Thursday, December 28, 2006

Technology is Wonderful When It Works!

Can you tell that I'm home today and messing around with the blog, finally?! I decided to switch to Blogger Beta today and change my template at the same time. It has taken some doing, but I think the sidebar is back to normal now, except for the pictures that go along with the KALs. I still have to figure out how to put them back in. All in all, though, making changes to the template is easier now with the new version.

The other thing I have to say is that I finally played with my new umbrella swift and yarn winder earlier today, and all I can say is I am in love! Everyone who works with yarn should have one of these. I wound 2 skeins of yarn in less than 10 mi
nutes, and without the tools it would have taken me 30-45 minutes at least. So tools=good!

A Look Back at 2006 - and Forward to 2007!

I have just been counting up how many items of various sorts I made and/or donated in 2006, and even I am a little bit stunned! I divided the items between those I donated straight to various charities and those I donated to my guild to sell. Straight to charity - 51 items! And another 22 to the guild sales! I also managed to make 6 gifts and finish 5 items for myself.

To put this in perspective, and to explain why I am rather stunned, when I started to keep track of what I made each month in 2004, I had a yearly total of 33 items donated to charity. Then, in 2005, I dropped out of crochet guild for a year. I belonged to a knitting guild that wasn't nearly so active, so my charity work for the year slumped to 6 items. So to jump up to 51 items this year is amazing to me! After all, I am still working the same 35 hours a week I always have, so the fact that I found the time to make all those additional items means that I was really motivated! Also, in addition to the guild's 3 donations a year - preemie items & chemo hats to the hospital, as well as the Salvation Army sets - I also participated in 4 other charity drives that I found here on the Internet.

So, what's ahead for 2007? Since I like to challenge myself each year, I think I will set a goal of making 100 items to be donated, either to charity or to guild sales. That's only another 25 items over what I did this year, so I think that is doable. I have found patterns that I am comfortable with, and I learned a lot this year about sizes and gauge, especially in crochet, all of which will help me work faster. I may also pick and choose what I make a bit more, and focus on those items I can work up more quickly. (That also goes for KALs and swaps.)

Beyond that, I have any number of projects I would like to finish and techniques I would like to learn. High on the list is finishing the Fair Isle hat I started last February. My dh would really like to wear it some day. I think the hang up right now is once I finish knitting, I have to weave in all the ends (and they are legion)! But, as we used to say in graduate school, "nothing to it but to do it".

Before I get there, however, I have 2 deadlines to meet in January. The Knit Mitt Kit Swap needs to be sent out on January 16th. I still have to make the bag and fill it with everything one needs to make mittens. I promise that I am starting the bag today. January is also the month that the red scarves get sent to OFA. I have one knitted scarf about half done, and I would like to try and make another, probably crocheted. If I get those done, then they will be the first 2 towards my goal of 100 items.

Tomorrow is definitely going to be a road trip to Webs. Saturday and Monday we have 2 more family get togethers. And next Tuesday, when I go back to work, I have to be in early for a staff meeting. I will be back later next week, hopefully with an impressive FO to show you all.
So I am going to take the opportunity now to wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Very Happy Christmas

I hope everyone had a great holiday! We had a lovely day, but I guess it was a lot of work, because boy was I tired yesterday! It took me the entire day to recover! There were just 5 of us on Christmas - my dh and I, my mother and my dh's parents - so you wouldn't think it would have been that tiring. But we seem to believe in lots of presents, and we put a lot of work into having a really good dinner.

For dinner, we served a roasted stuffed pork loin. Side dishes included mashed sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, creamed onions, rolls, and extra stuffing! My MIL made a delicious pecan pie for dessert. We ate leftovers for dinner last night, and it was just as good a second time!

As for presents, well, I was completely spoiled. I got a gift certificate for my LYS and cash to spend on yarn. I also got lace blocking wires and a set of KIPer* bags from Knit Picks. My mom got me a wooden shawl pin as well, so I really do need to work on a lace scarf or shawl to wear it with! And my dh surprised me with a dual DVD/VHS recorder that also includes a Tivo-type hard drive. We have had no way to record anything from TV for a long time now, but once I install this baby I should have no problem. I can record up to 3 shows at once!

As it turns out, Webs is having a big yarn sale this week. So it looks like there may be a road trip on Friday to spend some of my gift money! However, I will be back tomorrow with a review of 2006 and a look ahead at what's in store for 2007.

*KIP=Knit in Public

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Almost There!

Well, I am almost ready for Christmas! We got the Christmas cards sent out and the decorating done over the weekend. I haven't had time to take any pictures, though. I was so hoping to get the shopping done last night, but it was not to be. So my dh and I will make one more foray to the stores tonight and that should do it. Since we are doing quite a bit of our parents' shopping as well, everyone's shopping should be finished by tonight!

I haven't made Christmas cookies in years because we get so many from my MIL and SIL. But I do have a chocolate nut loaf recipe that I usually make on Christmas Eve. So I have a little cleaning and a little baking left to do this weekend, and then I will be completely ready for Christmas.

Every now and again, when things stop momemtarily, I do feel as though I am fighting off the Christmas blues. But I think this has something to do with the fact that I haven't picked up either needles or hook for about a week now. When I do sit down at night, I am just too tired to contemplate a project. However, if I just hang in, I will have plenty of time next week to get back into knitting & crocheting.

I have been doing some reading, though. I finished up The Italian Secretary, by Caleb Carr, on Sunday afternoon. I had been reading it since November, so it was time to get it done! It was a pretty good story on its own, but it was supposed to be an updated Sherlock Holmes story and as such I didn't think it was satisfactory. Then, Sunday night, I read The Christmas Guest by Anne Perry. It is our December book on Whoduknit, and I enjoyed it so much I finished it the same evening! Anne Perry has written 4 of these short "Christmas mysteries" so far, and I am now reading her current one - The Christmas Secret. They are perfect reads for this time of year, at least if you like mysteries!

I am working today, and if all goes well, only half of tomorrow. Then I will be off work until January 2nd. I just love when the holiday falls like this, and I can take 10 days off and only use 4 vacation days! I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the break. I probably won't blog much until next week, but then I will be back with my own year end review. Until then, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday, and that Santa brings you everything you could possibly want!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

So Much Good News!

This morning seems like a good time to give you an update on all of the various charity drives I was involved in over the past few months. Every single one was so successful it brings tears to my eyes!

Soaring Eagles Project - 676 hats as of yesterday! We were so worried we wouldn't even get to 300! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed making those hats. Everything will be given to the children tomorrow. I still wish I could be a fly on the wall at that school tomorrow!

My guild's Salvation Army donation - per Dee (in an email to the guild), 70 hat, mitten & scarf sets, along with various other items, including some spare hats and scarves, ponchos. and baby items. We also collected 3 large bags of toys. I am very proud of my fellow guild members as well!

60 Scarves in 60 Days - also per Dee, 80 scarves were actually made and donated during this challenge! Another unqualified success!

And finally, even though I never did get any mittens made and sent, From Hearts to Hands collected 654 pairs of mittens, again far exceeding the goal of 300!

I will definitely participate in these or other challenges again next year! The only thing I would like to do differently next year is to try and have some items made before next autumn. I enjoyed what I did this year, but it would be nice not to leave everything until the end of the year and then rush to get enough done. So we'll see how it goes. But for now, I am going to bask in the glow of this year's successes for a while longer!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

This Week's Accomplishments

I just want you to know that while my head has been in the clouds this week after our terrific guild meeting, my fingers have still been busy on a few small projects!

First up, more hats! After I sent my box off to Oklahoma last Friday, I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I had been so geared to making hats for 2-3 weeks that it didn't feel right to stop! So I made 2 more hats over the weekend and finished them up last night.
The purple one on the left is a chemo hat that will be donated to the guild early next year, and the pink one on the right is the start of next year's Salvation Army donation. I also started a scarf to go with it, but I don't have a picture yet.

