Thursday, November 15, 2007

Holiday Charity Knits?

Do you charity knit for the holidays?

Last year I participated in Knit Unto Others, which is hosted yearly by Carole & Margene. The concept is to charity knit during the last two weeks of November. At the end of the month, you send them an email stating what you knit & where you donated it to, and your name is entered into a drawing to win a prize from either Carole or Margene. Last year, I did win a prize from Margene, but honestly, just knowing that someones head was kept warm because of hats I knit, was gift enough.One of the charities I'll be knitting for again this year is Christmas Knits to help One at a Time Ministries, and Lynda just reminded me on her blog post that it's that time of year again. I'm sure there's a hat pattern or two I've been wanting to try that would be perfect for this charity. How about you?
On the health front, my doctor asked me to try some medication for the FMS and after being on it for 2 weeks, my pain levels have dropped by about 40%. YEAH! I've had a "bad" day here & there, but my overall daily pain is much improved. I've had no side effects from the medication (that I've noticed) so that's great, and DH has especially noticed a change in me since he can now give me a squeeze now & then without me screeching in pain.

The other good thing is that the NutriSystem diet is working. My body resisted for the first 10 days though, but now that it knows I'm sticking with it and not cheating, it finally gave up some pounds and as of today, day 15, I've lost 5.5 pounds. Some of the food is great and some of it is not so great, but I'm sorting through it so I can customize my next order. The best part is that I'm not ever hungry. That is definitely a first for me. I've never been on a diet where I haven't been completely miserable, and honestly it barely feels like I'm on a diet right now.

In actual knitting project news, there is actually quite a bit going on.

Recently Completed:
  • Cable Wave Scarf (my own design)
  • Thuja anklets originally knit for DH are now Thuja anklets for me
  • Exact same hat as I knit last year for my nephew, but now in a larger size
  • Practice baby booties from Cat Bordhi's latest book

In process:
After seeing this list, I think it's time to buckle down and get things blocked, felted, and photographed. Sheesh.

Jillian shared this on her blog and I'm passing along to all of you as well. There's a Veterans Day yarn sale going on over at Sonny & Shear. Use the coupon code VETERAN to save 20% off of your yarn purchases now through November 17, 2007 and all orders over $40 have free shipping. There are a lot of wonderful things that are unfortunately sold out, but I did snag some Lorna's Laces & Dream in Color. How could I not?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My first test knit

My dear friend Laura designed her first lace shawl project, and she honored my request to test knit it for her (along with some other very talented knitters). I'd like to present you with my attempt at her pattern, the South Seas Stole:

click photo to enlarge

Pattern: South Seas Stole by Laura (to be released soon)
Source: Fiber Dreams and Ravelry
Yarn: Laceweight Mystery Yarn -- nylon blend?
Beads: 8/0 Marble Marine Green T1207
Needles: Knit Picks Options Harmony size 5 US

This is the very first time I've ever test knit for someone and hopefully I'll be able to do it again in the future because it was so fun! There were a few bugs here and there, but those have all been worked out and the final pattern is amazing. Actually, the entire design is amazing. I would go on & on about all the details, but I'll save that for Laura to do when she releases the pattern in a few days.

I loved adding the beads to the stole and I even made a mistake and added extra beads in a section that I wasn't supposed to. It's alright though because you'd never know unless I told you. The needles, oh those needles! I can most definitely recommend the new Knit Picks Harmony needles for lace knitting. In the past I've used the new Addi Turbo Lace needles, but these Harmony needles score a perfect 10 in my opinion.

I had a heck of a time getting the colors to show correctly since I'm obviously in desperate need of a photography class, but it's a beautiful blue/green colorway that has very subtle variegations throughout the yarn. Although I'm not sure what the yarn is, I will say that it wasn't very cooperative when it came to stretching for blocking or the points that should be prominent on the edges of the shawl. Regardless, it did come out very nice and I'm hoping DH has a dress-up Christmas party this year so I can wear it.

Look at this beautiful skein of yarn I received from Tiennie. Of course, how can anyone ever not want Socks That Rock? She held a blog contest (as she frequently does) and all I had to do was leave a comment (which I love to do) and she randomly drew a name. The colorway is Rose Quartz and I'm already dreaming of what pattern will be worthy. Thank you so much Tiennie!

