Monday, May 28, 2007

65 Degrees



Wow! Wasn't this weekend FANTASTIC???!!! Excepting late Friday night after I got home from a fun and hilarious Knitting Night at Donna's house, I had a great weekend. The weather was super, sunshine, warm and slightly breezy.

My parents came up on Sunday (after I taught my ladies yoga at the assisted living home) to celebrate my birthday late. We had a cookout, we sat by the pool, and SOME of my family went into the pool.

The pool water was 65 degrees.

(shiver)

It makes me cold just thinking about it!! (and no, I didn't go in....)

Tim said, "But, Mom....it's one degree warmer than yesterday! It's not cold at all!" (oh, my deluded teen....)

I want to show you some supertastic pictures I took (with my new camera...eeee!) over the past three days....

My Handsome Ian



My Handsome Tim and his Rocket/Ship



My Handsome Ben



My Dad and Ben



My Beautiful Mom



My lovely sister Kim and Ben



Mike...my OTHER son...and Ben



Ian and Grumpy Ben



I promise some knitting pics and progress reports soon. Next one should be a GREAT LACE REPORT! I'm doing really well and doing one repeat every day...it should be done in about a month, barring any unforeseen horrible incidents.

Hope you all had a fun-filled weekend as well. So, who's coming over next time it's HOT???

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Birthday Haul



Holy Cow!!! I am the luckiest gal in the world!!! Not only do I have the sweetest family, but I have the BEST, BEST friends ever! And, the fact that they're all knitters, makes me even MORE happy!!!!! (do you like the tshirt that Ian got me?)

Wednesday was my birthday and now I am officially 34. (small cry) I can no longer say that I'm in my early 30s. But, now I am in my middle 30s. I have to say that I still feel 29, though. I still feel bright and young...and that's all that matters, right?

Ian and the boys gave me a small party the night before my bday with a PINK cake and...guess what??...Ian got me the coolest new CAMERA!!! It's essentially the same Canon Powershot as the one Ian has, but smaller, better quality, lighter in weight and all around BETTER! LOL! What a nice husband I have for getting it for me. And, an adorable bday card...with My Little Pony on it. (you see...for the past 4 or more years, Ian's been getting me cute little girl cards and changing the numbers on it...like when I was 31, he got me a card for a 1 year old girl, added a 3 in front and wrote some romantic things inside. It sounds freaky, but it's actually very sweet.)



Here's my fancy ass camera: (it is sooo friggin awesome!)



Luckily, my birthday fell on a knitting night...Wednesday (I was born on a Wednesday, in fact)...so the ManchVegas crew had a birthday party for me! I have to tell you that this was the ABSOLUTE BEST birthday I've ever had and everyone was so good to me. And, it wasn't just because of the presents....that was super...but even if not ONE person had bought me something, I still would've had the best birthday. I was with every one of my friends that I love...we laughed, we knitted, we talked like crazy (or was that just me?) and the energy was so positive. Even Body Talk Guy said "Happy Birthday" to me! (I feel so privledged!) LOL!

But, also on that note, I got some KICK ASS gifts! Wanna see? Of course you do!

-My best friend of all time, Jackie, picked out this Hello Kitty "cupcake" cake for me...here it is almost completely gone...DE-LISH!



-The HandMade bag that Jackie made for me...in this gorgeous brown and turquoise satin....it's got pockets on the back and the most incredible "mirror" glass-like bird pin. I LOVE THIS!



-The most amazing yarn in the world...and I think it should have been named after me....from Beautiful Blogless Amanda....Artyarns Silk Rhapsody....



-Luxurious, handdyed fiber batts from the one and only fabulous Heather in all sorts of pinks AND, AND...a hand made orifice hook...(yes, snicker now..get it overwith)...that she made with glass and crystal beads for my spinning wheel.





-Sassy Laurin got me a super duper knitting backpack (in pink), an adorable Kiki cat, and a pink sunglasses case...and chocolate. Niiiiice!



