Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's a bit dry in the Sahara....

Before I show you my progress on my Sahara, I wanted to show you a pic of my mom that I took this past weekend.



Doesn't she look GREAT??!!!

She wasn't able to bring the dress she'll be wearing to the wedding this coming weekend, but she had on a very fitting black and white top so I just had to take some pictures of her. I'm so, so happy that she loves the shawl and there's no one else in the world that deserves something special more than my mom. (This pic makes her look slightly church-esque, don't you think?)



I can't wait to see how the shawl looks with her red dress (my sister, Kim, promised to take pics of her in it) and also my dad in his duds...he's the best man in the wedding. And, get this, the wedding is somewhat "cowboy themed" (since the groom, my dad's closest friend, Joe, is a bit of a "cowboy" himself)...and my dad will be dressed accordingly. There's nothing more spectacular than a Chinese man dressed as a Cowboy! I'm dying to see him all spiffed up.

Trust me, pictures will follow. (he he)

Okay, now onto the Sahara.

First, I will show you where I am in the pattern.



I've finished both short, cap sleeves and I'm onto the special ribbed diamond neckline. (I'm saving the more mindless stockinette hip and shirttail hem section for last...easier to bring to knitting.)

The sleeves look great...hopefully, they're long enough to hide my unsightly upper arms ("Time for some weight lifting!", I tell myself).

I've got a few things to mention about this pattern...

Though I love this pattern dearly and it is well written...and the designer is one of my very favorites, I found a few things I didn't like much.

-The cap sleeves are created by using short rows...and, if you have never encountered short rows before, you would be panicking when you reached the sleeve directions. There were no pictures and very, very little direction on completing the short rows. If I hadn't JUST read the directions for short row heels in the Cat Bordhi sock book, I would be ripping my hair out. It doesn't even give a slight overview of short rows or even a mention/hint on the correct way to pick up a short row wrap, which is ESSENTIAL in the knitting...so the wrap will be invisible. I find it strange that there are two HUGE pictures and detailed instructions on a provisional cast on and a make 1...and nothing for short rows.

-In the short sleeve version, I believe there is an error in the pattern. I think the directions for the sleeve cap should read for Row 3: P to 2nd m3, sm, wrap and turn. At the moment, there is no sm and I had to do some trial and error to figure out if it was correct or not. (Or, alternately, I made both sleeves COMPLETELY wrong....but I don't think I did.)

-The neckline section was a bit of a horror show. This, though, may have been totally my fault and due to sleepiness. But, I read the neckline section over and over and thought I'd understood it. I knit 8 rows of almost 100 stitches (maybe it was OVER 100) which took me 3-4 hours (and I'm a fast knitter)...only to realize that I'd misunderstood and had to rip out the ENTIRE neckline that I'd spent so much time on. And, with the Disco Lights yarn (with sequins), it was VERY slow going and frustrating. I finally figured it out, but I feel like the directions weren't as clear as they could have been. If you are working on this, email me and I can let you know what to avoid.

Besides that, I love these aspects of the pattern:

-There are row counts as well as measurements as you go along and that is extraordinarily helpful. I wish every pattern had this.

-I like the way each part of the Sahara has its own directions under bold headings...with an accompanying schematic of the whole sweater.

-The Sizing Tips are great....I'm able to measure myself as I go along and compare it to the measurements listed. If it's not looking big enough, there are directions on how to fix it and adjust. If it's too small, I'm all set, too. The bust, waist and hips areas are all adjustable. Very nice!

So, it's been a bit "dry" this week with my sweater, but I'm slowly plodding along and it's looking like there is an oasis ahead. Wish me luck!

P.S. I'm getting a yarn fix tonight from Heather of Sereknity and also a fiber fix from HollyEqq of Oceans of Fiber in the mail soon. I'm soo excited!!!!

