Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Heart fake vacation!

My employer has a policy that if you don't use the three personal days you earn every year on your anniversary date by your next anniversary date then you loose them. Right now I am enjoying a fake vacation because this is the last pay period before my anniversary date and I needed to use up my personal days so I took off Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday...and bonus...Monday is a holiday! I love having time off work with no plans to leave town. I get to hang out with friends that I don't normally see because of my wacky work schedule and spend a little time knitting and watching movies or TV on DVD. My current DVD favorite is season one of Psych which is the funniest show I have seen in a while.

Today I went to lunch with my friend Meg and her two month old daughter Haley. This is the first time that I have seen Meg since Haley was born, mostly because Haley had to have emergency surgery and then she couldn't be around a lot of people because her immune system was compromised while she was recovering from the surgery. It was lovely to catch up in person and Meg let me hold Haley most of the visit! Now, I don't want children of my own but I adore babies and my heart went pitter patter when Haley fell asleep while I was holding her. Meg is doing well and she said that she has gotten into a good routine so it should be easier for us to get together semi-regularly for lunch. Did I mention that Meg wants to learn how to knit? She wants me to teach her and I am a little nervous because I am still a beginner myself. I will give it the old college try though because I love the idea of being responsible for creating a new knitter!

I talked to my mom yesterday and she agreed to take a knitting class with me at the LYS. She is a lapsed knitter but she is an active crocheter who is working on a huge afghan for my brother. We are taking a sock knitting class! I am so excited to learn how to knit socks. The class is on the magic loop method as no prior sock knitting experience is needed. I am sure that eventually I will take the top-down sock class or the toe-up sock class but you need some experience working on double-pointed needles to take those classes so I will have to save them until I get a little practice in on the double-points. I am already coveting a lot of the sock yarns at The Loopy Ewe so this class is probably going to cause me to do a lot of damage to the ol' bank account.

I am still working on the scarfs for the Red Scarf project. I have the first scarf completed and I ended up really enjoying working with the Plymouth Encore worsted. I am not enjoying the Cascade 220 superwash as much but it is working up into a nice scarf. I started on scarf number three which is my very first cable project and so far, the cables look like cables! I was talking with my mom about my quest to find a good machine washable yarn to make these red scarves out of and I almost fell over when she professed her love for Red Heart! I guess I have turned into a bit of a yarn snob because Red Heart feels so scratchy to me. Mom said that when you add up the fact that the yarn is cheap, readily available, and can go in the washer and dryer you just can't beat it. I think mom would have a fit if she knew how much money I spent on some of my yarn. Oh well. Of course, I wouldn't trade the afghan she made for me out of Red Heart for the finest yarn in the world so I can't be too much of a yarn snob.

That will about do it for me today but here is a picture of scarf number three. Cables rock! I will try to get a better picture once the scarf is a little bigger so you can see more of the cable detail.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What to do...

I finished the first red scarf but I need to bind off...the problem is the only bind off I know is a bit untidy and leaves the finished edge a bit wonky and lopsided. I started on another dishcloth for my mom using up the scraps of leftover dishcloth yarn. I am crocheting it so it is going pretty fast. I won't post any photos of it since it is a sad mis-matched scrap project. So to the knitters out there, please post your favorite bind-off method in the comments! Hopefully it will give me the inspiration that I need to bind off scarf number one so I can cast on scarf number three [which should be an adventure since I am going to teach myself cables for the third scarf!]

Monday, August 20, 2007

Picture perfect

Just a quick update...I finished the dishcloth that I started this weekend for my mom. Here is a photo:
Just for fun here is a copy of the other dishcloth that I finished recently, the green diamond dishcloth:

The same, only different

Hello again! In the spirit of multi-tasking I did decide to start on another scarf using the same pattern with a different yarn. Oh, did I mention that it is on needles that I hate! I officially hate plastic least the Lion Brand needles that I am using. I also started a dishcloth for my mom using a self-striping yarn (Sugar 'n Cream stripes in the color Natural Stripes) using, you guessed it, the same pattern. I stuck with the pattern because it is really easy and doesn't require much thought so it is great when I just have a few minutes to knit. Of course, by using the same pattern I have semi-defeated the purpose of being able to switch to a different project when you are bored. I did buy some cable needles on Saturday when I was at the grand re-opening of the Hobby Lobby (the best place in town to buy dishcloth cotton) so that I can try a cable pattern for my next red scarf. I have never done cables before but I think that I can teach myself and a scarf seems like the right size project to learn on.

