Tuesday, August 30, 2005

you spin me round round

These wonders arrived in my life on Friday. The following is the product of only an hour or so of mesmerizing spinning and winding....

How on earth did I survive without these wonderful and adorable yarn balls! Everything from Malabrigo to lace weight becomes perfectly stackable, center-pull balls. I love my swift and ball winder. Love.

M and I saw Brothers Grimm Friday night-- if you love Terry Gilliam movies, you'll enjoy it! Then, on Saturday, we celebrated M's birthday by going shopping downtown and then went out for some awesome sushi. Afterwards we stopped at Ethel's Chocolate Lounge and picked up some chocolates for dessert....they were delicious! (my favorites were the mocha truffle and the orange chocolate....mmmmm, chocolate.....)

So, I just started my very first toe-up sock! I'm using a free pattern I found at www.elann.com. The beginning was a little rough, but I'm definitely in the swing of things now. I'm using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in Grays Corner on Size 1's. We'll see how it goes once I do my first short row heel (yikes!).

Of course, since I started a new sock it must mean I've finally finished my geranium socks -- I did it! Thank you to everyone who commented and told me to finish. The socks are very happy together and are looking forward to many long cold winters. (They are the same length...I'm just a terrible photographer).
This is a gratuitous display of kitty cuteness.... Kilby loves boxes. Somehow she got her ample body into this little box without knocking it over. I love my amazing Kilby!

Smober Update: Still not smoking after 45 days!

Couch Countdown: 46 days until delivery....we're thinking about painting the living room....gold walls and red couches do not mix....chocolatey brown walls and red couches do....

Thursday, August 25, 2005


The Irish Hiking Scarf is Done!
The Irish Hiking Scarf is all knitted, washed, and blocked! The Brooks Farm Four Play softens up so nicely in a quick wash. I just hope the future recipient of this scarf loves it as much as I do. It was a pleasure to knit – both the pattern and the yarn were perfect. I will most certainly be using this pattern again, soon!

HP Ravenclaw Scarf

Yes. After nearly driving myself insane with my albatross-like Harry Potter POA Gryffindor scarf, I cast on for a Ravenclaw one. Yep. That’s right. Another humongous, never-ending, stockinette scarf. This one will also be done in acrylic (because I bought the yarn over a year ago!) -- Caron Simply Soft Dark Country Blue and Lion Brand Glitterspun in Bronze (so shiney!). I went back and forth on whether to do movie colors (blue and silver) or book colors (blue and bronze). I went with the book colors partly because I feel it is more authentic and partly because the Bronze Glitterspun is so purty. So far I’ve done one set of the trapped bars….only 13 more to go! This pattern is so great for mindless knitting and in the end you get a super authentic awesome neat-o scarf :) Oh, and this one will be for me. I am always sorted into Ravenclaw when I take those little sorting hat quizzes….

Easy Peasy Scarf
As for holiday knitting (only 4 months to go!), I am working on a cute scarf for a friend. I don’t believe she reads my blog (not sure if I even told her I have one), but just in case, I will not mention her name. I am using one hank of Brooks Farm Four Play in (I believe) Classy.
It’s a very simple pattern that they had used for some of their display scarves at Stitches. I love how it looks! What do you all think?

Knitting group
Tuesday night was knitting group night. I had a lovely time, as always. We had a couple new ladies join us (Carol and Kate – Hi!). Those of us that went to Stitches Midwest brought our treasures for a little show and tell. The ribbon yarn Claire got was simply amazing and Jen showed off her Lorna’s Laces (beautiful!). I did bring up that our group could use a nice simple name other than “group” :), but then we immediately went off on a tangent (I think I helped us go on a tangent…I’m bad that way). So, anyone out in cyberspace have any ideas for a name for our knitting group?

The sock that I must finish
Please leave a comment here and tell me I must finish the second sock of my latest pair. Tell me I may not start any of my loverly new sock patterns using my loverly new sock yarn until I finish the current (boring) pair. Please order me to finish it. The first sock is waiting so patiently for its mate, but I’m terrible, and I am keeping them apart. I must finish that sock! (I love comments – They make me feel warm and fuzzy!).

