Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Spring???

So, it looks like we have on more really nice day, before the temps drop a little. Perhaps I can get the dogs to the park today. Yesterday was fantastic, as forecast the temp was around 70. My friend Eva talked me into a trip to the zoo (I love the zoo) with herself and Stephan, who is two. There's just nothing like the zoo with a two year old....everything was exciting! Yesterday was particularly good, the hippo's were out and about; the lion cubs---who are getting rather big now at 5 months old---were playing chase and tackle; we have a brand spankin' new gorilla baby (cute); and the generally reclusive wolves were close enough to see. We could here them howling all over the park...very cool.

We ended the day with one of my favorite things, feeding the giraffes.

It's fair to say, not much happened in the way of knitting yesterday. In the evening I worked on the one needle sock while I listened to some new knitting podcasts; the sock for son number one is in a place where I need to pay attention, making it hard to actively listen to something and get the gusset stitches right. Later this morning I will knit on it until it is to a place where it is again mindless round-and-round. At that point it is simple endurance till the toe. It would be ever so nice to get the #$%^&* thing finished before the yarn for my new cardie arrives, or I'm hip deep in my camp project. I'm too easily sidetracked and I don't want to be working on these same socks this time next year, ya know.

best get to it....I have a feeling I'll be getting another box 'o temptation today.

Monday, February 27, 2006

AGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

That's the sound of me screaming in frustration. Why???? Because I had all but finished writing for the day when either blogger had a hiccup, or my ISP decided to take a break and when I went to save my post, the whole thing went kerflewy (technical term). I can assure you, a few other technical terms flew through my mind, but since they were mostly rated R, I will leave them to your vivid imagination. Happy Monday! I realize that I do not have a loyal readership of hundreds, but if you've somehow stumbled across my blog, welcome, and I hope you had a lovely weekend. For any of you who joined in the Olympic pursuit, I hope you finished well and will be claiming your gold medal. I will be collecting mine as soon as I figure out how to do it.

Winter is having a bit of an identity crisis here in Colorado. Yesterday the temperature reached 60 or so and today is promising to be near 70. We took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday to enjoy a little hike, followed by playtime at the dog park. (Don't let the clouds fool you...it was lovely and warm).

Last Friday, I made the trek across town to Old Colorado City for yarn and beads. Armed with my list of needed supplies for camp, I parked and enjoyed a lovely walk through town (actually, I couldn't remember where I'd seen the bead shop, so it took a bit of wandering---come to find out it was almost directly across the street from where I'd parked, a small fact that would really have ticked me off if it hadn't been such a nice day). Now, these supply lists are interesting, but very vague. One must shop with next to no idea of what one will be making with said supplies....no picture, no pattern, nothing except a word or two, in this case "beaded sampler scarf." Okay, we're knitting a scarf and incorporating beads, but what might it look like? Last year we learned how to do mitered squares, using all kinds of color and texture, but if I had known what we were doing while I was shopping, I would have made much different yarn choices and would have enjoyed the process more.

This is what I came home with, 3 hanks of blissfully soft Blue Sky Alpaca/Silk in a beautiful blush pink. There are also three little vials of irridescent beads that blend nicely and some pearl cotton. Now, in the back of my mind I was thinking that I would make this a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law, but once in the store, my good intentions were ignored, while I fondled the colors that I like.....not at all what she would like. Damn. Another thing that happened was that once I lovingly carried it around the shop, it just had to be purchased, and, well, it was probably not the most economical choice I could have made. Damn. Yarn shops really should have a warning posted at the door, something like "CAUTION!!! Good judgment is impaired as you cross the threshold....Enter at your own risk."

While I was in the shop, a gal came in for help with her sock in progress. She happened to be using the Magic Loop method of sock manufacture, using one long circular needle rather than two like I use or a set of double points. Now I had heard of this before and have always wanted to give it a go, but frankly, just couldn't wrap my mind around the concept. I inserted myself into the conversation (rude, I know, but hey, it was a yarn shop, and my good judgment was already impaired), and as I watched, the light came on (bing) and it made sense. I added a 40"circular needle to my basket, made my purchase and raced home to dig up my copy of The Magic Loop, which I knew I had........I didn't have one. Damn. So, I thought, I'm clever, I can figure this out. Nope, not that clever. At this point I did what anybody would do. I poured myself an adult beverage and went to the internet, source of all information, where low and behold, I found the basic instructions here. I happily cast on the sock, (KnitPicks Simple Stripes in "storm" I think) and felt much better (due in part to the adult beverage, no doubt). When I sat down on Saturday, I was really feeling pretty full of myself and very pleased with my little sock, when I remembered a certain other sock, one that is suppose to be a birthday gift in a few short weeks. Damn.

Anybody want to guess what I'll be knitting on today?

Friday, February 24, 2006

a little homesick....just a little

It's time once again for Favorite Foto Friday.

