Sunday, December 28, 2008

All is least for the moment

It's late Sunday morning. My parents just pulled out of the driveway. Zack is reading his biology homework. Sophie is outside doing whatever dogs do. The house is quiet. No TV. No xBox. Just quiet.

Now Sophie is barking and done doing what dogs do outside. The silent spell is broken. It didn't last long, but I enjoyed every second of it.

Referring back to my last post from mid-December, I did indeed get the cold that my co-worker so graciously shared with everyone in the department. That put a bit of a damper on my Christmas preparations. I didn't get as much baking done as I had planned, but the Christmas knitting made it out the door in time to get shipped to Michigan.

In the end I turned out two batches of fudge, two batches of cranberry pistachio biscotti, 19 Christmas cards, 2 packages to Michigan, 2 hand knit (1 was hand spun) hats, a set of hand knit and fulled coasters, and two skeins of hand spun yarn. Also figure in 3 Saturdays of Christmas shopping and a weekend of cleaning. Don't forget to add the 14 strings of Christmas lights on the bushes, 4 lengths of red tinsel garland on the pillars, 8 wreaths outside and 2 inside. Plus 2 Christmas trees, 24 feet of garland, 3 big red bows and a basket of fresh cut holly and magnolia boughs. That adds up to wow!

A word of advice--don't try to figure out what bulb isn't working on the string of Christmas lights because the odds of having a replacement bulb that will fit that string are less than .01%. Throw the damn lights away. In the trash. In the outside trash. Go buy new lights. I had a brief moment of doubt when I opened up the trash can to pitch another bag of garbage. Look at all those lights. What a waste. Surely I can figure out which bulbs aren't working and salvage the whole lot. No! NO! I tossed in the bag of trash and closed the lid. What a rush! I am free!

On to the good stuff!

The Marsan Watchcap for Steve (grudgingly modeled by Zack). Yarn was handspun about a year ago. I love the decreases for this pattern. One could probably knit this hat in a weekend. I used a thinner yarn and made the large size. Zack's head is about 23 inches and this fit perfectly. The nice thing about the twisted rib pattern is that it's stretchy yet holds it's shape very well. I also knit it about an inch longer in order to get a more generous cuff.

The earflap hat knit for Drew. I really don't have one specific pattern for this hat. The pattern is loosely based on Swell from I made quite a few modifications and added a great 10- stitch color pattern that I found online. The yarn is handspun shetland with a bit of alpaca. I partially lined the hat with a light weight polar fleece. It's a killer hat!

Felted coasters for Amy from the free pattern section on Berroco's website. I used Paton's SWS yarn and started each coaster from a different section of the colorway. Each coaster is different but they all match. The SWS felts like a dream (in a top loading washing machine...don't attempt in a front load, bad words will be spoken.) Berroco has this pattern labeled as intermediate but I thought they were fairly easy. However, I wouldn't suggest trying these unless you have knit with DPNs. You knit from the outside and work in. Handling all those stitches and markers on DPNs is a bit tricky.

So, what's next? I'm in a scarf exchange on Facebook and the deadline is January 15th. I have to finish Joann's annual mini sock. It's basically done, but I need to add the snowflakes. I'm working on Fetching wrist warmers for Amy's birthday. I'm making them out of Plymouth Encore to match the hat and scarf my sister made for her. Then I'm going to knit something for moi. (Maybe I can use my new sock blockers!!!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today's List

I will not get the cold that has plagued my co-workers. "Get a cold, continue to go to work so you can sneeze and cough on everyone" is not on my list, so therefore, it will not happen. Simple.

It's Saturday morning and there's quite a bit of heavy frost on the lawn. The dog is beside me enjoying her morning nap (in my next life I'm going to be a spoiled, lazy dog) and I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee. There's no better time to start the "what needs to get done today in order for me to retain any semblance of sanity" list. Right?

1. Shop. I don't have a lot of shopping left to do so this won't be an all day affair. Repeat. This will not be an all day affair. I'm also going to endeavor to use nice words when describing the driving techniques and traffic maneuvers of my fellow shoppers. I'm going to Cool Springs. Say a prayer for me.

2. Clean up the empty ornament boxes. The tree looks great but the sofa is covered with tissue paper and empty boxes. It just ruins the effect.

3. Make bows and hang garland. This should be pretty easy...which means it will end up taking 3 hours and will require power tools, dry wall patch and Jack Daniels.

4. Make two batches of fudge. There are people who are waiting patiently for the first batch. I'm going to tamper with the recipe this year. Don't freak! I'm not using Nestle chocolate chips. The Ghirardeli (spelling??) chips were on sale. When I changed from using Hershey milk chocolate candy bars to Ghirardeli milk chocolate chips the fudge was much creamier. We'll see if the chips make a difference.

5. Stash the stash. It's really not so bad (not like the days leading up to the Parental Visit of Labor Day 2008). The stash just needs some general in I can't see the guest bed.

6. Hang the outside lights. I've been dragging my feet on this but Zack is insistent. The number of light strands that won't work is in direct proportion to how many Jack Daniels I'll need to get through this. Locating the giant extension cord is going to be a joy. I should add "clean garage" to the list

7. Get Jack Daniels (I prefer Gentleman Jack for my holiday imbibing.)

I think this is enough for one day. I'll check in later tonight and let you know how it went. If my typing is slurred, you'll know that items 3 and 6 kicked my butt.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 14 Days and 5 Hours of What the Hell was I Thinking

The first knitted gift is almost done. I still have to make the dangly braids and fashion a cozy lining so the wool won't be quite so scratchy. But other than that, it's almost done. Photos will be posted after the gift-giving. This is a project that I have knit twice. The first round was done on size 7s...this one is too small. [insert copious amounts of horrible language that I learned from my parent's cat] The second time I used size 8s...this one is just right. [insert contented sigh of satisfaction] Almost.

I still have three more projects to go, and I don't have any "Plan B" gifts should I fail [insert gasp] to get those projects completed on time. As I said, what the hell was I thinking?

For the past two weeks I've been seeing a physical therapist, Robert, for my wrist/arm pain. Did I mention that it's not carpal tunnel? It's tennis elbow caused from repetitive motion. (hmmm, like knitting? spinning?...nah!) I have all these little exercises that I'm doing at home. Goofy exercises that involve a bath towel and an unopened can of soup. Today he started working my neck (as I am typing this my shoulders are up around my ears...relax, Chris!) All those little shoulder and neck muscles were as hard as rocks and I could hear them crunching against each other as he pounded on them. It hurt. A lot. But I have to admit that I've noticed quite an improvement. My arm is happier and isn't sending shooting white hot pain indicators to my brain anymore.

Maybe I should take a break from repetitive tasks and give my arm a that will happen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You Have Got to be Kidding!

I should be knitting...or spinning...or felting something. Once again, I've gotten myself into the pre-Christmas panic of knitting more stitches than humanly possible in 3 weeks. Actually, less than three weeks because half of what I'm knitting has to be shipped to Michigan in time for Christmas. The yarn doesn't even exist yet for one of the projects. The count down clock is mocking me.

Quite a bit was accomplished while visiting my parents over Thanksgiving. I brought my spinning wheel and was able to finish up the shetland I bought from Three Creeks Farm. It's gorgeous! Reds and charcoal gray. I got another project to the felting stage and did a bit of swatching on another. I still can't divulge all the Christmas knitting projects because everyone in my family (bless them) knows how to read. In the mean time, I'll have to share my all knitting, spinning and felting projects with the girls I knit with on Wednesdays. They won't tell...

My mom, dad and I braved Black Friday at Walmart. It was actually quite surprising. We got there around crowds, no lines. At one point, I was standing near a small group of 20-somethings who were laughing about their morning shopping spree. The girl in the group was concerned about being recognized by security. I couldn't help but pause to listen. Apparently, in her rush to get to a sale item, she knocked a woman to the floor. She was still wearing the same clothes (pajama bottoms and a hoodie) and was worried that the security cameras got her picture. She was going to go home and change so she wouldn't be easily recognized. What?? And they were all laughing about it! When did knocking someone over become acceptable? Then when we got home, we read about the person in New York who was trampled to death earlier that morning. This is not why we celebrate Christmas. It's beyond sad.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Serendipity? Yes!

I don't know what it is about me and fresh cranberries. Either I'm too early or too late. Last weekend the grocery stores I visited hadn't gotten them in yet. This weekend they were all out. Now, I'm not talking about canned know, the kind that makes that satisfying sucking sound as they wriggle out of the can. Nope. I want fresh cranberries. In a bag, raw, fresh, red. Why are these little orbs so elusive? What gives?

