Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Binging and Purging

If any of you have Scorpios in your lives, you know how hard they can crash and burn from time to time before they rise to renewed glory out of the ashes. I'm learning as I grow older to recognized these crash and burn scenarios and try to head them off at the pass before they blind side me. Such have been the last four weeks. I had so much coming at me that I had to purge some parts of my life that I didn't really want to but had to in order to maintain my sanity. I took sabbatical from most everything except work, the Things and knitting. The rest of it - including email, blogging and blog reading - was placed carefully aside to wait until I got past that "oh shit I'm drowning, somebody save me" period that I was having. And while I've missed keeping up with your fiberadventures and showing you all of the gifts that have been flying off my needles, I was glad to have the break. I didn't spiral into depression. I didn't keep myself up at night with anxiety attacks. And most of all, I was readily to the important people in my life. So many wondrous things have happened over the last few weeks. My organization received grant funding so I'll get to start back into my job full time very soon. My knitting classes have gone nuts lately and I have students coming out of my ears. I'm getting orders for hand knit items for the holidays. And I've spent loads of quality time with familiy and friends. I'm learning to say no and not "manage" (tee hee - Heaz) every aspect of my life. And also learning that sometimes letting go is really a good thing.

I'm sorry that I missed my own deadline for the Fall Foto contest. I promise to catch up on entries and wrap it up in the coming weeks. I also apologize for not responding to comments or emails. I hope to get some knitting photos up soon and resume some components of "regular" life in the coming weeks.(((((Big Hugs))))))))

Friday, October 28, 2005

A tale of two socks and Fantastic Foto Friday - Part One

(***Edited to add: What is up with Bloglines? It seems like everyone is just now able to see my Rogue post from last Friday!!! This sock post went up Oct. 28th. When did it appear in Bloglines for you? How annoying!)

Howdy! I hate that I haven't been able to post more than once a week as of late but man have I been busy. While there's still no word on my job, I've at least been able to rack up some extra hours. It has taken some of the edge off.

And Monday marks a milestone for me. I will no longer be a part of the 22-35 demographic bracket. Yes folks, I'll turn 36 this Halloween (Any other Halloweenies out there?). But you know, I'm not bitter and I'm not sad about getting older. So I have a few more pounds and wrinkles than I want but I also have gained great knowledge over the last three decades. As people have asked me what I want for my birthday, I've been given the opportunity to ponder my wants. And in the process I realize, I really don't have any "wants." I have everything that I want: great, loving friends; both of my parents and my brother; an incredible roof over my head; a loving husband and children; my health; a job; creative skills; I live in freedom - what more should I want? I personally know people who have tremendous health needs, who have recently lost loved ones, who long for love, who have lost their jobs. No, I have no wants. I'm just happy to have so much to be thankful for :)

Okay, on to what you really came here for, A Tale of Two Socks - the desert sock and the metropolitan sock. I joined Lolly's Socktoberfest (holy cow I just substituted a C for the S when typing. What on earth was I thinking?) in hopes that it would prompt me to finish a pair of socks that I started this summer. Well, that plan didn't work because I was distracted by a skein of Koigu that Heaz gave me that has been calling to me for several weeks. Tuesday night, I decided that I would use it to teach myself a new skill and discover the world of toe up socks (vs cuff down socks). Using Wendy's Knitty tutorial on the figure 8 cast on and with many false starts, I was finally able to get it started. I took the sock with me to a meeting in Richmond on Wed. and knocked out several inches over the course of two hours. Isn't it funny how people are so amazed by anything knit on double points, even knitters!

Me likie! Me likie a lot. And so does Thing 1 who shamelessly asked me if he could have them when they're finished since they look like Desert Storm camo. Considering that this is the first thing that he's asked me to knit him besides a thong (YIKES!), I will happily oblige him.

The sock bug has bitten me in a hard way. Whilst searching for more patterns online, I came across a footie pattern using cashmere. Now who just frogged an extra large men's cashmere sweater and has tons of this stuff sitting around? ME!!!! So I cast on for a pair of cashmere socks too after knitting a test swatch/bookmark to get a gauge sample. Mmmmm, cashmere socks.

Both of the Things commented on how uber soft this yarn is and I have to agree. Cashmere is some serious fiber crack. And it only cost me three bucks! Score. To add icing to the cake (have I mentioned that I'm jonesin' for some buttercream icing?), a friend of mine just gifted me with some old sweaters, three of which are cashmere. I only had the heart to frog one of them (that's the seafoam colored yarn that you see in the picture)though. Let's just say that I won't be frogging any machine stitched sweaters in the future - unless they're cashmere. What a pain in the arse! There were many, many, many, many tiny stitches to rip before you could even frog the yarn. But I'm here to prove to you that it can be done with minimal breaks in the yarn too. How dare anyone tell me that I can't do something?

And in line with the whole sock thing and to get a jump start on holiday knitting, I joined the Fuzzy Feet along that Crazy Aunt Purl dared us all to be a part of. I'm going to love knitting these and all of my family and friends will have happy warm feet for Christmas.

I also finished my first test knit - a Boy Toy dog toy for Annie's new book. It's not a good picture. As usual for Annie, the pattern was well written and fun to knit. Princess Mavis was not impressed but I would think that most normal dogs would have had a ball tossing him around.

She says that more toys are headed my way. I can't wait!

Zira's landed back in the states and has been out partying her monkey butt off (the little lush that she is).