Once again I'm bringing you a picture taken on the Olympic Peninsula in the great state of Washington. This is the view from the trail down to the beach....actually one of many trails to many beaches along the highway. From this photo, you can see a few things typical of Washington beaches: For starters, even though it was August, it was not in any way warm. See the folks in jackets and sweatshirts??? (okay, maybe not). This, gentle reader, IS beachwear in this part of the world. Yes, what you see is a misty rain. A bit later in the day it really, truly rained and I was soaked to the skin (having left my parka in the car due to a sunbreak). Notice the dense, lush foliage....that's the byproduct of all the rain. The forest reaches to the sea on the peninsula, and actually, we were very near the Olympic Rainforest.....yup, Washington has rainforests.

The other reason I included this particular photo today is that it was on this trip that I started this sweater.

Here are the particulars: The pattern is from Rebecca #106, and is #18. The yarn is GGH Goa in color "I can't find the ball band."

I first saw this sweater on a display at Weaving Works in Seattle and loved the cables, particularly the way they flow so nicely into the neckline. The vertical lines are made by knitting into the stitch below. It was a really fun knit, not hard and the yarn is pretty bulky so it goes quick in size 10 and 11 needles.

Here is a close-up of the cable pattern:

And so....nearly a year after the knitting was finished, the sweater is ready to wear. It took me well over an hour to weave in all the ends, reiterating that it is much easier to do the weaving a bit at a time as you go.

The other thing I realized as I was sewing this up is that I don't think I want another vanilla sweater. I think the cardigan will have to be cherry red. Ordered the yarn last night....tada.

Now for one last picture.....I swiped this from Annie Modesit's blog, and I thought it was worth sharing (forgive me Annie). Aren't they sweet???

It's obviously lambing season, and I'm wondering what "flavor" the little farm I used to pass got this year. It looks like this farm has a plethora of black lambs...but just look at the sweet face on that white babe. Mom (?)even looks content for the time being.

Here's hoping for a warm and fuzzy weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I think I would like some cheese with my whine......

Random thoughts today..... I've been thinking more about my yarn choice for the cardigan on my to do list. I said the other day that I had just about settled on a creamy vanilla color, choosing the practical over the bright, vibrant color. I'm now having second thoughts, and the reason for this is that somehow I don't feel able to make a good choice. I know, that sounds really bizarre, but it's true. I've really never been the kind of person who is indecisive or wishy washy, but lately I've received a lot of, shall we say "input" as to clothing choices, hair style and color choices, decorating ideas and so forth, and I'm feeling sorta insecure in my formerly solid preferences. Why is it that when we ask for input, we feel obligated to do what the person is suggesting, regardless of whether or not we like their idea? Why do we ask for another opinion and then put more stock into it than into our own, original idea? Are we somehow trained to think that others are much smarter than we are, that they see things we don't, that their way must be better? Why do we continually doubt our instincts, even when time has proven that we can trust them? Is it because that if we are all of a sudden out of our comfort zone, our very selves are shaken? That change can cause instability in our decision making template and we find ourselves unable to get off the fence for fear we will be in even more unfamiliar territory? I think for me, it stems from my recent move back to Colorado. I remember the move to Washington 3 1/2 years ago and feeling like I had lost my mind. It had been a very stressful year leading up to the move, and even though I was returning to my home state, I felt completely lost for several months. I was without my job, without my network of friends, in a place that was both familiar and changed. It took me ages to find my feet, and then, as I was really feeling good about my place in the universe, we left. Not only did we leave, but our children did not.....they stayed behind. And we returned to a place that was both familiar and changed, to the house that I had "built" but that had been another families home for the time we had been away. And I left my family, and a job that I loved, and season tickets to the 5th, and the water and I'm still struggling to find my feet. What I have left, is knitting, and so it seems really important to make the right choice. For some reason I can't quite wrap my mind around, it seems unreasonably important. Perhaps it's that, at least for now, my identity is being loosely held together by yarn, and that makes the choice more vital. Perhaps it's that I am not personally earning the money to support my habit, and so I want to make the very best choice....who knows. But the fact remains.....what I originally wanted was the sweater I saw in the magazine. What I think will be most practical is a neutral sweater in washable fiber at a good price, and the decision matrix is driving me nuts. One thing that is certain, if I don't get off the dime very soon, I will not have the yarn in time for my trip, and that would be a bummer. Okay, enough of that. Last night I did something totally out of character, I did not watch the Olympics. I was raised by a sports fanatic. My Dad would watch ANY sport: bowling, cliff diving, shuffle board, you name it. During football season he would watch two games simultaneously, flipping channels, be listening to a game on his radio through headphones and often have the sports pages in front of him as well. If the Olympics were on, by gum, we were watching. I got some of that.....if the Olympics are on, then it is my patriotic duty to watch, to cheer for our athletes and feel the swell of pride when they win and have medals awarded to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner. But last night I was really enjoying listening to an episode of Cast-On and knitting on the stash scarf. Hubby stayed late at work, I didn't have to stop what I was doing and prepare a meal and I was enjoying the process and the quiet. It is a lovely thing to be perfectly content with oneself, and not feeling guilty that you should be doing something else. And that's where I was, enjoying the moment. The really spiffy byproduct of this quiet evening is a finished scarf, which really turned out cool. The only downside is that because the cast on edge is a crocheted chain, it is quite firm and doesn't have any give, causing a slight curve over the length of the scarf. Once around the neck it is not noticeable, but it is enough to bug me a bit. I think, if knit another scarf in this style, I will use my tried and true long tail cast on rather than pick up the stitches from a crocheted chain, as the in original directions. Today, the plan is to pull out a sweater that I finished about a year ago and get it sewn up.....I really don't like sewing up. Usually, by the time I'm finished with the knitting, I'm pretty tired of looking at the project, so I put it away for a while and, well, a year is long enough, don't you think? It really is a great sweater though...pictures tomorrow. The other thing I'd like to do today is go to town for the supplies I need to take to camp........ ......and make a decision about yarn.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Out of focus

