Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Visiting Spa 2008...

but maybe not in 2009.

I won't say that I had a terrible time at Spa this year, but it wasn't like last year. I'm not sure if it's the stomach virus I got the day I left that clouded the whole weekend or what...but the magic is gone...or at least the excitement of going next year is. I think I realized that mostly all the people I enjoy being around are the ones I see all the time...either with the Manchvegas Knitters on Wed nights, the new Friday Night Knitters at Yarn and Fiber Co. or the Island Pond Spinners in Hampstead (though I haven't been there for a while...since it's on Friday nights!)

The drive over to Freeport, ME on Friday afternoon was really difficult. Heather did a super job of driving in the horrible storm, but the roads were so bad and it took us over 3 hours to get there. Once there, I was feeling cold/hot/stomach gurgling nastily and was in a slight daze. After dinner (at a saucy little place called Pedro O'Hara's), the lovely Julie, Patti of The Yarn Sellar, Mary, Melanie, Heather, Ericka and Chris and I all went back to the hotel bar to meet up with other Ravelers.

The bar was a tiny little section off of the lobby and, since I was pretty much pooped out already, I sat for only a little bit with everyone and then went to bed early. I think everyone else sat and drank for a while. I was disappointed with how the Ravelry/Blog Meetup went, though. It wasn't like the open arms welcome that most knitters give to each other most places I go ("Hi! Do you knit? My name is so and so. What're you knitting?...smiles,etc...")...which was strange...it was more like -"Hmm, well...we all know each other over here and we'll take a quick look at you to see if we know you or read your blog, but, if not, then we'll just turn back to our friends here." It may very well be because I wasn't feeling well that I felt like that, but besides the-always-wonderful Amy, there wasn't much warmth in that area. It was kind of sad, if you think about it...more like a high school clique atmosphere...and I was excited to meet other Ravelers.

The hotel was beautiful, the beds supremely comfy and most of the vendors had just gorgeous things. I was very, very frugal this year and only bought 4 oz. of fiber from Amy...a superwash merino roving in "Thin Ice"...and 6 oz. of Frelsi Farm Icelandic/Mohair blend top in white...very, very nice. Here is the Icelandic/Mohair spun and plied so far...I may be wrong, but I think I was able to get a 2 ply laceweight this time! Woo-hoo!



I was thrilled to be able to spend most of the time I wasn't spinning (or recovering from stomach pains...ugh!) with Julie and Patti, who I don't get to see half as much as I'd like to. We got to talk about our kids, Clover (of course!), visiting yarn shops and working in a yarn shop. Great conversations and fun!

I was also soo happy that I got to see more of Laurin and Lisa this weekend than I did last year. Both of those ladies crack me up to no end and you KNOW you'll be laughing with them, no matter what. I was actually successful in taking a quick pic of my dear friend, Laurin (and her newly finished sock) here with my favorite married, knitting couple, Chris and Ericka:



And here is the fantastic Lisa modeling her very first hand knit hat (woo-hoo!) and wearing Laurin's scarf (aka Salad Fixings) around her neck:



Hanging out with Mary (who is becoming a regular at Friday Night Knitting club) and meeting her friend, Melanie, was also wonderful and they were truly enjoyable people to be around. I was even able to show Mary how to navajo ply her handspun and, boy, she did a great job. I don't even think she really needed my help at all!

And, last year, I met Brenda at Spa and I was very happy to see her again this year. We even got to sit next to each other both days and spin! She's made an Amanda mini-Headband out of her handspun and it's soo cute! As soon as she finishes it, she promised to send me a pic so I could show it on the blog. She was only learning to spin on the spindle last year and, this year, she was just sailing along on her wheel. It was amazing to see that!

I snuck a pic of Patti, Julie and Brenda here...



I even won a door prize, but gave it to Heather since I already had it. She was more than happy to receive it. LOL! I think almost everyone won something, which was really great. Here she is spinning with Ericka and Chris knitting his sock...



