Saturday, April 30, 2005

First Garment Completed!

The Cotton Fleece tank top is officially completed except for blocking. I seamed it last night and actually enjoyed it! Mattress stitch isn't all that bad. Of course, I only had two side seams to do. In the future, though, I'll do this pattern in the round as far as possible.

I convinced the model to step outside in the rain for a couple of photos.

I'm not 100% happy with the results of the sweater. First, the yarn isn't quite right for the pattern. Maybe I should have used a smaller needle for the ribbing....It's a bit loose. Also, the arm hole openings are too low for daughter. She'll need to wear a sport bra or camisole under this tank. All in all, for a first real garment, I think I did OK.

I'm leaning toward doing this pattern from Berroco next. I have a skein and two thirds of the pink Cotton Fleece left. I think it would work in place of the Berroco yarn.

Daughter is in a sewing mood today, so she's playing with my machine. I bought a Janome sewing machine a few years ago, and it is just heaven to use. I've not sewn much lately, but I, too, have been feeling the tug to get back to it. Daughter has a dream of being a fashion designer one day, so she's been spending a lot of time sketching clothes. Now, she wants to sew her ideas! I can tell I'm in for an interesting next few years with this creative young lady.

Oh...I don't think I told you about a great Knitpicks experience. A few months back, I ordered 4 skeins of each of two colors of Wool of the Andes. For some reason, they sent me only one skein of one color. I called them, because I was worried about matching dye lots. The customer service person arranged to have a free skein sent with the remaining 3 they owed me. How nice was that? I do like Knitpicks, and I'm glad they are going with all their own line of yarns these days.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Afternoon Quicky

Haha!! Made you look. It's just a quicky post; what did you think I meant?

Let's start with knitting news, because you know it's just going to end up a house topic, right? The tank is almost done. I finished the ribbing on the neckline last night and have seamed the shoulders. I just need to weave in a couple of ends and seam the sides. It's not bad for a first garment. If the sun shines tomorrow, I'll make photos.

I caved in to a case of retail therapy yesterday--retail therapy Knitpicks style. $78 later....I ordered some of their Wool of the Andes hanks to dye (for husband to dye), Kathleen Taylor's book Yarns to Dye For, The Opinionated Knitter, a pair of Bryspun needles, and enough purple Crayon yarn to make a tank top. Gosh, but it looks lucious!

We've cruised by the house probably 3 times this week. It's just so nice to look at it and think about moving in. We have "met" some of our neighbors. Apparently, this is a neighborhood of "wavers", and that's fine by me. When we drive through, people wave at us! Another absolute bonus for this house and neighborhood is that all the people we've seen out and about are elderly. I'm talking at least in their 60s and older. They work in their yards, too!! We have fantasized about something like this for years--older neighbors who actually take pride in keeping their yards looking nice.

The home inspection is Wednesday morning, and husband will be there (camera in hand, I'm sure). I am going to try to go as well, depending on what comes up at work. After the inspection, we can go ahead and set a closing date. The current owners are anxious to close, as their homeowner's policy is due for renewal at the end of May. I'm sure they'd rather turn that responsibility over to us. I hope they are as anxious to move out and on to their new home! I know we're ready to move into our new home.

I've found another photo host, so there should be pix coming this weekend. I know some of you really like that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Rape of the Land

Thank goodness we are moving out of this neighborhood. We moved in here 12 years ago, and there was an empty lot next to us. There are also woods behind us which likely won't be developed due to some utility lines and water collection ponds further back on it. The who sold us this place said that the lot next to us was so small that it could NEVER be built on. Note to self: if someone tells you "never," run for your life! Well, guess, almost 12 years later, someone is butchering the trees on that little lot, and they are going to build a house. I am so sad for the birds and squirrels who used to live there. I hope they'll be OK. The trees used to hide our deck and kitchen window from the next door neighbors, but now I can't even sit here at the computer with the blinds open, or I'm on display. I am SO glad we are leaving this place and going where there are woods that will never be raped. I can promise you we will do whatever we can to protect the land we are buying from being butchered.

