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July 2005 Archives

July 5, 2005

Flower Basket Road Trip

flower basket shawl

Well, we're back! The hellatiously long drive to Carlsbad (which yes, means we had to drive through LA, which means we sat in virtually standstill traffic for over an hour each way) has come and gone. We had a great time, assuming you understand that "great" means we had to more than once adjust our expectations to fit the realities of what it means to take such a trip and visit an amusement park with a four year old (and a 16-month old). We didn't get nearly as much done as we had thought. We never made it to the heated pool at the hotel. We never made it over the hill on the highway to see the ocean. We didn't ride most of the rides, even the really tame ones that we thought he'd loveÖ the car driving school, the Knight's Joust horse ride, the jeep safari ride. We did walk what felt like miles each day, we did take hundreds of photos of the boys posed next to ever cool LEGO structure we passed, including great shots of him with Darth Vader, R2D2, the green Bionicle, Knight Jayko and Knight Rascus, and busts of Einstein, Washington, and Shakespeare. We did pan for King's Treasure, dig for dinosaur bones, fly rescue helicopters, fly planes, take a mini cruise, and compete in a firetruck race. We (adults) did spend a good bit of time sitting and watching Matthew build with LEGOs in one pavilion, building, or store or another and then buying more and more bricks (LEGOs) so he could continue building in the hotel room. Somehow, going into the trip, what we failed to realize was that what was going to entertain and interest him the most was the sense of communal building - of walking into a small pavilion where there were thousands of LEGOs and just building, often side by side with other kids - and of building "at" LEGOLAND. We (adults) also spent a lot of time each day sitting outside The Hideaways, a giant multi-level playground of tunnels and ramps and slides and shaky bridges, and frantically scanning the structure hoping for a reassuring sight of him until he'd emerge from one slide or another to run our direction. We also saw so many amazing and unbelievable things built out of LEGOs that we all left wishing we could be LEGO master builders. To say that MiniLand at LEGOLAND California is one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen is a huge understatement. It's simply amazing.

So, a very "creative" trip, for sure.

With the combination of long days in the sun and lots of walking, we ended up fairly exhausted each night, so not a lot of knitting happened. Mom made good headway on her Clapotis, however. I bought her Rayon/Silk yarn from Over the Rainbow for her birthday. It's a beautiful mix of turquoise with some pinks thrown in, and it's working up beautifully. We all took a Clapotis to work on. I made us little instruction packs and a chart of the rows so we could easily check them off. Mom is the only one who made much progress, however. By the time she left yesterday, she'd made her way to section 3 and had done two of the "drops." It's going to be very pretty.

I worked mostly on my Flower Basket Shawl out of the Golden Chai silk I bought on my birthday. I love the pattern, even though for some reason I seem to have messed up on it frequently and spent a lot of time trying to determine where I lost a stitch here and there. Before I left, I made a black and white copy of the pattern and also did some blog searching for any tips or trips or warnings on the pattern. I finished the first section/chart before we left, so I was really glad to have found this set of notes on the pattern when I sat down the first night in the hotel to get to work on the second chart. It definitely wasn't obvious to me by looking at my copy that I needed to repeat a chunk of the horizontal chart a certain number of times for each repeat of the 10-row chart. The notes I'd printed totally explained this, but I had to laugh when I read this: "Youíd start row 1 and when you got to the pattern repeat outlined in redÖ"

Uh-oh. With a black and white copy in front of me, I had a moment of panic that I wasn't going to be able to work on the shawl until I got back home and had the color magazine in front of me. But, close inspection of my copy did show faint lines around a 10-stitch section of the pattern. I had to assume that was the section outlined in red. So, I'm moving along with it. The Chai Silk is really nice. It does run from extremely thick to extremely thin, but so far that's not a problem. I'm seeing a little bit of fuzzing on it, however, particularly on the back, which worries me. It almost looks like "wear," which makes me wonder how it will wear. And, I'm not seeing mine look dainty and elegant and light and Victorian the way the one I lusted over at the Yarn Harlot's site does. Maybe I'm just not getting the full effect with it bunched up on the needles here. And, maybe blocking it, or even ironing, as recommended, will make a huge difference.)