Zack and I had to run to the grocery store tonight for supplies for a cooking contest that his scout troop is having tomorrow night. He is responsible for the salad course, so off to the produce section. And there, in a freshly stocked display were bags of cranberries! Search for one thing and find another. I got so excited that I forgot the dang lettuce. Had to go back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The One About Christmas Knitting, Sisters & Yarn

It seems like all the knitting and spinning projects I have going at the moment are some form of Christmas gift. This stinks because it doesn't give me much to write about. I don't want to spoil anything, but I do have a funny story to share.

Last night I was on the phone with my sister who lives in Michigan. Karen was describing a Christmas knitting project that she's making for her daughter. (Now I have to consider if Amy will read my blog...highly unlikely, but I'm not going to tell you exactly what Karen is making.) As Karen was describing the project, pattern and yarn...Patons SWS, variegated red pink with gray and plum...I opened my knitting bag, pulled out a skein of yarn and started reading the ball band. Hmm...Patons SWS, variegated, I ask, "Ah Karen? What's the name of the colorway?"

Yep. Same exact yarn. Same exact color.

Luckily, however, it's not the same stinking project, but it's pretty darn close!

It's all in the dioxyribonucleic acid.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Art by Zack

Zack brought his art notebook home the other day. This one knocked my socks off! I had to share.

Bottles with Flowers
Watercolor and Ink
October 2008

You may be wondering why I haven't been freaking out over the Christmas knitting count down clock up in the corner. So far, I'm actually in pretty good shape. I just can't talk about the projects. Now, I may be singing a different tune in a few short weeks, but I don't believe I've bitten off more than I can knit. But you never know how it will go and I may be eating those words (hark! a pun?)

Did you know that knitting needles aren't always sized consistently? Read on. Today I went to the knitting meeting (we meet every 2nd Monday at the downtown library) and put my "travel scarf" on the table kind of folded in half. I noticed that the cast on edge was considerably narrower than the working end. About 7 inches ago I lost one of my size 10 needles. (How does one lose one knitting needle?) I grabbed another set of size 10s and proceeded along without giving it another thought. Much to my horror scarf was at least 3/4" wider with the new size 10s. It took me about 2 minutes to decide to frog back 7 inches and go with a smaller needle size. I just happened to have some size 9s in my bag. I'd like to take credit for being super prepared and having spare needles on hand at all times, but I was just mighty lucky. So far so good. I'm knitting very loosely and it doesn't look like the scarf is shrinking. Better to frog and be pleased with the final project than to carry on and pretend it won't bother the crap out of me. That's just how I'm wired.

Road trip alert: Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we'll go!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Good Day

Yesterday, my alarm went off at 5:45am. No, I didn't forget to turn it off Friday night before I went to bed. That alarm signaled the start of my good day!

6:30am - Dropped Zack at the rendezvous point for a weekend backpacking trip with his scout troop.

7:00am - Arrived back home and made coffee. Loaded the car with bags of fiber, spinning supplies and spinning wheel.

8:00am - Pedicure! Ahhhh.......

9:00am - Hair cut and style! (about 4-5 inches...yikes!)

10:00am - Monthly spinning meeting at Belmont Presbyterian Church. Four hours of spinning with other spinners. No interruptions, no phone calls, no having to help locate a football/guitar pick/shoe. Just spinning, talking, laughing and some awesome corn chowder for lunch.

2:00pm - Since I was already in the neighborhood, I decided to check out the new Trader Joe's store that opened in Green Hills. Parking was a nightmare, but the store has some pretty good stuff. Prices are reasonable also. It's the getting in and out of Green Hills that will keep me from going there regularly. The dried mangos dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed hot peppers are sinful.

3:00pm - Thought about napping, but decided to spin the rest of the wool/angora/angelina blend while watching reruns of "Third Rock from the Sun."

6:00pm - Randy came over for dinner and a movie, but instead of going out we tried the Mohito Salmon that I bought from Trader Joe's. (Very good and very easy.)

7:00pm - I propped my feet up on the ottoman and watched an Antonio Banderas movie on Lifetime while admiring my freshly painted toes. Someone pinch me!

Monday, October 27, 2008

When Typing Hurts

For the past couple months, I've been dealing with a painful wrist and tingly fingers. I finally bit the bullet today and went to the doctor. She's thinking it's my carpal tunnel. Not surprising. I've talked to a couple people who have also dealt with this and my symptoms are similar. Tingling finger tips, pain up the wrist up to my elbow, feels better if I don't type as much. I go in for a nerve test in the next few days. I'll keep you posted.

Oddly enough, knitting and spinning don't hurt. And I'm not just saying that (because I have been known to knit until it does hurt. Like the wee hours before Christmas.) I think it's because my wrists are in a pretty ergonomic position when knitting/spinning. Typing, on the other hand (oh look, a pun!), hurts like a h-e-l-l. So, I'm going to keep this and future blogs rather short.

The Harvest Days and Fiber Festival was last Saturday in Murfreesboro. I took my camera but didn't have charged no photos. But it was great! I did a bit of Christmas shopping also and bought some lovely ________, a couple ________, wonderful handmade _______, and several ounces of ________ in lovely shade of ________. I ran into a lot of people from Ravelry. I love it when people stop me and say, "don't I know you from Ravelry?" or "hey, you're Knittybits!" Too fun!

For those of you who are keeping me honest, I didn't buy any yarn. I did buy fiber but that doesn't count because it's not yarn...yet.

Speaking of Ravelry, a long lost friend from college dropped me a line tonight. I joined an "Upper Peninsula" group and she recognized my photo online. So I've had a hilarious blast from the past tonight. Good grief I feel old now!

This whole internet thing is so cool! Thanks, Al Gore! (snork)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Yarn

Did anyone hear me on the radio this morning? Yes, that was me! I correctly guessed today's TV theme song. "Charlie's Angels". I'm mortified and can't believe I'm telling on myself, but we're friends right? And you say I'm a trivia geek like it's a bad thing.

On to the big news...and the real reason why I'm blogging tonight even though the carpal tunnel in my right hand has compelled me to consume a 1/2 glass of "flying monkey wine." (Long story, but can anyone guess the real name of the wine?)

I have had a huge yarn epiphany that has been building over the past couple weeks. Here it is:

Just because I loved the yarn at one time doesn't mean I still have to love it...but there's someone out there who might.

Folks, this is huge.

The surge started at the yard sale a couple weeks ago. A teenage girl squealed as she pulled out all the Sugar-n-Cream cotton yarn from the "yarn for sale", clutching it like it was the holy grail. She was truly excited and even used her own money (mom was with her) to buy every ball I had. That was a good feeling. I was happy because I got rid of yarn I no longer loved, the girl was happy because she got a lot of great colors really cheap, and the yarn was happy because it found new love!

The surge built last weekend when Fran and I went to a Prayer Shawl Ministry Workshop at Glendale Methodist Church. The workshop was put on by the women who founded the prayer shalw ministry years ago. I've been part of the prayer shawl ministry at my church for a couple years now and have knit 3.5 shawls (one in progress) out of Lion Brand Homespun yarn. While the shawls were lovely, they paled in comparison to the shawls presented at the workshop. I don't want to turn this into a sales pitch for the book but if you're involved in a prayer shawl ministry, buy the Prayer Shawl Companion. (If you knit with me on Wednesdays, I'll bring it next week.) The most stunning shawls were knit out of various scraps from other shawls. You know those oddballs that are intermingled with your stash? Think shawls. So the individual balls of yarn I was trying to get rid of at the yard sale are back in with the stash. However, now I'm looking at my stash in a whole new way. What was once a box of single, mismatched partial balls and skeins of yarn is now an artist's palette. I got so excited about the first scrap shawl that I cast on Tuesday night and started painting. (Knitting and spinning doesn't hurt as much as typing and mousing.

To bring the epiphany full circle, tonight when I got home there was a package waiting for me. It contained yarn! And NO, I did not buy any yarn. I swapped. Can you say loophole!?!? This little gem may be the lifeline I needed to keep me from buying yarn prior to Stitches South. How does it work? Well, did you know that you can go out on Ravelry and search other people's online stashes? I got an e-mail from YarnDoc the other day asking if I'd be willing to sell or swap my Socks that Rock. I checked out her online stash and told her I'd swap for Miss Babbs Yummy Superwash. YarnDoc and I are both happy because we got rid of unloved yarn and got "new" yarn in the mail. The yarn is happy because the minute I pulled it out of the package, I loved it! I petted it. I introduced it to the stash. (There might have even been some drooling.) Happy yarn!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can I have a do-over?