Then I realized that I needed to make a couple of pairs of baby booties this week, so I whipped them up yesterday.

And no, I didn't have time to start my shawl yesterday. I need to finish Christmas cards tonight, so maybe I can start it over the weekend, if the decorating doesn't take too long!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One More Doris Chan Post

Dee very kindly sent along some of the pictures she took at Sunday's meeting, so I thought I would do one more post on Amazing Crochet Lace.

As I looked throught the book initially, one of my immediate favorites among all the patterns was the Blue Curacao Shawl. The shape of the shawl looked so comfortable. Trying it on Sunday confirmed my suspicions. This shawl will stay put around your shoulders, but it's long enough that you could drape it and pin it in place if you wanted. However, I didn't like the feel of the mohair used in the model. So I took a look at my stash this week, and I found some yarn that I had gotten free several years ago when I belonged to a knitting guild. It is a smooth wool/camel blend in a very light brown, and I seem to have just enough for this project. This may be a crazy thing to say this time of year, but I need to start this project soon!

The other project that jumped out at me was the Moebius Shawl. It also looked perfect to wear at work. And again, trying it on confirmed what I thought. It is light and comfortable but warm. I really want to make this shawl out of the yarn used in the book, Ritratto. I just need to decide on a color. The blue is beautiful and would probably work with my wardrobe, but there is also a violet (#84 on the shade card) that really caught my eye. However, I will try to wait until the new year to buy any more yarn, so I have some time to decide!

And in case you are wondering if this book really deserves all the fuss everyone is making over it, I have to tell you that I had my copy of the book sent to me at work last week. Of course when it arrived, I immediately opened the package and started looking through it. What surprised me was how interested all of my co-workers were in the designs, even though most of them don't knit or crochet! So I really think this book is something special. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a shawl to start crocheting!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Truly Special Guild Meeting

Yesterday, we had (dare I say it) an "amazing" guild meeting! We had good things to eat, goodies raffled off, and lots of fun conversation. And if that weren't enough, we had presentations by 2 designers, Margaret Hubert and Doris Chan. My head is still spinning with ideas for new projects!

I actually missed some of Margaret's presentation because I volunteered to meet Doris at the LYS near my house, where she was doing a book signing, and escort her to the guild meeting to make sure she didn't get lost. But I was able to hear some of what Margaret had to say about adjusting patterns to fit each one of us.

Doris's presentation was equally fascinating. I realized that I am familiar with several of her patterns - I just didn't realize that she was the designer. For example, she designed the Sage Circle Jacket that is available for free from Caron's. She also designed several items in the Tahki Stacy Charles Spring 2006 Crochet publication which I had bought on vacation this year. I was especially fascinated to hear how she gets her ideas for her designs. It was an interesting glimpse into how designers do what they do. Did you know that publishers and yarn companies will often send a sketch and some yarn to designers and say make this happen? Besides that, Doris uses doily and table runner patterns from the 50s and 60s for inspiration, and many of her motifs come from those patterns.

Even better, Doris brought some samples of completed garments from her new book that we were able to try on. Now I am even more anxious to make a couple of her shawls, knowing that they fit like a dream! And we got a sneak peek at the book she has coming out next fall. I won't say anything except that it looks as good if not better than Amazing Crochet Lace. I can't wait to buy it!

Finally, I want to send a big thank you to Dee for inviting Doris to our meeting. It wouldn't have happened without Dee's enthusiasm and contacts, and our guild would have missed out on a great opportunity.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Salvation Army and a Box for Oklahoma

I had yesterday off from work, and as it turned out, I was able to spend most of the day on my charity projects once again. I finished up the last of the the 12 hats for the Soaring Eagles Project. The picture shows the 4 hats I made this week. (I will post a picture of all 12 hats over at 25 Things for Charity.) Then I went out and did some shopping. One of the local craft stores was having a good sale, so I was able to get a few goodies to put in the box for Oklahoma, as well as some stretchy gloves that will be the start of next year's Salvation Army donation. So the box is taped up and ready to go in the mail this morning. And yes, that navy blue and orange hat is even brighter in real life than it is in that picture!

At the end of the afternoon, I met up with Dee and Grace to deliver all of the guild's items to the Salvation Army. (Dee has some great pictures up at her site.) We got a tour of the place and all I can say is what an amazing operation. I stood there thinking that they aren't called an army for nothing. The logistics of collecting, sorting and getting toys, clothes, food and a turkey to 300 families are complicated to say the least, and yet they seem to have an incredibly efficient method for doing just that. I am glad that I went for two reasons. One, it made what we are doing in the guild much more real to me, and two, I have a better understanding of what the Salvation Army needs, which will help me as I work on next year's donation.

In the middle of all of this charity work, I received a package in the mail yesterday afternoon. I think I forgot to mention that I won one of the Knit unto Others prizes. Well, it arrived yesterday.

The picture does not do it justice. It is a skein of 100% merino sock yarn in the most beautiful shades of purple and green hand dyed by Kirsten. I am going to have to find a very special sock pattern to make with this yarn.

And I think that will conclude the charity portion of this blog, at least for a while. I was home quite a bit yesterday, and I realized that my house is not only filthy but chaotic as well, and I am not going to have a lot of time to deal with it this weekend. I also need to get cards out, decorate, wrap presents, you know the drill. And of course I am working today and tomorrow is the guild meeting. Oh well, there is always next weekend! It will all get done because it always does get done, but I can tell you that I am already really looking forward to the time off I am taking after Christmas! Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Yarn Purchase!

I'm not entirely sure I should keep advertising just how much yarn I buy, but I don't have a lot to talk about today, so here goes! I'm sure you all know that Herrschner's does a weekly yarn sale. I check it every week, and probably 50 weeks a year, I don't see anything that interests me. But every now and then, they will have a great sale on yarn I love, and I kind of go nuts. Well, last week was one of those weeks! So a box filled with this arrived at my house yesterday:

It is unfortunate that this sale occurred just as I am doing all my Christmas shopping. It is going to take a while to pay off this month's credit card bills! But how could I resist a sale that included Simply Soft Shadows and Tweed and Noro Kureyon. I realize that I missed Norovember, but everyone online raves so about Noro that I have to try it for myself. There are 2 skeins of Plymouth Dreambaby in the back of the picture, too. I have to say that I really love working with the new Simply Soft yarns. The colors are great, and the yarn is slightly thicker and softer than regular Simply Soft. I can't wait to get started using this yarn!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Caps for the Capital Again

In the midst of all the other charity work I am involved with this week, I keep hearing about Save the Children's Caps to the Capital Campaign again. I received an email newsletter from Bernat on Monday that mentioned the project, with numbers. Save the Children's goal was 250,000 hats by the end of the year, but apparently they have only received 24,700 so far. This is not so good. Save the Children does now have an interactive map up, so you can see how many people from each state are participating.

Then, this morning, Dee was kind enough to send along an article from the New London, CT newspaper that I found completely charming. Apparently the Lyman Allyn Art Museum has decided to decorate their Christmas tree with baby hats that will then be donated to Save the Children at the end of the year. The picture of the tree is just precious! I am glad to know that hats are still being donated to this worthy cause. Once I get my box off to the Soaring Eagles Project, and get some work done on the two swaps I am involved in, I will try to make a few more caps as well. I certainly have plenty of yarn scraps around from all the hats I have made in the last few weeks!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lovely Evening

After a delicious dinner at Appleby's with my dh last night, I made my way over to Borders to meet up with Dee and Grace, the president of our crochet guild. We spent two hours putting more sets together for the Salvation Army out of the various hats and scarves that have been floating around the club's stash. (Of course, I forgot my camera, but Dee should have some pictures up at some point!) Unfortunately, there was a dearth of mittens or gloves, but we will buy some to complete the sets. I'm not sure I have the exact number, but we should be able to donate between 60 and 70 sets to the Salvation Army this week, along with some baby items, some ponchos, and a couple of individual hats and scarves. Best of all, I may be able to help deliver all these items later in the week. Dee is still waiting for confirmation on when the delivery is going to happen.

