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Friday, March 30, 2007

This little girl got gage....

...on my Socks That Rock club kit. Using the recommended needle size for tiny feet. This is great news, because maybe it means I am no longer an anally tight knitter. :) I tend to be a tight knitter, especially on socks. I am hoping this will make it easier on my hands and to do the cables the pattern calls for. So this morning I am going to cowboy up and try the provisional cast on for toe up socks.

As I said yesterday, I received the "More Sensational Knitted Socks" book. I have not really gotten to look at it yet, but I promise to this weekend.

I also received my From the Heart Swap box from my Angel. My original swap box was sent from my pal in England back in the beginning of February, but it never arrived. This is horrible, because I know my pal went out of her way to make a nice package for me. I guess there is some customs agent out there with chocolate smeared all over his/her face fondling what was supposed to be my yarn p0rn! Not nice! Shame on you! You do not deserve such nice things!
Anyway, the swap box was great! I received some Cascade 220 wool, two balls of Regia striping, two balls of Regia Cotton, Chibi needles (Bless you! as I was about to buy some more on my own, since some of mine have grown legs), Godiva chocolates with raspberry filling (have you been reading my blog, eh?), tiny tiny sock needles (okay now you have been reading my mind because I have not been able to find 00 or smaller needles! Stop it!), reinforcing yarn (have never tried it, thank you!), and two sock patterns. Thank you! I have never tried Regia, so this will be great! The cotton blend yarn will be handy for summer socks.

Sorry the picture is out of focus, the battery low light was flashing at me, so I had to hurry.
My DH's birthday is coming up soon. He has been having a very stressful time at work, so I am trying to plan a week of surprises for him. I cannot post them here. But if you have suggestions, please let me know. It can be anything from little gifts to little things to do together because I don't want to completely break the bank.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

SP10 Contest Post

Please post (on your blog) about your favorite yarn and your least favorite yarn (if you have one!) What have you made with it? Tell us about your experiences! - Robyn

Ooh. Well, I have quite a few favorite yarns. So I will narrow it down to two categories: sock yarn and non-sock yarn.

For sock yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight. I have only made socks with it so far, such as the Cedar Creek in my post below. I am so in love with their sock yarn. You can make mistakes, frog it back 10 times, split it, and it still comes back together and knits up beautifully. And I love merino wool, it is so nice to your hands.

For non-sock yarn: Morehouse Farms Merino wools. Again, my love affair with merino. Knitting with theirs is like knitting with cotton candy. Nice and loosely spun but not splitty. Sooo nice. I don't have any pictures of my finished cardigan, but I will try to remember to do that. And their patterns are clearly written.

More Viewer Mail

I am having too much fun today to really sit here and update my blog to the fullest. Let's just say today has been a great day. It was my first day outside of the house since my skin treatment. I had Starbucks (my first coffee in three days so you can understand how ecstatic I was about that), followed up on the face treatment, got a pedicure (my first of the season), received "More Sensational Knitted Socks" from preorder on Amazon, went to Salsarita's, went to the post office and got my From the Heart Swap Angel box, and went to the gym. And I got to add a new member to the Alaskan Knitters Ring, Bezzie at Random Meanderings. Her blog is quite funny so I hope you all go check her out. She cracks me up and her global nomadishness reminds me of my own. Now I am sitting here blissing out eating my favorite Cheddar Cheese, Tillamook. And I get to go to Aikido tonight. Don't kill my bliss man...I will do a full update tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to answer some viewer mail.

The dream swatch is from where? It's really cool the diamond holes in it - do tell me how it's done or where I can get the pattern!

You can see the links in earlier entries, but here it is again: Dream Swatch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cedar Creek Socks done!

Yay! I *finally* finished my Cedar Creek Socks. I strayed away from these because I really wanted to get started on that Clapotis and other things. And I started to get bored doing the second sock, which does not usually happen to me. I think I am one month behind on my sock a month goal. Oh well. All I can do is push on. One of the socks is a little tighter than the other.....ugh. I am too much of a tight knitter sometimes.
Pattern: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Cedar Creek
Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in "Lucy" Colorway
Needle: Size 2 Bamboo DPNs

Hey, that reminds me that Brooks Farm still hasn't written back to me regarding getting more yarn for my Clapotis. That is not cool. If I don't hear from them within a week, I am going to have to start calling.

