Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another FO!

While I'm waiting for the next clue for the Bugs KAL to be posted, I am keeping busy by finishing as many of the UFO projects on my list as I can. I figure I need to either finish or frog these projects so I can feel unencumbered when I start more new projects. This requires great effort on my part since I'm a journey, not a destination person. You know what I mean, there are some people who are all about getting things done. It's about getting finished as fast as possible--perfection is not required, and "smelling the roses" along the way is just a waste of time that slows one done from getting done! Then there are folks like me where its all about the journey--the adventure of picking out a project and finding the perfect yarn, even if it takes several tries. The joy is in the knitting and finishing, while highly desirable, is always optional and rarely on a forced time-line to completion. Interruptions for new projects or other endeavors like gardening, or trips, or whatever, are always welcomed.

Yup, that's me--the journey. But sometimes a woman just needs to free up space in her knitting baskets and finish a few things. I have a few new KALs that will be gearing up soon, so now's a great time to finish a couple of shawls and some socks. I spent the past several days working on Nancie Wiseman's Lavender Linen Lace Shawl from her Shawls, Stoles and Scarves (or something like that) book. I cast-on sometime last summer as my 1st project using Jaggerspun Zephyr. At the time it was the skinniest lace yarn I had used, and I didn't like the drag and lack of spring in the yarn. I'm still not especially fond of Zephyr, but I have to admit it's perfect for a light summer scarf or shawl. I used the Coral colorway for this project, and it's is a delightful oversized triangle scarf. I cast-off last night but will wait to wet-block it until the weekend when our houseguest departs.

Another thing I've been doing is catching up on my group email and "cleaning" things up on my blog. I the process I discovered the KnitList has a webring, which I promptly joined. I found the easiest way for this limited web-techie girl to get graphics on my side bar is to upload them as a part of a message on the blog, then copy the location in html to the template. I'm sure there are more savvy ways to do this, but hey, this is working for me. So I've got a couple of buttons added to this message, which a just a utilitarian thing. I'll post more interesting pictures later once I get them off my camera :-)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sign me up!

I just purchased "Lace Style" and "Favorite Socks" books with my graduation gift card to Barnes and Noble. I'm excited about both of these books published by Interweave Press and can't wait to start knitting new projects from them. So I was surfing a little tonight and discovered that Interweave had set up KALS for both books on blogger. Aren't they just so web-savvy nowadays! I got lots of good ideas looking at all the socks others have already knit. So of course, I just had to petition to join both groups. I'm posting the buttons and links on my blog tonight, operating on the assumption that I will be accepted (and why wouldn't I be?) It's gonna be a fun summer of knitting!

Catching Up

I've been without internet access for a few days, so I'm playing catch-up on things like emails and blogging. I spent most of my time last week doing things like sleeping and just trying to recover from all the events surrounding my graduation, so I have *lots* of catching up to do. I should be writing thank you notes and such, but Mindy has been asking for folks to post pictures of their Bugs KAL projects, so I figured I comply now that I have a great digital camera that allows me to shoot clear, detailed photographs. this first photograph is the shawl with 3 clues completed.

This second picture gives a clearly view of all three clues. I started out with Peas in the 6-row section and sunrays in the 12-row section. I love the way these two lace patterns flow into each other. In the 24-row section I knit selection B: Dragonflies and Midges. This was one place where the handpainting of the yarn obscured the detail of the dragonfly body/tail. I've tried sketching out my own dragonfly lace pattern using a diagonal placement, so I know how tricky that is (I didn't quite succeed at my initial attempt). A diagonal dragonfly would have worked out better for my yarn choice, however. I guess that's why Mystery KALs are such an adventure!

These next two photos are detail views of the clue 3-selection B (48 rows). In the first one is the large flower and the second one focuses on the profile view of the butterfly. This section was fascinating to knit because you never really knew how things were going to turn out as you were knitting. Oh, I knew what I was supposed to be knitting, but it wasn't until afterwards that things really looked like butterflies and flowers.

In this 48-row section I was really happy I chose to use a painted yarn as there wer significant sections of plain stockinette that were enhanced by the blnding of the blues and greens in teh yarn.