I missed my boys and missed all the other ManchVegans (especially all of their crazy shananigans) and thought that I wasn't really sure if it's worth the money to go and spin there next year. I heard that sales were low this year, too, for the vendors...much lower than last year. Was it just me feeling sick? Was it the storm? Something else?

After two disappointing weekends away this year, I'm not as keen to plan for more. I love my Wednesdays and Fridays with my friends (both groups are growing like crazy!) and I think those nights (which are FREE!) are WAY more fun than the outings I've been on this past year. Maybe I'm just being a big, boring ol' baby about it (which is certainly possible!), but I like sticking to what makes me happiest and most comfortable. Am I crazy?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm Alive!!

Before I headed out to knitting group tonight, I just wanted to say hi to all of you...my wonderful friends...and thank you so much for all your well wishes...it's so nice to open up my email and see such kind comments : )

I'm FINALLY better. I had a double ear infection, sinus infection and, because of my migraine meds and infections combined, had very high blood pressure. And I'd no idea! I'm finally off all meds and now only taking a very low dose of hbp pills until everything is "normal" again. My head is feeling sooo much better and it was so funny because I felt like dancing around today. Woo-hoo!

I was able to go back to the gym (never thought I'd be happy for that!) and today was also Ben's first day back to school after being so sick himself. He was even able to wear the new mittens I knit for him. His teacher and friends loved them!

Check these out: (well...this one anyway)



Pattern: Morehouse Merino Critter Kit "Lobster Claw Mitts" for kids
Yarn: 1 skein of Morehouse Merino 3 ply in red
Needle: Knit Picks size 5 32" circ and extra bamboo dpns
Fun Level: A (So quick, so fun, loved this yarn and the mitts are soo warm!)

Ben was wearing just one of these the other day and looked so sleepy and cute....



One more belated FO:



Pattern: Bea Ellis "Moose Hat"...scroll down for patern.
Yarn: 1 skein of each color of Dalegarn Heilo and 1 skein of Mandarin cotton
Needles: Knit Picks size 3 and 5 16" circs
Fun Level: B (Very interesting knit, really liked this yarn, though I think I let my carries go a bit long...5 stitches, instead of 3 or 4.)

This hat is for my father-in-law...as a very belated birthday gift. He lives in TX, but when he comes here, he needs an extra warm hat..and, man, this hat will be VERY warm. Hope he likes it!

Now...onto the bigger stuff....

Number 1: Yes, I am VERY behind in adding the Amanda Hats to the gallery. I have about 15 hat pics all ready, sized and labled to go in. I will be adding them tomorrow and asking Amanda to pick her choice on Friday, instead of on her birthday tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Blogless Amanda!!).

Number 2: Remember that there will be 3 prizes plus a special prize for Caroline for knitting the MOST Amanda Hats...8! The other prizes will be for the:

-Best Amanda Hat knit in malabrigo yarn.

-Best Amanda Hat knit in a non-malabrigo yarn.

-Best and most original photo of the Amanda Hat.

Good luck to everyone and I'll let you know after Spa who the winners are...though it will probably be the last day of Feb before everything gets figured out, blogged and such. I'm so excited!!

Will try to blog before I leave for Spa on Friday, but I may not have time to. So, if I don't....I'll miss you!!! I can't wait to SPIN!!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

SOOO Sick

Well, I'm just on here to say that I haven't been posting because I am officially one of the "undead". Not quite alive, not mercifully dead. I've been soo sick since Sunday night and have barely been out of bed. I was hoping I was alive enough to go out to knitting group last night...truly bad idea...but I barely knit a few stitches and moaned the rest of the time. My angels, Caroline (who gave me a wonderful backrub) and Amanda (lovingly drove me home) took care of me while I was out of bed those few hours. I crawled into bed when I got home and have been here since. Ben's been such patient and good little boy sitting and playing in my room while I rest. Send over the drugs! (oh, and tissues. I ran out of tissues a day or so ago and since I have no energy to drive the car on my own, I've gone through 2 rolls of toilet paper. My nose is sooo unhappy.) As soon as I'm alive again, I'll be back...just imagine that I'm saying this in an Arnold S. sort of way and at least it'll be slightly humorous.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Caroline....The Amazing Amanda Hat Knitter!