She's hanging in Arizona where the temperature are twice those in SW Virginia - brrr! Check out Zira's blog for more on her adventures.

In an effort not to completely overwhelm you with too many photos, I'm going to post some of the fall pictures that you've sent me over the weekend. In the meantime, check out this sunrise I caught early last week.

We may not have beautiful fall foliage but day-um we can still rock the fall colors in other ways. I'm going to attempt to capture these colors in some hand dyed yarn over the weekend. Catch ya later.

***BTW, thanks for all of the compliments on Rogue. Can you feel me blushing? I *HEART* her so much!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fantastic Foto Friday

Oy vey, what has happened to October? It seemed like just yesterday it began and now its almost over. I guess the good news is that we're that much closer to spring. The last week was such a blur for me. I trying to be proactive with the whole SAD thing that I'm almost 99% sure that I suffer from. I don't want to end up in the pit of despair that fell into last Winter. I've started a daily diary for the next month so that I can hopefully pinpoint the trouble spots before I go to my doctor for a professional diagnosis. I'm tracking my eating, exercise, the weather and stressors. I also bought a full spectrum (OTT) light that I plan to use when there's no sun (like today). I REALLY don't want to feel like I did last Winter ever again if I can help it.

Okay, so I owe y'all a ton of updates.

First up, the Fall Foliage update. I'm really hoping that people are busy taking pictures which is why they're slow coming in. Please oh please tell me that some of you have beautiful fall foliage in your part of the world.

Julie obviously loves fall as much as I do. She sent an entire portfolio leave picures. Check them out here. My favorite is this one.

Busyhands' tree in the front yard is quite the show off. Check this out this beauty.

Jane emailed this loverly photo to me.

Doesn't she have some incredibly vibrant color in Nova Scotia. What a gorgeous yard! BTW, she has a free range scarf design contest up on her blog. Check it out!

Finally, here's a shot of the foliage in my backyard.

Not much to get crazy over is it? :( That's why I need your pictures. Go ahead. Flash me. I dare ya!

Now, even though I had a rough time last week, I was able to movivate myself to finish a sorely neglected UFO. I FINALLY present to you, exhibit A. Dear sweet Rogue.

"Finally, she finished me! Woot Woot!"

Pattern - Jenna's incredibly well written Rogue pattern
Yarn - Cascade 220 Tweed (the color is a brownish green sorry but I've lost the ball bands)
Needles - Size 6 and 7 Denises
Project timeline - Sept. 2004 - October 2005 (Day-um!)
What I learned and what I'd do differently - I learned a helluva lot about knitting the "right" way; that cables rule and are less intimidating than I originally thought; that it would have been easier to knit this in one block of time rather than over the course of a year plus; that a well written and sized pattern does wonders for your body image; that taking the time to finish a sweater properly pays off in the end.

It took some soul searching to figure out why it took me so long to finish her and came up with several reasons.

1.) I'm not happy with my body shape and wasn't thrilled with having to knit one of the larger sizes.

2.) I hate knitting seemingly endless rows of stockinette and after the wrist cables, the sleeves were just that.

3.) I didn't have the proper motivation to finish. However, I promised myself that I couldn't even open the box on my new cellphone until every last stitch was done, the ends were woven in and she was seamed and blocked. Needless to say, I was done in two days. BTW, all of the pictures in this post were taken with my new cellphone. While they're not fabulous, I think they're pretty damn good.

4.) I have major completion issues because I dread the thought of saying "goodbye" to anything (human or inanimate).

5.) Having not knit set in sleeves before, I was a nervous wreck about doing them correctly. Plus, my gauge in the round and on straights is different and even after many calculations, I wasn't positive that it would work out in the end.

Wouldn't you agree that I worried about absolutely nothing?

"Oh Happy Day!"

Check out those hoodie cables!

I finished it on Wednesday, which ended up being one of the hottest days we've had in years in October - near 80 degrees! However, today its in the low 60's and Rogue is oh, so warm and snuggly!

Now King Thing is bugging me to finish his handspun cabled vest. There are no sleeves so this baby should fly off the needles.

On the fiber front, there was no spinning this week. However, I finally found a cashmere sweater at the thrift store (I've been searching for a couple of weeks) and have been happily reclaiming its yarn. Its a beautiful deep red and will yield close to 2500 yards of laceweight yarn. Enough for many beautiful lace shawls and scarves. I think I'm going to have to share some of this with some of my knit buds because its so loverly :)

Oh and I almost forgot that I made a quick visit to the new location of Knitting Sisters while in Williamsburg to speak at the Virginia Library Association state conference. They have the most incredible selection of yarns - Rowan, Colinette, Noro, Lorna's Laces - just to name a few. And a mega ton of pattern books, including the new Noro Revisited by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton. While I am no fan of Noro yarns, I love some of the patterns in this book. The pictures aren't up at the Knitting Garden yet but I do encourage you to check out this new book. It's worth it! As hard as I tried, I did not find that I needed anything but a skein of Lambs Pride for a test project, some Kookabura wool wash and a 40" Denise cord. Exciting huh? But at least I got to soak up some good fiber rays with other knitters. Happy knitting and spinning this weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Second place is GREAT and Fall Foliage Foto Contest

How on earth can one person be so excited about second place? Most overacheivers, like myself, would be crushed to get second place because there was always the illusive first place. However, second place was the best thing to happen to me yesterday in a LONG time.

