Friday, April 28, 2006

What would I do?

I've been thinking this morning about a quote I heard somewhere, and it is loosely this: What would you do (or attempt to do) if you knew you could not fail? Interesting, no? There are a lot of things I've tried over the years, I think it's important to try lots of things...you never know what you'll enjoy or be really good at. Thus, there are many things that I've failed at over the years and with each failure, I've become more cautious. But what would I attempt TODAY if I knew I could not possibly fail? I'd open a yarn shop/coffee place, a place where I would encourage community. There would be great coffee and goodies, comfy leather seating and lot's of yummy yarn and tools. There would even be bistro tables where non-knitters could enjoy a cuppa something and check their email on their laptops using my WiFi connection. There would be classes, and knit nights; singles nights and guys nights; book signings and trunk shows. We would sell books and buttons, high end yarn and a bit of 'starter yarn,' luxury needles and basic tools and everyone would feel welcomed and embrace and encouraged and successful. I'd write a novel. I would be able to work anywhere, travel the world and call it research and carry a spiffy briefcase without looking stupid. I could have my own home office, could leave a message on the phone that said "please leave a message, I'm listening to my muse" and folks would know I was working. I might be prolific like John Grisham or Danielle Steele or have one huge success and call it good, like Harper Lee. Perhaps I would sell the movie rights and have a hand in producing a motion picture. And I'd by a lottery ticket. What would you try???? Okay. Today's Favorite Foto is from one of my favorite places in this world, Estes Park and in this case Rocky Mountain National Park. Each autumn we make the trip up to the Park for a few days of camping and elk watching. The colors are magnificent, and weather is usually lovely and the elk are oh so close. As the sun begins to go down, the meadows are filled with these incredible animals, calling to each other and claiming their territory. Sometimes you catch a skirmish between bulls as one tries to take over another's harem. The young ones stick close to their mamma's and none of them are bothered by our presence. In times past I've been as close as 10 feet or so, and the elk merely looked up and kept grazing. It is my favorite time of year hear in Colorado, and although we've been to the park at all times of year, autumn is by far the best. There's nothing like waking up to the sounds of elk in the meadow, or even nibbling on the bushes right next to your bed. Fabulous.

Have a wonderful weekend. Try something new!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Is it time to panic yet?

I've just gotten back from 'sitting' with a sick friend, where I got a bit a knitting done between running up and down stairs fetching things. I was working on the red cardi and I think I have another inch and a half or so to go on the back section. Concern over how the sleeves will interface with the body has been eclipsed by the worry that I will run out of yarn. When I did the math in the beginning, I figured out how much the sweater should take, and added 10%, perhaps 15%. I haven't reached full out panic yet, but the thought that I may need to make a call to KnitPicks has crossed my mind. Tell me what you think....I just started a new ball a couple rows back, and I have four complete balls left.

(sorry for the crummy photo) As I was packing up projects this morning to take along to my friends house, I looked for my Project Spectrum sock....it has gone missing (or more likely I did not perform the most thorough of searches). I am loath to admit that I've been ignoring the poor sock, but truthfully, I'm not enjoying it. The yarn (Cascade Fixation) combined with the pattern is just not doing it for me, it's hard on my fingers and doesn't really show the lace pattern at all....another poor choice made when I was a younger knitter. It's clear to me that it will not be finished before the month is out, if at all any time soon. Life is to short to knit things you really are not enjoying, don't you think? Now I really must go and get a few things done that were neglected while little dude was here. And maybe find that #$%^&* sock.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

White Space

I love the little guy, really I do, but this morning he's at 'school,' the house is quiet and I'm enjoying what DH and I used to refer to as 'white space.' Loosely defined, white space is that time when you are--at least temporarily--free from the responsibilities of parenting. It's being able to shop, get a massage or just go to the bathroom without company. White space is best enjoyed all by yourself, but can also be enjoyed at Starbucks with a good friend. Mom and Dad come home this afternoon, and then it's back to my 'no life' routine. I got the second slipper done in bed last night.....just in time for sunshine and 70 today (ahh springtime). At least it was knitting, and it was a nice diversion from all the big projects. Later today I might get to the cardi. Since it's Wednesday.....it must be time for a New Word. Predilection is a noun which means an established preference for something. This word stems from the Latin verb legere, which means "to gather" or "to read" and is the source of many other English word such as: collect, lesson, sacrilege and legume. I have no idea what beans have to do with reading or gathering, but it is interesting none the less. Of course this word made me think of knitters (you knew I would get around to that didn't you??). Most of us have a predilection for one fiber or another, one type of needle over another, possibly even one gauge over another. When skimming magazines or pattern books, our predilections determine what appeals to us. In yarn stores, our purchases are strongly influenced by our predilections. In the larger crafting world, our predilections lead us to knitting or quilting, photography or painting, quilting or scrapbooking. From the clothes we wear, to the pets we own, to the places we vacation, our lives are a testament to our predilections. I think I'll go indulge my predilection for knitting.....or perhaps reading

