It has been since I last bought yarn!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moving On Up... to the West Side

It's amazing how moving forces you to get organized- and OH MAN, I've been getting organized. Yesterday I took on the serious task of organizing all of my knitting stuff, getting ready for the packers. I had to take into consideration what I needed right away, and what I could wait for a month, as my movers aren't coming until August.

First I had to decide what books were going to stay with me on the drive up and what was going to get packed. Going through the books meant dealing with the 9,000 stray papers I had jammed in them and organizing them. Look what I did....

Yes, those are individualized, clear pockets for each pattern/chart and other thing I have written or printed off in the span of my knitting career. I can't stop flipping though the book and marvelling at how much more organized my stuff is!

Once paper shuffling/tossing/organizing was done, I had to move on to choosing what I was going to live without for a month and what I couldn't live without. Essentially I can liken this dilemma to deciding which child you love more. Do I love the pink Koigu or the purple Koigu more? If I take four socks worth of yarn is that enough? What if I get sick of knitting socks? Do I need other distracting projects? After deliberating for hours, and assuring each skein of yarn that we would be together soon, I decided upon the following "can't live without" items that should hold me until early/mid August.Oh yes... I'm bringing the swift and winder... I can't imagine having all those hanks and have to (gasp!), wind them by HAND. You wouldn't deny me the joy of swifting and ball winding would you?! I think not! What we're looking at here is yarn enough for four pairs of sock, as well as yarn for 1 pair of anklets. I'm also bringing all my needles, (because they pack so nicely, and whenever I don't have them with me, I need them), and the yarn for the baby sweater I want to make and of course, the yarn for the Nennie Sweater.

Speaking of the Nennie Sweater.... remember when it looked like this?Now it looks like this.Yes.... I frogged- and there was a lot more on those needles... enough for almost an entire back! Since I wasn't going to make it back to my class in order to learn how to design the rest, I bought a pattern and re-purposed the yarn to make the pattern instead. It's the one the Harlot made recently- and while I hate the garter stitch border... I'm pretty sure I can come up with something different since the rest of the pattern is really quite cute.

And so... once I organized the papers, picked the "chosen yarn" and repurposed the other stuff, the only thing left to do was horde...Yes... that's new Koigu, purchased on sale today at 10% off. This stuff goes strictly to the stash in waiting box- so I don't get my grubby little paws on it right away. I need to make the Koigu last... so hopefully this will tide me over until I'm back to the "Land of Koigu", er, the United States.

This also marks the official beginning of my heavy yarn diet. You know how people like to declare that they'd like to lose 5-10 pounds? My goal is lose one box. I've got 3 boxes, and I need to work it down a little. I'm officially declaring this the summer of "De-Stash" and my goal is to only knit with what I have, and refrain from anything until September. Can I do it? Will I crack? Only time will tell. (And blog posts where I openly discuss my pain and suffering.)

And last, but certainly not least... the monkey socks, which I've designated as my "drive home knitting". (Did I mention the drive was literally, FOUR WHOLE DAYS...)I'll probably finish up the first sock before we leave on Saturday, and never fear, if I finish the second sock in transit, the ankle sock yarn is in the wings waiting just in case. (I'm like the girl scout of knitting- always be prepared!)

Now that I've got the knitting organized, I only need to worry about the rest of the house. *sigh* I hate moving!

**A note... since moving and driving limit time for internet access, there probably won't be much action on this blog until mid July.... I swear to GOD though... I'm coming back!**

Friday, June 22, 2007

You WILL Assimilate

*Shout out to my fellow Star Trek geeks in the title!* Crystal... that means you!

There are sometimes when I'm not always sure my husband gets thes whole "knitting obsession" thing I've got going on. But despite not understanding the craze, he is quite supportive, even offering honest critiques and thoughtful praise on my finished items.

For example, once he honestly told me that the socks I made would have looked better if I'd used a simpler yarn. And, for that matter, he was right. He also was very proud of me for finishing the "Bit off more than I could chew" baby blanket and totally agreed that I should keep it for myself instead of giving it away. And, he loves doing a good old fashioned "sock photo shoot" for me when I ask. It's these honest feelings that I appreciate greatly, especially when I know he could say "that's nice" for every thing I finish and not really look or care about what I'm showing him.

