Thursday, May 31, 2007

Parting shots

I couldn't leave on vacation without posting a little knitting content and pics, now could I?

Here's a little present I made up to take to someone on my trip. It's a flower petal face cloth from the book, Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick, knit up in rose-colored Crystal Palace chenille. (This book is a few years old, but I still love knitting projects from it.) I wrapped the petals of the cloth up and around a bottle of shower gel, and tied with a ribbon. The shape it formed sort of reminds me of a vintage perfume bottle. It looks cute from the top, also---The bunched petals look like a bloom, and the bottle lid forms a flower center.

Here's a dishcloth I started while on the road for the LYS Tour.

I love the feel of garter stitch dischloths---very cushy and soft! This pattern breaks up the pooling that sometimes happens with the variegated cotton as well. It's really a fun and quick knit and I love the picot edges. Making those picots is sort of addictive!

The pattern is called "Nubbins Dishcloth" and can be found here. This one is knit from SnC in the Summerset colorway. I love the colors---very summery!

I was out in my back "yard" (a rim of about 6 feet around the perimeter of my townhouse...) this morning, and there is a fabulous and huge rhodedendron bush that displays flowers up over the fence. I don't know how old this rhody is, but it is seriously about the size of a VW Beetle, and the flowers are about the size of my head! The blooms are starting to fade, but it was such a sunny morning, I had to get a couple of pics....

Have a great weekend!! :)

Surf's Up, Baby!

In less than two days, I leave for a fabulous week of sun, surf and sand in my home town! I can smell the fresh, salty air already!! Huntington Beach was a funky little beach town when I was growing up, with lots of surf shops, smoothie & sandwich places, T-shirt shops, etc.

My high school was 1/4-mile from the beach, and we used to walk to the beach every day after summer school. Our favorite place to hang out on the beach was next to the HB pier, where there was always lots of great surfing to watch and everyone I knew hung out there (sort of like the mall these days, I guess...). We'd lay out on our huge towels, sunbathe, watch all the people, swim in the fresh, cool ocean, watch the surfers, and buy "strips" and a coke from a snack shack nearby. I can't believe that was so many years ago....I can remember it all like it was yesterday!

My, things have changed over the years---and not all for the good, I'm afraid. As with all good things, progress occurs and the place you once knew as home is no longer recognizable. There are huge hotels and townhouses on PCH where the Golden Bear club and the "head shop" (anyone remember those?) once were. (Just for the record, I never set foot inside, and have NO idea what they sold there, or what a hash pipe or a bong even IS!) Jack's Surf Shop is still there--they managed to survive the wrecking ball through the years---but it looks more like an Old N*vy store than the funky surf shop it once was.

Main Street in HB is now crowded with restaurants, bars and tourists. I was shocked the first time I went back after most of the major changes---but the pier, the gorgeous sparkling ocean and the beach are all still there, so it still feels like home to me. Unfortunately, my family no longer lives there, so now I must pay to stay where I grew up.

After many visits of staying someplace else less costly and driving to the beach for the day or an evening pier walk, we decided to stay at the place that is now closest to the HB pier, right on the corner of PCH and Main Street. One thing about getting old is, though my once cute bikini body has now been replaced with something larger I'd prefer not to talk about, fortunately my resources have grown as well. So yes, just like swarming tourists in my own home town, cute hubby and I will be staying here!

Not our usual level of vacation digs, to be sure. But we decided that we would like a little comfort and convenience this time around---and it is our vacation. And the best part is, the hotel is directly across the street from my old favorite beach location and I can go out and just take a stroll at sunset on the pier any time I want!! No drive to get there and no dreaded hunt for parking! I'm smelling fresh ocean air and enjoying this vacation already! Can you tell I can't wait to get there?!

So I'll be thinking about all of you "inlanders" as I watch the surfers, walk the pier and sit and knit on the beach! For one week, I'll be a local again.....I guess you can take the girl away from the beach, but you can't take the beach away from the girl! :) You can, of course, add a little knitting to the picture....

Now, can we talk about borrowing back that bikini body for the week...?

>^..^< ..........."Hang ten!" (Techno-cat)

>^oo^<.........."Hang twelve!" (Toe-cat)

>^--^<......."I'm catching some nappage, dudes---don't wake me up" (chief minion-cat)

Monday, May 28, 2007

More flash, FO and a yarn volcano

I guess it's safe to go ahead and flash the rest of the stash from the LYS tour last weekend. I have fully talked myself out of all of the guilt I acquired along with the yarn, and all acquisitions have been taken through the full buying justification process and properly placed in their designated areas amongst the rest of the stash.
Here are the new sock mountain acquisitions. It seems I had a color scheme on the brain while picking some of these, but I have an explanation...

