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.

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.