There are also times when I KNOW that he's learning a lot more of about the whole knitting then than he lets on. For example, the other day we were in J Crew and they had some really cute bags there. Before I knew it, husband was behind me and suggesting I buy one, saying "that is the perfect knitting bag". And again, he was totally right. It was the perfect knitting bag, and despite the higher price tag, which would have deterred me, he pushed me to buy it. So I did! What I love is, HE suggested it would make a great knitting bag, without me even saying anything to him at all. MAYBE HE DOES GET IT!

Viola! My cute new knitting bag- that will hold most of my projects and will make me look cute and stylish in the process. With this bag, I'll always remember that I "done good" when husband picking.

Also while shopping at Michaels, (alone- he's good, he's not a saint people), what caught my eye in the dollar bin was this cute little notebook with a sheep on it. I immediately thought to myself "that is perfect to store my knitting notes in" and so, without any guilt at all- (it's $1!!!), I bought one. (Phyllis do you want one? I can go back!)

The little notebook is being modelling here with my first two miters that I made the other day to celebrate being done the baby blanket. Cute huh?

Even cuter?

The miters lined up! The only change I'm planning to make to the pattern, (and remember this is an ongoing- no pressure project, I could finish this is 20 years for all I know), is that the very end color, the tiniest part, I'm not going to change the color. It's too much of a hassle and will probably make lining up things later a nightmare, so instead I'll just have a bigger color chunk in the middle of each "bigger square".

And... lastly, in this "little bit of everything" post- progress on the monkey socks is going swimmingly. I'm loving the new pattern and can see myself making MULTIPLE socks with it. Very, very good!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Free at Last!

Look at it... isn't it beautiful!? A brilliant work of excellence- and an ode to persevernce! The baby blanket is done.

Pattern: Leisure Arts Sweet Baby Afgans Book (Baby Blocks) also known as the Mason Dixon Ball Band pattern
Yarn: Pink- Bernat Baby Soft and Green- TLC Baby- both acrylic, (try not to gag)
Needles: Denise set, US size 7
Measurements: 30" wide and 39" long

I've actually knit this pattern before, and I must suffer from memory loss, because I forgot how bored I got with it. The first 15 inches or so, knit up pretty fast, especially since I was pretty excited by the color combo, but then I just got bored, and distracted by the 'Mindless socks'. I went from bored to completely unmotivated to finish, with this bad boy pretty quickly. What kills me about this pattern is it just looks so good when it's all finished, and it makes the boredom almost worth it. (And lets face it, I'm a sucker for punishment, I'll probably be posting a picture of this next year too...)

Here's a shot of the blanket in all of it's stretched out, 39" glory...

And here's an excellent shot of the stitch pattern close up- (I LOVE this color combo... it reminds me of watermelon bubble gum)

If finally finishing this blanket wasn't enough excitment, I also finished up the mindless socks. I've already spoken here about how much I enjoy and get excited by self striping sock yarn, (I'm such a fiber geek), but these socks were just an awesome distraction and a lot of fun to knit up.They look lovely don't they? And look how good I made the stripes match up?! I actually cut the yarns at the end of the heel and joined in new yarn so the heel wouldn't mess up the pattern. (Yes- I AM that awesome.)
Pattern: The Yarn Harlot's Basic Sock Pattern
Yarn: Online- Garne, Supersocke 100 (Summer color)
Needles: US Size 2

It's funny really, that this pattern, just straight knitting, around and around around and around, was more exciting to me than the baby blanket with a unique stitch pattern- but I was really motivated by these. (I blame the self-striping 'high'.) Anyways, I'm really pleased with how they turned out... too bad I have to wait until winter to wear them. (It's too hot right now!)

It feels good to have these puppies up and out and new projects in the hopper. This should hopefully be the last baby blanket I have to knit until August. (I have to go knock on wood now because, by just saying it, I've probably induced 14 baby announcements this week...)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Love Golf

It's hard to imagine what golf and knitting have in common, but for me they seem to mean one thing- getting things done. Major golf championships seem to be my time to get things done.

In April it was the Masters, where I finished a blanket and dad's socks... and now during the US Open, I've taken down another baby blanket and another pair of socks. I'm like the TIGER WOODS of knitting.