I looked for Panda Cotton in the above colorway at every store I went to last weekend---that was 20 of them, in case you forgot--with no luck. At around store 18 (I'm not sure--that day is a little hazy...), I found the ShiBui sock yarn in the upper right corner of the picture. I was immediately mesmerized and had to have it, thus relieving some of my longing for the Panda cotton color I couldn't find earlier. You know where this is leading, right? Immediately after purchasing ShiBui yarn in same color family, I then came across the Panda cotton pictured above in the colorway I had been seeking, only after already purchasing the ShiBui at a prior store. So did I skip the Panda? Of course not, don't be ridiculous. I was in full road and yarn store delirium by then, so the resistance shields were in full down position. Oh is wool, and the other cotton, after all...

Joining the sock acquisition party picture is two skeins of Tofutsies on the upper left, and two colors of MegaBoot Stretch that I have been eyeing for a long time. The Duet yarn in the front is one of my favorites---the color just looks so retro to me, sort of like a 50's bowling team shirt, or those tri-color licorice candies that they sell in the bulk bins at the market. Anyway, those colors with pink heels and toes---too cute!

Here is the rest of what I acquired---mostly very inexpensive and to be used for fun, small projects for the summer....

The Fixation is to make some cute headbands, and the Euroflax is to make another hand towel to make a set with the one I've been working on. The DK cotton is for some little sachet bags, and the Noro is to make a small handbag. Okay, so that's ALL of it. Not so bad. Not at all.

I also completed the scarf for my ISE4 pal. Here is it all washed, blocked and smelling like lavender...

It came out quite nicely for my first lacy project. I must say that the blocking would have been much easier if I had some blocking wires, but I managed with some extra fussing and attention to get the scarf to block out nicely. It was made with Mountain Colors merino ribbon in the Marias Falls colorway, in a simple feather and fan pattern. The actual colors are closer to the above picture. I hope my pal likes it.

The only change I made from a traditional f&f pattern was that instead of one continuous length, I knit it in two identical halves and connected them at the center with a 3-needle bind off. It actually worked out very well, and I achieved what I wanted, which was for both ends to look the same.

And finally, remember the little ball winding disaster I mentioned a while back? Well, here's the rest of the story...I wanted to wind my single skein of Tofutsies into equal cakes so I could knit the socks two at once and have separate skeins to do so. So I wound the yarn, carefully measuring on my digital scale as I went along to try to get two fairly even yarn cakes. However, despite my best efforts, this is what I got....

WTF??!! Obviously, one of these things is not like the other. Even after my careful weighing and winding, one cake weighs 57 grams, and the other 42 grams. I used the same exact method of weighing in making the ISE4 scarf above, and all turned out fine. And to add to the insult, while winding the second half of the skein, the yarn launched itself off of the winder like a volcanic eruption (from the center) and landed in a tangled heap on the table. So besides two really uneven yarn cakes, add to the picture about an extra hour of detangling, unwinding and rewinding.....

I meant to cast on these socks about a week ago, but after the yarn betrayed me in such a fashion by being so obstinate, explosive and tangly, it was promptly placed into a ziploc to languish in punishment in the bottom of a knitting bag for a while. So take that, you mean ol' uneven-winding, exploding, all-tangly-like yarn!

I have recovered from the trauma now and will probably cast on for the socks soon. If you look for me, I'll be easy to find....I'll be the one with one whole sock and one toe-less sock made out of a great color of Tofutsies....If anyone can tell me what the hell I did wrong to get such a fraternal set of twins while winding this yarn, I'd be forever grateful. I certainly can't figure it out....However, until I do and in the meantime I have ordered one of these and will be utilizing it for all such pursuits from now on! When in doubt, throw more gadgets at the problem...

The upcoming week is going to be fun. On Wednesday, I get to attend a session where I am to be grilled like a barbequed wienie for a few excruciating hours about my clinical skills and knowledge, while at the same time trying to dazzle the hosts with my brilliant qualifications. I think they call it a job interview. Yuck.

There is a bright spot after that, though. On Saturday, I will be leaving for a weeklong vacation with cute husband at the beach in So. California. Yay! Not such good news for the poor minions, however. They will be spending their vacation being boarded in cages at the vet's office. Meeee-OW!

We haven't told them yet----they think they are going to the beach with us....

Thursday, May 24, 2007

LYS Tour Stash Flash!

Before I commence with the yarn pron display....I found out what a "Red Delicious" bag is when I went to pick up the prize I won in a drawing at Spin A Yarn yesterday....

