Sunday, July 30, 2006

Quick Update

This weekend was the Lowell Folk Festival. I sat outside both days under a tent, hawking my jewelry. I did better sales-wise today, but overall did a lot better last year. It's all about location, folks. However, I did do a lot of repeat business, which is great- people who have bought things from me before sought me out and bought things again! Excellent.

I am now in a cleaning and packing frenzy. I am leaving for a trip to the Czech Republic and Hungary. But don't try to come over and steal anything from me, because I already told my neighbors, who are much closer by, and will have used my spare key to slip on in and steall all the good stuff before you get here. HA!

So, I am attempting to figure out what sock knitting yarn and pattern I want to bring with me on the trip. It has to be socks, since I am backpacking and won't have space for a jumbo project. (I might try to squeeze in TWO sock projects, though.... muwahahaha! I am thinking of the Baudelaire pattern from Knitty, or possibly Pomatomus. I actually WANT to find a nice, complicated pattern to occupy my mind and keep me distracted from the fact that long amounts of time on the train, plane, or whatever are ticking by immeasurably slowly. I'm sure that there are other patterns that I'd like to do that I can't think of... possibly another pair of Jaywalkers... well, those would be the noncomplicated ones, but I have a great striped sock yarn that I think would look cute in that pattern... we'll see what I decide! (leaving this post to go look at patterns) Okay, I am unable to narrow it down right now. It might come down to what I think I can squeeze into my backpack! It probably will not be decided by how many socks I think I can knit on a two week trip. Silly me. So, I will probably not check in blogwise during the trip, so have a great two weeks! Later, suckers! I mean, I will miss you all! Big Kiss!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Busy Little Bee

Well, I actually had a super awesome post written all up this past Wednesday, but then Blogger ate it. Chomp, chomp, all gone! Now, I'm so busy, I just haven't had time to rewrite it. No, really. I am busy! For starters, today and tomorrow, I'll be selling jewelry outside at the Lowell Folk Festival for many hours. I hope all of the sweating is worth it and I sell a lot of stuff. I made a bunch of new earrings and necklaces, and love how everything turned out. There are pictures, which I uploaded... to the post that Blogger ate. (chomp chomp) I have only done one other outdoor event, but this time, I will be under a sideless tent. I mention the sideless aspect because of the possibility of rain tomorrow. Because rain sometimes has a tendency to come down in a 'not straight down' fashion, I knew I needed a plan of protection for my tables. Last night, I cut up a few garbage bags and duct taped them together to create two big ol' table covers. They are a good size, lightweight, and were made from materials I already own. Super! Another snag I usually have is the necessity of taking three trips with all of my stuff. The confounding factor? Well, I have very little stuff, but it is all awkward. So, I put a duct tape shoulder strap on my chair! Yay! Now, only two trips. Excellent.
The last thing I've been busy with is that I'm taking a trip to Eastern Europe, and I'm leaving in two days. I still feel like I have a bunch of loose ends... and not a lot of time to solve them in! I guess I have taken care of the most important things, which is buying an airline ticket and getting my passport updated. Check, and check. Sweet.
Hey- in case anyone is interested, go check out Grumperina's post regarding the possibility of Addi Turbo needles coming out with sharper tips for lace knitting and the like. I have written a letter to Karin Skacel Haack, karin@skacelknitting.com, Vice President, Skacel Collection, Inc., (425) 291-9600. I even found a lace knitting society online and emailed them the info. The newsletter guru said she'd post the info in the next newsletter! Excellent.
Well, gotta go make sure I'm all set for a long, hot day. I'm feeling sweaty and disheveled just thinking about it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Snakes On A Plane

I know... this has nothing to do with beads or fiber. But this movie sounds hilarious, and this fake trailer is extra proof. It is sooooo funny and you will love it as much as I did, I'm sure...
Gloomy Sunday