It means a lot to me to be able to help with a donation like this at this time of year. I think it does more to put me in the mood for Christmas than all the decorations in the world put together!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Thoughts from the Weekend

Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts from the weekend:

1. We are coming down to the wire on the Soaring Eagles Project, and Rachel wrote to us yesterday to tell us that she has 118 hats so far. That's good, but nowhere near the 300 she needs. She is also trying to determine what to expect by Dec. 18th. I wrote back and said I would send 12, although I will try to make more if I can this week, since headbands are also acceptable. Rachel posted a pattern and some links to headband patterns on the site today. So if you have any time at all this week and can make a hat or headband, please do so. I think this is a really deserving project.

2. Speaking of the Soaring Eagles Project, my weekend knitting/crocheting once again focused on hats! Yesterday, I finished one crocheted hat, worked for a while on a knitted hat that isn't growing fast enough, and then made another crocheted beanie last night. I do love how quickly I can crochet hats! I used the "boy beanie" in Stitch & Bitch: The Happy Hooker for the second hat, and I really like the pattern. I will post a picture at the end of the week with what I accomplish this week. I was a little annoyed yesterday, though, because I was all set to hunker down in the afternoon and stitch during the UConn men's basketball game, but the game wasn't on TV. So I hunkered down with my Ipod and stitched to music instead. At least I hunkered down as well as anyone can while jumping up and down to deal with laundry at regular intervals!

3. Apparently a lot of people, myself included, are getting rather fed up with Bloglines. They really have been slow about picking up new posts from the blogs I read. So following a tip from Norma, I exported my feeds to Google Reader. So far, I am very happy with Google. It is much faster to pick up posts than Bloglines, and the posts are easier to read. I don't have to actually link over to the blog to read it, like I did with some blogs on Bloglines. I am still using both, and the links in my sidebar still reflect my Bloglines subscriptions. Actually, that is the only thing I can't find so far on Google Reader - html code to add my subscriptions to my sidebar. If I find that, I will probably drop Bloglines altogether.

There's probably more, but I am running out of time this morning. More tomorrow!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Knit Unto Others FOs!

This is my entry for Knit Unto Others. I have been very busy for the last two weeks, and I have finished 9 hats for the Soaring Eagles Project! I have 3 more hats started, and my goal is to finish those and make one more by next weekend. Then I will have a dozen hats to send to Rachel, hopefully in plenty of time of time for the December 18th deadline. Even more exciting, she has received over 100 hats already! I am starting to believe we will reach our goal of 300 hats!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pleasant Surprises

Well, work didn't get much better yesterday. This week's issues seem to revolve around staffing shortages again. But I am happy to report that yesterday was filled with pleasant surprises that balanced the stress at work nicely!

Just after I finished posting yesterday, I checked my email one last time and discovered that I had won the Best Partner Contest in the October Birthday Swap! Lacey had written a very nice entry nominating me, and I guess it did the trick! I'll let you know what my prize is when I get it in the mail. I still say that was the nicest first swap anyone could have asked for. I hope my future swaps go as well.

Then, when I got to work, I received my second package from Amazon this week. I had ordered a book for my current Whoduknit swap, and it just didn't seem right to order just one book. (Never mind that I get free 2-day shipping regardless!) I had also ordered Victorian Lace Today without knowing much about it. So the second pleasant surprise yesterday was leafing through this book and falling totally in love with it! I want to make most of the projects in the book. The book is also filled with history and information about lace techniques and design. Best of all, a couple of the patterns use one skein of the Lacey Lamb yarn that I bought on vacation. And, in case you are interested, yes there is a KAL already for the book!

My last pleasant surprise for the day had nothing whatsoever to do with the fiber arts, but I am including it because I want to balance my complaints about work with some of the good things that happen there. We have a little boy who comes in with his mom frequently. He is about 2 1/2, and he is the most articulate, outgoing child I have ever met. We all love him to death! He knows all of our names, and he talks with us every time he comes in. Well, he came in yesterday afternoon while I was on my dinner break, but I saw him as he was leaving. Before he left, he came running over and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek! As they left, his mom said to him "I think you just made her day" and I said, "Yes he did!" It was one of the sweetest moments I have ever had at work.

Not bad for one day!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blog Roundup

There have been a number of interesting posts lately on the blogs I subscribe to, so here, in no particular order, are the links and my thoughts about each:

1. Norma brought this plea from a starving graduate student to my attention this morning, so in the interests of academic research, I am linking to his post and when I finish writing, I will ping Technorati. Following all the links from Norma's post, I finally learned what a "meme" is, and I discovered that knitters and crocheters apparently do have a plan for world domination. If you don't believe me, try doing a Google search on the words knitters (or crocheters) plan for world domination. The results are astounding! If you are so inclined, you too can help the academic research. If you have a blog, just link to Acephalous like I did and ping Technorati. It'll help his research. And if you could care less about academic research, go visit Norma anyway. She also has pictures up this morning of some of the most beautiful items ever made for charity.

2. On my shopping expedition earlier this week, I picked up Better Homes and Gardens Knit It! magazine because of the hat, mitten and scarf set on the cover. The set is orange with a blue Fair Isle design on each piece. (I tried this morning, but I can't find a link to or a picture of this edition of the magazine.) I took a good look at the pattern and I thought "I can do this." It is a fairly easy, one color stranded design. Anyway, this has reawakened a desire to add colorwork to my knitting. So I was extremely interested in Lolly's post this morning when she mentioned a new knitalong starting up in December - the Stranded Colorwork KAL. I haven't joined yet, but I am considering it. Even if I don't join, I know I will be checking in regularly for the inspiration. If I do join, finishing this will be my first goal.
Believe it or not, it is going to be a hat someday, and I have enough yarn to make mittens to match.

3. Dee is getting very close to her goal of "60 Scarves in 60 Days". She has me listed as having made 12 scarves over the last 2 months. I had to think about that, but I believe that is about right, if I include the scarves I made for the guild to sell. Wow! I have been a busy girl.

4. I also want to thank all of the bloggers who mentioned that going back to work this week after spending the better part of last week being domestic goddesses was really hard. I was miserable at work yesterday, and I thought it was just me. But apparently I am not alone in my misery. And regardless of whether it is my unhappiness on the job or my desire to do stranded colorwork, knowing that I am not alone is one of the best parts of the blogosphere!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Successful Shopping Trip

Yesterday's shopping trip was very successful! I found 30 different ornaments for my volunteers at Joann's first thing, and then I was free to shop for myself (and use those 40% off coupons)! I have really been enjoying making hats out of Wool Ease, but I needed more variety in my colors. I also wanted to find more "guy" colors for the boys. So I got 3 skeins at Joann's and another 3 at Michael's - blue, green, cranberry, off white, brown and grey. Then I finished the day at my LYS, where I got another 3 skeins of Plymouth Encore in white, light purple and a red/black marl. So here you see the new acquisitions, along with a couple of older skeins, all just waiting to be made into hats!

Even my pussy cat approves!

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Pause that Refreshes

I'm back from my week off, and I feel refreshed and rejuvenated! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We had a lovely day with the family on Thursday, and we had much to be thankful for. My FIL got home from the hospital last Tuesday evening and is still recovering well. He was understandably tired on Thursday, but he went and laid down when he needed to, and he was able to sit up and enjoy the entire dinner. Not bad considering he was exactly one week post-op.