I'm in the fourth repeat of the 7 noted in the directions. However, I'm prepared to have to do more. I found the section on sizing interesting in the notes I had (it's at the bottom of the page). I haven't noticed a lot of discussion of how many repeats those of you who have made this have done, so I'll have to see where I'm at when I finish the seventh. I bought 3 skeins of the Chai Silk, so I have plenty to work with.

Oh, and I started Debbie Macomber's The Shop on Blossom Street, which Mom brought me. She was reading the sequel, A Good Yarn. Fun!

July 6, 2005

Tea Room Update

When I finished Charlotte 35, I mentioned that we had plans (and a babysitter) for Mom, M., and me to go to Lovejoy's Tea Room for high tea the day before we left on our trip. We did. And it was fabulous. We ordered the "Queen's Tea," fitting since my mom is "Queen" of her Red Hat group. It was amazing. An array of scrumptious finger sandwiches, crumpets with lemon curd, scones with Devon Cream, shortbread cookies, and the best petit four (I selected one called Victorian Wedding Cake) I have ever, ever, ever had. The tea was good, too.

Really, we had a great time, and I did wear my Charlotte 35. I'd worried that I'd feel silly or self-conscious in it. Not at all. It was like an extension of me. Just right in some inexplicable way. I loved having it on. When we got ready to leave the house, I thought, "well, I'll probably have to take it off in the car to drive and put it on when I get there," but I didn't. The wonderful flat and airy fabric it had become after blocking stayed in place on me, and it was big enough to hang right and not be in the way but not have to be constantly "held" together either. Perfect.

We had a little time to play with before our reservations for tea, so we stopped in a new knitting store in Noe Valley. I was hoping to pick up something for my Secret Pal, and Mom needed some needles. The store was very "different." It was also very sparse, which is rare for a knitting store. The space was huge, but the offerings were limited. Somehow all that blank room felt strange rather than good in a fiber store.

We walked around and looked for a while and then decided (quietly) that if we hurried, we had time to run quickly by ImagiKnit for the needles mom needed.

As we were heading out, three women all of whom appeared to work there surrounded me to ask about my shawl. They wanted to know if they could "touch" it, which was funny since "of course" you can touch it. I explained it was a Charlotte's Web, but it was clear the name didn't ring any "oh-my-goodness-that is what half the knit bloggers on the web have mentioned at one point or another" bells for them. When one of them asked what it was made out of, and I said Koigu, she said, (a bit snottily), "Oh, we don't carry that."

"Well, maybe you should," I thought, somehow put off by the tone and content of her response even though, okay, I loved having them fawn over my shawl. What I said was, "the ArtYarns actually looks a lot like it," and it did. When we'd first walked in, I'd spotted the ArtYarns merino in a bin and thought based on the colors that it was Koigu until I got up close.

Oh well. Mom and M made a quick run to ImagiKnit, and Mom and I ended up there again later in the week, too, to rummage around a bit.

If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend Lovejoy'sÖ and bring your most recently completed shawl!

July 11, 2005

A few free hours...

secret pal 5

Starbucks Blog 7/11/05 1:40 PM

Funny to have to annotate the time and circumstance of blog entries, but for me, so many of them are not immediately at a connected computer. Instead, Iím often blogging from my Palm (for later synching), and, now, Iím blogging from the Starbucks (you canít just say ďcoffee shopĒ when itís a Starbucks) around the corner from the house. Todayís the third in our summer of ďthe sitter comes on Mondays.Ē The first time, I ended up playing with Spencer and the sitter most of the afternoon, after staying extra time when dropping Matthew off at preschool because he didnít want me to leave. The second time, I spent the afternoon at the dentist. This, the third time, is the first where I think Iíve got the next several hours to myself. Granted, Iím not connected, but thatís probably not all bad since if I was connected, Iíd potentially end up sucked into reading blog after blog instead of spending the time working on my own stuff. I also donít have the software on this computer that I need to be doing some of the work Iíd like to do. I guess if Iím finally going to accept that this ďisĒ the laptop Iím going to be using for a while, I may have to do some upgrading and adding on. As you can tell, I still mourn my Fujitsu lifebook greatly.

