Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The little perks in life

I've had a miserable day, starting with a sleepless night and ending with me not even having enough time to work on some projects I really want to do (socks, scarf), and pretty much being annoyed with my decision to double up on evening classes this summer session, when I could be knitting or dyeing or out in the garden instead.

I know this will pass with a long bubble bath and figuring out why my current projects have me frustrated (veggies socks- this means you!) I was trying to shake it off on my way home but I was still grumpy until I checked my mailbox.

A beautiful card from my SP made my day! I love kanji style artwork, and this was so pretty. I'm going to put it on my desk since the artwork signifies "Knowledge"- a great reminder when I am pulling out my hair asking why I decided to do a Master's degree and work fulltime in the first place!!

Thank you!!

Monday, May 29, 2006

A neat event

There's a wonderful raffle going on in conjunction to a knitting/spinning event in NYC in June called Spin Out 2006. The raffle features donations to one of my favorite charities, Heifer International.

Cara's set up a registry and have received a lot of yummy prizes from some generous vendors. Want more details on the raffle?

Here's the details to the NYC event: Spin Out Some cute T shirts to be had, too!

What a great idea!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Putting together little gifts

I've managed to start socks, and am feeling rather accomplished about it. I had purchased two size 2 circulars for it but as it turns out, the tutorial I am using was for DPNs, so I found the set of 3s I had purchased and wrestled my way through the first part. I'd say I've knit about 1 cm of k2p2 and it's looking ok, except I'm worried that I might have a twisted side, Even though I tried really hard not to. Hopefully, a little farther down will show me I am fussing over nothing. If anything, at least I'm learning how to work with four needles.

I'll try two circulars on the next pair, once I figure out how to work these DPNs. I'm not liking the yarn color so much. Knitpicks called it daffodil, I call it "vegetable medley". It reminds me of the frozen veggie medley of lima beans, corn, cubed carrots and peas. I set it aside for my first pair, and I'm glad I did- it is easy to work with. Just not a color I'd want to wear much.

I spent yesterday making some goodies for my Secret Pals, writing out cards and wrapping up their packages. It's a lot of fun to plan gifts for others- both of mine are so different (from each other, and myself!) that I'm finding it interesting to see what each of them would like, as they knit very different things than I normally would.

Gypsy's ready for Memorial Day to start- I think she thinks the ribs we'll be cooking are for HER!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

So in love!

Blue Moon Fiber Arts just updated their website and I went over to peek while I mentally scolded myself on not trying socks yet. They have new colorways up and I fell head over heels in love with Highway 30- which completely surprised me since normally I am not a pink person. But the olive matches it nicely. I also like Scottish Highlands- but love LOVE Highway 30.

Is it wrong to learn how to knit socks primarily to enjoy the fabulous yarn? Sure, I know I could use it to knit something else but the idea of such beautiful socks really appeals to me. I'll just have to get off the fence and decide whether to use DPNs or two circulars and give it a try.

Monday, May 22, 2006

FO: Booga Bag

Booga Blocking: After four runs through the washer, I decided to block. Looking back, I'd probably wash one more time to get all the stitch definition out but I was really curious to see how it would look. The booga bag fit around a Cisco networking book, which is thankfully not mine.

Side view: I like having the knits decorate the front of the bag, and using the longer strap as a shoulder strap.It's very neat and compact, fits a wallet and a small noebook in it but not half the junk my current purse does (that's a good thing... my roomier purses collect junk). I wish it was a bit bigger- it reminds me of a cool lunchbag. :)

Front view: I've already got compliments on it. I'm probably going to try a larger variation on it when I get a chance. I definitely love it!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Some interesting tutorials

My booga bag is blocked and ready to go! It ended up quite a bit smaller than I expected. I should pay more attention to the dimensions before starting out on the project, but it will be a fun purse to use when I just need a few smaller items instead of everything that is crammed into my oversize tote. I only used 2.5 skeins of the Noro Kureyon and decided to save the leftovers from this and future Noros for a rainbow felted project down the line. It was a fun knit and I'm very proud of the results.