In non-knitting news, M and I decided to sell my car (our 2nd car) this week. We went to CarMax, had it appraised, got all the paperwork signed, and sold it. I’m a tiny little bit sad that my car is gone. M said our SUV is also my car, but it’s not my cute little green Saturn:( Good-bye, little Saturn, Good-bye.

Well, in exchange for my car, we did get a little money (once my car loan was paid off). So, we started brain-storming….what to do with the money? We first seriously considered a weekend trip for our up-coming anniversary, but then realized it was silly to spend so much on a 2 day trip. Then we thought about just doing some serious shopping, but then realized it was a little silly to squander a nice windfall on clothes and shoes. So, at this point, we’ve decided to replace our couches (that we hate).

We started looking at furniture last night and we did find one couch we love. The only problem is the colors it comes in: yellow, lime green, and red. Yellow is out because of cat fur. As for green, we presently have green couches, so we would like to get away from that. Red-- we love the red. The problem is that our living room is a goldy brown color (does NOT go with red well) and our adjacent dining room/study is red.

The red room used to be our living room – do we flip back to that? Is it weird to have a red couch in a red room? Yes. I think it is. Is it weird to have a red couch in a golden room next to a red room? Yes. I think it is. Do I love this couch enough to forget all that? Yes! And tonight M and I picked out the red couch and an awesome squishy red chair....we have to wait until October 15th to get them:( I want them now...

Oh, M made a knitting funny last night! I was mentioning that since we were going from a couch and love seat to just a couch I would like to get a big comfy chair or chaise lounge kind of thing too. I was having no luck finding one online and M slyly says, “Why don’t you just knit a chaise?” Hmmmm, there’s an idea! What do you think? Debbie Bliss Cashmerino superchunky? :)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Scarfy Love

As most of us knitters (and various other crafters) know, the holiday season is only 4 months away. This may seem like a long time to go, but for everyone who last year was knitting up to the point where they were wrapping their gift seconds after binding off, you know you can never start too early.

With this in mind, I have started my holiday knitting in August! I have a rather ambitious list that covers various family and loved ones. Mostly scarves, but scarves with more difficult patterns such as cables. The dilemma I'm encountering is whether to blog about these projects. While the persons for whom the knitted objects are intended may read my blog, would they ever know the project is for them until they unwrap them at the holidays? So, I've come to the decision to show pictures of the gifts I'm working on. So, without further ado, here's the first Holiday 2005 finished gift!

This is the Midwest Moonlight Scarf from the book Scarf Style. I used 4 skeins of KnitPicks Elegance in Cornflower. I really love this scarf. When I first saw the pattern in the book, I was not too impressed, but then I saw pictures online of finished ones in various colors and yarns, I thought I'd give it a try. I did an extra 3 or so repeats (I like scarves long) and then after I bound off I was afraid it would be too short! However, the Elegance washed beautifully and blocked out to a terrific length. It also became even softer! I highly recommend this yarn.

My current gift project is an Irish Hiking Scarf in Brooks Farm Four Play which is a silk and wool blend yarn. I am having a great time knitting this pattern. It is so simple, but creates a beautiful design. I've been using this project as practice for cabling without a cable needle and I'm getting rather good at it now! The Brooks Farm yarn is lovely to work with and I look forward to knitting up more of it.

Even though I have a holiday knitting list a mile long, I have fallen in love with the Eris pattern and began swatching last night. To the right are the swatches that were done on 3 needles sizes (4, 5, and 6) and washed, just like Leslye Soloman said to in her class at Stitches. I want this cardigan to fit perfectly! This lovely and detailed pattern was designed by the same wonderful designer as the beautiful Rogue. I am working with KnitPicks Merino Style in Nutmeg. (The picture is not showing the color exactly, it is a warmer more nutmeg-like color in real life). I feel very grown up using such a neutral color. I know it will show the cables off beautifully! I am a little scared of this (40 page!!) pattern, but I want the cardigan so badly I know I'll persevere! I've joined the knitalong (button on the sidebar) and if I get stuck, I'll know where to go for help.