While I was on a shopping spree on Saturday I bought the latest Interweave Knits and I am absolutely drooling over some of the patterns. I probably won't be at the skill level to make any of them for a while but I could not resist the siren song of the patterns! I think part of the lure may have been the colors they used for the projects. Would I have cared for the tilted duster in yellow or the mirepoix in orange? I don't think so. Before I went shopping on Saturday I fueled up with breakfast but only because my friend Bill and his family were visiting from Florida. I met Bill for breakfast after I got off work on Saturday morning and it was lovely to catch up with him. We used to go out to breakfast all of the time when he lived here but I haven't gone much since he moved. Sunday I spent the day with my parents canning tomato juice. Again. My dad said it would probably be the last of the canning for the summer so we were left with a grand total of 86 pints canned for the summer.

Lastly, here is another questionnaire for SP11:

1. What is the one knitting accessory you could not live without?
I am not really sure. Needles and yarn aside, I think stitch markers are the only real accessory that I have used and in a pinch I can use scrap yarn to replace those. I like point protectors so that stitches don't jump off the needle when I put my work down.

2. If you're heading on vacation, do you take knitting with you? If
so, how much and what type of project?
Yes, I take whichever project I am working on and enjoying the most.

3. Where have you traveled to that you'd consider your favorite spot?
Pretty much any place involving nature: Niagara Falls, Alcatraz in spring (yes it used to be a prison and a fort but the island has gone a bit wild and is really beautiful), the Smokey Mountains, etc...

4. What is your favorite knitting book at the moment? Do you own it?
I have a thing for knitting books. Right now my favorite is Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and I do own it. I love the Yarn Harlot's sense of humor and her practical basic "recipes" for different projects.

5. Do you listen to podcasts? Which is your favorite(s)?
I do listen to podcasts (I *heart* i-tunes) and here are some of my favorites: This American Life, Cast On, & Lime and Violet

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Quick update

The first red scarf is now about 36" long. I know that a lot of people would be finished by now but my knitting time has been a bit sporadic. I didn't take a photo of it so just image the photo in the previous post but longer! Hello to my secret pal who left a comment for me on the 13th. I love getting comments...more people should comment. ^_^ (Yes Kas, I stole your smiley face.) I do think that I am going to break down and start another project. I am good at multi-tasking so I will see if that skill applies when the tasks are multiple knitting projects. Finally, because I know every post is better with a photo, here is the cypress vine that is growing up the side of my parents' garage.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scarf-ing along

I have been working on the first red scarf and so far so good. Today I only felt the desire to cast on three different projects [dishcloth, chevron scarf, & hat] and I resisted the impulse each time. Maybe I do need to have another project going so that I don't burn myself out on scarf pattern before I get all five done. What do you think? Here is a (lousy) picture of scarf 1 so far:
In other knitting related news: how is it that I have never listened to the Lime and Violet podcast before?!? I love them and they have a blog that is newish [the end of July] that I would recommend as well. In fact, go read their blog because mine is being turned over for the Secret Pal 11 questionnaire and unless you are my secret pal, you probably don't care.

SP 11 Questionnaire:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers to you absolutely *not* like?
I am not the most experienced knitter so I don't have the most vast fiber knowledge but I do not like fun fur or trellis style novelty yarns. I haven't tried ribbon yarn so I don't know how I feel about it. I don't think I enjoy mohair and I don't really enjoy acrylics. Really I am trying to expand my fiber knowledge so I am pretty game for anything.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I store my straight needles in a lovely felted bag and I have my double-points thrown in there too. I don't really have a storage plan for my circulars...I just have them hanging on a hook.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I would consider myself still a beginner. I have made a lot of scarves and dishcloths, one hat, and one wrap. I have two lace projects [a shawl and a scarf] in progress.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes, I have an Amazon list with a link in my side bar.