Yesterday was largely lost. I couldn't read, I couldn't knit....I couldn't see. Yesterday was my eye exam. Several months ago I saw the dermatologist, a follow-up appointment to check for any new bits of melanoma needing attention. He very seriously informed me that I absolutely had to have my eyes checked, they had to be dilated and the optometrist needed to look for melanoma on my retinas. Swell, thought I, that's just what I need, melanoma on my eyes. So yesterday I trotted off to the eye doctor and did that very thing. Now the thing I remembered most about this dilation thing is that your eyes are very light sensitive afterward....I went prepared with my sunglasses. What I didn't remember and what left me useless for the rest of the day, was that the solution that causes your eyes to dilate, also paralyzes your focusing muscles. SO, not only are you squinting, everything looks like it's underwater. You can see, for the most part, but try as you might, you just can't bring things into focus.....it was so frustrating. Knitting....not happening; reading....are you joking? The up side of this was that the very kind and good looking doctor got a really good look around and everything is healthy. I left the office with a new eyeglass prescription in hand and instructions to return in a year. Oh boy, am I looking forward to that. On the way home (yes, I took myself home, dumb*** me), I stopped at the fabric store for buttons for the cardie (dumb***) and chose little creamy half round buttons. I figured once I was there, I was GOING to leave the store with the buttons if it killed me (dumb***). They match okay, but I'm not sure they will be permanent. I forgot to buy backing buttons, so I'll have to make another trip before I can sew them on. As a reward, I treated myself to Vogue Knitting on the way out. The rest of the day was a wash, mostly spent on the sofa with my eyes closed. Because this is a knitting blog, for the most part, here's what I was knitting on yesterday, while I could still see. I'm calling it my stash scarf. The idea is this, you choose a few different yarns, in this case 3, and all ya do is knit. With color 1 knit a row, cut the yarn, turn the work and pick up color 2. Knit the row, cut the yarn, turn the work and pick up color 3. Same thing. You stop knitting when you run out of yarn or you think the scarf is wide enough, since it is knit lengthwise. The loose ends are turned into fringe when you're done. Easy Peasy. And now for New Word Wednesday. Today's word(s) is vade mecum which is a noun that means 1. a book for ready reference: manual 2. something regularly carried about by a person. I think it's fair to say that knitting has become for me my vade mecum. I rarely leave home without something to knit, usually something small that tucks nicely into my purse. For my husband, it's a backpack, stuffed with papers, textbooks, journal article. This used to bug the daylights out of me.....we'd go off to the store or somewhere and along came the backpack. He'd say, "you never know when you'll get stuck somewhere and wish you had something to do." He's right....and so he takes the "security backpack" and I take some knitting. We each have a vade mecum. What's yours???? This also brings up the topic of knitting reference material, is there such a thing as too many knitting references??? I think not, but just for fun, I'll tell you a couple of my favorites. The first knitting book I ever bought was Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann, indispensable wisdom and technique presented with wit and humor galore. A must have, if you ask me. Another is Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch, which is just chock full of good directions. Even though I've been knitting for a little while now, I still refer to this book for different ways to do things. And now I really must get going, it's a big day here......I am going to be teaching someone to knit! Yes indeedy, someone actually asked me to teach them to knit! Wish me luck.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Final Lap