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ah......Naptime

I've got just a wee bit before the little dude is up from his nap.....I tell ya; when you're used to having your days completely to yourself, suddenly being back in Mom Mode is quite a shock. Given 2 child free hours presents a conundrum; do I knit or nap, read or shower, catch up on email or housework? We woke up this morning to very cold temperatures, somewhere in the 20's. After breakfast we turned our attention to Lego and...... .....knitting slippers. I know, it's not the cardi (or either of the socks in progress), but the dude needed something on his feet and what's better than handknit, wool, slippers? Yes, yes, superwash wool would be better, but ya gotta use whatcha got. I was really hoping to be done by lunch, but being surrounded by Lego and pleas for help prevented that kind of progress, and I really needed a shower, SO...we'll be aiming for after nap or at least well before Mr. Brad comes home. In addition to not getting much knitting done, there's something else I noticed: I have no idea what's going on in the world. My routine usually involves watching the news in the morning, and I'm beginning to suffer withdrawals. Perhaps we should suggest to PBS that at the top and bottom of the hour they toss in 5 minutes of news for the grown-ups, I don't think Arthur and Barney would mind. I'm going to make this short so I can make the most out of the quiet time I have left...we have a busy afternoon ahead.

Monday, April 24, 2006

flashback

We're having a flashback of sorts at Black Sheep Central.....little dude is here while his Mom and Dad get some R and R in Vegas. It's been a very long time since I had a two year old for more that a couple hours. For the next couple days it's all Stephen, all the time and unfortunately the weather has turned nasty for the week, so we won't be able to play outside (drats). At the present, I am being fired upon by flying disc's---at least this morning he brought me a gun too, so I can shoot back. (he just got me between the eyes) Anyway, I apologize in advance for disjointed comments, blog entries or responses to email....between dodging disc's and reloading, I'm not makin' any guarantees. We had a beautiful weekend, very springy and warm.....windy, but warm. Saturday morning's knit meet was at Phoebe's new house---a vintage log house in Manitou Springs. Her plan is to renovate the place and then sell it. While I was out looking at the walled in porch, several deer wandered by and I thought to myself I could live in a setting like this....how cool to just sit, knit and watch the deer walk by. It's in bear area too, though they did not come to visit the day I was there. Phoebe got lots of input about the house, it will be fun to see what she decides. ----excuse me while I read a story. Okay. I'm back, but it's becoming ever more evident that I'm going to have to make this short. With PBS playing in the background, stories to read and toys all over, blogging is NOT on the little dudes agenda. I think I'm about half way up the back of the red cardi, but I probably won't be making much progress for the next few days, given I'll probably be limited to naptime knitting. .....unless, of course, I'm napping. edited: Blogger seems to be having issues today. Patience is the name of the game on all fronts.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Aftermath

We'll begin today with Favorite Photo Friday, and this photo made the cut just 'cuz it makes me laugh. Out Loud. Almost every time I see it. Sorry if you don't get the same chuckle....guess ya just had to be there.

If you've been tuning in for a while, you know son number one and I had a trip to Italy last year. In fact if you've been tuning in for a while, you're probably sick of seeing those pictures by now.....so sorry. On a beautiful sunny Saturday we were on our way to the coliseum and came across this amazing bike.

"OOO stand there," I said "and I'll take your picture."

"How 'bout I swing my leg over and pretend it's mine," he says.

"Don't you dare," says I. He did his best, haughty, "look at me" pose and I snapped the photo.

No kidding, it makes me laugh......laughing now. It's blown up and on my fridge. Too funny.

Okay, back to the business of the day. I spent a good deal of time yesterday evening knitting and pondering over what was happening with the cardi, and here's what I've decided.....all ya'll* see if it makes sense. (*that's Texan for 'anybody who is listening and gives a darn). I think if I keep using the 'numbers' from the larger size (due to the difference in gauge) and aim for the measurements of the size that I want, it should work. The only place this seems to be a problem is with the sleeves, which will need a couple more increases to be the correct width, or close enough to fudge.

I believe it's a sign of growth that I figured this out before the sweater was finished. I could have just picked a size and knit, and would have wound up with a too small sweater and another gift for a slim sister in law. If I hadn't thought through the armhole dilemma, they would be way too big and the sleeve way too small. Like Margene says....it's the process, and I for one am glad that I'm finally catching on.

And now, last but not least, I stumbled across this from Chris: handwrite a pangram, photograph it and post. In the red cardi aftermath, I thought this was most appropriate.

(Yes, I know there's no 'e' in liquor----but it looks better that way, don't you think?)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stitch and Bitch