-Donna got me the STR yarn I was dying for and a to-die-for skein of Artyarns Silk in varigated pinks.....sooo soft!



-GiGi bought me a totally cool Hello Kitty pen that is also a pencil....WITH an eraser..something I always talk about. (couldn't take pic...using pen!)

-And, as a whole, the group got me......duh duh duh.....A SWIFT and BALL WINDER!!!!!! Never had one and now, I can finally stop winding my yarn on the back of my kitchen chair! Woo-hoo!!!!!



Can you BELIEVE how lucky I am????? Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone!!! I love you all!

Oh, before I go.....a few things....

1. A pic of my family on my birthday....handsome, aren't they?



2. My parents got me an awesome bamboo fragrance oil set and a gift certificate to Home Goods! Wow!! Thanks, Mom and Dad!!! I love you!

3. The music that I didn't get to name on the NEW PODCAST (see right)...is this:

-The "Austin Powers"-like song by 123456 and the instrumental music is "Callahan Tunnel" by the fabulous and talented Citizen Six...make sure to check out their website...it's awesome!

4. The Headband Contest is almost over so get your headbands done and send 'm to me!!!!!

Have a great day!!! : )

Monday, May 21, 2007

"Lovely Waters" Tablerunner



I'm so excited!!!! My new pattern is published....the "Lovely Waters" Tablerunner. This was one of my more time consuming, but rewarding patterns.

"Company coming? And most of them are knitters? No need to fear....just whip up this beautiful and useful tablerunner and you will dazzle your guests without even trying. Perfect for your dining room but can just as easily be for a living room table or dresser top. Enjoy knitting this unique lace pattern as well as creating your own design for the beaded fringe. Voila!"

Here are the details:

FEATURES:

-Thick, square center piece for placing your vase of flowers, bowl of fruit or main dish for a meal.
-Beautiful zigzag lace pattern flowing from each side of the center square towards the ends of your table.
-Gorgeous beaded, fringed ends...I used glass and swarovski crystal beads to match the yarn.
-The lace sides can be made longer or shorter, depending on your table length.
-Takes only 1 skein of Yarn Botanika DK superwash merino sock yarn (around 400 yards) or Yarn Botanika Radiance DK Merino/tencel handpainted yarn.

You can buy the pattern from me (see "Buy Now" link on right) or at One Planet Yarn and Fiber.

Check out the One Planet Yarn and Fiber Blog for more details and pictures, as well as some of their other lovely yarns that would work with this pattern.

PICTURES: (these are not on the pattern, I took these myself)

My Favorite



Square Center



ZigZag Lace




Beaded fringed edges



Overall look (took this in my dining room!)



So, you Lovely Knitters....tell me what you think!! Can I shamelessly beg you to buy this fantastic pattern? LOL!

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about this pattern. I'd be glad to answer : )

Friday, May 18, 2007

Radiance Lace Headband Contest UPDATE...and, "Where the HELL is the top of my head?"



After many frustrating (but hilarious) tries of taking a pic of the top of my head, I finally got my arm caught on something and the camera shot a picture that was just right. Figures. Have you ever tried to take a pic of the top of your head? It's more difficult than you think. Your head is not actually where your arm thinks it is. And since there isn't anyone home but me and Ben (who can't really use the camera yet), we are left with strange pictures. VERY STRANGE

Anyway, here is the accidentally good picture of me wearing the "Jacqueline" headband I knit for myself in cotton...going up a needle size (to accommodate for the worsted weight) and casting on fewer stitches. I must say that I really liked using the Peaches and Cream 100% worsted cotton, but the only problem was that the knot I used to tie it on my head was just WAY too bulky. Should probably stick to the fingering weight.



And another pic, where (once again), the top of my head is curiously absent. Oh, well.



I wanted to remind all of you super-duper-headband-knitters that you have less than 2 weeks to send me pics of you wearing your headband. I'm adding two more books to the Winning Stash..."For the Love of Knitting" by someone (great coffee table book with fantastic pictures) and "America Knits" (ditto) by Melanie Falick.