I've seen these bags before, though not in this particular color combo. I keep staring at it trying to decide if I like it, or if it's so fugly only it's grandmother could love it. What do you think? It is a well-made and lined, large bag and will be great for toting some knitting around. Not something I would spend almost $100 for, but I appreciate winning it as a prize. By the way, this fabric is no longer listed on the website, so I guess that would make this bag "vintage."

Okay, now on to the serious business. I know you've been clamoring to see the extent of my excesses from the lost weekend of yarn gluttony, AKA The LYS Tour 2007. So without further ado I present to you, gorgeous stash acquisitions (and a few regular ones that I picked up along the way....):

Here's the top three fondle-worthy additions:

Fleece Artist Suri Blu, destined to become this wrap. It is BFL wool and alpaca, and incredibly soft, pastel-y and yummy....

(Also shown is Toebi, my trusty assistant...)

Next is some Sea Silk in a color that is hard to do justice to in a picture---sort of an ethereal-looking light green with pale blue combo, destined for a summer lace wrap...

If you are one of the two knitting people on the planet that have not felt this yarn, you must find some immediately and feel how soft and silky it is! I am starting on this wrap immediately, so I can take it to knit on vacation, and hopefully even wear it before winter sets in...(The Sea Silk is shown being inspected by the official Technocat, Mochi, who showed his approval by walking away disinterestedly immediately after this picture was taken....)

To round out the top three is the yarn that won the prize for "most money spent in one store" on the tour. Yes, that's right, five skeins of the infamous Socks That Rock! Not all of them are destined for socks---a few are to make other projects I have in mind....

(In case you are interested, the colors are : Little Bunny Foo-Foo, Nodding Violet, Footzy-Foo and Stormy Weather). I really tried to control myself, but when I saw some of those colors in person, and under the influence of road delirium....I couldn't be trusted. To my credit, I did put back a couple of skeins before I bought these---so I did good, right?!

There is still more stash to flash, sock yarn and small skein purchases, but I'll save those for another day. A girl can't be seen flashing everything at once, now can she?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Positive energy flow

My requests for crossed fingers and positive energy to be sent my way must be starting to work. I received an email from Spin a Yarn in Edmonds that I have won a prize from their drawing last weekend! The email said I have won the "Red Delicious Bag." I really have no idea what that is, but it's a prize and I won it!

So if you are one of those nice people out there who has been sending good wishes my way, please keep it coming until the big drawing! I'm not sure when that is going to be held, but hopefully it will be soon.

I'm finally beginning to feel like my back is no longer a car-seat-shaped pretzel. That was some serious road time in the car this past weekend. But I guess having a back that felt like crispy snack food for a few days was a small price to pay for the fun I had.

Yesterday was booty-unpacking and organizing day. It was quite the pile when gathered in one place, but I didn't suffer much anxiety when I saw it all---I guess that can wait until the credit card bill arrives... There is some seriously gorgeous stuff in that mass of yarniness, and I photographed all of it yesterday. Unfortunately I haven't uploaded them to my computer, so no pictures yet....sorry!

I realized while taking the pics that I purchased way more sock yarn than I thought (what a surprise...), so my poor sock stash basket is bursting and overflowing! I now own enough sock yarn to clothe the feet of a family of centipedes.

Keep the positive energy flow coming, y'all! I know it's helping and I still have high hopes for that LYS gift certificate! I'll let you know what the "Red Delicious Bag" is when I find out...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

LYS Tour - Day Three

Subtitle: OMG, I really made it to all 20 stores!!!

That's right! I made it to the final three stores on the tour list today, and finished 5 full hours before the official end! I had my doubts at a couple of points that I could get to all of them on time, but the fates were in my favor and all worked out to finish on time! After yesterday's marathon trip, I slept in a little this morning since I only had the final three stores to go to and they are all in the Seattle area. So I got all 20 of those stamps in my tour book and turned it in for the official drawing to win a $400 LYS gift certificate. Send some positive energy this way to help me win that drawing!

The three stores that were left to go to today are all stores I have been to many times and go to on a fairly regular basis. It was nice to have some time at each of these stores today to actually relax and spend some browsing time without having to rush off to the next one in a hurry!

Today's recap: 45 miles and three stores visited, in only a single county. A snap!

For the three days of the tour, approximately 400 miles traveled, which does not include the miles covered on water by the two ferry trips. If traveled in a straight line, that mileage could have put me two states away into Northern California! However, I doubt I would have been able to accumulate even a tiny portion of the yarn motherload acquired on my travels this weekend!