I'm late today. I really wanted to have made some sort of knitting progress before sitting down to talk about making knitting progress, which I've made a little bit of now. Unfortunately, the progress I'm making is tempered by a sense of foreboding that can be summed up in the following words: yarn substitution. At the time I ordered the yarn for my red cardi, KnitPicks did not have a cotton blend yarn in the weight called for in the recipe, but the desire for a washable cotton yarn in a bright cheerful color convinced me this was the best choice for the money. No problem, thinks I, I will just do the math and all will be well. I calculated how many stitches I needed based on my gauge, picked a number of stitches from the pattern that was practically spot on and cast on. All has been well up until today, when I finally reached the point that the stitches needed to be divided into back and two fronts. Here's the problem that I just can't seem to wrap my mind around: Since the gauge is different, I need to switch switch from using the numbers I have been following up to this point to the numbers for the size I actually want; specifically, armhole depth. Now, given the difference in gauge, after doing the correct number of increases in my sleeve (the 'finished' one), I do not have the appropriate width for the size I need; I'm off by about an inch and a half. Now I was thinking I could fudge a half inch or so, but not an inch and a half. The other pressing problem is how far should I knit up the back before I do the neck shaping? Do I use the numbers that I've been using or the numbers that would produce the appropriate size if I were knitting the the patterns gauge? My instinct here is to use the measurements for the finished size, but I'm just not sure what will happen to the shaping at the neckline; will it make for everything too compact? As for the sleeve, I may need a couple more increase rows, but not so many that the sleeve will hang down to my thighs. Here's the sad part. While there are a couple really good stores in town, I am very hesitant to go in with my project and ask for help because I did not purchase my yarn from their store. Experience has taught me that this is a bad idea, unless you are very thick skinned, or don't really care if they help you or not. I totally understand their point of view. They are, after all in business to make money and time they spend with someone who did not provide income for their shop is not time well spent. I'm in a bit of a quandary, though, in that my LYS is not all that L; and given that I don't have a benevolent uncle providing my yarn funding, I have to be careful about what I buy. I love supporting local business and do it whenever I can, but face it, I'd rather knit than not, and I'd rather knit yummy fiber obtained at a lower price than feel guilty about what I've spent with each and every stitch. Having made my purchase "on my own" I am now left to knit it up "on my own," or face the awkward questions about my yarn (this is a lovely yarn, do we carry this, Gertrude? Where did you say you found this, dear?) One of the gals in my (newly discovered) knit group went into the store to get a pattern which they unfortunately were out of at the time. My friend commented that it was okay, she'd just get it online. What followed was really unpleasant, so much so that I doubt my friend will shop in that store again. I have vision for a yarn shop that would focus on the love of the craft, helping others along and creating community. The online phenomenon has brought many into the fold, why turn them away, discouraged? I truly believe that if a person is made to feel welcome--embraced even--in a yarn (or any other) shop, they will spend their time and ultimately their money there. It may not be on pricey yarn, but maybe on needles they need "right now," or patterns they see knit up in the shop. The creation of loyal customers is all about them knowing that you are genuinely interested in THEM, not their money. Okay, I'm going to climb off my soapbox now and go back to my knitting.....I have several inches to go before I have to make a decision.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sidetracked

Horribly, uncontrollably sidetracked. Yesterday afternoon I made a trip to Michaels. I love Michales, not really for knitting goodies but for almost everything else. They have great candles, a good framing department and tons of crafty things that always inspire me to try something new. While I was there, I wanted to see if they carried seed beads; the kind used for the tiny little "purses." They did not, but they did have what I needed for these:
Pretty beaded bookmarks.

I have bought (and loved) several of these over the years....but what fun to make your own, huh? I had a nice little stash of beads at home (for making stitch markers, of course) and had been looking for suitable cord for book marks. I settled on black hemp, which seems to do the trick nicely. So last night while DH was busy grading papers, I sat nearby and played with the beads, ending up with 6 or 8 of these little beauties. A couple will make their way to my sister-in-law for her birthday, and the rest will, well, who knows.

The other thing that came home with me was this: ----let's blame Mason-Dixon Knitting, shall we? I spent a good bit of time yesterday reading this GREAT book. I know others have sung its praises, loudly over the internet, in recent days, but I just can't resist joining the chorus. The book is just full of great ideas ( my favorite is the log cabin knitting) and I had to bring home a bit of cotton to play with. I have a couple dishcloths worth and enough white for a baby kimono. Today's goal is to get through this next pattern repeat on the red cardi, split the stitches for the two fronts and the back and then work on one of those sections. But with all of the other tempting goodies laying about, who knows what will happen. Okay, how about another New Word. Today's word is clew a noun that means 1: a ball of thread, yarn or cord 2: a clue 3a: a lower corner or the after corner of a sail b: a metal loop attached to the lower corner of a sail. Can you guess what meaning I'm focusing in on??? (all you wordsmiths will love this)

The "ball of thread" meaning for "clew" (from Middle English clewe)has been with us since before the 12th century. Because balls of thread were used to escape from labyrinths in various mythological stories (such as the story of Theseus in Crete),"clew" and the variant "clue" came to be used for anything that could guide a person through a difficult place. This led in turn to the meaning "a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem." Today, "clue" is the more common spelling for the "evidence" sense, but you'll find "clew" in some famous works of literature............

I don't know about you, but I have had clews guide me through many difficult places (as well as creating a few). Just think of it...you can know refer to stash diving as searching for clews!

