Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lots of News

A few exciting things have happened this week. I apologize in advance - lots of words, no pictures today.

First off, my sweet baby brother called yesterday to let us know he had gotten married! It wasn't a huge surprise, he had told us he and his girlfriend were going to get married this year, but last we talked they were still deciding when and where. I guess they talked about it and determined they didn't see any reason to wait any longer. He lives in Lake Tahoe, so I think that drive over to Reno is just too short.

At any rate, none of us have met his wife yet. They have been dating for about a year, but due to his schedule and some other obligations they have, they haven't been able to make it up for a visit. He says in October - I sure hope so! He did tell me that she knits too. Since she seems to make him very happy, what more could I ask for?

In other exciting news, Amanda and Katrina have started a knitalong for Cat Bordhi's new book "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" and have graciously agreed to allow me to tag along. You can get more info and sign up on the blog: New Pathways KnitAlong or you can join the group on Ravelry. Sadly, I do not have a Ravelry invite yet, but there is a link to the Raverly group on the Knitalong blog.

This really is a great book and is perfect for a knitalong since it has so many new and exciting sock architectures. As I've mentioned before, I am new to the sock knitting thing, but am excited to try out some of these ideas.

Finally, one of the reasons I started a blog was because I wanted to get more involved with the on-line knitting community, including doing things like knitalongs and swaps. Today I found the first swap I plan to participate in. It is the "Fall Into Autumn" exchange which looks pretty low stress on the knitting side (knit or crochet a dishcloth), with a little bit of shopping thrown in. Sounds about perfect for a first timer.

Registration for the "Fall Into Autumn" exchange will open on September 1st and close September 8th at Midnight, EDT. Now, if I can just remember to go sign up during that window, I'll be in good shape!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Things are progressing quiet nicely on the lace sample for class and it is about half finished. As I mentioned before, I was having a hard time finding a pattern that met the criteria I wanted for an Introduction to Lace class. These criteria included:
  • Scarf size
  • Purl on backside
  • Garter stitch border
  • Simple design that had less than 12 rows per repeat
  • No knit 3 together, no nups, etc.
  • Had to have a design that allowed the knitter to place stitch markers for each repeat so they can count to make sure they haven't lost any stitches.
  • Needed to look interesting and like lace, so folks would want to knit it

Apparently this was a tall order. So, I whipped out the stitch dictionaries and came up with this:

I'm not sure if grabbing a stitch out of a stitch dictionary and adding a garter stitch border makes me a designer. I see all of the work Chrissy puts into her designs and I know this is nothing like that. On the other hand, I think this is going to work nicely to demonstrate the things I want to teach in the class, so that's good enough for me. If RaNaye wants to sell it, even better.

The yarn is JoJoland Melody in color Y-20. It has a very subtle color change between lavender and blue that doesn't show up very well in the photo. I wasn't too sure I liked it until I pinned it out to measure my progress last night. I look forward to completing this one and taking a picture outside, in natural light. The basement guest room just wasn't cutting it, even with extra lights!

On another topic, since a couple of you seemed interested in my Children's books, I thought I'd share another one. Still no scanner, so more not so great photos.

The Time to Sleep Book by Kathleen Allan Meyer, Illustrated by Rod Ruth in 1978 by Golden Press

I found this one at a garage sale this past weekend for a quarter. I think I may have had it when I was little because it looks really familiar. The front and back covers look the same, with the little sleeping girl and teddy.

Inside, the book has the sweetest pictures of sleeping animals and talks about how they sleep.

Isn't that sweet little chimpanzee adorable!

I just love this alligator, with it's legs hanging down. The entire book makes me sleepy whenever I look at it. The last page shows the little girl in a picture much like the cover and says "When it's time to go to sleep, I sleep like this". A. saw this in my office today and wanted to read it right away. That kid loves books as much as her mama.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What a Glorious Day!

What a glorious day we had today! If my older daughter hadn't been sick and I hadn't had to work, it would have been pretty near perfect. * We've had a very strange summer here in Oregon this year, with many cooler than average days and even some rain recently, although nothing like the mid-West, thankfully. Today, it was the first really sunny one we've had in a bit, so I went outside and took some pictures of the roses.

*A. just has a little cold, by the way, so hopefully it will clear up soon. I noticed her little sister is starting to get a runny nose too. Yippee! I just love the way they make sure to share their germs, one of the few things I'm not too keen on them sharing.

