Sunday, December 31, 2006

ARRRRRRGHHHHHH!

And I don't mean that in the good pirate-y way, either... for clarification, that would only have contained ARRRRRRR! without the g or the h's. Just so you know.

Anyway, I have started a rectangular scarfy shawl thingy from the Victorian Lace book. I had an initial false start, having knit a gauge swatch, sized the needles UP, knit for a while, and saw that the width would have been quite a bit larger than was anticipated, so I then frogged my hours of progress, and went down a couple of sizes. My ARRRRGH? Well, I am using fairly splitty yarn, and possibly the most blunt needles ever invented, the Addi Turbos, which have been unlovingly referred to by some as 'Blunty Stumpos'. I am slowly being driven insane. Now, I have heard rumor that the new Knitpicks needles are nice and pointy, so I went ahead and ordered some. I suppose I will continue to knit on the maddeningly blunt needles in the meantime, but breathlessly await the arrival of flesh-gougingly sharp needles. Luckily, there are no bobbles or nupps in my scarf/shawl, otherwise, I'm sure I would have been driven to pure raving lunacy by now. Blunties are just not the tools for the job. Le Sigh.

There is still not enough actual knitting done to warrant a photo. However, there is one new thing that I'd like to report on: I am actually using life lines, which I have never done before. I suppose that the trickiness of the true lace pattern (working increases and decreases on both the right and wrong side rather than simply purling back on the wrong side) makes me concerned about my ability to figure out what went wrong if I were to drop a stitch... plus, those nonpointy needles are horrible at picking up wayward stitches. I am sincerely hoping that i will never have to frog down 16 rows... maybe I should do it every 8 instead... I did make a WEE bit of an error the first time I ran the life line through my stitches... I ran it through the stitch markers, too... imagine my surprise when I went to slip the stitch marker from one needle to the other, only to find that it was well-anchored to my work by the life line!!! Silly me.
I still don't actually have plans for New Year's. However, I figure that if nothing interesting pops along, I will save money and avoid a possible hangover, not to mention all of the truly fabulous television I'll be able to see, and all of the knitting I will get done! So, Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2007 be totally RAD!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Long-Winded, Overdue Update

So, I've been back from my parents' house for several days now, and still haven't unpacked, because I was met at the door by my sock of the month kit from Sundara Yarns! My hands and arms were so loaded down with packages that I had to kick the box down the hall and into my apartment, but luckily I knew it was yarn and was not fragile! Anyhoo, Ms. Sundara Murphy makes some very beautiful sock yarn, and creates unique hand dyed colors that go along with gorgeous flowers, and the sock club is called the Petals Collection. This particular kit was based on the Lenten Rose, and the pattern is nice and lacy and I managed to memorize the repeats after a few inches or so! I was immediately obsessed with knitting these socks, so here is the result:

Project Specs:
Pattern: Lenten Rose sock kit by Sundara Murphy of Sundara Yarns
Yarn: Lenten Rose colorway, 100% superwash merino sock yarn by Sundara Yarns
Needles: Size 0 double pointed sock needles (eek- skinny!)
Comments: I found one minor error, and one completely insignificant typo. The error stated that you turn the heel round until there are 11 stitches left, but then tells you to split them in half for a total of 21 on each needle (along with the picked up gusset stitches, 16 per side) which lead me to believe that you are really supposed to work until 10 stitches are left, rather than 11. I guess it still annoys me a little that a pattern people are paying for haven't been test knit- maybe I should get a job test knitting patterns- ha!
Anyway, I really, really liked the yarn. It is a little more grey than it appears in the picture, and as a matter of fact, Cece is in the same sock club, and HER yarn is a little more purpley than mine. I am test wearing the socks, and they are totally not itchy at all, even though they're wool. I am happy as a clam!

So, I did some knitting on Starsky while I was at my parents' house over Christmas, but dropped poor little Starsky like a hot potato as soon as the Sundara kit came in! Anyway, here is the progress so far:
The pieces are not yet blocked, so will look a LOT better in the final project! That damned belt took me a better part of two evenings of double knitted HELL to finish, and I am glad I didn't wait until the end to do it, because I probably would have run out of steam! I'm enjoying the pattern other than that particular aspect... However, that brings me to the next point:

I AM A BAD DAUGHTER.