More giveaways: AMAZING Lorna's Laces yarn in Sherbet colorway and a skein of something luxurious and yummy....will update with pic later on....just to tease you.

Plus, remember the other FANTASTIC STASH STUFF from this post....yarn, books and soaps...woo-hoo!

**Please visit the updated GALLERY at the right. One of the next FIVE people who send me pics will be chosen to win a cool Knit and Plenty Kit!**

Remember that the deadline is May 31!

KNITTING UPDATE

I've been knitting a little on my Wavy scarf, but keep getting confused with what row I'm on...not good.

Sad that I have little excitement for spinning and knitting. Thought I'd take everyone's advice and start a new pair of socks, but was looking at all the wips I have and couldn't do it. MUST FINISH SOMETHING!!!

It's pretty much for certain that I'm dumping the Myrtle Lace Shawl pattern in favor of a less horrific and stressful one. Not that the lace pattern isn't beautiful, but it's so frustrating! My brain needs something easy.


SPINNING UPDATE

Nothin' doing. damn Even have all that lovely new fiber...

LIFE UPDATE

Feeling a bit depressed because of the constant damp and rain. Trying not to buy something to cheer myself up...saw some perfume that I really liked...but no. NO. I won't do it.

Maybe I'll go get a Ben Hug. That always makes me feel happy. Have a great weekend, everyone!!

P.S. Been working on the podcast...slowly coming along...should I stop doing them, you think?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I've been TAGGED!

Here's the deal: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog. I've been tagged by not only Julie, but also by Nichole. Okay, here goes....

1. I love green beans/string beans. I've loved them all my life and they are my favorite vegetable. Mostly, I love them stir fried with a spicy, asian sauce and lots of garlic (sorry, Ian!) and served over rice (god, I'm hungry!).

2. I am a total obsessive person about my bed. I have to have the sheets and blankets the "right way" and I must make my bed every day. I like to have a whole "bedtime routine"...I know...I'm so wacked...strangely enough, this bed thing doesn't extend to other places....like if I go somewhere else. Just my bed at home.

3. Before getting pregnant with Ben, I was on Weight Watchers (as I am AGAIN now, but not as motivated) and lost 132 pounds. After having him and gaining the 60 pounds of pregnancy, I lost more. Then, I gained. Then, I lost....the vicious circle of weight loss. Now, I have to lose a lot again (not the 132 pounds, thank goodness) and I'm finding it twice as hard as last time.

4. (once upon a time I was smart and geeky...though now...?) In high school, I graduated 5th out of 282 students and got scholarships to Boston University, Renssalear (I never spell this right), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (where I ended up going), Stonehill College and Northeastern. I now have a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (which is not being used) with minor in Art History....oh, where did my brain go????

5. I used to have a horrible speech problem when I was little. I had to go to speech therapy (being pulled out of class in elementary school is NOT fun) and I was incredibly shy and couldn't talk to anyone. Now, I can't stop talking! LOL! In junior high, all of a sudden, I just "remembered" how to breathe before talking (though I sometimes forget this nowadays) and go more slowly. If I'm REALLY excited, I still do have a bit of trouble. But, boy, that air in the lungs truly helps.

6. If you know me personally, you know that I'm incredibly sensitive. Not always a good thing because I take things to heart easily and the smallest things sometimes hurt me very deeply. Being sensitive is good other times, though. I feel like I can more easily be understanding and compassionate. Doing Reiki helps to keep me more balanced, but on the whole...I feel like my feelings are all out in the open...to be cherished or crushed. Most of the time, they're cherished, so I'm lucky : )

7. My favorite doll growing up was Raggedy Ann. My great-aunt, Roberta, was a talented artist/crafter (I have some of her paintings still) and I learned everything from her. She made me my very first sewing basket (filled with goodies!), taught me to crochet, paint and "be crafty". Before I was born, she made me (hand sewn!) a Raggedy Ann doll which I love to this day. I slept with her and held her every second until I was in grade school. She even went with me to college! She is still alive....new arms, head, and clothes, though. (I used to always get her head stuck in the back of my chair...!) She is filled with all my childhood fears, tears, dreams and happiness. This doll was made with love and I hope that my aunt, who passed away when Tim was 4, knows how much she meant to me and how much I loved her.