I had to pick up an insured package from USPS so I decided to do it after I'd dropped the boys off at school. I was excited because I thought that it was my new (and FREE) cellphone and being the gadget Ho that I am, I was dying to play with all of the cool features. When the attendant returned with this huge fluffy envelope, I was perplexed. After opening it, I found my entries from the Fall Fiber Festival. Now you may recall that I didn't get to go but that decision was made after I'd already sent my entries in. I'd honestly given up on seeing them again since I never heard that they'd received them. Well to my surprise, not only did I get them back but I also won ribbons for all three entries!

Do you remember these?

Okay, maybe you don't. The knitting Cheeky Monkey finger puppet(who actually needs to get his arse in the mail to Jen) and the skein of Finnsheep (that I spun this summer) both won second place ribbons!!! I also submitted a handspun Corgigora flower made from Princess Mavi's fur that won a third place ribbon!!! But what just made me goofy giddy was what SECOND place winners receive. Not just a ribbon but yarn. Handspun.Alpaca.YARN! Never before has second place felt SO DAMN GOOD! I may just permanently pin my ribbons on my chest since I've never won one before in my entire life. Between this wonderful package and fixing the garbage disposal (and saving $100 in the process), yesterday was a pretty damn good day. Of course, none of the Things could appreciate my excitement. Actually, no one besides my mom could relate which makes me all the more grateful that she's still here to celebrate with me (she's a 17 year cancer survivor). Thanks for being my biggest cheerleader, Mom!

A couple of quick personal notes.

1.) One herding dog + one hardwood kitchen floor = two sore wrists. Damn Corgi made me do a Michael Jackson spin in the kitchen that almost had me hit my head on the kitchen island as part of the process. It was so pathetic that that boys didn't even laugh. Needless to say, my wrists are quite sore today. All because she thought I wasn't taking her outside to pee fast enough. Damngoneit!

2.) I'm not sure how to respond to the comments about my brother. I'm flattered and yet embarrassed. Um, thanks, I think. If you're nice to me, maybe I'll post more pictures of his hotness in the future :)

Okay enough about me, me, me and lets talk about you, you, YOU!

Its time for the Second Annual Fall Foliage Foto contest. Here are the rules:

* I want you to flash me with your Fall Foliage. It inspires me, excites me and dog gone it, it makes me happy! Send in your close ups, your funky fun, artsy fartsy, goofy and glam pictures. Feel free to include family and friends, kids, pets, landmarks - whatever floats your boat. You may enter as many times as you like. I just want to see how fall looks in your part of the world. All I ask is that you use one of your original photos and that it was taken this year. Bad karma will knock on the doors of those who try to pass off photos that they didn't take. And none of us need that.

* The contest will remain open until November 14th because as you know fall comes to us at different times. I'll select my favorite photo and will also award a people's choice award that you'll get to vote on (more on that later).

* To enter, submit the link to your blog entry and/or photo by posting a comment in this blog entry. (Please include your email address and your name so that I have a way to contact you if you've won.)

* Winners will receive some of my handspun yarn and other fibery goodness that has yet to be decided.

I'll post regular updates of your photos over the next four weeks so keep checking back.

If you're interested, here are last year's entries. I expect to see ten times as many photos this year so start snapping those pictures!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fantastic Foto Friday

Hello folks and welcome to another edition of Foto Friday. First, I'm going to flashback to late August when the warm winds were running through my hair, the sun was beating down on my head and I was lazily lounging on the beach with this view...

I can't believe that summer is gone already. ONLY seven months until its back again. If only I could find that Sugar Daddy who would wisk me away to St. Johns every Winter.

Anywho, next up is a flash forward to my backyard foliage as its starting to show its true colors.

I know that the colors in the photo aren't so vibrant but what you can't see is the pouring rain that we still have and me huddled under the deck umbrella to take the picture. BTW, as I was taking Thing 1 and 2 to school this morning, the song "It's Raining Men" came on the radio and I can't get it outta my head. Ponder with me for a moment what it would be like if it really did rain men. (((((hmmmmm))))

Okay, sorry to keep wandering off. My bro still hasn't coughed up the action shots that Thing 1 took during the graduation and pinning ceremony. Mine need to be lightened up and his are much better. In the meantime, here are some fam and museum pictures. Mom and Dad with the grandkids (As usual, Thing 1 thinks its cool NOT to smile in pictures).

Here's my brother and nephew with the Muse family (without King Thing, he was out of town).

I wish you could read his firefighter t-shirt that I gave him. It has 10 things that sound dirty when you're firefighter. Pretty damn funny stuff. And thanks for the comment about his cuteness, Lolly. He's actually a male model and photographer in his spare time. Here's one of his self portraits and modeling shots.

We think he's a cutie too but we try not to tell him he's good looking to his face because we don't want to inflate his ego - LOL!

At the museum last week, I even found a ball of yarn!

Its called something like a memory ball (shame I can't recall what its proper name). Native americans would tie beads onto their handspun yarn to mark significant events in their lives like rites of passage, marriage, death of family members, weddings, etc. I thought it was a neat concept. I may even make my own memory ball.

****Zira update**** The Monkey diva departed Singapore (after a long weekend in Bangkok) and her visit with Emy. Emy knows how to show a monkey a good time. Singapore is quite beautiful. Thanks again for being such a wonderful host! Zira's now winging her way to Tempe, Arizona where she'll spend some time where its nice and warm with Illanna. Illanna said "its cooling off below 100 degrees." Wow! Our temps have been nearly half that over the last few days. I'm so jealous.

