Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christmas Knitting

The last couple of years I've done a lot of Christmas knitting. So I've decided that this year, I'm not going to do as much. Most of the people in my life who would appreciate a knitted gift (and quite a few who probably would have prefered something else!) already got their socks or hats or whatever. So this year I'm scaling back. Really. Ok ok so I say that every year. But this year I mean it. There are a couple of gifts that I'm making (one knitted, one felted) that I can't show off here b/c the recipients might see them. But there are a few I can share. My brother asked for a hat that looks like this one by Gap. Hopefully I'll get it done before Christmas, so it won't "really" be a Christmas gift, but chances are I'll get distracted, lose track of time and be up late on Christmas Eve finishing it off. I think I'm going to use the basic hat pattern from Charmed Knits, because I've had really good luck with it before, but add in some cables and more ribbing at the bottom. 

And then for my two cousins who think its hilarious to ask me to knit them codpieces-- Weenie Warmers! I'm not posting the picture here b/c its a bit graphic and I don't want it to surprise you at work, in a public cafe or in front of children. But if you aren't in any of those places, and aren't easily offended, click the link. Hopefully they won't actually be worn by my cousins, but they will be quick to knit and will be hilarious for them to open on Christmas day. Thats the sort of humor my family can appreciate (like the year my Aunt gave all the ladies in the family thongs-- each one picked out especially for that person's style and tastes, i.e. lace or cotton or bright colors or whatever). 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too cute!

Last night I had dinner with one of my cousins and I found out that his roommate runs a small business selling designer doggy clothes and accessories. Its called "Second Coats". I've been wanting to get Avi a bathrobe to keep the furniture dry after shes had a bath, and she definitly needs some of those gourmet treats!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sweater Weather

Earlier this week the temperature was in the 80s during the day and the sun was shining. Pretty weather but not really appropriate for mid October. But today everything changed. Suddenly and dramatically. All of a sudden its fall! I wonder if its going to stay cold this time. I know, I know. In a few months I'll be complaining about the cold weather and wishing for hot sunny days, but rifht now it feels right for it to be cold and overcast-- cozy knitting weather! And it makes me want to knit a cardigan. Believe it or not, I've never knit myself a sweater. Not really. I'm more of a small project person. And I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know the first thing about making a garment actually fit me. But I love wearing cardigans and its probably time I knit myself one. I haven't done fairisle in ages and am thinking I'd like something with some fairisle colorwork-- not all over, just a band  or two.   Any suggestions? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One of those days

Ever have one of those days (or two) where nothing seems to go your way? How about the type of day where everything seems to go contrary to your way? After being away from home for a week I was eager to get back to my regular routine, get back to my studio, etc. Woke up yesterday excited to get back to work. Now, I don't normally believe in luck, either the good or the bad kind. But from the time I woke up yesterday my luck has just been no good. Yesterday was more or less sent mildely ill to my stomach, but you know, I can get over that. I've always had a sensitive stomach, so I've gotten used to living with that. No big deal, a less productive day than I'd hoped but I still got a bunch of orders packed and shipped and my new shawl blocked. Decided to just take it easy, took a hot bath in the evening, read a novel. Thought- tomorrow will be more productive. And then I woke up this morning. Nothing has gone right today. 

1) My skein winder broke. Ok, it had been on the way for a while and I did have a replacement ready. But the replacement doesn't work right
. I had planned on spending all day pre-skeining yarn for some wholesale orders. It didn't happen. And I'm not really sure how to fix the new one because all the tools I used to make it (i.e. the bandsaw) live in Winston in my parents' basement.

2) the Color Co-op vote that was supposed to end today got all messed up (my fault), I upset some knitters, got threatened with pointy sticks (ok, not really), had to start the vote over again. what a mess. I feel so stupid about that, and unprofessional. Yuck, I hate it. 

3) I was feeling kind of bleh b/c of the color co-op thing, so I though "Ok, I'll clean up the studio. That always makes me feel better". Well I had just gotten some hooks and cord to set up some new drying lines in the studio to use to hang up drying yarn and yarn thats been dyed but is waiting to be reskeined, etc. Wonderful. Got them up, loaded with yarn. Fell down. No, not just fell down, slingshotted across the room, flinging yarn everywhere. 