Monday, November 05, 2007

New Things

I will not bore you all for the hundredth time with my woeful tales of fibromyalgia. Instead, I will bore you with my woeful tales of my huge behind. It follows me everywhere and is just taking up too much room, so it must go. Not to mention, none of my clothing fits anymore and so I must lose the weight or buy a new wardrobe. Personally, I don't want some skinny salesgirl to find me weeping on the floor of some dressing room while trying on clothing, so I've opted to change my diet.

In the past if I found myself with an extra pound or five hanging on my behind, I'd just up my workouts and off it would go. Actually, at one time I was on the thin & fit side of normal, but that's because I was working out for at least an hour a day. These days though, exercise is almost impossible (curses to the fibromyalgia). I can go for a small walk, but as far as getting up my heart rate, it's not happening. At least for right now.

I've tried to watch what I eat, the quantity of the food and the quality. But honestly, I'm just watching it all go from my plate, to the fork, to my mouth so that isn't working at all. I decided after much research to try the NutriSystem diet plan.

Normally, I'm against pre-packaged foods and such, but at this stage, I'm at the end of my rope and I'm out of control and I'm more tired of being fat than I am against this diet. It's also helpful that I've dragged my husband into the whole thing so we'll be suffering together. Misery loves company.

I'll be posting occassionally about my dieting adventures and I'll either warn you in the title so you can skip it, or I'll try to add some yarny goodness so you'll have something of interest to see. Regardless, I do think I need to share my experiences on this diet to help keep me sane and since you're all my friends, you're really the only ones I feel comfortable sharing this all with.

So, as promised, here's the yarny good stuff:

3 beautiful skeins of STR lightweight in Atomic #6, Spinel and LunaSea. Of course since Blue Moon Fiber Arts releases their Raven collection in less then one and a half hours (6pm PST on November 5th), I'm sure you'll be seeing more STR on my blog soon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Drunk Blue Bees

I think it's about time for a post regarding an FO, and although I wish it were the Tangled Yoke, I'm still yet to block it so you'll have to settle for socks.

Drunk Blue Bees

click photo for bigger

Pattern: Drunken Bees by Domesticat
Pattern Source: Ravelry or Domesticrafts
Yarn: ShibuiKnits Sock in Midnight, 2 skeins
Needles: (2) KnitPicks Circular 24" size 2.25 mm
Notes: The pattern is definitely not written for a beginning sock knitter since you need to be pretty familiar with the basic construction of a sock. Thankfully I've knit enough socks now that step-by-step instructions aren't always needed anymore, and for the most part I've figured out how to substitute the heels and toes I want as well as convert patterns cuff to toe or toe to cuff.

Pattern Comments: If you're experienced in knitting socks this would be a wonderful pattern to knit that will not only hold your attention while you knit it, but give you a beautiful sock in the end. It reminded me a bit of the Cookie A patterns that you can purchase, except this one was free. Had the designer given detailed instructions in multiple sizes, she could've easily charged money for this pattern and deserved it!

Yarn Comments: This yarn was even better than I expected and I'm excited to get off my yarn diet in a few days so I can purchase more. This particular colorway reminds me of the STR shaded solid colorways that Blue Moon Fiber Artisans so beautifully dye, and the yarn itself is soft, spongy and has a beautiful twist. Just in case you're tempted to try some, I think The Loopy Ewe may have some in stock. Maybe.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What I did last week

I thought I'd share a bit of my baby sisters visit to California. I was so thrilled that she was able to bring her family here to visit, although I definitely didn't get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked. Thankfully I'll be seeing them again in December when I fly into Salt Lake City, UT for the holidays.

My 8yr old niece Julia had been to Disneyland before, but this was Sydni's first time and since she just turned 3 a few days ago, it was the perfect age for her to visit. My sister, her husband and the 2 girls were at Disneyland Monday all day, but DH & I joined them on Tuesday afternoon for a half day at Disneyland, California Adventure, and then dinner at Goofy's Kitchen.

Did you know that candy corn grows on palm trees?

My sister and Sydni

Julia the Pirate

DH with Julia in the blue teacup

Left to right: me, Julia, Sydni, my sis

This is the look Sydni gets when she finds out that her favorite character, Snow White, has left and will not be returning anytime soon.