Here's the stores visited today, and their free patterns offered:
  • The Fiber Gallery, North Seattle - "Terra Bear," a felted teddy bear knit with Ecological Wool (no purchase here)
  • Hilltop Yarn, Seattle - Choice of four shop patterns (2 hats, a neck warmer and a kitty kick toy made with hemp) Did not purchase yarn for patterns, but got some Rowan DK cotton to make some beaded sachets, and some Shibui sock yarn in bright pink and lime green.
  • So Much Yarn, Seattle - Choice of top-down baby sweater, or a one-skein wrap made with a yarn that cost $50 for a single skein (so I passed on that one). I did purchase some Panda cotton in a color I've been searching for forever, and a skein of MegaBoot Stretch. (I know I bought some of that on the tour already, but I had a full punch card worth $20, and what better to spend it on than more sock yarn!

After that, I stopped again at VY&T on my way home, where I capped off the weekend with a skein of Sea Silk for a wrap I want to knit on vacation in a couple of weeks.

I will try to gather up all of the booty I acquired and take some pictures, when I'm sure that I won't have an anxiety attack over how much I spent when I see it gathered in one place! This yarn tour weekend has made it abundantly clear to me that I have absolutely NO self-control in the face of three full days of endless variety, types and colors of gorgeous yarns! I'm not quite sure what to to about it except stay out of yarn stores, but we all know that's not going to happen. I guess I'll just have to take my addiction problem one day at a time and hope I don't make myself homeless from the spending. But I would have all that wool to keep me warm, right? Justification is a skill, people!

So now I'm off to flop on the sofa and knit, rather than shop. Sounds nice. Maybe I'll throw a nap in there for good measure...

>^--^< ....Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

2007 LYS Tour---Day Two

Subtitle: My husband rocks!!

Let me just say that my cute husband is the best! Today he did all of the driving with never one complaint, checked maps and planned routes, dropped me off at the door of all of the stores I visited while he went and found parking, waited patiently at each store while I browsed with not even a tiny peep of a complaint. And if that's not enough, he let me take as long as I wanted, go anywhere I wanted and treated me to a very nice dinner on Bainbridge Island at the end of it all today!!! Wow, what a guy, huh? I feel all spoiled and stuff. All that, even though today was not a day for wimps....

We left at 8:30 am, drove up to Bellingham near the Canadian border, went to one store, got big-time lost on the way to another due to strange directions and road detours, and finally found our way to a second, which was worth the search. We then drove to stores in Burlington, Mt. Vernon and Anacortes. This was followed by a longish drive to try to catch the Keystone ferry to Port Townsend (we drove up as it pulled in and got on!), took the ferry across and drove all the way across to Bainbridge Island, got caught in a huge traffic jam in Poulsbo, and finally pulled up to the last store of the day, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, with only 1/2 hour to spare until closing! My husband then rested in the car while I did waaaaay to much damage in that store. We then went to Cafe Nola for a very nice dinner, took the Bainbridge ferry back to Seattle, and drove north to home by 9pm.

Recap of day: 6 yarn stores visited, 245 miles driven over 5 counties plus two ferry crossings, spread over 12-1/2 hours!!

Tank of gas for trip: $45

Two separate ferry crossings: $30

Husband who will drive my silly ass all over hell to shop for yarn and get a little book stamped: Priceless!!!

We did have a fun day, though. It was sort of like an all-day date with lots of scenic driving, shopping (for me) and ferry rides! Wheeee!

Like yesterday, here's the info about the 6 stores I visited today and their free patterns:

  • J&J Needlework, Bellingham - "Small Purse" made with Noro Kureyon or Idena Fame w/Flora (bought the one skein of Fame for the purse, inexpensive)
  • NW Handspun, Bellingham - "Bubble Cap with Manos for Adult" (took pattern but no purchase. If you ever go up that way, this is a great store in the old downtown area)
  • Knot Just Yarn, Burlington - "Skagit Tulip Bootie" made with Dale Baby Ull (this pattern is the cutest! I don't usually make baby stuff, but I took this pattern--adorable! No purchase here, but I vote this store as the most hospitable on the tour so far. They had iced tea and chocolate truffles available for everyone and were so gracious to all)
  • Wild Fibers, Mt. Vernon - "Cascade Fixation Headbands in Four Styles" (great pattern with 5 options, purchased some Fixation to make some!)
  • Ana-Cross Stitch, Anacortes - "Stork Baby Hat" made with Dale of Norway Stork baby cotton (sorta looked like a ribbed Teletubbies bonnet with a tie under the chin, if you can picture it---didn't buy yarn for that one. Purchased another color of Fixation I wanted and some green Euroflax sportweight)
  • Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, Winslow, Bainbridge Island - "Ruffled Tea Cozy" in 2 styles and 2 sizes, made with Blue Moon Socks That Rock Heavyweight (Okay, this is where things got really ugly---they had a great selection of STR and I could not resist the siren song! Let's just say I bought some. There was also a charming man there giving out tea samples, and I bought some of that too, an awesome Rooibos! Hey, a man served it to me and it was good! Seriously, the tea cozies are stunning and I bought the yarn to make them, as well as some more to make actual socks. The store also gave a 4-oz bag of green Jasmine or black tea as a gift to tour people. I really love that store----glad it isn't closer!)