Everything has come back to life with the recent rain. The roses are acting like it's June and the raspberries have sprouted a lot of new growth, with tons of new blossoms and even some new fruit already. I hope we get more berries because I love them. The raspberries and roses were both new treats for me when we bought this house three years ago. My mom had roses when I was very small, but I have never been able to just go out into my own yard and pick roses or berries whenever I wanted.

I have no idea what varieties we have and I know we don't take proper care of them, but they seem hardy and forgiving nonetheless. My mother-in-law actually gets really frustrated with my rose success because she spends tons of time and energy babying hers and never gets the profusion of blossoms we do. All I can say is whomever planted these before us must have picked really good plants.
This red one smells amazing!

This is the other thing I did this evening. While my husband gave the girls their bath, I ran down the road and picked some blackberries. Unbelievably, these are the first of the season for me. They also smell amazing! I see some blackberry cobbler in my very near future. Mmmm.

On the knitting front, I am still plugging away on my class sample. After much deliberation I decided none of the patterns RaNaye had in her shop were quiet what I was looking for. So, I designed a little scarf myself that I will use for the class. If all goes as planned, I will format it nicely and sell it through the shop for anyone who is interested - assuming she is as taken with the final product as I hope she will be. I'll try to get some sample shots up soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Knitting is progressing on the Kimono Shawl and I am a little over half way done. It doesn't really look much different from the last picture I showed though, only longer.

Unfortunately I have to put it aside for what I hope is a brief period while I work on something with a shorter deadline. RaNaye, the owner of All About Yarn in Tigard asked me to teach a lace knitting class. I am still a bit stunned by this idea. I have mixed feelings about it, mostly along the lines of "Why me" and "I haven't been knitting long enough to teach anyone anything". However, she assures me that I know plenty more than is necessary to teach an intro to lace class. So, after I took a few days to think about it, during which time I started writing an outline for the class, I agreed to give it a go. It will be a 2 day special project class and will be in October. Let me know if you're interested.

So, the project that is interrupting the gorgeous silk experience I have been enjoying is a little sample scarf for the class. I wanted to knit it up and have it in the shop so folks can see what they will be learning. I'll talk more about the sample and the class as details progress.

In the mean time, I said yesterday that I would share one of my non-knitting obsessions with you. It is books. I know, any of you who have been to my house are not in the least surprised by this. Some folks can use their yarn stash as extra insulation. My hubby and I could easily use our library of books. However, in this instance, I am talking specifically children's books with great illustrations.

Funny thing is, I don't necessarily have a type of illustration I am crazy about, per se, or a specific book vintage. I just like what I like. I find most of my treasures at Goodwill or yard sales and yes, I do share some of them with the girls.

Here is a good example of a book I love:

My Counting Book by Marybob Baker, Illustrated by J.P. Miller Published in 1964 by Merrigold Press

I just love this little book! The story is so sweet, about a Lion counting all of his friends.

Sorry for these low quality pictures. I don't have a scanner, but may need to invest in one.

I looked this one up on Amazon but they didn't have a picture of the cover. They did have some used copies available. You can't really beat $.49 from Goodwill though!

If I can figure out a better way to show off my books, I may add this as a regular feature on my blog. What do you think?

Monday, August 20, 2007

So much fun has been happening around here that I don't know where to begin! I guess we'll go chronologically, then hopefully I won't miss anything important.

Last I wrote I was lamenting the lost weekend of craziness and was glad to be back at work. I don't think you will hear me say that very often. Anyway, Thursday started my recent spate of fun with the August meeting of the Tigard Knitting Guild. This month's guest was Trish Anderson who is the genius behind Tanglewood Fiber Creations. She gave a wonderfully interesting talk about fiber, yarn and her business. One fun fact I learned: One cashmere goat produces only 4 oz of fiber per year! No wonder cashmere is so expensive.

Then on Friday I was able to attend the book launch reception Blue Moon Fiber Arts hosted here in Portland for Cat Bordhi's latest book "New Pathways for Sock Knitters". While I may be a new sock knitter, I am aware of the genius that is Cat Bordhi and what an incredible opportunity this event was. Cat's talk was really interesting, the book is gorgeous and the desserts were delicious. Even better than all of that, I got to hang out with my buddies Katrina and Amanda, as well as her sweet baby, who was a complete doll as usual.

