Nov 30, 2007

ECF - Mystery Location Edition

I bet you'll never guess where I took this picture.

Relaxation Defined

I took this shot exactly a week ago during my trip to New York. We spent most of the week in Queens but we did take one long drive up the Taconic to visit my sister-in-law's country house. I'd never been there before.
My in-laws were there visiting from Florida and my brother-in-law was there with his family too. We rarely have the opportunity to get together as one big group and all of the cousins had a blast. The adults relaxed, drank wine, and caught up with each other by the fire crackling in the fireplace.

Home in the Trees

I liked this picture too. Stinkerbelle was so jealous when she saw this treehouse. She would love to have one. I suppose that when you have 5 or 6 acres of tree covered land to work with it's not too hard to find a suitable tree. We don't have nearly as many to choose from in our little yard in Fairfax.

Rowboat to Nowhere

How perfect is this cute little rowboat that sits in a small pond in front of the house? By small I mean barely more than a large puddle. The ducks seemed to like it.

So where is this? Believe it or not it's in Rhinebeck!

Nov 29, 2007

Two Ply, 5 Ply - Oh My

After wrong turns and other assorted traffic woes Stinkerbelle and I finally arrived at Springwater last night and we were so glad that we did. Stinky had a "play date" with Linda (an instructor there) who has been teaching her how to weave. They warped up her little loom a few times and wove wonderful things.
Every now and then Stinky would pop in to see what we were doing in spinning class. We were laughing and talking and enjoying ourselves immensely as we did more work on the long draw before moving on to plying.


Here is a shot of my bobbin early in the evening. On the left side are singles I spun using a long draw. On the right are singles spun using my old comfortable short draw. The whit in the middle is Teesdale that was spun from the fold. I took this picture to capture the visual difference that the spinning method made. The long draw stuff is so much looser and softer. Sylvia says that the softness is always found in yarn spun long draw. The short draw stuff is crisper and more defined. I cannot wait to play with the long draw more.
As promised we did some work with plying last night. We started with a 2 ply and I learned how to produce a balanced yarn rather than the wickedly overspun stuff I usually do. It's funny to think that such a simple adjustment as feeding the yarn in faster would make such a huge difference. I still like the stuff I made before with it's tight, crisp appearance but after creating lovely rounded 3-ply yarn I saw the possibilities with that too. Oh the possibilities. I just want to stay home and spin endlessly.
We worked with chained singles last night too and I'm still kind of hopeless with it. Two nights of spinning class just wasn't enough. I don't have any local spinning buddies so, without classes, I learn from books and online sources. No matter how good the books are there is just nothing like having someone who really knows what they're doing there to demonstrate and correct your technique. Sylivia is a fabulous and patient teacher.
I really wish that you could all take classes at Springwater. If only they weren't closing... but wait... there's hope. I'm sure that locals have heard by now that there is a pledge drive going on to keep Springwater going. The goal is $100,000 and an anonymous donor has comitted to the last 10k. The good news is that, as of last night, the pledges have reached 80k so there's only a gap of about 10k. Yay!
I really hope that they are successful and find a way to continue. I would welcome the opportunity to take more classes there. There is just so much to learn. Stinkerbelle agrees. Last night as we left she told Linda that if she does another needle felting class she should call her. Stinky has been bitten hard by the needle felting bug. The next generation needs Springwater too.

Nov 28, 2007

Taking a Quick Breath

Wow! I am so busy this week that I barely have time to breathe. I'm trying to catch up on stuff that piled up during my vacation while dealing with twice the workload because my assistant is out and family emergencies have kept people in our New York office out too. As if that wasn't enough I've had spinning class on Monday and today and... I had an appointment that made me late to work yesterday. All this while doing battle with a nasty headcold. On the positive side, most of my work is done by email so very few people in my office even know that I've got laryngitis.
IMG_2133I'll catch up on all of my blog reading and vacation reporting at some point. For now here's a little proof of knitting. This is a slipper I made over the vacation. Naturally it's part of a set. It looks pretty cute in it's pre-felted state. I just hope that it's as cute after felting.
I used the Fiber Trends family slippers pattern and it was super easy. The only problem I had was with the size selection. Totally my fault. The first version I knit got ripped out because pre-felting it was just right so there was no chance that the post-felting version would fit for more than a day - if at all.
IMG_2131The biggest surprise to me with this project has been the yarn. I used KP Wool of the Andes in heathered colors. The red is a color called Firecracker. I'm not sure if it comes through in the pictures but the depth that the heathering gives this yarn is just wonderful. To me it almost glows. It was soft too. There was nothing about knitting with this yarn that was unpleasant. I can't wait to see it felted.
In Monday night's spinning class I learned other drafting techniques. We spun from the fold which I enjoyed. I'd actually done that once before but not well. It's so much better when you have a good teacher rather than just your own guesswork. We also learned the long draw and this one is going to take a bit more practice before I'm even competent with it. I look forward to playing with it though. Tonight we're going to explore plying. Sylvia says that we're going to do 2, 3, 4 and 6 plys! I think my brain may explode.

