Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Lordy lordy, look who's 40!
This is Charlie, one of my best friends in the whole world and today (actually Friday) is his birthday!

This photo was taken 22 years ago on the 4th of July. We were on our way to watch the fireworks at Capital Park in Augusta (Maine) with all of our friends ("the gang"). It was our last summer together before Charlie went away to college.

Have you ever had a dear friend that you lost touch with and wondered about? Charlie is one of those people for me. Just last summer, we finally reconnected after nearly 13 years! I can't tell you how happy I am to have him in my life again, even if he is nearly half way around the world! He is the one who urged me to start blogging ("It's so easy" he said).

If you haven't noticed the link to his website it my sidebar, check it out. Just to make it easy, here's the link. Check out his photo diary for some great photographs too!

Happy Birthday Charlie!
You are the BEST!

P.S. - If you have lost touch with a friend, find them!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Are you ready for this?

Whenever my mom has a story to tell, she likes to build up the suspense by saying "Are you ready for this? I mean are you ready? Are you really ready? Listen to this..."

I am my mother's daughter, but we differ in style, at least when it comes to hyperbole.See those buds, plump and ready to open, reaching for the sun to become what they were meant to be? That's me. At least that's how I have felt over the last two weeks. The wait is over. I have a new job!!!! I have waited a long time to make this change, and while it was hard to finally make the decision to do it (comfort is very seductive), the perfect opportunity literally fell into my lap (they wanted me!!). I'll essentially be doing the same thing I do now, but on a much larger scale with more responsibility, and of course more compensation. I keep pinching myself. It's real! I gave my notice today and start my new job 2 weeks from tomorrow! What will I wear? Will there be knitters there? I'm going to try really hard to chill out now because I have worn myself out fretting needlessly.


Let's talk about Yarn Tour! While it wasn't quite the trip we had anticipated (yarnwise), we still had a great time. Unfortunately, Isis on Penhallow in Portsmouth does not serve brunch on Saturdays (pooh!), but we found a great BBQ place that serves the world's largest chef salad I have ever seen in addition to some mighty tasty sweet potato fries! With full bellies, Aimee fell into a used bookstore while Lori and I headed off to Portsmouth Fabric Company, where I found the perfect Kaffe Fasset fabric to line my LTL bag:and some Amy Butler fabric I have been lusting for (future skirt).Lori was very well behaved and just drooled. Aimee bought several books for $1 each.

Finally, after some hair raising driving, we arrived safely at Hubs with patterns and calculators in hand, ready to lay down some cash and buy some yarn! Lori was immediately enticed by some Premiere...

Aimee checked her patterns for something, anything, to use some yarn for...

while I deliberated with a fellow knitter over whether or not Provence would work for the Josephine Top. How great is it when you can plonk yourself on the floor of a shop and play with yarn and meet other knitters who came armed with some of the same patterns you did?
Despite the fact that we must have spent at least 2 hours fondling, sniffing and otherwise mauling yarn, Lori bought a set of needles, Aimee bought a bag of yarn for $20 (for real) and I came away with 6 skeins of Imagine at $3 a pop. Not the haul we were expecting, but good fun was had by all.
I've already knit a gauge swatch with the Imagine (5.5 sts to the inch on size 4) and think that I'll make a simple boat neck fitted sleeveless top. I just love the colors, but the knitted material is a bit stiffer that I thought it would be, given the drape of the yarn in the hank. Who cares? It was only $18!!!

Since I didn't find anything for Josephine, I ran to my favorite LYS the next day to buy this Debbie Bliss Wool Cotton. I got perfect gauge, but may modify the pattern to get a smaller size. The finished 36.5 will be too big.

Since life is never simple, Mr. Strange left town yesterday to be with his mom who was admitted to the hospital for complications from shingles. She is responding to antibiotics and will hopefully be released tomorrow. So, while I am happy about the new job, my heart is miles away with my dear one and his mum.

I look forward to a time, hopefully sometime soon, when I can just knit and think about what to knit next and nothing else.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Monkey See Monkey Do

Happy Summer!!

Please accept this small token of purple prettiness as my apology for the long absence. I have been a bit distracted by my personal life of late and have been very neglectful of my poor blog life. Soon all will be revealed - I am in the midst of some exciting changes, and that's all I can say right now (no, I'm not the new editor of any knitting publications, I'm not writing a book, and I'm not pregnant). I am a bit nervy and anxious, even though I am the one initiating the change. OK, I confess. I've been a wreck. Stomach all in knots. Excessive sweating. Poor eating habits. I'm not good at waiting for things that I have no control over. My mind plays terrible tricks on me, and I fret over things that haven't happened yet. Stupid things that may not even happen at all. See what you've been missing? That's why I haven't posted. My poor friends have been listening to me for 2 weeks (such dear dear friends I have), but even they have told me that I need to chill. Tonight, with the help of Frye's Leap, I'm doing just that. Chilled or not, I am open the power of positive cosmic thinking, so cross your fingers for me!

