Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

A Knitter's Trick or Treat

Look what arrived at my LYS yesterday....

Sharon Miller makes my heart go pitter-patter, and I've been longing for these books for a very, very long time.

A special thank you goes to Joan at Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, who made this dream come true for me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Because Scarves Always Fit

Tudor Grace, by Anne Hanson of Knit Spot

Yarn: Pagewood Farms

Needles: US 5, ancient blue aluminum straights(!)

Size:10.5x48 inches

Modifications: I wound up doing about 60 repeats of the pattern instead of 43

Notes: This has been really tricky yarn to photograph. To give you an idea of how off it is, the shirt I'm wearing in the picture above is actually a true purple. The colors in the yarn are true primary colors and really do look like they cam straight out of a crayon box.

I love this new scarf! It did exactly what I wanted it to do - which was to provide a quick knit to help me clear the air between big projects. While I love complicated lace pieces, I also love simple patterns with easily memorized repeats. Quite simply, this was a joy to knit!

(Links to come....I'm on my way to a playdate with my BKB.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good News, Bad News

The Green Woman and I took Forestry outside today for a bit of a photo shoot. As we stood back and gazed at her, we both marveled at how beautiful this sweater truly is.

The color is a perfect heathered brown - appropriately named 'ember' - that shifts and glows in different lights with subtle reds, browns, yellows and greens.

The design is scrumptious. There are enough cables for interest, but not so many that it feels busy, and the two sides perfectly mirror each other. The ribbing around the collar and bands is beautifully balanced, and short rows behind the neck make the back sit perfectly across the neck. The shaping, which I adjusted ever so slightly up because I am short-waisted, lines up perfectly with my natural curves. We agreed that it was the perfect sweater for me.

Too bad it doesn't fit. (We both stuck our tongues out after we were done admiring it.) Somewhere along the line, my measurements or my math went wrong, and the resulting sweater is about two sizes too small. I haven't quite decided yet if I was unconsciously knitting for the size I want to be or if I made a simple knitting error.

For now, Forestry will be tucked away in my drawers. I just don't have the heart to frog this one just yet, and I don't know if I ever will.

The Green Woman thinks I should keep her as incentive.

We shall see.

Project Details:
Pattern: Forestry (Ravelry Link) by Veronik Avery, Fall 2008 Vogue Knitting
Yarn: Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool, Embers
Needles: Addi Turbo, US sizes 3 & 6
Modifications: regauged the project (argh), moved the waist shaping up one inch for a better fit.
Things I Wish I Had Done: found a yarn in the right gauge, knit it in the right size, made the collar wider for a deeper shawl collar
September 3 - October 24, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Monday List

Last Week's Wrap-Up:

1. I did indeed clear out my workbasket! The clogs are drying in my bathroom, Forestry is drying in the living room (although one of the pets used it as a bed last night...) and my new socks are ready to wear today

2. The socks are finished, but I bit off a bit more than I could chew with my choice of a second project to finish by selecting MS4. Whoops.

3. Yes, I started work on the blue merino...but I didn't get as much done as I would have liked.

4. No, I didn't do my writing exercises.

5. Yes, my Princess and I got back to work on her room - despite round two of kindergarten adjustment issues.

6. Ack! I only have one costume finished!

And This week's List:

1. The Princess's Halloween costume needs to be done ASAP. I'm going shopping this morning to pick up the rest of the materials I need, and will make it my top priority. My husband has the week off - his annual vacation coincides with his favorite holiday and our anniversary - and I'm going to have him help with the Pixie if I need it.

2. Because of my husband's vacation, our anniversary, and Halloween, this is not going to be a week for Getting Things Done. Ergo, I'm going to keep my expectations light. In the knitting department, I would like to finish my Tudor Grace scarf and get some more work done on MS4. IF I have time - and that's a big IF - than I will get back to work on the Pixie's sweater. and/or cast on for my husband's Christmas cardigan.

3. A simple knitting goal - I need to take measurements from my family f0r Christmas projects.

4. Along that line, I have been working on my Christmas gift list, and I would like to finalize my plans this week. I like to get things done early! (I used to work at FAO Schwarz. Nothing makes you prepare early like working at a crazy toy store during Christmas time.)

5. I need to reclaim as much of my sleeping schedule as possible. 9:30 to 5:30 works best for me, but I've slipped for a variety of reasons. I'm not suffering from it yet, but I know that if I don't get it straightened out soon than I'm going to start noticing it.