Now, I have had the yarn for Starsky since possibly 1995, and have been waiting for JUST the right aran sweater pattern to fall across my path... now, that particular pattern has just never materialized, so I chose Starsky. By my calculations, I would have PLENTY of yarn left over to knit my mom a super fabulous new Christmas stocking, as shown here- yes, it's a Christmas surprise photo I've been dying to post:


Ain't it cute? However, here comes the 'bad daughter' part... it appears that I might run out of yarn for Starsky! I needed to break the news to my mom, who faked a fit- she pulled down the stocking, threw it at me, and then stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her! I apologized profusely afterwards, and then asked her if she had any color preferences in the event that I had to dismantle the gift I had worked so hard on. SHE SAID RED! So, I had some fake ammo against her... every time she moaned about me taking her present back ("So, you mean that all I REALLY got was a roll of tape?!?", I had a response: "OHHH, so you don't even really LIKE the stocking... you want a different color!" A good chuckle was had by all!

So, I must say that my most favorite gift that I received was the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. The patterns are all delicious, the photographs of the shawls and scarves are gorgeous, and there are sections on technique and lots of pointers about knitting lace. Additionally, there is a lot of info about the history of victorian lace and patterns and so on. I have spent hours reading it and poring over the patterns... have I ever mentioned that I read knitting patterns for fun? Frequently just before bed, even!

Anyway, my final Christmas "gift" was a trip out to the Webs annual sale. That place is great- there is so much yarn to choose from, and the sale is great. I managed to get a bunch of yarn, including a few colors of lace weight yarn on cones: The one in the middle is more of a true gray... who can say why my apartment changes the colors of gray so drastically! Anyway, this yarn is Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk, and is sold by the half pound... I am quite certain that there is enough yarn for several decent sized shawls on each cone, so if anyone reading this wants to wager some sort of trade (for instance, if you have other colors of lace weight yarn and want to make a swap), let me know! I have chosen several patterns that I cannot wait to knit, but I realize that these might be long term goals... lace knitting can be tough going!
Next, I found some great yarn for the Weekend Pullover by Veronik Avery, from the Fall 2006 Interweave Knits. It's Valley Yarns Deerfield, which is again an alpaca/silk blend. It is a little less orangey and a little more chestnut in real life:

Next, was the new Regia Bamboo yarn:

I am curious to see how it knits up.
And finally, I bought a super cheap deal, at $1 a ball... I just couldn't pass it up! It's Vaudeville by Artful Yarns, and I'm guessing they're not making it any more, because the google search found a LOT of closeout deals! I am probably going to zip over to the Classic Elite store soon, and see if I can find a pattern, because I can recall that they had some of this yarn (or something similar), and maybe they'll have some pattern ideas. I guess another Google search might help...
You might not be able to tell, but it's a very cool tape yarn, and I am dying to see what I'll be able to do with it!

Okay, that is the last of the updating that I can think of for now. I am a few rows into my first lace pattern from the Victorian Lace book, and will show progress when there is something to see!

Friday, December 22, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

Well, Cece tagged me for a meme, so here goes. First off, the rules of the meme:
THE RULES:Each player of this game starts with the weird things about you.People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.
However, I will absolutely not publicly share what I think are the 6 WEIRDEST things about me... I'm just too weird for that, and trust me, you can't handle it, baby! Also, I will not be tagging 6 new people, because I don't have 6 blogs that I read that I know the writers of well enough. (Plus, rules were made to be broken!) So, in no particular order...

1. I am afraid of the carwash. It makes me all nervous to go through one of those automated carwashes. It's all splashy and you can't see anything!

2. I think French's yellow mustard tastes super good with cheese pizza. It's like mustard with a big, soft warm pretzel, but with cheese and sauce along for the ride. Try it- you will be pleasantly surprised!

3. I am not ticklish, except when exceedingly relaxed. Boyfriends are occasionally able to get a giggle out of me.

4. I think long, prominent, pointy "Roman" noses are extremely attractive on a man. Conversely, I think that upturned noses are exceedingly unattractive on anyone.

5. I have several odd talents: I can whistle and hum at the same time, I can make my tongue into the shape of a 3 leaf clover, and I can stick my pinkie up my nose to the second knuckle. I can also make my eyebrows do 'the wave'.