In the course of starting my next project, I was confused: it mentioned dropping stitches, continuing on and then at the end when it is bound off, to unravel the stitches. My mind keeps telling me dropping stitches and unravelling sounds bad, although I've seen the pretty results of these techniques. Thanks to some helpful members of Knitting Novices and a few private emails, I came across the following tutorials which may be a great resource to someone else.

Drop-stitch and felted join

Knitting Tutorial: Dropping Stitches

Thursday, May 18, 2006

In Love with Suri Dream!

My Booga bag is enjoying a hot bath right now, and hopefully will be done this time around. Third time in the washer, and I'm ready to block. It's looking much smaller than I expected, though.

I started a new project with the Suri Dream (except I opted for the lilac instead of the green). It took me a while to figure out the provisional cast on method and how to work with yarn that's this fuzzy/light/airy, but this yarn feels absolutely divine. I can tell I'll be trying this out again!

It's knitting up quickly, and I hope to have it done in short order. This evening, I have a date with the furball curled up next to me as I knit happily on the couch, watching last night's Lost episode.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Finally, some sunshine!

We've had rain and general gloom since last Friday, and finally, the sun appears. I came home and immediately curled up by a window with this i-cord. I'm just not handy at i-cords and this one looks like a 3 year old did it (my apologies to all three year olds reading this blog). I'm starting to be concerned that if I can't manage an i-cord, how will I handle tiny needles for socks.

Tonight is the finale of The Amazing Race and a new episode of Lost which will be TiFauxed and watched later this week. Normally, I don't get to watch that much television but tonight, I have one foot of i-cord left and Suri Dream waiting in the wings. I'm a woman on a mission.

I have been looking for used copies of either of two Noro books: Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton book, Noro Revisited or Simply Noro, by Jane Ellison. I can't find used copies anywhere, and will probably break down and buy one of them. It may be a while before I can decide which one.

I signed up for the intro to spinning class this weekend, and will be venturing off to my first sheep and wool festival. I wish I could have made the Maryland one a few weeks back since it was larger, but it was during my last weeks of school. I'm not sure what I can learn in one hour, but it should give me a feel for spinning to see if I am coordinated enough to do it. There was a dyeing class as well but I am going to save that for a different day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


How one celebrates the end of school... delicious champagne and food (and watching reruns of Firefly!)

I'm not sure I liked the knitting group- most of it involved one particular group gossiping about people I don't know. Not much knitting talk at all. But I did make some progress on my i-cord (left the Suri Dream at home to start another day) and I found out about a spinning class taught at a fiber festival next weekend. Luckily, school does not start until the 22nd, so its perfect timing if I can go.

I am still working on this i-cord, about halfway through and I am getting to the point where I just want to be done with it. My i-cord is not looking so good but I'm hoping the felting will make it look fine. I really want to see the final product!

Trust me... this tastes even better than it looks! Yum! I'll have to remember this on Monday when I'm eating healthier fare.

A few changes in my lifestyle....

I have two rows left on the booga bag which I should finish this morning, and then it's just the i-cord and felting! Hopefully I'll be felting tonight!

I don't know that I want to take the cookie monster scarf to the knitting group this afternoon and somehow I don't think I should be trying to start my first attempt at socks there. So I think I'll be starting a small scarf (easy to knit) project as a future gift for a friend of mine (that's in a lovely green yarn which not only will look wonderful against her red hair, but is green for Project Spectrum!) My friend loves bright turquoises and apple greens, so I hope she'll love this as well. Plus, I've been dying to try out this yarn- Suri Dream from Knitpicks- it's so incredibly soft!

I've started to keep a current project (the knit-a-long shawl)out in the car when I'm riding along with G. I normally am skittish when riding around after being in several car accidents, but the knitting relaxes me- which both he and I appreciate!

Onto lifestyle changes:
One of the things I noticed last semester was that with two accelerated classes and working full time, trying to fit in my knitting and other forms of relaxation and entertainment... my exercise was non-existant and my nutrition was pushed aside for convenience. The lack of exercise was due to a badly sprained ankle which I didn't mind so much because it provided me with a bit more knitting time :) But the poor eating because I was constantly pressed for time with my homework load took its toll- I was sluggish and generally didn't feel at my best. Not sleeping enough and not being able to exercise didn't help.

