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!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Getting there is half the fun?

I'm actually leaving it up to Laura to write about our driving adventures to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday, but I'll give you the quickie-version.

I live approximately 30 miles south of Los Angeles and for those of you who've been to California before, I only live about 8 miles north of Disneyland. I now understand why I live closer to the latter ... it's easier to get there!

Not only did we run into some unexpected traffic (although with Los Angeles, why was I thinking there *wouldn't* be traffic?), but we also thought we had missed our exit, and tried to create our own route which led to its own adventures through Chinatown and such. Luckily, the Yarn Gods must have been smiling on us, because we eventually ended up in a parking garage that we thought might be *close* to our destination and as we exited the garage, you'll never believe what was directly across the street from us ... the Los Angeles Central Public Library. The exact location we were looking for. Now, I won't bore you with the details of trying to go home, but let me just say... never a dull moment.

As anyone who has ever written a blog post has stated, attending a Yarn Harlot event is definitely worth the drive, the time, the babysitting expense, whatever. Yes, her books are funny, but listening to her speak made me think I was at the Improv watching a stand-up comedy routine. People around me had tears streaming down there face because they were laughing so hard! The only thing missing were the hot looking waiters serving drinks!

I met a lot of wonderful knitters and it was also real treat to finally get to meet Jillian who not only frequently leaves me some very nice comments here at my little ol' blog, but has been a huge help and support in helping me cope and understand fibromyalgia.

I must definitely give a HUGE thanks to Lynda, who let Laura & I join her group so we could get in to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday. I was on the first page of the waiting list, but when Lynda offered her few extra tickets to join her group, I jumped at the chance. If you want to read and see all the wonderful photos of the Harlots visit to Los Angeles, the Lynda has a wonderful blog post about it. She even has a photo of me (YIKES)

And where is the photo of me with the Harlot? Hmmmm.... I was so damn excited just to meet her and have her sign my books, that I completely forgot. I'd blame it on blond roots, except at my age, they are gray now. And the most pathetic thing? The camera was hanging from my wrist! I got photos of Laura with her, but none of me. I did however, remember to take a photo of my California State dishcloth that I made for her, and she photographed me with it, which you can see on her blog post.

So what's it like to be on the Yarn Harlot's blog? Absolutely Surreal!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

GP's & FO's

Most of the time I seem to share my GP (Guilty Pleasure) of purchasing yarn, but today, it's something completely different.

Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate

Go ahead & click on it, take the tour, and sign up for your free account. I did and believe me, I may sleep better knowing everything is a bit more organized now.

One other Guilty Pleasures will be happening on Saturday. I'm going to see the Yarn Harlot! Obviously I will provide photos and details on that next week.

Finished Objects!

Pattern: Shedir by Jenna Wilson
Source: Fall 2004
Yarn: Rowan Calmer colorway 492 (1 skein)
Needles: Addi Turbo (2) 24" circular needles size US 2 (2.75 mm)

Comments: I originally attempted knitting this with size US 3 needles, but halfway through I was running out of yarn, so I frogged it and cast on again with my size 2 addi turbo needles instead. I didn't love working all the cables with the less pointy Addi turbo because frankly I believe the Knit Picks pointy tips are better for this, but what did help with all that cabling was knowing how to cable without a cable needle. I love the finished hat, but I don't think I'd knit this again since my hands ached with all the cabling and I was stressed most of the time knitting it that I was going to run out of yarn. Speaking of the yarn .. it is FABULOUS! If it were less expensive, my stash would be filled with every colorway.

Pattern: Garterlac Dishcloth by Dave
Source: Criminy Jickets
Yarn: Peaches & Creme Ombre in Raspberry Swirls
Needles: Knit Picks Options size 7 US

Notes: Once I figured out how the triangles and squares fit together, and what order they were worked, this knit up very quickly. This was my first attempt at entrelac, and I liked it so much, I'm knitting more! Thanks for a great pattern Dave. I predict that I'll be including these in many Christmas packages this year, and I also predict many will end up in my kitchen too!

I found out through Judy's blog that if you purchase Cat Bordhi's latest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, you might want a set of stitch markers that utilize the letters A through H. Since I DID end up purchasing the book because of Judy's subtle blog-post coaxing, (although I'm still waiting for Amazon to ship it) I obviously also needed a set of these stitch markers. Of course Judy had the solution by giving the link to J.L. Yarnworks Etsy shop, where she sells the very thing, but upon doing a further search I fell in love with the stitch markers and row counting bracelet at Hide and Sheep's Etsy store, so I placed a custom order with her.