Nov 25, 2007

The 7th Floor

View from 7I got back from New York this afternoon. I have to say that the trip home was far less painful than expected. We did hi traffic but nowhere near what i feared. What a nice surprise!
After a full week away it's hard to know where to begin. It was more of a vacation than I expected since there was no wi-fi where I was staying. Kind of a bummer. The place we stayed was ok though. These are the views that we enjoyed all week from our 2 bedroom suite on the 7th floor of the assisted living facility where my grandparents are residents.

Another View from 7Yup! You heard right, we stayed at a place where walker jams are one of the biggest concerns. It was actually very nice. Our suite was roomy and someone came in each day to change the linens and make the beds. We ate at my grandparents table and my grandfather insisted that I use his spot in the garage all week. You can't beat it for free.
I'm sure that the girls would've enjoyed a little company their own age and perhaps the low-salt, low-sugar, low-taste diet wasn't quite their thing but being able to see so much of my grandparents was priceless. Did I ever tell you that DQ has used her "Zayde" as the subject of numerous school writing assignments? The most recent was about her hero. Awwww.
Here are my girls with their Bubby & Zayde.

Bubbe, Zayde & Da Girlz

Did you notice Stinkerbelle's new haircut. It's even shorter than before. It totally confused the old folks. In the elevator one morning a woman commented on the cute boy. I said that she was a girl and the woman responded "The boy is a girl?" I said "No, the girl is a girl." I got blank stares so I explained further that I just have 2 girls. The woman looked at me and said "Oh, 2 girls and a boy." "No," I said, "just 2 girls." This was typical of the week and Stinky was very patient and tolerant of it all. It was pretty funny though.
Midway through the vacation I got her some new gel that claims to be superstrong and waterproof. That stuff is like glue. Below is a shot of her amended 'do as she poses with DQ and Hubbo's grandmother. Can you believe that she's 94?
Da Girlz & GG B

She's a pistol too. I have often referred to her as Hubbo's "Grandmother from Hell" and nobody who knows her has ever reprimanded or corrected me. Our good deed for the holiday season was taking her with us to my family's Thanksgiving celebration. To her credit she was very pleasant and we all had a fabulous time. I hope your holiday was wonderful too.
I have so much more to tell you about - the reunion, the knitting, and so much more. On top of all that I'm taking another spinning class this week. No shortage of what to say here. Hah!

Nov 15, 2007

Not Exactly ECF

I'll be away next week. It's the first time in 10 years that I'm travelling on Thanksgiving. Can you believe that?

I'm so relieved to be far away because I know that my table would've felt incomplete if we stayed home. This trip was actually planned way back in May or June when my friend from Long Island made me promise to attend a certain event. Can you guess what it may be? Here's a big hint.


Wasn't my yearbook picture lovely? Be nice. Remember, it was the 80's. That's what I looked like in 1987. I haven't changed much aside from the fact that I'm quite a bit rounder these days. I have a lot more embarrassing high school pictures that I can show you when I tell you how the reunion went. I haven't seen most of my graduating class in 20 years so wish me luck.

I'll have my laptop with me but I doubt that I'll be posting. I expect to be really busy with family and friends who I haven't seen in quite a while. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Gift Knitting

2007 GiftsThe sock, the sock, the sock. It must sound like that's all I do but it's not true. I'm working on lot's of other stuff. I've even completed one or 2 things but I can't shown them to you because they're gifts and the people they're intended for may peek. This picture may be ok if I don't tell you what the items are. It's pretty nondescript. I can say this though, one of these items is actually an FO at this point.