4) Ok, so cleaning the studio didn't work. How about I just pack some o
rders and have a glass of wine. What could go wrong? I know what you are thinking and no, I didn't pour wine all over the orders. Instead I just dumped it on the keyboard of my laptop (my brand new laptop). And now the little mouse thingy won't work so I have to use an external mouse, and thats just annoying. I'm hoping maybe it will, um, dry out and be ok tomorrow? 

Sigh. I'm done. I'm sitting on the couch doing NOTHING for the rest of the night. Except browing the web for funny stuff like this.

Family Week Part 2

After a lovely several days in Winston culminating with open knit night with my old friends at Knit Picky (boy do I miss them...), I drove across the state to spend a couple of days at the beach with the other half of the family. Chris and I try to spend a long weekend at the beach with his parents every fall, and he had Monday and Tuesday off for the holiday and mid-semester fall break. It rained some but we also had some nice weather. We ate a lot, relaxed even more. I got a lot of knitting done. I even got a chance to teach Chris's mom how to knit beaded bracelets a la Zana and helped her get started with a scarf using my new Ribbons of Hope pattern. I'd add pictures but I just spilled a glass of wine on my keyboard and now its drunk. More to come later...

Ok, the computer has sobered up, somewhat, so here are some pictures from the beach! I got a lot of knitting done and finally finished my Autumn Gold Shawl!!! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Family Week Day 4 Continued

They have a petting zoo at the fair. Need I say more? They had bags of carrot slices for a dollar and ooh boy did those animals like their carrot slices. I become fast friends with a camel, a yak baby, a highland calf, an entire farms worth of goats, a couple of pigs, two of the softest baby alpaca I've ever seen and one confusing cow. 
The petting zoo isn't like it was when I was a kid. When I was little I'm pretty sure you could actually go into the enclosure with the animals (mainly sheep and small goats, then). I can't say I blame them for putting up a fence inbetween the kids
 and the animals, for the safety of both. And the animals know that people = yummy carrots so they come right up to the fence and stick their heads over or through the bars to nibble at whatever they can get their lips on. Wait, whats that? You s
ay that petting zoos are for kids? I'll never believe that. By the way, mom and I tried very hard to collect fiber from the yak (see me reaching for it?) but it was very firmly attached. 

We also caught the end of a herding dog demonstration- the same one they have every year where the dog herds the ducks around the ring and through gates and over a bridge and all that, but its fun to watch and I never cease to be impressed by the intensity of the dogs. 

At the very end of the night, as we were leaving the barn area, I met a cow. Do you have any idea how large cows really are? Some of them are Big. Seriously. Big. They were kind of scary because it was very clear to me that any one of them could have taken me out with a well aimed sneeze. But then there were some smaller cows too, and they were laying down so they seemed even smaller. And I think it was past their bedtime so they were kind of drowzy and this one looked to me like he wanted a head rub. I'm unclear whether this animal actually liked the head scratch I gave him or not. Its hard to tell with a cow. Either he was very lazily trying to get me to stop without having to stand up or move more than his head, or he liked it. Or maybe he wanted to eat me. It was a confusing experience for me. Clearly I need to learn more about cow likes and dislikes and how to read their moods. I suspect that they might be slightly different than dogs, though I have no proof. 

Family Week Day 4

Wednesday morning was all business meetings so we will speed through that. Though there was a really cute dog worth mentioning at the accountant's office, and I left that meeting feeling less scared of taxes than before which is a good thing. 

Wednesday afternoon was when the real fun began. A little background first. Every fall we have a county fair that comes to town for the first week of October. I think most places in the US have something like this, at least in the south (do you have them other places?). There are the carnival rides, huge amounts of fried everything, variety acts of various sorts, craft shows and displays, large vegitables and animals.  As a kid we went to the fair every year and the highlight was going on the rides. After middle school or highschool the rides started seeming less fun and a bit more rickity and scary and my focus switched more to the fried food (things I would never allow myself to eat otherwise) and the animals. Well, I always loved the animals. For the last several years my mom, grandma and aunt have made a point to spend an evening together at the fair and when I've been able to I've joined them. Well it just so happened that I was in town during fair week this year so of course I agreed to go. 

