Friday, February 29, 2008

Okay, I Won't Be Taking Lemon in My Water

While I may waste money on yarn and books and coffee, I usually like to save money when I order at restaurants by getting just a water with lemon. I like lemons and they add a little "zip" to both my water and iced tea, so I always order it at restaurants.

After seeing this video report from a microbiologist, I think I'll definitely SKIP that lemon from now on, thank you very much. Ughhhhh.

It seems that about 77% of the lemons served in restaurants have various gross kinds of bacteria on them, because the lemons are often sliced on the same cutting board or with the same knives as raw meat. It gets even grosser. But I won't go into details. You can learn about it by going to the link.

So . . . . while I'll still have lemon in my drinks at home, I think I'll take them plain when I order out.

Thank goodness the weekend is coming. And I hear the weather is supposed to be as warm and sunny as a . . . lemon. Sort of.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Day Well Spent in Lawrence

Saturday was great! Though cold, Bob and I took off early for a planned road trip to Lawrence, Kansas. You see, there was this train show drawing us there. And plus, there's always Yarn Barn for me to explore.

We started our day off right by going to my favorite Lawrence coffee and breakfast spot, Milton's. Even at 8:00 in the morning, it was packed. This is the kind of place that serves wonderful, bottomless cups of coffee in all KINDS of flavors and strengths. Not the fru-fru latte' stuff (although they probably have that too), but the REAL fresh-ground bean kind that is the favorite of those of us who drink our coffee PLAIN, BLACK and unaudulterated with milk and foam. Instead of waiting for a server to serve you more, everyone goes to the pots and fills up themselves as needed.

Next we headed over to the train show. It was really fun. We spent the morning there. Not only did we find a few things to add to Bob's small display, but we also won a door prize, and that's always exciting. It was so neat to watch the little guy's there with their father's and grandfather's staring in mesmerization at the trains on display.

We also OF COURSE had to stop in at Yarn Barn where I found a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Lace in a color called Cinnebar - yum. I found Louet Gem's sock yarn there too in a shade of green. I've been wanting to try that sock yarn because so many people rave about it. I can never walk out of that store empty-handed now, can I? It's downright impossible.

I made it back to town in time to go to Honkerbeans to meet with my regular knitting crowd. Unfortunately, during the time there, we discovered that they are no longer owned by the family who used to own them, and they have even changed names etc. They are turning it into an Italian eatery in the evenings and maybe the weekends - the format is still undecided but I just wonder if we'll still be able to meet there? Not sure. I know that I much preferred it being a family-owned casual coffee shop. So if you go to Honkerbeans and don't find us there, go to Borders. I don't like the idea of switching to a corporate owned place. But how many places can 10-15 people meet for free in our area? Not sure yet.

While there at Honkerbeans, Kay brought in more of her hand-dyed yarn and I fell in love with Black Rose. It's mine now. She's really brewing up some winning colorways.

I found some help with my Magic Loop socks at the knit group yesterday. Both Carol and Kay helped me figure out the basics of how Magic Loop works. Then I came home that night and guess what? I opened up Melissa's book again, followed the instructions step-by-step and it suddenly made perfect sense. I loved it! Started knitting two small socks at once and they are really easy and fast. This method might make a believer and a two-at-a-time sock knitter out of me yet. Why knit only one when I can knit two and it's really really EASY. I swear.

Do you notice the cute little red bag sitting there holding my sock yarn? My friend Carla told me she got one on clearance from Avon. So I went on ebay and found one here for only $4.50 + shipping. It's $9 after shipping, but it's really a great little 9" by 4" vinyl bag. It holds 2 balls of yarn, my socks in progress, a small knitting notions packet. If you are trying to find it through Avon it's called, "Avon Red Holiday Train Makeup Case." Now I have socks 2 at a time TO GO.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Looking Forward - Knitting in the Heartland

While I sort of already know how to do toe-up socks doing the 2 circ method, as you know, I want to learn the Magic Loop if there's any humanly way to teach an old dog (me) new tricks.

I was just grousing about that in my last post. And then hey, I starting investigating the Sunflower Guild's Knitting in the Heartland conference being held April 5th and 6th. Guess what? I may learn Magic Loop once and for all because I'm taking a class with Carmen at Knitting in the Heartland. I signed up the other day. The class description says, "In this class, learn why we love to start at the toe, knit to fit, and when you run out of yarn, you're done! Knit a mini sock-shaped coin purse using the magic loop technique, learning invisible toe cast on, show row heel and alternatives to the standard bind off."

I have some flyers if anyone else is interested in taking some classes that first weekend in April or go to the Guild's website and check it out for yourself. The classes are economical and there will be a market as well. Stephanie Japhael of FITTED KNITS will be the featured guest teacher. Best of all Carmen and Kay will both be vendors there.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Plonk Plonk - Is that Snow or What

Yesterday morning, we were awakened to the "plonk plonk" of something heavy and loud on the side of our house. When I looked out, it was the snow the weatherman had predicted, but it was raining down like big clods of slush and hit the ground with a weird "thunk" and quickly collected in slushy debris all over the road and everywhere else.