The knit bloggers were out in full force for this event and they seemed to all sit in the front row, including yours truly. Another highlight of the evening for me was meeting Judy of the "Magic Cast on Fame". I have been reading her blog for ages but have always been too shy to comment. It was wonderful to meet her and learn how very sweet she is in person. Thanks Cindy for the introduction!

So, what could make this event even better? Why Blue Moon Yarn, of course. I won the below skein for producing something "useful but unusual" from my knitting bag. That something was a little candy tin I use to store stitch markers, point protectors and other little gadgets. The colorway is called "County Clare", which I had never heard of. The picture doesn't really show the vibrancy of the mostly green skein. Very nice!

After all of that excitement, it seems like I should have settled in for a nice quiet weekend, but no, there was more fun to be had. On Saturday the little village we live in had its annual celebration. They close off the main street and have an excellent parade. I highly recommend it to anyone in the Portland area. Then they have a street fair with lots of food booths, little games for the kids and other fun things. I could write an entire post about that, but this is already going way too long so I'll save it for next year.

Then, on Sunday, the Husband and I decided we wanted to go out exploring. We do that sometimes, just pile the kids into the car and take off for the afternoon. Even though I've lived in Oregon all of my life, except for a couple of years I'll talk about another time, I never get tired of the beauty that is all around us here.

This time we decided to head up the Columbia Highway and see how far we could go before we needed to turn around. We ended up in Hood River, which is a really nice little town, if a bit trendy these days due to all of the wind surfing. Anyway, while the hubby checked out kayaks down the block, I popped into Knot Another Hat. What a great little yarn shop! As a bonus, Yvonne from Lavender Sheep was working behind the counter that day . I knew she lived in Hood River, but did not know she worked at the shop. I had met her at the Yarn Harlot event in June and recognized her right away. We had a fun chat. What an unexpected treat!

I could not let a trip to such a fine establishment go without a little purchase. I bought the below yarn, which is undyed silk noil in lace weight. These two skeins equal about 1350 yards of silk loveliness. As a bonus, it was really reasonably priced. I like the color it is without dye which the picture actually shows fairly accurately on my screen, kind of an oatmeal color.

Here is the product link on the Knot Another Hat site, in case you are interested and don't plan to go to Hood River any time soon. They have other undyed yarn, as well as some other really great things (like Yvonne's Lavender Sheep yarn).

The rest of the drive to Hood River and home was gorgeous. The girls and I sang lots of silly songs, looked at lots of boats and trains and generally had a fantastic time.

Sadly, you will note that I don't actually have any pictures of all of this crazy fun. I am still new to this blogging thing and can not seem to remember my camera for anything! I will try to be better. I'm sure my kids might appreciate some pictures of all of the fun things we do too!

Wow, it's late. If I can carve some time out tomorrow, I will share one of my little obsessions with you. Sadly, it is not knitting related, but it is fun, at least I think so.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Baby Booties and the Start of Something New

Whew, life has been crazy around here lately! I know, everyone's life is crazy and I'm sure I will say that again a couple hundred more times before the end of the year, but it doesn't make it any less true.

Sunday was my husband's birthday, which meant a visit from his mother. This meant extra house cleaning and way more time spent on things like meal planning, cooking, entertaining, being nice, etc. This past Monday was a very rare one indeed in which I was glad to go back to work!

Through all of this craziness though, I have continued to knit. I finished up the baby booties/shoes I mentioned last time. This view shows off my less than stellar seaming.

Pattern: Garter Stitch Shoes from Debbie Bliss's Baby Knits Book
Yarn: Knit Picks Ambrosia in color Mint

I have knit this pattern several times. It's very simple, but was kind of confusing the first time. Like all Debbie Bliss patterns, at least that I have seen, it has no schematic. So, you just have to follow the directions and trust that it will all work out. You actually knit one flat piece which you seam here, then seam there and then, POOF, you have a baby shoe. I like fluffier ribbon in mine than shown in the book.

This was the first time I knit with Knit Picks yarn though. A friend gave it to me at the last yarn swap we had at our Guild. I really like it, it's so soft! But then, with a blend of 80% Baby Alpaca and 20% Cashmere, how can you go wrong?

Now that this gift was out of the way, I decided it was time to crack open some of that Belle yarn I mentioned in my last post. I have been thinking about the Kimono Shawl pattern from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book for a long time. Here is a lovely picture I took of the illustration in the book.