In retrospect, we should have bought the little lot, but we haven't had the money to do that until recently. We've had the idea of moving from here in our minds for the past couple of years, so we didn't see the point then in buying the additional property and thus running the asking price for our house up even more. Live and learn, right? I'm counting the days until our closing (should be by May 25) and our move this summer. I need to be where there are birds singing and squirrels scampering. This incessant beep, beep, beep of bulldozers is grating on my nerves.

I want to close this post on a good note, so let me tell you about the tank top! It is coming along nicely. I am done with the back (just need to weave in the ends) and got to the point last night where the pattern says to add on another ball of yarn and begin the neck shaping on the front piece. That should be easy enough. Does anyone have any particular tips on weaving ends with mostly cotton yarn? The cotton fleece seems a bit slippery, and I don't think it will weave in as nicely as wool yarn does.

Pictures later this week! I've run out of space on my ISP and need to find another host.

Monday, April 25, 2005

We Got It!

The wait is over, and it was worth it! There were two bids for our house, and the seller came back to us with a counter offer. We took it! We're hoping to close at the end of the month and move by mid-June. I'm shaking with excitement about this.

Here are some pictures for you. First, a view of the house from the backyard:

The kitchen:

The living room; check those hardwood floors:

Believe it or not, we only looked inside one house before deciding to make an offer. I'd seen homes on line in our local paper and realtor web sites. We drove by two of them and liked this one the best. One look inside told us this was the house for us.

Since this is a knitting blog, here is some knitting content! This is a photo of the little Companion Bag that husband made. I spun the yarn; he knitted and felted the bag. It's about half as tall as a can of soda.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Severely Restless

I am what my mother-in-law would call "a restless goose." Why would a goose be restless? Beats me. Perhaps it thinks it may become Sunday dinner? I am restless because I'm impatient and anxious about the house. This time tomorrow night, I'll definitely know something.

I haven't really been able to settle to anything today. Husband went to the local fiber group meeting, but I was just more not in the mood for that today than I usually am. Most of the people in our group are genuinely super nice, but the thought of being in a confined space for a number of hours wasn't too nice. (I don't do well when I have to sit for long periods of time. I am a pacer on the best of days.) Besides, I had Mount Laundry" here to tackle. After I'd made a molehill of the mountain, daughter and I watched a DVD called Sleepover. It was some adolescent type film, but it wasn't too bad. We also knitted some purses to felt. Both of us finished our knitting and felting, and the purses are drying tonight. She is making I-cord for her handles, and I plan to purchase some braid from the fabric store for my handles. We both used yarn we'd dyed and spun ourselves. Pictures to come later. I am hoping that an actual finished object will be an inspiration for daughter. She often has follow through issues and doesn't finish projects. She knits beautifully, too.

Carolyn asked about the felted bag, and I can only assume she's talking about the Market Squares. I've gotten half way through it and am bored with it. It's currently residing in my knitting bag, but it's near the top. I love the pattern, and I will most definitely finish it...just not now.

Oh, chick update. The eggs were supposed to hatch this past Monday. We left them in the incubator until tonight and they did not show any signs at all of hatching. In fact, daughter claims they were starting to smell. I didn't check that out myself. They have since been taken outside. Shea, we were using a low tech incubator borrowed from a friend. This was a tiny one that only holds three eggs, has a night light sized light bulb, and you add water to it to keep up the humidity. I'm not sure where things went wrong. We'll try this incubating business again another time.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Waiting Game

It's game time here! We're playing "the waiting game." Yes, this is house related. We made an offer on the house yesterday. The current owners are out of town, but we are supposed to know something by Monday evening at the latest. I should have no finger nails left by then, because I'm biting them off in anticipation.