I was so busy last week that I forgot to mention that I had a spinning session with Carrie. She had a beautiful Ashford Wheel and (gasp) a Celtic Knot Golding spindle. We played for nearly two hours and I forgot to take pictures. I hope that she'll plan to join our spinning group in the future.

Speaking of spinning, our little knitting and spinning group met last night and had a good ole time gabbing and playing with fiber (yup, forgot to take pictures). Everyone was flashing their loot from the Fiber Festival. So much beautiful fiber crack. I'm so glad that I didn't go. I'd be dead broke if I had.

And some knitting shots. This is a photo of the sample tote that I'm making to put up in Michaels (its blocking on a Nestle Cocoa box).

Its the Booga Bag in miniature form made with some salmon colored Cascade 220 (can you say stash bustin'?) and Moda Dea Cache.

Finally, what I've been working on. A Knitted Babe doll!!!

Her name is Finola because I made her out of my handspun Finnsheep singles - nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. Her specs:

* Pattern: "Knitted Babes" using handspun Finnsheep singles (thus the reason why it biased slightly after knitting)
* The Finn was tea stained after I knit her to give her more of a flesh tone.
* Hair is Manos
* Eyes and mouth are needle felted (eyelashes are bits of eyelash yarn stitched on)
* The sweater is a modification of the "Bubbles Cardigan" pattern in the book. I made it into a bolero and added ruffled sleeves. The yarn is some leftover Koigu and Lorna's Laces. The pin was made from a blown glass bead and a toothpick
* The tiny tote bag was a swatch sample that I'd felted for a friend and it just so happened to work for her.

She still needs some pants and I'm going to glam her with some accesories over the weekend. If I'm lucky, I'll have some students on Sunday to take the Knitted Babes workshop. Keep your fingers crossed.

I also scored a beautiful blue tweed sweater that I'm reaping for some serious yardage of yarn. But I'll save that and more for next week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Caught in the Undertow

Boy did I get sucked right under last week. Sorry I went AWOL. Tons of things converged at the same time. I had so little time that I had to wake up early (like before 6 am - yuck) several times to cram everything into one day. Today is the first time I've had time to breathe in over a week. I'm not sure if I should enjoy it or just collapse into a heap. My body is telling to simply collapse.

So now I have some serious catching up to do. Lots of knitting has been going on but nothing with regard to my current projects Rogue and Kiri.

First off, I had to bust hump to get ready for my October workshops. I had less than a week to develop a class schedule, a syllabus for each class, in-store samples for each project, develop supply lists and order supplies for the workshops. I did it but I'm so worn out. I'm hopeful that if nothing else, I'll get some exposure and hopefully build a student base in the coming months. Now my time and energy turns to developing the workshops for November which are due on Monday. The good news is that I don't have to have the store samples ready for another couple of weeks so I can parse my time out accordingly.

With the expenses of supplies and promotions for my workshops, I had to make the heartbreaking decision not to go to the Fall Fiber Festival. We're tightening our belts in anticipation of the impending increases in energy prices this winter and after looking at a room full of fiber, I realized that I don't NEED any more (doesn't mean that I don't still WANT it though). I hated to miss getting to meet so many of you there :( There's always next year.

Me and Thing 1 and 2 spent a couple of days in DC and Maryland last week. My little brother still hasn't been called to active duty and made it to his firefighter graduation - YIPPIE! It was quite an impressive ceremony complete with bagpipes and drums. McGuyver Mom and Ebayman Dad made the trip up too. It has been since early summer that all of us were together so it was really nice to visit even if it was sort of harried.

This is a shot of my bro putting on his IAFF sticker (he was initiated on Thursday). Can you tell how happy he is?

I'll upload pictures of the ceremony, et all another time. It just requires so much energy and patience with Blogger and I don't have it this second.

On Saturday me and Thing 1 and 2 visited the National Museum of the American Indian before we headed home. Its one of the few museums in DC that we hadn't visited and I was anxious to see what it was like. We were most impressed. They did a beautiful job of catching the spirit of Native Americans and other Indians from around the world. If you're in the area, I'd highly recommend this museum as a must see.

So I left y'all hanging last week with a shot of purple and pink. A couple of guesses were close but no one hit the nail on the head. Here's another sneek peek of what I was working on.

Any other guesses?

So what samples have I been knitting for my classes? A short row scarf, a spiral scarf, the secret project, a felted tote bag, felted flowers, Harry Potter book scarves, mobius samples - oh yeah, I've been busy. It has been great fun working on all of these instant gratification projects. I'll have enough samples to give as gifts so that in and of itself is an added bonus.

And thanks to your feedback and the fact that I need some cheering up, I'm going to open up the 2nd Annual Fall Foliage contest next week. I'm dying to see what yours might look like since ours is slowly creeping along. I'd given up on any sort of foliage show until it began to rain yesterday. There's hope that it might be pretty after all. I need to get cracking on my weekly tree shot from behind my house. I'm waiting for the rain to stop though I'd be perfectly content if it didn't for quite a while. Man were we dry! There's some actual color starting to creep in. It does my heart good.

Start scoping out those shots and I'll post the rules early next week. As far as prizes, I'm pretty sure that I have some fall colored roving that I can spin up. Either way, I'll offer up some handspun yarn but I need to ponder what other goodies to throw in. Catch ya tomorrow!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What did the five fingers say to the face?