P.P.S. Thanks to everyone for your compliments on my glasses. I feel MUCH better now. (I'm still sticking to the contacts, though....)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dorkus Malorkus



Yes, here I am. An utter dork. Trying not to look devastated. Trying to put on a brave face.

I knew that I needed new glasses. I knew that I picked out my own frames. I knew that I liked the blue Vera Bradley style frames. I knew that my vision was pretty bad. I thought that if I knew all these things that I would be LESS shocked when I tried them on.

HOLY SH*T...they are like mini magnifying glasses on my eyes. I'm serious. (Lora, you know what I mean, right?) It's like I grabbed baby sized microscopes from Ben's toy collection and glued them into fancy ass frames. (whoops)

Ian will put them up to his eyes and say, "I can see through TIME! Cool!" and then, after a minute of trying to look into them and looking confused...then slightly pained, "Damn, how do you see through these things?"

To distract you from my hideousness (I do have contact lenses to wear during the day....thank god!), I will show you a couple things I am working on.

DISTRACTION # 1



Here is my Sahara in it's upper chest stage...up to the armpits....well, 2 inches below the armpits going down to the middle of the chest. I'm lurving this yarn (Tilli Thomas Pure and Simple) and could knit with it forever. The colorway, Ruby Wine, is sooo luscious and it's a semisolid colorway....creating a very nice varigation throughout the tank. mmmmmmm.......

So far, the instructions have been clear and easy to understand. I'm about done with 3 out of the 4 sides of the booklet (very nicely made....hard cardstock and full color) and looking forward to adding that lovely Disco Lights (silk with sequins) trim. Double mmmmmmm.......

DISTRACTION # 2



I'm creating a new lace pattern and this is the Sleepy Eyes Hand Dyed Yarn that I'll be using for it. Laceweight merino, 2 ply....super nice yarn. I dyed another skein (880 yards) for Melissa in a very similar colorway....hers is more lilac and less blue.

I have another skein of this same colorway (the one pictured above) to sell once I get my lazy butt going and post it in my store. If you like it, please email me before I post it....it's $20 with free shipping and, once the pattern is done, the pattern will be sent to you free of charge as well.

I'm calling it "Tanzanite", after the gemstone used in one of my favorite gifts from Ian, a tanzanite, teardrop pendant. I think it was a gift for our 10th wedding anniversary. (Can you believe we just had our 14th anniversary last month???? Whoa.)

DISTRACTION #3

I went scrapbooking with my long time friend, Tammy, on Monday night. We went to the fantastic store, Scrapbook Island and made Birthday Books.

This is my birthday book...



It's got 12 heavy, cardstock pages with a vertical calendar of each month, leaving the facing pages for pics of the birthday guy or gal. It's so cute. We had a lot of fun making it and it was inexpensive, too. Once I grab my book back from Donna (I threw my book in her knitting bag last night to "keep it safe" and forgot to get it from her when she left. Well, at least it's safe, right?

I'd show more pics, but...you know...Donna's got it. LOL!

Okay, so I'm looking for reassurances about my dorkishness vs. contact lensed self and feedback on the tank and yarn. Who's first?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bags and Rags



Well, maybe not quite bag(s) with an "s". More like BAG...check out this hot mama of a bag!

I bought this new knitting bag from Knit Picks called the Total Tote and it is WONDERFUL! It's even better than the picture.

The outside is very soft, suede-like microfiber (mine is in the Chocolate colorway) and the inside has such great, fun print material. This picture shows one of the three pockets (this is the smallest in the front) that holds your dpns, straights and circulars. The circulars fit perfectly in the zipper, mesh pouch.



This pocket has the biggest space and features four inside smaller pockets....two mesh and two with elasticized tops.



The last pocket is medium sized and has a terrfic, vinyl accessories bag that snaps out so you can use it easily when needed. The opposite side has a stretchy elastic with places to hold yarn or other chunkier-than-needles things.