So, I'm in the home stretch!! I've visited 17 of the 20 stores. Only three to go tomorrow which are all in Seattle! I am so winning that $400 gift certificate....I am, I am, I am! Three stores tomorrow should seem like a breeze compared to the last two days. Cute husband has informed me that he has fulfilled his husbandly tour chauffeur duties and will be otherwise engaged tomorrow.....which I assumed already. Any man that would walk through wool fire for me like he did today can do anything he wants tomorrow!!

This whole experience has been lots of fun even though I'm kind of cross-eyed tonight. Not sure I would repeat it every year, but still having a blast this time! I just can't believe I tried to tell myself that I was not going to buy anything. Geez, am I deluded or what! Husband says that after everything I've bought, he'd better see a FO every day when he gets home, all summer long! I'll get to work on that.

I need to keep my yarn shopping training schedule, so off to bed. Wish me well for the final leg of my tour tomorrow, and pray that my credit card falls into sink hole without my knowledge so I can't buy any more yarn tomorrow....I do enjoy food on the table and a roof over my head, and the cats won't get a job, so I really need to stop!

>^$$^< >^@@^< >^oo^<

Friday, May 18, 2007

2007 LYS Tour---Day One

Subtitle: Woman visits 11 yarn stores in a 3-county area in 6-1/2 hours, then collapses!!!!

Today I set out on the first day of Destination: Yarn, The 2007 LYS Tour, a three-day marathon in which you try to visit 20 yarn stores spread over half the state of Washington!! (They use the word "local" in LYS very loosely here---were talkin' about a spread of about 5 counties here, folks....).

I set out at 9:30 this morning to sunny skies and (miracle of miracles) NO traffic nightmares on my route! As a matter of fact, it turned out to be smooth sailing all day while I managed to miss every major reported traffic problem timewise or direction-wise! I'm still scratching my head over that one, but I'm definitely not complaining! I made an ambitious goal to try to reach 10 stores throughout today, since all of the stores are open until 9pm.

As it turned out, by noon I had reached the fifth store on my route plan! This allowed me to add an on an extra store later in the day, and still be done with today's route before 5pm. Awesome!

I have listed the stores I visited today, in order, and what their free pattern was (each store is to have a free one-skein pattern and discount on the yarn used for the pattern). I swore to myself that I was not going to buy today----only obediently obtain the required stamp in my passport and rapidly exit each store. Um..., I don't think I have to tell you how long that lasted. If you see my husband, please don't tell him about what's stashed in the trunk of my car.....

So to recap, 11 stores visited over 6-1/2 hours, 130 total miles driven. Blood glucose level at 4pm completion of Day 1 of tour: 32. (A testament to the energizing power of yarn shopping, and a chance at a drawing for a $400 LYS gift certificate!!) I didn't stop to eat until the end but I did take a few bathroom breaks at the stores, since I don't have access to any of those astronaut diapers.

  1. Hilltop Yarn East, Bellevue - "Dream Wave Shawl" made with Hand Maiden Sea Silk (no purchase here)
  2. The Knittery, Renton - "Cabled Fingerless Gloves" (bought some MegaBoots sock yarn)
  3. Renaissance Yarns, Kent - "Sock-ra-tease" socks made with Duet Handpainted sock yarn (had to have this one--pink, black and white colorway, with pink yarn included for toes and heels!)
  4. The Yarn Stash, Burien - "Rice Log Cover" (rice-filled heating pad) made with Meditation yarn (pass)
  5. Seattle Yarn Gallery, West Seattle - "Simply Lovely Clutch" (entrelac clutch) made with Noro Tidiori (bought two colors; plus they had every new color of Tofutsies, so I got two of those). I may need an intervention....
  6. The Weaving Works, Seattle - "One-skein Bluebell Rib Pedicure Sock," plus two crochet patterns (a market bag and a flower). (No purchase--surprise,surprise!) Very cute pattern, though!
  7. Village Yarn & Tea, Lake Forest Park - "Touring Wrap" (lace wrap) using Fleece Artist Suri Blue. (okay, it's Fleece Artist and it's handpainted alpaca and BFL wool---do I need to tell you if I bought it?)
  8. Spin A Yarn, Edmonds - "Bunny Booties" made with Belangora (no purchase)
  9. Let It Rain Yarn, Mukilteo - "Lace Wing Scarf" made with Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool (I got Silky Tweed---a little bit softer)
  10. Great Yarns, Everett - "Touch Me Booties" (pass-I didn't even take the purchase)
  11. Main Street Yarns, Mill Creek - "Star Top Baby Hat" (don't remember yarn, didn't take the pattern; no purchase here either! See, I can be good!!)