Whew...time for a little sobbing....okay...better.

So, now, I will tag Jackie, GiGi, Laurin, Ericka, Melissa, Amanda and Heather.

Knitting group tonight! Can't wait!! (did you see the new Interweave Knits? It's awesome!)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Help....I've Lost the Will to Knit!

Yes, you've read correctly. I-have-lost-the-will-to-knit. I think it has 100% to do with the fact that I am knitting "Lace in FrigginLand". I've been living there since May 1st, when I cast on for the Myrtle Leaf Shawl. There are three things wrong, as I see it:

1. The Lacey Lamb laceweight yarn, though truly lovely, is like thread. Thread, I tell you! I've knit with laceweight before. I've knit shawls before. I've knit laceweight shawls before. And this is totally different.

2. The pattern, on row 13, is incorrect. I've read the corrections, wrote them down, seem to understand them...and, yet, the row never comes out right. What's up with that?

3. I can only do a maximum of 2 rows done at a time while Ben is in the house. I think he hears when I pull out the chair to sit down and the slight "whip" and metallic "tink" as I knit the lace row. Not that it's his fault, of course, he's just a little guy wanting attention, but I'm getting up every few moments and that causes MAJOR screw ups. MAJOR. I've ripped out the 13 row repeat approximately 3 times. I may be going for a 4th soon.

Blogless Amanda, how are YOU doing on this?? Help me, please!

Everytime I take out my knitting, I'm cringing. It's even affecting my spinning. I haven't been able to start spinning any of the gorgeous fibers I got from Sheep and Wool on Saturday. (pics later on in this post)

Any ideas? Can someone "jump start" my knitting enthusiasm? Should I try another lace pattern? Should I try another yarn? Hmmm...???? Whatza Whatza??

Okay, now that I've whined a bit....I'll go on to the good stuff...

Exhibit A: Flowers from My Garden

Lovely Lilacs almost in bloom



Beautiful Tulip, not sure what kind



Exhibit B: My New Fridge

Yes, I know...I'm lame...but I love my new bottom freezer fridge.



Exhibit C: My Wonderful Mother's Day

I had the most wonderful, relaxing and sweet Mother's Day ever. Ian bought me gorgeous flowers, Ben made me a homemade card (with his very own scribbles), and Tim created an animated-and-totally-awesome card on the computer. Tim and Ian made me dinner (using Tim's cookbook from school)...mini pizzas and ham/cheese cups with blueberry ice cream and brownie crumbles for dessert. YUM! Ian even took the kids out so I could have some time to myself. I am SO lucky!



Exhibit D: NH Sheep & Wool

Jackie and I met up with a bunch of the ManchVegas Knitters (GiGi, Amanda D, Laurin, Ericka, Chris, Melissa, Vicki, and Heather) for lunch after shopping. Wow! What a difference from last year's flood/downpour! The day was cool, sunny and gorgeous. I even got to see the llamas, alpacas and other adorable fiber animals. They are SO adorable! Here's the group at lunch:



Here is the adorable, "teddy-bear-like" alpaca that I loved:



And here is the fantastic Spunky Amy...who I was thrilled to get to see and meet her sweet family, too



Exhibit E: New Stash Aquisitions

I was much better this year than last year. I actually could SEE over the load of stuff I bought (unlike last year, right Laurin?) and I didn't get any yarn. Jackie was my "Stash Officer and forced (I mean, helped) me not to buy things I didn't need. Like more drop spindles, yarn and excess fiber...oh, that lovely kid mohair I didn't buy! Here is my fiber haul (one of the fibers is for a Blog Friend):

(2 bags of llama from West Mountain Farm, batt called, "The Mystery Bump" (LOVE THAT!), wool/angelina batt from FoxFire Fibers, 2 bags of baby camel/tussah silk from the same place, and Lambspun Merino/Silk roving in a beautiful fern green)





Also got an alpaca coloring book for Ben, some honey sticks for Tim and handknit finger puppets for both of them. So cute!

