Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today, I send best birthday wishes to my Daddy, a man who will always have my love and gratitude. You have taught me much about life and living in particular. One of the best gifts you ever gave me was the gift of giving. I have watched you give of yourself throughout my entire life and you leave things and people better than when you found them. You are an example of stewardship, kindness, and love. I love you, Dad, and happy birthday. (I hope you enjoy your Wii!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008


How odd is it to find joy in something as simple as yarn? This yarn in particular makes me really happy. The yellow and blue and green just makes my heart smile. I love the blue heels and the blue toes. I love the texture, and I love the squishiness of it. It may be just yarn. Some people may say it's just a sock. But to me, it is a tiny piece of happiness that starts at my toes and works it's way up to a smile.

Pattern: Retro Ribbed Socks from Favorite Socks
Yarn: That Swell Yarn Shop Sock Duets in Spring Glen (love it!)
Needles: KnitPicks metal DPNs in a size 0 (not so loving it, they are heavy)
Notes: I love the yarn in all it's squooshiness and the pattern was super easy to remember. I think the rib works well with the varigated yarn, too. The only changes I made were to knit the legs shorter than the pattern recommends and to change the toe box so it isn't so pointy. I'm looking forward to wearing these socks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wandering aimlessly

Do you ever feel as if you've lost your compass and are just wandering about in a forest or bobbing around in an open sea? I've had this feeling for the last couple of weeks, waiting for the water to overcome me or for the forest to grow more and more overgrown and impenetrable. No matter how busy things are, I seldom ever feel this lost. Then I realized yesterday why I had this feeling, this lack of center in my life. I didn't have a solid long term knitting project on the needles.

Instead, I have been trying things out with my bamboo (some people my call this "swatching" except I was doing it on a large scale, think sweaters and shawls). I'd knit something, then rip it out, then knit something else, then rip it out, and this process was beginning to take a toll. I needed a project. I had to have something stable on the needles, something that would take a month or so to finish, something that would be relatively constant amidst the craziness of work and home, and evidently, something red.

I've made amends with the red lace weight silk. I'm ready to turn this formerly tangled and knotted mess into a controlled knotted lace shawl. In addition, I've casted on for the Shaped Lace Tee from Knitting Lingerie Style. I've found my compass and am know enjoying the forest scenery.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My mom is a green belt

but she doesn't know karate.
Quote by Little Clover to our friends.

My Lean Sigma Green Belt training continued this week, so it's nothing but statistics for me at work. I think I would have enjoyed life as an economist. With some luck, I'll be a certified Green Belt by the end of this calendar year. Speaking of belts, we saw Kung Fu Panda this weekend. The movie is fantastic. The film is complete and leaves you with a feeling of fullness. Yet, when we walked out of the theatre, I turned to Italian and said, "I want to see this movie, again." He agreed. It had everything a good movie should, and it had everything a good kids movie should. While the previews were showing, you could feel the buzz of excitement from all the kids in the theatre. There were children twitching in their seats and some were downright jittery. It was the cutest thing to see. At the end of the movie, the theatre clapped and cheered and all the little kids were practicing their kung fu moves as they jumped and kicked their way out. Again, cutest thing ever! Seriously, go see the movie. It's worth it.

In addition to the movie, a member of my local knitting group and her charity group at work sponsored World Wide Knit in Public Day on Saturday.

I brought my wheel, as did a couple of other spinners, and Diane even spun her first yarn! We had a great turn out and I met a few Ravelers face to face.

Of course, this weekend also included Father's Day. I have to admit, I think dads are gypped. Mother's Day seems to be surrounded by a hull-a-ba-loo, but not Father's Day. For instance, on Mother's Day, Little Clover makes me a gift, then is very insistent on giving me lots of snuggles and love. On Father's Day, he woke up, gave Italian a wave and a nod and a quick, "Happy Father's Day, Dad," before he leapt into my lap for snuggles. Italian, just laughed. I'm glad he has a good humor about the whole thing. Father's, though, deserve more. I for one, really am grateful for the dads I know. Italian is not only a wonderful partner, but a loving father. Any man who researches how to throw a curveball so he can pass on the knowledge is definitely worth his weight in sandcastles and mudpies.