I LOVE IT!!! (I'm kissing it right now)

Oh, I forgot to mention that the middle is separated by a hard divider (one side has the elastic and the other has the 2 mesh pockets) that you can take out of the bag completely, making the center HUGE and room for more than a sweater's worth of yarn. AND it has feet at the bottom, so you can easily put it on the floor without worrying about it getting ruined.

Right now, I have all my knitting bag stuff (5 circ needles, 2 crochet hooks, tape measure, row counter, tapestry needle, scissors, etc), my address book, my Monster make up bag, my knitting notebook, my current sock project (see below), my current "rag" project (see below), a ball of yarn, 4 baby socks and THIS PROJECT in the bag as well:



I have been SUCH a good girl the past week. I have lots of FOs to show you! (Didn't have time to do it on Friday....whoops!)

First, my RAGS!!

(all knit in Lily's Sugar N Cream cotton with size 7/8 needle)

-Garterlac Dishcloth by Criminy Jickets....very awesome pattern:



-Knitability's No Holes Dishcloth:



-Maggie's Rags Chinese Waves Dishcloth...still in progress:



-Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth...done last week:



(see last post for the link to the Grandma's Favorite "rag" I made)

I'd like to have 7 total, so I can have a different one for each day of the week for the kitchen...I know...kinda lame, but there it is.

Second, my TASSLED EARFLAP HAT!!



-Yarn: 1 ball of Rowan Big Wool, 87 yards (though I had yarn left over) Colorway 24 (wine)
-Needle: Size 15 24" circ/dpns
-Pattern: Knit Simple Fall 2007, page 77 and cover
-Size: 22" Large (it's too big for me and I have a 21" head....there is the small size for a 19" head, too)

It's totally comfy and soft, so I might make another one, too. I love the earflaps and crochet ties, though the tassel didn't impress me too much.

Third, sock one of TIM'S SOCKS!!



-Yarn: 2 balls of Knit Picks Felici, colorway Clay
-Needle: Size 1, 2 24" circs
-Pattern: My Own
-Size: 10" long foot, 5" tall leg/cuff

This yarn is really one of my favorite sock yarns....not only is the superwash merino really soft, but I love the way it knits up so evenly. Only things I haven't liked about this yarn: it's tendency to knot/tangle easily and the white/undyed spots in the color.

And, finally, my favorite of all my FO's so far....

The LEARNING SOCKS!!



[These pictures are of sample socks that you knit as you read along with the book to get used to the new "pathways" of knitting socks on a smaller level. Super fun! Top: Little Skye Sock and Bottom: Little Coriolis]



Skye Sock:

-Knit cuff down
-No traditional heel flap or gusset
-Pyramid shape along instep
-Star Toe



Coriolis Sock:

-Knit toe up
-No traditional gusset
-Beautiful spiral pattern travels from top, side of toe across instep to the other side of the leg
-Whirlpool Toe



The fantastically genius Cat Bordhi (I have all her books...and I love them) has published a new book on socks with 8 completely new "pathways" of knitting socks...different from what you've ever seen before. Not only different, but beautiful, unique and fun to knit. This book, "New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One" is more than just a sock pattern book, it's like a workboook. I was drooling ove every single page.

The fact that she uses popular and wonderful sock yarn (including Socks that Rock, Trekking, Cascade Fixation and Mountain Colors, just to list a few) makes the book even better. I love seeing how the colorways I've always admired knitted up in a new way. I found myself tempted to grab the computer and start buying sock yarn then and there...especially STR. But, I restrained myself. At least for now.

So far, in the 6 years I've been knitting and the 5 years I've been knitting socks, this is the BEST sock book I've come across. The patterns are so inspiring and Cat continuously gives tips throughout the book (shown next to acorns) about knitting socks....things that I'd heard of, but never tried or tips that I've always known, but which are invaluable to a sock knitter.

There is a section in the back just for finding out the Master Number for yourself and others you knit socks for so that, once you know those numbers, knitted up the sock patterns are a breeze. The way that Cat organizes the book is very user friendly and I found the indexes of the sock patterns and tips/techniques to be extremely helpful. The print and style of the book is simple and easy to read...not a lot of squinting involved at all. LOL!