So, Iím here with the curious feeling of freedom and confusion that being away from the responsibilities of the children brings. Itís not a sensation Iím accustomed to, at all, and I sit here sort of at odds with my skin, waiting for the phone to ring, wondering if Spencer has woken up from a short nap, wondering what I do or where I should go when the money in my meter runs out, worrying that Iím doing the wrong thing by taking these few hours away on Mondays.

secret pal 5

I have to report in that Iíve been very spoiled by my Secret Pal 5. A package full of goodies, pink ones even, arrived on Saturday. It was great. My Pal sent me two skeins of Baby Ull in a wonderful fuchsia color for socks. Itís so soft, and the color is totally me. (My pal said she selected the brightest pink they had. I love it!) Iíve never thought of using Baby Ull for socks, but I think it's a really good choice, and the solid will be perfect to show off some patterning. Maybe the new socks in the Fall 2005 Interweave KnitsÖ. In addition to the yarn, my pal sent me a LEGO Clikits pink pen with hearts you can attach wherever you want (way cool), a purple mustang pen, a beautiful pen with Celtic patterning, and a charming little pig that is, of all things, a tape measure (which Spencer is holding in the photo at the top of this entry). Itís perfect for my fledgling tape measure collection. I canít imagine where she found it. Spoiled, I am. Thank you Secret Pal!

fbs fbs

Iím making steady progress on my Flower Basket Shawl, and I just love it. I love knitting lace (with bigger needles Ė the experience with the KnitPicks Shimmer on 1ís still has me stymied). I also find that even though Iím still having a good bit of trouble with my hand and fingers, knitting lace doesnít seem to cause me problems in the way that working on socks, for example, does. Iím sure itís because the whole experience is just Ďlooser.í At any rate, Iím just loving the process of this shawl. I canít wait to see it finished. Right now, itís still so bunched up that I donít have a strong sense of how it will look when spread out, and how this yarn will appear when blocked. Iím almost through the 7th repeat right now, and Iíve only just started the second ball, so I have plenty of yarn to work with. I donít see a lot of point in ďnotĒ using up the third ball I bought, so Iím going to let my yarn quantity guide the size, assuming I can guesstimate when to start the edging so I donít run out. Sharlene just completed her Flower Basket Shawl, and itís a gorgeous example of this pattern.

Itís interesting to me how so many of us work on the same projects, drawing creative energy and inspiration from each other. There are so many patterns out there, and I sometimes wonder how many patterns there are in any given book or magazine that ďno oneĒ has ever made. With the strong community of knit bloggers, so many patterns (Charlotteís Web, Flower Basket Shawl, Birch, Ribby Cardigan, etc.) these days become sort of ďcultĒ projects, or de facto knitting projects. Itís great for the designer (and publisher), but itís a strange thing to think about. Who made the first Flower Basket Shawl, blogged about it, and started the craze? Or, is the pattern such that so many of us would have made it anyway? Itís hard to know but interesting to ponder the ways in which our blogs contribute to the whole economy of knitting.

July 13, 2005

Alpaca Addiction

Itís that time of year where I start really getting yarn lust. Iíve got tons of stash in the basement (not all that I ďloveĒ at this point, but itís there, so since I'm not working now, I do try and think about what I could do with my stash verus what I'd like to buy) and a number of bags of yarn upstairs that Iíve bought in the last two years. So I donít need yarn at all, but I find myself out looking and imagining and dreaming and wanting, even though the reality is that I canít find enough time to knit right now to keep up with the few projects I have planned. Still, I keep looking. Iím also wanting to start new things even though Iíve got a few things going that I really should finish first.

I used to be a big starter and not much of a finisher. I think blogging has helped turn me into a finisher, and Iím glad, but I recognize the taste in my mouth these days. Itís the ďI want to start something newĒ restlessness. Unwilling to determine exactly what Iím going to do in terms of lace ďnext,Ē (although I do admit to spending time on the Fiddlesticks site looking at their silk, and I do have more Cherry Tree Hill for a shawl from Lavish Lace that I got for Christmas from Mom), I started swatching for the Ribby Cardigan yesterday while monitoring the boys. (Spencer has started pulling out dining room chairs to climb in them, so itís a constant task to keep him either safe in a chair or out of the chairs completely.) I didnít get the swatch finished (pathetic, I know), but I think I may be close to gauge. It feels thinner worked up than I expected, but Iím using the recommended needle size (for both the Knit Picks yarn and the pattern), so Iím hopeful that for once I'll be "spot on." It does feel great worked up. The combination of the silk and alpaca is really nice.

