Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Thing I Hate About Knitting

I remember when I first started knitting. I was 6 years old, and Grammy and My Mom taught me. But I was left handed, trying to knit their right handed way. Actually, though, the handedness thing did not deter me. What caused me to put away the needles for 36 years was twofold: 1) all there was to knit with at the time was ugly acryllic Redheart; and 2) everything I made turned out ugly. I would make an ill-fated mistake, not know how to fix it and rip the project out in frustration even before anyone could rescue my work. So I stopped knitting for the same reason I stopped sewing: the projects were long and hard and turned out fugly.

Now, since restarting the knitting hobby 4 years ago, I sometimes make projects that I regret. Usually it's more a result of my choosing a project that doesn't look good on me (the green puke-colored tank top made from sale yarn . . . it was sale yarn for a reason!), or that I just don't ever wear or use (i.e. the countless scarves in my closet). Oh, and don't forget the collection of felted bags I've made and seldom carry.

Fortunately, though still not a prolific knitter, I am usually satisfied, sometimes VERY satisfied with my knitted results. Best case: my recent Forest Canopy Shawl I recently completed in mid-May. It took about 6 weeks or so to knit, but I was deliriously happy with the results.

But since then, I've been working on a lace sweater that I hoped to wear to Stitches in early August. I've been knitting on it for a month. And I finally completed the back last night. That's all I've done - a back of a sweater in a month. Guess what? I compared it to photo in the pattern book today, and it's not right at all - the top part of the thing is wrong. There are supposed to be little flame-like points coming up off the cables and drifting into the reverse stockinette upper back. Instead, mine are weird fireworks-like offshoots that look like firecrackers that fizzled. Plus, I think I'm going to run out of yarn early, even though I bought an extra skein and now they are out of that dyelot. Damn. Damn. Damn.

I hate knitting sometimes.

Sweater Problem Update: Sometimes nothing just NOTHING replaces the help of an objective set of expert eyes to catch what you are doing wrong. I went over to the Studio Thursday night after work and the Dr. Knitting Fix It (Cindy Craig of the Sutdio) helped me figure out where I'd gone wrong. Luckily, I'd installed lifelines along the way, so we were able to rip back - had to rip 1/3 of the back to fix it, but the good news is IT IS FIXED AND BACK ON TRACK! Yay!

The European Traveler Returns

Here she is - back at last. Exhausted. Excited. Homesick.



Sunday, June 24, 2007

This Perfect Day

I meant to post this yesterday but was too tired after having such a beautiful but busy day. It started with me getting my eyebrows waxed - always a good, clean feeling. But the fact that my Beauty Brands appointment was at 8:00 a.m. got me out of the house early on a Saturday when I usually spend time mulling around for a few hours and killing most of the morning.

Next stop was to pick up my Mom and visit our favorite yarn haunt, the Studio which I visited to pay for my bus trip to Chicago next month. While there, we ran into Carol who was picking up some lovely shawl yarn. Most of the folks in my yarn group have officially been bitten by the shawl bug. We're thinking shawls, shawls, shawls, let me tell ya! So we sat down at the big wooden knitter's gathering table and studied the shawl patterns. We picked out at least 10 that we'd like to make. We were just in a shawl admiring trance. Even my Mom who normally only knits socks started getting the glaze in her eyes.

While in said hynotic state, I was smitten by the beauty of a new display at the front of the store. Prominently displayed, along with sea shells and fishing net etc, was this lovely new (to me) yarn manfactured by Handmaiden and called "Sea Silk" - oh my gosh, it is lovely both to the eye and to the touch. . The photo I took here in my dimly lit living room doesn't do the yarn justice. If you go to their website, you can get a better idea of the true colors - and the colorway I bought is called "Midnight" and is shades of purple, navy, bronze - I can't even describe it, but very pretty and amazingly soft. You can go to the Handmaiden website and see a more accurate photo of this yummy yarn! This is destined to become a shawl as well. From what I figure, a medium sized shawl would require 2 hanks with each having approximately 440 yards.

My Mom and I spent two delicious hours in the The Studio and while there, we met a couple of other interesting people who were shopping around and admiring the same yarn and patterns we were. Linda, I also hope that you will consider joining us for Stitches, not to enable you or anything, but I hope you sign up and ride the bus with us. We will have a blast.

While there, we met another lady, who I think works part-time in the Studio, who not only enabled me in my shawl envy, but also broke my resolve not to buy more yarn books for a while. The book, NO SHEEP FOR YOU by Amy R. Singer, is packed full of patterns I actually want to make - really. Not just luke warm, but I wish I could just drop everything and knit several things, especially the lovely Tuscany shawl on page 50 of the book. I want to make that one in bright red. By the way, I now have so many "to be knit" shawl patterns that I am making an official shawl notebook.

