Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another Try at the Cables and Bobbles Hat

I gave up trying to salvage that Kathmandu yarn version of the Cables & Bobbles Hat from the January 2008 issue of Creative Knitting. I threw it in the trash.

Then late last week, I started a new version with cheap but wonderful "Caron's Simply Soft" in the Autumn Red colorway. I realize some knitters are totally put off of acrylic yarn, but truthfully, Caron's Simply Soft has always been one of my very favorite yarns! So I was quite happy to make the switch.

To make the hat a bit smaller, I went down from a size 10 1/2 needle that was called for in the pattern and moved to a 9, plus I cast on the brim with size 7.

It just so happens that a couple of years ago, I made Bobby an Irish Hiking scarf out of that same yarn and color. Well, since he hasn't worn the scarf himself, then as soon as I find it in one of these closets, I'm planning on confiscating it and it will officially mine. (Shsssh!!! Don't tell, he'll never notice). Then I'll have a nice little cables hat and scarf set just in time for the worst of the winter.

This weekend, we're having a weird Spring-ish reprieve. Yes, it's supposed to get up into the 60s today. But tomorrow another cold snap is coming and we'll be back to real winter again. This new hat and scarf set will come in handy. Eventually I'll make a pair of gloves to go with it too. But not immediately.

My next project is the set of Fingerless Gloves that Carol and I went to get the pattern for Thursday night (see Thelma & Louise adventure recounted below).

Have a fun, adventurous week everyone!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Not Quite Thelma and Louise

It all started last night. Early in the evening, my friend Carol called to see if I wanted to do an imprompteau knit session for a while. Yes, I did. But I also wanted to dash to The Studio to pick up a hot new pattern from Karen and get some yarn to go with it. They are a pair of fingerless gloves that she just designed for the Retreat, which unfortunately I don't get to go to. On my limited budget, I'd rather spend the money on yarn -- and patterns of course.

I know, I am supposed to be on a yarn diet. But this was a little bit of yarn. Sport weight yarn. And besides, I really wanted it.

Since we both wanted to go there (but mainly me, because I'm insistent that way), Carol met me at Honkerbean's, she was literally standing outside her car ready to jump in mine the moment I pulled up. That was at 6:20. The Studo was scheduled to close at 7:00 p.m. We were at thirty to forty minutes away. No problem.

Except I hit every red light going on every surface street right off the highway. Then on the Plaza, there was a major detour due to construction I didn't know about. We had to detour.

At 6:53 p.m., we had to stop at another red light going up the hill toward the shop. We called on the cell phone and asked Sara and Laura, the employees, not to close the door quite yet cuz we were ALMOST there.

I didn't even wait to find a parking spot, but pulled to an abrupt halt right in front of the shop at a couple of minutes AFTER 7:00. I told Carol to stand in the door and not let them lock up.

Due to the fact that they were already doing us a favor, we shopped fast, picked up the pattern and yarn and left.

Then we went off to Honkerbeans for some coffee and an hour knitting before they too closed. Party poopers. But we had a nice little outing. Two middle aged gals may not be Thelma and Louise, but we pulled off a drive-by stash enhancement and enjoyed a coffee and a laugh before heading home. Not bad for an otherwise boring Thursday night.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sanity Saving Book - A Gift From the Sea

In times of stress or trouble, I always seek refuge in a book my mother discovered in her forties and shared with me in my twenties. A Gift From the Sea by Ann Morrow Linbergh. Now that I'm into my err-hmm late forties, I really appreciate this slim volume of a book even more. It may be a fast-read, but this book should NOT be taken lightly in terms of power and impact on the inner life. It's a strong antiobiotic for the soul.

It occurred to me, as part of my "Sanity Saving" series that I ought to share this book with others as well. Books have always been my solace, my best friends, and a way to explore, learn and grow.

When I'm stressed, somtimes I need comfort, like a soft blanket, a warm cup of coffee, a good book, or comfort foods. (Those get me in weight trouble though). The coffee, books and blanket are calorie-free and thus preferable. Other times when I'm stressed, what I really need is a good kick in the butt mentally to shake me out of it. This mental kick can be self-provided or can come from someone who loves me and wants to shake me out of self-pity or fear. That's a real friend for you, someone who can do that.