In wow this took a really long time news -- The Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkaban Gryffindor Scarf is done! It came out great (sooooo loooooong) and M has already claimed it as his own. Now I can begin my Ravenclaw scarf! (For those that care, the yarn is Bernat Satin -- yes! Acrylic! I know it's awful, but it's cheap, the color is right, and it's done!)

And finally, here is a gratuitous cat picture I call Laska with Alpaca....

Smober Update:
36 days, 18 hours, 2 minutes and 46 seconds since we quit smoking!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Stitches Midwest 2005!

This weekend was Stitches Midwest 2005 in Rosemont, IL. I had the pleasure of taking 3 classes and I did some serious damage in the Market.

Saturday morning was my first class. After a quick stop at the nearest Starbucks (Venti Skim No Foam Latte), I made my way on to the expressway heading toward Yarn! I was a little nervous/hesitant -- I would be going to the conference alone and I didn't know what to expect. As I drove I began to get excited and soon I was pulling in to pay my $11 parking fee(!) at the convention center.

My first class was "Design Your Dream Sweater" with Leslye Solomon. Of course the first thing I realized when I walked in to the quiet classroom where a handful of women were knitting -- I forgot to bring anything to knit! So, I read the registration packet very thoroughly until more people arrived and class began. What a great class! First of all, I met Jon of coloradoknits -- a blogger celebrity! He and I sat next to each other and chatted a bit before Leslye started. He's very funny (as you can tell from his blog) and I was happy to get a chance to meet him as we would have two more classes together. So, Leslye started the class and it was wonderful! I learned a lot about sweater construction and she also impressed upon us the importance of not only making a swatch, but washing it, too -- she had some terrifying examples to show us of what can happen if you don't wash your swatch first. Very enlightening. My only complaint about this class was that it was too short! It could have easily been a few hours longer.

So, on to the Market! I was very excited about the Market. Months ago, when I registered, I took my birthday money and hid it away -- saving it for this weekend. That was to be my budget for Stitches. I had good intentions. I really planned on being economical. Really. So I walked into the gigantic room filled with knitters, fiber, color, noise...I started a slow walk around and almost immediately ran into Jen and Kara from my knitting group! They had already been shopping and Jen showed me the awesome yarns she had picked out. As we were headed in different directions, I continued on. For the first hour I bought nothing. I swear! I was almost hesitant to buy. I had a money burning a hole in my pocket, but I was being cagey about what to spend it on. But then, then I found Malabrigo (a weakness of mine...only rivaled by chocolate and coffee). It was in colors I had not seen before...it was glorious....it was like colorful cotton candy...it was well-priced....it had to be mine! I picked out two colorways -- Little Lovely (deep pinks) and Melilla (pinks, greens) and then added the cutest little tape measure to the pile.

My first purchase was completed. That was easy....and then the dam broke! I couldn't stop myself after that moment. And my yarn stash will never be the same :)

Next booth, I found two colorways of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn that I had been eyeing online. They are even prettier in person -- Gray's Corner and Embers. I also picked out a beautiful deep red sock yarn from Mountain Colors. Then the next booth, a little more Lorna's Laces leapt out at me -- this time in one of their new colors, Safari.

Then I circled back (like a shark?) to the pretty fibers I had passed up previously...Let's just say that I am officially, completely smitten with Brooks Farm Yarns -- amazing colors and textures! But, at that time, I left empty handed.....

At this point I realized I had very little time left before my next class and I hadn't eaten lunch yet! I had to decide between food and shopping....So, I found a great sale on more sock yarn (I love to knit socks!) in some great colors.

Then I went to my next class: "Learn to Knit Cables" with Edie Eckman. Ok, here's the deal with this class. I know how to knit cables. I've cabled on a couple projects before. I thought this class would teach me a bit more and maybe I'd learn how to cable without a cable needle. Well, this class was very very basic. Edie was very nice, but essentially what she did was talked briefly about what cables are and then gave us some practice cable charts to work from which we did for 3 hours! Luckily, Jon was in this class and we chatted and competed to see who was faster -- that would be me :) (just kidding, Jon)! Overall, I think I do understand cables a little better now, but if I had it to do over again, I would not sign up for this class.