Our plan of attack is usually something like this: first, find
food. Everyone wants something different so we strategically visit food booths to make sure no one goes hungry or has to wait too long. Then while we are eating we spread out the event sheet and come up with a schedule for our evening. Often shows overlap so sometimes we have to make difficult choices but luckily we are family so we are able to work it out in the end. We decided to first check out the Great American Frontier Show but on our way there we were distracted by the Winston Salem City Kickers and the Nifty over Fifty dancers.
Thats right, a senior citizen dance group. They were great. Mom and I could barely get a picture taken we were laughing so had. Not laughing at them- they really were quite good for older people. But, you know, just laughing. Once we were able to pry ourselves away from the dancers we grabbed a bag of kettle corn and headed off in search of Michelle's Magical Poodles. In my opinion, dog trick shows are best when the dogs run the show and based on that criteria this was one heck of a show. The poor girl was up there cracking awful jokes in a worn out spandex costume while her dogs jumped all over the place. The four of us sat down in the front on the ground with the little kids. My grandma had her knee replaced years ago so getting up and down off the ground isn't easy but she refused to let me do more than hold her purse and drink for her. Nope, two hands on the ground in front of her, butt up in the air, one big push and she was up. I hope I've got those genes. 

After the magical poodles we were feeling a bit skeptical and very silly, but decided to try one more show. This one promised to be good. After all, it was called the Rhinestone Ropers. With a name like that how could it not be fabulous? For all my laughing, I have to admit that this one was pretty good. I mean, that cowboy really knew how to twirl his rope. And they had this horse. My aunt thinks it was drugged. I hate to think that, but, well. Lets just pretend it wasn't, ok? It was like a big dog-- it would steal the guys hat and bow to the audience and put its front feet up on a podium...ok ok, cute, but no big deal. We've all seen trick ponies do things like that before. But then he gets this horse to lay down, head first in the cutest way imaginable and roll over on its back with its feet in the air and just lay there!
 Like a dog. I've never seen anything like it. So, I don't know how I feel about that. Maybe it was drugged, if so thats not good, but I choose to think that it was just a really docile horse. That could be true, right? By the way, it was getting dark at this point so my pictures are awful. Sorry.

By the time the Rhinestone Ropers (and in my head I keep reading that as "Rhinestone Rompers") was over we were done with shows and it was on to the animal barns. This is always my favorite part. Oh, and did I mention that mom was carrying around an apple in her pocket all night trying to identify it? A friend in the mountains gave her a bunch of apples that he grew and she really liked them but doesn't know what type it is. She wants to plant some apple trees of her own, and of course wants to choose good ones to grow. Surprisingly, we were unable to find an apple expert. You'd think that at a county fair there would be an apple expert. Maybe we just came on the wrong night. 

This post is getting long and is already image heavy, and I'm afraid my browser is going to crash and I'll lose it all or something, so I'm going to finish up in a second post...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Family Week Day 3

Most of Monday was spent doing computer work and cleaning out my closet. I'm a married adult living across the state, but I still have an amazing amount of stuff at my parents house. Please tell me this is normal. But I did manage to fill one garbage bag full of stash yarn that I can bear to part with (I'll be bringing it to a yarn swap night w/ the Carrboro knitting group in November, and donating whats left over), another bag full of shoes that I never wear and can be sent to Goodwill, a bag full of knitted caps and scarves that I collected um, a year ago (shhh don't tell) but never actually found a home for. I'm going to take care of that tomorrow. I promise. I had to wait for my parents to get home in the afternoon to leave the house because my car battery was dead- again. Long story, but I think its finally fixed for good now (after a new regulator and then a new alternater were installed and a new battery bought..). 

Monday afternoon I took a trip to the Amani headquarters which just happen to be located about a mile from my parents' house. I brought them a skein of yarn in the Amani colorway and a sample sock knit up using the Entwined pattern. They were so excited to finally see it in person and said that the color was perfect and very "Kenyan". We raised about $80 for them in just the first month that the colorway and sock pattern were being sold. I feel pretty good about that, but also think we can raise even more in the future. I'm looking forward to writing them lots of big checks. 

After seeing the wonderful ladies at Amani, I picked up Allison from school (shes a teacher) and we had dinner together. Allison and I started our friendship not long before I moved away and I really wish that we had been able to spend more time together. There are lots of people that I like to spend time with, enjoy the company of, etc, but there are only a handful of people in my life who I truely respect and admire and who's advice and opinions I really value. Allison is one of those people. I can't assume to know her very well, really, but shes just the type of person who you know, immediately, is a good person. And people like that are hard to find. So of course it was great to see her and spend a couple of hours over burgers and pizza. I'm looking forward to getting to spend the day with her at SAFF in about two weeks (!). 