Who knew?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Where I've Knit

Yesterday I learned of a contest that Kat is having, and thought it would be fun to share (you can find all the details here). Here is the game: List 5 places other than your home or a knitting store where you have knitted. Here's my list. 1. On a sailboat while cruising through the San Juan Islands (Washington State) 2. On the train between Rome and Florence, Italy. 3. At a USAFA hockey game. 4. At a presentation of Handel's Messiah at the Academy Chapel. 5. At Lowes while attending a demo on installing hardwood floors. The challenge for me is not coming up with five, but deciding which five would be most interesting. I mean, really, if you're a knitter, there are countless places you have knit. I've knit while camping, at work, at doctors appointments, on planes, trains and in in cars. I've knit in coffee shops, hair salons, in other peoples homes, and in hospital emergency rooms. Many of us wish we could knit in our sleep---the ultimate in multitasking! But isn't this what we love about knitting? We can take our hobby anywhere, unlike, say, woodworking or mural painting. Think of how long your list might be if you included all the knitting stores and places in your home where you've knit (I'm still trying to figure out how to knit in the tub). Perhaps the bigger challenge is thinking of places we have NOT knit. Scary, eh? The weather has turned cooler, it was very, very windy yesterday and DH had to do some re-propping of the fence---there is a rotten post, but you can't do much about it while the ground is frozen, ya know? We had sustained winds of around 30mph with gusts over 40 yesterday afternoon. Hence the cooler weather (no snow Margene....Hallelujah!) I can deal with cooler, the sun is still shining. The other big news of yesterday is the arrival of this: I've begun the read through and I'll say it looks to be a must have. Yes, I am contemplating the joys of knitting dishcloths and baby kimono's (in fact, an email just arrived announcing a new baby boy in hubby's department....hmm). The other book in the box (you didn't think there was just one did you?) is a new knitting mystery by Maggie Sefton called Needled to Death. I read her previous book (Knit One, Kill Two), and while it won't be found amongst books like East of Eden, or Pride and Prejudice, it's a good read; fun, engaging and worth the time.....a perfect little book to take on a plane or to the beach. What makes these stories particularly enjoyable for me is that they are set in Colorado. Now, where to knit today?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday morning report

shhhh.....I don't want to tempt fate, so I'm saying this a quietly as I can. At the risk of bringing on an enormous snow storm, I'm going to go out on a (blooming) limb and say: Spring. Is. Here. There, I said it. All evidence points to the long anticipated arrival of the glorious season, the grass is (getting) green, the trees are beginning to leaf and flower, the birds are singing and the squirrels have returned....much to Kramer's amusement. I love Colorado, really I do, but I still believe Spring should have been evident a month ago. We had a funfilled Easter weekend here at Black Sheep Central. Friday night we picked up some KFC and headed to the park to dine, with a view of the Peak and the city below. Nice date. We followed that up with a DVD at home (just signed up for Netflix....I think it's love). Saturday I was back at Knitters with Altitude, this time out East in Falcon. We had a good group, and I was one of the last ones to leave. Saturday evening brought this: A return to the joys of dying eggs with small children. The little dude wasn't quite sure he was enjoying himself at first, but soon got in the game, as evidenced by muliticolored hands. Mister Brad joined us for pizza and a good time was had by all. Sunday, after church we lounged around the house before heading over to the little dudes house for egg hunting and dinner. I was reminded of our own little dude (now 23) who would hunt eggs over and over for days (which, of course, rendered the eggs inedible, but hey, eggs are cheap). Stephen hunted eggs at least 4 times yesterday and I predict he will insist on playing the game again today. He was so funny, wandering around the yard saying things like "that 'neaky bunny." As you can see, the weather was fantastic, so we broke with tradition and grilled steaks---maybe a new tradition. I have about an inch and a half to go on the red cardi before I split it up for the fronts and the back....yes, my friends, the end is in sight. And even better, I'm not sick of it yet! I think I've dabbled on and off with enough other things that it's made the seemingly endless rows of red bearable. In fact, today I will finish another square for Grace, giving me three, which I think I'll pop in the mail ASAP. Cynthia mentioned to me in an email the other day that she might soon be soliciting other colors for other children, so I'll have plenty of little squares to break up the larger projects. I'm off to the business of the day, which will include a massage......... and an egg hunt (just got the phone call :) ).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday? good

Yesterday was an incredible spring day, temps reached the low 80's and the blue sky was just gorgeous. I had windows open, and the dogs came and went through the open back door. It was my favorite kind of day. Kramer had a good time too. One of our neighborhood squirrels ventured into the yard and up the tree. "Where did he go? I know he's here somewhere........." Squirrel dude, safe in the tree......... Still on the hunt........
While I was out recording the activity, here's what else I found.

Signs of life....YIPEE! I have baby leaves on the Lilac bush, on the nectarine tree and on the cherry tree! Only someone's who lives in this dry, high desert climate will appreciate how exciting this is.

Yesterday, after coming to the conclusion that I needed to actually finish something (so important to the psyche, don't you think??) I knit up a square for Grace. You may notice that I have added the Warming Grace button to the sidebar, one click and you'll have all the details. I've been emailing Cynthia, who began this important "along" and she has been totally overwhelmed with the response. We knitters are a generous bunch.

Anyway....I knit up one little square from leftover wool/cotton from the rosebud cardie, and then went stash diving for more pink. I found a wee bit of cabled wool, and so I'm well into square two. There' s just nothing like a quick little project to make you feel successful. And in this case, I'm doing something to bless someone else......nothing better.

One more.....it is after all Favorite Foto Friday.