So now that you know how much I love this book...please go and buy it. One of the best features of it is you can use any method to knit them....she gives directions for not only 2 Circs, but dpns AND Magic Loop. Can it get any better than that???

So...have I been productive or WHAT??? LOL!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

FINALLY! I can blog about the WEDDING SHOWER!!!


(The wedding shower cake!)

With the exception of the Manchvegas Knitters, most of you had no idea that I have been knitting and planning SECRETIVE things on the "side". Today is the day that I can finally, finally tell you about it and share all the wonderful (and sometimes stressful) details.

But, before I go into the hows and whys of it all, I am dying to share the pictures of a couple of things I knitted during this time. (It was HELL not being able to put these things on Ravelry!)

First, THE WEDDING AFGHAN!!



A bunch of the Manchvegas Knitters grabbed their knitting needles/crochet hooks and one ball of Moda Dea "Washable Wool" in ivory and created a 12x12 square (design of her/his choice) for the engaged couple of our group, Chris and Ericka.

I collected all the squares and created this afghan (and pillow, not pictured) with it (and I even crocheted a border around it!). I think it came out beautiful....all of the individuality of each of the knitters/crocheters shines through.



Knitters/Crocheters in order from left to right, top to bottom: Denise (who recently got married....Congratulations, D!!!), Melissa, Laurin and Me. Me again, Heather, Jackie, and Marion. Julie, Laurin (two), and Mike. GiGi, Heather, Jackie and Blogless Amanda. Sarah, Lora, Caroline and Denise again. (Donna and Amanda also made one, which went into making a matching pillow.)

Second, THE WEDDING SHAWL!!:



In April and May, I bought some Knit Picks Telemark in the Poppy Colorway and made Ericka a shawl for her wedding. (Her wedding dress is a gorgeous ivory with red trim....red is her favorite color.)

I used the "Children of the Liur" lace stole pattern from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman...a fantastic book for knitting lace shawls...a must have for any lace knitter.

The pattern was simple, but very elegant looking. Here is a close up of the lace...the wrong side is facing:



Whew! Now that I got THAT out of my system.....I can share more of the Knitting-Red-Origami Themed Wedding Shower!

I'll try to be quick, so you're not reading all day....

-The Invitations I Made (it's handy being a scrapbooker!)...this one is Ericka and Chris' copy, with a few more embellishments than the ones I sent out.



-A sample of the origami cranes that we all made for decorating my house...this one was made by either Marion or Caroline....(I think we had over 120 cranes in the end!)



-The tiara I picked out for Ericka so she could feel like a queen on her shower day...



-Ericka's face as she opened the door....she was expecting a birthday party for Donna, another Manchvegas Knitter...but was totally surprised that the party was for HER! (Chris, the MVknitters and I had been trying to keep this from her for MONTHS! She had no idea...which made it absolutely perfect!)



-Here she is wearing the shawl and tiara, while opening gifts. Gigi and Jackie look on at Ericka's left and Chris, her fiance, on the right.



-Here is Chris brandishing the butcher's knife that Jackie got them....with a card that said, "Ericka, don't use this on Chris." LOL!



-Lovely Julie sitting at my Ashford Traditional wheel to try it out...She's getting one for herself to try out for an unlimited time! So cool!...with Marion looking on.



-Here is group photo of everyone who came to the shower (please excuse the lack of linking....my fingers are very tired...look above for links, k?)....



(L to R)
(back row) Marion, Sarah, Gigi, Mike, Julie, Melissa, Patti, Blogless Amanda, and Jackie.
(front row) Lora, Donna, Heather, Caroline, Laurin and Chris's mom, Donna.
(Just Ericka's sister, Mandy, isn't in the pic...she came with Ericka and Chris)

-Did I mention that Julie and Patti, the owner of the Yarn Sellar came all the way from Maine for the shower??? It was pretty wonderful to see both of them and I know that Ericka appreciated it. She was very surprised!