I am close to finishing the Dream Swatch. I hope to finish later today and post it soon. It is quite pretty. I just hope it looks decent on me! That I do it justice. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fun time with M&Ms

It was good today to catch up with my friend who owns Yarns Forever. She is very busy dying her own handpainted yarns and doing alot of shows.

Now for some fun. Here I am as my M&M character. Not too pretty?

Happy Spring!


Sorry, there were not any spring backgrounds.



I am almost done with my dream swatch and Cedar Creek socks. Being stuck at home has some benefits. :)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I am ready to cry...(again)

I am finally on the third section of my clapotis! But last night I figured out that I am going to run out of yarn before I finish. I know you know how devastating this could be. Who knows if I can even get more yarn. I suspect that it is a nonrepeatable colorway that I purchased from Brooks Farm at SAFF. (Yes, I have already emailed them to ask. But my hopes are not high. I have also tried googling, but have not found anyone else with it.) Who really wants to frog back and reduce the number of middle repeats? (Not you. Not me.) When I bought it, their display said 3 skeins was enough. Since then, I have read that people may need more yardage than what the pattern calls for. (Oh no. I wish I had known that earlier. But I came to the Clapotis bandwagon late.) Oh well, if I really have to, I will frog back.

Meanwhile, I am stuck at home being all "shroomy." That is short for mushroomy. It is a gorgeous weekend in the low 80s, and I am inside watching movies and slathering on facial creams and sunblock. Why? I had to get a skin treatment for my melasma which leaves my skin VERY sensitive to sun exposure. Which will require that I wear tons of sunblock and big floppy hats for two months. I figure I will be well enough in time for Marlyand Sheep and Wool (MSW). I am also trying to figure out how to get started on my vegetable pot garden. I suspect I will be in my garage with the door down prepping all the pots and letting my husband drag them outside for me. Ladies, the lengths we go to in order to be gorgeous. Of course, I would rather be hiking, but DH LOVES LOVES LOVES the fact that I just want to sit around inside and watch movies, his favorite weekend pasttime.

I guess I can finally work on the socks I have been putting off...trying to forget about my clapotis heartbreak. :(

Ooh...an even better idea is to start my dream swatch scarf. I need to look glamorous this summer. :) Under my big floppy hats and sunglasses.

I hope all of my friends are having fun in TN at the "other" Southeastern Fiber Fair.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Well....

You all know I am trying to save money to fund my trip to Maryland Sheep and Wool. But I received a 20% off coupon for Joann.com. So I used this to purchase at OTT Lamp for my bedroom. The additional 20% off coupon paid for the tax and shipping, plus a little bit more of a discount. I justified this purchase by the fact my current Ikea lamp likes to turn itself on and off at whim. And the lamp's cherry wood would match my antique bedroom furniture. Let's all hope that it works and I don't have to return it.

And a friend is ordering from kpixie, so I am finally breaking down and ordering this pattern. Now, I know what you may be thinking, but I already own a store bought sweater that is very similar with long sleeves, and it looks totally awesome on me. And I get tired of boring stockinette sweaters, so this will be a good thing for me to tackle someday. I have not bought the yarn yet...I will leave that to post MSW. Also, I am holding off on buying the SWTC tofutsies yarn that is calling to me....
Don't worry. Meanwhile, I am still stuffing "Mommy's tip jar" (my piggy bank) with all of my spare change and dollars when I break my yuppy food stamps ($20 bills). He's too cute for words. So my eyes are still on my goal of going to MSW. That reminds me, time to get to running my errands and balancing my accounts, etc..


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Now for some (obligatory) knitting content....

Just kidding. My posts are almost all knitting related. But in order to fulfill SP10 hostess request, I am now going to write about my favorite knitting accessory...

I am pretty darn low maintenance. I don't use fancy counters or gadgets very often. About the only things I use are crochet hooks, chibi needles, scissors, cable needles, and plain plastic stitch markers. I don't like heavy and very dangly stitch markers. A swap pal (see below) just sent some nice, small, single bead stitch markers for making socks with so that is an exception. I will say about the neatest thing I have bought and am actually using in terms of a knitting accessory is the Knit Picks magnetic chart board. It folds in half and closes on itself to protect your charts while travelling, the magnets ACTUALLY stick to the board (unlike another board I have purchased), and it can be folded in a way that it props itself up. It is a much better buy at $10 than the plain magnetic boards I have seen selling for $6-$7. So I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to follow a chart or carry their knitting patterns around in a protected way.