Throughout the day, it gradually melted - sort of. Then it got really cold last night and froze all up again. From what I hear, rush hour this morning is a God Awful Mess. Because of my later work schedule, I haven't trekked out into it yet. But I'm dreading it.

I am in a real February BLAH feeling. All I want to do is stay home, hole up in the house and hibernate. But that gets depressing too. I think it's just a depressing month. I normally like cold weather but even I am really really sick of being cold by now. Spring seems so far away. Whine, whine, whine.

Nothing exciting in the knitting world either. I am still working on the never-ending Wrap Me Up and hopefully SOON I won't need it anymore.

I bought this book over the weekend. I liked it because the book is spiral bound, lies flat to make for easier knitting/reading while working. It has good photos and teaches the Magic Loop method, knitting two socks at once from the cuff down only. For those of you who prefer toe-up, forget it, there's nothing in this book about that. Strictly cuff down, which is okay with me.

I love the patterns in this book, and want to make several of them. Even though the book shows step-by-step how to do the Magic Loop, I tried it twice with the sample sock she demonstrates in the intro, and though I understood it theoretically, in practice it felt awkward. I would have been fine with awkward for a while because every new technique feels weird at first. But with the increased tension of using 1 needle, I kept getting these huge gaping strings/holes between the front and back of each of the two socks. No matter how tight I tried to pull them together, and knit tight, each row kept gaping again and wouldn't close up. I tried using 40 inch needles and then switched to 47 - they both were the same. Not attractive. So I finally gave up and put them away, going back to my old tried-and-true method of socks on 2 circs.

Why you may ask would I want to learn Magic Loop since I already have mastered 2 circ method? Well, I just like to learn new things. Probably because it's novel, new and fun. I also like to find better ways of doing things if another method turns out honestly better. I see several of my friends, especially Carol, using and loving the Magic Loop, so I figured there MAY be an inherent advantage to it. I just havent seen the light yet. I also haven't quite seen the advantage of doing 2 at once either.

I personally don't have the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. Making socks takes me so long that once I finish one, I'm eager to start the second and it usually goes much faster, with the motivation of being able to wear the things relatively soon. Plus, making two at once (and I HAVE done it before) makes the whole thing feel heavier, less portable, more yarn tangling etc. Two at once and Magic Loop both seem too inconvenient and fiddly for me. But I am open to being convinced otherwise.

Also, I am totally convinced that T.S. Eliot was WRONG about April being the cruelest month. It's a tie between February and August. By the end of winter (whine-ter) and the end of summer, I am always so glad to be done with the extreme temps that they seem extremely slow and cruel.

The reason I've been so sock obsessed this weekend is because I have been DYING to start a new pair of socks using the Dome yarn I bought from Kay. I wound it and will begin this week by starting a brand new pair of socks. Just the beginnings. This yarn is so colorful and cheerful, so my solution to the winter doldrums will be to knit them away. That will make me feel much better.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Contemplating Future Projects

Even while I work on this Wrap Me Up project, which seems to be taking forever (I'm currently on Block 12 of 21 blocks), other future projects are dancing in my head. This Wrap is growing big - more like an afghan than a wrap really. I can't imagine wearing it around without looking like Linus dragging a brightly colored blanket. Hmmm. It might be a good lap ghan. Oh well, it's fun, but I'm eager to finish it already and move onto other things.

In short, as bitter cold temperatures surround me and I can't get warm for the life of me, I am contemplating many Springy projects and my queue of future projects grows as the free time I have to work on them shortens. I could blame my flighty attention span, but instead, I think I'll blame Ravelry for trying to entice me to new things. Why blame myself when I can blame Ravelry?

The cupcake fingerless mitts I started (one mitt complete) need to be ripped out and started over. It came out too far out on my fingers. They are designed to go more than halfway down the finger area, and I discovered I don't like that. All my other fingerless gloves I've made and worn end just at the base of the fingers, so they don't get in your way. These really obstruct my fingers and drive me crazy, plus they are too wide for my hand, so I need to make them narrower. They will definitely be a "redo" becaue I love how the gloves look. Can't wait to do the embroidery embellishments. That will be really fun.

I want to use this lovely haindpainted (Crafty In a Good Way) handpainted silk to make a rectangular shawl. I have two different patterns in mind, but am worried that with both of them, the 1050 yards in this particular skein may not be quite enough. They both require about 1200 yards. Do I dare risk running out? Hmmmm. Not sure. It's kind of risky. And with a rectangular shawl, you can't just do fewer repeats I don't think. I've never made a rectangular shawl before.

I also really REALLY like Jane Thornley's Feather and Fan Organic Wrap. This is something I think would go pretty fast and I've been longing to do for a while with the yarns pictured here from my stash. It would be a good stashbuster wrap. But do I really need another wrap? Well, I do seem to use them.