So, I have been hard at work doing the necessary things to make it possible to drop AOL as my email service. I like a lot of the features, and so have been willing to pay a monthly fee for over 10 years now. But there have been a lot of improvements in some of the free services that it has become tempting to change. The final straw came recently when AOL started putting ads at the bottom of the screen when you open your mail messages. It's irritating enough when it happens when you're using a free email service, but I'll be damned if I'm going to PAY for a service that is bombarding me with advertising! ARRRRGH! So, I manually added all of my email contacts to a new gmail account,and then painstakingly went through all of my old emails (over 4000 of them) to find any that I wanted to save, and then forwarded them to my new gmail account. No, wait, AOL said they were no longer available for forwarding, so I had to copy and paste all of the text and send the emails. What a joke. I haven't yet done the 'business' email account. I just couldn't face it today. I will be spurred on by the thought of dumping stupid AOL. AOL begone!!!

Instead of completing the entire transition, I wandered over to Lush Beads , where Liz the owner generously allowed me to string some beads to prepare them to be sold. She is so nice that way! There is one 'character' who comes over on Sundays (Sunday is the day people wander by and help Liz string and weigh beads) is named Jean, and she is easy to tease and luckily doesn't seem to notice when you're doing it, which makes it fun for all involved! Well, at one point, she picked up a necklace and said, 'what stitch is this?' Simultaneously, here were Liz's and my answers:
Me: Poop stitch.
Liz: Butt stitch.

We high fived each other and laughed and laughed and laughed. Yes, we have similar senses of humor. Jean's daughter is always a source of entertainment, as she is very smart and quirky and has a very offbeat sense of humor. We refer to her as the 'snack monkey', because it is very easy to get her to go to the store to buy us snacks... as long as we let her 'keep the change'. It is an agreeable arrangement all around. She returns stating, 'snack monkey has gotten your snacks', or sadly, one time, 'everyone was cutting the snack monkey in line'. We felt upset by this- no one should push around the snack monkey but us, darnit!

So, I have finished the Noro sweater, but it is missing a hook and eye closure. I am shocked that I don't have one in my sewing box, because I tend to have all kinds of things in there. Bummer. Once I put on some sort of a closure, I'll arrange to have someone take a picture of me in it. It looks groovy. The only minor problem is my bust to butt circumference ratio. I made the sweater to fit my bust (small), not my butt (larger). Luckily, the sweater is not meant to close all the way to the bottom. Brainstorm: maybe I just won't put a closure on it at all?

This last part is a confession to Cece: I did take out your mother in law's sweater and take a peek at it tonight. It won't get done before I go on vacation, (too much to do) but it WILL get done. Probably.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Busy Day

I started my day by going to yoga, and then to the chiropractor's. AND THEN??? Well, I took a road trip to The Beadin' Path and Buttons & Beads in Freeport, Maine. The Beadin' Path has a generous wholesale discount, and I scooped up some great seed beads and some Swarovski crystal in a couple of colors that my usual supplier doesn't seem to carry. Yummers. The button shop is good for poking around in, and I got a few buttons good for use as bracelet clasps. Sweet! I then headed down to Portland, Maine, to Caravan Beads. They have ALL of the Miyuki beads. ALL of them. EVERY color. EVERY style. It was fabulous. In addition, they are closing down the fiber portion of the store, so I got a few yarny items. You know, just for fun.

During all of this, I also managed to get offered a job in Lexington, which I had the ability to turn down- nice to have options, nicer still that one of those options (staying in the Lowell school system) will allow me to keep my home and not have to move back in with my parents, for instance! It was a little bit of a bummer to have to make a decision based solely on the money, but it did make the decision easier, I suppose. So it goes.

As I left Freeport, the skies opened up. There was so much rain dumping down, that people on the highway were pulling over and stopping. Those of us still brash enough to drive were creeping along, windshield wipers whipping sheets of rain away, but not fast enough to give us enough of a view to go any faster than about 15 miles an hour. It was nuts! The storm must have been travelling southbound, like myself, because I encountered the rain numerous times on my way home. Gulp!