I never realized I was an alpaca person until just recently, and suddenly Iím just in love with Alpaca and in the "seeing blue" fashion (e.g., you suddenly are aware of the color and see it everywhere you look), I feel like I'm constantly running into Alpaca. When I was at the store with Mom last week, I was drawn to Frog Tree Alpaca. It just felt amazing, and the colors were great. I ended up unable to decide what colors I wanted (thinking of a hat - and the greens they had would perfectly match my Ribby Cardi colors, but I also like the corally pink and red they had), so I decided to wait, knowing that I had the Knit Picks yarn to work with right now. Ironically, the next day, I got a mail from WEBS which highlighted the Frog Tree yarn. (By the way, I got the WEBS catalog recently, too, and I was struck at how nicely done it is.)

I've decided the Frog Tree Alpaca might be perfect for the sheep or zebra scarf from the Vogue Scarves 2 book I got M. for Christmas. That's a definite possibility! (Plus, I've got gift certificates and auction certificates at both Noe Knits and Imagiknits. I know Imagiknits has Frog Tree. Am I lucky enough that they have white and black? I didn't notice those last week, but I wasn't thinking animal scarves! Tomorrow is M's birthday. Maybe I can get her to run by there at some point with me. Yarn shopping is definitely more fun with someone. For me, a trip to a yarn store is a must on a birthday, but she's really "out" of the knitting swing these days.)

Has anyone seen the Little Box of Scarves II yet?

And, by the way, I just saw these Fiddlesticks Knit for the Cure scarves. They're wonderful.

July 18, 2005

Ribby Cardi Question

I'll try and post a more extended entry later, but I've got questions on the Ribby Cardi. I started on the sleeves, and I'm not 100% clear on the increases. You're working a K2, P2 rib, and you increase three stitches in from the end...

    k2, m1, cont' across, m1, k2

And you are to just "work in" the increases into the rib. So, in the above row, I've now got:

    k3, p2, [k2, p2]*, k3

When I get to the next increase row, I'm assuming that I (and this is what I did):

    k2, m1, k1, cont' across, k1, m1, k2

So, now I've got k4 at the beginning and end of the row. When I get to the next and the following after that increase, I'm assuming I want to do my m1's as purls.

Can someone who has made the Ribby Cardi confirm?

Thanks in advance.

July 19, 2005

Lily P for Me

lily sock yarn

I didn't get to post again yesterday. A baby checkup and a passel of shots have a way of interrupting the best of blogging intentions even when the baby seems fine but parents respond to each cranky cry with extra sympathy because we feel bad that it had to happen. Okay, and I admit, when he fell asleep, I sat on the couch holding him and reading the new Harry Potter.

As my SP5 had warned me, a package arrived for me yesterday afternoon. She'll be glad to know that Knit Happens did exactly as she asked. There was no packing slip enclosed. They even wrote on the outside of the envelope, "From your Secret Pal." What sports! So, I don't have any tangible clues that I can use (in a weak moment) to find out who my benefactor is.

What was inside? Two wonderful skeins of Lorna's Laces sock yarn in the Knit Happens exclusive pink and lime colorway. I loved it when I spotted it on their web site. It's even more fabulous in person.

Despite the fact that I'd just cast on for my Ribby Cardi the night before, and despite the fact that my fingers have been getting worse rather than better, I sat down last night and rolled the first skein. I was surprised to find when I undid the Lorna's twist that the hank is evenly divided one half lime and one half pink rather than being variegated throughout. It's pretty cool, in fact.

I can't wait to see how it looks worked up. I think I'm going to give the Dublin Baby socks a whirl with it. They have minimal patterning, so the yarn and colorway itself will shine, but the lace panels on the sides will give added interest.

Please note, dear Secret Pal, that this does not mean I don't love the other sock yarn you sent. I'd been toying all last week with starting a pair of socks with it because the color makes me so happy. I am going to have a fabulous drawer of pink (and happy) socks for the fall!

Thank you so much. I feel really special!

(I should note, too, that I finished the Flower Basket Shawl. M. took some pics, but I don't think they came out great. I'm going to reserve posting photos until it's blocked. Soon.)

