally prefer the sound of adult voices on this one. I think I'm biased because I love singing it (as an adult) myself. Plus girls aren't allowed in boys choirs, so shit on that.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this and the upcoming month (and one week due to my Russian Orthodoxy! I love the two Christmas thing. Seriously) of various Holiday music!


23 November 2009

Oh, Starbucks Holiday Cups... You Complete Me...

Well, it's that time of year! Time for my annual ode to the Starbucks Holiday Cups and the Peppermint Mochas/Eggnog Lattes they tend to contain.

I was on my way to the farmers market to meet my Grandmother and pick up her winter veggies along with my pie pumpkins before they close at Thanksgiving, when I swung by Starbucks. And then, my day was made.

The holiday cups and specialty drinks are back (pictured here it all its glory next to farmers market potato pancakes)! And apparently have been for a while!

Now, these little red cups of awesome bring me such an irrational and disproportionate amount of joy that I sometimes have trouble expressing it. But sadly, before you know it, they're gone, well before my holiday season has ended, and I'm left pouty and holiday cupless.

This year, though, I decided to take action. No longer am I to undergo that annual disappointment of walking into Starbucks on Russian Christmas only to find the regular old cups! No longer must I endure the end of my holiday season without that perfectly red cylindrical container of happiness! No longer, I say!

So I bought a more permanent version. Mug and Christmas tree ornament. That's right, Chronos. I've outsmarted you.

Kind of.

And before I forget, it's Monday! Music to Knit By Time!

For our pre-Thanksgiving selection, I bring to you a traditional American folk tune arranged for choir. There is something so simple and beautiful about the harmonies in this version, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of the best choirs around. I'm a sucker for a good puritan melody at any time (kind of ironic considering my background), and this is just sounds especially proud and pilgrimmy to me. Especially the bit in the middle with the men. Sends shivers down my spine. There's nothing like an amazing men's choir. Really.

So, for your pre-Thanksgiving pleasure, Lunaticraft presents to you, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing arranged by Mack Wilberg, and performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.



21 November 2009

Flashin' the stash...

I've been stocking up on stash for Christmas presents and other various things to work on over the Thanksgiving holidays, courtesy of Summit Yarn Studio's amazing selection, and I think it's time for my first official bloggy stash flash.

First up is the Lamb's Pride worsted, which will hopefully become a Summit Yarn Chullo (ravelry link). The colors are more accurate in the closeup below.

Some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in a pinky color, for a pair of mitts, also probably for me.

Next, a whole slew of Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed Chunky in various colors. I think they will be hats... The tan is an extra skein to finish up my dad's Irish Hiking Scarf, and we'll have to see how much I have to use. My optimistic side is telling me that I'll have enough for a simple matching hat at the end, but reality will probably prove that impossible. I'll keep hoping though!

And last, but what I'm most excited about is... Noro! It's the worsted weight stuff, Kureyon(? I'm too lazy to go look at the label right now for the proper spelling), and I can't wait to try it out. The blue and grey skein is going to be a hat for my brother (he has requested a Thelonius Monk style hat... We'll see how close I can get to that), and then the pinky green one is going to be something for me. Maybe a little scarflet of some kind. Or maybe mitts. I don't know yet, but I'm excited about it none the less.

I think this is going to be the last of my stashing for a few weeks... I've got plenty of projects to last me through the holidays. Or at least until I get paid again. After all, car insurance comes before yarn... sadly. ;D


16 November 2009

Busy as a Bee on this Musical Monday

I've finished the Collared One Button Scarf! Well, almost. I still have to find a button that's perfect for it, and weave in the ends. But other than that I'm totally done, and I love it.

The pattern itself was a very quick and easy knit, great for when you've got to multi-task, and the result is super cute. I suspect that in the future this will be getting as much use as my calorimetry pattern. I'll just have to stock up on big buttons.

I did have to do a quick steam blocking of it to even it out, as my gauge changed not only from my swatch but as I knit. Changing gauge as a project progresses seems to be a common problem of mine, and I'm not sure what to do about it. So far it hasn't caused any real issues, because a) I don't really do big projects yet, so no sweater sizes to mess up or anything, and b) it's usually fixed by blocking it out. However, whenever I do decide to tackle my first sweater, I hope I will have conquered that particular issue.

Just as I finished up the Collared One Button, I realized my Dad's birthday was coming up. Well, actually technically it's today. So, on Saturday I stopped by SYS and grabbed myself some chunky Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed and cast on for the Irish Hiking Scarf. It's my first project cabling, and frankly, cables are SO MUCH EASIER than I thought they'd be. Like SO MUCH EASIER. Even so, it's been slower going than I anticipated, so it is not finished to give him today. I have about three feet done as of writing this post, and I have class and rehearsal later, so I've given up hope of it being finished by the end of his birthday at midnight. I tend to follow the scarf rule of "as long as the intended recipient is tall," (although that might just be a rule I made up, as I don't know where I got it from), and my dad is a little over 6 foot, so I'm hoping the finished length will end up being about five and a half to six feet. I think I bought enough yarn for that, but we'll see.

Other than that, it's been a crazy week in concerns to school work, and it's only about to get crazier. The library is going to be seeing a lot of me until the end of the semester, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I like our library quite a bit, actually. It's cozy. Anyway, I'll keep ya'll updated on the lead up to Thanksgiving and Christmas in the meantime.