Julia with her Mickey cupcake

Julia and Sydni with Chip

I decided to rest & relax on Wednesday in preparation for my day back at Disneyland on Thursday, but the fibromyalgia reared its ugly head, so unfortunately Thursday I spent the day at home. It was extremely disappointing for me since I'd promised Julia that I'd ride her favorite rides that day, but unfortunately I had no choice.

Thankfully though on Friday afternoon I was feeling well enough to go have lunch at Ruby's Diner on the Balboa Pier at Newport Beach and then I got to watch the girls play on the beach and in the ocean. Everyone got much wetter than they thought they would, but the weather was perfect and everyone had a great time.

A beautiful day at the beach

Sydni thinks the water is too cold

Oh No! The water is coming to get you!

Watch out Julia, it's a big wave!

They all left for home on Saturday afternoon, which was obviously just in time since now so much of southern California is on fire. Luckily we live in an area that isn't affected by the fires nor will be, but when I step outside it smells like campfires burning and the air is dry and the horrendous Santa Ana winds are very hot. My heart really goes out to the evacuees and and all public safety workers battling the fires. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

By the way, the IK winter preview is up. What do you think?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bad Blogger

I can tell when I've been a "bad blogger" and haven't posted for awhile because I had to log in to blogger to write this post. Can I use a family visit last week as an excuse? Today I thought I'd share with you all the projects (I'm willing to admit) I have on my needles.

I've realized that since I'm going to freezing cold southern Idaho for a week in December, I may need some real winter knit-wear. So, I decided to design a scarf for myself. This is the Cable Wave Scarf and I'm using Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Prairie Fire although I've also test knit it in Malabrigo Worsted. I've *got* to add more of that to my stash!

My sister's birthday is in December and she requested a pair of fingerless gloves that convert to mittens. The pattern I'm using is Urban Necessity from MagKnits Sept. 2005, but honestly I'm not in love with all the yarn end weaving that this project entails. I do love the Cascade 220 superwash wool though so that definitely helps. I must admit though that after trying these on multiple times, I think I need to rip these back and make them larger. Drat.

I'm unsure why I was so excited to cast on for these Diamond Waffle Socks when I saw them in the last Knitty issue, but I think I cast-on in haste because I've not liked knitting these at all. I thought they'd be perfect for DH, but I've not liked the yarn (Cherry Tree Hill Supersock) nor the pattern and once I completed knitting the heel, I disliked the particular heel in the pattern, ripped them back, and threw them across the room. They've been sitting in time out ever since. Normally I love CTH Supersock, so that's odd, but maybe it's a bad combination of yarn and pattern. Regardless, since I've already done so much work on them, I'm going to pick them back up soon and maybe DH will have them in time for Christmas.

Tangled Yoke is completely knit and ready to be blocked. This is the first cardigan I've knit for myself (or anyone else for that matter), so I'm excited to almost have it finished. I suppose I should also be concerned about getting buttons too. Hopefully the next photo of this will be me wearing it.

I've had the Drunken Bees socks in my queue ever since the day I saw the pattern on Domesticraft's blog site. Finally I received the perfect yarn (Shibui Sock) and cast on. Can I just tell you that both the pattern and the yarn are exceeding my expectations. I'm in love!

I'm test knitting Laura's South Seas Stole and loving every minute of it. In fact, all the above mentioned projects have been sitting in limbo since I cast on for the stole. I already had the yarn in my stash which I coincidentally purchased from Laura a few months ago. I'm not sure what the yarn is comprised of, but it has very little, if any stretch to it, so I'm suspecting there is no wool. Maybe an Acrylic blend? I have no clue, but the finished fabric is beautiful. Finding the correct sized beads though that complemented the color was quite tricky though and luckily I've discovered (after 2 other stores failed to "wow" me) a wonderful store right by my house called Brea Bead Works.

I've knit the entire length of the stole and am now working on the border, but have discovered I'm running out of yarn. Hopefully Laura has more I can sneak away from her while I distract her with a German beer and deli sandwich from Mattern's deli.