We had a really interesting time at the realtor's yesterday. On the drive over, it started pouring rain. Husband says that is actually a good sign, because we've never moved unless the weather was bad. (We moved in the middle of a tropical storm once--not on purpose.) During the time we were in the office, the power went out and kept blinking on and off for a good 15 minutes. We kept working in the dark! I hope it's another good sign that we didn't let that sway us from our goal of finishing our bid! According to the realtor, she was to receive another bid on the house this weekend. That could be true, or it could be realtor hype. We are comfortable that we made a good bid, and we have no contingencies on our contract.

We went to Columbia today to visit Hook 'n Needle and to visit husband's parents. We found nice goodies in the sale baskets--Mountain Colors yarn marked down to $7 a skein (got all 7 that were there). I'm not sure which MC it is, but I told husband GET IT! I also bought some Silky Wool in an off white color to make Spring Fling from Knitty and picked up some things form my Knitty Secret Pal! I hope she likes them. If you are ever in or near Columbia, SC on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, you have to visit Hook 'n Needle. I cannot think of another knitter that I know who is as knowledgeable as Maureen (owner) is. She is also one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet.

Has anyone gotten The Opinionated Knitter yet? I've not really been an Elizabeth Zimmerman fan in the past, but I'm drawn to this book. It is definitely on my wish list.

Friday, April 22, 2005

You Made Me Love You...

I didn't wanna do it! I didn't wanna do it!

We toured "the house" last night. I went there open-minded with absolutely no intention of loving the place. Darn it all! I fell for the house. Hook, line, and sinker. In fact, I think all three of us did. It's a tri-level that was custom built by the owners about 42 years ago. There are so many closets in the house that I lost count. Ditto cupboards. We were there around 6:30 last night, and even though the yard is pretty heavily shaded, there was still a ton of sun light in the house. That's because there are so many windows in the place (all new vinyl windows). There is plenty of storage space for all our fiber and yarn stash. I don't have enough furniture to go in all the rooms. The house includes almost 3 acres of land with an option to buy an additional 2 acres. The rear of the property backs up to a cemetery--no, you can't see it from the house, because it's that far away. There are fruit trees in the yard--pears, blueberries, a scuppernong vine. There are lots of azaleas, camelias, and dogwoods. Oh, and the owners are the original owners. We'd be the second family to live there. The only down side I saw is that almost all the ceiling light fixtures are outdated and would eventually need to be replaced. It needs paint inside and out. That's an easy fix. I'd clean the carpets in the bedrooms and downstairs.

Husband's job for this morning is to contact the mortgage company and get us qualified for the loan. It shouldn't be a problem at all based on our calculations. Wish us luck. I really believe if this is meant to be, it will be. If this house doesn't work out, I won't be devestated. We'll just wait and save our money and keep looking.

I finished the back of daughter's tank top last night. It took less than a skein of the Cotton Fleece. I'm so pleased with myself for getting this done! The instructions were a little confusing at first, but I got through. There were arm hole decreases, but the pattern didn't say what kind of decreases. I decided on a knit two together on one side and a slip one knit one PSSO on the other. I like the way the decreases look. I'll try to post pictures later this weekend.

Husband saw the tiny bag that I made from the Constant Companion pattern (still need to finish that thing with some straps) and liked it a lot. I gave him some pencil roving that I'd dyed and spun, and he made his own rendition of the bag this week. The yarn looked kind of "muddy" in the skein, but it knitted up beautifully. I'm really kind of upset that I gave it away! He felted the bag last night, and it looks great. It took a long time to felt. We should add jeans or something to the wash next time for friction, I think. Also, the resulting fabric was very fuzzy--think felted Lopi fuzzy but worse. Husband trimmed the fuzz, and now the colors of the fabric show nicely. Wow is all I can say. We're going to make the twisted cord handles for the bags this weekend. I'll post pictures when they are done. I have more of my pencil roving yarn, and I think that I'll modify the Constant Companion and make myself a bag with some of it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Did You Check the Gauge?