SLAP!!! (heh heh heh - a Dave Chappelle funny). Yes, I've been bitch slapped by life again and haven't had a spare moment to blog or knit much. I'll fill you in on Monday and hopefully things will calm down between now and then. The bummer is that I probably won't be able to make it to The Fall Fiber Festival now :( So if any of you go, please look for my entries in the fiber arts competition. One of the cheekies should be there. Have some fibery good fun for me and have a good weekend.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Football, Fall and Fiber

I had a little of all of my favorite "F"'s this weekend. The Hokie game against Georgia Tech was an absolute blast and a serious blow out - 51 to 7! It was orange effect weekend so the place was ablaze in one of my favorite fall colors.

In case you're wondering, yes I did take some knitting with me. The elderly guy checking bags at the entrance even commented "You gonna do some yarnin' during the game?" Yes, I naively replied or so I thought. When we got to our seats and realized that we had less than 12 square inches of space a piece, then I changed my tune. What was comical was that everytime the crowd stood up, we had to stand up or not only did you end up with a face full of ass but you couldn't move.

The trip out to Blackburg albeit overcast showed visible signs of fall foliage. Over the next few weeks, the foliage should be breathtaking. I would have loved to have taken pictures but King Thing decided to take me through Ellett Valley which I affectionately call twist, turn and hurl. I've gotten past most of my motion sickness over the years but this road does me in every time. This might give you an idea of just how bad the road is.

He somehow convinced me that it would be faster than taking the interstate and that he wouldn't go too fast. Yeah, right. By the time we pulled into the parking lot, I was a lovely shade of green. I never got sick but its the closest I've come in years.

In keeping with the tradition that I started last year, I started taking fall foliage progress pictures of the many trees that I get to watch from my backyard.

As you can see, they really haven't gotten very pretty yet. My hope is that we'll get some pretty colors in another week or so though it has been so dry that the leaves may just turn brown and drop off :( Should I do the fall foliage foto contest again this year? I really enjoyed all of your pictures from last year. Let me know if you'd be interested in sending them my way again.

In knitting and spinning news, I got very seriously distracted with another new project this weekend. I honestly think I need help. I can't stay focused to save my life. Here's a hint of what I worked on:

Any guesses on what it might be? Stay tuned. I hope to show you more tomorrow.

In other fibery good news, I have the new Spin Off though I've barely cracked the cover. I sent in some of my handspun Corgi yarn that will appear in the next issue. I also put some of my handspun Finn sheep to use as part of my sneaky project. I really like how it turned out.

The bleeding corset came out of hiding. Using these cool button pins, I temporarily put the buttons on her to see if I like them before committing to them 100%.

(pay no attention to the very bad hair day I'm having or the deer in the headlights when is the timer going to go off look)

What do you think? I'd love to find some different buttons but the colors have been difficult to match up which is why I went neutral. Overall, I'm pleased with the fit even if I do get sad everytime I look at the faded colors. I've lost about 7 pounds from the time that I first started the top and I can definitely tell. My hope is to wear this to the Fiber Fest but that will depend on the weather. I do have my Kyoto sweater as a back up.

I'm off for some post Pilates coffee. We just got digital cable and now have FitTV and DIY! Woo Hoo! Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 23, 2005

First of Fall Fantastic Foto Friday

How's that for alliteration? To celebrate the first official day of Autumn and my favorite season of the year (couldn't guess that from my blog skin could ya?), I took a picture of the sun rising over the mountains behind my house this morning.

I'm also submitting these to Sandy's sky photo contest. You can win some great swag. Hurry though, the contest ends today at 5 pm EST.

Alrighty then, back to all of those photos, etc. I promised ya on Hump Day. First up, NOSO Knit. I had the absolute best time. I'd originally planned to stop in for a few hours because I didn't know that many people. But how can you be in a room with over 100 knitters and not make new friends. I'd only had a quick chance to meet Emmy over at Knitter's Review and by visiting her blog. She quickly found me in the sea of fiber addicts and is one of the sweetest people I've had the pleasure to meet in ages. I really do hope that I can catch up with her again in the future. Maybe at the Fall Fiber Festival.

I only snapped a couple of pictures because I was too busy talking. Anybody who knows me wouldn't be surprised :)

This one is of the woman from Scarves of Hope telling us about how the knitted scarves that were donated are given to women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Her story was quite compelling.

And here are a couple of shots of just how many people were crammed into one room. There were two other vendors there besides the Fuchia Fleece: Yarn Theory from Bedford and Orchardside Yarn Shop from Raphine. Wonderful yarns and wonderful people = TONS of fun!!!

Next up is my reclaimed fiber adventure. This is not for the faint of heart. Ripping any knitted project is such a disturbing process it can bring you to your knees. I did find it interesting to analyze how machine knits are constructed as I was taking them apart. Here are some before and after shots:

Overall, this knit cooperated very nicely as I took it apart. It yielded about 850 yards of great quality yarn. The great thing about reclaiming yarn from a knitted project is that you can see how it will look when completed, you have a swatch for gauge and some idea of how it will wear. Even though this yarn looks stripey, its beautiful when knit. I can't wait to find a project for it.

The second sweater that I started ripping, did not go so well (its the light brown yarn in the above photo). It has angora mixed in it. I test ripped one sleeve and the family room looked like I had blown a dandelion in the air. It got up my nose, in my eyes, in my lungs - what a nightmare! I finally got smart and sat in front of the air conditioner return which so happens to be at waist level. It sucked every last bit of fluff up before it could escape into the air. HOWEVER, words escape me to describe this yarn. It as soft as a whisper and is dying to be knit into an openwork sweater. I will plod ahead and hope to avoid coughing up a hairball in the process.