Me and my big mouth. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but when the words actually came out of my mouth, I realized the enormity of my mistake. Let's rewind a bit.

A couple weeks ago LeAnn and I received a brief yet momentus e-mail from Liana announcing that Stitches South is going to be held in Atlanta in April next year. (For the non-knitter, "Stitches" is a gi-normous yarn event held by the lovely people at Knitters Universe magazine. I believe it's normally held in Chicago, Baltimore and somewhere on the far side of the Rockies. Basically, not within reasonable driving distance from my fair city.) It didn't take long for the three of us to make plans. Bottom line, this is big, like Daytona is to Nascar. No, it's bigger.

Fast forward to last weekend. Becky and I had a yard sale for the main reason of getting rid of stuff, making money was just a bonus. I culled through my stash and selected oddballs, yarn that had no project attached to it and stuff that I don't love anymore. I put it in the yard sale (sold about $40-50 worth). Parting with yarn is unheard of around here, which is why Zack seemed genuinely worried about his mom's sanity. He's probably wondering if he's next...either that or he's thinking it's time to call the home.

That brings us to today. I've been thinking about the expenses involved in attending Stitches South. Actually, I've been thinking about how much fiber I'm going to buy. I'll go without food (or bring a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter) if it means being able to by more yarn at Stitches. From what I've heard from others who have attended, we're talking about yarn/fiber in epic proportions. I love a challenge!

Now here's where I got into huge trouble. On the way to church tonight, I was telling Zack about Stitches, who I'm going with, who he'll stay with, that he'll probably go to Talladega that weekend anyway, etc. Then I dropped the bomb. I said, "In order to help save up for the trip I'm not going to buy any yarn until I get there." The look on his face clearly spoke "are you out of your ever loving mind?" and "who are you and what have you done with my mother" and "YES! no more covert trips to the yarn shop!"

My next word was a timid, somewhat questioning, "Well..." and he quickly stopped me and said, "oh no, it's too late. You said it and I'm going to make sure you mean it."

Crap. Crap. Crap.


Do you think I can do this? I looked at a calendar. I feel sick, my vision is blurring, the walls are closing in around me. I. Can't. Breathe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have You Ever Wondered...

...if what you're knitting will actually fit? The Cabaret Raglan has just entered that phase. I've literally got 7 more rows to knit on the sleeves and that sick feeling has set in. At least I have enough yarn this time! (A long story involving an overseas phone call to the Rowan mill in the UK and the subsequent emptying of my checkbook. Fortunately my math has improved somewhat.) What do I do if the Cabaret Raglan doesn't fit? That's all I'm thinking about as I'm nearing the end. I'm not sure if I'm more worried about it being too big or too small. How screwed up is that?

The blue hand-dyed/spun dorset wool is finished. I gave the skeins a good soak to set the twist and now they're hanging in the bathroom. Luckily yarn soaking in the sink and hanging from the shower rod doesn't phase Zack anymore. At least it's not pantyhose and undies! Speaking of the teenager, tomorrow is PSAT day and it wants a big I need to get some sleep.

And a long-awaited WW update! 6.5 pounds so far. Not as much as I'd like, but heck, I didn't put it on all at once, I can't expect to lose it all at once. But here's an issue to ponder. My scale varys by as much as 3 pounds so I'm not at all sure about the accuracy of my weigh-ins. I can step on then off, wait 20 seconds and do it again...several times...and each time it's different. I take the lowest and go with it. Maybe it's time for a new scale?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Soaring, Selling and a Bit of Knitting

"Best Weekend Ever" was how Randy classified last weekend. We went to Benton, Tennessee and visted the Chilhowee Gliderport for his birthday. (If you get Southern Living Magazine, there's an article on Sarah, her brother Ike, and the gliderport in the issue with the pumpkins on the cover.) We stayed at the Cherokee Inn and both experiences were FABULOUS! The people were wonderful and we felt welcome right from the start. Our hosts at Cherokee Inn even called us late Friday night to make sure we hadn't gotten lost. We're already planning our next trip!

Flying gliders, or soaring, is pretty amazing. You climb in this plane that's resting on its belly and one wing. The plane has no motor. No prop. No parachute. The seats are small, only room for two (and a small dog). A couple teenage boys run across the grassy field to retrieve the "tow rope" from the back of the retired crop-duster airplane and connect it to a ring on the nose of the glider. As the tow plane heads down the runway, one of the boys runs along with the glider, holding a wing so the glider is level with the ground. In a few seconds the glider is off the grass, but the airplane still hasn't lifted off. Now that's an "oh shit crap" feeling! The plane lifts up and pretty soon it's just the tow plane, a length of yellow nylon rope and the glider...and a very big mountain ridge. After the glider disconnects with the tow plane, you're free. Literally. It's incredible!

Ike was our pilot for the weekend. I'm sure this kid was born sometime after I graduated high school, but he was super! His dog, Spike, even likes to fly. They really were the nicest people and I hope we can spend more time with them. I heard a rumor that Randy is pricing used gliders...

I'm glad our glider experience was so great, because the weekend before that wasn't. The last weekend in September is National Alpaca Farm Days, and farms around the country open their doors (or fences) to visitors. I had made up my mind earlier in the month to not visit any farms, mainly because I dropped a lot of cash at the spinning workshop...not to mention the fact that I've heard rumblings among the family that I have enough fiber. (As if...) So, with my mind made up not to go, I went happily about my business that weekend. I had to pick Zack up from a camping trip at Meriwether Lewis Campground off the Natchez Trace Parkway on Saturday afternoon. I plotted my route on the map and it hit me that there was an alpaca farm just off the Trace. And they were participating in farm days. Lord, I'm weak. So I figured if I left about 20 minutes earlier than planned, I'd have enough time to swing by the farm, meet a few alpacas, take some pictures, check out the fiber and get back on the road.

As I rounded a corner, I nearly drove off the road for there were about 30 alpacas lined up along the fence humming a little tune while watching the cars go by. How exciting! Could it be any more picturesque? Could I get any weaker? I pulled into the designated parking area, got out of the car, and walked into the open air tent where they had all things alpaca for sale. A cashier's table was set up at the entrance and a couple women were sitting around the table talking to one another. No one looked up. I entered unnoticed. I wandered out of the tent to the gate and man let me in. He was busy talking to someone else and only opened the gate, no greeting. I spent a couple minutes with the alpacas and then went back to the tent (remember, I had only given myself a 20 minute pad). I found some lovely charcoal gray roving and had to interrupt the conversation at the table to inquire about the price. "I think it's $4.50 an ounce..." and went back to her conversation. To which I responded, "do you think, or do you know?" I really should have walked out at that point. She pointed me in the direction of someone who would know for sure. I asked about the price, tried to make small talk about her Louet wheel, weaving, the drum carder, wool versus alpaca, but was unable to make a dent. I purchased some of the roving, although I had to weigh it myself...and had to tell them what it was. As the lady handed me the bag of roving she turned back to the conversation I interupted. I didn't take the bag and she turned back to look at me. I said "thank you?" as I reached for the bag and she said, somewhat puzzled with my inflection, "oh, you're welcome." I think I snorted as I walked off. I should have asked for my money back.

If you own this alpaca farm please know that I won't be back, and I have told my friends. If you own an alpaca farm (or place of business) please greet your customers and thank them for visiting whether they purchase anything or not. Oh well, at least the alpacas seemed happy to meet me.

I also promised photos of the yarn I spun at Appalachian Center for Craft. Here's my proof! I wouldn't normally spin with toxic orange or neon pink, but it was a workshop and workshops are meant for experimentation. I think the prettiest of the batch is the second from the left. It's the neon pink carded with teal. It's a nice heathery mulberry/mauve. Interesting things happen when you mix colors. Try it. You may be surprised!

This was the annual yard sale weekend. We did ok and on a scale of 1 to 10 this year was about a 6. We didn't have hardly any traffic and sales were sporadic. I got rid of a bunch of stuff, but we ended up taking about 12 boxes to Goodwill. Could it be that the economy has everyone scared to spend? Or maybe there were too many yard sales this weekend. I don't know. But I did get rid of a bit of my stash. Oh, didn't I mention that I was selling some stash? The good Brown Sheep went first and some oddballs sold, but I still have quite a bit left. I'm going to post in Ravelry in the "sell/trade" category in the coming days (or as soon as my camera charges up again.)

I didn't knit on the Cabaret Raglan as much as I thought I would. I had hoped it would be done by now, but I was in the mood to knit with wool, not cotton. It really is about being in the mood. However, I'm nearly done with my drop stitch scarf. It's gorgeous!