So, anyway, now it is picture time. First, an adorable picture of the apron that Cece sewed for my dishsoap:
I think we can all agree that I have the sexiest dish soap in the neighborhood. Look at that bust!!!

And next, a pic of the seaming for my Noro sweater. I have been creeping along in the progress, because I really want to do a nice job. I have been refreshing my memory about different types of 'invisible seams' by referring back to Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book. First, we take a look at a shoulder seam. The green horizontal stripe is the 'invisible' join... I confess that because of the color it is not invisible, but it sure looks like it's supposed to be there!
Next, we move along to the sleeve cap seam. The pic shows the shoulder of the sweater on my knee. The top row of brown yarn on the sleeve cap is actually the seam. This time, I was more careful to match the yarn, so that it looked good.
And finally, the side seam. This would have been the most truly invisible seam of all, IF the stripes matched from back to front. However, that was not my plan! This shot is of the side seam. Notice, if you will, how the stitches still make their nice little V's, even though they are not the same color! I am pleased with the results thus far.
So, the seaming progress is SLOW. After it's done, I have to block the collar, and then go and buy a hook and eye, or else figure out my own way to hold this dandy little item closed. I'll have to give it some thought.

To work backward, I went out for a delicious meal with seven other women last night at the Gibbet Hill Grill. The food was delicious, and the conversation was easy, comfortable and hilarious. I really enjoyed myself. As I walked back to my car, I found myself feeling really happy that I have made some really good female friends. I had that when I lived in Connecticut, but when my family moved to New Hampshire when I was 13, I found that the NH girls were a lot more 'conservative' and 'proper'. I got along much better with boys and had a lot more male friends. I am glad that I am finding women whom I get along so well with, and felt super happy at the end of the night. It is great to have a group of people like that whom I get along with! I could continue gushing, but I am going to get back to gazing lovingly at today's purchases and watching the Tour de France. Oh, and seaming my sweater. Yes. Seaming. Ooh, one last thing: about 20 minutes after I left Caravan Beads, I reached furtively into the shopping bag to fondle the yarn and beads, while keeping my eyes on the road, of course. I suddenly realized... oh no... the two books I bought were not in there! Curses! I certainly wasn't going to drive back at that point. So, I waited a bit longer (so I could convince them that it would not be appropriate for me to drive back to get them) and then called the store. Yes, they had the books. Yes, they were so sorry that they had not put them in my bag. Yes, they would mail them to me free of charge. Whew. So, I don't get the pleasure of reading the patterns until I nod off to sleep (I like reading patterns before sleepytime), but at least I don't have to go back to get the books or PAY for someone else's mistakes!

Okay. I'm really going now. Bye!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Three Meows for Catfish!

Meow, meow, meow!

Okay, catfish do not meow, as far as I know. However, I cooked a little somethin' up that was good enough to write about, and it was soooo easy! I took a page out of Cece's playbook, and made me some fish, rice and zucchini. I don't have a grill, but the catfish was AWESOME. I took some 'seafood magic' (an easy little somethin' to sprinkle on seafood to make it yummy) and mixed it in with breadcrumbs. I breaded the fish, and stuck it in the frying pan until it was done. It was seriously awesome. Go and buy yourself some catfish right NOW! (Hey, I didn't steer you wrong with the mojitos, now did I? DID I!!!)
On an unrelated topic, I have been watching "So you think you can dance" while knitting. This evening, Dmitry ripped his shirt off, and I thanked him out loud. Possibly about eight times. I even stopped eating my catfish to share my appreciation. Yay shirtless Dmitry!
And now, with a tummy full of catfish worthy of three meows and my eyeballs full of shirtless Dmitry, I will return to knitting the Noro sweater. I sewed the shoulders together, and am working on the collar... and yes, the sleeves are currently blocking. Too bad it will be too hot to wear it for a few months now...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Secrets Revealed!