Ding, Ding, Ding.......the bell for the final lap has sounded and the olympic knitters are pressing toward the finish line. Let's check the progress in Colorado Springs....... Isn't it cute? There has been a slight pause for blocking and buttons, but I'm definitely in the final lap. The buttonhole band gave me a little trouble....the directions said that the band should fit the front when "slightly" stretched. What is slightly stretched? The left front went without a hitch, looked great and fit nicely. The right front, where the buttonholes go was another story, my first attempt just didn't look right after I had it sewn in place. After looking at it for a bit, I decided it really needed to be done over (insert dirty word here). My second run produced a better looking band, tiny little buttonholes evenly placed and altogether a much better look. Here's what the back looks like... ...though I'm sure it will look much better on an infant than it does on my teapot. The wool/cotton has a nice soft hand and a nice drape after it's bath. When it's completely dry, I'll add the buttons. What I've learned: Intarsia is not suitable for TV knitting, unless you really don't care about what is on the tely. ....Experience in counted cross-stitch is a plus. ....The "wrong" side will never look as tidy as you think it should. ....Debbie Bliss is a brilliant designer, but one should do a thorough read through and maybe a bit of translation before launching into the project. I had to work through all the sleeve shaping on paper before it all made sense to me. Worth the time. ....When you finally "get it" you feel very clever. ....While I don't think I'll ever love knitting intarsia, it doesn't scare me anymore. After the knitting was done yesterday, and the little cardie was nicely blocked out on the kitchen counter, I opened the box from KnitPicks. Inside, as expected, was blue wool for Emory's clogs, dark red for Eva, a pretty cranberry for felted apples, two patterns and a color card for cotton yarn. I saw a really cute cardigan pattern in a magazine over a year ago and have been waiting for the time to be right for knitting it up. I think the time is drawing close, but as with most projects it isn't a straight forward as one would like. What originally struck me about this particular cardigan was the color, a bright tangerine, and the stitch pattern, that while not difficult, is very interesting. The model in the mag is knit up in a cotton/wool worsted weight yarn. Enter KnitPicks "Shine", a machine washable and dryable cotton/modal blend with a lovely soft sheen. The downside? It's sport weight, which makes figuring how much to order a bit more tricky. The other thing is that out of the 14 very pretty colors available, none are quite what I had in mind. I think I've just about decided to go with a nice vanilla color....ever practical....instead of something wild like apple green or cherry red. KnitPicks also has a lovely line of Merino, which has a color (rhubarb) that I adore.....but the idea of being able to toss a handknit into the washer and dryer just flat turns me on. I think I am willing to give up vibrant color for convenience, at least in this case. The big plus, aside from ease of care, is the cost...the sweater will be less than $35. That means hours of guilt free knitting pleasure, and knowing that if it doesn't turn out to be the "it" sweater I hope it will be, I haven't spent the equivalent of two weeks worth of groceries on it. Finally, the countdown has begun for Camp Knitaway. I can hardly wait. I still need to make a trip to Old Colorado City for supplies, and decide what I'm taking along, but as the time grows closer, I get more and more excited. This year we will be learning to knit with beads, but the best thing about the weekend is all the interesting people that attend, seeing what they've been working on (a mix of awe, intimidation and inspiration) and spending an entire weekend doing what you love with people who share your passion. Until then, there is plenty to keep me busy. The final lap needs to be completed and the finish line crossed.....I've got a gold medal to claim.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ah.....Italia

With the Olympics being held in Italy this year, I thought I'd share one of my favorite shots in this weeks edition of Favorite Foto Friday.

Last May, my number one son and I took a fabulous trip to Italy. The whole adventure was dreamlike....I had to keep reminding myself that I was really, truly there. On a perfect spring day in Florence, Brett climbed to the top of the Duomo and from the top, took this picture.

Itlay is an amazing country and we had a fabulous experience. The people are warm and friendly, the art, history and culture are incomparable and the food and wine is impossible to say no to. I would go back tomorrow.

The set back with the second sleeve wasn't as bad as I thought, and after a short break I was able to get it back on the needles and going the right direction. I have about another 30 minutes to go on it, and then all the "big" pieces of the sweater are finished. The next step, according to the directions, is the button band, then the button hole band, sewing up and the collar. I will share an updated picture soon.

The wind is blowing, the snow is falling and I have the fire going......it's a perfect day for reading, knitting, and maybe a nap. It's the next best thing to a vacation.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the good, the bad and the ugly