I never used to enjoy watching golf on television, but there is something to say about plunking yourself down on the couch for seven hours with some calming banter in the background and just grinding out projects. Golf makes for great knitting. If something really great happens and your head is down, not to worry, you'll catch the replay. As the players work to make birdies and eagles, I'm knocking rows down, inch by inch... "gettin' 'er done".

As for "the Nennie Sweater"- which has sat at very slow progress, I think I'm going to have accept partial defeat. It is looking less and less likely that I'm going to make it back to my class to get further instruction on how to design my sweater. And, even if I do make it back, I still won't have enough class time to get enough instruction to actually finish. However, not to worry too much- thanks to a timely post by the Harlot, the sweater that she's just finished is VERY similar to the one I was designing. (Click that link to see it) There are a few adjustments I'd like to make, and that garter border has GOT to go, but I think I can repurpose the yarn and make it work for the sweater. Just hope I have enough!

Also, in case you were giving a little cheer about me being done baby blankets for awhile- I just found out I've got another to be made for a baby due in January. I'm still planning my baby blanket hiatus for a bit, but may have to move up the hiatus finish date. I was initially pretty bummed about the thought about another baby blanket to be made, (and yes, I know, I don't HAVE to- but I like that it's become the gift I give to my friends babies), but now I'm already making plans for a possible pattern. Plus- I do have a bit of time to work on it, so maybe I can make it a continuing work in progress.

AND- if the announcement of finished items and impending projects wasn't enough- I've also started a little stash busting project that is just for a break in the monotony-- MITERS. Damn you Mason Dixon Ladies for making me interested. I'm just going to knit those little squares with stash that I have and see what happens, but there is NO PRESSURE for a completion date or anything-- for now it's just a fun little distraction.

But for now, back to the US OPEN....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Strictly Boring

AHHHHHHHH!!! This baby blanket I'm knitting will NEVER. EVER. END! Ever. Stitch after stitch and I feel like I'm getting no where.

I seem to always run into this problem- I start off "gung ho" and happy about the new pattern and the first ten inches knit up so quickly that I think to myself "I'm going to finish this blanket in no time". AND THEN... twenty inches later I hate the blanket, hate the pattern, hate the yarn and most importantly, HATE MYSELF for committing to knit it in the first place.

I have made a pact that once this baby blanket... OF DOOM... (as I'm now calling it), must be finished before I leave New Haven. MUST. I have three reasons for this self-imposed deadline; a) the baby it is intended for is finally home, (after a long stay in the preemie wing) and I'm feeling terribly guilty that I have not delivered on my promised gift, b) I'm leaving New Haven at the end of June and do not want to pay to ship it and c) I will lose ALL MY SANITY if I have to think about knitting this blanket in July, after we've moved.

I keep promising myself a lovely little baby blanket hiatus once it's done, and I've already started dreaming up my next couple of items to knit to keep me focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. All I can do right now is buy sock yarn, so it would be really nice to ACTUALLY KNIT THE SOCKS- instead of the stash growing to an even bigger out of control mess than it is.

So, in order to meet this challenge head on- and to maintain my sanity, I have the "IMMEDIATE BABY BLANKET PLAN"- in full implementation. If I can knit 2 inches a day, I'll be done in 5 more days. This isn't really that bad either- it's 24 rows of knitting, which I've timed to take about 3.5 hours to complete. I can do this. I can handle this. AND, as a reward, if I've knitted my requisite 2 inches, if I still have time in the evening, I allow myself the "mindless sock" as a happy distraction.

5 more days. I can do this. I know I can do this. Just FIVE. MORE. STINKING. DAYS. until I'm free.

The count down is on... and I can't WAIT.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our Fabulous Adventure- Part 2 (Mass)

After successfully showing restraint on our yarn crawl in Connecticut and NYC, it was off to North Hampton, to visit the knitters Mecca- WEBS. But first off, to the Calvin Theater, where we were going to hear the Yarn Harlot speak.

I may have gotten a little lost on my drive through North Hampton, (which is so quaint it belongs in Connecticut), but a quick look at the map, and a short stop at Wendy's for some delcious drive through, (and a check out girl who were a few fries short of a happy meal if you catch my drift), we managed to locate the theater.

And now... another reason to love North Hampton:

Yes. You read that sign correctly. 15 CENTS an hour. It even prompts one to think- "why charge anything at all" but I must say, the novelty of paying so little on parking will not soon die. I love you North Hampton!