I'm truly in alpaca heaven. This stuff is what dreams are made of. It's worth repeating, Kiri is a wonderful pattern. Its really hard to capture the color of the yarn in the skein as you can see below.

You can kinda see the color when its knit up. Here's a shot of the shawl so far.

I'm up to the fifth pattern repeat. I honestly prefer projects that shrink, not grow but I love this so much that I don't mind.

I had a panic attack as I was about to block Kiri so that I could take the picture. I went to grab a couple of extra Denise cords and they were nowhere to be found. After 30 minutes of frantic thrashing, they were found in a couple of long forgotten projects. Phew! I hate when that happens.

I'm off to see some Hokie football up close and personal tomorrow as the 'Burg hosts Georgia Tech and ESPN Gameday. Will I bring my knitting? I have yet to decide. I'll let you know on Monday.

* Edited to add: Little Miss Zira arrived on Emy's Singapore doorstep earlier this week and I've been negligent in posting about her arrival. Check out Zira's blog or show Emy some blog love and see what she's been up to. I would love to have gone with her since it seems like Emy likes food as much as I do :) Thanks for being such a wonderful host!

Have a great weekend! For those of you in the Gulf, you're a constant in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ISO: Fiber Pimp

I've been working hard pimping myself out over the course of the last week. In addition to trying to find a "real" job, I've been promoting my fiber arts skills in hopes that I can generate some fundage. But as Dave Chapelle says, "Pimpin' aint easy." So this fiber Ho got desperately creative and contacted our largest local pimp, Michaels. I walked in with low expectations and figured that I'd get the shaft with regard to teaching fiber related classes. Boy was I wrong. Not only was the coordinator receptive and excited that I stopped by but was able to make me a decent offer. Now, I'm not a stranger to Michaels. I've been a regular since the store opened about 12 years ago and was in fact one of their wholesale reps for several years. If things go well, I'll start offering classes with them in October. Next steps involve me trolling dark alleys with yarn and roving tied to my waist, enticing fiber addicts to spend an hour or two in my company. $15 dollar? Me love you long time.

What else has this fiber Ho been up to? Plenty. In the interest of time (and considering that have things I have to take care of this morning), I'm going to give you the quick and dirty details now and fill in with pictures later.

* NOSO Knit was an absolute blast (Pictures and more details later this week). I met some great people and didn't have nearly enough time to chat with everyone I wanted to. However, some of us are planning to be at the Fall Fiber Festival next weekend so hopefully we'll hook up there. I'm going to enter some of my handspun in the competition. If nothing else, I hope to get some good feedback on how to fine tune my spinning.

* Sadly enough, the baby mitered U is still unfinished. I officially hate the yarn and the strangeness of the pattern. I'll finish it this weekend but the stars are filled with creative promise for this week and I'm not going to waste it on this sweater.

* I was outed by Wanda who asked what happened to the scarf that I started with my handspun. And thought that I had distracted y'all so that you'd forget all about it. Two words my friends - frog pond. I didn't love it so it will wait to become something else. I'm currently plying some long forgotten merino silk that I spun in the Spring to see if it will work with the pattern.

* Finally bought buttons for the corset that bled to death and will get around to stitching them on soon.

* I've been plotting out holiday knits on a budget and decided to make a go of using recycled yarn. One trip to Goodwill and I've scored three sweaters worth of beautiful yarn for less than $10. My first victim was a turtleneck knit with black/white/grey silk wool yarn. It feels a lot like Elizabeth Lavold silky wool with a bit heavier gauge. Its all ripped, washed and is now drying on the deck in the sun. This mighty fine yarn will likely make its way into a cabled sweater for myself. I promise photos so you can drool with me.

* I scored some gorgeous cinnamon Huacaya alpaca from the Fuchsia Fleece at NOSO on Saturday. Scarlett's fiber is beyond words. I'm an alpaca virgin so I wasn't sure if spinning it would be too much of a challenge. I'm madly in love with the stuff because it spins like a dream. I can spin this stuff as fine as thread! I only bought two ounces but I think that if I'm consistent, I'll net about 350 yards of plied lace weight once its all said and done. To celebrate, I took the lace shawl plunge and cast on for Kiri. Not only is the pattern awesome but this alpaca is so soft when knit up. I'm truly in heaven.

* Rogue's sleeves are slowly progressing. Man I hate endless boring inches of stockinette. I fear that if I don't finish soon, I'm going to get kicked off the island. Why don't the knitting gnomes ever visit my house?

Well, gotta run. I'll get photos up soon. Enjoy the last day of summer.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Home Invasion

* Edited to add - Grrrr. What's up with Bloglines? I posted this yesterday and it still hasn't shown up in Bloglines :(

Thanks for your comments on Rogue and the baby Camo. Rogue is just a wee bit stalled until I finish this baby sweater. A word to the wise: The directions are not entirely clear in my opinion. As a result, I've had to frog and reknit sections of it several times. I can't believe that I can handle the cabling in Rogue but can't handle this simple sweater. Maybe I'm just an idiot. Anyhow, I still have the second side to finish and its due tomorrow. It is a quick knit but when you hate the yarn and the pattern, it makes for lots of grumbling. Guess what I'll be working on this evening? Rubble, rubble, rubble.