I know that a lot of you don't do gift knitting. I get it. Knitting for others does entail a bit of stress especially as the deadlines get close. I still do it though for a lot of reasons.

The most compelling reason is that I love seeing my knits on others. It's beyond sappy (ick) but I just love the idea that someone I love might pull on a hat or socks or a scarf and remember that I love them. Awwww. It doesn't get much sappier than that does it. I've gotta shake off that sap super fast.

Another thing I love about gift knitting is hat it gives me an excuse to do stuff that I wouldn't do otherwise. I'm a creature of habit. I wear the same gloves, hat, sweaters etc without a huge degree of variation. Sometimes it just seems that way because I have countless black sweaters, black pants, dark gloves and so on. I may be attracted to bright colors or nifty patterns but I usually tend to shy away from actually wearing them myself. Knitting gifts is the perfect way to enjoy the colors and the patterns while ensuring that the finished object will get used. That's kind of a selfish reason I suppose.

As if these first two aren't enough of an excuse, there are requests too. How do you resist a nephew's admiration of your handknit socks? You don't. How do you ignore the request from a child or other near relative for a warmer hat, the perfect scarf or gloves? You don't.

I composed my list for this year over a week ago. I really didn't realize that the holidays were quite as close as they are. Thankfully most of the items on it are small - most of them are hats. As much as I love the gift knitting - knitting quick gifts is the best of all.

Nov 13, 2007

The Rewards of Frogging

Today was not a great day. I heard via the comments yesterday (I'd love to talk to you if I had your email Sprite) that one of my LYS's is closing. It's not just any shop, it's a wonderful place where I learned to spin and Stinkerbelle learned to weave. Springwater Fiber Workshop was all about spreading the fiber love. I called this afternoon hoping that the rumor was wrong and I got even worse news. They're closing almost immediately. I'll still be able to take my drafting and plying class the week after Thanksgiving but that's it. To add insult to injury, I'll probably miss the best deals as they liquidate everything because I'll be in NY. Ugh!

The next bad thing that happened today was that someone swiped my lunch. That just sucks! Is there anything worse than going to the fridge to pull out the meal that you've been thinking about for the past hour and finding it missing? Who does such a thing. Seriously. It's happened before in other offices but not here.

At the old firm we used to speculate about who it could be. The thief there would take anything. They took frozen dinners. They took leftovers. They even took our home cooked meals. The consensus was that it was one of the work-a-holic attorneys, likely a bachelor.

Sock RestartedThere is good news though. I've been well rewarded for frogging my sock. I'm 2 repeats into the restarted sock and it's looking so much better.

This time I started the sock slightly differently. After the cast on I did three rows of garter stitch starting with a purl row. I'm not sure how well it shows up in the pictures but there is no rolling of the edge. I am so happy.

Nov 12, 2007

Frogging Socks

I'm not sure why I didn't do a post yesterday. I certainly wasn't lacking for what to say. I guess it just slipped my mind.
New LYSLast weekend was actually really busy and productive. On Saturday, Stinkerbelle and went on a whirlwind holiday a shopping quest and completed about 2/3 of it. I was so amazed at how much we accomplished.

Another thing that surprised me was my darling girl's demand request that we go to a yarn store. What she really wanted was to go to Springwater with her loom and do a little weaving with her "friend" who taught her. she loves that place and she's even been trying to convince me to bring her to my upcoming spinning class. So. Not. Happening.

Anyway, I can recognize opportunity when it knocks so I decided that we'd stop by the grand opening of a new LYS near me called Nature's Yarns. They had a lovely spread of treats which are always a hit with my shopping buddy - especially when they're chocolate.

Wool PancakeWe fondled yarn. They have a lot of stuff there and, surprisingly, some of it was new to me. I found a skein of Scarlet Fleece that I liked and Stinky liked it too. In fact, she told me that it would make a great new pair of fingerless gloves for her. She was showing off her Dedos en Fuego (fingerless gloves with flame design) that I made for her last year and noted that they're looking really fuzzy.

She was really patient while I admired the yarn and watched the little fashion show. It wasn't until I started to talk spinning with Lynn that she got impatient. She was ready to go. Then she was lured to a table where they were doing needle felting. She and another little girl got suck in and the next thing I knew she was asking to stay so that she could work on her creation. I asked if I should go get my sock from the car. She said yes. We stayed for another half hour at least.