Oh, and here is the new Weavette that I got....it's a 2x2 weaving loom frame...and I'll be using it with my leftover odds and ends of handspun to make small squares of woven fabric to make flowers. Cool, huh?



And, lastly, I got some adorable bunny cards and a Heal My Hands cream in Lavender Mint....wonderful stuff!

Conclusion:

The weekend was chock full of fun thing to do, enjoyed myself immensely and only wish I could revive my will to knit. Will be accepting all cyberhugs, ideas, suggestions and virtual (or actual) yarn gifts (LOL!) to restore my love of knitting until midday on Wednesday....at which time I will be freaking out trying to decide what I will do at knitting group. So please, HELP ME!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Loaf of Bread, a Robot and a Crazy Lady

What do all of these have in common? Very little. Nothing in fact. Except that I was involved in all three.

Here is a pic of my successful (finally!) attempt at making homemade bread:



I used the simple bread recipe from the fabulous book, "Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen" by Laurie Colwin. You can get it here. It's not only recipes, but great, short stories on cooking and being in the kitchen. I loved it and want to buy her second book as well. My first attempt at making this bread was a dud owing to the fact that I am "yeast ignorant". I had no idea that you had to add the yeast to very warm (100 degrees or so) water with a tiny bit of sugar and wait 10 minutes before adding to the bread. Last time, there was no rising, but this time, I happily had the opportunity to punch down the dough....Ben liked putting his hand prints in it, too!

Jackie gave me the tip for the water, sugar and waiting. Boy, did it work! Thanks, J!

Not only did the bread come out wonderfully, smell good and taste yummy, but it has such a golden look and crunch to the crust. I changed Laurie's recipe slightly...

-added 3 cups white unbleached bread flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (instead of half and half)
-used 3/4 cup of organic, lowfat milk and 3/4 cup of water/yeast
-let the bread cook for a bit less time at 450 degrees.....22 minutes instead of 30. (I think my stove cooks quickly)

YUMMY!

Now, onto the Robot! I used the Wee Wonderfuls Second Put Together book, "SpaceBoy and Robot" again to make, what Ben calls, DADDY ROBOT!!!

Here he is with Roger....who you can find out more about here:



Again, this Robot was all hand sewn and the fabric picked out by Ben himself. I now have a request for another Robot to be made for Tim. I really love making toys.

I had more fun making Daddy Robot, although I think Roger is cuter. The Robot has less pieces to cut out and sew and, now that I know how to flip the legs and arms around, I didn't make any of the mistakes I'd made last time. I enjoyed making the front panel on the Robot with all his "buttons and knobs"...sounds kinda kinky, doesn't it?....and this panel makes the Robot sparkly and very special. I'm addicted to making these dolls. I want to make the others now, too....I have two more of the Wee Wonderfuls books and also the MakeAlong Dolls, which I'll probably make next. Those are for ME!!

A pic of my little sweetheart, just off the potty (Good job, Benji!) and still quite sleepy...holding his new doll:



Finally, we have the story about the crazy lady at B&N. Huh. Where do I begin? I can barely get over the shock of it. The whole episode happened so fast, so no one had time to take a picture of her, but here is what she may have looked like as a baby:



We were all at B&N knitting at our usual table in the cafe.....talking, laughing, being loud, etc. And, just as Lora was bringing another small table to our group and Amanda was coming back to the table with a cupcake, this late 30ish lady with dark hair (and her mouth full of cupcake...pieces spewing as she talked) came up to our table screaming at us.....

(this is just what I remember...)

"What the f*uck are YOU laughing at??? [looking at Amanda, then Mike] F*ck you! Do you think it's funny, you f*ggot? F*ck you! F*ggot!"