How's that for a pretty shot of Mt. Rainier?? Just days before we left Washington, we joined the family for a camping trip in the valley between Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. On our way back north, we took the detour through Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park, and enjoyed the beauty that is part of the Pacific Northwest. The previous day we had been to see Mt. St. Helens, which had been making rumbling noises. The scenery is impressive in an entirely different way, the power of the 1980 eruption leveling the surrounding forest and creating an enormous crater in the side. Mt. Rainier is also a volcano, due for an eruption as well, and I for one was glad to see it in this form. It is just gorgeous, and such a symbol for the region.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

more nothin'

Okay, I admit it. I got nothin.' I'm tired, my back hurts, and there's absolutely nothing interesting or amusing happening at Black Sheep Central today. I broke with routine this morning and instead of writing my post and then reading the blogs on my list, I reversed things and read first....hoping for a burst of inspiration. And so many of you are so clever! Margene has a great post about hands; Chris has a new SIP and Chaos bird watching; and Franklin has a hilarious history lesson and poll. Me? Nothin.' (Jake does nothin' better than anyone I know) Last night I read a bit more of the latest edition of Knitty. I did skim the patterns a day or two ago, (and there doesn't look like there's anything I have to have), but I do always read the articles and features. Talk about information overload! I'm still only about half way through. Kudos to Amy and her team for putting together such a great e-zine. Today's issue of Knitters Review lists all the fiber related festivals coming up....I've put another one on my list for October (Taos should be lovely in October). There's a plethora of festivals in the Eastern US and Midwest; I'm so jealous. Yesterday afternoon I took the plunge and signed up for a beginning spinning class. They rent all different kinds of wheels, so if I decided I really want to spin, I can try lot's of different wheels before purchasing one AND any money I spend renting wheels goes toward purchase. Cool, huh? I also made a Project Spectrum Postcard, that will be making its way to A'tuin. (no, I'm not showing you the whole thing....it's a surprise) That's enough nothin' for today......maybe tomorrow there will be somethin' to report.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A maker of things

This morning I ventured into the basement to locate my stash of scrapbooking supplies, in order to fashion a Project Spectrum Postcard for A'tuin. It's been a few years since I dabbled in papercraft, but as expected, I found my collection of stickers, shapes and stickers, as well as a little bit of yellow and orange paper. Several years ago, my life was completely given over to scrapbooking, the workings of the craft spread over my dining room table as a semi-permanent accourtrement. It's interesting how I've moved from craft to craft over my adult life. Before scrapbooking it was counted cross-stitch and a bit of crochet, now it's all knitting all the time. I am a maker of things. Paper and scissors have been replace by yarn and needles, and one doesn't have to look very hard for evidence of my craft. I'm guessing I have a lot of company. For generations women (and men) knit out of necessity, everything from underwear and socks to sweaters and jackets to warm their families and community. Today, the plethora of time saving innovations have freed up hours that we can now call leisure. But the urge to craft, to make things is still part of us. Some craft furniture from wood grown on their own property, as my husbands Grandfather did. Some garden, growing delicious things to eat as my brother in law does. Some, like my sister-in-law, quilt, and share these works of art with others to celebrate life events. But the fact remains, we do these things for the joy of doing them, rather than out of necessity. Now for New Word Wednesday. Let's look at usufruct, a noun, which means 1. the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another 2. the right to use or enjoy something. Again, let me quote from my little new words calendar.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The earth belongs in usufruct to the living." Apparently, Jefferson understood that when you hold something in usufruct, you gain something of significant value--but only temporarily. The gains granted by "usufruct" can be clearly seen in its source, the Latin phrase usus et fructus, which means "use and enjoyment." "Usufruct" has been used as a noun for rights that seem the legal equivalent of having your cake and eating it too, since at least the 1630s. Any right granted by usufruct ends at a specific point, usually the death of the individual who holds it.

Today, I'm planning another trip to Table Rock Llamas to sign up for their beginning spinning class. While I'm there, I may pick up some pink yarn to knit squares for Grace. I used to work in a pediatric oncology practice, so I'm particularly keen to jump in on this "along." Anybody else?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nothin' Happenin' Here

I got tons of good advice sent my way after my desperate (embarrassing) plea for help yesterday afternoon. I just love my blog buddies! Special thanks to Chris, who helped me sort out how to add links without hotlinking. You're awesome girlfriend! This really is some community we've created, huh? People we may never meet face to face have become a part of our lives; we share events, crisis, good news and bad, and I don't know about you guys, but I count you among my friends. I was reminded again about the impact of this online neighborhood last night while visiting Wendy's blog. She has just lost her Grandmother, and the flood of encouraging messages on her comment page was outstanding, the support, love and hugs were just wonderful. I'm not sure how many of those who left messages are "physically" acquainted with Miss Wendy, but she sure has a group of cyberfriends to help 'bear her up.' I think that's really something. My day started off with an early phone call, our poor little dude, Stephen, was sick, and I was needed to keep him company while Eva ran to work and cancelled her appointments. We got through the hour or so watching Arthur on PBS, and making gatorade (which I really played up, calling it 'special' juice). When Mom got back, she and I had a bite of breakfast, and little guy decided to go back to bed. Hopefully he will be back to his own sweet self soon. I've been plugging along on the red cardi, and I think I see a potential problem in the near future. Since I'm not using the yarn recommended in the pattern, (what fun would that be, right??) I'm not quite sure what will happen when I get to the armholes and sleeves. Should I knit them according to the "numbers" I've been using, or will I need to do some serious tweeking? I'm hoping it will all go smooth, since my skill at adapting patterns is somewhat scary. Since the only other thing going on in my world today is laundry, I think I'll sign off. Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Thrill of Victory....The Agony of Defeat

I think I may have mentioned at some point that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a computer expert. I started this blog because I thought it would be fun, a good learning experience and perhaps expand my community. What I didn't expect is how frustrating it could be at times, mostly because I really know nothing about HTML or webhosting or bandwidth or, well, you get the idea. In the beginning it was "how do I post pictures?" and "how do I add a hyperlink?" Having 'mastered' that, I really wanted to spruce up the sidebar, so I figured out how to add links to my favorite blogs. The next thing on my list was adding "buttons," and if you tuned in this morning, you saw buttons in the sidebar; colorful, wonderful buttons, that linked to their source. While it was my intention to bring attention to the sites that I enjoy (like Cast-On), it was not my intention to rob them of bandwidth, and so, while the buttons have returned, they do not link to anything......at least not until I figure out how to do it with out breaching web etiquette. Here is my plea for help: If any of you who use Blogger can help me find a way out of this blogger hell that I've dropped into, specifically regarding how to post images with hyperlinks in my sidebar....PLEASE let me know. The blog is kicking my A**. I think I'll go knit now.

knitting and dying and spinning?? oh my!