Here's the yarn I've spun up for the next Big Project. I can't tell you what it is because I just can't. Not until I'm finished. I can tell you that the wool is dorset and I dyed it before spinning. It's a two-ply about worsted/aran weight and has a good spring to it. Yum!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Do you know where your stash is? I mean, do you really know? Or do you just think you know? I thought I knew until I spent the past 45 minutes looking for something.

Yes folks, this is my closet and the XL plastic ziploc bag nestled between the tan wool blazer and raw silk jacket is full of yarn for Zack's afghan.

The question of the day: Who (or what) came into my house and moved my stash? I'm not saying that this is a bad place for yarn, (actually, it's inspired) I'm just a bit befuddled as to how it got there. C'mon 'fess up. Ya'll are messing with me, aren't you?

Seriously, if I did it, do you think I'd actually post a photo of it?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Low Carb Dumplings

Friends, I present the "Dumpling Bag."The pattern is by She-Knits and is published in the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Knits.

I knit the bag with malabrigo. The pink flower buds are some leftover Galway and the green vine is the yarn I spun at the State Fair. I covered jump rings with the State Fair yarn and hand felted them under running water. I filled in the thin spots with some careful needle felting.

The pattern calls for the straps and rings to be sewn in place prior to felting, but I sewed the loops afterwards. They're needle felted in place. I wondered if the needle felting would be strong enough, it seems to be holding quite well.

As far as the practicality of the's a bit small. I should have taken it out of the washing machine a little sooner. (Must remember to set timer when felting...multi-tasking bites me every time.) However, it is pretty darn cute, and SO soft! It may end up hanging on a door knob to hold stuff. It would also make a cute small project knitting bag. For socks perhaps?

Next on KnittyBits:

  • My trip to an alpaca farm last weekend and how not to treat your guests
  • Upcoming adventure trip to Cleveland (and we're not talking Ohio) for Randy's b-day
  • Photos of yarn spun at Appalachian Center for Craft (proof that I did spin something)
  • The annual yard sale (from hell) is slated for Oct 10th
  • Update on the Cabaret Raglan...folks, we're getting close!!
  • The next Big Project

Friday, September 26, 2008

On the Rocks With Salt

Which is how I enjoy a margarita. Actually, that's how I enjoyed two margaritas tonight, which is why I'm not knitting or spinning. Tequila can be such a drag when it comes to gauge and/or twist, so I shall type instead.

Why the margaritas? First, it's Friday. That alone is reason enough, right? Second, I had my "photo shoot" today (yes, LeAnn, I smiled pretty for the camera!) and I feel pretty good about it. The results will be in the mail. I don't know if that's good or bad, but the tech didn't gasp in horror or make me wait around for the radiologist to review. Third, My Friend Paul (MFP) was in town with his wife and we went to Rose Peppers for dinner. YUM!

Paul, if you ever read my blog (and I doubt you do because you'd give endless amounts of crap for all this knitting nonsense) I totally love Emily. Good job! I'm so happy for you I could just burst. Could you be any more perfect for each other? But for the love of God man, do not move back to Minneapolis. It's cold there all the time and they get snow. Don't you remember snow? Down here it's pretty for a day or two and then it's gone. Up there it never goes away. It snows on Easter and sometimes Memorial Day and you have to shovel it. You don't even own a shovel. Dude, snow sucks! Seriously. But if you go, I'll knit you a sweater. Or maybe a nice scarf.

I talked to The Dad tonight. It seems The Parents (along with Aunt and Uncle from Oregon) have been reading the blog. Folks, it was bound to happen. Must remember to keep my big mouth shut about stashing the stash, et al. Ha!

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

She's baaaaack! (and she's in the mood to type)

Did you miss me? I hope so because I kinda missed blogging. I really have no excuses for staying away for so long. Maybe I just had too much to say but I didn't know how to say it...if that makes any sense. Let's call it "blogger's block" and leave it at that.

So what's been going on? Besides the whole back to school thing, I have had many busy weekends. And I'm not talking about busy like cleaning house busy, I'm talking about making new friends, learning new things and letting the grass grow.

"Letting the grass grow" reminds me...go here and watch this. If you're from the middle TN area, Atlanta or Tallahasse, the video will have you in tears and you can skip to the next paragraph. For those of you not following our local news, here's what's been going on. Nashville basically freaked when hurricane Ike hit Texas and everyone went out and bought as much gas as they could. Panic ensued. People were waiting in line for hours (I kid you not) for gas. By the Saturday after Ike hit, 85% of the gas stations in the area were out. That caused even more panic. It was like a run on bread and milk when someone mentions snow. (By the way, I bought gas 2 days prior to Ike reaching Texas...because I was out.) Had people stuck to their normal gas-buying routine, there would have been no panic. But what's the fun in that? Local gas stations sold 4 to 5 times their normal volume that weekend. I will concede that Ike did cause a disruption in the supply, but had Nashvillians stuck to their normal gas buying routine we wouldn't have run out. People were filling milk jugs, 5 gallon buckets, pickle jars (yes), anything that would hold gas. Last weekend it started up all over again. By lunch time on Friday people were leaving work early to line up at gas stations. The police were called in to direct traffic, road rage quickly turned to gas rage, total melt-down of society. How are we going to react when there's a real crisis? Seriously.

Monday morning I was in the elevator at work (I'll quit on the gas thing after this) and a guy I had never seen before got in behind me. He was a nicely dressed gentlemen and I nodded a good morning nod and went about looking for my ID tag. Rather than nod back or say something like "good morning", dude says, "have you got gas?" Smile and wave boys, just smile and wave.

I have been knitting.

The cabaret raglan is nearly finished. I have about 3 inches left on the sleeves. Then I have to sew the bloody thing together. That's been known to take years.

I knit a dumpling bag (pattern in Interweave Knits Fall 2008). Fulling will occur this weekend. I hesitate to use this picture, but I don't have one of my own. I'll make it small and maybe they won't get mad.

I also finished the Vibe Tote that I started umpteen years ago. No photos of that yet either. Lame, I know. It's lime green with black flecks and black web handles. Love it!!!

I have been spinning.

Last weekend I did probably the coolest thing I've done in a while. I went to a hand spinning workshop at the Appalachian Center for Craft near Cookeville. I was so excited when I got there that I almost cried. That may sound weird, but here's some background. I got my bachelor of fine arts degree from Northen Michigan University, a smallish school in Marquette, Michigan, within spitting distance of Lake Superior. I had some awesome professors, some of whom had taken summer workshops at the ACC. When I was in college, the thought of moving to an Appalachian anything made me cringe. Little did I know that I would settle and raise a family 70 mere miles from the school. I've driven by the sign hundreds of times, always curious, but never courageous enough to turn into the drive. Then I got a flier in the mail. I had just gotten the tax incentive check and that was all I needed to sign up.

The weekend was lovely! Claudia Lee was our teacher at the ACC and I thought she did a great job. I'd say the biggest thing I learned was being ok with experimentation. I tried things I wouldn't normally try at home. Maybe it was because I was back in a studio environment, who knows. Lately, I've been "production" spinning. I was all caught up in twists per inch, wraps per inch, long draw, from the fold, etc. After this weekend, I loosened up my grip on the fiber and gave myself permission to just play and enjoy it. I left the technical stuff behind and let the artist shine through. Dang it felt good!
This is where the making new friends comes in. I spent the weekend with two other wonderful spinners, julig and kimz0519, in a cabin at Edgar Evins State Park.

Oh, and I nearly forgot! I won 3rd place at the novice wheel spinning competition at the TN State Fair couple weeks ago. Seriously! 3rd place and $5! This guy was cheering me on.

I also been dyeing, but I'll save all that for another post.

Good stuff coming up:

  • TACA Show at Centennial Park this weekend (Sept 27-28). Several fiber friends will be there displaying and selling their creations. Free
  • Race for the Cure, October 4th. I won't be able to participate but I'm helping spread the word. The team is Susan's Village. If you have a few dollars to spare, please help out the team.
  • Prayer Shawl Ministry workshop at Glendale Methodist Church in Green Hills (Oct 18th). $40 in advance and $45 or $50 at the door. Lunch included. Fran and I will be there!
  • Harvest Days at Old Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro (4th Saturday in October). Free. Lots of fiber to buy. Great place to see some spinning wheels in action too.
And finally, (this is the mushy part that I told myself I wasn't going to do), but I just want to thank everyone for being part of my life and putting up with me. God has been so good to me to give me such wonderful friends. Sometimes I am just awed into silence and wonder what I've done to deserve everything I have. It's been a particularly emotional month filled with anger, doubt, fear, quiet tears and now I'm finally starting to glimpse a little peace. Zack had a wonderful time on the church retreat this past weekend and I can't thank everyone enough for watching over him. And all my fiber friends have helped me find my hidden artist and your words of support are so encouraging. You all mean so much to me (you know who you are and I know you read my blog!) So, love and hugs to you all, now I need to go find a kleenex.

p.s. Tomorrow is mammogram day...say a prayer, or more importantly, if you haven't had one recently get one scheduled! Early detection is so important.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Algebra the KnittyBits Way

The first problem on Zack's worksheet goes something like this:

There are 24 Booster Club members and each member bought either a pennant or cap from the concession stand. The pennants cost $1.25 each and the caps cost $1.50 each. The total bill came to $34. How many caps were sold?

