Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My first original design!

I did not know what to do with the Manos del Uruguay silk yarn I got while in Oregon. I looked all around Ravelry and didn't see anything that would work. I played around, ripped out, and was finally happy with my neckwarmer.

Husband and daughter were unimpressed, but Susan at the Bonita Knitting Store asked me to write it out. Then I posted the pattern for sale on Ravelry through the store. Whoa! On Ravelry, the project itself has 85 hearts, but the pattern has 250! I am amazed at its popularity. Susan has sold 20 hard copies in the store and at least 50 online. I am apparently all the rage in Denmark and Germany.

The original is in Manos, but I've made one in Gold Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple Silk (Vegas, Baby) and several from Louisa Harding's Grace, a silk and wool blend. It's what I'm giving the ladies in the family for the holidays.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The unexpected benefits of Shakespeare

We take a road trip just about every year to explore this big ol' country at a slower pace than whizzing from place to place by air. This year the catalyst was returning to Ashland, Oregon to see us some Shakespeare. We had gone maybe 15 years ago with young daughters in tow, but with just the two of us, we were in search of a deeper, more leisurely focus. It was hard for a 12 and 8 year old who wanted to be entertained to stop and see the interesting details in an old Victorian house, notice how the streets meander through neighborhoods and to people watch, noting the overall difference in dress and styles from lovely San Diego. BTW, what is it with all these non-ethnic people with dreds and otherwhise bushy and unkempt hair?

So the trip's plan began with Ashland, a 2 day drive from home. That's a long way for a short stay, so Bob (who plans our explorations) added in the Redwoods, then four nights in Portland.

The excitement level is always high before a trip, but this time Bob outdid himself. Something woke him up at 3 AM, so he woke me up too by announcing he was ready to hit the road. Meanwhile, when I'm keyed up, I find it hard to get to sleep, so having crawled into bed at 1 AM, I was bleary-eyed and sluggish. A bit of coffee and we were headed north by 3:30 AM. We absolutely hate driving through Los Angeles, but we were on the Grapevine before 6 AM and to our overnight rest stop, Redding, by 2:30 PM. Bob prefers to drive and I normally knit, but this 1st day, I crawled into the back seat and tried to nap. On the very long days of driving, I take a turn at the wheel, usually for a 100 miles or so, then he declares he's refreshed and drives the rest of the shift. Bless him.

Not really being an outdoorsy type, Redding doesn't appeal to me much EXCEPT it has the best steaks I have ever put in my mouth. I remembered this from past trips and was not disappointed. The Cattleman's Restaurant is not to be missed. If you get there, order the baked sweet potato as a side because it comes with the best pecan butter. Yum. It was so good, we decided to eat there again on the way back. I even had the same menu item, the rib eye. Although one of our daughters is a vegan, we are meatatarians all the way.

From Redding, we detoured off the 5 to meander through the Redwood National Forest, pausing here and there. We stopped at the Lady Bird Johnson clearing and did the short 1 1/2 mile walk among the trees.

Ashland seemed much more picturesque than I remembered. On the first night, we wandered around in search of a micro brew and right on the main square I found a yarn store, The Web-sters. It was closed, but we had time before our plays the next day, so I planned to return. It was an unassuming store front, but I was absolutely amazed upon entering it. You see, I honestly had not planned on checking out any yarn stores while on the road. Geez, I work in one, taking full advantage of my employee discount resulting in my having a room full of yarn at home. I did get an Elsebeth Lavold book, #9 More Viking Knits, some Manos Silk, Jitterbug and Baby Ull in the pearl gray Heather wanted for the cabled legwarmers from Knit So Fine. Did you know Oregon has no sales tax?

