Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moving Day

During the last week, I started an affair with Mr. WordPress, and have decided to leave Mr. Blogger.  It's not that Mr. Blogger hasn't fulfilled my needs, but after spending time with Mr. Wordpress, I've realized that not only are my needs met, but also my wants.  How could I refuse such a wonderful thing?  

Please update your bookmarks, or however you keep track of me, because I have a new home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Designer spotlight

This was going to be a post about my adventures at TNNA  in Long Beach, but it makes no sense telling you what I saw at this tradeshow, without first explaining why I was there.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with TNNA, it is the National NeedleArts Association which is a trade association for professionals in knitting, needlework, and stitching.  Each year they have two trade shows for members and it is huge! For our purposes, I'll only discuss the knitting side of things.  If you are a yarn store owner, a TNNA tradeshow is the perfect venue to go check out what's new in the industry, place orders with vendors, meet designers, etc. 

So lets get back to why I was there.  My dear friend Laura is a very talented designer and a member of TNNA.  She graciously asked me to attend with her so she could meet with yarn companies, show them her patterns, and hopefully gather enough interest from them to possibly design some patterns in their yarn.   It's really a win/win situation.

One of the items I was wearing on the 2nd day we attended was a pair of socks that she designed that I failed to post about when I finished them in November.  I'm going to remedy that problem right now because this is a pattern I definitely would like to show off!

 Pattern:  Candy Wrappers by Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams
Yarn:  Socks that Rock Lightweight in Rose Quartz
Needles:  24" circular 2.25 mm (US 1) and 2.5 mm (US 1.5) 

Modifications: I cast on with the 2.25 mm needles to work the ribbing and then switched to the 2.5 mm needles to knit the rest of the sock.  I didn't do this because of any problem wit
h the pattern, but because I was too lazy to swatch & realized when I completed the ribbing that I better go up a bit in needle size if these were going to fit.

I also added an extra 1/2 repeat of the pattern on the leg because I'm somewhat strange and always like my socks a bit longer than any pattern I've ever knit.  It seemed like a good idea at the time until I figured out that I had to shift my stitches on the needles to work the heel flap in the pattern stitch.  It took some math skills on my part to make it work, but I think I executed it fine.  

Notes:  The cabling technique in this pattern is beautiful and very unique and something I've never ran across before.  I was unable to figure out how to do it without a cable needle, but when I knit this pattern again, my goal is to figure it out.   That is, unless someone does it for me first, which would be wonderful.

I don't recall ever knitting this type of toe decrease before, especially since I usually knit all my socks toe-up, but it's so pretty I felt it needed its own close-up.  At TNNA I got compliments left and right every time someone saw these.  In fact, the VP of Brown Sheep Company was practically gushing over them and said if they weren't on my feet she'd steal them.  The glint in her eye at one point led me to believe that she may indeed be serious.

As can be the case with some patterns, you have to be careful as to what yarn type and colorway you choose, so that the stitch pattern doesn't get "lost".  I think this skein of Socks That Rock showed off the pattern very well, and I was very lucky to win this skein in a blog contest awhile ago from Tiennie Knits.  

The pattern is written top-down (cuff to toe), on dpn's, but I found it extremely easy to modify it for two circular needles.  Dare I say that it would be just as easy using the Magic Loop?  

Now if this fabulous sock isn't enough of a designer spotlight, I'll tease you a bit here by showing you her current design that I'm test-knitting.  It's called the Garden Party Shawl, and with all the beautiful flower and leaf motifs, I can definitely see why.  Some of you may remember her last design, Pacific Islands, which can be knit into a shawl or a scarf.  It got quite a bit of attention when Wendy Johnson (Wendy Knits) test-knit it for Laura, and the pattern went flying out of Laura's online store.  I suspect the Garden Party Shawl will too ...  once it's available.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Are you really only 31? I feel so old.

Happy Birthday baby sister (who's not quite a "baby" anymore).  Not only is she one of my sisters, but even if she weren't, I would like to think that we still would be close friends.   

My sister is a very talented artist and a delicious baker, so last year she combined the two and started making one-of-a-kind cakes.  I'm always amazed at the fantastic confections she creates and I hope that someday I'll be lucky enough to be the recipient of one of her cakes. 

Last year on her birthday I let her choose one of four fabulous gifts, but this year I figured it out all by myself.  Since her favorite color is green, and since I know she doesn't have any for herself, I decided to treat her to some hand knit socks.  Unfortunately, they didn't get complete in time to make it in her mailbox for today, but they are going in the mail on Monday (along with the delayed socks I knit for her daughter's December birthday).  Do we see a horrible trend here or what?