The "algebra" solution:
c + p = 24 and 1.25p + 1.5c = 34
p=8 pennants
c=16 caps

The "knittybits" solution:
Sack the dude who is running the concession stand. He is too preoccupied with flirting with the cheerleaders and is not keeping track of the inventory. It's not harsh. You're doing him a favor.

When my teenage son asks why he needs algebra, I'm at a loss as to what to tell him. I guess it comes in handy when someone is purposefully vague and only gives you part of the story. Other than that...sheesh...maybe it would make more sense written as follows:

Chris purchased 2 balls of merino lace weight for 7 bucks each, 1 ball of single ply Tilli Tomas silk for 30 bucks and a 16" Addi Turbo circular needle in size 7. What color is the scarf she's going to knit?

The "knitty bits" solution:
The scarf is going to be a lovely blend of toasted almond and spiced ginger, knit in twisted garter stitch pattern of 2 rows silk and 2 rows lace weight and will be approximately 6-7 inches wide. Length depends on how much yarn I have. Beads would be nice...

On to better things. I have lost a 5-pound sack of potatoes. Five pounds may not sound like a lot of weight, but the next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a 5 pound sack. It's appallingly heavy! That amount of weight was unnecessarily IN MY BODY. Would you want to walk around with that strapped to your butt all day? No way, sir!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Much a Blog About Nothing

I apologize for not posting more often. I've probably lost all 7 of my subscribers, but I haven't felt like talking/writing about much. There have been several times in the past couple of days that I've started a new post, only to write a few lines and hit delete. That could very well happen tonight also.

Lately, my moods have been all over the place. I still can't believe that Susan is gone. I'm angry about it for many reasons...mostly selfish reasons. Susan was my age when she found out she had breast cancer. When she died, she was my mom's age when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have my annual mammogram in a couple weeks. I hate the annual "squish" (what woman doesn't), but this year it's going to be particularly painful. And right now I'm very close to a complete melt down.

So with all that crap going on in my head it's been hard to come up with interesting stuff to share with you. My knitting and spinning have taken a bit of a back seat. Now that the parents have gone back home (the visit went well) I can free the stash and air it out a bit. That might get me back in the swing of things. You would be shocked (maybe some of you wouldn't) with the places I crammed yarn and fiber at the 11th hour.
Under the bed (too predictable, I know)
Ottoman (get one with storage...worth every penny!)
Behind books on bookshelf
Trunk of car
Various baskets and bags placed artfully around the house
Dresser drawers
Closets (plural)
I even seriously contemplated the dog house, but there are dog hair and dog smell issues. The line had to be drawn, but I used pencil in case I need to erase it in the future.

At one point during the weekend, my dad asked how much yarn I have. (Dude, are we talking number of skeins or total mileage?) My answer--not enough.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I know I should be cleaning but...

I've been pretty quiet for the past week, but I haven't felt like saying much. Things aren't ok today, but it will get better.

Some good news is that I've lost a total of 4.5 pounds after being on Weight Watchers for 2 weeks. Ok, I probably shouldn't count last weekend when I was sick and didn't/couldn't eat ANYTHING for 2 days, but if that's what it takes, so be it. I searched online for something that weighs 4.5 pounds and found lots of puppies and kittens. Not really the image I'm going for with my comparisons. So a bit more digging in the cupboards and it appears that I've lost a little more than two boxes of Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Pancake Mix (the 32 oz size.) Woo hoo!!

Have you noticed the countdown clock?? I talked to The Parents about 45 min ago and they were almost to Lexington. Time to scrub toilets. Any volunteers??

Sunday, August 24, 2008


"Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going."
--Tennessee Williams

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Lost a Friend Today

This afternoon I got a phone call and several e-mails telling me that Susan passed away this morning. She had been battling cancer since the day I met her. Even though Susan wasn't part of my life for very long, she was a friend.

Susan was the co-founder and foundation of our prayer shawl ministry at church. There are a lot of things I'd like to say about my brief friendship with Susan but there's one conversation we had that I will always remember. We were at church devouring a new yarn catalog. She was trying to decide on patterns and yarn for afghans for her daughters. She was looking for a pattern that would knit up quickly because "I don't have a lot of time." She wanted her girls to have beautiful, comforting afghans made by their mom. Afghans that they could hug when they are away at college and in the hospital having babies.

It wasn't long after that conversation that the cancer began attacking with greater force. I don't know if the afghans ever got done.

Wednesday night dinner and knitting at church won't be the same.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Coming Clean

I really have too much yarn and fiber. Seriously.

I went looking for the guest room this evening and ran into a wall of fiber. I don't normally heat and cool the guest room unless I'm going to use it for an extended period. Therefore, the door is typically closed. This is a problem. When the door is closed, I can't see all the fiber in the room. Put more fiber in, close the door, and *poof* it's all okay....until your parents call and say they're coming to visit. I'm not going to shut the door any more. I need to keep my eye on things. There must be some weird reproducing going on when I'm not around. Surely I didn't purchase all that, did I?

I have issues.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

4 Sticks of Butter

It seems that I have misplaced 4 sticks of butter this week. Yes, folks, I lost one pound in my first 5 days on Weight Watchers!

I think it's more "real" if I equate the weight lost with an actual item that I can see and hold. Four sticks of butter is pretty real and when I think that that amount of weight is now out of my body, I'm ready to lose more. I'm not going to call this a diet, this is a change in behavior...for life! Next weigh-in: Thursday. Wish me luck! I promise not to turn this blog into a weight loss obsession...I'll get back to the fiber obsession in my next post.

Oh, and Mom and Dad are coming to visit over Labor Day weekend. They'll be here in 15 days. Am I freaking out? Yep. It's time to stash the stash.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Three Gallons of Milk to Spare

I made the move on Saturday and joined Weight Watchers. This past winter/spring was not kind to me and I added some weight that I just can't seem to shake off. I don't think I changed anything, but for some reason my metabolism. just. stopped. I put on a pair of slacks and had to take a bit of a breath to get them zipped and decided enough was enough.

Maybe some day I'll post my starting weight, but I'm not ready to take it that far yet. However, I will update you weekly on my progress. Thursday is my weigh-in day so I plan to post the results each day. This week I'm not expecting much because I joined on Saturday and didn't get my profile created and base weight entered until Sunday night. Plus it's taking me some time to get comfortable with the points tracking. But, hey, if I can shed even a half a pound (that's 2 sticks of butter, how gross sounding is that?) I'll be happy.

My goal is 25 pounds (that's 3 gallons of milk). Why would anyone want to carry around an extra three gallons of milk? I picked up a gallon tonight at the grocery store and was completely mortified at how much it weighed...and I'm carrying three of them all the time. Well, folks, that's over. It's time for a change. Wish me luck and, if you're so inclined, join me!

Can I add resistance to the treadles of my spinning wheel so I'll burn more calories?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday Rambler

Have you ever lost a camera? I love this site: Found Cameras and Orphan Photos. What a great idea! New photos are posted each Thursday. It's a bit voyeuristic and somewhat creepy, yet fun.
I forgot to mention another favorite website yesterday, Paradise Fibers. Click on the link that's over on the right (your other right, Mary). Good stuff. I purchased some raw sari silk from them several months ago and am spinning it up with some wool that I darn near felted hand dyed last spring.

Last Saturday I joined about a dozen other Nashville spinners for a couple hours of spinning, show and tell, impromptu workshops and just plain fun. It was my first time to be able to join them. A super talented group! I wish they met more often than once a month. Only 12 times a year just isn't very much. But schlepping a wheel around every weekend could be problematic, as in not getting anything else done. I suck at names but here are a few of the Ravelry folks I can remember: qltann, fibergroupie, agileknitter (showed off her latest sock pattern....KILLER). If you're one of my 7 subscribers and you were spinning on Saturday, drop me a line and I'll add you to my list.

