Friday, November 30, 2007

Toe-Up Socks Anyone?

I had this urge this week to knit . . . . toe-up socks! I've been working on so many long-range projects lately, i.e. the Einstein coat, the Capricious Freeform Shawl (crochet), that I decided I needed a portable project, and I really really missed knitting SOCKS.

I also love fall, autumny colors, so what did I pick out of my overflowing sock stash but my Jitterbug's Raphael. I really like these socks so far. I am past the toe and into the foot knitting part. I am using my favorite (so far) toe-up sock pattern that is free from Chery's website. It uses a Turkish Cast on, which is an easy and hassle-free way to get started and have a nice-looking toe. I like to follow the Turkish Cast on directions described in detail by Deb, FlufferKnitter. I think this cast on was originally created by Meg Swenson, but Deb has an excellent step-by-step tutorial that I linked to. Chery's pattern features a heel flap, which is my preferred type of heel. I'm using size 0 circular needs because I knit very loose and am using fingering weight sock yarn.

Today I received Lynn of ColorJoy's First Time Toe-Up Socks in the mail. It appears to be an easy way of making toe-up socks in a variety of yarn weights. If anyone is a new sock knitter, or certainly new to toe-up socks, this pattern would be a perfect starting place. I may try her version of toe-up socks on heavier weight sock yarn sometime. I ordered a new set of Knitpicks DP Harmony needles (the wooden kind) which should be arriving any day now too.

LynnH and her husband Brian sing 1920's music as The Fabulous Heftones - I got her second CD which is Moon June Spoon. Her first CD has "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" which never fails to make me smile!! Maybe I'll tiptoe through the ice (this morning) to make my way back to Weight Watchers and see how I did this week on the scale. I did well except for last night's dinner, when we went out as a family and ate Chinese Food last night, not so good for the night before weigh-in, huh?

Regarding my Weight Watchers week - dieting always goes better when you have a diet/exercise buddy for support. This week my friend Phyllis and I wrote emails back and forth cataloging what we ate and the points. That worked really well, although toward the end of the week, I got lazy on sending her my journal. But knowing she was keeping me accountable helped to keep me on track. I didn't exercise yet, not once this week, and I know that's what I need to do this coming week. But the fact is, I kept my awareness and stayed on track even during a really tough week.

I also gave notice to quit at work, so my last day there will be coming up in about a week or so. I already went on one job interview for a temp company and let's just say it was less-than-stellar. I had to laugh to keep from crying. The job search has begun - wish me luck on that.

But I'm okay, really I am. Feeling pretty good actually this week and proud of myself for not eating everything that wasn't nailed down. For almost a whole week, I recognized and responded to my emotions instead of eating from them. Bravo!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Yeah I'm Red All Right

Thanks to Catherine, I took this color/personality test and it came out - I'm Red. Not only Red hair, but apparently red in persona as well. Hmmm. Have to agree with it though. There's a link below if you want to see what kind of person you are.

Your Passion is Red!

You've got that spark - a good dose of intensity, power, and determination.

You do whatever you want in life ... to hell with what anyone thinks!

With so many interests and loves, you're always running around doing something new.

You have fire in your eyes, and it shows. Bet you're even wearing something red!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Gift to Myself - Awareness

Today I went to Weight Watchers - again. (Haven't been in a while). Err. Yeah. But anyway, forced myself back today to weigh in and face the music. Not too much Thanksgiving damage done, but I'm still back at where I was earlier this Fall, since I haven't been exactly sticking to my Weight Watchers plan and have been doing the treadmill only on a half-assed, shall we say sporadic basis?

I find this leader, Cristina, very inspiring. She's the one I told you about before - the one who looks like Nicole Kidman and motivates like crazy. Today's topic was "A Gift to Myself - Awareness."

All week I've been considering my word for 2008 - for those who don't know what this is, go to my earlier post from last year which you'll find a discussion of this yearly word thing - link is here in my post last year from December 31st, 2006. I pick a word that governs my year.