When my Mom and I finally pulled overselves away from The Studio, we went to lunch at my favorite restaurant called "Andres." It's a Suisse restaurant that Mom introduced me to at the tender age of 10. Though I love eating out, no other restaurant even comes CLOSE to this place. We used to go eat there every single Saturday while growing up. It was a mother-daughter ritual. Consequently, the place is seeped in fond memories. No matter how much I change all these years, Andres hasn't. It is a Suisse chateau interior and exterior, the amora of the fresh pastries, gourmet cuisine and lovely charming setting just puts me in nirvana immediately. They have the best, freshest tasting iced tea anywhere, and on a hot summer day like yesterday, I drank several glasses of tea, enjoyed my favorite Quiche Lorraine. We ended the meal with a Glacier, the most delicious pastry and a longstanding favorite of mine. It was worth every calorie.

In the afternoon, I left the Plaza and went back home to make dinner for a friend of ours. We made chicken on the grill, served with a big salad and sauteed squash and onions. Yum!

We ended the evening by watching an excellent move called "Flags of Our Fathers" directed by Clint Eastwood and it's the story behind the famous photo of the five World War II soldiers who are raising the American flag on the mountaintop in Japan. It's really a thought-provoking movie.

While watching it, I had a chance to work more on my current Work In Progress called "Pretty Raglan Tee" from Nashua Handknits in the yarn "Cilantro." The color is Milk Chocolate. So far, I've been working for about 3 weeks on the back. Since it's lace, it isn't fast - and let's face it, I'm just NOT a fast knitter. Here is what I have done so far. If I work on it much today, I might complete the back.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Austria Alps

Here's a bit of interesting triva as my girl explores Innsbrook, Austria. An Austrian architect named Victor Gruen left Vienna for the US in 1938 with $8 in his pocket. He carried memories of the coffee shops so common in his beloved Austria. With these fond memories, he set about designing a place where people could sit in pleasant surroundings and have plenty of room to stroll and relax and do some shopping. He further thought the "center" should have a larger "anchor" business at each end. With his invention, he could be called the inventor of the indoor shopping center.

We finally got an email from the daughter. She's been having a great time, and especially enjoyed her few days in Switzerland, where her room overlooked the mountains. She is missing home nearly as much as we're missing her. She returns in a few days, and I can't wait.

Had a crying jag at work today. I don't know if it was the stress of low sales, or a little emotional meltdown from missing my daughter. But I'm a mess at any rate.

I can use some mindless knitting this weekend. I'm going to sign up for the bus trip that the Studio is sponsoring to Stitches. I can't believe my daughter's trip to Europe is almost over, and my trip to Chicago is just over a month away. Time goes so quickly. Summer marches on, the heat and humidity intensify. This is my least favorite time of year. But I have my air conditioning and my knitting to take the summer heat off. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Hills Are Alive . . . .

The girl is in Switzerland, but we haven't heard from her. ET phone home! It's been a couple of days since we've heard word of how the trip is going. Her trip is exactly half over. I officially miss her and am glad that she will be home in exactly one week.

Went to meet the knitting girls last night, Mary, Carol, Laura and Carolyn. Mary finished her Charlotte's web shawl - lovely beyond words. Laura finished her Flower Box shawl, and it is fabulous, and there just aren't enough adjectives. Thanks to them, I'm now yearning even MORE to make another. I had preliminarily started another but it didn't quite suit - not the right yarn nor pattern for my tastes, so I ripped that out.

Last night at the knitting group, I knit on a pair of toe-up socks. Only after I knitted for over two hours on those socks did I realize that they are too wide for my narrow foot. So before leaving last night . . . I ripped everything I'd knitted. I guess that I really NEEDED to do some mindless stockinette anyway, so it was no big loss.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In a Parisian State of Mind

My girl is currently in Paris. I miss her. We are watching Amelie, set in Paris, and trying to imagine the sights she's seeing as we follow her travel plans from the copy of her place-by-place itenerary.

We spoke with her a couple of times recently. She says she is having so much fun. Ah, sigh. I'm happy for her.

What did we do over the lonely weekend? Moped around mostly. We went to the Farmer's Market to buy fresh produce so I'd be motivated to cook healthier foods again. Since the girl has been gone, I've been eating everything that isn't nailed down. Today we bought fresh cauliflower, brocolli, tomatoes and summer squash as well as fresh onions. Maybe I'll cook something.

We went to visit my Grammy and my Mom, since my favorite uncle and his boys are in town. Grammy, my Mom and I all three knitted miniature sock earrings that look like this: They are the Los Lobe so tiny sock earring pattern from Carol Breitner, I made this one little sock in about an hour. Very fast and easy - tiny needles! But we're probably going to wear these as earrings or lapel pins when we go to Stitches in August.

Speaking of Stitches, the plans are in process and beginning to take shape. Mom and I, along with Laura, are going down on the bus with the Studio gang. L-o-n-g Roadtrip! It will be so much fun. I look forward to it.

In my Stitches wardrobe preparation, I've been trying to get some things quickly knitted up for the trip, but nothing's been quick. For about two weeks or so, since Memorial Day, I've been working on a lacy summer sweater that I'm battling a bit right now. Currently working on the first piece, the back. No pictures yet. It was looking very cute for a while, but I've run into a bit of confusion right now with the pattern. Probably something I'm doing wrong. Ripping may be (and probably will be) involved.