Stop #12 was at Subway, where I collapsed over my 6" turkey sub and pondered whether I had a case of buyer's remorse.....Nah! Ate my sandwich with glee while reviewing my booty.

Sorry I don't have any yarn pron for you, but I'm too pooped to spread it all out and photograph it right now. That will have to wait until after this weekend.

So tomorrow it's off to Bellingham and the north end of the state for Day #2. Just to show you how sweet my husband is, he is actually going to go with me for the road trip portion of the tour tomorrow! Is he cute, or what!?! Only 9 stores left to go over two days, but that involves a 90-minute drive one way, 2-1/2 hours back, and a ferry crossing. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I make all 20 shops! I need a chance at that $400 gift certificate to help pay for the weekend....

See you on the highway....or in some LYS that's not so local....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Random things and an anniversary celebrated

Thanks to G-girl and Sue, I have to attempt, in list form, to be more random than I already am. Having tried and failed to think of what to use for the list, I guess I will just have to try to do this free association style---I'll just start with #1 and hope I can make it to #8 before I delete the whole post. I really hate listing stuff about "myself." For some reason, making public lists about myself gives me the same feeling as that moment when you realize that you've been walking around the mall with your skirt tucked into the back of your pantyhose, and you left the restroom 6 stores ago... Hey! I guess that would be a great random thing to list for #1!! I have no idea what the rest will be, but here goes.....

1. Making public lists about myself gives me the same feeling as.....(see above).
2. I played the clarinet in band from the 4th grade through freshman year in high school and was in marching band for one year. After that, I realized that marching around in a wool suit with a thick plastic overlay and a huge furry hat on hot, sunny days was not as fun as it seemed when I joined, thus ending my clarinet-playing career.
3. I hate to get sweaty (refer to aforementioned band uniform) and will knock people over in doorways to get into an air-conditioned building if it's over 80 degrees outside.
4. Clowns creep me out, as well as people dressed in big hairy mascot costumes. I once totally confused the "Mariner Moose" when he snuck up in back of me at Safeco Field, and I ran away squealing and jumping around to get away from him. He couldn't understand why I didn't want to hug his faux-furry ass!
5. I love road trips! If you start any statement with, "Do you feel like driving with me up to...?" you don't even have to finish the question. I'm in! I especially love to drive to places I've never been before, and stop at all of the little strange places seen on the side of the road along the way.
6. Did I already mention that I hate listing stuff about myself? Yes? Oh, alright.....
6. I like office supplies----pens, highlighter pens, notebooks, neon index cards, black paper with colored gel pens, highlighter tape (my latest find), colored staples, etc.---you get the picture. I may already have 37 highlighter pens, but if I go to Office Max and see a new neon color or shape---it's mine. Do I use highlighter pens? Seldom. It's left over from my recent 8-year return-to-college trauma. I tried to make it fun where I could, and new pens and colorful highlighters made the classes seem more bearable somehow. Don't ask.
7. I like to do origami. I learned to do it before I learned how to knit or crochet. I also used it to survive interminably long, boring lectures. It's fun and satisfying in a papery kind of way. And it also involves pretty colored papers that I can collect in excess (see #6 above).
8. Oh, and here's a surprise---when there's something I like, I collect it in quantities that far exceed any hopes of ever using it up. I have a lovely and large collection of origami papers, imported and domestic. Love to read---tons of books. Learned to knit and loved it......uh oh! Let's just say I'm a slow knitter and I have a sizable stash! You never know, I might be totally bored for a long period of time and need to make 7,000 origami swans, or highlight pages of massive tomes, or knit 40 pairs of socks. I'm just saying, I'm prepared.

Thank God that's over with. Done. And now for the small print and cruelty portions of the meme. I must state the rules on my blog, and select the lucky winners to tag. I probably don't have 8, but I'll get as close as I can....

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Tag, you're it: Ginger, Emma, Rachel, Kathleen, Kittymommy and Hakucho.

Yesterday was my and cute hubby's 4th wedding anniversary. Even though we had agreed to a "no gifts or cards necessary" anniversary this year due to upcoming expensive vacation, he came home early from work bearing beautiful flowers, a pretty anniversary balloon and a lovely card. He is so cute, I could just kiss him---which I often do! So like him to be extra sweet when I least expect it!