Okay, it is really just one secret. Here is the photographic revelation:

Yes, it is true. I began work on the Noro Butterfly pattern by Jane Ellison. I surfed around and found a couple of blogs that suggested a couple of modifications, including shortening the sleeves, and casting off at the back of the neck rather than keeping the stitches live to pick up when adding the collar. The first alteration, the shortening of the sleeves, seemed like a good idea. The sleeve pattern told you to knit the sleeves for 20 inches prior to the cap shaping- I measured even my sweaters with longggg sleeves, and none of them were that long. So, I shortened the sleeves by 2 inches, and I still think that they will be long. They have a slight bell to them, so I think long is good, but not, say, to my fingertips! Considering my height, it is surprising how long those dang sleeves are supposed to be. Give me a break. The second alteration, the binding off of the back neck stitches, are to prevent sagging once the large collar is added. That sounded smart to me, and will help to prevent sleeve lengthening, as well! As you can see from the picture above, I am not worrying about matching the stripes, although they accidentally matched up for part of the front. Oops. I am being a good girl and am blocking as I go along. (Insert pat on back here)
In other news, it has been hot, hot hot around here. I went for a walk this morning, because I did not have the heart to run- too hot. By the time I got home, my outfit was soaked in sweat. Whew! Last night, Cece lured me to her house with the promise of a yummy dinner and swimming (read: floating and throwing frisbees and sticks for the dogs), and it was very nice. It is so refreshing to go for a dip on a hot evening! The dogs were happily splashing around, although Henry hasn't really figured out the whole swimming thing... at one point, he followed me into the water, walking along the bottom, until he was underwater... and then he panicked! (I would, too!)
So, today, I am working on my jewelry photographing setup in the comfort of my air conditioned home. I've had the a/c on for several days, so the humidity has been eradicated, and it is quite pleasant in here. I got a few books on tape at the library, and I am hunkered down for the long haul. It will get at least into the mid 90's today, with severe humidity. Blecch.
So, I guess to wrap up, I will confirm that Cece was the winner of the contest to guess my secret- that I have started the Noro sweater! (I knew she'd guess right) Her prize? Nothing! HAHAHAHAHA!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Boobie Bugs!

So, I went up to my parents' house over the past couple of days, to hang out and to celebrate my grandmother's 92nd birthday. For her gift, I told her that I would knit her a hat to match the scarf I knit for her last Christmas. She appeared confused, and asked if it would have a brim. Now, I am not so sure about this... a hat with a knitted brim out of soft, fluffy eyelash yarn? I avoided the question and said it would be soft and nice. She seemed satisfied with this explanation. (But I'm still wondering... what the HECK knitted hat with a brim was she thinking of? Like, a Rasta hat? HAHAHAHAHA! That would be hilarious. At least it wouldn't smush her hair down!

I had gotten sick over Father's Day weekend, so I presented my father with a gag gift... a turqoise and white batik dyed bikini. He needs a new swimsuit for triathlon training purposes, but couldn't find one. He was so perplexed and bemused by the bikini, he didn't know what to do! Luckily, I quickly explained that a swimsuit would be forthcoming. Later that afternoon, we went shopping at a local sports store and found a suitable suit.

That evening, my mom and I sat down to watch the new season of Project Runway. They really picked some cool people with fantastic talent, as well as a few good characters with personality disorders... you know, to keep things interesting for us viewers. Well, as we were watching, these weird bugs kept falling down onto our chests from the recessed lighting up above... and they were going down our shirts! They weren't landing anywhere but our chests, and I therefore named them 'boobie bugs'. It is still baffling to me... why were they falling? And why were they falling onto our chests? Very strange.