After dinner I went to Jo Anns and got buttons for Twinkle and for two baby sweaters my mom made. Yes, we have been knitting lots of baby stuff. No, there isn't something I haven't been telling you. My mom has been in the sweater making mood but doesn't have the commiment to make a full sized sweater, so shes gotten hooked on baby and toddler sweaters. Some of them we will use as Unique Sheep samples, some will probably end up being gifts for friends who 
have babies and others will be saved for future grandchildren. And me? I've just been knitting samples for the Unique Sheep that happen to be baby patterns. Not that I wouldn't love a baby to put them on, but right now I'd rather that baby belong to someone else. No time or space in our life right now for babies! 

Knitting Photo Info: All three items were knit out of Super Wool. I'm not sure what pattern my mom used for the natural colored one but I think it was from a Berroco booklet, the striped one is the famous Tulip cardigan but in
 slightly different colors and the star shaped one (missing one leg) is Twinkle

Family Week Day 2

Family Week started with the football game Saturday and then Sunday I packed dog into the car and drove to Winston. And quickly forgot everything I said about taking time off from work. One of our yarn shop owners was in town for the weekend visiting her son who is in school down here and so of course we had to visit with her. My parents graciously allowed us to take over their living room and we played dress up with samples all afternoon. Yes- thats what I do for "work". Great huh? I think we may have overwhelmed Beth a bit, but she seemed to like our stuff so hopefully the Unique Sheep will soon be on the shelves (or better yet flying off them) at Have Ewe Any Wool near Chicago. I would like that very much because Beth was a delight to work with, full of creative ideas, and I am looking forward to interacting with her more in the future. It sounds like she has an absolutely wonderful shop, so if you are in the Chicagoland area please stop by and say hello (and ask her when she'll be getting Unique Sheep yarn in!) 

After the meeting I had a wonderfully relaxed evening knitting and watching tv with my parents. Well, mostly my mom and I knit and my dad watched tv and played with the dog. I worked a bit more on Twinkle-- one more leg and I'll be done! - and my mom started a neckwarmer out of Sashimi in the colorway Ann Marie. Shes been talking about needing something to keep her neck warm that she can wear with sweatshirts but has been having a hard time deciding on a pattern. I suggested the Dickie von Beethoven by EZ but after looking at the pattern mom decided it was unneccessarily complicated (admitedly EZ's style does take some getting used to). I think shes decided on the Tudora neckwarmer for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if she changes her mind and starts over. 

Go Team! Go Ryan!

This week I am taking time off from work to visit family. When I moved to Carrboro this past summer I thought I'd be back to winston more often- after all its only a 1.5 hour drive. But with gas costs, plus car problems, plus a busy schedule it just hasn't happened as much as I'd thought it would. But Chris is out of town for the week so I'm taking that as a good excuse to come home and spend time with family and friends that I haven't seen much in the last couple of months. To kick the week off, I finally got to see my cousin, Ryan, play football for UNC. I'm such a bad cousin-- this is his third year on the team (hes a junior) and I'm just now making it to a game! Ok, so I'm not much of a football fan. But with Chris's help I'm learning the rules (sort of) and as long as I've got my knitting in my lap I don't mind an afternoon of ball games. And it really was cool seeing Ryan play. It was a realy good game, too. UNC played well and beat the pants off the University of Connecticut and Ryan tackled lots of people! Oh, and I even got to see a sheep! UNC's mascot is a Ram and before each game they parade a real live ram out on the field- his name is Ramses. Though we had good seats, my camera still had a hard time zooming that far and taking a clear shot of moving livestock, so my photos are blurry. But look- a sheep!  Oh, and I also got to see my other cousin, Scott (the fellow on the right in this photo), his girlfriend and  my uncle (not photographed). 

Cool Free Gadget

Mechanical row counters and I just don't get along. I forget to twist them or I lose them or they break or whatever. And sometimes I have some sensitivity issues on my finger tips from excema and the texture of the rolly ridges hurts (weird, I know). And the ones you click? I just lose those. But my laptop is almost always by my side and I haven't managed to lose it (yet). Thats what makes this online row counter perfect. Just press the space bar after every row! A gal over on Ravelry created it after another knitter complained about not being able to find something like that, and is letting everyone use it for free. How cool is that?