Since I'm planning on keeping this pace for the next 14 months, I need to find a better way to eat and workout, to keep myself at my best to handle this type of workload.

So this morning, I've sorted through my pantry and cleaned it out. Luckily, today is our day when the post office picks up food donations for local charities so I can feel good about the "bad for me" food I'm giving away.

Next week, I'm going to either return to South Beach Diet because I truly love how it makes me feel- energetic and 'clean'. The only problem is that it is time consuming for menu planning and food prep. My other option is a 30 day detox program I am in the midst of researching. It will probably be the SBD, because I am familiar with the foods and have some favorite recipes, but mostly because I prefer lifestyle changes than 30 days of restiction. I think I want to incorporate some of the ideas from the detox into the foods I choose from SBD (cutting out salt, less red meat).

Needless to say, candies or sweets are out. I'm not crazy about sugar free ones and the overwhelming sweetness of that much sugar once I've adjusted to not having it in my daily life is just too much for me. And while my ankle is still tender, I've been going for walks at night and should have the exercise room set up during my week off from school.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I discovered that there's a once a month knitting group that meets tomorrow at noon. It just so happens that this is the first weekend since January that I have no school! So I'm going to head over and check it out. It will be nice to meet people in my local area that knit.

I had the first good look at the two little baby birds we're hosting on our windowsill. First time I've seen the mother leave the nest.

I'm off to do my last homework of the semester, and focus on some serious relaxing!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Vacation, all I've ever wanted....

I'm going to wrap up my spring graduate courses this Saturday, and I will have the luxury of having a whole week off from evening school until the 22nd of May, when the madness starts again and won't let up for 9 weeks. It's not a complete vacation, since I'm sadly still working fulltime but suddenly my evenings and weekends and lunches are my own.

Since January, I've been making a huge list of all the things I would do during this wonderful time- the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Looking at my list, there's no way I'll get all of the things done this year! It's overwhelming- packed with gardening, knitting, organizing, cleaning, books to read, catching up on sleep.

Since this week's supposed to be wet and miserable, the first plans I have are:
  • finish my booga bag (nearly ready to start the i-cord, and should felt this weekend)
  • buy A Good Yarn (hooray for gift cards, and for long leisurely bubblebaths to soak while reading knitterly fiction)
  • watch some movies I've Tivoed a while back with every intention of watching while I knit
  • organize our spare room (soon-to-be exercise room with a closet for yarn stash)
  • start my first pair of socks!
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Denise Deal!

    From one of my knitting groups:
    Denise Needles at $40 (Hint: look under knitting supplies)
    I've been wanting to try these...

    I need to check into their shipping. Knitpicks charges more but it will qualify for free shipping and then I can add on a splurge or two. :) But if the shipping is not too bad, psyarns' price is too good to pass up!

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    WIPS: Cookie monster scarf and Booga Bag

    I'm braindead, so this will be a quick update with pictures of my WIPs.

    Funfur Scarf for coworkers' birthday. Reminds me of Cookie Monster.
    I have learned from this that I am not a Fun Fur person.

    My Booga Bag- 15 more rows to do and then tackling the i-cord. I've never done one so it should be interesting. Really, I thought the Booga bag would be bigger, I can't imagine the size once it felts.

    My Secret Pal contacted me and I contacted mine. I'm so glad that's all sorted out! This should be a lot of fun!

    Dove update: It looks as though its at least two baby birds, since there were feathers sticking out both ways from under her. Please note, this is as close as I've ever gotten to baby animals that aren't puppies (and the baby rabbits we rescued from our garden before Gypsy discovered them and "played" with them last year). So yes, I get excited about baby birds, and bunnies. :)

    No baby bird pictures yet, but here's my walk down bunny memory lane...

    Gypsy wants to play with them!

    Baby birds!

    We have baby bird(s)! I'm not sure how many, because all I saw was a ruffle of scraggly features tucked under the mourning dove. But it looks as though the eggs hatched well. I'll try to sneak a picture if I can do so without bothering the birds.

    I'm down to three Lost episodes left on TiFaux, and I was so engrossed that I knitted all the fun fur up and had to go purchase more. I had double stranded the fun fur to accomodate the size 15 needles but I should have only done 14 stitches across. Somehow 25 stitches was wider than I expected. But I want it to be long enough to wrap around.