This book is both a comfort as well as a kick in the butt. So it satisfies both de-stressing criteria.

In Gift from the Sea Lindbergh writes about her annual vacation to her childhood summer cabin in Maine where she retreats alone each year, leaving her husband and five children for the sheer joy of being alone with her thoughts, her writing and the sea. Within this beach house backdrop, Lindbergh uses sea and shell metaphors to relate a series of essays that describe her life and help her sort through it. Though the book was written many decades ago, during the fifties if I'm not mistaken, the truths in the book ring as true, or truer, today than 50 years ago.

This book is about Lindbergh's search for simplicity within the complications of modern life: motherhood, marriage, jobs, and friends.

I am going to dig out my copy to read and inwardly get back to my own center at a bitterly cold time of year when I'm stressed and actually fantasizing about the ocean. I'm normally a cool-weather sort of gal, but right now, summer seems so welcome and the sound of the ocean is roaring in my head for some reason. I won't feel this way in July. Trust me!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cables and Bobbles - Oh My!

I needed a winter hat. With the weather getting nippy, I decided to make the Cables and Bobbles Beret from Creative Knitting on page 32. Lorenia in our knitting group had made that, along with the Unisex gloves from One Skein. I decided to make the hat using Katmandu Aran weight, two strands held together as instructed. Unfortunately, I was anxious to get started and didn't do a gauge swatch.

I finished the hat quickly. It was really easy and fun. Whipped it out in one day, yesterday. Unfortunately, it's a bit too large for my head. You see it here placed higher up, but it goes all the way down my forehead and practically covers my eyes. Gauge swatches really do help! But anyhow, I like the hat. It's cute and kind of funky.

I'll probably try to wash it in the washer and hope it doesn't felt. But if it does, I like it well enough to try another. We'll see what happens and if I can get it to shrink.

Afterwards: Okay, the idea about shrinking it in the washer was a bad idea. I thought the worst that would happen was it would shrink way too much and/or felt and I'd give it away to a child. Instead, it grew expontentially. Oh my gosh, now it's big enough to work as a car cover, just kidding, but it's really BIG. After it dries, I'll post a picture just for grins.

Here it is - all I can say is, "Oh my, how did this happen?"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rose Hearts Shawl is Finished

As you all know, I've been making my grandmother a shawl, the Rose Hearts Shawl by Elizabeth Matthews for the past month. Well, it's finally finished. Here it is in all of its various phases.

The pattern through Elizabeth Matthews, so I'm linking to her Etsy shop where you can find it for only $3.00. The pattern has both written instructions as well as a chart, so even if you're a new lace knitter, it would make a good first shawl project. There is a knitalong that just started over on Yahoogroups and Ravelry. It just started two days ago if you want to join in.

The best feeling of all was giving it to the one it was intended for- Grandma Ferne. I'm so glad she likes it. I think since it's worsted weight Malabrigo yarn, it will be soft AND warm. She gets cold a lot. I made her promise to wear it and not save it in a draw for a special occasion. Every DAY is special and deserves a magnificent shawl.

Now I'm off to work on a hat I'm knitting for myself called Cable and Bobble Beret from Creative Knitting Jan 08 issue. It's not really a beret, but more of a hat with bobbles and cables. You can see it online on page 32 of the magazine. I just started it last night and I don't have a whole lot more to go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Namesake - A Wonderful Movie!

I am a HUGE movie buff. In fact, I can't even guess the number of movies I watch per year, both on the big screen and at home. But this movie, The Namesake is one of the most moving and memorable pictures I've ever seen. It was on "my recommended" films in Netflix or else I probably would have never discovered it.

This movie starts with a young newlywed couple from Calcutta moving from India to New York and they embark into a new life in America, while never leaving their Indian roots. The film starts in the 1970's, showing the characters' lives from the 1970's into the 2000 era. It follows their transition as a family, with teeanagers and later become adult children with lives of their own.