My "April Fools The Jokes on You" swap pal Cindi in Orlando sent me a kickin' swap package. Ooh, sorry, I forgot to include the mug and candy in the picture. Anyway, it included a Mountain Colors sock pattern and Joslyn's Fiber Farm sock yarn in Mocaw colorway. I was thinking this morning that the sock yarn has orange and blue in it, the UF gator colors, so I will definitely be able to use this sock yarn. In fact, DH will love it as he is the gator. Somehow she knew I was another chocolate and coffee nut. I guess we all can just sense each other.


And the alpaca yarn from my mom has finally made its way down from Alaska. She told me to tell her what to buy more of....since my mom has already claimed the brown for herself, I am thinking that I need more brown for me! Now I just need to go sit down and figure out how much more of each color that I want.

Now I know you all are jealous of my alpaca yarn. Especially the brown and black.

And I purchased some bamboo yarn to make the Dream Swatch. I love the colors in this yarn, much more brilliant than even those in SWTC's bamboo. So, even though it looks a bit splitty, I will throw myself into using this yarn by sacrificing my sanity to the splittiness just to get cool colors! I really wanted the original yarn used in the pattern because I love and wear those colors, but I have no such luck. So I think this is a fairly good compromise!

Pattern (to be used): Dream Swatch
Yarn: Madil Eden Pring Color 039
Source: Rebelle
Needle: TBD

I went to a really cool little yarn shop right off of the UK campus in Lexington called ReBelle. They carried quite a few sock yarns, and quite a bit of alternative yarns (corn, soy, bamboo, etc..) and many colors of malabrigo. I was so jonesin' for the malabrigo, as they had colors that I cannot get locally. But I held off. I really want to save SOME money to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool. Anyway, I knew I was home when the girl behind the counter sat there, quietly working in frustration on her socks! Thank goodness they had late hours on Wednesday, the day we drove in. Because I did not have any other time on this trip to go yarn shopping. Boohoo! So, ReBelle, you were my salvation! :)
I also did not get much knitting done, but I have been driving to the hoop on my goal to finish my Clapotis. I only have one more repeat in the middle section! And then I get to start decreasing! I am so excited. I will post pictures later this week.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More to come....later

Let's just say I am back from a trip. But I really need to get in the shower and head my chunky butt to the gym. I did a whole lot of eating bad food and sitting this trip. Now my skin is breaking out and my knee hurts. So I have to get to the gym to counteract the bad stuff in a weight training class.

I promise I will post pics of Clapotis progress and my new Alaskan alpaca yarn later!

Monday, March 12, 2007

So sorry, but I am making progress

Sorry I have not posted in quite a few days. I said in my last posts that I was going to work hard on my socks. Well...not so much. I decided to take a break on the socks because I felt tired of working on my Cedar Creek ones. Instead, I frogged back on my Clapotis a few rows, and have gotten quite a bit done on it in the last week. I am now halfway through Section 3! Yay!



I plan on getting alot of sock and Clapotis knitting done later this week!

I also wanted to share a tiny picture of my applique, since that has been detracting some from the knitting, but not much. Fortunately, the applique class is over, so now I can do it on my own time schedule.


When I get further along, I can share some ruched flowers and other flowers!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