6. Again - because of Halloween, our anniversary and my husband's vacation - this is not going to be such a great week in terms of dieting. My weight did start to come down last week, and I don't want to totally ruin it this week, so it's very, very important for me to stick to the core plan as closely as possible. We are planning on eating out three times - all special occasion meals that we have every year - and I'm going to allow myself to fully enjoy those occasions. In order to do that, I have to eat core foods the rest of the week!

7. Likewise, I have to get busy on the Cameron book.

8. Most of the grandparents are coming for Halloween, which means that we need to do some cleaning this week. We keep the house pretty tidy, but it needs a thorough scour. If we have time, we need to work on the girls' rooms, too. I would like to start our pre-Christmas clean out, especially since my husband is going to do a Salvation Army run this week.

9. Continue on with two new things in my journal - a daily to-do list and a bedtime gratitude list. The first has been really helping me to get things done this week, and the second just makes me feel good.

10. Have fun! We have a lot of great things happening this week, and I want to enjoy them!

Happy Monday Everyone! Have a Great Week!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inspiration Sunday - Part 2

Even BETTER - my small fiber stash. Complete control of the project from start to finish, and endless possibility all in one.
(Not pictured is a copy paper box full of llama roving and 4 llama fleeces in the basement.)

Inspiration Sunday - Part 1

The Stash - Infinite possibility.

Clockwise from the top right:
  1. Ribbon Yarn
  2. Knitting Bag
  3. Leftovers
  4. Box of sweater yarn
  5. Box of sock and laceweight yarn
  6. Basket of queued project yarn
  7. Workbasket

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Socktober Perfection

Pattern: Ann Budd's instructions in The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Size: Custom fit to my foot
Gauge: about 9.5 stitches/inch
Details: 68 stitches around, 18 rows 2x2 rib, 50 rows leg, 54 rows foot
Yarn: Mountain Colors Barefoot, color Goldrush
Source: Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe
Needles: 2.25 MM Knit Picks Harmony
Comments: Since this is the first pair I've made for myself with 2.25 mm needles instead of 2.0 mm needles I had to work a bit on the foot length. I did one sock at 53 rows and the second at 55. To be honest, 54 would be perfect, but I only wanted to redo 1 toe, so I set this pair at 55. For my next pair, the only change I"ll make is to do the ribbing at 72 stitches for just a smidge of extra room.
Sorry for the lack of links! I'll try to get back to them later, but I need to get ready for a 4-hour knitting class I'm teaching this afternoon.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I've had a rough couple of days. Nothing terrible - just lots of little things which have gone ridiculously wrong. Rather than sitting around and feeling sorry for myself, or worrying about things I can't fix, I thought I would create a list of the things I am grateful for. It feels like the right thing to do.
  1. I am rich in my family. I have a husband who loves me and wonderful children who are bright, happy and healthy.
  2. I am blessed with many talents - not the least of which are the abilities of my hands to create something out of very little.
  3. For the first time in many, many years, I am surrounded by girlfriends who give as much as they take, or maybe they give more.
  4. Plus, our relationships with our college friends continue to grow and sometimes they've grown in surprisingly beautiful ways.
  5. We have a beautiful home that serves our needs perfectly.
  6. hair looks great!
  7. My kids have wonderful Halloween costumes made from odds and ends we had at home and two cast-off flower girl dresses. They're far better than anything from the store.
  8. I don't have to wear store-bought socks anymore. (Except for when I go running or walking.)
  9. We've had a beautiful couple of months - with weather so mild that we haven't had to use the ac or heat. I truly love this time of year.
  10. Christmas is coming!
  11. I have the capability to create beauty in my life - be it glittering Christmas ornaments or handknit lace.
  12. Princess has possibly the best kindergarten teacher in one of the best schools in our town.
  13. Pixie has friends her own age, and has become more outgoing than I expected her to be.
  14. My husband has a beard right now. He looks very handsome indeed when he's got a beard!
  15. Hard as it is sometimes, I know we made the right decision for me to stay home with the kids. Our family is better off for it.
  16. I have a lot of support in the organizations I belong to - church, guild and PEO - with people whom I respect and love in each group.
  17. My morning journaling ritual now includes a scented soy candle, Sun Salutations and an entire hour to myself. It is a beautiful thing - and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

There now...I do feel better!