And this last photo is a little more clear of an overview of the entire shawl up to this point. I'm totally loving knitting this project. I spent five days knitting what you see here. I wonder how long it will take me to knit the 96-row section? Hopefully Mindy will be able to post the next clue sometime this week (if her computer decides to behave itself for a few more days). I am *so* looking forward to what surprises are coming up next!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

I spent most of last week with my Addis flying to catch up knitting on my Bugs Shawl, the KAL most of the others have been working on for a month now. I'm all caught up and the next clue hasn't been posted yet so I'm waiting, waiting, WAITING!!! Not knitting on the bugs yesterday felt a little sad, but two days with no bugs is awful! I don't want to appear impatient, or insensitive to the busy lives of Mindy and her team of test-knitters, or any such unladylike behaviors, but please HURRY!!!
I probably shouldn't be whining as I could be doing other things, like sending graduation announcements to my long-distance friends and family, or attacking that list of Thank You notes that need to be written, or even getting my paperwork in order to start job-hunting, but that's not what I feel like doing. I feel like knitting BUGS! So yesterday I knit some on my flamingo pink striped Jaywalkers (2 more inches before I can start the toe decreases on the 1st sock). But I was having a very bad fibro day so I switched to knitting on a long-standing ufo, the Lavender Leaf Lace Shawl from Nancie Wiseman's book that I'm knitting in a Coral Zephyr. I have promised myself to finish the ufo shawls I have piled into baskets surrounding my recliner.

I wasn't up to working knit-on sideways edgings in fuzzy mohair (fir cone)or alpaca (Shetland Tea Shawl) but the LLLS was a perfect minimalist project. Actually this is a good beginner's lace shawl project. It starts at the bottom point and progresses up toward the top/neck line so you can easily knit the shawl as small or as large as you choose. That was a great option for me as I had one ~600 yd. ball of Jaggerspun Zephyr that I will knit until I have just enough left to do a garter stitch border before casting-off. I figure this will be a good-sized triangle scarf or a small shawl and just right for spring and summer accessorizing.

So, since I'm not knitting on Bugsy, I spent a little time catching up on my favorite blogs. In the process I found a nifty online retailer for sock yarns called, of all things, yarn4socks. They have tons of cool hand painted and hand dyed yarns at usual market prices. Oh I fell in love with several! In addition to a great yarn seller, I also found a nifty KAL called Summer of Socks 2007. The deadline to sign-up is soon, but the start day is in late June. As a part of the KAL there will be some competitions with prizes, none of which I'm likely to win, but I decided to join in the fun anyway. The start time should come close to the time I'll be finished with the bugsy thing. So here's the blog button. I'm in!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Knitting a Graduation Present

My knitty friends on the EZasPi Group cast-on for our latest KAL a couple of weeks ago. This time around you could choose to knit a pi shawl or a sweater, each using teh same mystery clues to the theme "Bugs in Your Garden". It didn't take me any time at all to decide to knit a shawl as that's what I had been anticipating and looking forward to knitting. Deciding what yarn to use for this project, like all my lace projects this spring, has been excruciatingly difficult. I guess that's only fitting, as nothing has come easily this spring--not the dissertation, not the every day life stuff, and not even knitting. I've purchased several skeins, hanks, and cones of lace yarns in fibers from merino wool to baby alpaca, cashmere, and even silk but none of them seemed to fit my shawl projects.

I cast-on twice and knit clue one for this pi shawl and both times I felt the yarn was too fine or the needle size too big. But it was time to celebrate my graduation, so I put the lace projects aside and knit on my jaywalker socks in the few moments I had to spare for knitting. I have learned that in knitting, just as in life, when things aren't working out, the best thing to do is to put it aside and be patient. The solutions usually present themselves in time, and this pi shawl project is no exception. My answer arrived in the form of a graduation gift from Sandy at the Yarn Haven. A few days after Sandy's card arrived in my mailbox I went over and picked out the lace yarn I had been admiring for 2 or 3 weeks, but had refrained from purchasing. With Sandy's gift, I was able to afford the yarn you now see pictured here. Thanks so much Sandy!!!

So, on to the Bugs Shawl. The Yarn is the Merino Lace from Cherry Tree Hill in the Green Mountain Madness colorway. Now Cherry Tree Hill Yarns is located in Vermont, hence Green Mountain is a perfectly fitting name for this yarn handpainted in shades of blues,teal, and greens punctuated with charcoal gray. I didn't like the gray all that much when the yarn was in its enormous 8 oz./2400 yd hank, but once the yarn was wound into a ball I saw the beauty of the dark grays against the blues and greens. To me, the colors look like the waters of the Tennessee River, or the Little River that flows out of the Smoky Mountains, so it's a perfect backdrop for lace bugs. I am using US4 needles to achieve a fairly tight knit since there are large areas of stockinette stitch surround the butterflies, dragonflies, and gnats.