Swampy sock pre-frogpondSpeaking of that sock... this is what it looked like by Sunday night. I had turned the heel and was powering on to the toe. As I knit it thought about small changes I should've made. The top edge was rolling even with the row or 2 of garter stitch that I added. I had been trying to convince myself that it would be ok but it still bothered me. Then I looked at the newly complete heel and it was so poor. I am so rusty. I finally gave in and admitted that this sock really deserved better. I frogged it and now I'm back at the cast on edge. Let's hope it works better this time.

Nov 8, 2007

ECF - Fall Camping Edition


I took this picture during last weekend's camping trip and saved it for Eye Candy Friday.

Have a great weekend!

Nov 7, 2007

Ping Pong Karma

I have a knitting friend who's seen my stash and finds it amusing. This friend goes with me to knitty events where I buy unreasonable amounts of yarn while she get a skein - maybe two. I laugh but secretly I wait for the day she falls hard for some yarn so that I can laugh a little.

The other day she called and told me that she'd made a few purchases lately. Yarn and books and patterns. She may even outgrow the bin that currently holds her little stash. I smiled. I laughed. I was really amused.

I should've known better. Karma's a bitch. Tuesday morning I surfed some of my favorite online shops and found fun stuff there. Lot's of fun stuff. Usually, reason takes over and stops me from getting in trouble. Not Tuesday. My hand slipped. That's my excuse. Shhh... don't tell hubbo but somehow I clicked pay in one, two, three of my favorite stores. In my defense I should say that most of what I bought is for holiday gifts. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Finished BattLook what I did last night. I spun up the batt I made in class a few weeks ago. It was so much fun to spin it. I'd never spun from a batt before and it was easier that I thought it would be. I haven't measured it but it doesn't matter because I don't think I'll use it for anything other than sitting and looking pretty anyway. As I spun it all I could think of was all the fiber combinations I can come up with. I just can't wait to get a drum carder.

Nov 6, 2007

Metro Headaches and an FO

IMG_2024I'm sure that there are cities with worse public transportation systems. I just can't think of any right now. When Metro screws up they are second to none. Tonight was a prime example.

I caught my usual train but, just before my usual stop they announced that due to smoke on the tracks they couldn't go any further and demanded that we all get off at the Arlington National Cemetery stop. So close and yet so far.

We were promised that shuttle buses were on their way to take us to Pentagon, where I usually grab a bus. It took forever to get out of the station and when we finally did get to street level we found a chaotic crowd (the picture is dark but I think that the chaos comes thru) and NO Buses Anywhere! Hundreds of people were in the same boat as I was and they were stopping random cars in a desperate plea to get home. It was nuts!

IMG_2026Occasionally, over the hour plus that we were stuck, a bus would come thru but they were usually full or they stopped at some random spot and were mobbed. Neither Metro nor the Police sent anyone to help organize and let people know what was going on. It's not the first time that something like this has happened and you'd think they'd have a plan in place to deal with these situations. Nope! Way to go Metro!

And look! There's the news van - arriving just as the crowds disperse and things start getting back to normal. Timing is everything.

Now let's get back to the regularly scheduled FO.

A-Line Princess Dress

Just as I promised, I have a fresh finished object to share with you today. This is the A-line Dress for a Little Princess.

Sunbleached?This was made from a kit that I picked up at Stitches East last month. As I worked on this project, I noted that the yarn was darker in some places than others. I like the effect in the dress and I think that varied tones tend to give a fabric depth. Solids can't help but be flat.

It wasn't until I started the final ball of yarn that I realized why I was seeing the tonal differences in the yarn. Can you see it? The yarn had faded around the ballband! I should've seen it sooner since the yarn was packed in the kit without ballbands. I'm not sure whether I admire the cleverness of the shop in repurposing the faded yarn or whenther I feel gypped. What do you think?

Princess dress detailsAlthough I do like the end result quite a lot, I have had a lot of issues with this project. The yarn was one but the pattern left a lot to be desired. I mentioned in an earlier post that it was unclear on how the increases should be done. I found other little problems along the way. For example, it failed to give any measurements. It tells how to do the increases as you knit the skirt and it tells you to increase in the round where you switch to the fun yarn but it doesn't say anythng at all about length. I had to look at other similar patterns (thank you Berroco website) to determine what the overall length ought to be. I figured that for a 1 to 2 year old I needed about 16 or 17 inches from shoulder to hem and based on that I decided that roughly the last 2 inches should be fun fur.