Decisions, decisions.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Returning To "Wrap Me Up"

Remember this project? Wrap Me Up? I started it in August during my road trip to Stitches Midwest but I set it aside during the hot August heat and have had it sitting around for 6 months now. Time to pull it back out!

I've been working on it again. I added a lime green beaded section that was lots of fun. You can see it in the photo posted.

There are so many projects I want to do right now, but very few hours in the day to do all I want. Isn't that the usual story?

I've been really exhausted. It's been my first week out on the floor at work (just fresh out of a month of training). I now have different work hours than before and am working into the early evening. The hours sort of cut a swath out of the middle of my day/night, so it feels like I don't get as much done. Going in a bit later has been helpful in terms of getting to work in the bad weather we've been having, but it plays hell on my body rhythm and time with my family. The job itself seems really good - I'm catching on faster than I thought and I enjoy the work itself. Every new thing takes adjustments - and I'm in a transition phase.

Here are a couple pictures of my daughter and her boyfriend. Her social life is busier than ever these days.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Duper Tuesday - and Super Freaky Weather

First of all, in spite of a strange freakish severe thunderstorm and pouring rain, I got out and voted first thing in the morning for the leader I feel more excited about than I have been for anyone is a L-O-N-G time. I always vote in every primary, and every election, but this one made me especially proud. Barack Obama makes me believe that he might actually pull our country out of this big mess we're in.

At any rate, our state, Missouri, narrowly agreed with me, by a 1% margin. In the Democratic party in Missouri, we split the votes according to percentage, so it went for him, but she'll get some too. The cities of Kansas City and St. Louis voted for him overwhelmingly, but the rural areas went Hilary.

Even though I'm a political junkie, I try not to blog about it, but couldn't resist today. I am so proud and happy. Wish he had even a better showing in my State, but an amazing number of Democrats (1/2 million) braved horrible weather to cast their vote. Last night, the pouring rain turned into ice and a bit of snow. The highway I drive to work was shut down last night after 12 wrecks. We have more snow coming today - here's the forecast. It's open today, thouh, so I have to figure out how to get to my new job - they have a really strict attendance policie for newbies.

Another weird thing - they had a tornado in Arkansas yesterday, to our south.

My daugter, who gets really really tired of us talking politics at our house, had to share this Obama clip with me and I'm passing it along to everyone else who cares to be moved by it. Thanks, honey, it's a really good one! Obama link.

Tomorrow, it will be back to knitting, life and other stuff. But for today, I'm still savoring the belief that YES WE CAN!!! (Even in crummy freakish thunderstormy and now ICEY weather). Yikes. Have a good one everyone.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dome the Yarn - And Those Who Will Soon Knit It Up

My friend Kay FINALLY dragged herself back to our Sip N Knit group this weekend. Yay! I haven't seen her in a hound's age, and I really missed her. We soon discovered that she's been busy there at her "Dome" (she's building a geodesmic dome house). And it seems she's been cook'n up some mighty fine acid-dyed yarn there in her crafty hideaway.

So she brought it to our group and opened it up for sale. Not that she was a yarn enabler or anything. Nahhh. She must have sensed it was right about time for us Yarn Dieters' to break our fast. I started the buying procession by latching upon this "Flam'N Hot" Dome Hill Sock Yarn. But don't worry, I am NOT making socks with it. No, it will eventually become a shoulder shawl.

Then I started a buying frenzy. I won't tell tales or name names to protect the innocent, but let's just say that nearly all of us partook in buying at least one. Okay, I'll name Mary, who bought the lovely Carmel Latte'.

Here are some other members, working away on their various projects. We have Lorenia, who loves all things Dr. Who and has been busy crocheting Dr. Who characters. This is the Dr. himself, and she's currently making Rose.

We have Laura and her daughter, Fry, modeling their recently completed sweaters. We are hoping that Fry will develop an avid interest in knitting soon, but we haven't quite talked her into it yet.

Mary finished the baby blanket and it looks fantastic.

Tracy is from Ravelry and has been to visit a couple of times and needs to come more often. She is making a felted bag. Not sure which pattern.

We had a new visitor named Rachel from Ravelry. Here she is with the baby washcloth she is knitting for a gift.

I apologize to anyone at the meeting who felt that I talked their arm, leg, or knitting needles off. I haven't really been to a meeting there in a couple of weeks and I missed it so much. Knitting is my passion, and I get carried away a bit at times. I always talk a lot, but not usually THAT much.

This last photo is my current project, which is the Cupcake Fingerless Mitts, a new design by Karen Neal of The Studio. She has been designing some really cute stuff and her pattern is listed on Ravelry. The first glove is almost finished but I am going to add some embroidery embellishments, as the pattern suggests. I really love making this mitts so far. The bright colors I've chosen are brightening the long winter days and making me start to hope for an early Spring.

If anyone wants to get hooked up with some Dome Hill Yarns, go to the link and you too can have some.