Recently in Secret Pal 5 Category

The Big Reveal

final package
I've had a lot to report, but just haven't had time to get in here and do it. Matthew's on a two-week break from school, so we've been packing what we can into each day. Plus, we're on another "co-op" mission. Last year at this time, we'd just started at the preschool, and we "renovated" the giant doll house over the break. This year, our task (which we chose to accept) is to make 14 all new super-sized pillows for the "pillow room" (where Matthew's program does show and tell and Spanish, among other things) and make new Roman blinds for the three very large windows in the same room. The pillows are done, but the Roman blinds are definitely sucking up time. I skipped my afternoon at Starbucks today (which is saying a lot since I very much look forward to those few free hours each week now) to stay home and sew seams and attach the stripping for the chords. So, we've had our hands full.

What I haven't had a chance to post is that I know who my Secret Pal 5 was.... drum roll... Vicki at The Knitting Dork (a blog name that just cracks me up, but from looking at what she's made, she's clearly not!).

She spoiled me way, way, way too much. (And I didn't have to read far on her blog to see her admit that!) I hope she was treated well by her Pal!!!

My final package had a wondeful blank book with cool three dimensional beaded, buttoned, and roped embellishments (and handmade paper from Bangladesh), a beautiful hank of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace in the Valentine colorway, and a bag of decaf. I can't remember if I said I'm a decaff-er or not, but I totally am. People often laugh when they first come in our house and see our matching hers and hers coffee pots - one for regular and one for decaf. You both have to be committed pretty strongly to your coffee to have separate coffee pots.

As I sat looking at what she'd sent me, I really was amazed, because I don't think someone could have sent three things more "me" than what she selected, especially someone that has never met me. It doesn't seem possible just from reading my blog someone could learn so much about me, but I guess it's true. The colorway of Helen's Lace is perfect for me (yes, I mentioned that colorway for my Mom once, but it's a colorway that is very much "me"). I've been wanting to see Helen's Lace forever and haven't run across it in person, so I just can't wait to start something. Of course, I have the feeling I sometimes have when starting a new journal... I don't want to mess it up. Translating the sensation to yarn, my feeling is that I want to find the "perfect" pattern to make with it.

I'd been pondering what to make with my KnitPicks Shimmer, and Jenifer suggested a Kiri. Maybe it would be a good piece for Helen's Lace. It is a beautiful shawl, and my bias is definitely toward triangular shawls. That may be just because I've never worn a square or rectangular one, but I am really drawn to the shape. I'm tempted to order a Fiddlesticks pattern for the Helen's Lace. Or, there are several beautiful pieces (though not triangular) in Lavish Lace, so I'm definitely going to be hemming and hawwing over the next few days as I clear out a few projects on the needles so that I can start a new shawl without feeling the pull of things unfinished.

Thank you so much, Vicki, for making me feel so special and treating me so royally throughout Secret Pal 5. (Thanks are also coming via snail mail. I looked on your blog and never could find your own answers to the Secret Pal questionnaire. Did you do it? I was trying to find something out...)

On my end, I was pal to Mae of Flashin' My Knitties in San Diego. She sort of fell out of blogland for a good bit of the summer, but I hope she got a lot of knitting done!

I'll do a regular "knit" report hopefully tomorrow. I've finished all the pieces of my Ribby Cardi!

"Decadent"-ly Spoiled Again

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rowanrowan cotton
My Secret Pal has struck again, stealthily, without my expecting it. A package arrived. Since I think SP5 ends on August 31, I figured this might be my final mailing, and I was excited to open it up and find out who my pal is. Instead, I opened to find Rowan 37 (Spring 2005) and four skeins of Rowan Handknit Cotton in a great, rich, royal purple called Decadent. I saw that there was a card inside, too, and I assumed it would have my Pal's name and blog URL. But, I didn't open it right away. I wanted to prolong the suspense just a little. So, I thumbed through the Rowan. It's been a while since I've bought a Rowan even though it's a magazine I love. I find I often flip back through the ones I have, so I was excited to again be holding it with its familiar weight and size. In flipping through, a purse with a cabled strap and a pretty cabled buckle tab closure caught my attention. When I opened the card from my pal, I was surprised to find instructions to turn to a specific page in the Rowan to look at a "cute little buckle bag." It was for the same bag that I'd spotted that she sent me the magazine and the cotton. Cool! It's an awesome looking little bag, and I think it will be much fun to make. Pluse, I love the color she sent! Thanks Secret Pal. I'm looking forward to finding out who you are!

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.)

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.