Otherwise we spent a fairly low key weekend. My dh and I were both tired, and I was a little under the weather all weekend. Nevertheless, my house is considerably cleaner than it was this time last week, my laundry is caught up, and I went online Saturday morning and did quite a bit of our Christmas shopping. Granted we only buy presents for 6 family members in addition to each other, but I am still glad to have the bulk of the shopping done. Also, it looks like I won't be making Christmas presents this year, unless the spirit really moves me. After making gifts for the family for the past 6 years, I am tapped out of ideas for everyone!
And I would really like the time to enjoy some of the other Christmas preparations this year, instead of just rushing through everything.

I want to assure everyone that I didn't neglect my knitting and crocheting this weekend either. I finished 4 hats, and I started another 2 last night. I also made one mitten and cast on for 2 others. I concentrated on hats over the weekend because I felt just lousy enough that I didn't trust myself not to screw up mittens. I want to see how much I can accomplish this week, and then I will post pictures in time for the end of Knit Unto Others.

So I still have one glorious day off today (working Saturday again), and my major project today is to buy Christmas gifts for the volunteers at work. I think I need in the neighborhood of 20 gifts, and I would like to get each a Christmas ornament or something seasonal. Happily, Joann's has all of their Christmas items 50% off this week, and the other craft stores in the area are having 40% off sales. So it looks like my day will be spent doing a craft store crawl. It's days like these that I truly love my job!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yet Another Charity Post

You know, it really is hard to blog when you are totally focused on one thing. I know there isn't a lot of variety right now in my posts because I am working so hard on all the various charity projects I have gotten myself involved with. But I am accomplishing a lot, and it's the only thing I have to talk about right now! So here is what I have accomplished in the last week - 3 hats for the Soaring Eagles Project. (I made the red hat some time ago.) The 2 on the left are crocheted, and the 2 on the right are knitted. All are made out of Wool Ease. It doesn't show in the picture, but the yellow hat was made with 2 strands held together, one yellow and one white. The white strand has a thread wrapped around it that makes it a little sparkly. It is still completely machine washable, though. It should make a nice gift for a little girl.

Between the holiday coming up and all the family stuff going on right now, I think that I am going to take a break from blogging for the rest of the week. I am working today and tomorrow, and then I am off for 6 glorious days! All I need to do for Thanksgiving dinner is make a jello salad on Wednesday. But I have some pre-Christmas house cleaning to do, I still need to pull out my winter clothes, and I intend to get a lot more charity knitting and crocheting done. I already have 2 more hats started. I also remembered that I did want to make one Christmas gift, and it needs to be finished by Dec. 7th. It's just a pair of fingerless gloves, so it shouldn't take long. I would also like very much to change the look of the blog. I am getting really tired of all the pink. So I have plenty to keep me busy for 6 days!

So let me take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very safe and happy Thanksgiving! Have a great week.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Knit Unto Others

I just want to remind everyone that today is the start of Knit Unto Others. I am continuing to work on my hats, and I hope to make some mittens, too. Unfortunately, I won't have a lot of time this weekend to work on projects. I am working today because I took Thursday off for the guild sale. And I am spending tomorrow with my dh and his parents. My FIL had an operation to replace his heart valve on Thursday, so I am going to visit him in the hospital. Everything went well with the surgery, he is recovering well, and he should be home before Thanksgiving. So we have a lot to be thankful for this year. Have a great weekend, and happy knitting & crocheting!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Second Guild Donation of the Week

I tried to write this post yesterday, but Blogger would not upload my picture. So today, I can talk about my week, and all the stuff in the picture, and tell you all about how the guild sale went yesterday.

In the picture are all of the items I donated to the guild yesterday for their sale. I made the turquoise scarf and the 3 pairs of wrister warmers this week. The rest I had sitting around waiting for the sale. I used Deneen's wonderful pattern for the wrist warmers and then embellished it a bit to make them match the scarf.

We did very well at the sale yesterday for the guild. We sold a lot of items. I was very pleased that one of my baby blankets, most of my baby hats, all of my baby booties, the purple wrist warmers and the turquoise scarf and wrist warmers all sold. Even better, we donated over 80 chemo hats to the hospital as a thank you for allowing us to have our sale there. We had the hats on display most of the day, and it was quite an impressive display at that. Unfortunately, my camera battery was charging yesterday, so I don't have a picture. I should add that we are still putting some sets together for the Salvation Army, so I don't have a total for that donation yet.

I also spent some time this week working on hats for the Soaring Eagles project, and I have one knitted and one crocheted hat almost finished. I wil post a picture when they are done. So my November projects are still focused on charity work, and it feels pretty terrific!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Charity Opportunities

I realize that there is probably no end to the good causes out there that we can knit and crochet for, and that everyone's time is limited this time of year. (Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week, and Christmas is only 40 days away? Yikes!) However, I keep running into projects on my travels around the internet that really tug at my heart. So I have two more charity KALs to tell you all about.

The first is From Hearts to Hands, an effort to collect 300 pairs of mittens for a church in Buffalo, New York to give to children at Christmas. Seriously, link over and read the story. You'll be starting a pair of mittens in no time.

The second is called Knit Unto Others. They are trying to encourage people to make items to donate to charity during the last 2 weeks of November, to help everyone stay grounded at this time of excessive consumption. Just let them know how many items you finish, and you will be entered into a prize drawing. One entry for each item made. How easy is that? And I love their idea of focusing on what is important this time of year.

So how are my projects coming along this week? Well, I am still working on my red scarf, and I cast on a hat last night for the Soaring Eagles project. I am also working on more donations for my crochet guild, because we have another sale coming up on Thursday. So far I have finished 1 scarf and 2 pairs of fingerless gloves, with a 3rd almost done. I will try to have a picture tomorrow. I seem to be on a roll, which I am going to try to extend to the end of the month. As soon as I am ready for Thursday's sale, I will go back to work on the other charity projects full time. And I have 6 days off coming up over Thanksgiving, which should help me get some items finished as well.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Salvation Army Sets Done!

Here is the promised picture of the Salvation Army sets. It is a good thing I laid them all out for the picture because I miscounted. I only have 8 sets ready to go. But I am still happy with what I got done.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2006


Especially because it's a holiday! Unfortunately, I have to work tomorrow, so no 3 day weekend for me this weekend. But I still have today off with my dh. Of course leaf raking is in our future, but I will still try to fit in some stitches here and there.

I have had quite a week since Monday. I have crocheted another 2 scarves, and I hope to make one more before Sunday. That will give me a grand total of 9 sets to donate. Not quite the dozen I had hoped for, but nothing to sneeze at either. I will post a picture of all the sets over the weekend.

As it turns out, there have been some yarn related purchases this week as well. I had done a Knit Picks order the morning of my birthday, which finally arrived this week. I treated myself to an umbrella swift and a ball winder with my birthday money this year. I didn't take a picture because I haven't tried them out yet, and because I know you all know what they look like. I can't wait to use them, though. Maybe later today.

And then there is the yarn. From the top - Knit Picks Shimmer in Morning Mist colorway, 3 skeins of Knit Picks Swish superwash in Fired Brick, 2 skeins of Plymouth Suri Merino in a beautiful heathered dark orange, 2 skeins of Plymouth Encore, and a skein of Alpaca with a Twist baby alpaca & silk blend in a peachy orange. And finally, the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits. I'm starting to think I should just subscribe to the magazine if I am going to buy every issue!

So obviously all the red yarn is for scarves for the Red Scarf Project. I am going to make one or two pairs of Fetching with the Suri Merino (Christmas gifts), and the Alpaca with a Twist is going to be a prize for the Red Scarf KAL. And I'm thinking of using the Shimmer for another lace scarf for me. I also think that skein is going to have the honor of being the first on the swift and ball winder. All in all, not a bad week!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WIP Wednesday - Red Scarf Edition

I'm just so pleased with how my red scarf is turning out that I decided to blog about it today. I am using Caron's new Simply Soft Tweed on size 8 needles. The stitch pattern is called "Little Pyramids". I found it on, and I have used it before in a scarf for my dh, so I know that that this will be a good unisex scarf. (Check them out for other great scarf stitch patterns as well. Just use the link to The Stitch Library.) I tried, but the texture really doesn't show in these pictures. Besides being textured, this stitch lies flat right from the get go and is reversible - two real pluses for a scarf.