Pink MittsSpeaking of the fun fur... what do you think of that. I really wasn't sure if it was cute or tacky but, in the end, I like it. It's really soft and I suspect that, for a very little girl it will be perfect. I think that when it's controlled and used properly it's not awful. It reminds me of these mittens I made last year for Dulaan and how I want a pair for myself. Not in bright pink though, that's a little bit much.

Nov 5, 2007

Good books

Have you ever read a book that you enjoy so much that you want to share it with everyone you know? I have read one book lately that I just couldn't put down. I had read reviews of Free Food For Millionaires and I heard an interview with the author, Min Jin Lee but I was still unsure if it would work for me. I needn't have worried. I loved this book!

The story follows Casey Han, a recent Princeton grad, as she tries to find direction in her life. She gets thrown out of her parents house after a physical altercation and flees to her boyfriend's home where she finds him "entertaining" two sorority sisters. This all happens withing the first 50 pages of the book. The next 500 pages follow Casey's efforts to figure out what she really wants in life and love. Casey is Korean as are many of the characters in this book and they all struggle with reconciling their Korean heritage and traditions with their American aspirations.

This book sucks you in with great characters and tight storytelling. Although it focuses on Casey, there are many other figures in this book and we get to know each of them to some extent. They are Americans and Koreans, rich and poor, and none is immune to the kinds of questions that plague Casey.

Free Food for Millionaires was really absorbing and such a nice change of pace from the mysteries that I usually read. I recently enjoyed Purgatory Ridge, by William Kent Krueger and Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. I'm sure that I'll snack on another mystery before diving into another novel.

Tomorrow I think I'll have another finished object to share.

Nov 4, 2007

Cold Comfort

IMG_2010This was my home for the weekend. We stayed in a county park that was close to home and lovely. There is a lake and ball fields and a water park that is super fun in the summer. I'd been to the water park before but I had no idea that there were campgrounds there too. It seemed like a popular spot and there were many RV'S there. I saw license plates from Montana, Florida, and South Dakota.

We weren't exactly in the lap of luxury but there were some things that kept it from being unpleasant. The bathrooms were nice and clean and WARM. Running water and real toilets are nice but the water was warm too. That was a pleasant surprise.

I slept ok. I had a really good, new, sleeping bag that kept me nice and warm. What I lacked was an air mattress. I could've taken one with me but I didn't think I'd need it. I wanted to keep things simple and I thought I'd be ok without it. Not so much! I'm really achy today. Maybe I slept wrong. Maybe I was on a root. I don't know but my side and my neck are paying the price.

IMG_2011The temperatures dropped really low at night. Saturday was true Fall weather. Perhaps even Winter. I piled on thermal shirts and sweatshirts and jackets just to keep my body warm. One part of me was toasty warm without too much assistance. My feet! I brought a few pairs of hand knit socks with me and I'll tell you what. Those wool socks are really warm. Other people wore 3 and 4 pairs of socks but I was fine with just one. I am totally sold on the wool socks. Not only are they pretty, they're super warm too.

IMG_2008This was a Girl Scout event so we spent the weekend hiking and doing races and other planned activities. The girls were just so happy to be together. We broke into groups and did skits. I think that the adult skit was the best but I could be biased.

There was plenty of time to relax over the weekend. I spent a fair amount of it seeking the sun with a good book. Apparently I did a better job of staying warm in the sun than I thought because I got a little sunburned on my face.

Nov 1, 2007

ECF - Pink Sky Edition

Pink Sky

I love looking at the sky. Blue skies are beautiful and there is something really soothing and dreamy about a bunch of puffy clouds. Even the drama of a stormy sky can be an amazing thing to behold. But my favorite by far are the colorful skies. No matter how many times I see it, a pink sky never fails to catch my attention. What about you?

I'm not sure what the skies will be like this weekend but I'm pretty sure that I'll have a good view of them since I'll be camping. Yup, camping. In November. I'm not sure why I said I'd do this other than the fact that my daughter asked me to. Think warm thoughts for me.

Have a great weekend!