Saturday morning I went to my first "knit meet" with a great group of gals who call themselves 'Knitters with Altitude' (clever, given that our elevation here in Colorado Springs hovers around 6500 feet---higher than Denver, the 'mile high city'). I had a ball; lot's of laughing, the occasional foul word when something went amiss, and fantastic variety. Many were working on socks; toe-up, magic loop, traditional top down 4 needle socks. Brie was working on a teddy bear, Chery had almost neon pink and lime on her needles, and Christy had a bag full of hand-dyed goodness that was, well, irresistible. Here's what I came home with...... It didn't have a name given to it, so I'm calling it "forest lilacs." It's sock weight, and there is plenty for socks, but I'm keeping my options open. I finally feel like I can take another picture of the red cardi....see, it is progressing. As it got close to lunchtime. I followed Christy to Table Rock Llamas Fiber Studio, just up the road from where we had been knitting. Another treat for the senses; yarn, books, tools, fiber of all sorts and as is always the case in a yarn store, COLOR. I gazed, and fondled and pet and stroked and decided I would just have to go back again. I'm seriously thinking about taking their beginning spinning class in a few weeks. Spinning is something I've had in the back of my mind for quite a while, but have been putting it off for several reasons. First, I'm just not all that coordinated, I'm concerned that all that has to go on simultaneously to spin is beyond my ability. Second, spinning wheels are pricey....even on e-bay, (I've checked--more than once). Until I win the lottery, a wheel is just not something I think I want to buy, just to find out I suck at it. Third, why would I want to give up precious knitting time to spin yarn that might not be worth knitting? And yet, the allure is still there, the promise of meditative activity that produces beautiful yarn, the soothing whir of the wheel as it spins, being able to say "yep, I made the sweater and the yarn." DH accused me this morning of "wheel envy" and I reminded him that although he has never used a metal lathe, doesn't have time to play with one and has no idea what he would use it for, he still wants to have one, pours over the tool brochures that come in the mail and plans where he will put the thing. So there. I'll take the class, if only to see if it is something I want to pursue, or if it's hateful and I can once and for all put it out of my mind. Plus, they rent wheels! After our blustery Windsday, the weekend was lovely and warm. Sunday morning we joined our friends at their church for their Easter choir and orchestra presentation which was nothing short of outstanding. Here is a Methodist church, with a membership of around 2500, that has a professional quality orchestra and a choir of at least 75. It was just beautiful, extremely well done and a real treat to be a part of. We followed up the service with brunch. In the late afternoon, we took the dogs to the little park up the hill for some fresh air and kite flying. The wind was fickle, but as you can see, the weather was fab, and we all enjoyed ourselves. Jake was completely covered in grass, having rolled and rolled in it. It was soooooo nice out, I hated to come home. Once home, my wonderful, handsome, smart and talented husband helped me figure out what was wrong with my sidebar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> AND we figured out how to add buttons (I can't tell you how excited I am). Watch out....I might steal YOURS! Also, a quick shout to Chris at Stumbling Over Chaos and Scout at Scouts Knitted Swag who have added ME to their sidebar (I am so tickled, you have no idea).

Friday, April 07, 2006

......a rather blustery day....today

Among my all time favorite books are the Winnie the Pooh stories my A.A. Milne; I read them over and over as a child. When Disney produced a movie based on the books, I was thrilled. To this day, I thoroughly enjoy, Pooh, Piglet and the gang bouncing through the Hundred Acre Wood. And so this morning, as I awoke to the sounds of "big wind" (as my little buddy Stephen says), I heard Sterling Holloway singing the "rather blustery day" song in my mind, and Pooh wishing all his friends and neighbors a Happy Windsday. Here along the front range we are under a blizzard warning, the snow will not amount to much, but the wind is something to talk about, with gusts near 50mph. Right now, I'm getting 'sideways snow,' tiny little flakes like feathers in front of a giant fan. If I tied a string to Kramer, I'll bet I could fly him like Piglet. Yesterday, I enjoyed a nice lunch out with Eva and Stephen, followed by knitting and a movie while little dude napped. We watched "Derailed" with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen, a very suspensful, twisty turny kind of film. If you've not seen it, rent it, by all means (warning: there is a sexual theme, some violence and occasional bad language). I really enjoy movies with complicated plot lines and lots of suspense; this movie had both. Good flick. While watching the movie, I got several more rows added to the red cardi, though progress is still nearly undetectable. In the end, it will be worth it, if only that I don't have to knit two front and sew it all up, since the back and fronts are all one piece. If I were doing just the back, it would surly be finished by now. I've got one sleeve done and 2 or 3 inches knit on the second one. Maybe by Mother's Day I will have a new sweater to wear. Time for Favorite Foto Friday............

