Monday, December 31, 2007

Cockleshells of Thoughtfulness



On the last day of this pretty difficult year, I wanted to end on an uplifting note with pretty lace and thoughtfulness. As much as I'm glad to see this year end, I've been truly grateful for:

My Family
My Knitting Group, the ManchVegas Knitters
My Health (even with the various things going on...I'm still doing pretty good!)
Ravelry and Blogs (yes, corny, but true)
Lovely yarn to knit with, fiber to spin and endless good books to read!


First, the LACE!!

At the shop, we had a Secret Snowflake Swap for the holidays and, though the kiddies and I were feeling too badly to go to the final party, I was able to finish my gift (on time!) for my boss, Cyndi....the woman who owns one of the best yarn shops in all of NH! VERY hard to decide what to make and get for such a person.

I decided to knit one of the lace scarves from one of my new favorite knitting books, Ocean Breezes by Sheryl Thies.

Look again at the scarf picture above....What do you think? Was it a good choice?

DETAILS:

Yarn: Madril Kid Seta, 1 ball in white
Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboo straights, size 8
Pattern: Cockleshell Lace scarf
Rating: A- (excellent fun, easy to knit, quick and enjoyable)

*Note-the pattern called for 3 balls of this yarn to make the 40" scarf. I only used 1 ball to get the 40" and, though I tend to knit loosely, I think I was pretty close to gauge. Not sure if the yarn amount is a typo or not. I actually blocked the scarf out to a bit longer than the 40", as well. I also added size 8/0 mirror glass seed beads to the center lace pattern, before and after the yo's. You can see them a little more clearly here:



I was thrilled with how the scarf came out and I think Cyndi liked it too. She wore it all day at work on Saturday. Woo-hoo! I wish I'd taken a picture of the gorgeous snowflake clear crystal stitch markers that Heather made for me to add to the gift...they were amazing!

THOUGHTFUL GIFTS

This holiday season, I got some truly wonderful gifts. All of them I loved (especially the gift cards!!), but a few stood out as being especially thoughtful and I wanted to share them here:

-Ian got me, not only my favorite new Vera Bradley "Curvy Tote" bag (mod pink floral!), but also spent lots of time and energy getting me a white gold necklace with a silver pendant....this pendant has the pictures of my two sweet boys lasered on the front. I was so surprised when I opened this and I've been wearing it every day since. Not only did my hubby have to send in scanned pics of the boys and fill out paperwork and such...but to remember that I'd always wanted one touched me the most. Here is a very blurry (sorry!) picture of the pendant:



-My mom knows how much I love Lemon scented things and my addiction to lip gloss and she got me a HUGE bag full of...guess what?.....M.A.R.K Lemon spray, body cream and lotion, and lip glosses for the whole year. You always know the perfect thing to get, right, Mom?

-Jackie got me the most amazing PINK!!! digital scale....highest rating and sooo nice. I've been complaining about not having one, but never got off my a** to get one. She searched around until she finally found me a pink one and....oh, do I LOVE IT!!! Thanks so much, J! I've already used it a few times and it works like a dream! (and matches my Hello Kitty toaster...lol!)



-We had a visit from Ian's high school friend, Richard, and his wife, Margaret and their little girl, Katharine. You might remember the photo I posted of her wearing the Angel Sweater I knit? Or the Sweet Leaf Hat? Or the Raspberry Hat and Mittens I made for her? They told me that she now refers to ALL mittens as raspberries! How cute is that?? I'd only met Richard once about 15 years ago when Ian and I had just started dating and this is the first time I was able to meet his wife and daughter. I have to say....I found so much to talk about with Margaret and it was like we were friends right away. Supremely friendly, a great mom and....you know what else???....she's starting to knit!!! Here is a picture of a hat she is working on:



But, the thoughtful thing was that Margaret had read my blog post about how Ben was throwing up every other night and I was running out of King size sheet sets and, you know what she did? She gave us a set of these beautiful cotton sheets for Christmas! (my gift tin of butter cookies seemed horribly, horribly lame)



I am planning on some adorable new winter wear for little Katharine ASAP! (I can't wait for them to visit again....)

Well, not much else...except look for another blog post immediately tomorrow! (I'm trying to start the year off right! he he)

Yipee! Goodbye 2007!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday, Ben!



Despite the look on his face, Ben had a great birthday. I cannot believe he's FIVE already!

He went from this chubby little fellow (born at 10 pounds, 6 oz!!), shown here with his big brother, Tim, who was 10 at the time:



To this sweet, little boy, opening his new Spider Man Lego set:



We had a fun (though exhausting) day today opening gifts and spending time with my family. We had some delicious Italian sauce, pasta and meatballs for lunch and my sister made the most amazing punch with sherbet, gingerale, fruit juice, and frozen fruit. It was so great to see them (they live in RI and I don't see them as often as I'd like) and what an exciting day for the kids.