SP 10 Questionairre

Sorry, I did not know before now to post this to my blog by the end of February. So here it is!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I love merino wool of any kind. I do not like acrylic, unless it is in a blend with a natural fiber.
2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? Needle roll, jars/vases.
3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I have been knitting for four years. I learned mostly from books. I consider myself to be an intermediate level knitter.
4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes. But it is not up to date. :P I do have a knitting wishlist on my blog too.
5. What's your favorite scent? Vanilla, Lavender, watermelon.
6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Yes, but not horribly. I love chocolate, raspberry flavored things, peanut butter, and hot tamales.
7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I quilt, applique and bead. I haven't learned to spin yet but want to.
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 all kinds of music. I have an ipod and can play MP3s.
9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? My favorite color is green. I can't wear yellow, and I am not huge into pink unless it is used with other colors as contrast.
10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? No pets, trying to start a family.
11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? It is warm here, so I mostly wear scarves, an occasional beanie hat, fingerless mitts.
12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Socks, shawls, sweaters.
13. What are you knitting right now? Socks, Clapotis, Lizard Ridge, and a sweater.
14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes.
15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? Circular, bamboo or high quality metal.
16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes.
17. How old is your oldest UFO? Umm, 18 months I think.
18. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween. I love seeing the little kids have fun.
19. Is there anything that you collect? Bear stuff, and Felix the Cat stuff (but not actively..don't go broke trying to find Felix the Cat stuff).
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 subscribe to Interweave Knits. I would like to buy some of Cookie's sock patterns this year.
21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I am trying to learn dying and sock and sweater design this year.
22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes! I wear a size 6 1/2 shoe.
23. When is your birthday? 11-29.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Squeeee! STR club package arrived!

So as not to spoil it for those who have not received their package yet, I will place in some blank space. For those who want to see, scroll down....
































































Isn't it beautiful? I stopped by my PO Box on the way to my knitting group last night, and it was there! I called my STR Club buddy in Florida while I opened the package. Immediately, I decided these colors are right up my alley since I love greens, blacks and some browns. But then when I looked at it again last night, I decided it reminded me of my old army fatigues. And I decided, since I owe my husband some socks, maybe I would just make these for him. They seem like they would be perfect for a man, especially since the pattern calls for extra arch support, toe and heel padding. The pattern is also reversible. Since my husband wears through socks like kleenex, this pattern may be best for him. :) He is tough on the toes and heels of his socks. It is only fair too, since the Sundara Petals Yarn is more suited for me. :) Oh, I don't know. He doesn't wear this color of green really. I am torn.




I love the new binder, to put all of my sock patterns in one place! Perfect! I will put the button on one of my knitting bags. I don't really want to use the bumper sticker on my new car...who knows. And I love the 10% off an order coupon. BMFA makes fun of their old bank on it. I am going to have to save it and prioritize which colors I am going to buy out of the ton that I love.

I also really need to start my applique block today for my class on Thursday, so I am torn. Start on these socks? But I have never done toe up before (but want to). Or start my block and put off that bias strip I don't want to do. Aiaiai. I think maybe both?
I finally frogged back about four rows on my Clapotis yesterday, so I have restarted that. I am two rows away from the third section of the pattern. Yay!

Monday, March 05, 2007

I took a sock yarn dying class!

Yay! Another knitter's resolution is accomplished.
4. Learn to dye.

This weekend I took a self-striping sock yarn dying class at my friend's shop, Yarns Forever. Well, really at her home dying studio in her basement. It was so nice of her to have us to her house, so we wouldn't make such a mess in the shop! We had such a wonderful time. Here are some pictures. Please forgive me as they are quite horrible. I forgot my camera at home, and had to take pictures on my cell phone camera. Thank goodness for technology! We did take pics on my friend's camera, but I can't seem to access her flickr for the last few days.

We tried several different methods of measuring out the 2 yards needed for self-striping sock yarn. I did the wooden peg board method, there was also the swift method, and pictured below is the chair/doornob method. :)
Here is a picture of my sock yarn soaking in a water, vinegar and soap solution before we will begin dying it.

Here is a picture of the dye choices we had. We had ten colors to choose from.


My friend is demonstrating how to mix dye solutions. She uses the Country Classic dyes.

Here are my color choices: tomato, slate blue, cornflower blue and evergreen.



Here is a picture of my handpainting in progress. You can see that I have already applied tomato and some slate blue. The tomato may appear to get more pink. That is because there was some confusion about what dye color I had picked out. This is an important lesson for anyone who wants to dye. What the dye color looks like before it is processed with heat may look very different from the final color after processing. Everyone was remarking that the tomato was actually pink and that we took from the wrong color jar. So I ended up getting pink to finish up the tomato section. We figured out that we were right all along once we started applying the pink dye because it looked different once it was applied to the yarn. The mistake is fine with me because the two of us who did this blended the pink back into the tomato and it looks quite pretty. I also learned how to better manage the application of the color such that you do not waste color (and see it run down the drain when you wash the skeins after processing).