OMG, 10 of my beloved LYS would fit into this place. I did not know what to look at first. They even had this huge back room where I noted an aisle numbered 22!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mother of the Groom

I got Diane to reluctantly pose for a photo. I told her she needed to get over her shyness in front of the camera because at next month's wedding, she's going to be the belle of the ball. Here she is at the Bonita Knitting Store once she found the perfect shoes. She looks fantastic and she isn't even wearing make up. Now if I could only get her to open her eyes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Staycation

The Nature Center was good. The breezes off the bay were delicious and we wandered around for over an hour, seeing what there was to see and putting Bob's new camera through its paces. He also brought along his other digital camera and I brought mine. So the adventure was fully documented.

Still in an exploring mood, we went down to the Chula Vista Marina and Bayfront Park. I got pix of the boats in their slips and got to thinking of Terry who I met while she lived there before she went off galavanting to the shores of Mexico. So this one's for you, Terry.

Other summer San Diego fun has included the Summer Pops on the 4th of July. The concert with Marvin Hamlisch conducting was good and the city fireworks decent. But the Pops fireworks scheduled after the municipal show were cancelled by the Coast Guard because of the small boats in the bay as they were leaving from the first show. Bummer. So the search for a good place to enjoy fireworks on the 4th continues. Due to city finances, nearby Chula Vista cancelled its show, making downtown even more crowded.

We went to the first of the three Shakespeare plays we have tickets for this season. It was a production of the Merry Wives of Windsor. Lots of fun and very well done. It's our summer of Shakespeare, as our August road trip vacation will have us attending two more of the Bard's plays in Ashland, Oregon. I brought along the special lap robe I made for the outdoor theater as well as a shawl, but the evening was perfect without the usual evening chill. Next time.

On the knitting front, I have been trying to keep things small, so as not to have anything heavy on my lap. I finished up this baby blanket from orange TLC Cotton Plus before it got too hot. Not intended for anyone. It's in the baby gift stash since it seems as if I always need one in a hurry.

Erika did give me lots of notice about wanting something special for one of her best friends. It seems as if all gifts lately were for boys, so I went ahead and made this ever so cute baby dress from Blue Sky Alpacas by Lynn Murchland. I used Panda Silk since it's machine washable. I was sure SOMEONE would eventually have a girl.

Wouldn't you know it? Once the sonogram results came back - another boy. So Erika selected a sweater very similar to this one from my patterns. But it was for a worsted weight, so I found this free Berroco pattern, Baby Poonam, meant for Berroco DK yarn. It is what I used and am generally pleased with the very soft acrylic and nylon blend, but needed to be careful because it does split easily. The sweater was a fun and interesting project, primarily due to the graph Susan Schlesinger generated for the classes she had at the Bonita Knitting Store. Whew! All the patterns easily laid out side by side. I also made it in the round using 47" circulars so I could Magic Loop it up to the armholes. I then went back and forth on the same needles, keeping the other half right on the circular. I also did the sleeves in the round working down from the armholes, so I had absolutely no seaming to do. Per Erika's request, I put the button openings on both shoulders. I have to admit I, too, prefer the symmetry.

More knitting fun was making these Pedicure socks. I made them up as I went along working from the bottom up to the cuff. I made a little I-cord thong, a reverse heel flap heel and a crocheted bind off with 3 chains in between each stitch to get a slight girly ruffle. I love my pedicures year round, but my old house gets cold and I don't want to ruin it by putting on socks too soon. The only downside to the project was using Tofutsies. It's my least favorite sock yarn. Splitty with very little give even though the colors are wonderful. I had to rip out the short row heel because it was just too tight. The heel flap gave me more stitches to work with. I think it would be good for baby items and shawls.

I did make an easy shawl for Diane, a knitting friend soon to be the Mother of the Groom. She'd finally found the perfect dress, but fretted about her arms being exposed, just like we all do. She mused aloud about making a shawl, but she already had several projects going for the August wedding. So with Susan providing the yarn, I knocked it out in a week as a gift from the Shop. It's the Fiber Trends Easy Lace Scarves and Wraps pattern I will be teaching next month. The yarn that matched the gown perfectly was Berroco Naturlin, a linen blend. It was not harsh to work with and softened up amazingly once I washed and blocked it. I hope to have better pictures after the wedding.