So, I have decided that I am going to postpone revealing the results of my contest from yesterday until I have a good photograph. BUWAHAHAHAHA! Luckily for you, it will not be too long a wait, as I figure tomorrow will be a good time for pictures. Sweet.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The One Week Project

Yes, I have managed to finish a knitting project, as shown here:

It is completely finished, and is currently blocking. Here are the stats:

Victoria Tank by Veronik Avery, from Interweave Knits Summer 2004.
Size made: 34 1/2" (my gauge never quite got small enough)
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold's Hempathy (34% hemp, 41% cotton, 25% modal) Note: I have no idea what Modal is...
Needles: Size 1 US circs and dps
Date started: July 3
Date re-started: July 3
Date finished: July 11

The lace pattern was simple and quick to memorize. I did place stitch markers at every 3 repeats, so I would catch myself if I made a mistake. I tend not to notice sometimes until I'm at the end of a row, and with 252 stitches per round, that's a lot of fiddly tinking, to be sure. The tank is knit in the round up to the armpits, and then is divided front and back, and divided again for each section leading toward the straps. For the straps, you pick up stitches around the arm hole, and then pick up stitches along a chain stitched length. Certainly something I had never done before. After the armhole edging and neck edging is done, you fold over what you've knit to reveal the picot edging. I suppose all of this also strengthens and reinforces the straps. The pattern did call for 'smaller' needles once you reached the straps, but since I did not have a size 0 available, I just knit tighter in this area, and I think it seemed to work out.

Overall, I liked this pattern. I am a little nervous about what the final product will feel like- I'm not totally confident that the hemp will have a nice drape. I guess I will have to wait and see! I have a fan pointed toward the tank- hope that speeds things up.

I have a guilty confession... but it will have to wait another day or two until I have a good picture to show. I am willing to bet that Cece will be able to take a wild guess at what that confession is. Ooh, let's have a contest of my, like, two readers and see if anyone can guess what the confession is! Post a comment and the winner will get nothing! (Sorry. But I will sing you praises on my blog for making the good guess)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Yarn Related Road Trip!

On Monday, Cece, Susan and I met at Nancy's Airfield Cafe for lunch, and then headed West to the yarn mecca of the world (in my opinion), Webs. I'm pretty sure my readers have all been there, but if you have not, it is like this: a fairly good sized yarn store at the outset... but then, if you walk through the regular yarn store, you get to a HUMONGOUS WAREHOUSE. It is full of yarn higher than you can reach. Higher than I can reach, even! It is amazing. I can remember what my reaction was the first time I went, which I have heard is similar to the reaction of others: the jaw drops, and there is a huge gasp. GASP! So. Much. Yarn.

Anyway, I managed to make a few good purchases: a bunch of sock yarn, some nice hemp yarn for a tank top I've been meaning to make forever, some adorable angora yarn for baby booties, and then, the cherry on top: The Noro Kureyon yarn I have been wanting to buy forever. It was a close call: I was shopping, filling my basket, and then I was drooling over the Kureyon. I sort of noticed that 'my color' (the color I have been stalking for a couple of years now) was not there. Susan noted that it might be discontinued, which was a concerning thought. I asked a salesperson, and she confirmed that indeed the color had been discontinued (gasp), but that they had four bags of it in the back. (yay!) Just to be safe, I bought two full bags. While I was getting it, several other people saw the color (delicious!) and HAD to have some of it for themselves. So, here is the Noro yarn, along with the photo of the sweater I intend to make with it.

You would think that I would start with the Noro project right away, but since it's summer, I figured I'd start with the tank top first. I am so practical. Now, true, I still haven't finished the Gibson Girl, but I swear I will. Eventually.

So, here is a pic of the hemp yarn for the tank top, along with my 8 1/2 inches of progress so far. I had to go down to a size 1 needle, so progress has been SLOW- size 1's make my hands more tired than usual. Please note that I started this post on the 5th, but it is really the 7th, so progress is not as amazing as you would think! :)

Next, a super duper selection of sock yarn. I just now noticed that the two balls of Gedifra sock yarn are technically a different color. Silly me. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it!
And last but not least, I got some more angora for the tiny, fuzzy baby booties that I made before- AWWWWWWW.

So, sorry it took so long to finish this post... I will make sure to add updates and photos as the tank progresses!