    Hopefully, pictures of the Booga bag in progress coming up tonight.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006


    I have not worked on my booga bag since I started this funfur scarf, realized I hated to work with it. I think I'm about halfway through it, and hopefully I'll get an hour or two today to work on it without being interrupted. Especially since the person who requested the funfur scarf has informed me I can also make her a second one when I'm done (?!). I think I will be too busy with other knitting projects, gardening and school to continue making funfur scarfs, though.

    Still no word on SP matches. I was hoping to distract myself with that tidbit of knowledge but no such luck. I have six Ti-fauxed Lost episodes calling my name, since Lost is on my homework due date every week and I never get a chance to watch it. Next week, when school is done, I'll have to have a Lost mini-marathon and finish up my booga bag.

    I fell in love with a sweater yesterday while reading through people's blogs, and I already have the book with the pattern (To Dye For out of Stitch n Bitch). It meets my requirements of snuggly, soft and flattering! It's a gorgeous color and looked wonderful on the knitter. It looks so much better than the pattern picture!! I especially liked the cowl she did. I'm going to have to add that onto my ever growing list of future projects.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Fun fur- not so much fun.

    Dear Margo talks about Knitting Etiquette

    I took a break the other night to try out the fun fur scarf I'm making for a coworker. The enormous (size 15) needles I handled just fine, but I'm just not enjoying the texture and I feel like it's all over the place. It looks cute and I know she will enjoy it a great deal, but I think once in a blue moon will be enough for me. I have plenty of other projects to do in the meantime.

    The only DPN set I could find at Michaels was a size 3. I don't know what size I need so I picked them up anyway. My starter sock yarn takes needles size 1-3s. I had trouble locating any sock sized DPN (or circulars, for that matter) needles at AC Moore and JoAnns, too. I wish I had just ordered some online because I'm not having any luck here.

    Knitpicks absolutely rocks- I ordered on Wednesday, received today- standard shipping!

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Knitting for self or others?

    I finally turned in my homework, which always sends me into a reeling sense of productivity and accomplishment. So I went to find my plastic stash bin, and looked over all the projects-to-be that I've accumulated.

    Do some knitters find they knit mostly for others?

    With the exception of socks, which has become a personal goal for me to learn the process, almost all my yarn is yarn I adore, but have earmarked for a loved one or family or charity. (Yes, I realize this makes no sense as my family lives in Texas, and does not need or probably want wooly scarves, mittens, sweaters or wristwarmers, and they aren't really shawl people, either). That just means I get to be more creative.

    I think finding and planning the item for the person is almost as much fun as giving it. There's a personal touch that is so appealing to me. Instead of giving a gift certificate for a facial for Mother's Day (which made a perfectly fine gift for long distance, and one that was appreciated), the idea of making a loved one something with my own hands, and spending time and effort and love into creating something... it just touches me. Part of it is because I am a bit homesick and this allows me to feel close to that person as I create the item. And part of this is because my life could so easily be consumed with work and school, that it is a bit of a release to pour myself into these projects.

    There are items I definitely have bookmarked for myself and it seems to be ever growing, but I'm finding that being able to create items for others is a benefit I had not expected to enjoy so much.

    Working on patience.

    I saw that Secret Pal 8 said to check your email for the name of your secret pal since they are starting to send out the matches, so I hurried over... and found nothing.

    Drat. I'm really looking forward to my first SP! I love putting together maillove.

    In other news, I'm knitting my Booga when I should be studying. I'm up to 35 rows out of 64 on the side, and then have the i-cord left.

    (Edited to Add: What a day! I was having trouble downloading a webcast for school from my home, so I went to a nearby restaurant that I thought has a Wifi connection. As it turns out, I wasted an hour because most of the restaurants in that chain have it, but not that particular one.) But while I was on that side of town, I bought the funfur that my coworker requested for her birthday scarf. I'll play a bit with it tonight before I sleep. I've never used needles size 15 before either- they feel like "training needles". I don't think I like the funfur texture for myself, but I think I'll enjoy knitting it for her since I know how much she's talked about wanting this type of scarf for football games. I almost bought DPNs, but I need to find a specific pattern of sock and find out what size I need to purchase.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire

    1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
    I adore variegated colors and interesting textures, and have a preference for natural fibers. I love alpaca, cashmere, and soft wool, but then again, I’m only a knitter of 6 months and am still exploring to find what I like. I’m open to trying new things.