Anyway, I've already picked my word for 2008, the word is "Awareness." What does awareness entail? I did some thinking about this and have come up with at least a few ideas.

Well, first, according to the Daily Om the meaning of awareness includes "Curative attentiveness." It says, "The awareness you cultivate within yourself will eventually enable you to create a foundation of positivity from which you can build a more authentic existence."

Awareness also involves being fully conscious in the present moment, being aware of your surroundings, your feelings, your thoughts, your judgements and your actions in the present moment. It involves pulling onself out of the day-to-day acting from automatic, robatic behavior, past destructive behavior and thought patterns and instead, becoming aware of one's perceptions, of making a conscious choice.

I can make healthier choices in my life. I can be more aware of my eating, my exercise, my thinking. I can use that worksheet I created several weeks ago to keep track of my ultimate goals. Several years ago at a Weight Watcher's meeting, a lady in the audience said something that has stuck with me for years. She said, "I need to remember that what I want at the moment isn't always what I really REALLY want in the long-term." Only awareness and action on that awareness will bring a person to their desired outcome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thankful for Three Days Off!

Let me start by saying, I am grateful for so many things - but nothing tops my gratitude of having 3 successive work days off from the office! So I'm off Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. How wonderful is that?

Getting another job soon is high on my list of priorities right now. Intention: to revamp my resume and start sending it out to the universe (and the Internet). The job hunting process, much as I hate it, really needs to start ASAP.

I also want to get my house in better order (literally) - the place is kind of a mess, particularly the home office room. In addition to our desks and computers, it's sort of a conglomeration of everything we don't know quite what to do with. Everyone seems to grativate to that room and everyone leaves a little bit of "junk" behind. House shoes, books, you name it, it's there. So some decluttering definitely needs to be done.

But not all of this holiday will be spent on all work and no play. There will be yarn play, let me assure you. For anyone who has talked to me lately, you know that I have been gushing about the Knitpicks Sock sampler kit that I got in the mail this week. Purchased with my Mom's birthday money. Thanks Mom!

I love the colors in this kit. They are simply amazing. My favorites. Laura suggested that I get this kit, because the colors are absolutely my favorites, all combined. Now what to make with them? I was thinking about making Charlotte's web, the shawl I've been wanting to do for a long time, but somehow, that just isn't what I feel like making right now with this lovely kit.

I've been dabbling with crochet, dabbling only a bit mind you, but what has most appealed to me is a freeform crochet shawl/cape like thing that is a design by Margaret Hubert. You can sort of see the shawl in the upper right of this pattern booklet! I don't have any other photo of this design and it's not up on Ravelry yet. I showed it to Carol last night and she thought it was really cute and doable at my limited level of crochet ability. I'll definitely "grow" as a crocheter by undertaking this project. Ha!

Here is the first leaf that I crocheted last night to get this cape started.

I'm off now to update the resume, do some errands, and above all, start Thanksgiving dinner.

Here is my Cranberry Relish Recipe:

2 packages of fresh cranberries
6 apples
5 oranges
Small package of peacans
Apple Butter - 2 Tablespoons
3 bags of Holiday Spice Tea - from Lipton or whatever spicy tea you like (you will use this merely for flavoring while boiling)
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of water

Begin by chopping apples and oranges into fairly small pieces while also removing the seeds
Grate some of the orange rind into a small container to add later
Get out your 3 holiday spice teabags
Get your 2 cups of sugar measured and ready

When all is chopped, boil the above ingredients (oranges, orange gratings, apples, sugar, tea bags) in about 3 cups of water until you hear the little cranberries go "pop" and they have a cooked appearance.

Strain the fruit mixture through a strainer to eliminate the excess water/juice.