5. What's your favorite scent?
In general I have to be careful with scented stuff because too much scent can give me a headache. I like apple cinnamon, mango mandarin, spearmint, and peach.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Um...candy? Yes please! Wow, favorite candy is hard but you can't beat chocolate & peanut butter or chocolate & caramel. Or Nerds or Twizzlers [the original] or M & Ms or...yeah I like candy.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I don't spin but I really admire anyone who does...without you, I would be yarn-less and very sad. I dabble in sewing and crocheting and photography.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like "alternative" which is about the least specific or descriptive genre label that I could go with plus other random artists. Here are some groups that I like: Cake, They Might be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, The Dresden Dolls, Lilly Allen, The Ditty Bops, Belle & Sebastian, Badly Drawn Boy, The Dixie Chicks, The Killers, Marilyn Manson, Missy Elliot, The Streets, Tegan & Sara, Tilly and the Wall, the Presidents of the United States of America, and the list goes on!

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I like blue, green, and purple but I'm not a fan or orange or yellow.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Me, myself, and I with a cat.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes, yes, yes, and I haven't but I would

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I am currently obsessed with lace and shawls but I am just trying my first projects. I am still a beginner so I am loving trying new things.

13. What are you knitting right now?
A red scarf for Red Scarf 2008; a lace shawl; a lace scarf

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I am still trying things out but I think I prefer metal needles and the straight or circular depends on the project. I have used bamboo and it is okay but I was not a fan of the plastic needles that I tried.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
No--but I will have to invest at some point

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
I have an afghan from two years ago when I first tried to teach myself how to knit. I probably won't ever finish it because it is out of a very scratchy Red Heart.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I don't really have a that bad?

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Books and yarn

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I don't have any knitting magazine subscriptions. I have a bunch of knitting books in my Amazon wishlist. I am always game for more needles and patterns!

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I would love to learn how to knit socks!

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Not a sock knitter and I don't know what measurements a sock knitter would need.

23. When is your birthday?
Dec. 31

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
Still waiting for my invite.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Keeping busy

This weekend I kept myself busy knitting, canning, and shopping for books. I went shopping on Saturday for Red Scarf 2008 yarn and some old books on canning. I ended up with a Ball Blue Book from 1969 and 1979 and a U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet on canning from 1971. I ended up with two different yarns for the Red Scarf 2008 project: Encore knitting worsted weight color 174 and Cascade 220 superwash color 809. I decided to use the knitting of five scarves as a chance to try five different yarns so that I can expand my fiber knowledge a bit. I also ended up getting a skein Noro Silk Garden in color 252 and color 243 after running across a pattern for a cute hat in the Yarn Harlot's archived blog entries. I was catching up on all of the old entries that I had missed since I didn't start reading her blog until late 2006. I am really anxious to try the hat pattern but I am making myself wait until I have all 5 scarves knit since they have a due date!

On Sunday I went to my parents house to put up more tomato juice. We have now put up over 70 pints of juice and eaten about a bazillion tomatoes this summer and that is off of 7 plants. Dad said that by the middle of the week there will be more tomatoes ready but Mom had excused me from helping since I will be working and/or sleeping getting ready for my night shift. After Mom and Dad cooked a delicious meal of hamburgers on the grill, tomatoes, cottage cheese, potatoes, and gravy [for the tomatoes--if you haven't tried the combination I would highly recommend it]. Yum! Having a home-cooked meal definitely makes all of the hot sweaty canning worth it.