Thanks again for everyone's comments. If I didn't get to yours or your blogs recently, I'm sincerely sorry. My sister's family was here visiting last week and my fibro wasn't cooperating, so computer time was limited. Since this big desktop system won't fit on my bed or my comfy knitting chair, I think it may be appropriate to start researching laptop computers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Move along, no knitting here

I'm back from my vacation (and have been for awhile), but I'm so far behind on things that you'll have to bear with me while I attempt to get caught up in blog world.

It was wonderful to get away with DH for our anniversary and he spoiled me with a new travel bag the day we departed, a new set of jewelry that I'd been eyeing in the Brighton catalog, and a beautiful white & blue diamond necklace I spied while on our cruise. Believe me, the photo does not do this necklace justice. (I'm having a bad photo mojo day). I'd never seen or heard of blue diamonds before, but when I saw them I was completely captivated. It's odd too because blue isn't even one of my favorite colors, but then again, maybe the sparkle hit my eye, blinded me and knocked the sense out of me. It also is more likely that it was all the wine I was drinking.

We didn't get any photos at our first stop in San Diego, but that's probably because the only thing that we did of any interest was shop for a new dress for me. Even though we cruise every year, and even though I have semi-formal attire hanging in my closet, none of it fits. Ever since my health problems started this spring, I stopped exercising due to the pain, but kept on eating the same amount of food. Unfortunately, this left me with quite a few extra pounds and a very tight-fitting wardrobe. Luckily we were able to find a dress that fits AND it can be easily altered once I start to lose the weight.

Catalina Island was absolutely beautiful and the perfect weather day, but it was also one of my "bad" days, so we didn't get to do much. The scenery was beautiful however, and we did get to walk the main strip that makes up the downtown area, but with many many rests in between. Even thought I wasn't able to do much, it just wonderful to spend the day with DH taking in the beauty and unique quaint town of Catalina.

The last stop on our itinerary was Ensenada, Mexico. I've been to Ensenada once before and didn't care for it in the least, but since DH had never been there, I decided to grin and bear it through another trip to La Bufadora (the blowhole) and the open air shopping market. Here's what I thought of the experience:

Even though it was just a 5 day cruise, it seems that it was the perfect length for me until my health improves a bit more. I didn't manage to knit very much since I chose napping over knitting, so I've been a knitting fiend the last few days. I'll save my knitting updates for next time, but needless to say... I have too many projects on the needles and sharing all my WIP's will definitely take an entire post.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cruisin' on a "Monday" afternoon

Here's my quickie post to let you all know that I'm going to be missing for about a week. Hubby and I are leaving on Monday for a "mini" cruise to celebrate our 4th anniversary. It's nothing exotic at all, especially if you're living in Southern California, but for the curious we're sailing out of Los Angeles Harbor and will be stopping in San Diego, Catalina Island and Ensenada, MX.

In Stash Enhancement news (because I seem to have that quite frequently lately) I received a 33 skeins of Valley Yarns Colrain from Webs to knit two sweaters.

I'll be knitting DH the EZ Seamless Hybrid in Majestic Blue with Steel Gray trim on the inside cuffs.

For myself I'll be knitting the Radiance Cabled Jacket (Ravelry pattern link) in Chestnut. I really want to start on mine first, but since I'm almost finished with the Tangled Yoke Sweater, I should probably treat him to something next. Then again ... maybe I could knit them at the same time?

Hubby and I went over to our local bookstore Thursday night to pick up a book a friend recommended (Fibromyalgia for Dummies) , but while I was there, I ran across a 50% off table of craft books. I got lucky enough to pick up the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume 1 and Volume 2 and have found some design inspiration for a scarf.

I've test swatched it in a few worsted weight yarns, and so far it works well for solid and multi-colored yarns. Since I'll be knitting it on my mini-vacation, hopefully I'll have some cruisin' photos, knitting photos, and a scarf pattern for you all when I return.

And one last thing before I forget, you MUST go look at Laura's stunning South Seas Stole she designed. I can't wrap my head around all the work that must have gone into the design of this, but it is definitely something I'm thrilled to be test-knitting, so watch out for more lace work here soon.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I know this is for something...

Have you ever purchased an assortment of yarn online, and you had definite projects in mind when you placed the order, but when the yarn arrives you wonder what in the world the yarn was for?