If you can believe it, my wonderful friend Caroline has knit...count'em....8 AMANDA HATS!!

Every time we'd get together for knitting, Caroline would look at me with a slightly shy (and sweetly guilty-ish) look and say something like, "You know, Gina, I'm starting another Amanda Hat." And I would always be so surprised and excited! (After the 5th hat, I was less suprised, but just as excited.) Wow! Each "confession" prompted me to ask...."So, what yarn are you using??" and she'd take out some beautiful skein of yarn that was either perfect for her complexion/hair or perfect for someone else in the group...who'd immediately say, "Ooh, let ME try it on!"

I've had a number of knitters make 2 and 3 hats, but no single person has made more than that...except for Caroline. With that in mind, I decided to crack open Caroline's brain and feast on the gooey insides....oh, wait...I mean, gently probe into Caroline's brain and investigate her Amanda Hat Obsession (which I am totally in approval of).


(Caroline with Amanda and all the hats that were made so far)

Here we go!

1. So, Caroline, what made you knit this many Amanda Hats? I made the first one because I loved the one you brought to Grand View weekend, and was impressed by the way it looked good on everyone. I was working on a long term project at the same time, and it felt so good to finish something that I thought I would like to do another. I started thinking about all the yarn options for the hat and just decided to use a different yarn each time. I had no idea that I would do this many.

2. If you didn't know me or Amanda, do you think you still would've knit the pattern this many times? I hate to admit it, but I might not have made one at all! I would probably have saved the pattern to my file of "I like this but don't have the nerve to make it" patterns. But you were so encouraging and put the pattern right in my hand. If I had made the one, without knowing you or Amanda, I might have stopped at 2 or 3. It was fun to keep bringing another hat in to knitting.

3. Not many people know that you used a different yarn for each hat. Which yarn that you used was the most enjoyable to knit with? The best was the last, Malabrigo! Dream In Color was a close second.

4. Which yarn knitted up the prettiest hat? I think, maybe, the Patons SWS or the Lorna's Laces.

5. Which hat is your favorite and why? That one is a lot harder to answer. The Malabrigo, for its color and softness and the fact that my technique was so much better than in my earlier hats. Or the Manos, for its awesome color, even though its tension was all over the place.

6. What will you do with all these hats?? I'll keep at least one and gift the others.

7. Did you change your needle size for any of the hats?> No, I'm too much of a rigid instruction-follower. You said 9's so I used 9's. I will make this hat again someday and I might try changing needles then. I would like to make the hat in both larger and smaller sizes.

8. Was there anything you would change about the pattern? Not a thing!

9. How many people have you "converted" to "Do-ing" Amanda? Definitely my mother and my sister, Kathleen (well, I don't know how much credit I get for Kathleen). Through my mother, a handful of women down in Key West (do I get any credit for secondary conversions?). And I "pattern-dropped" in a couple yarn stores and in Borders, but I don't know if those took root.

10. Will you be submitting a unique and crazy photo for the last hat entry for the Gallery/Contest? I've got a pose in mind, I just have to have someone take the picture.

Caroline, I am so thrilled that you loved the pattern and the hats and thank you so much for taking time out of your hat knitting (ha ha) to answer all my questions. It's been such a treat to see all of your hats and the choices that you've picked for yarns. You are an Amanda Hat Inspiration!!

Please check out Caroline's blog post, I Will Not Be a Guppy!, for a deeper look inside Caroline's brain...it's a really good post ; )

Now...onto my FAVORITE AMANDA HAT PICS!!!! (remember, I won't be the one judging...only Amanda is..so I can be as prejudiced to my friends as I want...he he)

Jackie's Hat with Her Sweet Girl


Marion's Hat (Caroline's mom)


Elizabeth and Mom's Hat


Melissa from Minnesota's Hat


Donna B's Hat


Laurie from Salem, MA's Lime Set


I have some prizes picked out, but waiting on a few, so I thought I would wait until they are all together before taking pics. But, there will be at least a couple skeins of Malabrigo yarn, stitch markers, fancy knitting needles and other skeins of yarn (as well as goodies...that means chocolate) for the winners.