Despite of the craziness of the holiday deadline, I was able to finish two more knitted projects.

THE PALINDROME SCARF



I knit this using 3 balls of Patons SWS in natural slate color (and size 8 straight needles), which seems to go with everything. The scarf was quick, easy and beautiful. The pattern was very simple to memorize after a few repeats and the yarn is soft, slightly fuzzy and so warm! I didn't realize how heavy the resulting scarf would be, but I think my mom liked it. I hope she wears it....I begged her to at least wear it once. Highly recommended for gift giving!

TIM'S BAKLAVA

I used a helmet liner pattern for this...click here for the directions. Tim was asking for some sort of facial covering for when he goes sledding and this was perfect for the job. I used the rest of the Lion Brand Cotton Ease in dark gray from my stash, size 6 and 8 circulars and off I went. I think I finished it in about 2 days. Another quick, easy and portable knitted gift/project. Tim loves it and already wore it today. Here he is modeling it, though he begged me not to take his picture:



Not sure, but this may be my last post before the holidays are upon us. I didn't even think I'd get this one done! Ian and I are both sick and trying to keep up our energy for the kids for the next couple days. The guests who were staying with us finally left and now we've had my family here for the past two days. In two more days, we'll have Ian's other friend, his wife and little girl over and...after that...Ian's parents will be here for a few days. I'm trying to appreciate the time we have to ourselves (without guests) while we have it....but, man, I'm TIRED!!!

Hope you all have a truly relaxing and wonderful holiday...full of much needed laughter, joy and love of your friends & family. Many hugs from me and I'll see ya again after Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

FO Friday: The 52 Scarf



Dum Dah Dum! A finished object for Friday! Woo-hoo! Never thought I'd get it done! But, as I did....here are the details:

DETAILS:

Yarn: 2 skeins of Jade Sapphire 4 ply 100% Mongolian Cashmere, in black
Needles: Knit Picks Options circular, size 5
Pattern: The "52" Scarf (see link on right)

I was able to snag Ian this morning before work so I could take these pictures. This scarf is actually a Christmas present for my dad, but I needed a model, and...since Ian was dressed and semi-respectable...I used him. : ) (I really love his new jacket...)

This is a super, super easy (and free) pattern for a unisex/masculine scarf that can be finished in just a week if you are diligent....2 weeks if you only work on it now and then. Using this specific yarn makes all the difference....the scarf becomes quite soft, drapey and has a great texture. You can pull the ribbing out fully so that the scarf is wider and able to cover the face. Or, if you like it narrower, let the ribbing relax and it's a barely there (but warmer than a yak's butt) scarf.



Like I said in my last post, I wasn't in too much of a hurry to finish this scarf since it was such a joy (with an almost orgasmic pleasure) to knit. This scarf can totally be knit while watching tv, or a movie or at knitting group...that's actually how I got most of it done every week. The black makes it a bit harder to see, so don't knit a black scarf in semi-darkness or you'll have a LOT of ripping out to do. But, if you use a different color (there are so many colorways in this yarn), you'll be fine.

So, what do you think? Do you think my dad will like it?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Down to the Wire



FINALLY, an FO that I hoped to show on Friday, but I was so busy and tired, that I just didn't get a chance to. Wow, this weekend just flew by, didn't it??

This is the Noro Felted Bucket Bag with Charms that I knit for a shop sample. It was very easy and fun to make, much like a Booga Bag in construction...with a few changes here and there. Try it...it would make a great holiday gift and you could finish it in plenty of time for the holidays. Really ; )

DETAILS:

Pattern: KFI Noro Felted Bucket Bag with Charms
Needles: Addi Turbo 24" circular, size US 13
Yarn: 4 balls of Noro Kureyon color 213A and 1 skein of Gedifra Techno Hair in teal.

This is how the bag looked BEFORE felting:



Note: I also used some glass charms for the front tassle and, as I ALWAYS seem to run out of this yarn, I used 1/4 of another skein of Kureyon as well.

Now that this is done, I've been able to get back to my holiday knitting for lovely people in my life:

-A black, cashmere scarf for my dad using Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere from the shop and a pattern I created...a very simple one which I'm calling "The 52 Scarf" and will share in the next post. Oooh, is it luscious!!! I don't think I have the proper motivation to finish it because it's so wonderful to knit with and I'm savoring every moment....mmmm.(picture soon)

-A secret knitting item for my Secret Snowflake Pal (also for the shop, so I can't show it here until it's finished....boy, oh, it's coming out beautiful!)

-A Palindrome scarf that may be for my mom, if I can get it done in time...if not, I will make it for her for her birthday in February. We'll see how fast I can finish everything else! I'm using Patons SWS in a black, silver, gray colorway. It's SUCH a nice yarn! I was inspired by my knitting buddy, Donna H...when I saw hers, I knew I had to make one, too.