......another picture from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. This was taken in September 2004 while son number one and I were camping near the beach. The weather was LOUSY, we spent a lot of the time either in the camper or in the car, or if outside, dodging downpours. One morning we got up and decided to make the trek to Cape Flattery, the Northern most point in the Continental US. We were on the hunt for puffins, which nest in the cliffs at the cape and on Tatoosh Island. As expected, the weather was lousy that morning, fog and rain and yuck all through the drive. As we got close to the cape, though, the sun broke through and we had a gorgeous walk through the trees (as you can see), and out to a viewing platform; perfectly blue skies as we looked out over the island and lighthouse, and though we didn't see even one puffin, it was so worth the trip. The weather right along the coast held out, and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the beach (with beer). It was a great trip.

Happy Windsday, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My first Sweater

One of the things I read on a regular basis is Knitters Review, an online newsletter of sorts that is delivered to my email box every Thursday. When I was working, I would look forward to reading it during lunch and sharing it with my knitting colleague. Clara Parkes does a great job reviewing new yarns and products, sharing experiences at festivals and retreats, and in general is a good source of information. The website also offers a "boutique" and is host to "the forum," a bulletin board for posing questions, getting answers and fostering discussion on every topic you can imagine. (one that particularly stands out is a discussion thread that began with the question "do you ever knit after sex?" I never laughed so hard in all my life.) The 'thread' featured in today's newsletter is this: Have you ever knit something so hideous that you threw it away? At first, I gasped in horror.....throw knitting away??? Are they kidding? All that time, effort, MONEY? If it is truly awful, it can always be recycled, used another time for something more suitable. Perhaps someone else would like it, and it can be a gift. And then I got to thinking (dangerous, that). I have had my own share of knitting disasters (sad, but true), and I'm sure any crafter that has been at it for any length of time has had their share as well. This brings me to my first sweater. Some of you may know by now that I learned to knit on socks. Yes, as backward as that sounds, I taught myself how to knit (I had only a very basic knowledge on how to form a knit and purl stitch----and actually found out halfway down the sock that all my purl stitches were backward) by knitting socks on two circular needles. This brought quite a shock to the gals at my LYS, but for the purpose of this narrative what it did, was leave me totally uneducated regarding choosing appropriate yarn for my first sweater. When one chooses yarn for socks, face it, it's all basically the same: fingering to light DK weight, wool or some combination, and you can get enough for the whole project for less that $20 (cashmere excluded, of course). It's sock yarn. Presented with the possibility of making a sweater, the possibilities were endless, so while browsing around my LYS I fell in love with this fluffy, soft, novelty type yarn, a sample of which was made up into the cutest little baby shrug you've ever seen. (This should have been my first clue that this was not intended for an adult sweater....Baby hoodie? Infant shrug? Funky scarf, maybe). I blazed ahead, buying over $100 worth of this lofty, soft yarn, anxious to start knitting it up, and frankly, just tired of knitting only socks. Now this pattern is one in which the body is knit all in one piece, flat, up the front, shaped for the neck, then down the back, leaving you--basically--with a rectangle with a hole for your head. The sleeve are then picked up and knit to the cuff, and you sew up the side and underarm sleeves and you have a sweater. From the very beginning, DH HATED the yarn, thought it was vile and reminiscent of some type of body fluid. I, however, blinded by love of its softness pressed on. By the time I got the thing finished, I was sick of looking at it, sick of fighting with the nature of novelty yarn, mad at myself for spending so much money and time on this hideous monstrosity, and have never worn it. It was too wide, too short and the sleeves were wonky. Thinking about it now, I'm wondering if I could cut off the ribbing, frog the rest and save it for a baby 'something.' What? You want to see this vile thing?

Okay, but only because it's yellow.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New day, No title

What started out yesterday as a grey, overcast day, turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon with temps in the mid 70's; Now that's what I'm talking' about! Today is promising to be just as lovely, with cooler weather coming tomorrow. While the West Coast is getting pounded with rain, the Northeast is getting snow showers and the Midwest is looking at possible tornados, I have to say, this is the place to be----at least today :) It seems that over the last week my life has become a cycle of trips to the chiropractor, followed by time on the sofa with ice packs followed by trips to the chiropractor. As one who works in healthcare I realize that many times things get worse before they get better, and that's exactly where I'm at right now; I just start feeling a bit better, less stiffness, not so sore, and whammo, the chiropractor puts things in a spin again. I'm anxious to add massage to the mix. I knit on a bit of everything yesterday: the one needle sock, the red cardi and the yellow sock. I'm heading down the foot on the one needle sock, and it's becoming obvious that this has been a learning experience for the most part (I will finish the second sock, I will wear them, but they are not destined to become favorites). I cast on without a pattern, a first for me, and discovered once I had turned the heel and begun decreasing for the foot, that I had too many stitches for my little foot. The foot now has 6 fewer stitches than the leg (which is okay I suppose) but it made the decrease portion a bit wonky. I do believe that is 'all about the process,' as Margene is fond of saying, so I'm not disappointed, I've learned something. The yellow "second sock" is coming along slowly, my goal for the day will be to get the ribbing complete and begin the pattern portion. I'm not sure these will be favorites either, they are also a bit baggy. Cute. But baggy. I guess this goes to show a few things. One: that socks can be custom fit, and you should take time to do it; Two: it may take a few pair of socks to figure out what works for you; and Three: not to give up. The first pair of socks I knit for myself turned out pretty good, but after knitting about 7 pair from the same pattern, I'm looking to try something different. And now for New Word Wednesday. Today's word is defalcation (long "e") a noun which means 1: the act or an instance of embezzling 2: a failure to meet a promise or an expectation. As I write this I'm wondering if we could use this word to describe the Enron fiasco (in the news this week). Here's what Webster's Word a Day Calendar says about this word (I always love this part :) )