6. I like almost all foods. I can think of almost none that I would absolutely refuse to eat. There are a few I don't particularly like all that much, including liver, green tea ice cream, and bitter melon. I can't think of any others to put on that list at this time. Circus peanuts, the candy? Not that great, but I'd eat them if they were the only candy available!

So, now you know a few odd things about me. Some of you might know a few more...

Anyway, I will be leaving tomorrow morning to go to my parents' house for Christmas. I am assuming that I won't be back home (and blogging) until at least the 26th, so have a Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and I'm now over and out for the next few days!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poker not-so-hottie...

Well, after my extra snappy comeback to Poker Hottie, s/he responded with little vim and vigor: "Just Poker Hottie!" Bummer. With a screen name like that, I was hoping for a little more. So it goes.

I am pooped. Tonight, I did a jewelry party at Cece's house, and although not everyone was able to come, it was still a good evening. It was my last 'jewelry selling event' of the year, and now the pressure is off and I can just relax. I have two custom items to make, but there is no rush, as they are not gifts. And once I return from my parents' house after Christmas, I will be able to reveal all of the secret things that I made for people! Yippee!

This past Saturday, I went to a party at my neighbor's house. Two days prior, I had gone to my social work staff meeting, where we did a Yankee Swap, and I ended up with the gift I had brought! Therefore, I had a ready made gift to bring to the Saturday party. The woman who ended up with the scarf I brought loved it (yay!), and I got to go home with a bottle of Sambuca! What are the odds! (Party at my house, any day, any time!) Plus, I ended up spending part of the evening talking to a really nice guy. Oddly, he is not really my 'type' looks-wise- he is a MUSICIAN (which I hate hate hate) and has weird musician hair. However, I am remaining open minded because the conversation was so enjoyable! Plus, he has a sensible day job (web designer), so at least he's not the cheap, mooching type of musician. However, he is still the type who plays music, which sometimes drives me crazy. If there are ever any interesting updates, I'll let you know. (note to self: never ever tell boyfriends (if I ever get one) about this blog!!!)

Good night, all. Maybe I will muster up some pics and a more interesting post now that I will hopefully be less exhausted. But until then...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Poker Hottie!

Well, this was just too good not to blog about. I have an email account that I use for my jewelry business, which is comprised of my first and last name, followed by @ and the rest of the deal. I received this email below. It is cut and pasted, so don't grouse at ME for the spelling and such:

"hey i was just wondering what ur middle name was cauz we have to exact same name and i thought that was weird and i live in michigan! so yeah anyways"

So yeah. Anyways. Anywaysssss, the email address from my 'same name friend' was 'pokerhottie24@etc. etc.' I will block her (well, if we really do have the same name, I hope it is a woman!) So, I wrote back to her:

"Hi, my full name is Poker Elizabeth Hottie. What's yours?"

I am dying... DYING to see if I get a response. I am guessing that those of you who read this post are also going to be dying to hear what happens next. WE LOVE POKER HOTTIE!!!
I am an Electrician!!!

Now, this statement might frighten some of you to the core of your very beings. Amanda + Electricity = possible mayhem... However, I tewtally followed the directions. Really, I did! Check it out:

I have been 0ut one overhead kitchen light for a few weeks, and no, it wasn't just the bulbs. Therefore, I went over to Home Depot and bought the above lighting fixture, which was a much better option than my old ugly light, which was one of those terrible yellowing plastic light covers with the fluorescent ring bulbs. Now, of course, I have two bulbs I don't need any more, but I'll bet I can donate it to one of my neighbors who has not been so resourceful as I as to 1. have a light that dies, and 2. go out and get a new one.

I must say that I absolutely love this new light. I made sure to study how the wires were all connected to one another on the old one, and to read the directions on the new one. White wire to white wire; black wire to black wire, and green wire to the plain grounding wire. If any of you reading this think that this is wrong and that my house will burn down, please let me know immediately. IMMEDIATELY. IMMEDIATELY.
But for now, I am going to be enjoying my new, super duper awesome light fixture. I am so cool and handy! I must say I did wish for more than two hands, perched up there on a ladder with my pockets full of all the pieces and tools and trying to hold the light fixture up while twisting the wires together and using a little electrical tape here and there...