My order arrived very promptly from Hide & Sheep and not only is their customer service fantastic, but the items I ordered were even better than I expected. Everything arrived in its own tin and not only is the quality of the work outstanding, but no detail was overlooked. I especially love that on the bracelet, there is a small "hook" to hold stitchmarkers. She has quite a large variety of stitchmarkers and bracelets and she even does custom orders, so you should really check her out.
One last very important thing, if you'd like to be entered in a drawing to win some fabulous prizes, please go to Noolie Knits and donate to the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. All the details are in this blog post and although last year she raised $1,218, this year she's only raised $555 thus far and there are only 17 days remaining. Please let us help her exceed last years number!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Swan Lake De-Mystified

Shall I say last, but not least, ... or are there still a few of you knitting this?

(click for bigger)

Swan Lake by Melanie Gibbons
KAL: Mystery Stole 3 (Yahoo Groups)
Source: Pink Lemon Twist (pattern to be released soon to anyone not in the KAL)
Yarn: Baruffa Cashwool; colorway 11 (black)
Needles: Addi Turbo Lace circular Size 3 (3.25 mm)
Finished Dimensions: 60" x 17"

I love that I decided to jump in with both feet and join this KAL. I've never done anything like this before because frankly, I'm a control freak. I want to know what, when, where and how with what I'm knitting, so this was a complete change for me.

There are a few things I would do differently if I were to knit this again:
  • Pay attention to the blocking instructions. For those of you who have knit and blocked this stole, you'll notice in the photos that I obviously blocked this incorrectly. I forgot to make the points on the wing side. Please don't remind me though, I'm hoping I forget about it so I don't feel the need to re-block it.
  • Use a different yarn. I like the yarn, but I don't love it. I wish I would've chosen a wool/silk blend (like the yarn she recommended) because I think I would've liked the drape better.
  • Use a size 4 (3.5mm) or 5 (3.75mm) knitting needle. Although I think the Addi Turbo Lace needles are amazingly perfect for lace knitting, the size 3 (3.25mm) needles I used didn't create a fabric that was the overall size I wanted.
  • Include the beads. Since I didn't know what the beads would look like in the stole, and since I was afraid it may look tacky, I wimped out and didn't include them. If I were to only change one thing about my stole, it would be to add the beads.
Overall, I'm quite happy with my Swan Lake Stole and I'm looking forward to wearing it on my cruise next month for our four year anniversary. I'll try to get modeled shots of it then.

Also, look what came in the mail! It's my Loopy Ewe order! (click for bigger)

From Left to Right:
  • Panda Cotton in College Prep (freebie)
  • Louet Gems Pearl in Burgandy
  • All Things Heather Sock in Raspberry
  • Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett in Mirage Storm
  • ShiBuiKnits Sock in Midnight
  • Addi Turbo Lace needles (to add to my growing collection)
This is the second time I've ordered All Things Heather and I'm still in love with it! The photo of the Kaffe Fassett yarn from Regia does not do it justice because this colorway is stunning! Also, if you get the chance to order ShiBuiKnits Sock, definitely do! It's a smooshy, squishy delight, and the color is stunning. This was my 6th order, so I'm now a Loopy Groupie. This is a great thing since now I should be getting notified before she does her sneak-ups. Maybe now I can get my hands on that Wollmeise. I'm coveting the Granatapfel and Gewitterhimmel colorways.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tuesday This 'n That

Labor Day was fairly uneventful around here, since it's honestly too hot to do anything. If you read any blogs from others Californians, then you already know that we're having an extreme heat wave. For example, last night at 7pm it was 90 degree INSIDE my home and I'd had the air conditioner on since 8am that morning. In addition to the hot weather though, my health has taken a turn for the worse and in addition to my normal Fibromyalgia symptoms, I'm battling the return of all my Epstein-Barr Virus symptoms. Supposedly it has returned because my immune system sucks, so I'm attempting to remedy that with a 30-day trial for what I hope to be "miracle" vitamins.

Laura recently asked me about the sock I was designing to see if it were complete. I'm on the verge of posting about it, but not today, so here's a sneak-preview photo.

Wendy wrote a post last month regarding this light tent. I'm feeling tempted into purchasing it. Although my photos are alright, I would love for them to better. Also, with this tent, maybe my photo assistants wouldn't steal my props. Currently I photograph everything outside by placing a few sheets of white tissue paper on my backyard patio or walkway, and I keep it from blowing away with a few rocks stolen from the base of my water fountain. Unfortunately, my golden retrievers think they are my photo assistants and just for giggles they like to steal the rocks off the tissue paper when I setup between photos.

All setup and ready for it's picture

Kya nonchalantly standing near the photo setup acting all innocent

The little thief stealing the rock from the bottom left corner

The yarn in the photos was recently acquired from Jenny of the Stash & Burn podcast. She was doing a de-stash and I decided to pick up these two skeins of Lamb's Pride Worsted in the Prairie Fire colorway. I'm considering using this yarn to make a scarf for the Red Scarf Project. They've changed the guidelines this year to sending in a maximum of five scarves and they need to be received by October 15th, but they are also recommending no mohair scarves. There is 15% mohair in this yarn, so do you think it would be alright to use this, or should I find something else?