Then on Monday, I went to the Nashville Public Library to knit during lunch. The knitting group meets the second Monday of the month from 12 to 2. (Revisit the only 12 times a year woe.) Again, a great showing from Ravelry: sampoulter, tngardengirl, tnknitter, putasockonit. There were quite a few more, but alas...names escape me. What didn't escape me was the preview of a new cardigan that's from the Mason-Dixon knitting book "Outside the Lines" (to be released in mid-Sept...pre-order a copy NOW). The cardigan is absolutely gorgeous. I got to try it on but I had to give it back. We all tried it on. What a treat! It's going on the book tour this fall/winter.

I am so humbled to be knitting/spinning in such amazing company. Where have you guys been all this time? Ain't Ravelry great??

Monday, August 11, 2008

Links and Stuff

It's late so I'm going to keep this short. I'm going to try to not get sucked into the Olympics tonight. I didn't sign up for the knitting olympics this time around...once every four years is enough, thank you very much. But I do tend to over dose a wee bit and it's especially gruelling when the Games are on the other side of the world and the events are live right now. Did you see the 4x100 men's swimming relay last night?? Wait wait wait...I'm not going to get sucked in. Seriously.

I promised some friends that I'd post a run down of some of my favorite online shops for yarn and spinning fiber.

High Prairie Fibers -- Unfortunately, at the time of posting, they are sold out of Ugly Batts. Check the site often, they only have so many on hand. These are a blast to spin, you never know what you're going to get. I ordered 3 pounds a couple weeks ago. There is a bit of VM to pick/shake out, but it's worth it.

Webs or -- It's almost too simple, isn't it? I order from them quite a bit. Great selection of yarn and most is discountable. I ordered most of yarn for Zack's afghan from Webs and probably saved 40-50%.

Another good yarn site is Elann. They carry a lot of close-out yarns so if you see something that you have to have, order it. Don't wait. It might not last. Also, check out their "Sneak Peak" link to see what's coming up. You can ask them to send you a reminder when a certain yarn is about to go I've done for the yummy thick/thin wool that goes on sale tomorrow.

I also order quite a bit from KnitPicks. Their undyed yarns are what I use most often as a base for the yarns I sell on Etsy.

And finally, don't be shy about checking out the local Goodwill stores for good yarn that has been knit up into a bad sweater. I have rescued lots of good yarn this way...cashmere, angora, wool. I shy away from mohair because it's a bitch to frog. With a little patience and a seam ripper, you can come up with a good amount of very useable yarn. Ravelry has a group that has all sorts of info on how to frog a sweater, what to look for, etc.

I apologize for the lack of photos. No excuse, just lazy.

Phelps is getting ready to swim again...I really need to turn off the TV, but this guy is unbelievable. He won a gold medal less than an hour ago and he's competing again. Has anyone checked him for webbed feet and gills?

Friday, August 1, 2008

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I didn't knit as much as I would have liked for a couple reasons. First, it was pretty humid in Florida (bad combo with yarn). Second, our condo neighbor was a smoker.

I knew we were in trouble the minute we got out of the car and started unloading the car. We didn't even have the trunk open when the guy next door started asking where we were from and how long we were staying. We didn't even have the key in door to the condo and we already knew he was from Dothan and that his uncle owned the condo they were in. We were in for a long week.

The guy was about 85 years old, weighed about 120 pounds and smoked like a chimney. He sat on the front porch all day long and smoked. But who could blame him? He and his wife were accompanied by their three grandsons...ages 4 to 8. Good grief.

I knew my morning ritual had to be altered so instead of taking a cup of coffee and my knitting out on the porch each morning, I took a cup of coffee and a book, and I read. I hated to seem unneighborly, but by the first evening, I already knew that he'd had 8 operations, what prescriptions he was taking and what he could and couldn't do while at the beach. I'd walk out onto the porch, say a polite good morning and dive into the pages of "World Without End." It was my only way of escaping.

The mornings were spent rather peacefully. There was a nest of mourning doves and they provided a nice melodic cooing that was only interrupted each 4 minutes by the flick of a bic cigarette lighter. Dude could suck back some butts!

Like I said, I didn't knit much, but I devoured "World Without End" by Ken Follett. I highly recommend the book. It's set in the 1300s in England. (It's been years since I've written a book report.) The main characters are a builder and a nun who battle serfdom, the plague and the priory. It takes place about 200 years after Follett's "Pillars of the Earth", which is about cathedral building. (That's another great book that I highly recommend.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Three Hour Tour

Lucky for us, the boats were running to Shell Island today so we hopped aboard the Captain Anderson III for a three hour tour. We had a great time playing in the surf and looking for shells. When we left the island we searched for dolphins and found a pod of them right at the entrance to the bay. I didn't get any photos because it's hard to predict where they're going to come to the surface. There must have been about 10 in the pod. It was really cool when they all breached at the same time. It was a good tour...nothing like the SS Minnow's 3-hour tour!

Then I cast on this: It's the drop stitch scarf. I've got it in my "projects" in Ravelry. More details there.

I'll leave you with tonight's sunset. Life's a beach!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rough Seas Ahead

For the past two days two red flags have flown over the beaches here in Florida. That means the beaches are closed to swimmers because of dangerous conditions. Hurricane Dolly stirred up the Gulf of Mexico and the waves are about 4 to 5 feet. The problem isn't necessarily the waves, it's the rip current. Today a 60 year old man from Florida drowned after being caught in the rip current. Six people had to be rescued. That news pretty much stopped the boys from asking why they couldn't go into the water. Very sad.

If the boats are running, tomorrow we're going to go to Shell Island. Wheee!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where Am I?

As one of my favorite poets says, "The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful..."
We can see the northernmost arms of tropical storm Dolly way off in the distance over the Gulf. The storm is too far away to cause us any grief, and so far the weather has been typical for Florida--hot. The surf is supposed to be pretty high today at 3 to 4 feet. I'm looking forward to good waves for boogie boarding.

The connection is very slow, so blogging must be kept to a minimum. More later!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Flip Flops

You've got to have new flip flops for a trip to the beach. You'd think flip flops would be easy to come by this time of year. Nope. I wear a size 9, which, it seems, a lot of other women wear. I found black and red at Old Navy. I love Old Navy flip flops, but not in black or red. They're nice and squishy and the thingy that goes between your toes isn't very thick...important quality in a good flip flop. Well, anyway I was very disappointed in the selection of size 9 flip flops. Make that size 9 CHEAP flip flops. A pair shouldn't cost more than a gallon of gas. I have standards.

Beach knitting:
Question for my seven subscribers: what should I take to the beach to knit? Last year I worked on the Lorna's Laces socks. I really don't think I want to do socks this year, but I need something smallish. I'll take the Cabaret Raglan just because, but I need an official beach project. I'll be there over July 25th (think Christmas in July). Oh...and I just bought a new air conditioner/gas heat unit (ouch!!) so whatever I knit has to be something with yarn from my stash. That makes things interesting. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Beach reading:
World Without End by Ken Follett (about 1/2 way through with this, excellent so far!)
Pieceworks Magazine (pin cushion winners)
Knitter Universe (Summer 2008)
Unfortunately my best smutty beach novel is on loan...drat! (Dark Paradise by Tami Hoag)
Help! I need another book! Thoughts? Suggestions?

By the way...are there any good yarn shops in or near Panama City Beach? I know that about half way through the trip I'm going to need to get away from the testosterone!! Yarn will help.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tonight I Blog

It seems like I have some catching up to do. I've been spending a lot of time at my computer at work so coming home to type hasn't been terribly appealing. I'm sure you can relate.

I thought about posting fiber photos, but changed my mind. Enjoy the random shots of what's been happening lately.

Wakeboarding - Old Hickory Lake, June 2008

Drumfish caught by Zack (from shore) - Old Hickory Lake, June 2008

Zack just returned from two weeks at summer camp. Yes, TWO WEEKS! He's been away from home for a week at a time but has always been connected by phone or some other means. There was no phone contact, just letters and post cards. Separation anxiety (on my part) kicked in around day 3 and left on day 4. I bought new bedding. Then I went yarn shopping. I ate sushi, read a couple of good books and played with fiber. I had a great time at home and Zack had a great time at camp! Win win!

The Cabaret Raglan is coming along very nicely. I'm starting on the front lace panel. I got the Spring/Summer Vogue Knitting magazine, and I'm finding it hard to focus on the raglan. The blue cable and lace shell is calling...loudly...I'm thinking green bamboo blend. I digress. Back to the raglan...believe it or not, I've never followed a chart before, which is the main reason I wanted to knit this sweater. The chart is pretty simple and it makes sense. Charts always looked so scary and complicated before. I feel like I've turned a new knitting leaf! Bring on the lace!