Add a package of nuts and the 2 Tablespoons of apple butter (I buy Best Choice or whatever brand) to fruit. Mix well. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Tastes even better the next day. Serve with turkey. This can also be frozen and dethawed for later use.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Life Is Coming Up Roses - In my Winter Wear At Least

I have a finished scarf and glove set that are finally Finished Objects. One finished knitted item Ruffled Roses scarf (design by Annie Modisett - you can get her free pattern from your LYS). This is the scarf I started making last January during the ice storm? Remember how I put it
aside when I tired of the endless ribbing after the all-too-fun lace?

Nice scarf, I really really like it, except I wish I'd knit it a wee bit longer, but that's okay. I could only endured 26" of scarf ribbing goodliness on each side before I felt I'd keel over from ribbing burnout. So I have a fairly short 52" scarf.

Next, I decided that what I really needed to go WITH the darling scarf was a set of matching gloves and black hat - with embellishments. Mind you, I didn't feel quite energetic enough to actually knit a whole pair of gloves, especially in BLACK (dreaded color on the aging eyes). So I decided to buy a store-bought pair of black gloves and embellish the cuff. I wanted to include the lovely Online 194 Solo Linie in the burgandy color to match my scarf ruffle - I wanted that for the cuff edging. I also longed for a bit of cream lace for the top of the glove, again to match the scarf, so I carried the theme through 1 repetition of the lace pattern. My friend Carol suggested I do two repeats wide - one on each side to fit the gloves and that seemed to work out perfectly!

Then I took my little black felted hat from last year and made a big cabbage rose embellishment for it as well. Unfortunately, the cabbage rose came out too large and a bit gawdy, so I took it off.

Now I'm fully prepared for winter - at least in terms of winter accessories. I still need to check the antifreeze in my car, and I still have to find my ice scraper, yet at least I'll be cozier with these ruffled rose accessories to keep me warm.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekend Was a Blur

Last weekend we were in St. Louis and having a restful retreat. I'm posting a photo here of one of my all-time favorite bookstores, The Book House in St. Louis. It's haunted. Makes it even more special. If you want to read about the ghosts, click on the "Book House" link where I've attached an article about the bookstore and its ghosts.

But this weekend was the opposite, a whirlwind of errands, chores and running around. I did stop into the Sip and Knit group to see everyone for a quick Saturday afternoon visit, that was nice.

I'm still trying to slog through that Ruffled Roses Scarf. Feels like I'm NEVER going to finish knitting all that ribbing. I'm making progress, but certainly not finished yet. Since I ran out of both the grey and the cream in the Mission Falls yarn, I have to pick up more.

Wish I could move on to more exciting things! I really don't care for scarf knitting anymore. Too boring, even with a nice scarf. I will probably Russian graft these two scarf pieces together, as Carol suggested. Good idea.

Before moving on, though, I want to make make matching lacy ruffles on some store-bought black gloves and add a big cabbage rose embellishment to my felted black hat to make a complete winter hat, glove and scarf set to go with my black coat. Will show you when finished. It should be cute if I can make reality match the mental picture of what I'm trying to create.

Have a good week everyone.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Homestead Heirlooms Gets Kudos from Clara - and ME!!

Just a quick note, and then I must scoot off to work at the sales factory. But remember when I made my Harriett Bag I bragged about this company:


for the wonderful handles I purchased from them at Stitches Midwest? I have a set of their handles on my favorite bag. They offer fantastic customer service, yada, yada, yada?

Well, guess what? My glowing opinion is shared by none other Clara of Knitter's Review fame. After discovering their booth at Rhinebeck, she too fell in love with their excellent well-made leather handles and is now hankering to make a felted bag. Like me, she wasn't happy with the stretch i-cord handles so many bags featured in the early felting years of knitted bags. She carries heavy stuff in her bags. So now that's she's found this wonderful source of leather handles, she wrote a review of the company which you can read here.