I would be remiss if I also didn't mention my own daddy (Hello, Daddy!). Thanks, Dad for taking the time on one beautiful day in Colorado to take my training wheel-less bike out for a spin, and letting go. I understand now just how hard that was. I love you.

And to my father-in-law, thank you for welcoming into your family and for making an honorary Italian and fixing shells every year for my birthday. I love you, too.

I'm very glad we took the chance to have a family weekend. With training and baseball and housework, we seldom have the down time to do something fun. I've barely had the time to knit, finding myself pretty tired at the end of a long day. That hasn't stopped me from making some progress on the socks. The yarn and the pattern are quite lovely, so lovely in fact, that I found myself pulling them out of my bag at stoplights and hugging them. Imagine the looks I get.

One last thought for the post. If you ever get the chance to have a kid lead you in crafts take it. It's an interesting perspective and you'll end up with something cool. We ended up with monkeys.

Presenting monkeys as explained and demonstrated by Little Clover who showed us what he learned today at summer camp.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Skeins gone wild

(and the men who love their knitters)

There are some days when I love everything about the process of knitting. Then there are days when yarn goes naughty and misbehaves and drives me to the brink of frustration. I had a few of those days last week when my umbrella swift decided to have shaft failure.

You see, I placed a beautiful skein of Schaefer Andrea silk lace weight in the color Clara Barton on my swift to wind into a ball for knitting. I have loved my swift and ball winder and sometimes leave them set up on my kitchen table for weeks because they just look beautiful. My swift evidently doesn't love me back because after winding the first 20 to 50 yards of the 1093 yards, the swift collapsed and as it did, half of the yarn stayed on the swift while the middle fell to the table. I stood in horror and thought, well, I can just scoop up the middle, place it back on the swift and give it another go. Which I did. And the swift collapsed again after another 10 yards or so.

Looking at the mass of tangled yarn now on the kitchen table, I took a deep breath and thought, "No worries, I'll wind it by hand." 1093 yards is a lot to wind by hand, especially when the yarn is tangled. Just so you know, it takes approximately 6 hours of winding time to wind 1093 yards of lace weight. Yep, 6 hours of staring at teeny tiny thread, watching a ball of yarn form at a snails pace. I drank much wine.

Italian, being the very sweet and smart man that he is, left me to wallow in my fury the first night and then searched for swift types in the morning to present me with some options. He found the Farris Wheel style that is a swift/skein winder, and discovered that the umbrella swift's shaft is too soft. This proclamation made me giggle. He also helped wind the yarn as well and even spent some time untangling the knot.

While hunting for new table top swifts, I stumbled upon another man who loves his knitter a lot. He built her a Lego swift and ball winder. Ingenious!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A cabin in the woods

This weekend, we left for a cabin in the woods and had a much, much needed respite. Plus, I had to prove to our local fly fishing group that I really did exist and I really do fly fish. We decided to take an extra day on the river, so we packed up Thursday and hit the road for Mountain Home, Arkansas.

We woke up shockingly early Friday morning and decided to walk around the town in search of a coffeeshop. We didn't find the coffeeshop while on foot, but we did find a yarn shop. Of course, we stopped by. The Yarn Shop and More storefront wasn't slated to open for another 30 minutes, so Little Clover and I pressed our noses to the window to take a peak. Lo and behold, we saw the shop owner who graciously let us. I guess she could tell I was a knitter in need of a fix. She had a fair selection of sock yarns and was extremely friendly. I left with four balls of Jojoland Melody sock yarn. If you are ever in the Mountain Home area, stop by and see the shop. Bring cash though, she doesn't accept plastic.

After the little yarn detour, we headed towards the Blue Ribbon Fly Shop and Angler's Cafe to gear up and caffinate.