Onto the good stuff. The real fiber of my life.

I have been knitting! I finally succumbed to the Monkey Sock phenomenon and cast on last weekend using Spunky Eclectic's Skinny Socks that I bought at Spa this year. The color is called Dinah.
The lace pattern is incredibly easy to memorize, and this yarn is so soft that I wonder if it's sturdy enough for a sock. As a matter of fact, I'm not quite sure that the size 2 needles that I am using are the right choice. Size 1 might be better. Despite my hesitation, I keep knitting. I think I'm just into the process at this point.

Sahara is also trucking right along. I finished the hem and am working on the neckline.
Up until this point, this has been a quick and easy knit. The lace pattern includes a row of knitting or purling 3 together through the back loop. Yuk. It's not fun. Not one bit. Maybe that's why I haven't touched it in days. Oh, it's not that hard. Don't let my whining scare you. I tried it on when I finished the hem - so far it fits.

Tomorrow I head off for Yarn Tour 2007 with my friends Aimee and Lori. We were planning an overnight trip that included the Hub's Mills in Lowell and Webs in Northampton, but reality set in and we set a more modest goal and decided to stick to Hub's instead. It's hard to stay focused on a trip like this, but I decided that my main goal is to find yarn to knit the Josephine Top from the new Interweave. I also need several skeins of Inca Alpaca for the Equinox Pullover from IK Fall 2006. If I happen to fall on some Lush, I won't say no. I also packed Louisa Harding's Modern Classics and Paton's Next Step Two for inspiration, just in case. Who am I kidding? You know what I yarn ho I am.

We are starting off with breakfast at Isis on Penhallow in Portsmouth (for the best corned beef hash ever crafted) and a quick visit to Portsmouth Fabric Company (fabric!!!). My camera is charged. I'm ready to go.

Wheeeee! Ain't life grand?

Oh! I almost forgot! The pink yarn in my last post is Classic Elite's Four Seasons!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Let's do the Twist!

The new Knitty is up! I'm feeling a hankering for some Tangerine Twist and I have the perfect yarn - make mine a Peppermint Twist!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

T in the Sahara

Thanks for all the compliments on Surplice! I'm so pleased with the way it came out. Having worn it to work one day last week, I can tell you that it did not lose it's shape at all. The only caveat is that the neckline migrated somewhat, requiring that I make quick use of clear packing tape to avoid TMC (too much cleavage). The next time I wear it, I'll probably wear a cotton cami underneath.

Speaking of hoochie mama garments, I've made significant progress on Sahara this week:
Even with the lace insert to be added to the neckline, it's quite obvious that this will be a weekend wear. Right now it measures about 28 inches at the bust (gulp), but stretches easily to 34. My stitch gauge is spot on, but my row gauge is a little shorter than recommended, so I am following the row counts, rather than measurements, figuring that it will have the effect of shortening things to fit my frame.

Knitting has provided a much needed oasis this week. Let's just say that I'm on the verge of making a major change in my life, and have been using the computer for reasons more professional than recreational. It would be an understatement to say that this has me a bit nerved up. I just keep reminding myself, in the words of that great inspirational speaker, Stuart Smalley: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me". Would it be silly to say that I can leap very small buildings in single bound? Because honestly, it seems like the whole self promotion document (you know the kind I mean) is a big brag book, and I feel embarrassed to write about myself that way, even if what I say is true. Maybe I need an agent?

I do feel comfortable bragging about my creative achievements. I finished the blocks for LTL today. I wonder if they should be blocked before I sew them together? Right now I'm just trying to find a pleasing color combination. This is what I've come up with so far:

Side A

Side B

The whole shebang

Mission Falls has a dark eggplant color ("Damson") that I am considering using for the rest of the bag. Initially I thought of brown (big surprise there) but didn't like the shade in the 1824 wool. Black seems obvious, but I hardly wear black anymore. I may go completely off pattern when it comes to constructing the fabric liner. Mostly because my blocks finish smaller than written. I'd like it to be really sturdy, and have considered reinforcing it with plastic canvas - hidden, of course.

I had to make myself stop making blocks for this bag, but the evil seed that I need a crocheted throw has been planted. Funny, if you consider that I've never wanted to knit a throw. OK, maybe one of those Ab Fab Colinette kits, if I could afford it or was miraculously gifted one. Don't worry, I don't expect kits to come flying at me through the mail. All that aside, I don't need another project. I worked off a little anxiety this week by storing away all of my WIP's that I plan to finish later. Just in case you're wondering, Ariann, the Bailey Island Scarf, Pomatomas, the Next Steps 2 Cardigan, and a pair of plain old basic socks are on summer vacation and the Sunburst Pullover may be coming back for a visit.

Jobs are temporary. Knitting is forever.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Rant and Rave

Let's start with the rave:

The Surplice Lace Top is done!!!
It's perfect perfect perfect! I Love it!