And many thanks for all of your wonderful thoughts and prayers for my little brother. I've really been feeling the love and truly appreciate it. It's never easy seeing your loved ones intentionally put in harms way but I know that we'll get through it just as many other families in the US have.

So what about the home invasion? Wednesday, the Things and I arrived home afterschool. They scattered in different directions, Thing 1 to the kitchen for a snack and Thing 2 to get his guinea pig (always a top priority). Thing 2 bounds down stairs and casually says to me...

Thing 2: You know those bugs with all of the legs that are always in the playroom downstairs.
IM: (freezing in my tracks with a sudden anxiety attack) Yes. What about them?
Thing 2: There's one in the corner of the stairwell.
IM: (serious panic setting in) Which stairwell?
Thing 2: The one that goes upstairs to our bedrooms.
IM: Oh shit!

I couldn't even hold it together for the boys. I just melted down right in front of them at that very momentt. The kids know that I'm am a nut when it comes to creepy crawly bugs. Truth be told, they are too but for my sake they try to be brave. Now a few of you in Bloglandia are familiar with these horrible creatures and have even blogged about them. They're house centipedes or millipedes, have five million creepy legs and very quickly slink across the floor, hang pendulously from ceilings and walls and inflict terror on their victims. I was mostly panicked because we've never found them upstairs and I thought that was my safe haven. Now I'm freaked out because we're no longer safe. They've invaded the entire house.

IM: Crap, I meant to say crap.
Thing 1 and 2: (snickering like Beavis and Butthead) Mom said shit.
IM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where's the bug? Show me.

We all cower by the stairwell as we look up in the corner at the biggest damn bug we've ever seen. It looked a lot like the spawn of Predator and the Alien. I was too paralyzed by the fear that it would scurry into my bedroom (which is the first door that it could have climbed into) that I didn't take a picture.

IM: Um, what do we do?
Thing 1: Duh, just knock it down.
IM: Duh, have you seen how high up the stairwell is? (just so you know, the distance from the floor to the stairwell corner is only 25 feet)
Thing 1: Oh yeah. I'll get a broom.
IM: A 25 foot broom!?! How about we knock him down with something?
Thing 1 and 2: YEAH!

They run to their rooms and come back with bouncy balls, slippers, stuffed animals, anything we can throw. Meanwhile, I get the brilliant idea to spray water on him with a squirt bottle. We all converged on the stairwell and started firing away. The creature was not amused. Even after getting soaked in water and getting whacked by stuff, he refused to budge. We didn't fair as well. Bouncy balls in a stairwell are kinda fun at first. But they hurt when they hit you in the eye or privates. Flying slippers and stuffed animals are very unpredictible and hurt when hurled at high speeds from many different directions. And water will eventually start to run down the walls if you spray enough and with a 25 foot ceiling, there's no wiping it off so you have to pray that it will dry without streaks. Just as the brave warriors were about to give up, Thing 1 squirts the bug one last time. He rears his ugly head (I coulda sworn that it screamed), dangles off the wall and plops onto the stairs. This is where all hell breaks lose because he's now on the move. I started screaming and the kids scrambled to find some Raid. After several squirts of the toxic stuff and lots of leg thrashing, we finally subdued the monster.

We've left his carcass right where he met his bitter end lest it be a warning to others who dare to try to get upstairs. We mean business creepy bugs! We're watching you. Don't mess with us. We have squirt guns and bouncy balls and we know how to use them.

** PS - I'm usually quite the pacifist but I can't sleep at night with these things in my house. I did say a little prayer for the bug and asked for forgiveness. I know that it still doesn't make it right though...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other

Praises be, I was allowed to wake up this morning. I've been particularly mindful of counting my blessings daily because I have so much to be thankful for and I know that so many people around the world are suffering. The neighborhood is so peaceful in the morning, save the whir of a few cars. The dew gives everything a crystalline shimmer. Deer meander through my backyard, eagles soar overhead and the fig tree is laden with ripe fruit. Best of all, I'm entertained daily by a chorus of crickets and birds singing and a light wind whispering through the trees. Nature is truly quite amazing.

Right as I was headed home from dropping the boys off at school, my mom called which usually means something's up. Her news today - my lil bro's reserve unit (he's a medic) is being sent to Kosovo. I'm a Navy brat and know that orders can come at the most inopportune times. This is one of those times. My bro has been working so hard to get his life together. He's been training to be a Howard County firefighter for the last several months and is two weeks from graduation. That's where the six and half dozen analogy come in because in all honesty, being a firefighter is just as dangerous as being in the military. I've been a nervous wreck since he told me about applying to be a firefighter. And now he's going to end up out of the country and away from his little boy for a year or maybe more. And I hate that he's going to do intake with soldiers who have been hurt in the line of duty. He saw some of that at Walter Reed and now he's going to be even closer to the front lines. I think that while his job won't be very dangerous, it will be emotionally draining. But then again he's really good at it which is why they're sending him. Military brat or not, I just think this royally sucks ass.

Me and my bro at the National Air and Space Museum last Fall

So if you believe in prayer, please send one up for my brother and nephew and for the many others who are fighting for freedom around the world. I just pray that its worth putting their precious lives on the line.