The sun is streaming into my family room and both dogs are enjoying a nap, following a full morning at the groomers. Oh to be a dog! To be able to lay in the sun's warmth, with no thoughts of what one should be doing, no projects calling out for attention, no treadmill sending subliminal messages from the exercise room. Tempation arrived again yesterday in the form of the new edition of Interweave Knits and the new issue of Vanity Fair. I have a thing about magazines, I figure if someone has paid for me to have these delivered to my mailbox, then I have an obligation to read them. I have to confess, that this afternoon I gave in, and read through Knits, which to my delight (?) had a good article on----you guessed it----intarsia. Thank goodness, it appears I've been doing it right. I was really hoping for a trick for dealing with the ends, but as it turns out, there is no secret. Intarsia is just, well, messy on the wrong side. I'm not sure I like that. I like things that look neat and tidy when they're finished, like they're finished. But with intarsia, you have so many ends, it just seems impossible to hide them. I guess I'll have to settle for a sweater that looks beautiful on the outside, and which looks lovingly hand knit on the inside. If anyone has a trick to make the inside look beautiful too, I'll be happy to listen. As for the rosebud cardie, I'm down to the last sleeve, which I'll get going on later today. I actually had a fairly good start on it, and then came to the realization that I had neglected to do the increases....I just wasn't paying attention to anything but the colorwork. You'd think knitting 22 of these little flowers I would be able to do them in the dark, but even now I find myself tied to the chart. I probably could have fudged it, I had only missed 1 increase, but at this stage I'm committed to getting it right, so I took it off the needles, and well, let's just say thank goodness it was only an inch of knitting. I'm going to take little break and look at it again later. maybe......

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My latest discoveries....

Several weeks ago while reading Claudia's Blog, I learned about knitting podcasts. My first visit to this medium was to KnitCast, an interview like forum in which Marie Irshad, the host, talks with others in the knitting world. When I checked in with KnitCast this week, I was pointed toward another podcast that I just have to share. Cast-on is a podcast with a friendly feel and a magazine-like presentation. My first listen was completely entertaining, a good mix of knitterly talk and even music. Each edition is about 50 minutes, a good slice of time, but not too long. I'm planning to download all the past editions and subscribe through itunes. The other absolutely fantastic discovery I made, was LibriVox. While listening to Cast-on, the host mentioned a forum in which books that are in the public domain are being recorded in audio format, and can be downloaded for FREE. I went right over to check it out, and while the selections are limited right now, there are more on the way. They are mostly classics such as those by Jane Austin, and Herman Melville, great pieces of literature. I can't wait to add them to my collection of audiobooks. Last night after a yummy fondu dinner, I managed to get the sleeve done on the little sweater. Today's goal is the right front, followed by the second sleeve. By the weekend I should be sewing up and working on the button bands and collar, well ahead of schedule. I'll have to think about an add on project to work up while cheering on our Olympic Athletes. And now for New Word Wednesday. Today's word is gritty, an adjective that means 1. containing or resembling grit, 2. courageously persistant, 3. having strong qualities of tough uncompromising realism. I am going to focus on number two and use the following example: I was watching the coverage of the Olympic Games (how can you not??) on Monday evening and pairs figure skating was the featured event. Competition was fierce and with just a few couples left to compete, the last of the Chinese teams took to the ice. About 20 seconds into their program, the couple attempted a quadruple throw, and we watched in horror as the young woman crashed to the ice on her knees. She bravely got up, and it was apparent in seconds that she was hurt, possibly badly. The music stopped, her partner assisted her to the sidelines where for some reason she decided she wanted to continue. With tears in her eyes she gingerly began skating, putting weight on the injured knee and trying a few tentative jumps. What happened next is nothing short of amazing, not only did she finish the program, she did so flawlessly, and was awarded a silver medal. The young woman turned in a beautiful, and gritty performance, for which she was rewared. Amazing. Today is a perfect knitting day, it's windy and cold outside with snow in the forcast. The fire is going and I'm tucked into my comfy chair, ready to work some magic while I cheer on the men's hockey team as they play their first game........should be a gritty match.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Temptation

Robert Orben said "Most people want to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch." Temptation has been delivered to my doorstep in the form of this box.

Last week I placed an order with my favorite online yarn provider KnitPicks, and inside this box are a couple of patterns, a color card for cotton yarn and the wool I need to knit felted clogs for my friend Eva, and my nephew Emory. There are also a couple balls of wool for felted apples. The box came yesterday, and so far I've resisted the tempatation to open the box and play with what's inside.......a major feat. The truth is, I don't trust myself. Knitters are a fickle bunch, all it takes is a yummy yarn to divert our attention away from what we're working on and focus it on a new, exciting possibilty. Opening this box is all the excuse I would need to take a break from intarsia rosebuds (break??? who needs a break?).

The cardie is coming along very well, back, left front and half of the first sleeve are done. I'll spare you the picture, as it looks much the same as yesterday. I'm hoping to finish the sleeve and get a good start on the right front today. It really is going much quicker than I thought it would.

Today, I'm off to join my hubby for a sweetheart lunch, in honor of Valentine's Day. This got me thinking about this "holiday" and it's origins. The History Channel had some good information. According to legend, during a time of war, the emperor Claudius felt that unmarried men made better soldiers. After Claudius outlawed marriage for young men, a priest named Valentine began performing marriages in secret, in defience of the emperors order, and was subsequently sent to prison and executed. While in prison, he fell in love with a young woman, and on the eve of his death he sent a letter to the girl, signing it "Your Valentine." Romantic, hmmmmm? Sometime later he was beatified and became the patron saint of love, romance, marriage and Hallmark. I won't include the details here, but if you check out the history channel, there are amazing facts about how many cards are sold each year, and so on.