Now, talk about a coincidence. I cast on this scarf on Monday night, and then yesterday I came across a KAL for the Red Scarf project! This is different from the button and link in my sidebar, which is a site that is tracking finished scarves and building a picture gallery of them. No, this is an honest to goodness KAL, with some contests and prizes included. I have to say that I am so pleased that this project has generated so much interest around the Internet. And yes, I am going to join the KAL. Why not, since I am already making the scarf!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Weekend Roundup

In addition to knitting mittens this weekend, I got caught up on some real world chores (like bill paying), and I did some shopping, which is actually kind of unusual for me! So here's a roundup of my weekend:

I spent Saturday trying to get those mittens started. I tried this pattern, but the striping I wanted to do didn't work with the short rows. Then I decided to try the Magic Loop method to avoid sewing up a seam. Well, I can now say for certain what I have long suspected - my tension is a lot tighter when I use the Magic Loop. The mittens were way too small. So I finally gave up and went back to the tried and true method of making them on 2 needles. And they came together beautifully.

The poetry reading went very well on Sunday. All of the poems were by Mary Oliver, and if you like nature poetry, I would highly recommend her. I had never heard of her, but I was very impressed by her poems. After the reading, my dh and I went over to Borders to spend our birthday gift certificates. I acquired my own copy of One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant, and Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. It seemed like time to beef up the sock library. I also picked up a couple of mystery paperbacks. One is called Murder Most Crafty, and it is a collection of short stories by some of my favorite authors with craft projects included. How could I resist?!

Then, yesterday morning, I went out to the shops again. I desperately needed new winter boots this year, so it seemed prudent to hit yesterday's sales since I was off from work. I got a pair at Kohl's for 50% off. And of course, while I was over that way, I had to visit Joann's and Michael's, conveniently located on either side of Kohl's! I will admit to buying some yarn, but it was all for charity work and it was almost all on sale. Michael's had Wool Ease on sale for $2.00 a skein, which I thought was a great price. I just wish they had a better color selection.

Finally, last night, I am happy to say that I started 2 more scarves. I am crocheting one to complete yet another set for the Salvation Army. Then I finally cast on for my Red Scarf project. I decided not to swatch. The stitch pattern called for a repeat of "6 stitches plus 5", so I tried 29 stitches and it is a perfect 7" wide! So I got 4"-5" done last night. I will tell you all more about it when it is finished. I also looked at my list of FOs, and I realized that I have 2 scarves to add to Dee's total for "60 Scarves in 60 Days", a maroon one and the purple one. And I should have a couple more by the end of the week. Not a bad start to November, I must say!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mitten Monday

Here is my accomplishment for the weekend - another finished set for the Salvation Army! Actually, I only made the mittens this weekend. I made the hat and scarf on vacation in September.

This is also an experiment. The Warm Hands blog has a new home on Wordpress, and we are having an awful time trying to upload pictures to the blog. I managed to upload an image, but it was gigantic and I couldn't resize it. So I thought maybe if I uploaded it here and then linked to it on Wordpress, that would work. We'll see! More tomorrow...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's the Weekend!

Since I didn't do a "proper" post yesterday, I thought I would pop in briefly today and let you know how my week went and how the weekend is shaping up. Actually the week just got better and better as I felt better and better (just a little residual tiredness left from the viral infection). I actually managed to make 3 crocheted hats for my Salvation Army sets. It's not much, but it's 3 hats more than the week before! I now have 5 sets ready to go and another 5 in various stages of completion. I have an informal goal of 12 sets by a week from Sunday, and if the weekend goes well, I should make that goal.

I am actually off from work for the next 3 days, so I should have plenty of time to rest, get the house back under control, and work on projects. The only commitment I have is attending a library program tomorrow afternoon. Our Friends group has organized a series of 3 poetry readings this month, and my dh is reading one of the poems tomorrow. So I will go and be supportive. Actually, it will be a nice change of pace, although I may have to bring some knitting or crocheting with me!

In addition to the Salvation Army sets, I would like to cast on a hat for the Soaring Eagles project and a scarf for the Red Scarf project. I don't necessarily need to finish those projects this weekend, but I would like to at least get them started. I'm getting tired of laying in bed at night thinking about what I am going to do on these projects and then never doing anything about them! So wish me luck! I will let you know on Monday how I am doing with all these projects, with pictures. Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 03, 2006

KMKS Questionaire

The Questionnaire:

What are your favorite colors? Cool colors like pink, blue, green & anything heather

Are you a new mitt knitter? How long have you been knitting mittens? I have been knitting mittens off and on for about 6 years

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn? Either

What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn? Anything soft and natural

Where do you usually knit mittens? In the family room, in front of TV

How do you usually carry/store small projects? In small bags

What are your favorite mitten patterns? I have 3 Leisure Arts publications with hat & mitten patterns that I love to use

What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques? I usually make plain vanilla mittens for charity, so I don’t have any favorite techniques

What new techniques would you like to try? Fair Isle or other 2 color techniques

What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens? No preference

What are some of your favorite yarns? Reynolds Odyssey, Cascade 220, Frog Tree Alpaca

What yarn do you totally covet? Koigu, anything alpaca

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object? Norwegian mittens

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)? I prefer shorter straight needles. If I need more length, I use circs. I am still getting comfortable with dps.

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be? Blue Sky Alpaca

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack? Chocolate

What’s your favorite animal? Penguins

Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts? I love fingerless mitts and lighter weight mittens – it just doesn’t get cold enough here in Connecticut for super warm mittens

If you were a color what color would you be? Sage green

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature? A waterfall

Do you have a wishlist? No

Anything else you’d like to share with the group today? I don’t drink coffee or tea.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I didn't have much to say today, that is until I visited Jane's blog this morning and learned about the Knit Mitt Kit Swap! This swap just sounded like too much fun, so I have spent most of my blogging time this morning signing up for it. Sign-ups end tomorrow, so if it sounds good to you, hurry over there and sign up! It's actually good there is such a short time to sign up, otherwise I would have agonized over the decision and then done nothing! Now I have to start thinking about a project bag, which might finally push me to felt something. And since I am out of time today, I will publish my answers to the questionairre tomorrow, I promise.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November KALs

First of all, thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes my way yesterday! I actually had a good day, despite the fact that I have been home sick since Monday at lunchtime. I get a recurrent viral infection, probably related to the several bouts of mono I have had in my life, that flares up now and again, and all I can do is rest, take Advil and force fluids until it settles down again. So I felt lousy yesterday, but I did rest, and I have to admit that spending the afternoon watching "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" wasn't a bad way to spend my birthday! And happily I felt much better last night, so I was able to enjoy both the trick or treating and my dh's celebration. And I will be back to work today.

Now, it is a new month, so that means new KALs! I have a slew of new buttons on my sidebar already. Actually, though, I am really focusing on charity work this month, and the buttons reflect that. It seems like the right thing to do with the holidays fast approaching.

I wanted to mention the Soaring Eagles Project specifically. They are looking for people to make hats and/or mittens for a school in Oklahoma in an effort to give each child at the school a handmade gift this Christmas. Many of the children at the school are in foster care or living with relatives other than their parents and have nothing to call their own. (The website explains the project more fully.) This just tugged at my heartstrings, so I signed up. I already have a hat made that I can send. I think I intended to make it part of a set for the Salvation Army, but I don't have enough yarn for that. I wouldn't have signed up if I didn't have something ready to go, but I will try and make a few more hats or maybe some mittens (since I am also signed up now for Warm Hands).

