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!