So....Happy Valentine's Day. If you can't celebrate being in love, go break a couple rules in honor of the priest who started it all.

Monday, February 13, 2006

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.....

One of the truly lovely things about living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, (that I had no idea of before moving here 10 years ago) is that there are more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Even in the dead of winter, while everything is still brown and dry, a truly spectacular day can pop in. Yesterday was such a day. To make it even more amazing is the startling fact that Friday's temperature didn't even reach 2o degrees and Saturday not too much better. Yesterday was bright and sunny, by lunchtime it was in the mid-50's. After lunch and a couple errands, we loaded the dogs in the car and headed to the park. We went for a quick little hike, through the scrub oak and over roots and rocks. The dogs greeted everyone they met on the trail, and left their calling cards as well. After our up and back hike, we headed to the dog park to let the guys run and play with others of the four legged variety. This is always great fun and yesterday was no exception. By the time we joined the group, there were close to 30 dogs, along with their families (we overheard someone saying that there had been about 100 earlier in the day---I can't imagine). We made a loop around the enclosure, Jake and Kramer stuck pretty close to us for the first few minutes, then slowly ventured out. Jake found someone willing to pet him and Kramer darted here and there, being sure to run back to us if things got too intense. The terrific thing about the dog park is that for the most part everybody plays nice---I can only remember one time when there was a dog that got too rough and a fight broke out. The other thing is that everyone there is a "dog person," so you don't have to worry about your dog being a dog. A good time was had by all. It's got me thinking. At the dog park, every new arrival is viewed as a potential friend. There was unbelievable variety yesterday, purebred dogs, mixed breed dogs, big dogs, tiny dogs, older dogs and a puppy or two. High energy dogs, and mellow dogs like Jake. Outgoing dogs that bounced and barked and begged for others to join in a game, some that sat and surveyed the entire parade. It's not so different from our human world, we are all so different, some are high energy, others not. Some jump right in and look for company, others sit back and watch. But just like our furry friends, life is more fun when we view everyone as a potential friend, when we venture out from our comfort zone and explore the park. The rosebud cardie is coming along nicely, the back is finished and the left front is in progress and should be done this afternoon. I'm thinking that I'll sneak a sleeve in next, since I really hate doing sleeves and can't face two in a row. Sometimes I do both sleeves at the same time, but with all the intarsia going on, the various colors hanging off the back, I'm thinking two sleeves on the same needle is tempting the knitting fates, flirting with disaster, so to speak. It is entirely possible that the major knitting will be done this week, though I'm not foolish enough to make a firm declaration to that effect. And so, I'm off to face the day and whatever it brings. The possibilties are endless.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Progress, sorta.....

The flame has been lit, the games have begun and my own knitting race is showing progress. The astute knitter will notice that I am not using my beloved lantern moon straight needles. Following the plan set forth yesterday, I knit up a swatch using both size 5 and size 6 needles, and while either would have worked, it turned out that I really liked the look I was getting using a size 4 (with size 3 for the seed stitch "ribbing"). Since lantern moon only goes as low as size 5, I was left with my size 4 Addi Turbo's. As I mentioned a day or two ago, this is my first foray into intarsia. I had worked up a swatch last summer, just after I bought the yarn, so I understood the concept. What I just learned this morning, is that I wasn't getting it quite right. For a brief moment I actually considered starting over (and I may still), but since this is an exercise in knitterly improvement, I think I will press on, perfecting my technique as I go. With each new project I begin, I try to choose something that will expand my knowledge base by teaching me something new. This project is no exception. Here's what I'm learning: 1. While I really enjoy Fair Isle, I'm just not sure intarsia is my thing. 2. This is NOT a TV project.....one really must pay attention to the knitting. Thanks goodness for Tivo. 3. You must weave in the ends as you go, or be faced with hours of weaving when you've finished. Frankly, the idea of this makes me nauseous. 4. It's better to overestimate the amount of color you may need than to underestimate and have more ends. 5. I really should be knitting instead of writing. The good news is that based on my progress of just a few hours, this is totally do-able in 16 days. I'm not getting cocky, mind you (I'm smart enought not to laugh in the face of the knitting gods), but I'm feeling much better about my choice than I was just a few days ago. My short term goal is to have the back done by the end of the weekend. best get to it............................... Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 10, 2006

Gimmick Number Two

Should I do it? Go ahead. You're sure it won't be too corny? Nah, folks like this kind of thing...gives 'em something to look forward to. I want this to be fun, not dumb. Come on, come on the suspense is killing me........ Ahem.....Welcome to Favorite Foto Friday, the time of the week when I get to share some of my favorite pics with whoever....is....still....here. Okay. Right. Let's do it then.