Okay, my buddy Megan just got here. I am going to go gloat over my recent electrical success, and then we are off to eat burritos. Life is grand!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kickin' stash butt, and takin' stash names!

Well, in an effort both to save money and decrease the amount of unused crapola I have in my life, I have been visiting my yarn stash on a regular basis, hoping to find yarn to use up. As other knitters know, there is sometimes a disconnect between the patterns we want to knit and the yarn we already own. I have been trying to bridge that gap- I knit two secret items for Christmas presents out of yarn I already had, and for Yankee Swap items, I have done a couple of quickie novelty yarn scarves. Nothing unusually exciting, unless you consider the fact that the above projects effectively removed about 7 balls of yarn from my life, and will bring joy to someone else's! Yee haw!

And for the most exciting stashbusting news, I do believe I have finally found a purpose for some off white worsted weight yarn that I have been saving for just the right aran knit sweater, since I bought it in approximately 1995. That is some ancient yarn in my book, considering that is just about the time I reached back into the recesses of my mind, dragged out the rudimentary knitting skills my mom taught me when I was a wee one, and started kicking major sweater knitting ass! I must say, I have pored over knitting books and patterns looking for just the right sweater, and even considered trying to design one myself... but it just never happened. I will not stop looking, but in the meantime, am going to repurpose the yarn for this: Starsky from Knitty! I had noticed the pattern when it first came out, but forgot about the yarn I already had. Now, I hope it turns out well. I won't start it until after all of the open houses, jewelry parties and so on... but at least I'll have something "extraspicy" (according to the Knitty rating scale) to work on over Christmas vacation! ANnnnnd, I'll be one step closer to destroying another lump in my yarn stash!
Oh, Cece and I did decide that the true destashing attempts won't start until AFTER we go to the Webs holiday sale after Christmas... there must always be a "Webs holiday sale loophole"... it seems only fair.
So, I put up my Christmas tree yesterday, and it looks fabulous, if I do say so myself...

For those of you who have not been privvy to my explanation, I feel that someday, I may very well live under the same roof with someone who thinks that a pink and white tree is completely unacceptable... so I'm getting it out of my system right now! And last year. And, with the way that my dating life is going, possibly for several (maybe many) years to come. MEN: STOP BEING FREAKS, PLEASE! It's just a thought. But really, I think it's a good thought, and you should really consider it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

General Woolgathering

Well, I got home from work today and promptly fell asleep for almost 3 hours. So it goes on Fridays, it seems. So, even after waking up, I find myself feeling fairly dazed, daydreamy, and generally not completely with it. This might not be good if I were operating heavy machinery, but it definitely allows the mind to wander all over the place.

So, over the past couple of months, I have been pondering the fact that my collection of crafting supplies continues to grow, no matter how many crafts I complete. I am not totally sure what the actual solution to this is... I don't think I've ever met a crafter who does not have this problem. However, I have been thinking about either starting or joining some sort of post-holiday "UFO-along" or a "stashbuster - along", with the idea that new supplies would not be purchased, other than perhaps materials needed to complete a project with materials already owned. For example, I have a sweater's worth of super bulky yarn, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the right needles to knit with. Therefore, under said 'along', I would be allowed to buy the needles. And, I was thinking that after the holidays would be a good time to pull out unfinished projects and... well... actually finish them!
So, that's what I"ve been thinking about. Now, we will see if it actually happens.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Another No Picture Post

Ohhhhh, this is KILLING me! I have been slaving away, making things for Christmas gifts of all types- straight up gifts, Secret Santa gifts, and Yankee Swap gifts. And, due to the fact that people I know and like (and therefore may very well be receiving gifts) look at my blog, I can't post the pictures until after Christmas! I will say this: I have been staying up LATE trying to get things finished. Alas, you will all have to wait another 2 1/2 weeks to see the results!

Last year at this time, I had a craft show every weekend. I was so tired and stressed, I ended up getting shingles, and got sick a lot all winter. Things are a little more low key this year, but I still feel like there is so much to do- send out Christmas cards, tidy up my place and put up the tree, and so on. I want to host a holiday open house, and am doing a couple of jewelry parties... it is a festive time, but sometimes I just feel so pressured, ya know?