Once armed witht eh perfect yarn for my shawl, I cast-on and knit like crazy to catch up with the others in our KAL. I cast-on Tuesday night and knit through row 8 of clue 2 that night (the top photos). On Wednesday I graduated from dpns to a 24" circular needle and knit to row 4 of clue 3. Then yesterday I knit into the wee hours and made it up to row 18. I took a white pillowcase and my shawl outside this morning and stretched it on 2 circs to take the last several pictures. I'm afraid those will be last distinguishable photos until the end as the shawl will be too big to spread out flat. But hey, my new camera sure does take great close-up photographs!

So I'll end with a photo of the big honking ball of beautiful Tennessee River water yarn. The bugs are constantly in and on and over the water and I can't wait to see this ball shrink as my shawl grows into another major accomplishment in my life that I can treasure forever. Knit on!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Call me Doctor!

It's been a whirlwind week of family, friends, and events surrounding my graduation from the University of Tennessee. It's been 9 long years since I started the PhD program at the College of Nursing. No doubt getting my doctorate has been the most challenging thing I've ever done in my life. Perhaps it is because I had to overcome so much to get to this point that I appreciate this accomplishment more than all the others. This time it wasn't about being the best or the brightest or the most ambitious. It was about being the most persistent, the most tenacious. It was about getting up after every fall, it was about surviving discouragement, and it was about never, ever giving up on myself, no matter how bad things got (and believe, it got really bad). But here I am, grinning like there's no tomorrow with my degree in hand. I worked hard for it and it will be mine forever.
My best friend Donna flew out from Salt Lake City to be with me for the big event. Just before leaving the house to go to the College of Nursing Convocation and the Graduate School Hooding Ceremony we were laughing about how this was my "wedding", my big life event complete with engraved announcements, parties, well-wishes, and yes, presents. I've never been fussed over like this before so it was quite a trip. It was so cool to have my dearest friend on earth there for me!

This last picture shows my doctoral hood in all it's orange and white splendor. I've watched my father don his regalia for University events for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be just like him. Today I am proud to say I followed in my father's footsteps. My hood is Tennessee Orange and White, his is the Crimson and White of the University of Utah, both are the result of great sacrifice and much hard work. It's kind of funny to think that I was born the summer my father finished his dissertation. I worked for both institutions and thought I would get my PhD at Utah too, but that was not in God's plan for my life. Tennessee is my home so it's only fitting that I attended the University of Tennessee and I proudly wear the Orange and White. In the end no one is more proud of my accomplishment than my father. I am so grateful that his health was just good enough for him to attend the College of Nursing Convocation so he could watch Dr. Thomas place my hood. I'm one very lucky girl :-)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Got my Hood!

It was a big day today. I went to the University Bookstore this afternoon and picked up my Doctoral Hood for the graduation exercises on Thursday. I am so excited!!! My best friend Donna arrives tomorrow night and I'm not even close to having the house ready for her. I guess I'll scrub the bathtub tomorrow afternoon as I'm too tired to do it tonight. A quick trip with the vacuum and a shove a bunch of stuff in the back of my closet and that'll have to do. It's a good thing Donna isn't picky :-) I need to put away all the sewing machines and stuff in the den before the party on Saturday, but that can wait until Friday if necessary.

I stopped by Lilly's Bead Box on the way home and picked up a couple of strands of freshwater pearls, about a 4x6" rice pearl in a natural cream color, to whip up something to go with the new yellow linen suit. I need some earrings and a new watch, depending on which ensemble I decide to wear. It's a good thing this stuff assembles fast! I'm too tired to do it now because I opted to spend a couple of hours working in the yard and cleaning up the patio. The patio was a mess and since Mom plans on putting the drinks out there for the party, I *had* to do something. My hand hurts after that sweep/scrub job! I hope I don't a get a blister.

On the knitting front, I tried out the new 2/28 cash/merino/viscose yarn I ordered from Richard. I've knit up to the 12 row section on US 2/3.0mm dpns because this yarn is *very* fine. The tension looks perfect, but I'm not certain I want to knit a big Pi shawl on 3.0mm needles. I'm afraid I'll have to knit more than the complete 96 row section in order to get a shawl that is wide enough, and I'm not all that keen on the idea of knitting 1100+ sts/row for 40 of 50 rows. Nope, not for this particular project. So, I'm headed back to the beginning of the Bugs shawl again and still in need of a better yarn choice. Sandy at Yarn Haven has a gorgeous CTH handpaint laceweight that has about 2300yds for $40 which tempts me, but I'm concerned about a variegated yarn obscuring the little dragonflies and butterflies I'll be knitting into this shawl. I could just go for the natural look and use the KnitPicks Bare I have in the stash. I do want a cream colored shawl, so that would work even though it seems a bit boring. I did knit a swatch out of the bare and it was nice knitting. I guess I'll be postponing this decision for a while longer, since I'm kind of busy right now :-)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Feast