We also went to Seattle for a great steak dinner at the Metropolitan Grill. It was about 75-80 degrees here yesterday (rare in spring), and the freeway drive was free and clear to Seattle---during rush hour---a real rarity!! We had a fun anniversary, and toasted with a Black Pearl Cosmopolitan (me) and a Widmere Hefeweizen (him).

All in all, a really great anniversary day! I love my husband more than I can say---he is my best friend and is always there to make the bad stuff better, and to make the good stuff more fun! We also share lots of laughter and silliness, which makes me love him even more!

If you are still with me at the end of this long post, thanks for sticking around! Next time I will have a little yarn puzzle for you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Surprises from across the big pond!

I was so excited to receive a package from my ISE4 pal this weekend---all the way from Australia! My no-longer-secret pal, Sue, sent me a lovely scarf made from Noro Silk Garden, as well as some other Aussie treats! Here's a picture of the scarf trying to get some light on the window sill. I wanted to make sure you could see all of the colors....

Along with the scarf, Sue also sent some lovely and soft alpaca yarn for me to knit something warm and fuzzy, as well as some yummy treats and scented wax tarts. Here's a picture of Toebi giving the package contents his stomp of approval...

She has now unfortunately started me on a newly-acquired TimTam craving, which I won't be able to supply once this box is gone! The TimTams are chocolate-y and good! Sue informs me that a great way to enjoy these treats is to bite corner off opposite ends and use it to sip your coffee, causing it to become more gooey and yummy! Yikes! I guess I'll have to find an import store to supply my new bad habit!

The wax tarts are scented---vanilla, orange spice and frangipani (my favorite). The wax tarts melt into a pool of liquid to release their scent.

Thanks again, Sue! I love all of the goodies, and the scarf is lovely! However, for the minions, the best part of the package is to ignore the contents in favor of snooping in the empty box...

On the knitting front, worked further on my garden lace shawl, but not enough progress to post another picture. I also managed to make some small progress on the MD moss grid hand towel. Here it is in progress, almost one-third done. (The pic is kind of bad, but hard to get the right light to be able to see the stitch pattern.)

I'm really liking the feel of this hand towel, but it seems somewhat time-consuming to knit as the stitch pattern changes every row in a 14-row sequence. I would love to knit another one in a different color for a set, but I'll see how I feel about that after I see how long it actually takes me to finish this one!

I'm getting anxious to cast on for my next pair of socks, but have been somewhat stunted by trying to decide which yarn to use, with which pattern. I guess too much selection can be a bad thing! I thought I had settled on the Tofutsies, but had a little "winding incident" with that one, making me favor it not so much right now (more about the "winding incident" later). Perhaps I will have to punish that bad yarn in favor of another until it learns to behave...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When creativity goes horribly wrong...

While checking out Jessica's blog this morning, looking forward to my weekly dose of Thursday fun, I was horrified see this! **Before you click on over there, be warned that you do so with some risk of trauma!**

Now I'm all for creativity and originality in knitting, but this time someone has gone way too far. I mean, I got a kick out of previously displayed boobies, willies and all manner of things. But when you go internal, you've gone too far! yuck. My God, it even has an EYE! And the placement of the zipper is a nice touch.

I think this is a case where a little less detail would be in order. In fact, to the knitter, how about forgetting about the whole thing!? Or can we look forward to the whole collection?***How about a uterus with coordinating ovaries? Or how about the intestinal collection?(small bowel sold separately...). Spleen, anyone?***

After recovering from my eyes burning and watering, the only thing I could think of was, "do you really want to be fishing around for change in there at the supermarket check-out?" I'll just be out this afternoon seeing a therapist for my PTSD and flashbacks..

And now I also worry a little about our dear Jessica. Just exactly what was she looking for when that popped up on the search engine? I don't know if Thursdays will ever be the same....

***Edited on 5/11 to add: Yay! We can all thank kitty mommy for her information that yes, indeed, these knit bodily items already exist! (See the comments for the links). What's your favorite? I think the very-anatomically-correct intestinal system, complete with appendix is my new favorite--lol!***

>^@@^< >^==^< >^++^<

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lake views, lace-knitting and a whole lotta chocolate

That pretty much sums up the main themes of my weekend lace-knitting and design retreat with Evelyn Clark! It was held in a huge cabin on Lake Cavanaugh that has one entire wall of windows facing the lake, so there was a view from everywhere in the huge main room. Here's a peek at the view from the deck outside...

It was quite the setting to relax, learn and have fun! The view of the lake was there every time you looked up. The main room of the cabin was roomy and comfortable, with plenty of room to sit and knit at the classroom tables, the dining room, or on the big comfy couches around the big fireplace.