Clara confirms what I've been saying about this vendor all along - they deserve rave reviews. Yes, buying a set of nice leather handles isn't cheap, I think my set cost around $40 - but it's well worth it. To me, it transforms what could be a "hand knit purse" into a "hand knit heirloom." Their company name says it all. I don't own stock in their company etc. - this is a totally unsolicited endorsement for a vendor who deserves kudos. Also, if you shop at Lori and Karen's website, as Clara points out, this small company is run by two women. You have to email them your order. I imagine right about now, they will probably be inundated with order from Knitter's Review fans, but be patient - their handles are well worth the wait.

Monday, November 05, 2007

St. Louis in Autumn

Not only did we take off Friday, but we drove to St. Louis for a weekend getaway. It was extremely nice to just GO. We need to make a point of getting away more often, though once winter comes, we seem to stay home a lot more.

While riding in the car, it gave me a chance to work on some projects. I made good progress on the Ruffled Roses Scarf. I am now almost finished with it. I really like the way it's working up so far. There was a momentary panic that I might run out of the Mission Falls Wool in "natural" color, but I had enough to scrape by and later found an extra skein.

We visited my favorite St. Louis knit shop, called Knitorious. That shop thrills me every time. Here I am, in their store, having a great time selecting yarns. But don't worry, I didn't go crazy, only came away with three skeins I couldn't resist for the freeforming.

I also worked a bit on my Freeform Yoke Einstein Coat. I found 4 more yarns to add to the log cabin panels for the front of it. I'll be starting on those panels very soon now.

We visited the Delmar Loop area. That area has really grown and changed these past few years. Many fun shops have sprung up there, including a brand new knitting shop called Knitty Couture. Ran into an old acquaintance there named Sam, a young man who used to work in a local knitting shop here in town. He is working there at Knitty Couture and he's an EXCELLENT hand at color work, including some elaborate Fair Isle pieces on display at the shop.

While at Knitty Couture, I just HAD to support their new shop Grand Opening by buying lovely skeins of Manos - again for the Freeform.

All in all, it was a FUN weekend. We relaxed, ate a lot, drove around and around the city reminising about my husband's childhood and revering in his old stomping ground. We read, relaxed, slept late, took in a movie, ate Italian on the Hill, shopped in the Delmar Loop, walked a ton, talked even more, saw a lot of lovely autumn trees and had a totally pleasurable 3 days off. It doesn't get much better than that. Not in this life, anyway.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Grace Eventually

Ahhh . . . . . a beautiful fall weekend ahead. I SOOOOOOO need it that I've taken a vacation day today (Friday) off to stay at home and spend time with my honey. We are SO needing our batteries recharged. Both of us have had a hectic fall. It's time to appreciate some much-needed downtime.

The trees aren't as beautiful as some years past . . . but a nice drive out in them will be wonderful. This is the peak autumn leaf weekend around these parts. So we may go look and appreciate the leaves because they are as good as they're going to get this year.

I read an absolutely fantastic book this week. Anne LaMott has long been one of my favorite authors, but I had the extreme pleasure of listening on CD in my car all week to the wonderful Ms. LaMott reading her book aloud. This book is a POWERFUL series of spiritual essays touching on all aspects of the personal stuff that a middle-aged woman goes through . . . coping with a rebellious teenager, facing challenging circumstances, the health crises and early death of friends, handling menopausal hormones and mood swings, being humble and apologizing when you lose your temper or do something really stupid. . . facing the nasty underside of one's personality while still loving yourself and others. This is a goldmine of spritual survival - at least for me. A shrink couldn't have prescribed a better book for me right now.

As a lifelong reader, and sometimes writer, I've always believed that books are interactive - that I can have mental conversations with authors and that there's nothing more exciting than interacting with a treasured author's thoughts, or in the case of fiction, with the fictional world they create. Anne LaMott is one of those authors I just CLICK with in a big way. I've met her in person at two different writer's conferences and had the pleasure of hearing her speak. It was a pleasure - even in a packed auditorium in August where the audience was squeezed together and the air conditioning was malfunctioning. Anne managed to hold our sweaty attention and keep us absorbed. She's a real pleasure and her gritty humor is the type that makes me laugh inside and out.