For me, I knew it had to be silk, but thought it would look interesting if done in a thicker yarn. So, I did some quick math and came up with a slightly modified version that I am happily plugging away on. I cast on 81 stitches, knit 6 rows of garter stitch to start, have a 5 stitch garter border on each side and am knitting 7 pattern repeats across. So far, so good.

If this comes out as I am hoping, it will be a Christmas gift for my sister. Shhh, don't tell her about it, or the blog. Don't want to spoil the surprise.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Today the mail brought something wonderful! This story started last February though, when I decided I wanted to make something nice for my husband's step-mother for her birthday. She really is a wonderful woman who has been married to my father-in-law for 31 years now. She also seems to appreciate handmade things. So, I headed off to the Cozy Ewe, a former LYS here in the greater Portland area. There I found Berger du Nord's Belle, the most gorgeous silk yarn that had the added benefit of being a very reasonable price. I completed the scarf pictured below and promptly sent it off to Massachusetts.

Pattern: Liesel Scarf
Yarn: Berger du Nord, Belle - 2 balls
Size: About 8"x70" - I didn't know some folks don't recommend wet blocking silk. It really grew!
Completed: February, 2007

However, I did not forget that gorgeous yarn. Not long after I bought it, the Cozy Ewe went out of business. I have never seen it again in a Portland area shop, but always look for it. Recently I was lamenting to my long-suffering husband how I wished I had some of that Belle in my stash because I wanted to knit more lace with it, although I wanted to use it for a bigger wrap. Enter, once again, that fantastic Google Search and a slow afternoon at the office (a VERY dangerous combination).

Webs has it on sale - only $4.99 a ball! They're all out of the blue, but have other colors. I am a very happy camper today. Now, if I can just stick to the projects I have on the needles at the moment and not start another...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pink Baby Blanket

I decided to go ahead and post pictures of the completed, but unblocked pink baby blanket. I started this last August for a co-worker, whose wife was due to have a baby girl in September. Needless to say, they did not receive it and instead were gifted a pair of booties.

The yarn is fantastic, so soft and nice to work with. However, I found the pattern a bit boring and the color is just not me, which I think made it much harder for me to knit. The color in the first picture is closest to the actual color in real life. If I'm going to knit with pink, I am much more likely to go for a softer pink. Most people who know me will find this odd since I love bold color, but pink is different.

Pattern: Simply Sweet from Tea for Two Baby Afghans
Yarn: Cascade Pima Tencel, Color 1317
Time to complete: About 1 year

I knit the entire body of the blanket last Fall, then left it to languish while I did other things. The idea of picking up all of those stitches around the entire edge made pretty much every other project I had in my stash more appealing. Finally, last week, I decided it was time to finish it when I found out another co-worker was due to have a baby girl any day.

Now that it's finished though, I don't think I am going to send it to that co-worker either. I think I am going to save it for some special future person. I am already working on another set of booties for the co-worker. This time I may throw in a hat too, depending on my mood this week.

Not sure what that weird row is near this bottom in this picture. Seems to be a problem with the picture and not an error in my knitting. If you do see errors, please don't tell me. At this point, I don't want to know!

By the way, I did decide not to block it for now. I don't think it looks that bad and is very soft and drapey already. I may yet change my mind at some point in the future, but for now, its on to other things.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wow, I was so surprised when I went over to Amanda's blog yesterday and found she had nominated me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger. Really? Aw shucks. Since I've been blogging for a grand total of a week now, I feel like she is being very kind. I am going to use the fact that I have only been blogging for a week as the reason I don't have 5 folks to nominate. I know, it's so bad not to return the favor. However, everyone I would like to nominate already has been. Thanks Amanda!

On the knitting front, I finished the "pink baby blanket I thought would never end". Now I am trying to decided if I will block it or not. It is lacy, but it is also a cotton/tencel blend and I am afraid it will stretch a lot if I am not super careful. You see, I was a really bad knitter and never made a swatch, so I don't know how it will behave when it is washed. I figured "It's a baby blanket. It's not like it's not going to fit". So, I'm going to stew on it for awhile and maybe, if I feel like it, I'll knit a swatch so I can test wash it.