I've been happily knitting along on daughter's tank and announced a couple of nights ago that I was about to start the arm hole decreases on the back. "Great," husband says. "So how's your gauge?" Gauge, what freaking gauge? I don't need no stinkin' gauge. In lieu of checking the gauge, I decided to measure the width of the back. Hmmm...17 inches. Multiply that by 2 and you get 34 inches. This thing is supposed to be 36 inches finished. Uh oh. I guess I did need a stinkin' gauge swatch. Ribbit, ribbit (that's frogging) and rewind. It wasn't too hard to find the appropriate needle size to give me the appropriate gauge--thank heavens for those Plymouth interchangeable needles! I'm once again happily knitting along and am just 3 inches shy of where I start the arm hole decreases. My gauge is smack on, too, so this tank should fit just fine.

Chicks were due to hatch yesterday, but nothing so far. I'm a bit concerned that there won't be chicks (I know I never wanted them in the first place, but even more so I don't want a devestated child.). We're going to give them until the end of the week in the incubator and see what happens. The reading husband has been doing indicates that if they go a full four weeks without hatching, they likely never will hatch. We're not sure what went wrong. The eggs seemed to be doing just fine early on--saw movement inside that appeared to be a heart beat, saw veins in the eggs, etc.

I'm really sorry to say that we've found what could well be "the dream home." It's a big house, just the right amount of land (almost 3 acres), close in to town, and get has TWO kitchens. One is a full kitchen, and the other has a 4 burner stove and micro fridge. Can you say "Dye Kitchen"? We're not quite ready to put a bid on a place yet, so we're crossing our fingers and toes and any other crossable body parts that no one else will be attracted to this house until we are fully ready to put in an offer. That could be just a few months. My attitude (or at least the one I'm trying to maintain) is that if it's meant to be, it will be. That Dye Kitchen has to be a sign, right??

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I've Had It

Be warned, ranting to follow. There is absolutely no knitting content in today's post. If your delicate sensibilities cannot handle some good ol' bitching, I suggest you turn back now.

There is a certain HUGE knitting related Yahoo group which shall remain nameless. I am sure that you can figure it out if you try. I swear the moderators of said list have it in for me. Every single time I try to post anything, I get a reprimand. "Trim your post." "Add knitting content." etc., etc., etc. Other people can bitch about the new Yahoo message group set up and not a word is said. Let me dare to agree to a post that they let through and woe be unto me. I get a hand slap. I trimmed the pure hell out of my most recent comment and left the paragraph (small paragraph!) that actually lets people know what has been said before and to what I'm addressing my comment, and still the mods attack.

What good is a list where you get posts none of which make any sense because so much of the previous conversation has been cut away? Well, you know, I've had it. They can have their dictatorship board. I don't need it anymore. I'm sure that I can occupy my time with nice boards like Knitty and with actual knitting! It's kind of like I said inZib's blog comments yesterday, if there's something I don't like, I don't have to read it. I don't like the way the Yahoo list in question is dictated, so I'm not going to read it! I'm sure they're crying buckets at the loss of me.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Monday, Monday

In loom news, someone from LeClerc has been in contact with husband about his loom, and it appears this one is older than we thought. I believe the year 1935 was floating around. Well, if this is a 70 year old loom, she's looking good for her age! I cannot wait to see her "returned to her former glory."

We went house lusting yesterday. We had two in mind that fit the bill--around 2500-3000 square feet with a minimum of 2 acres of land. One house seems to fit the bill perfectly. In fact, it's more than I hoped for. The grounds are nicely landscaped with some of the acreage (total of 2.9) left uncleared. There are blueberry bushes (yum), an outside workshop (for looms and such), a sunroom/living room, huge family room, two fireplaces, 3 full baths (no fighting over them, cause invariably everyone needs "to go" at the same time), and get this...TWO KITCHENS! One is a small kitchen in the family room with a stove, tiny under cabinet fridge, and microwave. Can you say "dyeing kitchen"? We are still very much in the lust stage and not ready to buy, but maybe it's a sign that we've found the impossible--a house with two kitchens. The price is right, too. I really would like to take a look inside, but I don't want to do that until all our little ducks are in a row and we're ready to make an offer on something.