Every bit of tinkering, modifying and frogging was well worth it.

Yay!! For more pics and my modifications, visit here.

As you can tell, I've recovered from my cold. Never too sick to knit, immediately after seaming Surplice on Friday, I cast on for the Josephine Top in the Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy from stash, but it didn't work, so I decided to save that as a Yarn Tour destination, and instead turned my attention to Sahara. The yarn is jeanne from Plymouth Yarns. It is so unbelievably soft and easy to knit with, and the fabric it makes feels exactly like an old, well-worn sweatshirt. The kind that you keep even when it starts to fall apart. The kind you put on after a hot day at the beach. I think I'm in love. So far I've joined the front and back at the underarm. I had a bit of trouble with casting on at the beginning of the rows to shape the armholes. At first, I used a knitted cast on, but when I joined the front and back, the stitches were really loopy, so I frogged all three sections back to the cast on rows and used a cable cast on instead. It's not perfect, but it's better.
I expect that it will improve after I pick up stitches for the sleeve, and I can aways use the tails to neaten things up a bit. I wasn't sure what size to knit this top (this is the beginning of rant #1). The pattern says that it's written with 3 inches of negative ease. My bust measurement is 34 and the 2 options are 29.5 or 33 (I've decided on the 29.5 with crossed fingers and the knowledge that I can add extra increases if I need to). I surfed around to see how other knitters chose their size and to see how they came out, but hardly anyone posted the size they knit or if they did, they didn't post their own measurements so I couldn't get a sense of the fit. So, I've decided to do something somewhat radical: I'm going to post my measurements and link to it in the sidebar. From now on, if you want to know how my finished knitting or sewing fits relative to a size, you will know. More on this subject to come. It's been the source of much panty twisting this weekend.

I know that some of you (lori lori lori) don't want to see any more crochet, so I buried it deep in the post so maybe you'll miss it, or can scroll through. I love making these blocks for Larger Than Life ("LTL") so much that I don't know if I'll be able to stop. Maybe I'll make a Larger Than Life Throw! I've been considering a Smaller Than Life version too - a small tote or purse, 'cause you know I need more bags (snick).
In order to continue making blocks, I had to go out to my LYS to buy some more Mission Falls 1824 in a few colors. Along the way, I stumbled. Actually I was overcome by infatuation and Sudafed and came home with a sumptuous skien of Blue Heron Rayon Metallic in Curry. Sometimes I even scare myself. I should not be allowed to go shopping alone. Why did I buy this, other than the fact that it bears an uncanny resemblance to the colors I am using for LTL? I've had this design idea on the back burner for a while now. As soon as I got home, I wound a lumpy cake (actually two lumpy cakes - rayon is a bitch on the ball winder), and then fell down a deep rabbit hole for 2 hours. This is what I have to show for it:
Impressive huh? I decided to put it back on the burner to simmer for a while. Not quite ready.

Today I fell down another rabbit hole. I made a cute little skirt with a contrasting polka dot waistband facing. Some people wear sexy underwear and feel like they have a secret all day; I like knowing that I have a contrasting waist band. Go figure. So about the skirt. It's cute. I really like it. There's only one problem: it's too big.
Rant #2:

The pattern (New Look 6595) says that these measurements:

Bust 34
Waist 26.5
Hips 36
are a size 12. Since my measurements are nearly the same, I made the size 12. Well. The FINISHED hip measurement for a size 12 is 41 inches. The pattern is designed with 5 inches of ease. That's a LOT of ease! That's not the only thing: the instructions for the zipper installation was wrong, referring to the left side of the zipper throughout - it was a typo. Fortunately, I know how to install a zipper. There's also something wonky about the lower contrasting band option, but I'm not even going there right now. This is why people try to sew and then quit because nothing ever fits! The sizing is whacked! I wear a US size 4. Usually when I sew tops, I make the size 6 or 8, depending on the finished size. When I make skirts, I've made the 10 and the 12 with varying degrees of success. Whacked I tell you! OK, I'm going to simmer down now and focus on something positive.

My Rhododendron is blooming. Mr. Strange calls it a "Beauty Bush". Is that a Southern thing? I don't care what you call it, it's just pretty.Our long term sharecropper, "The Fat Rascal" came out to chew on some grass today. She (??) is so tame now that I was able to get pretty close and it didn't phase her a bit (I wasn't as close as it appears, I used a macro). Munch munch munch. Isn't she cute? We don't have a vegetable garden, so we don't care. She's in groundhog heaven in our yard, with her own little compost condo in the corner and fences to keep all the neighborhood kids and dogs away. While I was taking pictures of her, I noticed a greyish heron-like bird with a red crest. Before I could take a photo, it flew away. I have no idea what it was! I've looked online at photos of Maine birds and the closest I could get was a type of woodpecker, but it had long legs. Strange. I also saw a pair of cardinals. I think they have a nest nearby. I love my yard.