Besides me slightly freaking out as hostess (you know...I get very nervous before parties...I want to make sure everyone is having a good time), I think it went extremely well. Everyone had fun, we knit, danced, Jackie and Lora did cartwheels in the backyarn, we drank LOTS and LOTS of liquor (Melissa is a fabu bartender!), knit more, drank more and laughed constantly.

The favors (oh, man, I forgot to take pics of those!) were donated by me, Donna and Sarah. Donna bought some gorgeous mini skeins of yarn (in green and brown) from WoolGirl, I got red hearts of Lindt chocolate truffles in a red gauzy bag and Sarah gave the patterns and gift bags. We also had a big basket full of skeins of cotton to make dishcloths/washcloths, as well. Heather brought the basket with some yarn and me, Jackie, Amanda, Marion, Laurin and Sarah filled the rest of the basket up with yarn, tied with white ribbon. Donna printed out copies of 6 different free dishcloth patterns for us to pick to go with our favor bags. I think everyone liked them!

The funny thing was that we ALMOST didn't pull the shower off. For weeks, we'd been "talking" on our other website so we could email and plan without Ericka and Chris knowing....The Manchvegas Wedding group. And, at the last minute, I had to send off an emergency email saying that Ericka's wedding dress fitting appointment was on the same day and the same time as the shower! Ahhhh!!!!

After freaking out and trying to decide what to do..this was only two days before the shower, we decided to just move the shower time up a little by a few hours. We were able to contact everyone in time (well, except Blogless Amanda...sorry!) and everything went very smoothly. Chris called me off and on during the day of the shower to give me updates on where they were and what time they would be there. We are SO LUCKY that things happened just the way we'd hoped.

Ericka said it was the first time in her life that she was "speechless".

Mission Accomplished.

P.S. Wanna see what I knit during the shower?

I'm not usually a dishcloth girl, but I really liked this pattern! (Less than 1 ball of Sugar and Cream cotton yarn, size 7 needles and this pattern with a crocheted border.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Lovely Lace



Who better to model my mom's beautiful (and finished!!!) shawl than my closest friend, Jackie? Not only was she a very helpful model, but she is also the person who found the pattern for me in the first place. Three cheers for Jackie!!!



Now that I'm done with this lace stole, I feel MUCH more free and less stressed. It's not that the actual knitting with unenjoyable (it was a nice simple pattern), but it was the stress of moving from part to part of the pattern and feeling it would never get finished.

Running my hands over this lovely, lovely lace is worth it and, once I see my mom wearing it, I will be really HAPPY.



DETAILS:

Pattern: Large Rectangle with Center Diamonds from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby
Needles: Size 7 for lace and size 6 for knitted on lace border
Yarn: Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb in Black colorway (2 balls, knitted double standed)
Size before Blocking: 15" by 45"
Size after Blockinng: 22" by 78"
Time: The border took 11 hours of straight knitting and the lace panel was about 19 hours...a total of 30 hours.
Dates: May 16 to August 6, 2007
Tips: If you are using this specific yarn, make sure to pull the yarn from the OUTSIDE and not the inside of the ball. I spent many hours untangling very, very tiny laceweight knots when pulling from the center. AND the balls very easily fell apart when I had gone through half of it. Also, writing down the pattern on paper made things easier for me...line by line to go with the chart. It may not work for you, but it certainly helped me. In addition, I used paper and a pen to keep track of every single line I finished and wrote down comments along the way....it was invaluable when I had to get up for a second or rush after Ben and thought I would remember where I was.

Here, take one more look at the detail....



I'm so thrilled that I can now go onto other lace....woo-hoo!! Tell me what you think!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Burnt Out

The last few weeks have been much more than I have been able to handle. I've continued having daily migraines and/or regular headaches and, despite the awesome power of Sarah's massages (oh, man, she has magic in her fingers!), I'm still pretty tense. Sadly, even my daily yoga is not doing as much as I hope it would.