For now though, it's Monday. And that means... Music to Knit By Day! I've missed doing these, and am determined to be better at remembering to post on Mondays. I've actually got all of December planned up already (HOORAY CHRISTMAS MUSIC!). But for now, I'm going to leave you with some Coloratura soprano awesomeness.

Everyone knows the Queen of the Night's aria in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (and if the German's not ringing a bell, Youtube it. I promise you'll recognize it). However, the character's other aria, O zitt're nicht...Zum Leiden bin ich auserkoren is not nearly as well known. The last minute or so of the aria is probably one of the most difficult passages out there ever written for soprano. So, what I leave you with today is actually a compliation of multiple versions of that last section by some of the greatest Coloraturas of the recording era, for comparison purposes. It is MINDBLOWING. Actually, more like BEYOND MINDBLOWING. Especially if you know anything about vocal technique and exactly how much control and supreme awesomeness this requires to pull off. (Also, I'll attach a recording of the full aria as well, in case anyone is interested in the, well, less showstopping part.)

Enjoy, and have a fantastic Musical Monday!


08 November 2009

Fit as a Fiddle and Ready for Yarn!

Finding the Summit Yarn Studio has opened up a whole new world for me in terms of fiber. So much softness! So many options! The possibilities are so wonderfully overwhelming!

With the help of Mary Ellen (the shop owner), I made my first forays into the luxury yarn world (or at least it's luxury to me after working with only acrylic all these years!) and I'm loving it.

I picked up a ball each of alpaca and merino, for use in one skein projects, and three hanks of Silky Tweed in a beautiful chestnut brown with flecks of awesomeness, which I hope to use for my mom's Christmas present. She's got a coat that matches it perfectly.

As soon as I could after I brought it home, I used the alpaca to cast on for the Collared One Button Scarf that I had spoken about last post. So far it's going well. I learned the cable cast on for it, and while it took me a few tries, I think I've got the hang of it. I do suspect that my gauge has changed since I swatched (I undid the swatch to conserve yarn, which I probably shouldn't have done), but I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that it's not going to make too much of a difference. I'll keep you posted. It's going to be super cute.

Speaking of super cute, there has been a slight break in the weather the past two days, which has done me a world of good. My sinuses acted up again on Friday night, way siding me for any weekend festivities, but after sleeping well into the afternoon on Saturday I woke up fit as a fiddle (and ready for love? Not so much, but yarn? Yes!). Combined with the warm weather, my dad, the pups, and I were able to get some Frisbee time in.

Isn't she freaking adorable?


PS - I now have Fit as a Fiddle stuck in my head, and I hope you all do too! Gene Kelly = Love.

04 November 2009

The Tale of Epic Fail. (Alternate title: Lunaticraft is an Annoying Perfectionist with Serious Issues)

So you know how I was so excited that my Swallowtail shawl was finally going to happen?

Yea, not so much. I'm frogging it.

One night as I happily knit away into the Lily of the Valley Border, my mother, a former knitter (now retired from the craft due to arthritis problems), looked up from her book and watched me for a minute, after which she let out a puzzled sounding "hmmm."

"What?" I asked.

"I've never seen YOs done that way. Does it work?"

Well, I didn't really have an answer for that, so the next day I pinned out a section of my Swallowtail, to try to find out. What I found disturbed me slightly. As far as I could tell, it was a busy mess where nice clean YOs are supposed to be.

Well, maybe that's a little dramatic, as you can see the photo above. But it certainly wasn't the nice, clean and clear delineation that I had been imagining. Every YO, instead of being one singular line of yarn as I have seen on other's knitting seemed to be forked. Two strands, diverging from each other in a "V."

But maybe it was just the yarn. Maybe it was because I was using needles that are two sizes two big. I comforted myself with these thoughts and turned to the last minute lace scarf that I had just taken off the needles (started on a whim during the daily show the week before). It was still not killed (it being Vanna's Choice, and not yummy natural fiber... I'm trying to use up my acrylic stash so I can replace it with better stuff now that I'm working and know of a LYS nearby), so I didn't yet know how it was going to turn out.

Many pins and curses later, I had my answer in a far more obvious fashion. Yep, my YOs were forked for some reason.

Now, in reality, I probably shouldn't feel compelled to frog the Swallowtail (I'm not going to bother with the scarf). The pattern is still identifiable, if not the perfect vision I had imagined. However, I'm an anal retentive ass. So, within hours of this post, the Swallowtail will be back to balls of yarn. Again. If I'm going to make this thing at this point, it's going to be all that I imagine and more. It's woman against yarn now.

In the mean time, I've been experimenting. Cue another stash ball of Vanna's Choice, and I think I've got my YO problem figured out. I was going to stop by Summit Yarn Studio and get some help (minus the ball of Vanna's. I'd have brought the actual Swallowtail with me), but the night before I had planned to, I managed to create this:

How much neater is that? Also, I checked my new technique against my mom's copy of Knitting in Plain English, something I probably should have referred to before starting the Swallowtail in the first place.

I did stop by SYS today anyway (about a week after I had planned to, because of work), and came out with some amazing yumminess. I'm going to try Alpaca for the first time on this Collared One Button Scarf pattern, which is super cute and is actually designed by the SYS's owner. I also picked up a skein of Merino in a beautiful charcoal color and some great chestnut brown silky tweed. Those have plans for them that can't be divulged until Christmas time, I think.

And those are pretty much the deets on my yarny life as of late. Hopefully, I'll be around a bit more in the coming months. But for now? Rehearsal time.

See ya on the flip side! (I'm feeling a little 80's and 90's lately)