It's a movie that warms your heart, dives into a cultural shift between two generations from immigrants to the American-melded children - it crosses the cultural and generational divide in an eloquent and amazing way.

After watching this movie, I immediately started it up again and watched the whole thing a second time in one sitting. That's how good it is. If you want a good knitting or crocheting movie this weekend, go rent The Namesake.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Look Who Found a New Hobby . . . .

We tried to go for a romantic anniversary weekend. Our daughter spent the night at a friend's house, we boarded the dog overnight too. We were planning on eating a nice buffet dinner, play some blackjack and then stay overnight at a casino. We didn't think there would be any trouble getting a room there, so we didn't bother to make a reservation. Well, on the way there (over an hour's drive), Bob started getting the sniffles and feeling kind of run down and sickly.

The buffet dinner was mediocre at best. Our own local casino has a MUCH better buffet, let me tell you. We were craving heaping plates of crab legs, but instead were treated to half-warm and overdone deviled crab in the shell, and they had a bunch of smooshy, unappetizing shrimp in a macaroni dish that was --- just odd. Not what we expected.

Then when we went to the reservation desk to see a room, we were told that they were way overbooked and there was literally "no room at the inn." The lackluster desk clerk suggested we stay at a Not Great nearby. Yuck. No thanks. My husband turned to me and said, "Honey, this is just like our REAL wedding night." And he was right.

The story is, when we were married, we were broke newlyweds and didn't have enough money for a real honeymoon. So we were planning on staying at a really classy nearby hotel. But they insisted we pay by credit card, and at that time, we didn't have a credit card to our name. Just a checkbook. So, we just went back to our small apartment at that time and said, "Whatever." We did the same thing last night. We stayed at another hotel that was probably much better than the one we were turned away from.

Unfortunately, by that time, later in the evening, Bob's "little sniffle" had escalated into a full-blown and nasty cold. He felt horrible. So our little night away wasn't as romantic as it could have been . . . but it was fine, really. We had a good laugh out of it.

Then we decided that yesterday, Saturday, we'd go to a train show. When he was a kid, Bob used to love trains. I've been urging him to get a new hobby. They were having a train show downtown this weekend, so we went both days. We both had a great time and were fascinated.

For our anniversary, I bought him a very inexpensive HO starter train set. He's so excited. Look at him, the pictures say it all. Not romantic, but a very nice weekend all in all. We can still laugh together, and still play trains. What more do you need than that?

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm Angora - and Happy Anniversary to Me!

According to the fiber test, you can take here, I am Angora.

Angora – Soft and warm
“Angora has a warmth that rivals cashmere and softness that rivals qiviut. Best of all, it comes from cute little bunnies that look for all the world like furry footstools with ears.” –The Knitter’s Book of Yarn

Angoras are eager to please and are highly sensitive. Flexibility and adaptability are your strengths and sometimes your weakness, as well. You are essentially a warm and feeling person, and little escapes your impressionable mind. You are generous with others and strive for harmony in your relationships.

Anyone buy Clara Parkes' new book yet? I've been putting off buying it, because of tight budget, but finally decided to get it. If I know anything about Clara Parkes, which I do after reading her for the past four years on Knitters' Review, the forum she originated, I know that SHE KNOWS all there is to know about fiber. I'm sure this book is a winner - and one of the best ways of getting both a reference on fiber traits, as well as wonderful patterns.

Speaking of knitting, my knitting has been going really sucky lately. The Rose Hearts Shawl I'm making is going extremely slow. I still am not finished with it. Haven't been working on it much at all. I'm frankly just sick of it. It's growing very slowly and is tedious. I have wanted several times to bind off and be done with it, but it's still only 36" wide, so I'm afraid it's not quite large enough across. Now I've made a mistake and need to rip back to an earlier lifeline but now that there are over 200 stitches on the needle, I hate even knitting or ripping a row. HEAVY SIGH.

Today is my 22nd wedding anniversary. Hurray!!! Marrying my husband was one of the very best decisions of my life. I've made a lot of mistakes, but thank goodness, he wasn't one of them. He's my best friend, my sweetie, and my favorite companion in the world.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Job - Tee Hee

I've only been there one day so far, and granted, most of what we covered was paperwork and benefits, but let me just say that I'm happy so far.