I feel like I'm behind on life. If only I could press a button and stop time for a few days. Or weeks.... Then, I'd be able to catch up on all the things I should be doing and finishing. Anyone else ever felt like that?

I've given up trying to get the podcast out until next month. This month has just too many things I need to accomplish and, though the podcast is pretty much done, it's no good if I don't record it and publish it to the web. I think if I give myself permission to delay the podcast until all my major August events are over, I will do a better job and have MUCH less stress.

I have made SOME PROGRESS on a couple of things:

- My mom's lace shawl is down to the short end (only 9 repeats) and I'll be working on that tonight until late-very late. I don't want to say that I hope to finish it because that will only cause me NOT to finish it. (Believe me...I know how statements like that always work against me...sigh.)

-Tim's first sock (using the KP Felici in Clay) is 3/4 done and I'm using this to bring around with me for some simple, mindless knitting...though I must say that I probably should have kept MORE of my mind on it because I knit the sock with 1 1/2 heel flaps....don't ask me how....just accept it and we'll pretend it was intentional...k?

I have made NO PROGRESS on a couple of things:

-Ben's sweater is still unfinished, though I have both arms finished and attatched to the body and will start on the final yoke-ing stage after the shawl is done.

-All of my other UFOs are still waiting patiently for me in their respective knitting bags or spinning baskets. (Thank god yarn and fiber can't mouth off!!!)

In other news, it was Ben's 1st day of Preschool last Monday and he actually did really well. I, on the other hand, cried all the way home that day and felt horrible without him. When I picked him up, he said, "Mommy, I cried for you!" and I crumbled all over again. It was horrible. This could be another reason for my feelings of stress....

But, here is he all dressed up and ready for school. Isn't he a cutie?



He picked this backpack out all by himself.




And here he is after school (Tim is in the background) looking pretty grumpy.



He's been doing so well potty training and I feel like he's growing up so quickly all at once. My baby boy!!!!

On Wednesday night, we celebrated both Sarah (The Fantastic Massage Therapist) and Lora's birthdays after knitting. It was a truly fun evening with lots of laughs, gifts and yummy cake....mmmmmm.....

Sonya, Lora's friend from her Kentucky knitting group sent her the most wonderful birthday gift. (It was actually a surprise and she mailed it to me and I brought it along to the group here on bday night.) She used my Radiance Lace Headband pattern (The "Amanda", named after Blogless Amanda) to create a large scarf/mini shawl out of it! I believe that she used a bulky or heavy worsted weight (extra soft) yarn and size 11 needles. We were all totally impressed and loved it so much that Lora didn't get to wear it at all that night...it was passed from Jackie to Mike to me to Heather and more. So lovely and warm!

Here is the birthday girl, Lora, wearing the Amanda Shawl:



And sexy Heather showing off the shawl AND her busty assests:



The pic that I wanted to show of Sarah came out so dark (as well as most of the other ones) that I'll just have to wait and take another one of her using her new drop spindle/fiber and becoming a newbie spinner! Bring it to Wed, Sarah!!

Happy Birthday to both Lora and Sarah!

A bit of sharing ahead....proceed with caution or turn back quickly!

[Before I go, I'll share a little TMI with you....since you've probably been waiting for some for, like, a week or more, right?? LOL! Last night was the first time Ian and I went skinny dipping in our pool! Jackie had mentioned it a few times but I didn't think I'd REALLY ever do it. Ian dragged me in last night and it was actually fun...for the little time we spent in it....I think it was a bit TOO exciting for both of us and we quickly got out to "dry"....if you know what I mean.....Oh, seeing Ian dive off the diving board in his "birthday suit" (let me just say it....buck *ss naked) was thrilling!]

Okay....Must go and get reaquainted with all the blogs that I missed the past week......happy knitting!