    What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I don’t like really harsh acrylics that hurt my hands, and I’m not fond of eyelash or novelty yarn. Softer acrylics don’t bother my hands, though. I just tend to prefer natural fibers.

    2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I just store them in the plastic bins I store my yarn in, usually banded together to prevent me from losing them. I try to keep them organized but so far I seem to spend my money on acquiring stash, not organizing it! I'd really like to find the time to organize my stash and add in some lavendar sachets for moth control.

    3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I started in December 2005, and am a beginner. I’m also balancing fulltime work and graduate school, so I’m making slow but steady progress.

    4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? My Froogle one will be on my sidebar when it's completed.

    5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Soft fresh scents like Linen, Mandarin, Cucumber Melon, or soothing scents like Lavender or Vanilla.

    6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? I love Sour Patch Kids and Pop Rocks. I also love milk chocolate, or dark chocolate with raspberries! Edited to Add: I'm watching what I eat pretty seriously, however, and I'm not allowing myself sweet indulgences at the moment.

    7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I love dyeing yarn but I’m still very new to that, and I’d love to learn how to spin. I used to make soaps, and paint and sketch. Otherwise, I tend to be more creative through cooking- domestic but not exactly crafty. I'd love to get back to soapmaking but I only have so much free time.

    8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Yes, it can play Cds and mp3s. I like 80s music. Billy Joel and Rob Thomas. 90s Alternative music. Spanish guitar and sultry bellydance type music. Soft female singers like Loreena McKinnett, Sarah McLaughlin, Dido, etc. But not Mariah Carey or boy bands.

    9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? I love rich chestnuts, wines, plums, blues, greens, dove greys, smoky blues, corals. I also love Caribbean colors, cornflower blues, aquas, clear greens, that sort of thing.

    Any colors you just can't stand? I’m not a big fan of 70s style mustard brown or pea green in general, but sometimes in small doses…

    10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? Gypsy, my lab/springer spaniel rescue, is my loveable troublemaker. She loves to eat my bamboo straight needles. She usually curls up next to me while I knit, and snores loudly. She’s my imp.

    11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Scarves and hats. I’ve never tried a poncho. I love my current gloves so I probably won’t wear mittens.

    12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I am trying something new each time, so I have not found a favorite yet.

    13. What are you knitting right now? Booga Bag, and by May 15th, I’ll hopefully be starting my first pair of socks. If not, I've got a backup project waiting in the wings.

    14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes :)

    15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Well, my puppy likes to chew on Bamboo, so I've been trying the aluminum straights. She's not munched my bamboo circulars, though. I’m still figuring out my preferences, and it depends on the project and type of yarn. I'm starting to really like circs.

    16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? As of today, I own a yarn winder!

    17. How did you learn to knit? From the internet and various books.

    18. How old is your oldest UFO? 4 months, but since I’ve only been knitting 6 months, I’m not sure that’s a great ratio to have.

    19. What is your favorite holiday? The New Year. For me, it’s a chance to reflect, and renew my spirit.

    Odd factoid I found: April is national frog month. Who knew?

    20. Is there anything that you collect? Recipes. Yarn.

    21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

    On my “someday future wish list”:
    tvini's Jayne Hat Kit

    The Knitting Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face: Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask

    What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? None- yet. I’m still trying to find the right one and to find the time to read them each month. I’m the type of person who reads magazines from cover to cover and saves interesting patterns.

    22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Entrelac, laces, cabling, and socks!

    23. Are you a sock knitter? I want, desperately, to be a sock knitter. So far I am not. The instructions are very hard for me to decipher. But I’m determined to do it.

    What are your foot measurements?
    Foot circumference: 8.75"
    Foot length: 10”

    24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) October 28

    Not Knitting

    I loved V for Vendetta, and could not resist this spoof:

    What happens in a futuristic world where the consumption of cookies is controlled by the government?

    C is for Cookie