Here is the "cooking" of the skein in a steam bath. We steamed it for 30 minutes while we ate lunch from Frodo's Pizza (yum yum!).


Here is my finished colorway, after processing and a quickie cooling in an ice bath.


Here is a class picture of our final work. Ignore our icky hair and fashion choices. It is best to dress shabbily while dying. You do NOT want to dye your good clothes! Everyone did such beautiful colors.
Since I had to run some errands on the way home, some of the pink/red stained the slate blue sections of the yarn. This is because the skein was still wet and I believe the pink/red had excess dye in the yarn. It is alright, cause it still looks cool to me. Below is my final ball of yarn. It is kind of messy, as I had to wind it by hand since it was a bit tangled. It is very important to consistently wind the yarn on the peg boards, to get less crisscrossing/tangling in your yarn.


I call this colorway "Dark Opal" because it reminds me of the fire in my dark opal jewelry that I bought in New Zealand. The colors turn out paler and less intense in these pictures then they are in person.
If any of my blogland friends and readers out there have suggestions on favorite dyes, favorite natural yarn sources, and any other dying advice, please share! I would love to dye some more sock yarn for my friends. I would especially love any recommendations as to undyed yarn that is a beautiful merino sock yarn, like KPPM or Socks that Rock. I just love merino like crazy.

In other great news, my mom was able to buy some Alaskan Alpaca Yarn from one of her coworkers. She has a coworker who raises aplaca back home in Alaska. My mom bought the yarn for such a steal that I can't publish the price because my mom's other coworkers might find out. But since my mom showed early interest and committed to buying early, she got a bargain. My mom bought it in four colors: brown, grey, cream and beige. Now I will have to knit her a scarf and my dad a hat with two of the colors. She has even already claimed the brown color(boohoo! my favorite), but I don't mind. I am just excited that she bought it for us and that she will be able to wear such an exotic fiber, because it only has a little wool in it. My mom has allergies to wool that is not highly processed. And there is nothing better than supporting a small local farmer! My mom says she is another good Pennsylvania girl like herself!
Still waiting for my Socks that Rock kit. And my February sock exchange kit. I hope something comes today. That would be awesome.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Yippee!! Sundara Petals Collection Arrived!

After a week of checking my PO Box every day, my Sundara Yarns Petal Collection for February arrived. It is a beautiful yarn and a simple pattern, so I will be sure to do these. She does such an amazing job in packaging and producing her kits. They are truly so beautiful that I hope she does not stop the club. This month's theme flower is the Bird of Paradise.


She is soooo talented. I know you are jell-uuss!

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for my Socks That Rock club package to arrive. I am torn between squeeing and heartbreak, as I read that others packages have arrived. I don't have mine yet, but it is just around the corner since I know others on the East Coast have received theirs. Ahhhh, the anxiety!

Also, over a year ago, my MIL said she wanted me to teach her how to knit. I am not sure that she has the patience to sit and really learn to knit since she is so animated. But she used to quilt, so there is some hope there. Anyway, I had advised her to buy a pair of bamboo needles and some worsted weight WOOL yarn. Of course, like all new/wannabe knitters, instead of heeding my advice, she was lured by the siren song of some goofy "fashion" acrylic yarn at some big box retailer. And of course she bought some pattern to do a knitted teddy bear, with shaping way beyond what her ability will be and far removed from her yarn choice. To her credit, she did buy the pattern for future use. (She is already building a stash, and she has not even knitted a stitch! I am alternately proud and horrified...I vaciliate between the two when I really start to think about it.) Since her birthday is today, I went to aforementioned big box retailers and bought her some 100% wool Lion's Brand yarn. I bought it for her in colorways that have her favorite colors, so that she would hopefully be drawn to it enough to continue knitting it even though it does not have silly eyelash or bobbles or whatever. :) I think that will work. Also, I won't have invested a ton of money in the yarn in case she does not like to knit. In addition, I bought a pair of 9" bamboo size 8 needles, in hope that they won't strain her hands too much.

I am also so excited because tomorrow I take a self-striping sock yarn dying class tomorrow at Yarns Forever. Goody goody gumdrops, I get to learn to dye my own sock yarn! Yay! I will try to post more on that after I take the class this weekend. I hope to be able to take some pictures.