The job seems good. I'm excited. Yay!!

I think I got into a good thing at a good time.

Whew. Sigh of relief. I need a place like this, where there's a real chance of staying with a company for a couple of more decades before I retire.

Now back to the shawl knitting that never seems to end. I'm not quite finished yet, and getting more than anxious to be done.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Out of the Closet

I would not wear them in a tree
I would not wear them ever again on me

I would not wear them on my rump
I'd only wear them in a wardrobe slump

I would not want them on my shoulders
These matronly clothes only made me look older

I dare not wear them off to work
Everyone would think I'm a fashion dwerk

Though I am not a fashion plate
Let's see if I can change my fate

Today came the time to reshape my morning routine for my future job. (I'm starting Monday). The dress code at this new place is "business casual" as opposed to "wear anything but your pajamas" which was the extremely casual code at my last job. I won't blame the dress code, because it was my choice to dress like a slob. But it's time now to dress like a grown up again. So today early morning task (after doing the treadmill for 40 minutes) was to cull through my wardrobe and try on every last dress pants, skirt, blouse, jacket etc to see what still fits and looks presentable. Not much. It seems I've gotten so fat in the past 18 months . . . but we won't go there. I'm working on that too. I'm envisioning the new healthier, thinner me.

It feels really good to have a managable closet again, and to be able to walk right up to find 7 pairs of nice pants that fit and look pretty good on me. There need to be a few more blouses purchased to give myself a more professional look without looking TOO dressy. But now I know what I need and what to buy. That closet inventory was even more carthetic than the yarn inventory. Whew!!

Now I'm going to go take a friend, Carol, out for her birthday lunch. A healthy lunch. Enough pigging out already - I'm actually CRAVING a salad. Can you believe that?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How does the fortune cookie crumble?

How does your cookie crumble? Click on the link to find out!

This morning I woke up early and decided to make Chinese Fortune Cookies. I've been wanting to do this for some time, but never tried it before. The first day of a brand new year seemed like the perfect time to try it. Bobby and I made up a list of sayings to put in the cookies. That was a lot of fun!! Then, I printed out this recipe and tried my hand at it early this morning.

Although the cookies were a flop - I'm sure the recipe was not at fault, but my own bad execution of the recipe. I don't quite have the concept down pat yet and think that I probably made the dough way too thick on each cookie and thus they were so thick they wouldn't bend around the fortune paper slips without totally breaking.

At any rate, I have the fortunes printed up and may dispense them to myself and others through another way, like maybe a cute little vase, candy dish or whatever. I made up some of the sayings and I quoted my favorite authors for many. It will be nice picking a daily reminder from a cute little vase before I walk out the door each day.

I've been off work for the past two weeks and it's rare that Bob and I have had so much time together as a couple and as a family (our daughter was off from school too). This is the most vacation time we've taken in years. We didn't go anywhere, but just spent the time together. Emily commented yesterday that it's been TOO MUCH of a good thing. Yeah, I think everyone's about ready to get back to a regular work/school routine, much as I'm surprised to feel so ready myself.

Though we haven't gotten a lot done, we've relaxed a LOT, watched a lot of movies and enjoyed the rest and reflection. We also worked out a new budget for the New Year to reflect our determination to get debt-free and live more within our means. We're getting to the age where retirement funding needs to be a consideration, and we haven't faced that enough.

The best decisions I made last year: Leaving the company I was with at year's end - making a clean break of it and heading in a new (but related) direction careerwise. Leaving time to relax before starting my new job.

Most fun I had all year: Going to Stitches Midwest in Chicago with the knitting buddies, including my Mom. Visiting St. Louis with Bob.

Great accomplishment we made as a family: paying down some of our debts. Taking time together the last two weeks of December and hanging out together.

The best thing I knit last year: Three things actually - the Harriet knitting bag; the Forest Canopy Shawl and the denim vest sleeves.

What I learned that made me proud: How to crochet. How to knit lace!

Have a good year ahead everyone. May we all make it the best year yet.