Okay, time to lift my head and heart up since there's no reason to sulk. There was much knitting whilst the foosball games were on this weekend. The Things gave momma a much needed break on Saturday by leaving me all by my lonesome. To celebrate, I popped in Riverdance (with the original, Mr. "love those great legs and butt" Flatley) and knit away on none other than little Ms. Rogue. The rhythmn of Celtic music and dance put me in just the right mood to whiz through those cables on the first sleeve. Now let me recap for those who haven't journeyed with me through knitting Rogue. I zipped through this knit last fall and then stalled when I had to work on my holiday knits. I picked her up in late Winter, attempted to knit both sleeves at the same time while on a road trip, royally screwed them up and gave up knitting on it for a while. Then Spring hit, it was too hot to wear her even if I'd finished it so I chucked her in a bag and let her languish in the closet. Now she's back on the needles and I'm almost officially finished with sleeve number one.

Tattoo, bring me another pina colada because I'm relaxin' on sleeve island baby! Unless Mr. Roark bitch slaps me with one of his life altering island experiences, I hope to finish this over the weekend at NOSO Knit. I'd love to wear her when the weather gets cooler (which is sooner than later). I'm so close I can feel it.

And I'm loving all of the fun facecloth patterns that are out there. A little cotton goes a long way. I even made a little Japanese tewashi dish scrubbie (I know its not a facecloth but it was something I wanted to try). I see more of these in my future too. Here are few of the other's I've whipped out.

I didn't have the IK pattern for the flower facecloth so I winged it with pretty good results. It would obviously look better in the recommended chenille. I think I might have some in the stash. Hmmm. The tewashi is the cute multicolored swirly blob in the corner. Oh and the delightful little balls of fluff? None other than fuzzy fur yarn from Tar-zay (AKA Target). One dollar for 65 yds of yarn! Who woulda thunk it?

Finally, I forgot that we're supposed to bring a knitted charity item for NOSO Knit so I'm frantically working on a Mitered U Baby Sweater.

I'm not nuts about the colors but I needed to use acrylic and this Red Heart Camoflage was in my stash. I'm probably going to buy some more and knit some camo hats and gloves for my bro.

Tune in on Friday when I share the story of the attack of the killer house centipede. It's a bug epic. Have a happy hump day!

Friday, September 09, 2005

The iceman cometh

Damn! Summer sure did bolt like a bat outta hell. One second, its 90 degrees and hot enough to fry an egg. The next, its fifty degrees and colder than a witches tit in a brass bra. We've been waking up freezing every morning. However, I DO love Autumn (in case you couldn't tell from my blog skin) and can't wait to see the fabulous color show that the mountains of Southwestern Virginia are famous for.

The entire Muse family is trying to settle into our school year schedule again. This means lots of fussing and fighting about bed time and waking up in the morning. And the evil homework monster has reared its ugly head again already. But momma has some time to herself each day to not only get things done but to see the house stay clean for more than 10 minutes at a time. But with the kids back in school, I'm now faced with the task of locating gainful employment. Unless a small miracle manifests itself, the grant funding for my job has almost dried up :( And while I know that I would love to teach arts and crafts, it will be some time before I can generate considerable income. Reading the employment classifieds is quite a depressing task. While I'm tempted to take a job where I don't have to think, its just not in my nature to be a blind follower. And since I've worked in non-profit world for the last 10 years, I'm not sure that I can re-enter the "real" workforce. I AM grateful that I have choices and know that it could be much worse and trust that something will present itself though I've convinced myself that I probably won't be happy. It's been a long time since I've been in the position of taking a job because I HAD to, not because I WANTED to. Que sera sera.

Much knitting has been had around here especially since I needed to keep my hands busy to cope with all of the somber news. Several lovely spinners and knitters made their way to my house last night for some fibery good fun. We had a great turnout, some new faces and lots of show and tell. I could feel myself glowing the entire time I was with my "peeps."

A couple of us worked on face cloths for Katrina survivors and a couple of people spun (there was some yummy chocolate alpaca in there that was to die for). One person worked on a mobius scarf made from a beautiful Fiesta yarn. And our new friend was working on a beautiful Gansey made from Rowan cotton wool.

Here are some of my show and tell items though none of them are completely finished:

Here's the one that made me the most angry first. Mind you, I swatched first for Annie's corset using some handspun, dyed yarn. It bled a bit not an alarming amount. Imagine the horror as I gave my finished corset a gentle soak only to watch it become a blood bath.

What the bloody hell? Was it dyed with watercolors? I'm so crushed that the vibrant colors washed down the drain and I'm left with a corset that looks like it has weathered outside for weeks on end. I'm so bummed that I haven't even looked for buttons yet. Here she is after blocking. (((((Sigh))))

I'm tempted to send the knitting shop an email warning them that other customers may have the same problem. I'll very cautiously use handspun, hand-dyed yarn for future projects.

I also broke out Rogue and was shamed into finishing her. And to think that I started her LAST September. Oh the shame...

These are a couple of the Cloths for Katrina that I'm working on. I love instant gratification projects even if I don't like cotton. What a great way to do something positive and destash at the same time.

And finally, the debut of my newest tote bag design that I named Autumn. Of course, the season itself inspired the colors and the leaf accents. I was hesitant to break her out because she still needs some handles but here's a peek at her semi-finished state.

This is not the greatest picture because I was going to send her off with one of my knit buds who is into beading to match up some handles for her and wanted to snap a quick shot. I'll get some modeled shots when she's finished. I love everything about this bag and can't wait to take her out on the town.

And for those who care, Autumn can also double as a Hokie (Virginia Tech) spirit bag. Go Hokies! Yes, college football and NFL seasons have started and I'll be an annoying fan for the next three or four months so beware. I'm off to change the flag out front to the Hokie banner and hunker down for some weekend football fun. Ciao!