Once we parked the car we walked over to theater to make ourselves comfortable. We were greeted at the door with a bag of goodies, free size 8 knitting needles and yarn (DEBBIE BLISS!!!!) to knit a swatch during the talk for Warm Up America. We were almost over an hour early for the show, and I'm glad, because knitters kept filing in. While we waited we knit our swatches and captured the moment for posterity.

Kudo's to the Webs people, (one of many kudo's to be given, might I add), their event was almost exactly on time. And, after a brief introduction from Steve, {who owns WEBS with his wife, who was also lovely}, the Harlot took stage.

Now, I've been extremely fortunate to see Stephanie talk before, at her REPRESENT! event in NYC, but she never lets you down. Yes, her talk was the same from the other event, yet it was so comforting to hear her say it again, and enjoyable to see everyone in that room eat out of the palm of her hand the way they did in NYC. She's funny. She's delightful. She gets me and my obsession. Being in a room full of Harlot worshippers, you begin to feel a little less like knitting obsessively isn't considered normal. Suddenly you're inspired to knit MORE... and it's awesome to feel like you're apart of something bigger than you realize.

After her enjoyable talk, and an update on Sir Washie, we all high tailed it back to our cars to drive over to WEBS for some book signing and yarn shopping. Walking into WEBS was just as exciting for me as going to see Stephanie talk.

First off, the store is big... with a selection that could bring you to tears, and prices that make my Amex beg to be spent. Not only that, but it's tidy and organized and I feel like sometimes not a lot of yarn shops get that a little organization and tidiness would go a LONG way. But, dear knitters, this is nothing. Absolutely NOTHING, compared to what WEBS has hiding in the back. We got in line quickly for the book signing, and it was a good thing, because the line snaked all the way to the back of the warehouse. And while waiting in line is not normally my thing- being surrounded by this glorious view is enough to make any knitter get a little teary eyed with joy.

Yarn as far as the eye can see. And, not only that, YARN AT CHEAP DISCOUNT PRICES, yarn that practically begs you to buy it.

Happiness, dear friends, is the Warehouse at WEBS.

Both Phyllis and I took turns shopping the isles and investigating all that there was to see on the shelves in the Warehouse. We were tempted. I think in the end, we ended up being very well behaved given the amount of temptation that stared us right in the face. And if anything, I'm still thinking about placing a hefty WEBS order before I move. Each time the line moved in that Warehouse, a new area for us to look and fondle the yarn appeared and we would take in everything our eyes could possibly see.

The line to see Stephanie was long, and in the warehouse was very, VERY warm. This is where the second Kudo's to the WEBS staff comes in. Realizing that it was warm and the wait was on the longer side, they began serving cool water and offering chairs to those in line. I've always had very, VERY positive experiences when I've orderd online at WEBS, but I was seeing first hand how truely AWESOME their staff was solidified my warm fuzzy thoughts on the store.

We finally got our turn with Stephanie, who was wonderful with everyone who came to her signing, taking time to talk and engage each guest who had waited to see her. When she found out we were Canadian she gave us the Canadian test. (Finish this sentence: When you eat your Smarties....) Thankfully we passed with flying colors. (Answer:... do you eat the red ones last?) I had Steph sign my "Yarn Harlot" book, since I bought a pre-signed copy in NYC of her latest and Phyllis took home the latest copy signed as well. And then, to top off our experience we took an AWESOME picture with her: (Seriously... whomever took this, THANK YOU for taking such a flattering photo.)

After our time with Stephanie, we spent some serious shopping time, taking in everything they had to offer. Phyllis found some lovely yarn, (whose name and blend escapes me now...{Phyllis can you remind me again?}) to make a sweater with and we both left with several skeins of reasonably priced sock yarn. I was tempted to buy so much more... there was a lovely lace weight that I Hmmm and Haaa-d about for awhile but ultimately was feeling like perhaps the husband might notice how much I'd purchased in the last few days and not feel so positive.

All in all- we had a very successful yarn crawl and Harlot visit. Both Phyllis and I enjoyed our time emensely and were feeling like we really got a chance to see what my little part of the world has to offer in the way of yarn shopping.