You know, I firmly believe that you just can't go wrong making hats, mittens & scarves, even if you don't have a specific charity in mind. There is just always a need out there for these items. So, will you join me in this whirlwind of charity knitting & crocheting? Let's see what we can accomplish between now and the end of the year!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

May you and yours have a safe and fun holiday!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Ever since I started making hat, mitten & scarf sets for my crochet guild a few years ago, I have really struggled with sizes. Some of the patterns I have found on the Internet don't include gauge, so I'm not sure if the item is coming out the size intended. I don't have children, so children's sizes in particular are problematic for me. I know that when we knit and crochet for charity, there is a person out there for every item we make. But when I put individual items into sets, and all the pieces need to fit that person, then size does become more important.

So I had done some research and come up with hat and mitten sizes that I am happy about. (The Craft Yarn Council's Standard Body Measurements was a big help, although it didn't answer all my questions.) I really wasn't sure about scarf sizes, though, until Dee put up a really useful post a few weeks ago suggesting that we use the growth charts that doctors use and make scarves that are the same length as the height of an average child at whatever age. (Thank you, Dee!) This weekend, I finally had time to print out the growth charts, figure out the average heights, and then compare them to the estimates I had made a while back. The scarf lengths were definitely out of whack, so I have revised them. Anyway, here is what I have so far:

Toddler, ages 2-4
Hats - 16"-17" circumference, 6.5" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 4 1/2" palm width, 3 1/2" hand length
Scarves - 36" long

Small children, ages 5-8
Hats - 18" circumference, 7" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 5 1/2" palm width, 4 1/2" hand length
Scarves - 45" long

Medium children, ages 9-13
Hats - 19" circumference, 7" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 6 1/2" palm width, 5" hand length
Scarves - 55" long

Hats - 20" - 22" circumference, 7 1/2" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 7" - 8" palm width, 6" - 6 1/2" hand length
Scarves - 60" long

Hats - 22" circumference, 8" long (w/o brim)
Mittens - 8" - 9" palm width, 6 1/2" - 7" hand length
Scarves - 60" long

I took the median height in each age bracket and used that for scarf size, just to simplify this a bit for my brain. Anway, I put this up partly for myself, to organize my thoughts, partly because I thought this might be useful for others doing charity work, and partly to see if any of you who are more experience than I am agree with the numbers or would like to tweak them. Please feel free to let me know what you think!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Early Birthday to Me!

I really needed a pick-me-up yesterday after Wednesday night, and when I got home last night, there was my package from Lacey, my October Birthday Swap partner, waiting for me! Of course I dug right into it, even though my birthday isn't until next week. And, boy, did Lacey spoil me! When I opened the box, the first thing I saw was the cutest tissue paper with spider webs and spiders all over it - perfect for a Halloween birthday girl like me.

And look what was inside the box! She sent 6 skeins of yarn - 2 skeins of Knit Picks Simple Stripes, 2 skeins of Cascade Fixation, and 2 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in pale green. So I should have enough yarn to make 2 pairs of socks, and I think I might make a scarf with the Silky Wool. That was the one yarn I listed on the original questionnaire that I would like to try but hadn't yet. Then Lacey included a set of size 2 dpns, an orange and a black pair of chop sticks, 4 postcards from South Korea and a birthday card, and 6 bars of chocolate! As if that wasn't enough, she also included a small box of Russell Stover candies with a happy pumpkin on the wrapper. She packed all of this in a beautiful bag that is barely visible in the picture with everything else piled on top of it! The bag is nice and deep, with a big pocket inside, and I am willing to bet that she sewed the bag herself.

So I am completely overwhelmed, and I can't say thank you enough. What a terrific start to my birthday. I still have the celebration with the parents on Sunday, and then hopefully my dh will do a little something on Tuesday, since we will be at home handing out candy that evening. I think something special for dinner at least! As always, have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bad Night Last Night

Unfortunately, I had a bad night at work last night, so I have nothing new fiberwise to talk about this morning. We had to tell a couple of teenage girls to leave the library because they were loud and using bad language, and this resulted in a major argument and them calling all of the library staff, but me in particular, racist. Of course, ultimately they think it's a big joke to make adults angry. It's almost scary how emotionally manipulative these girls are. So it took some time to decompress when I got home. Luckily, there was a pussycat waiting for me at home who needed a lot of cuddling, so that helped too!

Whenever things go bad, though, even if I don't pick up hook or needles right at the time, I am always grateful that I have my projects waiting for me to soothe me. I also realized last night that since I started blogging, I now have this terrific online world to turn to as well to make me feel better. So I want to take the opportunity this morning to thank all of you who read this blog for dropping by over the past 5 months, reading what I have to say, and for leaving me encouraging comments just when I need them the most. I really appreciate it.

Now, if I can just resist the urge to buy yarn to really make myself feel better!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

October WIP & KAL Roundup

Even though October isn't quite finished yet, I thought I would review how I am doing on all of my KALs and WIPs this month. I have to admit, it's a mixed bag, but I am accomplishing quite a bit.

1. October Birthday Swap - This one qualifies as a success. It was a lot of fun and a great experience for a first swap. Lacey has received her gift, and she has written to say that mine is in the mail. I will post pictures as soon as I receive it.

2. Soctoberfest - As it turned out, I had a lot of time to knit last Saturday, and I had only brought my sock to work on. So I am currently working on the heel. It doesn't look all that interesting yet, but I will post a picture when I get it a little farther along. I won't have the pair done by the end of the month, but at least I am working on a sock.

3. Fiber Freaks Bags - these I just had to bail on. I just didn't have time to make even one bag this month. Oh, well.

4. Think Pink Challenge - I got my scarf sent in and I received a lovely, handwritten thank you note back from Sydney. I mention this because she has decided to make this a permanent charity project. She will accept scarves at any time and send them along to a hospital whenever she has 20 or so scarves to donate. I need to make a few other things first, but I will definitely donate more scarves in the future. I am thinking about making one of those triangular scarves in pink, or possibly continuing to try to convert that pattern into crochet. I'll let you know what I decide.

5. Whoduknit - Time is marching on, and although I have until 11/15 to create a project for Needled to Death, I can't seem to make up my mind about what to do. None of the ideas feel right. So I might just skip this book and work up a project next month for the Hound of the Baskervilles. I already have a good idea for that book.

6. 25 Things for Charity, the Red Scarf Project, 60 Scarves in 60 Days & the Crochet Guild - these have all been languishing while I have been playing this month. However, the deadline for the guild's next donation, as well as hospital sale, is fast approaching, so everything else is going to have to be put on hold while I do some charity work over the next month or so. Luckily I have until January to get the Red Scarf Project finished, but I don't want to put it off that long. And by the way, if you haven't visited the Red Scarf blog lately, you should. The gallery of scarves is growing daily, and they are all beautiful.

7. Liesel Scarf - no, I haven't forgotten Liesel. She has become my lunchtime project, and she is growing! I am almost finished with the first skein. She is going to be a short scarf, but that is ok. Sometimes I like a shorter scarf. And she has really been a great practice lace piece.

Holy cow! I'm glad I wrote this post, because I had no idea I had so many irons in the fire! I think I had better go off and knit or crochet now, except that this morning I am actually attending a book discussion on the Hound of the Baskervilles. Have a great day!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Deadline Knitter (with apologies to Calvin Trillin!)

So we are back from the wilds of New York State safe and sound, and my gift scarf was well received. So now I can tell you the story of my scarf!

To start, I have been using a Leisure Arts leaflet from 1990 called "Fashion Scarfs to Knit" to make this scarf. I use the pattern for the triangular scarf pictured on the front cover (the picture on the lower lefthand corner is a different pattern). When I bought this in the mid-1990s, I could not get any of the fashion yarns used in the patterns even at the very nice LYS where I purchased the leaflet. How times have changed since then! Over the years I have made many versions of this scarf, and here are a few I have kept for myself. (The top one, in green, is actually a Fiber Trends pattern with a crocheted border.)