I made up more samples of this wrap for the upcoming class. It has the stockinette version as already pictured, and a garter stitch one. Both just flow off the needles.

I finally switched over to Verizon once my AT & T contract was up. I had switched years ago from them over to Cingular, but then it was bought out. Service issues and nickel and dime charges had me fed up. Most of my family's on Verizon, so it was a better choice. My new cool phone is also a music player. I put in a 2 GB card and loaded on some of my music. The pouch holds the earphones and the new phone sock protects it, especially in purses without a cell phone pocket.

Tah Dah! Done. All caught up. As fascinating as paint drying.


Ah, the joys of San Diego in the summer.

Bob and I went to 3 Padres games in June. Although they are having a dismal season, the owners should pay us to go more often. Of the 7 games we have attended so far, the Padres won 6 when we were in attendance. My secret as a lucky charm is to have some simple knitting in progress while watching. That, and the few beers we have at our favorite downtown brewery, the Rock Bottom.

I've been spending a lot more time at The Bonita Knitting Store. As much as I profess I don't work there, I really do. But it's still just the occasional class, augmented by an hour or two here and there, usually not more than once a week. I always help during the Saturday clinics, if I'm in town. Susan and I even did some classes on the road for San Diego County. We did have an all day inventory party on a Monday when the store is closed. That worked out really well with us getting all the necessary counts done without having to disturb the customers. It will become a quarterly event. Of course there was the constant temptation of handling so much yarn. Thoughts of simplifying the count by just taking it all home kept bombarding me. Personally, I was pretty good, but Janelle......

I went to the County Fair twice. Once was for a shift at the American Sewing Guild Booth right in the Home and Hobby area, my favorite. I sewed tote bags for charity while chatting with attendees. As 'pay' for my volunteer work, I got extra tickets, so Bob and I returned together on another day to watch a Demolition derby.

We also went to Vegas- again. This time we stayed at the Stratosphere, barely leaving the hotel to brave the 108 degree temps. We did take the Deuce uptown to catch the Comedy Stop show at the Tropicana. And lookee, my 1st Royal Flush in Las Vegas in YEARS, as any previously reported have all been in Laughlin. But just to show how luck is very fickle, the machines turned to total crap the next day, demanding I return just about all of my winnings. At least I came home with literally a few extra dollars. Hey, any time I come home with any of my budgeted 'gambling coupons' is a profitable trip.
More on "How I spent my summer vacation" later. Bob and I are off to a photo safari to the Chula Vista Nature Center. We have never been and Bob finally got a digital SLR camera and is still experimenting with its capabilities.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hats and such

Lest you think it's only about socks, I've been working on headgear too.

I received a skein of Alpaca Sox yarn as a gift. It's 60% alpaca, 20% wool and 20% nylon and absolutely yummy. Luxurious for socks? Absolutely. But I feared it would not stand up to the wear and tear of shoes, walking and other indignities. I made the Webs Tam from the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007 issue. Heather has been looking for a floppy tam that goes so well with her funky style. It had some serious knitting manuevers with make 1 purls throughout. I struggled with finding a way to purl through the back loop smoothly. The design is on a reverse stockinette background and with my combined style of purling and working in the round, I ended up purling conventionally for a lot of the lace work. But it sure is pretty....

After it was done, I blocked it using a large 12" dinner plate. I only used 48 grams of the 100 gram skein, so maybe will make another one for the other daughter...

I got a request from DD's boyfriend's mom for a baby boy beanie to be worn in Tahoe. DD, ever fond of cables, selected this pattern. I used Baby Soft, an acrylic sport weight and made the 6 month size. It's plenty stretchy and I made the roll up brim a bit long, so it should last for a few months.

And just for fun, I made a couple of Curly Cute necklaces. Use left over sock yarn and some beads and you come up with a really nice accessory. The gray one was my first and I think the beads overpower the yarn. The maroons one came out more to my liking. These work up quickly, but were hard on my hands, so I'm resisting making a gazillion of them for now.