So GiGi says very politely and calmly, "Excuse me, but have we offended you somehow?" and the lady screams at her, "Why don't you shove your hook up your *ss!" And then again, as she is walking away, keeps screaming, "F*ck you! F*ck you!"

We were all looking at each other like, "What the HELL was that????" and saying to each other, "Do you KNOW her?"

After 10 minutes of shock and bewilderment (poor Blogless Amanda missed the whole thing by only a minute or two), we finally came to the conclusion that it was some crazy lady who had mental problems (SERIOUS mental problems) and didn't realize what she was doing or saying. At least, that can be the only explanation. At least she brought some new stuff to talk about the entire night. But, I was a bit spooked...we kept saying, "If only Laurin or Ericka were here!!!!

I guess knitting really IS a dangerous hobby. Who knew??

Monday, May 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Tim!!!!!

Today is my first born's birthday!!

Born: 6 pounds, 11 oz and 19 3/4 inches
Now: 135 pounds and 64 3/4 inches

Whoa!

Here is a collection of Baby Tim pictures....please disregard my weird early 90s hair. Please. (These are scanned in, so are a bit blurry.)



He is even more awesome now than he was as a baby (he didn't like to sleep then...and, now, well....he's making up for all that not sleeping!) and I am so proud of him!

Not only is he on the honor roll almost every single quarter in middle school, but he is such a sweet, (poor guy is somewhat shy, though), talented (you should SEE his sketches and the computer games he creates!) and funny...and the best big brother to Ben than I could ever ask for.

We spent Saturday at the Space Center in Hooksett (fun, but very loud, place where you can have parties, play arcade games, go on rides and play laser tag) and had lots of fun....here, I'll show you some pics....

Group Pic with Some of His Friends



On the Bumper Cars



Winning 250 tickets!!!



Many, many kisses (not in public) to my tall (he's way taller than me!), handsome and all around fantastic son, Tim! I love you, T!!!!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

ROGER

Introducing Roger, the Spaceboy!



DETAILS:

*Created in 6 hours....Friday evening at 6 pm to Saturday morning at 1 am.
*Uses the Spaceboy pattern from Book 2 of Hillary Lang's SpaceBoy and Robot pattern book from her website/blog, Wee Wonderfuls
*Completely hand stitched (no machine...I am SO uncoordinated when using a sewing machine!)
*Fabric picked out entirely by my little guy, Ben...(on our trip to JoAnn Fabrics with Jackie and Lora and their kids...FUN!)

The Good

*After using Lora's tip of substituting freezer paper for tracing paper for cutting out the pattern pieces (BRILLIANT!), things were very quick. LOVE this tip!
*The fabrics were so cute and fun to work with and the instructions pretty clear and easy to understand.
*LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the outcome....I almost want a Spaceboy for myself!

The Bad

*For those of us who aren't experienced with sewing (aka dunces or dummies), I was confused by one thing. I came to the part where I was tracing and cutting out the feet and hands for the spaceboy. There was one shape for the foot and said to cut out 4. So, naturally, I cut out 4 pieces of this shape. When I went to sew the feet and hands on, I noticed that Roger had two left (or right) hands and feet.

Uh, oh.

I realized (after I'd sewn the foot on wrong), that I was supposed to cut two feet (and hands) out in one direction and then flip the fabric over and cut out two more of each in the OTHER direction.

It made sense afterwards, but I wish the pattern instructions had been a little more detailed here for people with sewing "disabilities".

The Adorable

*Here is Ben feeding Roger some fries....



*Here he is with my sister, Kim...and Roger's still very popular....



I totally recommend buying Hillary's pattern and also making the Robot toy, which is in the book as well. This was the cutest and most enjoyable sewn toy I've ever made....this is not counting Kimberly's Mr. SockFish Bag...that was AWESOME! On to make both Ben (and Tim!) a Robot toy....well, and also work on my Myrtle Leaf Shawl...whew!

'Night! : )

P.S. Did I mention that I'm also making Roger his own handstitched, 9 block quilt and pillow? Eh-hem....I think I'm a bit obsessed....maybe.