A good day

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We didn't have 'big' plans for my birthday, largely because mom was flying in late in the evening, and we've got plans for the next ten days or so, which means it felt a little cramped to "also" try and go somewhere special tonight since we've got dinner plans tomorrow. Mom's birthday was last week, so we're celebrating together tomorrow. After the boys' tandem swimming lessons, we're headed for the California Pizza Kitchen and a quick stop in the LEGO store. It's in the mall, so even though we're heading to LEGO Land on Sunday, there's no way we can eat at the CPK and not go to the LEGO store. It's okay though. You can't stay on my blog long without realizing we love LEGOs in this house.

Matthew and I just yesterday, in fact, finished the final level of the LEGO worldbuilder game. If you've got a LEGO (or computer) fan, I highly recommend it. The first few stages are very easy, but they get much, much harder. There are three "worlds" of challenges (and three levels in world one), and we've been playing during Spencer's naps for weeks now.

We have tons of LEGOs, but by far, my favorite small LEGO kit invention is the "xPod." There are nine different colored xPods out, and they're fabulous. Each comes with a few models that can be made from the generally 50 or less pieces, and that's cool. But I'm constantly amazed at the inspired "creations" (he alternately calls them "inventions") that Matthew makes with each xPod. Having played the worldbuilder game so much, he's now daily making new good and bad xPod creatures and vehicles and enacting the game. Pretty cool. (He's 4.) (Actually, we did something similar for a while recently with the various castle kit pieces. He and one of us would build dozens of obstacles and challenges for the Knights of Morcia to battle their way through, creating our own constantly changing quest, of sorts.)

At any rate, we didn't have much planned, other than that I wanted to go to ArtFibers to check out Chai. When I logged on this morning, I was greeted with several e-cards, including one from my Secret Pal, and a number of kind messages and good wishes from fellow bloggers, which I loved getting.

After dropping Matthew off at school, and sticking around long enough to help him make a fishing pole (one of today's optional "projects") and watch him catch a yellow fish in the swimming pool of paperclipped (so they're magnetic) bubblewrap fish in the play yard, M, Spencer, and I headed to ArtFibers.

Spencer is cutting yet another tooth and has the bit (okay, so more than a "bit") of congestion and crankiness that goes with that, so it probably wasn't the best day to yarn shop with him. Once he spotted the rack of hanging buttons, he wasn't happy being Bjorned or carried. He just wanted what he'd seen. I was picking up another set of Bryspun needles, so I gave him those to placate him, only to then have him unsheathing them ever few seconds and swinging wildly at my head with them.

Luckily, we were able to look around a bit before he got too fussy. The store has an amazing variety of fibers, and a fabulous array of colors. I can't believe we've never been in there before. The store manager, Kira, was wonderful as well. She was very friendly and helpful without being pushy. (We were also charmed to see our preschool's "thank you" note and class picture pushpinned on the bulletin board with a note written in about them being the "future generation of knitters." ArtFibers supported our school auction last year.)

I'd checked the web site before heading down and realized Chai comes in solids, too, and is then called Siam. (Somehow I'd never noticed them before.) From the pictures on the site, I was leaning towards a solid. Once actually in the store, I was torn between a very pretty Chai in a mix of roses and soft greens and a Siam in a salmony pink. I really was conflicted, but I went with the pink, mostly because M said so, and I do have trouble making up my mind when it comes to things like that. We also picked up some other goodies. The cranky one is crashed asleep in my lap, so I can't get photos right now, but I will.

It was funny when Kira asked if I have a specific project in mind. "The flower basket shawl from Interweave," I told her. "I've seen someone online make it out of Chai."

She laughed. "Lots of people have made it out of Chai," she said. She went on to mention the esteemed Yarn Harlot and how Stephanie mentioned it right around the time the book came out. Apparently quite the influx of Chai orders followed. It's the first time I've been in a store where the world of knit blogs met up with the real world of knitting and yarn. That may be hard to believe, but I still don't know any other bloggers in person, and I remember how shocked I was last year when searching for the Charlotte's Web pattern to find that at two major Bay Area yarn stores I checked they'd never even heard of it. (Charlotte is still popular, but last year it seemed to be all the rage on the blogs.)

So, that was all cool.

Then, I came home to find a package from my Secret Pal. I didn't even know she knew it was my birthday! She sent me a wonderful "vanilla sleepover" kit from The Body Shop. It's great. It's got body lotion, bubble bath, shower gel, perfume, and a sponge all in a sweet little bag, and it all smells divine, and comforting, and cozy. Vanilla must just be one of life's perfect scents. Thanks Secret Pal!

Secret Pal 5

Okay, secret pal... I've uploaded the new Secret Pal 5 questionnaire to my About Me page. I'm not sure how much it really reveals about me, but I hope it helps!

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