I had the best day today, by the way. The kids have not been sleeping really well and my husband, being the wonderful stay at home dad that he is, frequently takes care of them during the night if they wake up. So, he has been getting very little sleep lately. Since I work in my home office, I get a front row seat to his day and could see that he was losing it and really wasn't enjoying being a parent today. My schedule was light so I decided to take the afternoon off and whisk the kids away. We spent 4 1/2 hours at the zoo and he spent the afternoon sleeping. Everyone is feeling much better now. Keep your fingers crossed, but I think I wore the girls out. They're both asleep now, let's hope they stay that way until a reasonable hour tomorrow. By the way girls, that does not mean 4 AM!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

It's been a very exciting weekend around here. First up, I won my first blog contest recently. The ladies over at Romancing the Yarn were celebrating their one year Blogiversary with what they were calling "Yarnapalooza". They gave away yarn to their readers every day in July! I was the lucky winner for July 25. This lovely skein of sock yarn arrived on Friday afternoon. Yeah for yarn in the mail and for winning and for such great blog hostesses!

You see that little blue sock below the fancy new sock yarn? That is my first sock ever, just completed July 19. I am very lucky to belong to the same knitting guild (Tigard Knitting Guild) as the one and only Chrissy Gardiner. She was the guest speaker at our July meeting and taught us how to knit socks on two circular needles. I have been putting off sock knitting because I dread starting projects on double points. I actually found the two circular needle technique really fun and am looking forward to knitting some adult size socks soon. So, the sock yarn arrived at a good time!

The other exciting thing that happened this weekend was that my oldest daughter turned 4. We had a party for her on Saturday which was "bat" themed, per her request. I had a really good time putting the party together, but I will say that bat stuff is not easy to find in August. I did eventually find some bat themed items at Oriental Trading Company, including the kits for the bat hats shown below. The wings wrap around the head, making a crown type hat. These were made by my two girls, A's on the right, V's (who is 2) on the left. V had everything in "the right place" at one point, but decided she didn't really like it that way. She moved the pieces around until it looked the way she wanted. Too cute!

My mother, a very talented seamstress, made the bat beanbags in the front with this pattern I found with a Google Search. Don't you just love Google? We played "toss the bat into the cave", which was a big hit. Overall, I think the entire event was a success and the kids seemed to have a good time.

In other exciting news, I picked up my oldest UFO late last week and decided I am going to finish it before I get to work on anything else. After I post this and assuming the kids are asleep, I intend to do just that. Perhaps I'll have a baby blanket to post about soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

First FO of the blog

WooHoo, I have completed the first finished object of the blog. While it's not terribly exciting, I am pretty pleased with it and it's a Christmas gift!

Pattern: Scarf with basic Basket Weave Stitch
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, Color 72
Size: 6"x69"

It is destined for a dear friend of my husband's. I actually made this same friend a scarf for Christmas last year, but used a lower quality yarn because it was washable and I thought that would be important. It came out alright, but has not stood up well to the amount of wear it received this past Winter and Spring.

This particular friend is a very worthy recipient of knitted goods for two excellent reasons, besides just being a great guy. First, he has, on many occasions, given me gift certificates to one of the LYS in the area. He is a non-knitter, is not related to a knitter nor been married to a knitter. How cool is it that he still supports my habit?

Second, even though the scarf I gave him last year is looking rather ratty, he still wore it with pride nearly every day until the weather warmed up. He told me that in his 60+ years on this earth, it was the first thing anyone had ever knitted for him. Isn't he sweet?

Since I'm having so much fun trying to figure out this photo thing, here's another shot. This time of the hubby modeling.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

You might be wondering what the deal is with the name of the blog, although if you knit I doubt it. What knitter hasn't had to say "One moment please, I'm counting"? Knitting frequently entails a lot of counting. However, I did not realize how often I said this until my 3 1/2 year old started to learn to knit.

It happened a few months ago when I took her to one of my favorite local yarn shops, Molehill Farm in Lake Oswego. There is a lovely woman who works there on Sundays named Vicki. She and my daughter had a great time chatting. At one point Vicki turned to me and said "You know, I can teach a 4 year old how to knit. Would you like me to teach your little girl?". Well, to make a long story short, we went back another day and she taught A. how to cast on.

It was while she was sitting at the table, brow furrowed, concentrating on casting on, that another shopper asked her what she was knitting. She immediately said "Shhh, I'm counting". The entire room broke out into laughter and looked at me. "Wonder where she heard that?" was the resounding response.

They really do hear everything, don't they?