Back in to the market -- this time I did not leave Brooks Farm Yarns without acquiring some of their beautiful silky yarn!At this point my stomach insisted I had to leave so that I could go home and eat dinner -- so I left for the day.

Sunday a.m. another trip to Starbucks. This time driving to Stitches, I was not nervous, I was a little sad that the conference was almost over. I had been looking forward to this event since April and now it was just a few hours away from being over....and I had spent all my cash:(

My third and final class was "Sweater Finishing" with Leslye Solomon. Fantabulous class! Just like her design class, my only complaint is that I wish it had been longer. Again, Jon was there and so was Claire, from my knitting group. Jon mocked my cotton-ease yarn I used for my sample (we were told to use crappy yarn). I touched it to his arm and he did not recoil and hiss, so I think he was just being melodramatic:) I loved this class! Leslye taught us so many things. I think my mattress seaming will finally look decent now. She also showed us different grafting techniques -- I had no idea you could do a modified kitchener stitch using waste yarn....Wow!

So....the last class was over and I headed into the market with Claire. I wanted to check out a fair isle booth Jon had mentioned so we headed over. I picked out a cute hat pattern and yarn after having the seller/knitter assure me that I could knit fair isle:)

Claire and I went different directions at this time -- We ran into each other a couple more times in the next hour or so-- it looked like she was having a great time and had found some gorgeous ribbon yarn! I continued on to my beloved -- Brooks Farm Yarns -- Ah, Brooks Farm, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways! I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach... Again, I did not leave empty-handed...I owe my mom a bit of money since I used her credit card Mom: If you are reading this, I'll be sending you a check:) Such Beautiful Yarn!

I then found a book on aran and fair isle knitting -- Perfect! I also found a few really nice patterns for lace shawls (I've been wanting to try my hand at lace) and a couple sock patterns.

All in all, I may have gone a little overboard, but the way I justify it (and I can justify anything) is that most of the purchases were made with my birthday money. Anything that wasn't is most likely going to end up as a holiday gift for the loved ones in my life. So....there! Justification! And really, how often does Stitches Midwest happen? Once a year! That's it! So, I think my massive stash enhancement is completely justified. Oh, and the final, most awesome justification -- This weekend was my one month smoke-free anniversary -- M and I have been smober for over a month! Wow! If that doesn't justify a yarn binge, what does? :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Oh Yeah! Stitches!

I am so excited about Stitches! Only a couple more days until it's here! I'm taking 3 classes (Design your dream sweater, learn to knit cables, and sweater finishing). I also have money that I squirreled away over the last 4 months to spend at the Market. I am probably just as excited about the shopping as I am the classes:)

Went to my knitting group last night and had a wonderful time again. I just really enjoy the company of all the ladies that are in the group and love the conversations (and yarn). Kathy (of Irisheyes Knitting blog) was so sweet and brought yummy cookie dough to celebrate my quitting smoking. It was delicious! Thanks, Kathy:) I also got to meet Claire who was working on the chemo cap from Knitty -- she is doing a beautiful job and I was pleased to find out she will be in the sweater finishing class at Stitches. The rest of the women are all planning on doing some serious damage at the Market -- it would be fun to run into them there.

I worked on my neverending Harry Potter scarf again at last night's meeting and then kept knitting on it after I got home. I continued with it this evening and I am pleased to announce I completed the final set of "trapped bars" which means I only have 27 more rows to knit before I bind off! Hooray! After 8 months I can finish it at last and start the next one:) Ravenclaw or Slytherin....Hmmmmmmm.

I signed up for Secret Pal Six tonight -- for those that don't know, it is kind of like Secret Santa from when we were in grade school. You get a name of a knitter to "spoil" over 3 months and someone else gets your name. During those 3 months you secretly send little notes and presents. I think it will be a lot of fun and I look forward to meeting someone new. I had wanted to do this before, but you have to have a blog....well, now I've got one!