There's still time for more hats and if you know anyone who has knitted an Amanda Hat and hasn't emailed their pics/info to me, make sure to tell them ASAP!

And, again, you can check out the Amanda Hat Gallery anytime you want : )

Comment with what hats (or pics) are YOUR favorites!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Not My Sunrise Circle Jacket

I know I promised that I'd be blogging the "Amanda Hat" interview with Caroline today, but that will be tomorrow's post...along with some SASSY pics of a new crocheted gift I received last night at knitting and my favorite Amanda Hat pics. Caroline is very carefully finishing up her 8th (!!) Amanda Hat and crafting her answers to my questions. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she says, aren't you?

Speaking of Blogless Amanda, I've been bidden to show my beautiful friend in her newly knitted Sunrise Circle Jacket by the fabulously talented, Kate Gilbert.

Since Amanda doesn't have her own blog (hence the "Blogless" part), I'm going to show the pic I took of her myself...woo hoo!



Doesn't she look amazing? Though, truth be told, she looks good in EVERYTHING...damn her.

YARN: Lamb's Pride Worsted in varigated reds

Kate, you like?

Oh, btw, before I go back to knitting.... the Amanda Hat Gallery is completely updated! At least 56 hats now! Woo-hoo! Remember to send in your Amanda Hat photos before the 21st!

Have a great day (it's snowing here) and report back tomorrow, knitters!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spherey!



Introducing....Spherey!

Oh, this was even quicker and more fun than Squarey. Only a couple days to knit the whole thing....and, man, is he POPULAR! I took him (partially finished) with us to a restaurant for dinner and, since only his head was done, everyone kept looking at the head in my bag and smiling. Ben kept saying, "I want the smiley head!" and we would toss it back and forth. Spherey is a real happy guy ; )

DETAILS:

Pattern: "Spherey" from "Unusual Toys to Knit and Enjoy" by Jess Hutchinson.
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted in pale greenish blue and red (only 1/2 skein of greenish blue and small bit of red)
Needles: Knit Picks size 8, 32" circ for magic loop.
Time: 2 days...1.5 days for "head" and only a couple hours tops for arms/legs.
Fun: A- (Really loved it...especially since you can use stash yarn for it and it's quick and adorable. Only thing was that sewing on the legs neatly wasn't AS fun.)


Wanna see what Spherey does in his spare time??



He LOVES the Grab-It Game!

Oh, I also finished my Wavy scarf on Wednesday night in the hot pink color of Ella Rae Classic. It's just as warm and wonderful as my other Wavy in the Cascade 220 yarn. Now, I just need possibly one more Wavy (in black perhaps?) to go with the other outfits in my closet. Isn't it great to be able to knit to coordinate with your wardrobe? It's awesome!

Speaking of finishing things...I also finished my entry for the One Skein Wonders book and I'm going to reblock it tomorrow and send it off ASAP. Please, please keep your fingers crossed for me. It would be the best and most wonderful event in my puny knitting/designing life.

I was also shocked to see that there are over 100 Amanda hats on Ravelry now! Isn't that amazing????

My very next blog post will feature:

-an interview with Caroline (an amazing knitting friend) who is on her way to knitting about 8 Amanda hats!

-pictures of the "prize swag" that the winners will receive from the contest

-since I'm not the one judging the contest (thank goodness, since they're all so awesome), I'm going to show MY favorite hats/pics so far.

And, remember, there are only 17 days left to enter hat pics!!!

I'm v-e-r-y slowly working on my other lace projects and UFOs. But, I'm happy to have finished these three things this week. Woo-hoo! Happy Knitting everyone!