The Angler's Cafe makes a wonderful cappuccino. The owners are again extremely nice and the cafe is tailored to fly fishers. A fly tying table is on the ready in a corner, just in case you need to tie up a couple of flies before heading to the water. The drive through is also boat friendly, providing plenty of room for you and your boat. We loved the coffee enough to stop by the cafe twice. It was good.

After having our fill of coffee, we hit the water. Italian and Little Clover caught a fish almost right away.

I silently applauded and cheered! I was silent because I was on a conference call, while standing in the middle of a river, fly pole in one hand.

I guess, technology is a joy and a bane. Fortunately, the call only lasted 30 minutes, and I didn't have any other work obligations afterwards.

When the water finally came up, we trudged up to our cars and spent some time on Dry Run Creek, a fishing area restricted to fishers 16 and under. We did our best to help Little Clover catch a fish, but they were sneaky and elusive the first day. Finally, we headed to the cabin to check in and see our view.

Which was breathtaking. I spent plenty of time on this trip sitting out on the porch with a coffee or a beer, knitting and watching the river roll by. In fact, I spent enough time to finish the first sock and start on the second (pictures to come later).

The camp as a whole was a great place. The owners and their children live on site, so Little Clover spent some time playing with the kids. He also spent time following the chickens at the camp. He desperately wanted to hold one, but I don't think they ever let him get too close (smart chickens).

The next day was spent back out on the river with our fly fishing club. I had the pleasure of meeting two extraordinary fly fishing guides, and they introduced themselves as if they were regular people! I wonder if they know just how famous they are. At the end of the long day of fishing, I attended my first pig roast.

There is a pig behind the silver pot.

This was Italian's third pig roast which makes my Chicago born hubby more Southern than I am. The pig was from a local farmer and locally process, and yummy. Very yummy. We may not have caught a lot of fish on this trip, but as one of the guides stated, "It's called fishing, not catching." I definitely did catch up on relaxation and that was worth every fish that got away.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


What an incredible weekend. The performance of Jesus Christ Superstar with Corey Glover was this weekend and Corey still has it. Not only does he still have it, but I think he is a performer one should see live to truly get an idea of just how good he is. I have a new found respect for him and the band Living Color, and he is the best Judas I have ever seen or heard. Little Clover attended the show with us as well and I think he loved the show. When Corey Glover started singing, Italian leaned over to Little Clover and whispered, "That's the guy from Living Color." Little Clover nodded. When Judas's opening number ended, he turned to me and said with a bit of surprise, "Wow! That was really good!" I smiled at Little Clover and said, "Yes, it was. He sings Cult of Personality." The amazement on Little Clover's face grew and he replied, "He did?" I just smiled and Little Clover clapped harder. Too cute!

After the show, Papa and Nana Clover took Little Clover for the evening while Italian and I went to Morton's for the best steak ever.

It was amazingly tender and juice. I was thrilled to be able to take Italian here since so much of our relationship has involved food.

I think he liked it!
Morton's even gave us personalized menus wishing us a happy anniversary and a photo to keep as a keepsake of our night. Now, I have a couple picture.

This weekend also saw the office launch of my Lotus Blossom Tank and I did get a couple of wows. I love wearing this. The fit is definitely bigger than expected, so knit a smaller size than you think you will need. Knitted in bamboo, it is the perfect sweater for southern summers. I see this sweater becoming a staple part of my wardrobe.

Pattern: Lotus Blossom Tank from Interweave Knits Summer 2006
Yarn: Alchemy Bamboo, 4 skeins
Size: Small (my bust is 37 inches), with inches of positive ease for a great drape
Notes: I extended the bodice of the sweater to make it an inch and a half longer than the pattern recommended and am very happy with the change. The yarn provides a great drape and knits at a relatively loose gauge. I also did one fewer decrease repeat on the the front to end up with the recommended number of stitches. I would use the number of stitches as the reference and not necessarily the pattern repeats.