The Mama C shetland wool is now plied and off the wheel. I tried a 2-ply, navaho-ply and 3-ply. The 2-ply was too wimpy and Navaho was too inconsistent. (Navaho is basically a three ply, but you do it with one strand of yarn in an over-exagerated crochet chain stitch motion.) I settled on a traditional three ply and it's lovely! I haven't counted the yardage yet, but I have 4 pretty decent sized skeins. I'd like to get a vest out of it.

On the Ashford right now is an experiment in wool and silk. I'm loving it! I don't know if it will remain a singles, or if I'll ply it with something. Right now it's about a DK to worsted weight. I don't want it much thicker, but I think I need a "binder" to keep it all nice and twisty.

Upcoming road trip: Panama City Beach! Get out the black socks and metal detector, here I come!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Things We Do

Sometimes I think I must be nuts. I spent my day at "Field Day 2008". More ham radio stuff. You can click the link if you are so inclined.

However, before you start feeling too sorry for me, I must confess a little secret. I left "KI4LMR" in the capable hands of the WCARES volunteers and went to Murfreesboro to pay a visit to the Knaughty Knitter. It was a good visit. I bought two bags of mixed fiber batts. They are killer gorgeous! When my batteries recharge, I'll post photos.

This was my first visit to Knaughty Knitter's shop (visited booths at numerous fiber events) and I could kick myself for not going sooner. The shop is a couple blocks off the town square and is in a small converted house. Three rooms of fiber!! This shop is the only one in the area that sells both yarn and spinning fiber. She has an awesome selection of both. I found myself fondling her huge selection of Lopi Lite until reality smacked me upside the head reminding me that it was 95 degrees outside. Knaughty Knitter is worth the drive...get a group together and make a day of it! (There are also some great new restaurants and shopping in the 'Boro.)

When I returned to Field Day, I found myself a nice patch of shade (very scarce!) and commenced to knitting on the Cabaret Raglan. Would someone please remind me to WRITE DOWN INCREASES AND DECREASES when I decide to be clever and alter a pattern to include waist shaping? I don't know why counting rows has become so difficult for me, but I've done a partial frog on this sweater FOUR times because I can't seem to count to seven. I am an idiot. I did get to the raglan decrease on the front, which means I start the pattern on the next row. No fair making bets on how many times I frog due to attention deficit while decreasing and working a pattern!

I just realized that I haven't mentioned that Zack is at camp. He is at a two-week resident camp and this is the longest I've ever gone without talking to him. It's very quiet around the house and the poor dog keeps checking his bedroom. He'll be home on the 4th, just in time for fireworks!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Bits

Believe it or not, there are times when I don't knit or spin during my down time. I read. I watch movies. I even watch TV. For some reason I'm totally hooked on CSI Miami. I can't explain it. Maybe it's all the pretty colors. We can discuss this later.

Tonight I want to tell you about the book I just finished, "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant. It's about Dinah, Jacob's only daughter. Most people know the story of Jacob and his sons, especially Joseph (and the coat of many colors). This book explores the lives of the women of that time. Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, Bilhah, Dinah and other characters of the author's invention. Even though Dinah is just briefly mentioned in Genesis, her life comes alive in "The Red Tent." I found it difficult to put the book down. Find it. Read it!

This afternoon I started "World Without End" by Ken Follett. This is the sequel to "Pillars of the Earth", however I've been told that you don't need to read Pillars first. I read Pillars years ago...before it made Oprah's book list. Pillars is set in the Dark Ages as the great cathedrals of Europe are being built. Fantastic book! "World Without End" takes place 200 years later in the same village. I'm only 5 chapters into the book but already I'm enthralled!

Authors amaze me. As I sit here and struggle over typing out a few simple words about what is going on in my life, I can't help but be in awe of their talent. A well-written book is so satisifying that I find myself reading passages several times just for the enjoyment of it.

Update on the Cabaret Raglan. I've got to frog. DANG IT! An important lesson was learned here. Write down how often you increase and decrease, then count the rows carefully. I'm off by 4 rows and will need to trash about 3 inches of boring stockinette. Probably not enough to make a huge difference, but enough to bug the crap out of me. So...a'frogging I will go.

Go forth and read while I go forth and frog...ribbit...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Bits

There's been a lot of talk lately about what people in the U.S. are doing with their economic stimulus checks. When the rebate idea was first announced, I decided I would spend a little bit on my fiber habit. Defining "little bit" has proven difficult, but I believe I've come up with a plan. I signed up for a spinning class in September at the Appalachian Center for Craft. Want to join me? There is only room for 12 students. Go! Sign up! Now!

Speaking of joining me... Do you want to get together with a group of knitters during lunch? It's a great way to de-stress just bit during the week. If you work in downtown Nashville, there are a couple good knitting opportunities during lunch. A small group meets at Dunn's Coffee House (right beneath the L&C Tower) each Wednesday. Another group meets on the 2nd Monday of the month at the main branch of the public library. Check out the Nashville Ravelers group on Ravelry for more info.

Project update: all the shetland (Mama C) has been spun into singles, now I need to ply. While my thumb was sore, I predrafted some wool that I dyed a couple months ago.I might spin it up next...maybe add a little sari silk. The Cabaret Raglan is coming along nicely. The back is done and I'm about 1/2 way finished with the front. I haven't made much progress on the Socks That Rock Terra Firma. They're just not as soft as I'd like. I'm trying...but...these have all the signs of being a colossal u.f.o. (un finished object).

Speaking of U.F.O.s, I have one that just might get the record on Ravelry. I'll have to dust it off and take photos. The 80s weren't terribly good for knitters.

Reader poll: what's your oldest U.F.O. and why did you abandon it? Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Shall we ponder?

It's been a rough week and I need to gripe a bit.

Have you ever encountered a person who looks for things to get mad about? I work with someone who isn't happy unless he's unhappy about something. Does that make sense? Life is too short to get ticked off about a quarter tank of gas in a rental car.

I work in an open cubicle area and one of my neighbors listens to country music and another listens to a melange of classic rock. Neither one uses headphones so I hear both radio stations at the same time. Why do they think I want to listen to their music? My head phones should give them a hint.

Someone once told me that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. Trust me, there are stupid questions. I've had many this week.

I knit so I don't kill people. I'm not joking. I've made excellent progress on the Cabaret Raglan. Back is done, front is about 1/3. With the way things are going at work, I'll have it finished in a matter of days.

Friday, May 30, 2008

And the good news is... thumb is NOT broken!!! After further study by the radiologist, what looked like a crack in the bone ,was really a very tiny vein. No more splint and no more whining pouting! However, it still really hurts and the bruising is hideous. My hand is a lovely shade of putrid green. But, I'll take bruising over breaking any day!

Must knit and spin this much time lost.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Catching Up

Has it only been a week since I posted?

Last Saturday, I went to the Tennessee Fiber Festival in Dickson and had a wonderful time! I bought this:

  • Ashford Niddy Noddy from Wendy at Countryside Crafts. She’s from Etheridge, TN. (I needed another one...just a little longer than the one Zack made for me.)
  • Jet black wool roving from Three Creeks Farm in Charlotte, TN
  • Lavender and Light Lavender wool/mohair 50/50 blend rovings from Deer Trace Farm…DRAT I don’t have a link for them
  • Black angelina, green/blue wool batt and “color change” carded roving from Little Barn
  • Two bumps of wool, mohair, angora, glitz blend from Jacque at the Outback Managerie. She’s from McEwen, TN
I took two classes and made this in the felting workshop:
The other workshop was an introduction to Naalbinding (pronounced NAL bin ding). I don't have any good photos of the same I made, sorry! This is the first time I've signed up for workshops and I'm so glad I did. It made the festival experience so much better. Don't get me wrong, shopping at the vendor booths is great, but learning new stuff in the company of other fiber addicts enthusiasts is awesome!

Saturday was great!

Sunday, however, was a completely different story.

I broke my thumb. Short version: rip cord on the lawn mower recoiled, wound around the lawn mower handle and slammed into my thumb like a hammer. Luckily, I was wearing heavy leather/suede work gloves. I knew from the moment of impact that something bad had happened. I swore for a while, and when that didn't help, I went to the doctor for x-rays. The bone is cracked about half way through. Right now, I have a splint. I'll find out tomorrow if I need further immobilization. Whoopee.

So.... No spinning. Minimal knitting. Buttoning is a bitch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

To Quote Alice Cooper...