Flat Feet and Left overs

The Cool subdued Flat Feet turned out okay. I ended up ripping the first sock about 3 different times. First, I was working toe up and I made the foot too long. Then I messed up the heel on the 2nd go around and started over. THEN, I'm almost done with the cuff, try it on to see how long to make it - AND THE SOCK WON'T GO OVER MY HEEL. The zig zag of the Welt Fantastic pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks has very little give. So, it's frog to the heel once more, do less gusset decreases to get 4 more stitches. Then I adapted the Welt pattern to incorporate the additional stitches along the back of the cuff. With my notes, the 2nd sock worked up quickly. They are nice, but I still did not get that sense of satisfaction I achieve when a project is done.
This is why I do not do 2 socks at once. Things happen. I would have been sincerely upset if I had had to go through all that sock trauma twice. As you can tell, I have not been happy with the 2 at a time on one long Magic Loop experiment. Once I figure out how to do the heel, so I could help others out during the LYS's knitting clinic, I separated them and have continued working one at a time down to the toe. I've completed one sock and am almost to the toe of the second one. Another under inspiring project, mostly because the colorways don't match. Bob likes them, so I'll be finishing them in the next day or so.

I had some of the Flat Feet left over, so I gathered other odd balls of solid sock yarns and embarked on cobbling together a pair with the nubs. I did work them at the same time, but on separate needles, switching back and forth every yarn switch or two. Also, since it was a basic crew sock, I had no new pattern dramas. These flew off the needles. I love them lots and like them much better than all the socks the yarns were left over from.

Still on the Flat Feet kick. For the other colorway in my stash, I went toe up using Cookie A's Monkey Sock pattern. I'd read around Ravelry, the pattern worked just as well toe up, so I went ahead. Happy, happy with the results. I finished the first sock and it will stay a singleton for a while. It's on display at the LYS with the other Flat Feet to show how it knits up and how generous the yarn is. My sock has a cuff over 8 inches long and fits my size 9 1/2 toes.

Overall, I'm working on finishing my WIPs - just 2 plus the crocheted afghans, so I may begin my Christmas knitting and other smallish sized projects I plan for summer knitting so I don't have a big pile on my lap in my unairconditioned house.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I've got me some Flat Feet!

This handpainted colorway is Cool Subdued
This is Cool Bright

These were on order for a couple of months. Come to find out the order was lost by the vendor and was rushed delivered in time for tomorrow's Sock Event. Since I had preordered mine, I did not to wait for the customers to get their pick first. These are each one of a kind with generic kinds of names.

2-at-a-time socks

My reputation as the 'Sock Lady' is at stake. Susan at the Bonita Knitting Store taught a class using this technique. People expect me to KNOW everything about socks, so I got the book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and am doing a pair of socks for my DH out of Comfort Sock yarn.

Like all new things, it will take me a while to get used to it. But so far, I'm not liking it so much. It's the managing of the 2 balls of yarn that's driving me crazy. Also, I thought the sock yarn colorway pattern was more subtle and not require matching. It does. DH says he doesn't care, but it's bothering me.

More Yarn Storage

My VCR in the den/studio died. I must be the last person in the universe to get DVR. Along with that I took all those old tapes out of the shelves. My 'baby' is 23, so I figured I did not need every Disney tape known to man. I did give them to a good home. Oh, what to do with the extra space?

I have been moving as much yarn out of the Yarn Cave as possible. I like being surrounded by my stash as I knit or crochet. It inspires me as well as reminding me of all the good stuff I already have. I finally have my Cotton Ease at the ready.

I also got some really nice knitting themed pix from the web, printed them out and framed them. This is about the most perfect corner of the universe.

April is Modular Shawls month

Made the One-Piece Shawl from Modular Knits. Loved it lots, so made some in different colors. I even made a plain one from some Patons left over from a sweater project. I use this one hanging around the house while knitting or reading the morning paper. They work up quickly with largish needles [ 9 to 10.5] and about 400 yards of yarn.