Have a nice week everyone. It's been a bit too hot and humid for my liking, but I'm grumpy right now with the girl gone, so I'm not sure if it's the heat or the wistfulness that is making me feel just not-quite-right.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

English Channel

I haven't blogged since the girl left. Last weekend, we had the chance to see her and her group of traveling students/musicians perform at a send-off concert in Wichita. I was so proud of her I cried. They sang beautifully and made me so proud. The kids selected for this trip were selected not only for their musical ability, but more importantly, their character, so it meant a lot to me and was very emotional.

We had quite the drama getting her out and to the airport on her trip Tuesday. I went to work that day . . . and Bob was seeing her off that day. Well, on the way the airport, he and the daughter stopped for a "quick lunch" that turned into a nail-biting adventure. They were both so stressed out that they locked the keys in the car. They had to call a locksmith . . . get into the car . . . and drive like speed demons to the airport to catch up with the traveling party. I was sick to my stomach the whole day, worried that she might miss her flight and then all would be for naught. I kept getting frantic nervous phone calls, but they made it . . . ah!!

We haven't heard much from the girl, because they have such a frantic schedule. But we know she arrived and is safe. We had one hurried, breathless phone call verifying that much, along with the giggles of other kids in her party. She's fine. She is I'm sure having a BLAST! But I miss her.

We have a copy of her travelogue, so we know for instance that yesterday she crossed the English Channel. Today she is in France. It's strangely quiet around here. I miss her.

My girl has been gone for 5 days - five long days. I miss her something fierce!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Finger Are You?

You Are the Index Finger

You are ambitious, driven, and capable.
You aren't afraid to take responsibility for your actions - or place the blame on whoever deserves it.
You are honest, free thinking, and objective. You see things in your own way - and you aren't afraid to let everyone know about it.

You get along well with: The Thumb

Stay away from: The Ring Finger

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rip Roar'n Week

Ughhh. Preparing for daughter's trip abroad.

Foreign Currency
Sheet music
Packing every conceivable thing under the sun that she needs or might need - in a suitcase that isn't too heavy or too big and meets airline regulations

New software system at work - yes it was installed this week and has been making work life hellish on top of personal hellishness at home.

I am so exhausted

I haven't even had time to figure everything out or even to make sure I've bought, packed, prepared and provided everything. And she's leaving in just a few days.

I'll miss her. I'll worry.

I'm exhausted.

It's an experience of a lifetime.

But preparing for it is an experience of a lifetime for me.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Hobo Purse Revisited

Started out this way - bleh boring!

Finished: Not so boring and definitely
more hobo like.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Bird Story - And A Treadmill

We woke up this bright sunny (for once) Spring morning to the sound of birds, and when we went to get our coffee, look who was sleeping out on the deck railing? A bird. I don't know what kind of bird. But he appears to be asleep. He was out there, sleeping, sitting, daydreaming (whatever) for quite some time. He remained there, oblivious, while we snapped his photo several times and stood by and watched him, drinking our coffee.

Bob wonders if this tranquil little bird thinks he's on a really, thick secure branch, since this railing is so close to the familiar tree -- not sure what he thinks. I was warned long ago by a science professor of mine NOT to anthromorphize animals and even pretend to know what they think. But if we once again had a cat, like we've recently contemplated, this bird wouldn't be safe sitting on the deck railing.

Eventually, after standing there watching him for a long time, we started hearing other birds calling out to him, perhaps saying "Wake up, you Dummy! Get out of there and back into the tree!" We're not sure. Is this bird stupid or merely trusting?

On a non-bird-related note - as of last weekend, I now have absotely NO EXCUSE not to exercise. When Bob and I were in St. Louie last weekend, we had a chance to workout on the hotel's treadmill and we really liked it. We've been considering getting one for quite some time, so we finally did over the Memorial Day holiday.

We've both been working out on it nearly every day this week. I skipped 2 days out of 7 so far, and I'd like to get on it every single day. So far, I'm on a 25 minute (1 mile) program with it, but I'm hoping to expand that out to 30 minutes this week. We still plan on going on our outdoor walks, but the reason I like having this treadmill is on days like the ones we've had lately (torrential rains) or on days in the summer when it is 100 degrees and 90% humidity, we can still exercise and have no excuse to get lazy.

We put it downstairs, in our basement, but we have a TV set up down there so we can workout in entertainment and comfort. So far, it's working out well.

The new element I need to bring into my lifestyle is excercise - not "work out until I drop and give up" exercise, but just doable sessions, doable amounts, every day. I really believe consistency is the key and it's something I always struggle with. I once heard a self-help tape that said, "A little is a LOT." I need to tape this into my subconscious. Every little bit I do in the way of everything good, but especially exercise, really helps make me healthier. That's right! Speaking of which, it's treadmill time. Catch you later.