"School's out for summer!" Tomorrow is actually the last day, but it's a half-day and doesn't really count. Zack's last final was on Tuesday, and today was field day (i.e. we have nothing more to teach therefore the students shall spend the day outside) so the last day was really yesterday. Tomorrow is just a technicality.

At the moment, I'm feeling contemplative and more than a little thankful.

The school year started out quite badly with some personality conflicts of the middle school variety. There were many tears and no laughter. I was terrified. A guidance counselor came to Zack's rescue, and after a little schedule rearranging, things gradually calmed down. I'm thankful someone listened and helped Zack get on his feet.

Zack developed some good friends this year. One friend invited him to the beach for a week, another friend encouraged him to start attending scouts again. One good friend is the son of Zack's father's best friend from high school. (Small world!) I'm thankful that Zack possesses good character judgement and that his friends are good kids.

Zack's teachers this year have been wonderful and I'm thankful for each one of them. They listened, they were responsive, they helped and guided. Most importantly each one of them provided encouragement and positive reinforcement. I wish Zack could take them with him to high school next year.

Some people might think that we've just been lucky this year because of the way things have worked out. That's one way to look at it. But just when I'm at the end of my rope and I find myself asking, "What am I going to do or how am I going to manage?" a door opens and God shows me His plan. I learned a long time ago that He does answer prayers, it just might not be the answer I thought I wanted. I am so thankful that "Thank you, God" seems so small.

I do have a few high school-related items that I've already started praying about even though we're just beginning summer break. I'm praying for the friends that Zack hasn't met yet, but will meet at the new school next year. I'm praying for his teachers. I'm also praying for myself...I'm the mom of a high school student! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? HOW AM I GOING TO MANAGE? I'm confident He'll show me in His time and in His way.

We are so blessed. How cool is that?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Life is a Cabaret

Last week, I experienced a tremendous moment of weakness and cast on the Cabaret Raglan by Norah Gaughan. This goes against everything I said I wouldn't do, mainly cast on another project without finishing a work in progress (WIP). But heck, your knitters/crocheters/fiber addicts, so I know you'll understand.

When I first saw this sweater in the Interweave Knits Summer 2004 magazine, it didn't really catch my eye. It was knit with ribbon yarn in pink. Two strikes right off the bat. It's funny how the color of a finished garment will greatly determine if I like the actual sweater. Sometimes when I'm browsing through a knitting magazine, I'm in such "gotta knit this" overload, that I tend to overlook a great pattern because I don't like the color in which it was originally knit. That was the case for the cabaret raglan.

When I saw the sweater again in an e-mail from Knitpicks, I was pretty surprised to find out I had that sweater pattern already in my magazine stash. How did I miss it the first time around? Pink. Ribbon yarn. So, when the sweater was presented in purple with a fetching piece of lace peeking out around the hem, and knit in a standard worsted cotton/wool blend, it caught my eye.

I'm doing a few modifications to the pattern, mainly waist shaping. I shant go into the details of what a waistline does when one passes one's 40th (and 41st, 42nd, etc, etc) birthday, but I really don't want to wear a sweater that is straight as a toothpick. Adding waist shaping is all well and good in theory, but I didn't really know how to do it. Until I pulled my favorite cotton summer sweater out of winter storage. It's my favorite because it has waist shaping and 3/4 sleeves.
I spread that sweater out on the counter and took many measurements. Then I swatched until I hit the right gauge. I cast on the appropriate number of stitches and started knitting. I'm making the sweater just a touch smaller than my favorite (not because I think I'll lose weight, but because the cabaret gauge is much bigger and I fear it will stretch easier.)

Photos as of the other night.
I'll discuss the yarn I'm using in my next post. It's late!
Good night!

p.s. this weekend is the Tennessee Fiber Arts Festival in Dickson, TN...see you there!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Have a Little P.D.K.

...or Public Display of Knitting!!

If you've never done it in public, it's time you let go of your inhabitions and do it while other people watch. Trust me, it is liberating. You will find heightened levels of pleasure as passersby watch your talented fingers move with such assurance and purpose. The size of the project doesn't matter, nor does your technique. You can knit Continental or English...or, if you're like can go either way. Does that mean I'm a bi-knitter?

If you feel that you'd rather do it with a group than solo, I encourage you to find other knitters in your community and join the knitters around the globe for the World Wide Knit in Public Day on June 14. (And you thought this was something dirty...shame.) Should you be fortunate enough to live in the fair city of Nash-Vegas, the knitters are going to congregate at Centennial Park at 11am. Bring chairs, blankets, lunch, drinks (non-alcholic as this is a city park), sun screen...and your knitting! Check out the flyer. If I can make it work I'll post it on the blog, but it's giving me fits.

I'm Chris, and I do it knit in public!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Knitting, No Kidding

Forgive me, but I'm going to go a bit off-topic in this post. I have to share some great photos of not knitting and not yarn.

We had a good visit with my parents this weekend. Highlights include finding an estate sale loaded with neat stuff (purchases were made) and hiking in Carter Caves State Park. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet Grace this time around, but we'll be back.

The estate sale...I got an awesome brown ware crock for $15! It's about 8" high and in nearly perfect condition. There's a small chip on the rim, but it's so smooth that I figure it's been there for years. A cool hand loomed rag rug and a box full of vintage maps from the 1900s-30s also came home with me. But the best part of the sale was a poem we found scrawled inside a very old musty, moldy book:
Love is such a simple thing
It will flower like a blossom
If you want your finger bit
Poke it at a possum.
It's not as good as Zack's "Laws of Life", but has a certain quality about it. We laughed like hell!

The Dogwood Arts and Crafts bummer. We had to pay to get in. Not much, just $4 each. It took us about 20 minutes to walk through. Quite a few of the booths were empty and many booths had very similar offerings. I don't want to offend anyone, but I was pretty disappointed. I've been to Tamarack, WV and that's what I was kind of expecting, especially since tickets were available through ticketmaster. However, there were some artists that had beautiful things. I especially liked the demo by the glass bead maker. She was very good and fun to watch. She was the only one actually demonstating her art.

Hiking at Carter Caves...awesome! The wild flowers were out in full force. After a while we almost became numb due to flower overload. The trilliums rocked! It's like they were on steriods. There are more photos in my flickr album. We trekked about 3.5 miles or so.

Zack's hand shows how large the leaves are. Don't worry, he's not going to pick it!

I don't know what these are, but they are pretty.

More me, there were thousands!

One of many caves

A natural bridge...if you look closely you can see Zack climbing up the dirt.

Someone who just had lunch...or breakfast.

I hated taking this photo. The gap was narrow and very deep.

Fiddle head ferns.

It was a good visit, but I wish we had another day or two.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Not much time to post. Enjoy the flowers. It's dogwood season in southern Ohio (not where I live, but where I happen to be at the moment.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Bit of Show and Tell

I had a particularly rotten yesterday, which escalated into an unexpected trip to the doctor's office. All is well now, but there was some rupturing of a female kind that nearly did me in. It hurt so much that I couldn't knit or spin...and how cruel is that when THIS came in the mail???
It's 8 ounces of 100% merino top from Creatively Dyed Yarn. (Check out her store, she has lovely stuff!) It's as pretty in person as it is in the photo. Just looking at it (and petting it...trying not to drool on it) really helped me through my crappy day. I'll spin it up as soon as I get the shetland (Mama C) off my bobbins. I've heard tell that one can never have too many bobbins. I'm beginning to believe that!

Roadtrip weekend!
Destination - Chesapeake, OH (just across the river from Huntington, WV) Lots going on there this weekend--craft fair at Big Sandy, jazz concert at Pullman Square and an organ recital at the Methodist Church. We're planning on squeezing in hiking and a bit of geocaching. Maybe I'll even meet GoodnessGraciousWV! Oh the possibilities are endless!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Laws of Life, a Poem

I'm pretty proud of Zack today. His poem, "Laws of Life", was one of three essays selected to represent his middle school in a county-wide writing competition. I think he did a great job!

Laws of Life
by Zack

We have enough laws
Written in the books.
We all must follow them,
Or we’d be nothing but crooks.

But we all have laws
In our own hearts,
That make us better people,
But these laws aren’t on the charts.

The laws are how we live our lives.
They keep us happy, safe and warm.
We don’t know what makes us follow them,
But they keep us out of harm.

These are called the Laws of Life.
They’re around us every day.
When you’re kind to friends and neighbors,
You’re using them in every way.
----Copyright 2008 Zack

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photos for a Saturday Night

It just occurred to me that I posted a photo of the rainbow fleece but not the finished yarn. I guess I got ahead of myself. Or it could be that I have severe lack of focus! Oh fleece!


Navaho plied so the colors will transition from red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet