Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Birthday Goodies...I'm SPOILED!



First, I want to thank EVERYONE for the wonderful birthday wishes...thank you so much! It seems a little weird to me to be more excited to get birthday wishes from some knitters I've never met in person than from my own family! But, it was pretty thrilling and made me so happy ; )

This year, I was spoiled beyond belief. Maybe it was that everyone was feeling pity on me for turning 35, but I got some FANTASTIC stuff. And, you know, I think the actual gifts wouldn't have been half as nice if I didn't love the people giving them to me. Not to insult any of the gifts (man, they're incredible!), but to say how much more it meant to me to receive them from such thoughtful friends. I am extremely lucky to have such people in my life. I really am.

Okay, enough mush. Let's get on to the GOOD STUFF! (BTW, I'm pretty sick right now, so if this blog makes little sense, please forgive me.)

1. All My Cakes (can you hear the theme song??)

- Shared cake with two of Ian's coworkers



- Delicious PINK homemade cake with chocolate frosting (my favorite) made by Jackie...yummy



- Creamy cake that my family got me this weekend in RI (see above)

2. WoolGirl's Hello Kitty Kit from the lovely Donna D (Who knows me SO well! You should see the adorable stuff in this kit!) and Cherry Tree Hill Sock yarn in Cherry Blossom from the wonderful Julie:



3. Gardening/Greenhouse kit from Lora and Marion:



4. Pink Bag, lotions and hand knit socks (!!!!) using Sereknity yarn in "Violas" from the fab-u-lous, Laurin:



5. A super pretty bouquet of yellow roses and pink flowers from Ericka and Chris:



6. A Sereknity gift certificate for 1 pound of DK wool/silk yarn in the colorway of my choice from Heather (woo-hoo!)

7. The cutest pinky color of Flat Feet from Conjoined Creations with pattern from the beautiful Jackie...and a handmade knitter's wrist keyring from thoughtful Lora...see her shop here. (Notice that Jackie made/decorated the Hello Kitty bag herself! It's so cute!!):



8. The most shocking gift of all from Jackie, Laurin, Gaye, Heather, Denise, Caroline, Hilary, Melissa & Rusty, and Donna H......a stunning Jordan Paige purse - The Knitter's Satchel...in a gorgeous deep red....whoa!:



Look how huge it is on the inside with all sorts of pockets, holders, hooks and such. I was blown away!



9. A new 8GB iPod from Ian....I was so surprised! This thing is f*cking awesome! (whoops, sorry bout that)



If I had more energy (and more hands to blow my nose), I'd write on and on about how much I love everything (because I do) and how much I appreciate everything (which I totally do) and how grateful I am for all of my loving and thoughful friends (which I really am). But, I am barely upright at the moment. I did want to share and thank, though, before it got too late in the week and...now...I....must....sleep.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone...I love you all....and I am truly, truly lucky to have all of you in my life. (and to supply me with endless yummy cake and knitting goodies....keep it coming! only kidding)

YIPEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (cough, cough, phlem....sneeze)

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's ME birthday!


A very silly photo of me at age 5 in Kindergarten.


Woo-hoo! It's been 35 years since I popped out of my mom and started my life. That sounds weird, huh? Well, I'm in a kinda weird mood and hoping for a great day. The past few days have been a lovely blur already....

*A super Hello Kitty birthday gift from the always-wonderful-Donna...who spoils me to pieces.

*Celebrating Caroline's birthday on Wednesday night with TWO cakes...each more delicious than the other. Is that possible?

*Being surprised by Ian's coworkers with lunch AND more cake yesterday.

*The arrival of a yummy yarn gift (and the most adorable card) from Julie

*My mom setting up a cleaning crew to come and clean my house!!! Yippeeee!

*My sister getting me tickets to the Maroon5 concert in July which, sad to say, is that first concert I've been to in 20 years. Oh, man!

*Several grandmothers sending me money - which may or may not go to buying yarn...(I must try to be practical, right???)

*And, Ian, for the first time in a few years, remembering it was my birthday (in the morning!) and being the first to wish me Happy Birthday.

Whew! And the day has just begun! I have numerous, awesome pictures of gifts and such (and my new FO) to show you, but I guess it will have to wait until the next post.

I'm so excited!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bamboolicious!


I LOVE my new handspun!!! It seems like it took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to spin it up, but it was sooo worth it!

I bought 3.5 oz. of bamboo fiber from HollyEQQ a while ago...definitely last year sometime. I spun a bit up at a time...it spins up so quickly that I had to remember not to overdraft it..or the fiber would immediately fall apart from itself. The shine on this fiber is just amazing. I've tried to take a couple of good pictures of it, but I don't think it truly shows how fantastic the shininess is....or was.

I've realized that bamboo fiber (or at least the 100% bamboo that I spun) tends to halo after washing and, the more you handle it, the more it fuzzes. Now, with cashmere, angora and other luxury fibers, you want the fuzziness to happen as much as possible. Because I was so much in love with the exquisite shine of this handspun (during and right after spinning), I was disappointed when I started seeing fuzz.

I'm sure it will knit up beautifully and I still love the yarn...(and just bought more bamboo fiber)...but the loss of that bit of shine was a little sad.



The color was originally in a lilac purple, pink and peach, but (after setting the finished handspun) a lot of the dye came out during soaking. It's still got a very pretty rosy pink and very pale pink, but the purple was mostly washed out and the peach got overtaken by the pink. Not that I mind that!

My final yarn (which never fails to bring a little bit of happiness to my day) is about 450 yards of laceweight or fine fingering. I think I'm going to take Jackie's advice and knit up the Seafoam Scarf [Ravelry Link] with it. After seeing how beautiful Lora's came out, I'm excited to make one, too.



I'm calling the handspun, "Sexy Silky Bamboo". It looks to me like some sexy, pink panties you might wear on a very romantic evening. Or even a silky satin robe. Either way, it's bamboolicious!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rainbow Swallowtail Shawl



After only 2 weeks of lovely knitting, I have finished the Swallowtail Shawl! Woo-hoo!

I have to admit that I was copycat knitting off of Jackie's beautiful Swallowtail. After I saw how utterly gorgeous hers came out, I bought the yarn on the spot and went rummaging through my Interweave Knits magazines for that issue.

Wowza....what a knit!

DETAILS:

Yarn: Kauni Effektgarn 8/2, colorway EQ (rainbow), 150 g ball (660 yards) plus 10 yards.
Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark
Needle: Addi Turbo Lace, size 7, circular 40"
Finished Size: 26" (neck to bottom tip) x 70" (left tip to right tip at shoulders)
Time: April 26 to May 9, 2008
Fun Level: A - (Superbly interesting, very beautiful, clear and well written pattern, and simple charts to read from. Only negative thing...the nupps. Though, they were stunning in the finished shawl. Doing the purl 5 together, though, was not fun.)

Here is the lace shawl BEFORE blocking:



Here it is looking so darn pretty blocking on my bed:



And a final look at a close up of the lace while blocking:



I could just stare at the shawl allllllllllll day.

After frantic finishing on Thursday night, I soaked the shawl overnight (in a mixture of a squirt of SOAK Aquae, a capful of Suave conditioner and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar) and squeezed out the excess water on Friday morning. Took me around a half hour or 45 minutes to block the shawl (after taking a spin in the washer to get out the remaining water...the shawl...not me) and I left it to dry for at least 4-5 hours. I was able to bring it to my Friday Night Knitting club at the yarn store...which was great!

On the way to the NH Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday, Jackie and Lora had an agreement to take "fake" shots every time I got a compliment on my shawl (of course I wore it there!). By the end of the day, (we stayed there about 4 hours) I'd gotten at least 20 compliments on the shawl. It was wonderful! I hope I inspired other people to make this shawl, just as Jackie did for me ; )

Before I stop blabbering on about this truly fantastic shawl (not only to wear, but to knit), I have a few details that I changed or tips I'd like to share with you about it.

1: I knew that I needed mine to be MUCH bigger (for the bosom, of course) than the recommended size and ended up adding 4 extra repeats to the Budding Lace 2 chart….18 instead of 14 repeats. Because of this, on the first row of the Lily of the Valley Border 1 chart AND the Peaked Edging chart, I had to fudge the stitches. Because these first rows are primarily knit rows, it was easy to add the extra stitches needed. When doing this, I STRONGLY recommend adding an equal number of stitches on the left AND right sides of the center line. I almost made the mistake of adding more stitches on one side only. Please don’t do this.

2: Also, when you are on the Lily of the Valley charts, make sure that you are only purling together the 5 stitches of each “nupp” when on the wrong side row. A few times, I lost stitches due to purling of one (or both) of the yo’s from the previous row along with the 5 stitches in the “nupp” area.

3: On the Lily of the Valley charts, I blindly went along knitting equally on both sides of the shawl, without looking at BOTH sides of the chart. The flowery-line parts should MIRROR each other on each side of the center line, not be the same on both sides. I had to rip out 22 rows of lace (eeeeek!) because I realized I’d done the same lace knitting on each side…and wondered why the left side was always coming out a bit “off”.

4: I used 1 full ball of the EQ 150 gram ball, plus (after an emergency call to Jackie) about another 10 yards (or less) of the same yarn, same color to finish the last 6 rows…4 rows of lace chart and 2 rows of binding off.

5: It seems that ending your shawl (or other project) with a contrasting color truly enhances the beautiful look of your knitted item. Jackie’s shawl started with red and ended with orange and a few rows of the red - very stunning. Here, I ended with red and a 2-3 rows of purple…and I love it.

6: I used Tpins and blocking wires for the shoulder area to make it straight and the Yellow Flower head pins for pulling out the points. This works the best for me every time.

Whew....!

Now that I'm done with that shawl, I still have to finish my Leaf Lace Lipstick Shawl and my second Forest Canopy Shawl in the Silky Wool. BUT.....since I need a tiny, tiny break from those shawls (after finishing so many this year already)...I decided to do a quick and pretty lace knit while I'm taking that break.

I'm knitting Spunky Eclectic's Mountain Scarf (or Scolf) in the Water Nymph colorway. It's a super fun, garter stitch type lace knit and I'm loving the texture of it. The colorway is gorgeous and I've been waiting to knit this for a while.

Wanna see??



Well, off to bed after all that sharing....Happy Mother's Day!!!! (see what lovely flowers I got from Ian!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Happy 15th Birthday, Tim!!!!!



My firstborn is now 15 years old!!!! (here he is at 5 years old) Can you believe it??? I can't believe it! It seems like we've been planning for his 15th birthday forever. (So much so that it seems like he should be turning 16 and not 15!)

I remember how scared I was when I went into labor with him. Only 19 years old and Ian and I were in college...pretty much poor....and walked miles and miles in downtown Worcester, MA just to get to the grocery store or doctor's office. I remember being so big and pregnant that, on one of our last trips to the store without a car, Ian had to carry ALL our weeks' groceries by himself because I could barely make it home. The day before Tim was born, I started having labor pains and (after talking to the doctor...who said I wasn't in labor at first, but had a bladder infection....what an idiot!) Ian and I spent some time at the library.

I kept thinking that, after today, everything will be different. I'll have a little baby to take care of and who will look to me for everything. (A truly frightening thought at the time.) After 29 hours of intensive back labor and no drugs (in which I seriously begged Ian to kill me or shoot me or something), Tim literally F-L-E-W out and was born. For all of you moms out there, you know what that moment feels like. When you look at the baby that's come out of you and think, "I can't believe he was inside me all this time!". And that wondrous, fantastic, beautiful moment when you hold that baby in your arms.

Unforgettable.

I remember holding Tim for hours and hours after that. Ian was sick and asleep in the hospital pull out bed and I just sat up all night long, never letting Tim go. The nurses gave me that look when I didn't want them to bring him away or put him down, but I'm glad I didn't care or listen to what they said. He was my baby. My first baby.



Now, he's still my baby, even though he's over 4 inches taller than me (here he is with Ben, showing off his new haircut) and I have to have him bend down to hug me. He's on the honor roll in high school almost every quarter and is taking sophomore classes as a freshman. He reads like the devil (just like Ian and I) and can usually be found in his bed reading in the semi-darkness. ("You'll ruin your eyes!!!", I always say, to no avail.)

I probably blabbed on and on about him last year on his bday, but I felt that I had to do it again. LOL!

I wish him so very much happiness today and for every wish of his to come true (within reason...believe me....he can think of some kooky things, he IS Ian's son, after all!)

I love you so much, Tim! Happy, Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

P.S. Look what I got last week!!! (Sorry I had to swipe your pic, Cayli!)



Cayli posted the winners of her contest and I won her beautiful handknit (!!!) stole. I could NOT believe it. It's even more impressive in person and I have to remember to look back and see what yarn she used. It is extremely soft. I'm looking right now for some pretty sundress to wear the stole with. Thank you so much, Cayli! I'm totally spoiled : )

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Noolie, Rolags and Lace...OH, MY!