Here are more art festival photos! The first is daughter and one of her two best friends, or their hands at least! There was an artist doing henna tattoos, and the girls went wild for them.

People went wild about the spinning. Here are husband and daughter showing another girl how to spin.

Anyone who reads Knitty may have seen my recent apology to cotton. I've discovered a cotton yarn that I love--Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. It's 80% cotton, 20% wool. Here is a shot of the tank that I'm working on for daughter.

I have about 7 inches worked so far. Another 3 or 4 inches until time for the arm hole decreases.

Speaking of Knitty, Secret Pal 4 has begun!! I've sent a note to the person to whom I'm sending but haven't heard anything back from her yet. I've also gotten several notes from the person who's sending to me. She sounds like a real sweetheart, and we have lots in common in spite of the fact that she's a mere child of 22 and I'm an old lady of 40! :-) I sat out SP 3, so I'm very excited to be back in things with this round. SP 1 and 2 were loads of fun!! There's a button floating around somewhere for SP 4. I'll have to snag it to post here.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ask and You Shall Receive

Pictures are what you wanted, and I'll tease you with a few today! Let's take a trip back in time a couple of weeks to the Oatland Island Sheep to Shawl. This wasn't a huge festival, but if you recall, the nicest part was meeting Carolyn there. We enjoyed looking at the alpacas. They are adorable animals, but these two had apparently had enough of the crowds. Poor dears. They still had a shearing ahead of them when this photo was taken.

The second best part of the trip to Oatland Island was that while we were watching the spinning demo, a lady walked up and said she had a floor loom she needed to get rid of. When husband asked the price, she told him "you pick it up, you can have it!" You can't ask for a better price than that, so the following weekend, husband picked up what appears to be a LeClerc Fanny loom with bench. I think it is a 45 inch width, but I'd have to ask the resident weaver to be sure. The loom is in pretty good condition on the whole, but it has been stored in a college basement and most recently in a garage. Husband has taken the whole thing apart and is in the process of giving it a complete overhaul. I have no pictures, unfortunately. I should have gotten a before and after shot.

The Art Festival at daughter's school is now officially over! It was fun, but yesterday sure was a long day. The morning started off very cool and extremely windy, but it settled out a bit as the day went on. We had lots of lookers, but few buyers. We made about $90 on some skeins of yarn husband had spun and a few scarves I'd made. I gifted daughter's two best friends with one of the Noro hats each. I used a pattern purchased from e-bay as my inspiration for the hats, but changed them enough to make them originals. I plan to gift the rest of the hats to friends and family during the holidays.

Here are two shots of our booth. Notice the adorable hat daughter is wearing in the second photo! Husband made it using the pattern in the Spring issue of Interweave Knits. He made himself one, too. I'll get pictures of those for you later.

I have a few more photos from yesterday, but I'll save those for later this week.

Last night, I cast on a tank top for daughter using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in color Tea Rose. This yarn is divine!! It has made me have a changed view of knitting with cotton. The Cotton fleece is 80% cotton and 20% wool. I think it's the wool that makes all the difference.

People are buzzing about the upcoming Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I'm not going. I have absolutely no desire to go. A good friend even invited me to fly up and stay with her and go to the festival. The thought of combating the huge crowds there is a complete turn off for me. I'd rather go to the smaller festivals and not have to fight crowds. I'm not bitter or the least bit jealous of you guys who are going to MDS&W. I hope you have fun and find some good deals. In fact, I'm so not bitter about this that I'm jumping on this bandwagon:

Grab your own button from the knitlette.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Type A Mom, Type B Kid

How does an anal retentive type A person like me give birth to a child who is so painfully laid back and type B? This child has three, count 'em, THREE science report projects due tomorrow. No, her teacher is not sadistic; daughter is a procrastinator. She's known about this since THE BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. Thankfully, all three projects are almost near comletion--the surface tension poster, the lifecycle of the chick poster, and the lifecycle of the silk worm poster as well as all accompanying reports.