Despite the pressure, I am trying to remember the things I'm happy about in my life, particularly the biggest change, which is the new job I started this fall. I am in a new school, and like the environment/ atmosphere much more than where I was last year. It is a much better fit than where I was last year. I am seeing kids for individual counseling, and do a lot more therapeutic work instead of crowd control and babysitting. I went over to my old school yesterday to visit a student, and I must say that I did NOT miss it or yearn to be back there in the least! Some things happen for a reason, eh?

Well, enough of that... I'm going to be gettin' to that whole Christmas card thing. Every year, I consider writing a generic Christmas letter to enclose, but I haven't followed through yet. I'm assuming that this year will be the same...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Tis a Christmas Miracle!

I do believe that I will be able to completely avoid having to leave my home to complete Christmas shopping. How, might you ask, is this possible? Well, you probably wouldn't ask at all, what with you being aware of the internet... but there's the thing- although I did do SOME of my shopping online, the rest of my gifts will be lovingly created by ME from the stores of my somewhat massive array of craft supplies! I am psyched! I was thinking that I might have to leave the house to get stocking stuffers, but I have also figured out a super sneaky solution to that issue, as well! To that end, I bring you a resounding huzzah!

I have one more miracle to report: I have NOT sneaked a peek at my amazon.com wish list to see whether any of my items have been purchased. The thought has certainly crossed my mind, and it is also quite true that I still need to hold out for almost 3 more weeks, but I'm doing my best.

Apologies for the lack of pictures. I am bursting at the seams to put up pics of the things I'm working on, but sadly, that must wait several more weeks so as not to ruin the surprise... and in the case of some of my knitting friends, the pics will have to wait even longer than that! I can hardly stand the suspense! EEEEEEE!

One of the things I'm good at is recognizing people's faces... well, people I've met, that is. Anyway, I went to a grocery store that I don't usually go to, because it's near the liquor store... I needed to get some red wine to make my stew with. (Beef stew. It was super duper delicious. But I digress.) I'm walking through the meat aisle, and I see a familiar face.... could it be... someone I went to high school with and haven't seen since our 1991 graduation??? Why, yes, it could be, and it was! I was flattered when she said I looked exactly the same... and seeing that I recognized her, she looked about the same, too! She had three lovely girls with her (her own, I ascertained), and lives nearby. What a small world it is!

Well, I am going to stare briefly at the awesome projects I've been working on, and then dream about them as I sleep.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Redemption!

Allow me to clarify through a brief pictorial:

Yesssss! I finally got up the nerve to try these again. So far, I have made this:
I guess the main impetus was that I'm taking a polymer clay class tomorrow morning, and I wanted to be wearing a little somethin' to be bragging about!
Yes, this post is brief, but it's really late and I am sleeeeeepy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How did THAT happen?

How did it suddenly become December? November seemed significantly shorter than usual, didn't it? Not that I'm complaining, mind you, particularly because I don't think I have to leave the house at all to complete my holiday shopping... other than the stocking stuffers. Our family draws names and fills the stocking for another family member... sort of a secret Santa kind of thing. We then guess who was the person who filled our stocking. I can't write whose stocking I have, because most of my family reads my blog. However, my grandma doesn't, so I can post what I'm getting her (or rather, making her) for Christmas. A couple of years ago, I knitted her some socks that she wears as slipper socks around the house. She mused aloud that they were getting a bit worn, so I decided that was a heavy enough hint to start work on these, for which I already had some nice, soft, stretchy Cascade Fixation yarn:

Also, I managed to finish the socks I was previously working on! I am even wearing them right now. They rule.

Pattern: Cedar Creek by Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Yarn: Socks that Rock in Puck's Mischief , again by BMFA.
Needles: Double Point Susan Bates sock needles in sizes 1 and 0
Comments: I totally love working with this soft and beautiful yarn, except I do not like it when hand dyed yarns pool. That being said, I was too lazy to alternate knitting from opposite ends of the yarn, so I guess I brought part of the problem on myself, now, didn't I? As I may have previously mentioned, I also found a bit of an issue with the pattern- and I'll only restate this part of my complaint: If I am going to pay for a pattern, it clearly should have been test knitted, and it clearly should be nice, pretty, and symmetrical when knit up. It was not. Therefore, I am peeved. Peevish. Peevish may be one of the awesomest words ever. Additionally, I do realize that awesomest is not a word. Deal with it.