A Twinkle in the Congo

Pattern:  Twinkle Toes by Cookie A.
Yarn:  Cider Moon Glacier in Congo 
Needles:  3.5mm (US 4) 24" KnitPicks circulars

Pattern Notes: This is definitely a great pattern to try if you are intimidated by other patterns written by here.  Since it's knit with DK weight yarn, it knits up fairly quickly, but still introduces you to Cookie's fabulous design work.  I knit these two at a time on 2 circular needles, and cast on using Judy's magic cast-on (of course).  I knit 5 pattern repeats before starting the instep increases, but I should have only knit 4.  In the heel section, I used the yarn over method that Cookie demonstrated on the Knitty Gritty episode instead of wrapping the stitches as written in the directions.  I knit 6 pattern repeats on the leg which makes them a bit long, but hopefully she prefers a longer leg like I do.  I used the sewn cast-off for the very first time and I'm wondering why I never tried it before.  Brilliant. 


Yarn Notes:  It's super soft, squishy, the color variation is beautiful, and it smells great.  The downside is that in Sept 2007, the Cider Moon blog said that due to a legal matter, they've stopped doing business.  It's such a shame because I'm not one to typically purchase DK weight yarn, but I really think this is one I'd purchase again.  Hopefully whatever the issue is, it will be resolved soon.

Final Thoughts:  While I'm pleased overall with how these turned out, I'm afraid they may be a tad too big for her.  Then again, she could just wear them around the house as big slouchy socks, right?

Thanks to all of you for your comments on my last post.  I'm still trying to sort through all the emails and read each of your blogs, so bear with me while I try to catch up this week.  

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Miss Me?

Where do I begin?  I know that many of you have been wondering that since the middle of November.  I can't believe it's been that long since I blogged.  I kept meaning to, but it seems like "life" just kept getting in the way.  I have been dealing with "stuff" (how's that for vague) and my blogging & emailing seemed to be the thing that suffered because of it.  

I know I should have done a quick post to let you know I was going to be absent for awhile, but to be honest, I really didn't think it was going to go on for this long.  Here's a quick recap of the highlights of my life:
  • Weight Loss:  To date, I have lost 15 pounds in 2 months.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see this weight gone, and I'm almost halfway since I only have 21 more pounds to go.  Yes, NutriSystem works .... even around the holidays!  (Then again, I only allowed myself very few "cheats")
  • Fibromyalgia:  The medication I started 2 months ago is definitely working and all of my symptoms have improved by 50% or more.  I still have some "bad" days, but they aren't more than twice a week and it used to be four or five times a week, so I'm thrilled.  I now feel like I'm in control, instead of the fibro.
  • Knitting:  I have been knitting quite a bit, and I definitely got a lot of knitting complete while driving from Southern California to Southern Idaho for "vacation" the week before Christmas.  At one point, I was up to my elbows in scarves, hats, and gloves, but since all these items have been gifted now, I've realized that I missed out on photo documenting some of these items. I will try to get photos of the items I'm missing and post a holiday knitting recap as soon as possible.  By the way, all of the knitting on the road was accomplished in our new 2008 GMC Envoy.
This is what my husband wanted for Christmas, and since our mechanic stated my husbands car was only going to last another 3 months or so before we'd have to start replacing the major items, I reworked our budget so we could afford it.  The evening we drove it home from the dealer, my husband had the same smile on his face that I last saw 4 years ago ..... when we got married.  I'm still not sure what to think about that.

  • Family:  As I stated, we recently spent some time in Idaho to visit my parents, siblings and their families.  The main point of the visit was to get a photo of all of us together which is only 20 people, but logistically, it's still tricky to coordinate with every ones schedules.  The photos went pretty well, but a situation presented itself that evening that really messed up the rest of the trip.  I don't want to get into the details here, but I will say that the thought of what happened still brings a pang of hurt to my heart.  As a side note and personal recommendation, when you are hurt, upset, or mad, please take a moment and think before you open your mouth.  Sometimes words said can be very hurtful and it can time a very long time to heal the wounds the words left behind.  Enough said.  It's difficult to admit, but I was never so happy to leave and come home.  
We spent Christmas Eve & Day with DH, my step-daughter, son-in-law, grandsons, step-daughters mom, and her husband.  We made some wonderful Christmas memories and although that would've been enough, I was still thrilled when I received this:
It's a brand spankin' new MacBook Pro.  "Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus".  Now I can blog and email and everything else from anywhere.  This hopefully means that you'll be seeing a lot more of me.  I'm still getting used to my new "toy", so bear with me if I don't get to all of your blogs this week.

I also received quite a few other wonderful items for Christmas, but I bet you'll be most interested in this one:
Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book: History*Technique*Design (Vogue Knitting)
When I was visiting family for a week, each day I looked forward to stopping in at the Barnes and Noble bookstore since it had wonderful gift ideas, and it was the only place I could find decent coffee since my family doesn't drink it.  I flipped through this book several times and hinted to my husband that I would like it.  He shared that information with one of my sisters who ended up gifting it to me.  Yeah!  

I guess that's enough of an update for now.  Since I haven't been at your blogs for over a month, I hope your holidays have been wonderful and I'd like to wish each of you a happy and prosperous New Year.  For now, I best be getting around to each of your blogs and catching up on your lives.