When I got home I cast on with the Encore using the Yarn Harlot's one row scarf pattern which I also found in one of her archived posts. I really like the pattern and it knits up fairly quickly, at least it seems like it. Maybe it just feels like it is going fast because it is such a nice break from the Broken Muppet shawl. I had convinced myself that I liked the Suri Dreams but after working with the Encore I know that I do not enjoy Suri Dreams! It feels sticky when I knit with it so I will be taking a break from it while I work on the scarves for Red Scarf 2008. Here are some photos; the first is my progress on the Broken Muppet and the second is the Red Scarf that I started. I am a lot farther along on the Red Scarf than the photo shows...I actually have about 8 1/2 inches done.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Catching Up

Sorry, I have been away but my grandmother passed away. I will miss her and she was my last living grandparent but she has been really sick and her doctors told us that she was dying in March so we have been prepared for a while. Still, it is sad and I miss her.
Now for the catching up:

The Suri Dreams project [AKA: The Broken Muppet Lace Shawl] is moving along. I am doing okay with the yarn but I did learn that I never want to make a mistake with this yarn again! I had to rip back about six rows because of a pattern shift caused by my repeating the same pattern row twice. I guess that is what I getting for knitting and watching Psych on DVD at the same time. After fighting with the yarn because all of its fuzzy little tendrils were clinging to each other [in a couple spots, I very briefly contemplated scissors] I vowed to pay better attention and started to re-knit only to discover that I needed to rip back one more row. Oh how the knitting fates laughed at me! So after some more fighting, I finally got back to the proper spot and corrected the error. So, hopefully the Broken Muppet and I can be friends again and play nicely. I will try to post some pictures tomorrow.

I haven't worked on the other 1, 2, 3 Easy Lace Scarf because I have been busy with other things namely learning how to can tomato juice. Okay, so it wasn't really hard but I hadn't ever done it before and didn't feel like getting a book from the library and all of the necessary equipment so I asked my mom to show me how. It turned into a nice family affair with my mom and dad both involved in the process. We ended up canning 40 pints [11 on the 5th and 29 on the 8th] and there will probably be more before the summer is over as there are more tomatoes to come. Maybe we will switch it up and try some tomato soup or (in a completely different direction) maybe I'll luck in to some beets and mom will show me how to pickle them. Does it make me incredibly simple-minded that my favorite part of canning is the "pop" or "ping" sound that the lids make when the canning jar seals? It makes me smile every time that I hear it and if several pop at once it makes me want to do a little dance. Here are a couple of canning pictures but feel free to ignore them as they are mostly for my entertainment.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Killing time

I just can't resist some of the quizzes that I see on other blogs and this one tickled my funny bone:

You Are a Pinky

You are fiercely independent, and possibly downright weird.

A great communicator, you can get along with almost anyone.

You are kind and sympathetic. You support all your friends - and love them for who they are.

You get along well with: The Ring Finger

Stay away from: The Thumb

Getting my knit on

I am sure you guessed by the lack of whining that my yarn order came in!! Of course, while waiting, in addition to the lace weight yarn that I bought at the LYS, I also bought a skein of lace weight from The Loopy Ewe! So, that would be three lace weight purchases before I even cast on my first lace project. {Hi, my name is NerdGirl and I am a yarn-a-holic!} But, I have rectified the situation:

The top photo is Suri Dreams and a modified lace shawl pattern. I started using the pattern as printed but found between my newness with lace, the texture of the yarn, and the blunt end on my needles I could not {without great difficulty} knit two stitches together when the previous row was I am knitting the in between row instead of purling. The pattern isn't quite as pretty but at least I don't want to throw the knitting at the wall.

The bottom photo is Shadow in a free lace scarf pattern. I find this yarn much easier to work with [evidently fuzzy or mohair-like yarn and I are not great friends] but working on such a tiny scale is taking some getting used to. I love the point on the end of these needles because even though the stitches are tiny I have no problems knitting stitches together after the purl row. Okay, the stitches seem tiny to me but they are on a US size 3 needle so I know they aren't tiny for lace.

I don't know that I would get the Suri Dreams again but I would definitely get the Shadow again if I stick with the lace obsession that I have developed. I also learned that I will need to get a ball winder and swift sometime in the near-ish future because rolling lace weight into a ball by hand is not a lot of fun especially when it leads to a tangle that can't be untangled!

Here is one last photo of the yarns going to sleep for the night.

Oh the places I've been...