July 23, 2005

The first step is...

admitting you have a problem. No, not a knitting problem, though I wind up blogging about a number of those! It's the hand/finger problem. Bad enough that I actually went to the Dr. about it. (There are tons of doctor's appointments that happen in this house, but rarely is it me.) I expected a simple referral to a specialist of one form or another. Instead, I got a two-week low-tech trial of "buddy taping" my fingers together to see if that helps. So, I'm wandering around with three fingers taped together at all times. Unfortunately, it has meant no knitting (yet). Even typing has at times proven a typo-prone struggle. I'm not sure I can go two weeks without knitting. In fact, I'm sure I can't. Somehow when you just don't have "time" to knit, it may be frustrating, but it's just something that happens. When you are not "supposed" to knit, however, it's very different mentally. Then, knitting becomes one of the most important things in the world. All you do is think about what you could be knitting, and what you wanted to start. Pathetic, huh. So, I'm sure I won't be able to hold out for two weeks! So that's what's going on. That's why I haven't shown cool photos of progress on my Ribby Cardi yet. Or cool photos of the sock I decided to start (not Dublin Bay) in the Lorna's. Or cool photos of a blocked Flower Basket Shawl. Luckily, I was able to occupy free moments this week with the reading of Harry Potter when I might otherwise have been knitting. I finished it last night, and gee was I distraught at the end. I was disappointed to be "done" with it, but I was also so shocked by what had happened...

July 25, 2005

A Case of the Wrong Magazine

Well, Iím not being very good about my hand. Itís unfortunately true. I tried being good. I really did. But, when I gave in yesterday and cast on something for which gauge isnít a big deal and using big needles, all I could feel was relief Ė mental relief. Iíll make some concessions and not work on gauge-dependent things or small needles for a while to make sure I donít clench or grip too tightly without knowing it (which I know sometimes happens with socks, for instance). But, Iím not going to just ďnotĒ knit.

(I tried, in fact, to cast on my Lornaís Laces socks Friday night. I tried to do it very loosely. But then after knitting three rows, the cast on row just bothered me. It wasnít even enough. Too loose in places. I re-rolled the ball for now. Iím convinced in another week, Iíll be up to it.)

I can ďnotĒ knit about as well as I can ďnotĒ write and ďnotĒ do email and ďnotĒ open bottles of Propel water (to which, thanks to my mom, I seem to be addicted) and ďnotĒ change diapers several times a day. All of those things involve the supposed-to-be-taped fingers. All of those things are critical in their own way to my mental well-being.

So, today is Christmas in July on QVC (something like 28 hours of Christmas items). I havenít been out yet to check, but I know one knit blog friend who probably celebrated today, the 25th of July, with Christmas carols and movies (if I remember correctly from her blog last year). I think in yearís past, Iíve just sort of peripherally noticed this mid-year tradition. In fact, it seems to me that somewhere in August or September, I always realize that the holidays are approaching and then somehow blink and the season has wound down. Maybe the problem is I havenít consciously been starting in July? I think I used to would have thought that July was way too early to think about Christmas. But this year Iím really feeling ďintoĒ it. I had noticed last week, in fact, that there were 23 weeks until Christmas. Why I actually counted, I donít know, but I was doing something at the calendar, and the next thing I know, I was counting weeks. So, that makes 22 weeks from today.

Doesnít sound that far off, does it? In fact, it sounds close enough to start thinking about the ďrest of the yearís knittingĒ and what holiday gifts and just-for-me winter accessories might make my list. After all, when we wait to think about those things until November, we really end up just stressing ourselves out, right? So, Iím thinking and plotting and planning.

I realized just today that I made a mistake when I gave my mom a stack of Interweaveís to flip through while she was here. I wanted to know if she ďlikedĒ anything specific because I have an idea of something Iíd like to make here. I ended up chasing one of the boys around while she looked through them, so I didnít get to really see her page-by-page reactions, but I did gather (and Megan confirmed) that she hadnít singled anything out really. I was a little surprised because I really thought the item I was thinking of was something that might capture her attention Ė and whimsy.

Just today when I was thinking about that item again and went to grab the magazine, I spent twenty minutes perplexedly flipping and re-flipping through the fall and winter issues wondering why I couldnít find it. I belatedly realized the pattern is in Vogue. I donít normally buy Vogue unless something really catches my fancy when I see it on the bookstore shelf, but I remember now that I bought that issue specifically for that pattern a bit after the fact because I felt sure someday Iíd want to make it.

Too funny. Well, that explains why she didnít mention she liked the item when looking at the Interweaveís!


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