I was surfing my favorite blogs tonight when I came across an interesting blog thing on the Stitches of Violet site. Apparently there is a site Called Friday's Feast where they ask a multi-course meal of questions every week on, you guessed it, Friday's. So I'm a couple of days late, but here's my Sunday version:

Name something you would not want to own.
A motorcycle. They are noisy, dangerous things that greatly increase the risk of getting a permanent head injury. My head's already in bad enough shape, I don't need to take risks.

Describe your hair (texture, color, length, etc.).
Ultra fine, super straight, fairly thin, blonde, cut short!

Finish this sentence: I’ll never forget ___________.

Oh gosh! There are lots of answers to this one! How about the first day I met my sweet little Emme. She was 3 weeks old and so cute!

Main Course
Which famous person would you like to be for one day? Why?
Martha Stewart. The food, the gardens, the antiques, the craft room, the homes, need I go on????

Write one sentence about yourself that includes one thing that is true and another thing that is not.
I am a very creative person and I'm impeccably neat (ROTFLOL)

OK, so I'm a bad liar! I guess that's because I never practice telling untruths. Honesty is so much easier ;o)

I knit a little on my Jaywalkers today. I knit my heel flap a little longer than the pattern calls for, but then Grumperina didn't design it to fit my foot exactly. I'm almost finished turning the heel. I so ***love*** these socks! I worked a little on my yellow linen suit too. I decided the peplum was too long, so I cut 2 inches off the bottom. The peplum covers the place where I'm the shortest--from the waist to the crotch, so it's no surprise that I needed to do some alterations at that point. What is surprising, however, is how perfectly the bodice of the jacket fits me. Yup, every curve is spot on. That is so hard to achieve and is nearly impossible to find in fitted ready-to-wear garments. I guess that's why I ended up sewing this outfit--I couldn't find anything suitable in the stores at any price point. All I have left now is to attach the front facings, make the buttonholes and add the buttons, and stitch in the hems. I figure it'll take 2, maybe 3 hours to get it all done. It's really an awesome suit ;-)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rainy Day

It's Saturday, so of course it rained pretty much all day. I don't like gray, rainy days as they tend to send me into a blue funk, especially if I'm tired or hormonal. They also guarantee that the fibro pain will be at least twice what it normally is. But, we've been in a terrible drought and some of my plants, etc. are still struggling to recover from the Easter freeze, so we really *need* the rain in a big time bad sort of way. So what to do? Why stay at home and be creative, of course!

I spent most of the afternoon hunkered behind the sewing machine while the races at Churchill Downs played out on the TV. I just love watching the Kentucky Derby, and it was especially neat this year since the Queen of England was in attendance. The favorite, Street Smart, won the race but I was pulling for Nobiz like Shobiz. My choice of horses tends to be based very unscientifically on things like appearance and name and who the owner is and not so much on winning races prior to the Derby. I'm at least half way through making the jacket for my yellow linen suit. The pattern is quite unique and I'm pleased with how it's progressing. I'd never be able to buy something this pretty in a store, that's for sure.

As for knitting, I'm making progress on my Jaywalkers too. I'm working on the heel flap and should be ready to turn the heel late tonight or sometime tomorrow. My cuff is about an inch or so shorter than the pattern directs, but that's to accomodate my anatomy (mega calves above!!!). Otherwise, I have a perfect fit. I knew I would have problems if I just knit the largest size with 2.25mm needles as written, so I cast-on with 2.75mm, then knit the ribbing and 1st 20 rows of zig-zags with 2.5mm before dropping down to 2.25mm needles. I'm very happy it worked out and I didn't have to make more elaborate alterations.