So last Sunday and Monday, I started in on my gift scarf, and after 2 days of hard knitting, I had used up the two balls of yarn I had on hand, and I had this:

Apparently, this pattern requires 3 balls of yarn. Despite having used this pattern 6 or 8 times before, I somehow forgot that it took 3 skeins and I had decided that 2 skeins would be sufficient. (I almost always use Reynolds Odyssey. If I use something else, I seem to pay more attention to yardage requirements!) So Wednesday morning, despite having a 10 A.M. dentist appointment, I made my way up to the LYS in Southbury by about 9:10 in the morning on the off chance they would have another skein. Since I had bought this yarn over the Labor Day weekend, I was doubtful, but what else could I do? Luckily, there were still 18 skeins in the same dye lot available, so my project was saved! It took until Thursday evening, but here is the end result:

I am glad that I got it done and that my SIL liked her gift, but I have to say that deadline knitting (or crocheting) is a tad stressful. I'm glad I don't have to do that all the time. Now when is that November deadline for the hat, mitten, and scarf sets? What do you mean, it's less than 3 weeks away!? Ack!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Welcome to Whoduknit Members!

Now that they have all been here and gone, I want to extend a welcome and hello to all the Whoduknit members who have been visiting the blog this week! We have a new challenge that involves sleuthing on each other's blogs. So if you wonder about the comments that I have received about being investigated, no, I am not involved in a police matter! Of course this would come up on a week when I didn't have time to blog, although that probably made the sleuthing easier. And watch out, because as soon as I have time next week, I am going to be out sleuthing myself!

It's been a busy week for me. I have accomplished everything I needed to, but I have decided I will blog about that next week, after I give my gift. It's a good story, so it should be worth waiting for!

Actually, one of the biggest issues for me this week was thinking about which project, if any, I would bring this weekend. Ultimately, it just doesn't feel right to travel without any project. I finally decided that I would take the sock I started the weekend before last, since it is still Socktoberfest and since I have been wanting to travel with a sock!

Finally, Stephanie asked where in New York State we are headed to this afternoon. We are going to a small town called Cincinnatus, which is located about halfway between Cortland and Norwich. Have a great weekend - I know I intend to!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Travelling Again!

I just thought I should warn everyone that posting is going to be a little light this next week. My dh and I have been invited to visit my BIL & SIL next weekend to celebrate all our birthdays. They live in central New York, out in cow country. So it's always fun to go visit. But we want to leave on Friday afternoon, so I need to start work an hour early on Monday, Tuesday & Thursday to get the comp time on Friday. That is seriously going to impact blogging time this week!

I will pop in at some point this week with an FO, however. My dh asked me yesterday if I thought I could make a scarf for my SIL by next weekend, and of course I said yes. I had the perfect yarn in my stash from my haul on Labor Day. It's Reynolds Odyssey in a red colorway. She wears a lot of black, so the red should look really great with most of her outfits. And this gives me a great excuse to sit and knit a lot today! Should make for a restful day off.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I have accomplished two important things this week. I sent off my scarf for the Think Pink Challenge on Wednesday morning, and I sent off my October Birthday Swap gift this morning! I list these as accomplishments because often getting things in the mail is the hardest part of gift giving for me. I don't know why, but very often I will procrastinate something fierce rather than go to the post office. But I was determined not to do that this time.

I have today off because I am working tomorrow, so now I need to decide what I am going to do with the rest of the afternoon - work on existing projects or start something new. At the moment, starting something new is winning, but I will see if I can be more disciplined than that!

Finally, did you all know that tomorrow is the start of National Knitting Week? I received an email from Patternworks this week informing me of that fact, but when I did further research on the web, it turns out that it is National Knitting Week in the United Kingdom, which might explain why I hadn't heard about it before. Still, I think we should all help our knitting brethren "across the pond" celebrate next week. I suggest we KIP*, or better yet, KIP on socks and celebrate Socktoberfest too! Have a great weekend!

*Knit In Public

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mystery Thursday

It's a good thing I accomplished a lot this weekend, because I haven't accomplished much since. Tuesday was a zoo at work because of the holiday on Monday. It's almost not worth getting the holiday off when we have to work so hard the following day! So I was too tired to craft Tuesday night. I was all set to work on something last night when I got home, but then the cat decided to mess with the glassware on the top of my hutch and the only way to distract him was to cuddle with him on my lap most of the evening.

So what's a librarian to do when she has no fiber news to talk about? Why, talk about books, of course! Especially when I actually had some time to read last weekend along with everything else. I finished up The Hound of the Baskervilles on Sunday and then plunged right in to Needled to Death, Maggie Sefton's second book in her Kelly Flynn series. I am a little out of sync with these books, because Needled to Death is the October book on Whoduknit and The Hound of the Baskervilles is the November book. However, out in the real world, my library is doing a book discussion series on Sherlock Holmes this fall, and Hound is our October book. (We're also reading The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr in November and The Beekeeper's Apprentice in December, in case you are looking for a few good books on Sherlock Holmes!) I'm not a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, but I did enjoy reading Hound. And I highly recommend Maggie Sefton. Her characters and descriptions are extremely enjoyable.

I had just finished reading Maggie Sefton's first book in the series, Knit One, Kill Two on vacation in September, and I have to say that it has been a study in contrasts reading Sefton and Doyle consecutively. Sefton's series is set in and around a yarn shop called House of Lambspun in Colorado (yes, another fiction book set in a real yarn shop), and her descriptions of the yarns in the shop are enough to make a knitter's head spin! Consequently, her books are full of color and texture. Doyle, on the other hand, at least in Hound, creates a monochromatic landscape with his words. In part this is because the book is mostly set on a moor (once the action leaves London), and in part because the story itself is fairly somber. So while it is very easy to come up with knitting projects out of Sefton's books, it is really going to be a challenge to come up with something from Hound. I have an idea that I am working on, but it's a good thing I have until December 15th to get it done! And I can definitely say that whatever it is, it will be made with black or grey yarn. I just can't imagine using color to represent anything in the book.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Soctoberfest Socks

So I managed to do one more thing this past weekend - Exhibit C as promised yesterday:

I cast on for my second pair of socks. Yes, I'm sure last week that it seemed like I was ignoring Socktoberfest after being so excited about it. But it seemed a little pointless to fill out Lolly's sock history questionaire when I have only made one pair of socks. Actually, reading Lolly's blog and visiting some other sites participating in Soctoberfest, I am realizing just how new I am to this wonderful world of socks! This yarn is Sirdar Snuggly, a DK weight nylon/acrylic blend. Yes, I am using my new KnitPicks size 0 dps, so it is going to be slow going. I have decided that I need to work on tightening my tension so that I can some day use fingering weight yarn, but I don't want to do that just yet. I just want to get some more practice with the various parts of the sock before I work on gauge.

So this morning should be fun. I am going to visit my LYS to buy yarn, but I won't be going off my yarn diet since the yarn will be for someone else. Yes, I have got to get busy and get my October Birthday Swap gift in the mail by the end of the week. As I suspected, October is flying by!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What a Weekend!

So my goals for this weekend were threefold - clean the house & get laundry done, help my dh do some yard work, and rest and recuperate from the cold I had been fighting since last Thursday. Amazingly enough, I met all three goals by seriously pacing myself each day - long periods of inactivity punctuated by brief flurries of activity. Unfortunately, something had to give this weekend, though, and that something was my crochet guild meeting. So I still don't know how to do modular crochet. Dee should have pictures of the workshop up soon, so I can see what I missed on Sunday!

The good news is that since I had so much down time this weekend, I actually got some knitting done. As a matter of fact, this was the most fun knitting weekend I have had in a long time. Exhibit A: I made a pair of mittens to complete this hat, mitten & scarf set for the Salvation Army.