I have no knitting news today, but I felted a Special Companion bag today. It's drying now and is just adorable. I used this pattern by Janet Scanlon. I used purple wool from Elann--can't remember the name, but I got it in a swap with a Knitty pal.

Amanda, I promise update photos before Saturday when I hope all the finished objects will be sold objects! I'm such a blog slacker. So much for being type A--I'm moving into type "worn out momma."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Things Learned While Traveling

I flew down to Tampa on Monday and back home again yesterday. There's just nothing like a quick trip, now is there? (note sarcasm) I learned a few things along the way, or should I say, I remembered a few things!

1. When you witness a child pitching a tantrum at your flight's gate, do not even think "I hope he isn't seated near me." If you dare to do this, you can rest assured the little demon will be right beside you or worse yet, the row behind you.

2. Cabbies are required to take "Scare the Hell Out of Your Passengers" lessons before they are issued taxi licenses. These lessons include tailgating and slamming on brakes at 65 MPH, taking shortcuts that make the passenger feel that she may wind up dead because you've slashed her throat and dumped her body, and how to make a passenger hurl in the back seat.

3. Just because the sign out front indicates "Free High Speed Wireless Internet in All Guest Rooms" and the desk clerk assures you this is the case doesn't mean it's true. In fact, there may very well be no Internet of any kind in the hotel. This is most likely to occur when you really need to log on for work purposes.

4. Beware vagrants who accost you screaming obscenities in the parking lot of the place you and your co-worker stopped for dessert. In such cases, be sure that you are capable of quickly loccking the car doors and getting the hell out of dodge.

5. You may be fortunate enough to win (at no additional cost to you) an intense screening by TSA agents who also yell at you for no known reason. No one will tell you that you've been chosen for this special honor; you will just be directed to the shortest security line where you place your items on the conveyor belt and then are directed to stand on the cute little floor mat with the two yellow painted foot prints. If after you've been left there for 5 minutes and ask "may I leave now?" you'll be yelled at by a big ugly TSA agent who thinks he has been named king of the world. If you're truly fortunate, he will have a semi-polite female assistant who does not yell.

6. You can rest assured that Delta (or insert any airline name here) will seat you next to the broadest shoulder male passenger on the flight. It won't matter if you do have the aisle seat and the poor sucker is in the window. He will still invade your space causing you to get a crick in your back, shoulder, and neck. He will not be cute or nice. In fact, he is most likely to be an arrogant business man who thinks he's "da bomb." He will also likely be wearing smell cologne.

7. Just when you least expect it and after you've experienced items 1-6, someone will notice that you are knitting to maintain your sanity (and possibly to keep from killing someone). This person may just well show an interest in that knitting. This person may also be a man who is completely clueless about the entire knitting process and who thinks you are working magic with some sticks and string.

And that, friends, was my trip to Tampa. Good news: my Market Squares bag with Crystal Palace circulars, my Noro hat with Addi Turbo circulars, my Plymouth DPNs, darning needle, and my Clover yarn cutter all made it through the super duper TSA screening (in which they took out everything from both my bags) with nary a second glance from the screeners.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

All Good Things Must Come to an End

All good things must indeed come to an end, but it really sucks when the good thing in question is a vacation at the beach! After nine GLORIOUS days on HHI, it was time to return to reality.

The best part about vacation was finally getting to meet Carolyn!! She's a wonderful person, and we had a lot of fun together.

I did a fair amount of knitting during vacation, too. I have completed 5 Noro one skein hats. The pattern was purchased from an e-bay seller, and I'll try to post her name as well as photos of my completed hats later this week.