This picture was taken while camping on the Olympic Peninsula in the great state of Washington in 2004. What? It's just a bunch of rocks you say? Let's look a little closer. Notice how the stones are smooth and glossy.....they don't come that way folks. No, over years, decades, centuries perhaps, the surf pounds against the shore, wearing away the imperfections and leaving behind a beautiful sheen. This speaks to me of earned beauty, the way that the stresses of life create in us a grace and lovliness that we "don't come with," the perfecting of our nature, so to speak. Notice the variety? It reminds me of the great variety in the world, not all of us are the same, some are smaller than others, some still have rough edges, some blend in and others stand out. Notice the one in the middle? This is exactly as I found it, one peachy rock on a beach full of black and grey. It reminds me that I am unique, and the big picture just wouldn't be the same without me (or you, or that odd person living next to you). I love this picture....it reminds me of the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore, the smell of salty sea and the scream of sea birds dipping and soaring overhead. I adore Colorado, but I miss the beach. I am ready to cast on the Rosebud Cardie, but for some reason it seems important to me not to cheat, and according to the rules set forth by our dear harlot, I must wait until 2 p.m. here in my time zone. Until then, I'm planning to recheck my gauge, which seems rather silly, really. Every knitter knows how important it is to check their gauge before beginning a project, usually through experience, after spending countless hours on a project that doesn't fit anyone we know. But how important is gauge to a baby garment? If it's tad large, the little darling will grow into it; if it's a wee bit small, then it will be perfect for a newborn. The truth is, the sweater will fit the child at some point, removing the imperitive that the knitter get the exact specified gauge as set forth by the designer.

Here is my plan: I'm going to start with the needles recommended on the yarn's ball band (which in this case is US 5-6) and adjust the size until I get a fabric that pleases me. As for needles, I am planning to use my favorite, Lantern Moon. These are, hands down, the most luxurious needle I have ever used. They feel warm and silkie in your hands, and have just the right point and finish so that they slip through each stitch like a warm knife through butter, yet they have just enough drag so that your stitches don't slide off your needle while you're not looking. AND if that's not enough, they are handmade by women in South East Asia, who support their families by crafting these wonderful needles. Truly, a product that you can feel good about using and purchasing. I heard through the grapevine that Lanter Moon will be introducing a line of circular needles in the coming months......yum.

And so, it is with much anticipation, that today I cast on, along with (now) 4000 other knitters across the globe. And, lest we forget the 2400 Olympians poised to go for the gold, good luck to all, from every nation. May a spirit of peace and joy reign over the city of Torino.

Let the games begin!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What is this????

Posted by PicasaI'm so glad you asked! This, my dear friends, is a project of Olympic proportions. That's right, this lovely basket full of Rowan Wool Cotton is awaiting the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, when it will begin it's journey to becoming a sweet little Debbie Bliss baby cardie. I actually bought this yarn last summer. At that time I was having difficulty with my hands and thought maybe it would be a good idea to begin knitting for my future grandbabies while I still could. Well, as you can see, other projects cut in line, causing this gorgeous yarn to languish in the stash. However, it's time has come and the purpose for which it was purchased is about to be realized. I have to say, this causes me a bit of concern, for several reasons. First, I hate deadlines. As with the really, truly Olympic Games, I have just 16 days to complete the sweater. Second, this is my first attempt at intarsia and Debbie Bliss and I get a bit woozy just reading the instructions. Although it all seems straight forward enough, I am imagining all sorts of mishaps. I am a firm believer that the amount of difficulty one has with a pattern is directly proportional to the amount of money spent on said project, which in this case is an absurd amount given it's for a tiny person. (I'm sure there are lots of people out there who have yarn in their stash that they are afraid to knit because of the cost....I know you're out there. What if it doesn't fit? What if it's really ugly once I'm done? What if the recipient hates it, gives it away, throws it in the mud, loses it------AGHHHH the stress of it all! It's okay, I know you're laughing with me and not laughing at me) Third, well third, is the fact that there are now about 3000 other knitters "competing" and even though I don't consider myself to be a competitive person, the thought of all that excellence out there is just plain intimidating. But, as is also true with the Olympic Games, anything worth doing is worth doing well and no one ever succeeds without trying. Besides, this is the closest I'll ever get to participating in the Olympics, might as well go for it. In other news, I finished the 12 inch square to take to camp yesterday while listening to "Tuesday's with Morrie" from Audible.com. You should all know that Audible is a wonderful thing, you can download books, magazines, podcasts or just about whatever your literary heart desires, and then play it on your computer, put it on your mp3 device or even burn it to cd to listen to in your car. This is multi-tasking at it's best, especially if you love to read and love to knit (or paint, or garden, or sew, or....you get the idea). I know some clever knitters who can read and knit at the same time, but I'm just not that coordinated. And now I'm off to face the day. Tomorrow......the games begin!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everyone needs a gimmick