"The tea table shall be set forth every morning with its customary bill of fare, and without any manner of defalcation." This line from a 1712 issue of Spectator magazine, is an example of the earliest sense of "defalcation," defined simply as "curtailment." "Defalcation" is ultimately from the Latin word falx, meaning "sickle" (a tool for cutting), and has been part of English since the 1400s, when it referred to monetary cutbacks (as in "a defalcation in their wages"). By the 1600s it was used of most any sort of financial reversal (as in "a defalcation of public revenues"), but not till the mid-1800s did it refer to breaches of trust that cause a financial loss or specifically to embezzlement.

I guess, in a way, both of my socks in progress have been engaged in defalcation in that they have failed to meet my expectation. I think I'll follow Kramer's lead and go enjoy some time in the sun.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Game on

It's grey and overcast here in the Springs today, unusual for this part of the country, and I have to say, that although I enjoy the variety, it makes me want to tuck in with a book and a cup of tea. Fortunately, there's nothing on the docket until this evening, so I am planning a lazy day, punctuated by laundry. Yesterday, and again this morning. I went on a hunt for yellow and orange things in my house, and it was quite the challenge. In fact, it will be obvious to anyone paying attention that I had to get pretty creative (desperate??). I had a good laugh when Chris wondered if it would be "too pathetic" to photograph the Saran Wrap. I told her to go for it since I was including the Bisquick (and Wheat Thins and Nilla Wafers). A few years back I had a good deal of yellow in the house, in fact my family room was painted bright yellow (about the color of deviled eggs). When we moved, I made the swing toward red and khaki, and that's what I have now. One thing is certain, it's much easier to accessorize with a neutral background than with screaming yellow.

I'm anxious to see what you come up with.

On the knitting front, I made a teensy bit of progress on the yellow sock last night just before bed. I actually yielded knitting time to read yesterday afternoon and evening, finishing the first book of Phillip Pullman's Trilogy (His Dark Materials). While I believe he has written for young readers, he is definitely holding my attention. It will be a toss-up as to what gets my time today.

Enjoy whatever captures your attention today!

Monday, April 03, 2006

If it's April, it must be yellow

Hmmmm, where to start........ Welcome to April (and Monday). We got off to a busy start, here at Black Sheep Central. Here's a quick recap of our weekend. Saturday early afternoon I headed north to Castle Rock to meet up with Team Colorado (from the Knitting Olympics). I was a little late, so when I walked into the coffee bistro I asked the barista's where the hoard of knitters was. From behind me I heard "here I am." Yep, the crowd I was anticipating numbered 1. Disappointing for Linda, who I met for the first time, and who is also from Colorado Springs. After a few minutes we were joined by Ellen, for a total of 3. We had a great time over coffee, each of us happily working away on socks in progress. Linda was working on Jaywalker, Ellen was on sock two of the "p-word" socks (in green variegated koigu...spectacular) and I had the one needle sock along. After a bit, we took a little field trip to the LYS, Linda got a long circular needle to try the Magic Loop technique (after having a go at mine), and Ellen came away with beautiful merino roving. In addition to two new knitting buddies I have and invitation (?) to a local knit-in next Saturday. Details to follow. When I got home Mister Brad was busy with our local 2 year old, Stephen, who was at our house for his very first sleep-over. Yes, our favorite little dude was here for a "trial run" of sorts, to see if he might be able to stay with us while Mom and Dad take a little R & R in Vegas later this month. There was bubble blowing and pizza, stories and bathtime and little guy went to bed with little to no fuss, snuggled into bed with his pillow, duckie and Elmo. He woke up only once (3 a.m.) and after a drink and a little Motrin for his teething pain, went right back to sleep. He slept until nearly 10 a.m., unheard of at his house, where his room is on the "sunny side" of the house. (Lisa's first rule of parenting: NEVER wake a sleeping baby) Mom and Dad came to pick him up, and we went for a 'victory' breakfast. Sunday afternoon passed quietly, a bit of a nap and some knitting. Since it is April, I cast on a little something YELLOW as part of Project Spectrum. This is the beginning of sock number two that I mentioned last week. This is going to be an exercise in endurance; there's something so slow about this yarn......I knit for about 3 hours last evening (not non-stop of course but fairly steady) and I have 1 inch of 1x1 ribbing. What's up with that?? Could it be the yarn, or is it the black hole of the second sock? At this rate, I'll have this sock on needles till June. I'm looking around my house for bits of yellow, and realize now that there is not that much. Finding red things last month was a breeze, but yellow is in rather short supply. I will go on a hunt and share my finds in tomorrows post. Anybody want to join me?? Here's a teaser. By the way....did you know that today is National Nap Day? Go forth and celebrate!