When I saw the Knit Picks box on my doorstep, I was so thrilled because I knew my new Options Harmony Wood needles were inside, but as I tore through the box with all the different skeins of yarn, there was only one set of Harmony needles. One set? Why didn't I order more? I took them out of the package and stroked the beautiful hardwood and immediately decided that I must order more.

I was surprised and thrilled to see the two 24" Knit Picks nickel-plated circular needles in size 1 (2.25mm). I have been wanting and waiting for these for what has seemed like forever (actually since they released them), but they always seem to be sold out. Since they were finally in stock, I decided I must place an order, so actually this impulse yarn purchase is the fault of those tiny needles!

Next I saw the Wool of the Andes in Onyx Heather and remembered that these four skeins would hopefully combine perfectly with other yarn I had in my stash to make some Fiber Trends Felted Clogs. After all, cold weather is coming and some felted clogs will be ideal. By the way, did you see the info on All Buttoned Up about how to make the bottom of these not only non-slip but also waterproof? All you need is a trip to the hardware store!

Next, I sorted through the remaining yarn. Here's some Wool of the Andes in Camel Heather and Chestnut. I'm sure I bought a skein of each to check the colors and swatch for something. Maybe the EZ's Seamless Hybrid sweater? Didn't I just place an order with WEBS for some Colrain yarn for the same sweater? Oh yes I did. This makes absolutely no sense since I've only seen DH in a sweater ONCE in the last 5 years we've been together and he's never worn the sweater I made him last year for Christmas. I must be delirious.

Next up, Swish DK in Nutmeg and Cinnamon. This is for what? Again, I'm sure it was to check the colors and swatch for something, and yet, I have no clue. Honestly... no ... stinkin'... clue.

Finally (thank goodness), 4 skeins of CotLin in Linen. Four skeins? I thought I ordered one just to try out. What will I do with 4 skeins? Did I have a project in mind?

Am I the only one this has happened to?

On the health front: I saw the specialist (rheumatologist) yesterday and unfortunately he confirmed my fibromyalgia diagnosis. It's very frustrating being diagnosed with something that has no cure, but it's not life-threatening, so for that I'm thrilled. Right now I'm trying to process the treatment options he gave me and make a decision regarding what will work best for me without causing more harm to my body. I must admit that after 30 days on my vitamins, my overall health has seemed much better, although my pain symptoms have not really improved. Then again, it has only been 30 days, so I'm still hopeful.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm Twisted

I know why this is called the Twisted Flower sock ... you have to be a bit "twisted" to attempt it! After much anticipation (mainly by me), I'd like to present:

Twisted Flowering Eggplants
(click photo for bigger)

Pattern: Twisted Flower by Cookie A.
Source: Cookie A Knitwear Designs
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl in Eggplant
Needles: Knit Picks 24" circular size 1.5 US (2.5mm)
Notes: The only modification I did to this pattern was to knit it on two circular needles. I didn't attempt for a moment to convert this to toe-up, but I feel fairly confident that if I knit this again, I could convert it successfully.

WHEW! This pattern was by far the most time-consuming as far as sock patterns go, but look at the results! I've decided to be selfish and keep these for myself. I love the yarn, the color, the pattern and the fit. How often does *that* happen?

The pattern is worth every single penny and more, but ssshhhh, don't tell Cookie. I'd hate to see her pattern prices jump up because of that comment. The yarn was less desirable though. Although I've previously loved knitting with it and only had minor problems with yarn slubs and knots, these skeins were horrible! I think I had 12 ends on each sock to weave in ... ICK! I'm hoping it was just a fluke because I really do like the yarn (and there's more in my stash).

If you decide to purchase this beautiful pattern, a couple of things I would suggest:
  • Pointy-tipped needles -- this makes cabling that much easier
  • Chart reading experience -- trust me on this one
  • Solid color sock yarn -- to show off the beauty of the pattern
  • Experience in cabling without a cable needle -- really, you'll thank me later
  • Full concentration while knitting -- I wasn't able to successful watch television without ripping back
  • Complete trust in the pattern -- everything about it is brilliant.
September Sock A Month 4 KAL socks are complete ... what's up next? I think maybe something plain and simple!