Reverting To Type

I've always thought this child was a little bit fey....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My New Knitting Bag

First, an apology. I had intended to write this post shortly after I received my new bag - for reasons that will soon become clear. I was a bit overwhelmed by the gift, and sadly - and inexcusably - procrastinated. Yesterday I received an email from a friend who had noticed the bag in our family photos at the pumpkin patch...and so here I am today.

Shortly after I wrote this post about the problem with my knitting bag, I walked into Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe and discovered a brand new display of Namaste Bags from the Cali Collection. I was instantly smitten. I spoke with both my husband and my BKB extensively after thoroughly going over both styles - the Newport and the Laguna - and we all agreed that the Newport (which was smaller) was probably the bag I needed. My husband told me to go ahead and buy one....but I just couldn't justify it. A knitting bag is, after all, a luxury....and mine was perfectly serviceable if way too big and not at all practical for daily use.

Then came the great closet clean out. You may remember that I started that process by gifting a sweater that I had made for myself to my BKB, Jenn. I was overjoyed that the sweater had found its true home, and I was relieved to have that symbol of dietary failure out of the house. I know a lot of people don't understand this, but I am the type of knitter who just wants to know that her knits are being used and loved. I am also a process knitter who's not so attached to the finished project - so if it finds a home with someone who loves and uses it, I'm happy. In this case I was VERY happy because it went to one of my closest friends, who is also a knitter. A couple of weeks later, Jenn and I agreed to meet at Hillcreek during our morning errands. I walked in to find that they had received a second shipment of bags with new colors...and the delighted squeals began. I had just about decided to go ahead and buy a bag with my class earnings, and it seemed like Jenn was going to be a great enabler for this plan. She gently nudged me to make a final decision on the style and color I wanted. It took a while. (Which is really unlike me....but I liked so many of them!) Once it was decided, Jenn grabbed the bag and took it to the register. What I didn't know was that she had decided to give me a special gift too....and the yarn shop was in on it. The whole thing was done before I had time to protest. Tears started to flow...and I have to admit to being rather shell-shocked for the rest of the day.

My bag is indeed big enough to hold an entire adult sweater or several smaller projects. When full it actually weighs about the same as my Amy Butler bag does when empty. (How sad is that...) Plus, it's gorgeous enough that it can be used as a purse in all situations - which allows me to truly take my knitting everywhere now. I do have one rule, and that is that I must be able to easily close the bag before I leave the house so that I don't over stuff it. So far, that's not been a problem at all. (And my acupuncturist is thrilled with my new, 'reasonable' bag...)

Thank You Jenn, for my wonderful bag...and for being such a great friend! It's been a long while since I had such a great friend, and I am very glad to have you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Pumpkin Patch

Without further ado, I present our family's sixth annual trip to Peach Tree Farm.First we went on a hayride....Where we showed some family love.The girls then tested the old paddy wagon. We thought this was a more appropriate seat for them. Our Princess couldn't get enough of the hay maze. Then we fed some goats. Pixie was finally old enough to appreciate the fun. Princess is an old pro. I had to get in on the act. Couldn't help it...goats are cute!The girls were fascinated by the photo cutouts.
We had to stop at every one of them.
Granted, my girls were a perfect subject...
Then we visited the pumpkin patches, where pumpkin sitting became the game of the day.
Until we found something more interesting to sit on.
It was finally time to pick out our pumpkins. Pixie was a bit overwhelmed.
Princess tried really hard to get us to take home one of the giants.
We ended up with a last quick visit to more livestock - pigs this time.
The girls were allowed to go sit with the bunnies, which could possibly have been the highlight of their day.
We love Peach Tree Farm.....
And we love these happy faces!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Starting By Finishing

Socks fit for a princess, completed in the wee hours this morning.
Pattern: My basic pattern, a la Ann Budd
Yarn: Koigu which has also been used for fingerless mitts for my girl.
Details: 60 stitches around, 45 rows of 2x2 rib in the cuff, 40 rows in the foot
October 7 - October 20, 2008

After a quick photo shoot, The Princess got dressed and left for school. She was quite pleased with her new socks!

And no, this doesn't count towards the couple of things I want to finish this week. That would be too easy.

The Monday List

I'll be honest. I was rather out of sorts last week - we'll blame it on the moon - and didn't manage to accomplish a whole lot from my list. I think we'll just go ahead and start fresh with a new list, rather than start with a summery of last week.