I've finally come to terms with my sad feelings of leaving my non-holiday knitting projects in the closet...for now. I was almost done with Tim's sweater and with a couple of other things, my new sock pattern among them. But, once January comes, I can finish those most important UFOs and....get ready to start new things.

When January 1st comes around, I am planning on blogging, not my resolutions for the year to come, but my Knitting and Spinning Wishlist 2008. Anyone up for doing the same along with me?

Hmmm...what else is new around here? Well, my little Ben has been sick. Off and on vomiting (oceans of puke..."OOP") during the night with no apparent reason...and feeling completely better in the morning....only to vomit again at night. I seriously have to invest in another set of king size sheets. I feel like I am continually switching and washing the 2 sets we have every other night....at 3 am. I am SO tired. Cyndi, my boss, was nice enough to let me leave early on Saturday so I could go home to the little guy. I hate being away from him when he's crying for me and not feeling well. You know?

Other than knitting my ass off for Christmas, I'm trying to catch up on my shopping. I've gotten maybe half of the things I need to and already feel like our checking account is dangerously low. I feel like I spend more every year, though for the same people. I try to spend less, but there is always something "else" in the air and, I don't know how, but it squirms it's way onto the list of things I need to buy. One year, I will be firm and only spend $25 on people (other than my spoiled kiddies) for their gifts and hope that it will work out. I mean, how can I bump people off the gift list? So, it must be....decrease spending. Right? Right? (please comfort me)



Our Christmas tree looks very nice all decorated and shining. Ben and I like to turn off all the lights and lay down under the tree...listening to holiday music and sighing with happiness. He lays on my shoulder and says, "Oh, this is nice, Mommy." With Tim, our special time is drinking rich, hot chocolate and watching Christmas specials together near the wood stove. We're warm, have yummy drinks and I even get to knit while spending time with my teen. Times like these are what I remember when I am faced with friggin knitting and unruly yarns. Mmmmm....calming and blissful.

I think that's all that's been going on in my "everyday" life. Working, shopping, cleaning (of course) and knitting. Not much spinning right now. I'm saving that for February. I'm determined to get my llama spun before I go to SPA. Will I finish? I guess we'll just have to wait and see, huh?

I'll leave you with a great pic of Ben and my hubby that I took before they went geocashing. Ian is holding a hand crafted walking stick made of pine (or is it birch?) that Donna H's husband made. Isn't it gorgeous? He uses it every time he hikes or goes geocashing. I was stunned when, the other day, Donna H brought me yet another stick for me to take home. This time it was for Ben! He was thrilled and has been carrying it around the house with him. He can't wait to take it with him the next time he goes geocashing with his dad. What lucky guys!



Off to do more Christmas knitting!! Good luck with yours! (how far are you with shopping and knitting gifts?? do tell!)

Monday, December 03, 2007

WINNER of Month of Mittens Contest (and survey)



No, it's not Ben. LOL! The snow was so cold and wet that he, sadly, had to wear waterproof mittens to play. : (

I've missed you! (big hug)

The winner is Heide!!! I was in awe, not only of her fabulous spinning, but of how many mittens she knit in November! Whoa! And cute, too! See them here, here and here...I even may have missed some, too!

Many thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated in the Month of Mittens Contest! All of your finished (and almost finished) mittens look so fantastic and will be wonderfully warm this winter. I'll definitely be having this contest again next year...it was a great motivation to have a time limit on making mittens. Otherwise, I don't think I'd have finished the ones for my boys.

Participants and Their Mittens:

Jackie with her two adorable pairs of mittens for her kiddies. See them here and here. So cute!

Sarah with her lovely Fleece Stuffed Mitten in progress. You can see it here. They look really warm!

Becca, who has newly moved back to NY. Can't wait to see your mittens!

Heather....whose cashmere mitts for her mom are just luscious!

Julie Noolie with her prolific (and pretty!) mitten knitting here, here and here.

And, Helen, who either posted pics of the mittens for her swap and I missed them or is just waiting to show them. Looking forward to seeing them, Helen!

(Did I miss anyone?)

Heide will be getting a suprise package of yummy yarn as soon as I am able to get out of this snow! (We had a really wonderful snowfall last night and today...see pic of Ben above!) Congratulations, Heide!!!!

I've got one FO and a partial FO to share for the next post and I'm excited to show them to you. One is a knitted sample for the store and the other is a gift for my dad. Both were/are fun and simple to knit, which is always nice during stressful, holiday times.

I will leave you with two very important questions:

What is your FAVORITE show to watch while knitting projects with deadlines? And, if you weren't able to watch tv or movies, do you think you would get things done as quickly?

Can't wait to read your responses! G ; )