I hadn't made mittens in a long time. At some point, I had tried to put together the best parts of several mitten patterns to make the perfect mitten, but the first mitten I made with that pattern was an unmitigated disaster and I hadn't made one since! The pattern still isn't perfect. I still need to adjust some of the numbers. But this pair of mittens came out much, much better and should keep someone's hands nice and warm this winter. The entire set is made out of Caron's Simply Soft in a raspberry color. I used a mistake rib for the scarf and the Addison Hat pattern for the hat.

Exhibit B: the Liesel Scarf.
This felt like a gift from the knitting gods! Not only did I find time to work on it, but it is the first piece of lace I have made that has gone well. I love the results the few times I have tried to make lace, but the process has left something to be desired. But this scarf is really fun to work on! The pattern is complicated enough to be interesting but easy enough to be enjoyable. I am using a Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora that I got on sale at Herrschners at some point this year. The only problem so far with the scarf is that every time I sit down to work on it, I find myself humming "The Lonely Goatherd". Although I'm not sure why, since "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" would be the more appropriate song for Liesel. I guess early exposure to The Sound of Music is something you never recover from!

I'm running out of time, so Exhibit C will have to wait until tomorrow! Have a great day.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Inspiration Part 2

I'm still thinking about inspiration after yesterday's post, and I remembered another aspect of it that I wanted to mention. I know that I have kind of been standing back and laughing at myself joining so many groups and "alongs" online. I laugh because what I am doing online feels so much liking playing. I really haven't had this much fun in years. The only odd thing is that I am having trouble explaining this to my family, who probably think I am a little crazy right now!

But on a more serious level, I find myself joining groups online for the same reason I join guilds in the real world. The contact with others doing the same crafts is both educational and inspirational. I really never used to finish anything until I joined my guilds. I still don't finish everything I start, but my track record is much improved! It also occurred to me recently that it has been a year now since I attended my last knitting guild meeting, and I miss them. Unfortunately my work schedule just doesn't permit me to make the meetings. So the contact online with other knitters is really important to me. I'm sure that I won't finish every project on time, but then neither do a lot of other people, and at least there aren't penalties online for not finishing! And in the meantime, I get to learn from others in the groups and be inspired by the projects they are creating.

So does this mean that I am considering joining a few more groups? Yes! I have found two more KALs that I may join this weekend - Warm Hands and My First Toe Up Sock (an offshoot of Socktoberfest). I fully intend to knit some mittens this fall for charity, and I really want to try toe-up socks, so both seem to be perfect for me and overlap things I am already doing. And if you wonder how I find all these KALs, there is a list that I check regularly to see how things are coming and what's new.

And as if I don't have enough going on, it occurred to me that my crochet guild meeting is this Sunday already. We are having a workshop to celebrate the group's 5th anniversary. Barbara Hillary is coming to teach us modular crochet, and to learn the technique we are each going to make a baby sweater that will be donated to charity. So add that to my growing list of October projects! Good thing it's a 3 day weekend!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sources of Inspiration

Inspiration comes in many forms, and I have been thinking lately about some of the blogs who are providing me with inspiration of one sort or another.

The first one is called Yarnstorm. I know this is a popular blog, but I had to mention it because her pictures are just so gorgeous. The light must just be better in England! I really wish I had that good an eye for photography. Her writing is terrific too, and I find I am fascinated, even when she isn't talking about knitting. I especially appreciate her take on British literature and the arts.

The next is a blog that I only just found in the last week or so. It is called Brooklyn Tweed, and I am just in awe. This man can knit like a dream, and then he takes incredible photos of his work. The site makes me want to work very hard to improve both my knitting and my photography skills! Looking at the photos makes me realize that I really need to take pictures when the light is better than first thing in the morning, especially now that the days are getting shorter. I also have to admit that I find pictures of knitted lace in particular to be very soothing, so this is a site I will turn to when I just need a brief time out at work.

Finally, if you haven't found them yet, check out What Not to Knit and What Not to Crochet. In addition to being hilarious, I find both sites to be what we call at work "oddly inspiring". You know how it is. You see incompetence promoted, or someone who writes dreadful prose gets published, and you think "if that person can do that, so can I". That's "oddly inspiring". So if someone can make money on Ebay selling full length knitted cat suits, then surely I can someday earn some income from this hobbie of mine!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Handpaint Country

I thought I would devote today's post to Whoduknit, since I am finally caught up on the September book and project! I know I promised you an FO today, and if you check out the Whoduknit blog, you can see what I have accomplished this week. It's not much, but it's something!

Back in August, we read The Tooth of Time by Sue Henry. The book is set in Taos, New Mexico, and some of the action takes place at a yarn shop called Weaving Southwest. The author also mentions a book called Handpaint Country by Cheryl Potter and has the main character knitting a ruana from a pattern in the book. Well, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look at the book and see the pattern for myself, so I put in an interlibrary loan request and then pretty much forgot about the book. I guess it wasn't easy to get hold of, because the week before I left for vacation, the book finally arrived on my desk. (I'm not complaining, mind you. My ILL people are wonderful and hard working. Sometimes it just takes time to get a book.)

I'm bringing all this up now because it is almost time to give the book back but I do want to talk a little bit about it. If you get a chance to read the book, take it! The book is a feast for the eyes and will appeal to anyone who does anything with yarn. The author and her photographer travelled around the country visiting hand-dyers of yarn, talking with them about their techniques, and photographing the yarns. Each chapter also includes 2 knitting patterns using the yarns to their best advantage. Some of the dyers are well known, such as Koigu, Cherry Tree Hill, Fiesta Yarns and Weaving Southwest. Others you might not have heard of. All of them are doing beautiful work, however. The book concludes with notes from the designers of the patterns on using hand dyed yarns and a brief tutorial on the techniques and terms used in the hand dying process. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to read the book as thoroughly as I would like, but even just glancing through it was a delight. And with so many handpainted yarns available these days, it was really interesting to see something of the techniques used to make them.

Well, I'm off to Borders for Coffee, Chat & Crochet with my guild. Have a great day!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Busy Day - Busy Month!

This is a busy day mostly because I am not the only one in this household born in October! Today is my dh's birthday. We had a family dinner last night to celebrate. We went to a German restaurant called the Eastside up in New Britain. If you want to share the experience, visit their website and click on the "Ticky Tocky" down at the bottom of their homepage! I'm only working a half day today, so I will be able to come home this afternoon and celebrate with him. This is probably a good thing, because on top of working the past 7 days (every day since we got back from vacation), he now has a cold that I brought home from the library, and he has just left for his 8 A.M. dentist appointment which he made before he knew that he would be off from work today. So far, this is not shaping up to be a good day, but I will see what I can do to improve things this afternoon!

This is a busy month mostly because I can't seem to stop joining things. I have been meaning to add some buttons to my sidebar for the things that I have already joined. Then, I wandered over to Fiber Freaks yesterday, just to check in with them. I really wasn't intending to sign up for anything, just see how the October KAL and CAL were shaping up. Well, both are focusing on bags this month, and as I was checking out some of the links I absolutely fell in love with this little beauty - the Isabeau purse. So I copied the buttons for both "alongs" and threw them on the sidebar too. We'll see what I get done. Then, along comes Dee this morning with a new challenge - "60 Scarves in 60 Days". Since I need to make some scarves over the next 2 months, I should be able to help her meet her goal. That's the only thing that is going to save me this month - at least some of the groups overlap!

And just so you don't think all I do is join things, I want to say that in the past couple of weeks, I have made 2 hats and 2 scarves. All I have to do is make mittens for each set and they will be complete. And I spent yesterday working on my September WhoDuKnit project, which is still only about half done. So no pictures yet, but I am getting there. No post tomorrow because I have an early staff meeting. So have a great day, and I will see you on Wednesday, hopefully with at least one FO to my name!