So, not sure if I'll post again before Stitches, but expect a full report early next week!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Stash Enhancement

A couple days ago I got my most recent acquisitions from KnitPicks. This was a purchase made in celebration of quitting smoking (as of today, 22 days, 17 hours smoke-free!). I spent less on the following massive amount of yarn than I would have spent on cigarettes. Is there really a choice? I love yarn! (and cookies)

KnitPicks Merino in Pine -- will most likely become a scarf....

KnitPicks Andean Silk in Barn Red -- incredibly soft! I can't believe I waited so long to try this stuff. Can't wait to knit it up.

KnitPicks Elegance in Cornflower -- also super soft. Currently being knit into a lovely scarf. As a side note here....my cats generally don't eat yarn, but I am still somewhat careful about leaving it laying about. Well, the other night I forgot to put up the scarf I'm working on with this yarn and all I know is that one of the kitties must love Alpaca! Nibbles everywhere! Completely separted the scarf from the skein (leaving only a 4 inch tail to deal with)! Chewed off the cast-on tail! So, normally I would be more concerned with their health, but I've been keeping my eye on them and they are all healthy (and well-fed on my gorgeous yarn). So, I've just moved on to being angry at them for messing with my work in progress -- darn furballs!

KnitPicks Andean Silk in Olive -- can you guess what this will be? Yep! A scarf:)

KnitPicks Sock Garden Hollyberry -- so glad I ordered this when I did. I went online to possibly buy some more and this colorway is sold out! I'm not sure if this will be socks or mittens....what do you all think?

Two Silver Lionbrand Glitterspun, two bronze Lionbrand Glitterspun -- both for future Harry Potter scarves and then lots of pearl cotton to make little Harry Potter scarf bookmarks! So cute!

Gorgeous roses M bought me today while we were grocery shopping!

The other half of the roses with Laska taking a moment from her busy schedule to stop and smell them :)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bad, Blogger, Bad!

I feel bad that I haven't updated my blog in over a week! So much has been happening, though. M and I went to our hometown for the weekend. We had a wonderful time visiting family and friends. Luckily, there was a break in the weather and it felt almost like spring!

So, Monday was my first day at my new job. I'm really enjoying it so far and I'm thrilled to find out I get benefits! Woohoo! Also, it is so nice that M and I can see each other at lunch. Speaking of M, his first publication in Chemistry was released this week. I am so proud of him! We celebrated by going to Dave's Italian Kitchen (we had the Spaghetti Diablo -- so spicy and delicious) and then we picked out a couple flavors of Ben and Jerry's (I went with Dublin Mudslide and M had Oatmeal Cookie -- yum!).

Hmmm, what else....oh yeah, the reason there are no pictures this entry is because we are in the process of switching over to a new computer -- well, new to us. M's brother recently moved out of the country and couldn't take his spiffy computer with him, so we've acquired it. It is fantastic! Huge monitor, fast processor -- how did we last so long with the old one? However, the drawback to having a new computer is transfering everything from the old 'puter to the new one....I'm hoping to take care of that this weekend and then I'll get some pictures up.

For the knitting front....I am avoiding seaming my Lucy Lu cardigan....I finished one ribbed sock and started the second one....I just started a scarf from the book Scarf Style -- Midwest Moonlight. I'm knitting it in KnitPicks Elegance in a lovely blue color (cornflower). I'm thinking this may be the official beginning of Holiday Knitting 2005 -- only 4 months to go! :)

On the reading front....I finished The Historian by Kostova. Fascinating read -- Not nearly as fast paced as Da Vinci Code (which it has been compared to), but definitely a worthwhile read for anyone interested in history and vampires. I also read Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton. This was a very quick and satisfying read. Very entertaining, fluffy murder mystery with knitting! I'm looking forward to the next book in the series coming out this fall (I can't wait for autumn weather, either). I am now reading Meg: Primal Waters by Alten -- I'm such a sucker for pulpy novels about Megaladons (huge prehistoric sharks:) )

Well, I think that completes this update...Oh yeah, M and I are still non-smokers! It's been 19 days and 23 hours! Wow! And probably 10 pounds too:) Oh well, as long as this is the final quit, I can tackle weight loss later -- I have a lot of practice at that!