Welcome to New Word Wednesday! In an effort to keep you coming back, and elevate our intellect at the same timel, I will attempt to provide a new word each Wednesday, one that you can incorporate into your daily vernacular, thus impressing those with whom you hob nob. This weeks word is xenial, which is an adjective that means: of, or relating to, or constituting hospitality or relations between host and guest. "I, as host of this blog, hope to create a xenial environment, such that a spirit of community exists, and a free exchange of ideas can ensue." Now it's your turn, leave me a comment and try to use our new word in a sentence. On the knitting front, the countdown to the Knitting Olympics is fast approaching and I'm trying to finish up a couple things before the lighting of the flame. One is my 12 inch knitted square to take to Camp Knitaway. Every year the "campers" each bring a square, knit out of something washable, which when combined together are made into afghans for the beds at Camp Brotherhood. (I will go on an on about how excited I am about camp another day). The other project on needles is sock number two for son number one. This particular pair on socks has been in the works for well over a year and it's about time they were finished. It's not that socks take me that long to knit, it's just that I grow bored with them and start something else. I have always knit socks on two circular needles, and as I've mentioned before, I taught myself using this book. I never could get the hang of all those double pointed needles, and since the only knitting I had ever done was 20 years before, well it was all a bit much. I have found that the two circ method works for me. In all the excitement of a new blog, the knitting is feeling a bit neglected so I'm off to work some magic with "two sticks and a string." Ya'll go make your little corner of the world more xenial. new word wednesday brought to you by yours truly and 365 new words a year...workman publishing...new york

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Blogger's Remorse

As you can see from my profile, I am a nurse, a knitter and reader who loves to travel. Noticeably missing is computer guru, html expert, electronics whiz. This should have been cause for caution on this newbie bloggers part, but being somewhat impulsive, I leapt, before I looked and find myself adrift in cyberspace, learning as I go and slightly frustrated. But, as a reader, I have a solution in mind already.....A book. Books are wonderful things, as a matter of fact, I taught myself to knit socks from a book (if I knew what I was doing, a handy link to that book would be here). That said, the plan for the day is to visit my local bookseller and obtain a book that will help me out of this quagmire. In the meanwhile.......... Meet Kramer. Kramer is modeling his recently finished sweater. The pattern was adapted from the "basic knitted dog sweater" in Dogs in Knits by Judith Swartz. The Fair Isle bit I borrowed from my 2005 Knitting Pattern a Day calendar. It turned out rather well, I think. Kramer is looking suspicious, posing for the camera is not his favorite thing. In other news.......like many of you I am anxiously looking forward to the Knitting Olympics. What??? You don't know about the Knitting Olympics? Hop on over and visit the Yarn Harlot (link can be found in my sidebar) and click on the Knitting Olympics button in her sidebar....but hurry, the deadline for entry is midnight tonight. I will share what I'm knitting soon. And so, I'm off to the bookstore............wish me luck.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Why "Black Sheep?"

Good Question.... Lot's of reasons, perhaps not the ones you would think,but the truth is, it fits. I married into a huge family, and as an only child.....well, you can imagine that I have never fit in very well. Even now, after nearly 28 years, I still feel, well, like the outsider. Let's face it, when you've grown up in a small nuclear family and jump headlong into a family of 8, plus 5 step siblings, three sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles too numerous to count, the transition is not all sunshine on roses. I've always felt like the black sheep, not because I'm the naughty one,(not all the time anyway) but because I just don't blend in with the rest very well. I am in the midst of a love affair with wool, knitting and everything that fits in that basket. There are baskets of wool spilling over in my family room, a box full in the closet, catalogs and patterns and projects galore, books and magaziznes and links on my laptop........you get the idea. When a knitter hears "yarn," the thought of sheep can't be far away, and what would be cuter than a black sheep? I used to drive by a house that kept sheep on my way to work each day and one spring they had tiny black lamb. I would slow down on my commute look for him, watch him graze and stare back at me, see him play in the grass and run to his mother for protection. The black sheep gave me something to look forward to. Even now, the thought of sheep makes me dream of wooly projects, the possibilities are endless. Shepherds (so I've heard) use black sheep to keep track of the size of their flock. For every one hundred sheep, just one will be black, so if you count the black sheep in the field you have a pretty good idea of the total number of sheep. There is a story in the Bible about a shepherd who finds he is missing one of his sheep, he leaves the 99 to search for the one lost lamp and finding it, joyfully returns to the flock. I like to think that it was the black sheep that was missing. I think it speaks volumes, not only about our value, but if indeed it was the black sheep who had wandered off, it proves that it is the unique among us that leave a vacuum when they are missing. It is good to be one of a kind. And so here we are, launching a new blog (scary thought) and opening a new door into the community of knitters, readers, mothers, wives, bloggers, anyone who wants to drop in and be a part of my life. Join the flock :)