(Okay, I freely admit that I've stolen this title idea from Laurin. Thanks, LaLa!)

It feels like I've been a lazy lump lately when it comes to blogging. With the kids home for April vacation this week (and the weather being so rainy and cold), we've tried to get out of the house as much as possible. Tim, Mike and I went to the movies on Monday night together after buying sneakers (Tim wears the same size as Ian now!!!), which was fun...and I tried to take a picture of us sitting in the very last row of the theater (as teens must do)...with a seat separating each person....wouldn't want to be caught dead sitting next to your knitting mom! (or at least I assumed that...)

Tuesday, we met up with Jackie, Lora and the kiddies at the library, which was fun. Anything to get out of that rain!! You should've seen the three of us sitting at the little kids table knitting and chatting away....very funny : )

Yesterday, we spent the day at the Planetarium in Concord, NH, which is soo much fun! Ben actually sat through the hour show called, "Black Holes". It was GREAT! Even better than a movie, I think. I always love sitting there looking up at the "stars"...with no bugs and noise to distract me. If you haven't seen one of the shows, you should really go. They're amazing!

So, now I feel like I can finally talk about what happened in my knitting life since the last post. (This IS a knitting blog, I think!)

VISIT WITH NOOLIE & CHICKS WITH STICKS!!!



Super Fun Julie Noolie and lovely Patti, owner of the Yarn Sellar, came to visit the ManchVegas Knitters on Friday night (two weeks ago) while I was working at The Yarn and Fiber Company. This was their second visit to see us (woo-hoo!) and it was so much fun! It worked out well that we were also having Jackie's birthday party that night because we were in the partying mood and very lively (aka loud, obnoxious and silly). I got to fondle Julie's lace (which is even nicer in person) and talk about Clover....and catching up with Patti is always great. I know we'll be planning on visiting the Yarn Sellar this summer and Julie promised me that I could hold Clover (I have witnessses!). I love getting together with their group....I think we get along well together - and they put up with our craziness!



Look at us surrounded by yarn! Mmmm.......cozy.


ROLAGS!



This is my recent attempt at hand carding fiber and creating rolags. I have to admit that, though I feel like I have the technique down, I'm not sure how much I like it. It was nice to be able to create different colors and shades with the fibers...and I think this technique will truly come in handy when blending in shorter staple fibers or sparkle (yes!), but I just didn't enjoy the spinning process as much. I think rolags are more suitable for the long draw method than the short draw method, which is what I'm used to.

I spun up the rolags...



and then plied the two bobbins together to make this yarn: (which is kinda rough and not so great)



I think I'll stick to batts and rovings.....


LACE!!

I'm still working on THREE lace shawl projects -

1. The Leaf Lace Shawl (in the "Lipsticks" Prism Wool Lace): no update here. I can only work on it at night after Ben goes to bed and, again, since the kids are out of school this week, I've had much less time to knit overall. (and the yarn is so damned THIN!)

2. The Forest Canopy Shawl (in the "Red 56" Silky Wool): it's about 2.5 skeins of yarn done. I'm attempting to make this much bigger than the shoulder width/length since my other one was too small for my ah-hem bust. I'd say that I'm about halfway done or more. I'd like to use up the 4 or 5 skeins of this yarn I have so I can wrap the shawl over my back, arms and shoulders. We'll see....I'm trying to find out how many more repeats to do of the main lace before starting on the edging. Any ideas?



3. The Swallowtail Shawl (in "Rainbow-EQ" Kauni): Okay, I'm definitely copycatting on this one. After I saw how beautiful Jackie's came out, I just had to knit one for myself. I tried some other shawl patterns using this yarn before trying this one, but none of them seemed right for the weight or color of the yarn. I've started this shawl with the blue and hope to send with blue, but (with the way the ball is looking), I think I'll probably end with orange. I'm aiming to use up as much of the ball as I can (I've got 660 yards) and I'm using a size 7 needle instead of the size 4 that it calls for. The main lace repeat calls for 14, but I'm on number 18 now and might even go to 20. I'd like this one to be bigger as well.



I know some people love wearing the rainbow and some are freaked out to even consider wearing it. What do you think? Can I pull off wearing this with a pretty solid colored summer outfit/dress without looking weird?