1. Empty out the work in my finishing basket - which still includes both Forestry and the clogs that my husband knit for me. Neither one will take a lot of work, and I will feel much better about my knitting self once I get them done.
2. Over the last few months, I've been moving towards a place where I have fewer and fewer projects on the needles at once. (The Green Woman is a tad disgusted, but even she admits I'm more productive when I'm more focused.) I would like to eventually be the sort of knitter who has no more than two or three WIP's - perhaps a sweater, a pair of socks and some lace. To that end, this week I would like to try to finish up two more projects. I'm not going to be specific because you just never know which projects are going to draw your interest until you sit down with the workbasket....
3. My gorgeous Lendrum became very excited by my spinning/knitting program last Thursday, and is eagerly awaiting her next spinning project. She wants to play with my blue merino, and so this week I need to sit down and sample some of it so that I can figure out exactly how I want to spin it. Yipee!
4. Last week I began to read a new book on dieting and health. Now, I don't often read self-help or advice books because I think most of them are either junk or someone's idea of retooled common sense. However, this particular book - The Writing Diet: Write Yourself the Right-Size - is by Julia Cameron, the queen of creative development, and when I came across it during a random Amazon search, I was intrigued. My goal for this week is to start working through the exercises in the second half of the book.
5. The Princess and I need to get back to work on her room.
6. I've worked out my plan for the girls' Halloween Costumes, and I would like to have them finished by the end of the week. The Princess is going to be Sleeping Beauty, which will involve just a little bit of retooling on an old flower girl dress of hers. (We turned it into a Belle dress last year.) Pixie is going to be Tinkerbell, and I likewise will also be using the tutu I made her this summer. No store-bought costumes for us!

I think I'm going to leave this week's list a bit shorter than usual. I need to recoup from last week before I start pushing myself again!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Inspiration Sunday

The view from my sewing desk in our bedroom. I complain a fair amount about not having an office anymore, but I do love this view. It makes it worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cleansing the Palette

I'm really not sulking. I had a bit of a moment yesterday afternoon, but by the time I went to bed I was feeling much better about Forestry. I'm going to try to complete the finish work tomorrow. Until it is washed and blocked I'm going to withhold judgement. In the meantime, I needed something small, simple and colorful to cleanse the palette. This little skein of Pagewood Farm Alyeska (Ravelry Link) has been waiting patiently in my stash for a special project. After a long search, I finally settled on Tudor Grace by Anne Hanson. It has enough of a pattern to make it fun to knit - but the pattern repeat is easily memorized and works well for handpainted yarns. I cast on last night at my guild meeting, and have been working on it all day long. It feels as if I'm taking a knitting vacation!I have a few other new things to share, starting with a skein of the original Opal Tiger yarn. I purchased this from my friend Shelda, who is (perhaps) doing a bit of destashing. It came home with me last night after our guild meeting, and I am going to use it as a bribe to convince my husband to get to work on his own socks! I fess up to having forgotten that I had made arrangements with Shelda to buy this yarn, and so when she arrived at our meeting and handed it to me I had one of those wonderful, happy-day yarn moments!
I was so giddy on Sunday to have finished all of the knitting on Forestry that I purchased a reward skein of Dream in Color Baby. It's very rare anymore for me to randomly buy yarn without a specific project in mind. Fortunatly, I found enough quarters in my change jar to splurge just this once! To be honest, I'd not been that impressed with the way that DIC's colors have translated into their laceweight...but then this skein arrived at Hillcreek. It was love at first sight!
I've actually had this batch of Cascade 220 for a month or so now, but I forgot to blog about it. This was purchased with earnings from my last class, and is intended for a February Lady Sweater. I pushed myself a little bit with the color choice as purple is normally not a color you find in my wardrobe. Change is good, though, and I think this was a wise choice. Likewise, I'm not normally one to follow a trend in knitting. I have no interest, for example, in ever knitting a Clapotis. I'm firmly blaming this on Jenn's fabulous February Lady Sweater, which I was able to try on. Margene's pictures of hers sealed my fate. Drat them both. (She says with a giggle.)
Finally, here is my handspun alpaca. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this yarn. Several of you have asked me what I plan on doing with it, and the simple answer is that I just don't know yet. For now, it's been carefully tucked away in a safe place so that I can dream happy dreams of what it should become.

PS. Please forgive me if there are any spelling errors. For some reason, blogger won't do the spell check this evening, and I want to go ahead and get it posted.