The lace-knitting workshop itself was fabulous! Evelyn Clark is one of the most gracious, funny and knowledgeable people you will ever meet. Her teaching style is relaxed and open, and she has limitless patience with questions. This was a big plus for me, as I was the beginner out of the entire group. The class time itself was 8 hours total, 4 hours each day on Saturday and Sunday. However, one big plus of this retreat was that Evelyn hung out with the whole group to knit and socialize for the entire weekend, so we had unlimited access to visit with her, hear some of her great stories, ask questions and continue our learning outside of the structured class time. I have been to workshops in the past where the instructors are only there during the actual class time, so this was awesome!

We had some basics review (new for me) on chart structure and reading, and different structures of lace scarves and shawls. Evelyn brought along tons of her beautiful samples, many from her upcoming book, to demonstrate various motifs and shapes, and how they can be combined into a piece. She also showed us a few great methods for joining new yarn while knitting that are more invisible and don't require weaving in ends. She showed us a great sewn join that is almost invisible and works when spit-splicing is not an option.

Evelyn then went on to show us how to combine various motifs in a piece with transition rows that make them flow together, rather than one motif ending and another abruptly beginning. We were given some motifs from which to choose to combine as we chose to make our own original scarf or shawl, and how to chart them out to make our own original designs.

At this point, my brain was hurting! While everyone else in the group had made many lace scarves and shawls already, this was all new knowledge for me. Luckily, Evelyn also had a few choices of motifs already charted that we could combine without making our own chart. I chose to go that route, since learning to read and follow a chart and start learning to knit my lace piece was enough for my poor brain to handle at one time. I wanted to get started knitting on my first lace scarf before I left so I could take advantage of all of the expert knowledge and help in the room! I still don't have a pattern for my whole finished piece, per se, so it will be challenging to see if I can follow all of the separate motif charts and transitions to come out with my finished piece!

The second day was a little easier, and Evelyn went over various edging techniques and showed examples from her samples. She also covered blocking techniques, techniques to use beads in the knitting, and some different cast-on and bind-off options. Whew! I hope I can retain even a small portion of all of the stuff I learned over the entire weekend. By Sunday afternoon, my brain was so overloaded, I thought it would pop! Even though I can't use all of the things Evelyn taught during the weekend, I have them in my mind and in the handouts to review and use later as I gain experience.

Here's a picture of part of the group on Sunday afternoon. About half are missing because they were off napping or enjoying the views. That's Evelyn standing in the center, with the dark hair and black shirt...

If you ever have the chance to take a workshop or class with Evelyn Clark, jump on it! She is one of the most knowledgeable women I have ever met, and if you hear about all of the projects she has going, you wonder how she makes time for it all! She is my lace-knitting idol and an unending fountain of knitting knowledge.

The only small downside of the workshop was that the publisher did not have her new books available on time, so we will have to wait a while longer to receive them. I can't wait to receive my copy! Evelyn made us a great folder of handouts to work from until then, as well as bringing all of the knit samples from the book!

Okay, so here is the debut of the small beginning of my first lace project. Although I brought laceweight yarn with me, everyone fell in love with the sportweight Monarch I brought along, and it has the Evelyn stamp of approval, so I decided to use it for my first scarf/shawl project (I'm not quite sure how big it will be, but probably more in the shawl category....). This picture is of the top of the shawl, starting at the center neck on top. It will go out and down in two adjoining triangles starting with a ripple motif, then transitioning into....?

I have an idea about the next part of the pattern, but don't want to reveal it until I see if I can manage to figure it out myself---LOL! Even though this is only a small portion so far, I'm still really proud that I knit from a chart for the first time, started with a totally new cast-on that I've never done before, and have (so far) not had to rip back any of it!

Overall, the retreat and workshop were fantastic! The best part was that I had a really steep learning curve to climb going in, and I actually managed to understand most of what was covered in the classes, learn a ton about knitting lace, and start my first project! I also had lots of fun meeting everyone and hanging out, since there were only about a dozen of us in total. We were well-fed, learned a ton, had fun, knitted lots, and there was unlimited access to chocolate. What more could a girl ask for?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Away to Lace-Land!

I'm off to Mt. Vernon for the weekend to attend a lace-knitting retreat with the real, live Evelyn Clark! Even though I'm sure I'll be the rank beginner in the group, I'm really excited and looking forward to the weekend!

Hoping it will be fun and a great learning experience! And I say 'learning experience' as in, hoping to not be left confused in a corner cuz the whole deal is over my head. Although the organizers have assured me that my lack of lace-knitting experience is not a problem....hmmm.

I'll let you know how the weekend goes. I'm hoping for fun and challenging, just short of causing complete tangling of my brain and/or my fresh, new laceweight yarn...