And now- my stash enhancement photo.... which I think is not too bad, given that I spent so much time in yarn shops last week!

The pink is the Koigu I procured in NYC. The blue, yellow and navy were sock yarns I bought at Webs and the pastal yarn is the baby stuff I bought at the Yarn Barn. If you ask me, they're excellent momento's of a great time! (And reason to believe that I have a serious sock addiction.)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Our Fabulous Adventure- Part 1 (NYC & CT)

As mentioned here several times, my mother-in-law was here this past week for a visit. While the main purpose of the visit was to see her son graduate from Yale (have I bragged enough about this yet?), I was also tempting her with and promising a major yarn crawl given that Connecticut's unoffical motto is "HOME OF THE YARN STORES". Not only was I able to promise a yarn crawl of mind blowing extravagence, but then WEBS announced that the Harlot was coming and I knew that this talk would be a great end to a yarn filled week.

In New York we managed to show restraint, especially in the prescense of cheap cashmere at School Products. At Purl, I only bought one colorway of Koigu, (which let's face it, is RESTRAINT of a particularly strong moral fiber given the selection there) and while we succumbed to the yummy looking cookies at The Point, we didn't succumb to the yarn. All in all, our mini-crawl in NYC on Saturday was a great "starter" for our main day on Tuesday.

We started out early on Tuesday since I hoped to cover a lot of ground. Our first stop was at the illustrious Yarn Barn (gah! I just opened that website to find out there's a 50% off sale on June 16th... may have to go!) whose selection is vast, but their organization is not.

(Although props to them this was the most organized I'd ever seen the store.) We spent a lot of time looking around, especially for Crystal Palace Mikado ribbon, which Phyllis was hoping to get a peek at. While they did have the ribbon, not in the quantities or colors we wanted, but it was good to see none the less. I managed to be seduced by some very pretty 4 ply baby wool with the prettiest pastal colors. I've actually got sock plans for it- and I'm anxious to come up with a pattern for it.

We were also intrigued by their Regia Silk sock yarn collection and after digging through the baskets to the very bottom, (sadly mother-in-law didn't want pictures of us on the floor with our yarn mess spread out), we decided that we were better off not splurging like mad on the first yarn shop.

After we left the Yarn Barn, my plan was to head over to Yarns LLC, to admire the pretty store layout. Yarns LLC has their yarns organized by color rather than brand, and the store is absolutely lovely to behold. Upon arriving at Yarns, and scrounging for enough change for the meter, we were confronted with bad news.... THEY ARE CLOSED FOR THE SUMMER!

AND, as if to add insult to the injury, as we looked in the store's main window what did we see? CRYSTAL PALACE MIKADO RIBBON IN THE COLORWAY WE WANTED!!! So close and yet so devestatingly far away from our grasp. (Yes, there are two stores and I suppose we could have gone to the downtown location, but honestly, we just weren't feeling it- and I know for a fact they have less selection so no guarentee!)

Feeling dejected, we headed out on I-91, planning to make a stop in Wallingford for our next yarn binge. But first, we had to answer the siren call of Target- the only store that makes me as happy as a yarn shop.

We went in with pure hearts and plans to buy some food for the food donation at the Harlot event, and while we did manage to buy the food, we also both left with some cute shirts to wear . I suppose it's not illegal to look cute while donating to charity.

After our Target distraction we got back on the interstate headed for Wallingford and Country Yarns. Country Yarns is great becuase it has a vast selection- especially in novelty and ribbon yarns and I crossed my fingers that they might have the Crystal Palace we were in search of. While they didn't have Mikado ribbon, they did have Koigu at phenomenal prices. (At $9.85 it is officially the cheapest price I've ever seen on Koigu!) And Phyllis couldn't resist the Koigu anymore... she walked out with a lovely color way! I was also tempted by another colorway of Koigu, but I was over-come with a little guilt about my ever growing stash. (I did, however, find out that all yarns in the store will be 20% off on Saturday and Sunday and I'm VERY tempted to go back to the store and procure the Koigu this weekend. {I'm going to be on a very serious yarn diet already when I get back to Canada.})

After Wallingford-- we need to make time over to North Hampton for the second phase of our trip... the Yarn Harlot AND WEBS which is an experience unto itself and therefore deserving of a seperate blog post. (Besides... this is already biblical in length)