I was a bit bummed that my yarn from ColourMart wasn't in today's mail, but the summer issue of Interweave Knits was in my mailbox instead. There were lots of lacy things in this issue, but no shawls. There was a tie around your hips sort of a shawl/skirt wrap thingie, but I guess I was hoping for another Icarus or Swallowtail type project for this summer--not that I need another shawl project right now, mind you ;-) Richard sent out an email announcing some laceweight alpaca yarns he had just posted on the website. I *adore* knitting with baby alpaca so I rushed right over to see what was there. There were only 2 colors, a caramel color and buttercup yellow, and only a few cones of each. At $16/cone I wasted no time in ordering a cone of yellow. YUM! This could make for some awesome knitting!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Worth the Wait

After multiple delays and 3 long months of waiting I finally received my copy of Sharon Miller's "Heirloom Knitting" from Amazon in the mail today. All I can say is it was worth the wait--WOW! I've wanted this book for about a year now but just couldn't justify the $56 price tag, so when Amazon finally discounted the price back in February I jumped at the opportunity. I knew to expect a 6 week wait when I ordered, but when the 6 weeks was past, they said it would be another 5-6 weeks. I pouted and groaned, but said I'd wait. I figured I was too busy writing to have time to do anything with it anyhow, and this way it would be a graduation present.

This is one of those knitting books Regenia would say you read "like a novel" because the stories are so fascinating. I love the BIG PRINT charts that you can actually read and the fact that the knitting techniques used to create such beautiful lace are so simple. I also love all the history behind the lace motifs. Knitting my own Shetland Shawl is going to be so much fun, all I need to do is figure out what I want to knit ans what yarn to do it with. I have some excellent candidates in my stash already.

I was hoping my yarn from Richard would arrive today too, but I guess the presents need to arrive one at a time. I'm on hold with the Bugs shawl until I figure out what yarn to use. As it is, I will most likely need to drop down to a size 3 needle as the size 4 was huge with the cashmere. In the meantime I'm having a blast knitting my Flamingo Pink Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn. Can you tell what pattern I'm using from the picture? I''l give you three clues: 1)It's an infamous free pattern from MagKnits, 2) it has ZigZag patterning, & 3) The designer is friends with Oscar the Grouch. Have you figured it out yet??? Yup, it's from our favorite "Yankee" knitter Grumperina--Jaywalker Socks! I've wanted to knit these for some time too, mostly because everyone else seems to have already knit them with either raving success or endless frustration. I'm finding them to be a very easy knit and a perfect choice for the striping of the Flamingo yarn.

And while we're on the subject of socks, I read the funniest comic strip yesterday. Well, maybe not the funniest, but in light of my current addiction to knitting socks, it was humorous. Check it out here

I haven't done much knitting today as I busy sewing a new outfit to wear to graduation. I tried my best to find something new that I could buy, but I totally struck out there so I gave up and hit the fabric store instead. I bought some deliciously rich butter yellow rayon/linen fabric that is perfect for the skirt and short-sleeve jacket I'm making. I cut the jacket out last night and the I cut and sewed the skirt this afternoon. Skirts go so fast it's hardly worth the frustration of trying to buy one. When I do find a skirt I like in the stores, I always have to hem them up, so I'm behind the machine no matter how you look at it. I'll post some pictures once I get things put together.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Watch Out Knoxville!

Watch out Knoxville! The Knitty Girls have hit the street and no yarn shop is safe! Seriously, I had the best time yesterday. My online knitty friend Regenia drove down from the NE corner of the state and we met up to hit the yarn shops in town. The motivation for the journey was a trunk show of garments and accessories from Norah Gaughn's newest book Knitting Nature at Loopville so we met there first. The patterns in this book are some of the most distinctive designs I've ever seen, yet they are very wearable designs. Most of the time I find garments that are "distinctive" are also unwearable by most of the human race, but not these. I haven't knit a sweater in 2 years and my last couple of attempts were less than satisfactory, but after looking through this book and seeing some of the sweaters up close and personal, I am highly motivated to pick up some "fat" yarn and "big" needles (ie worsted wt. and size 8s) and give it a go. Regenia modeled the child's size Sunflower hat in the picture. Yup, it would be pretty big on most kids and just perfect for a small-sized adult head.

When we weren't fondling the yarn and drooling over the Claudia Handpaints and sock yarns, we sat and chatted with Jinka (the owner) and Piper (her first mate and literary genius) and did a little knitting. I brought some of my latest lace projects plus the Shh! It's a Secret Shawl that I knit with some yarn I bought at Loopville. Regenia really likes Loopville :-) We each bought some sock yarn before heading on to our next destination.

Up next was the Yarn Haven. It was Regenia's first visit and she was amazed by all the space Sandy has in her shop. Sandy also had a lot of yarns Regenia hadn't seen before in the 3 or 4 shops up in her neck of the woods. I brought my completed Lilac Socks to show Sandy and wasted no time in directing Regenia to the Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Potluck Basket. She found many things to tempt her and I petted a huge hank of lace yarn for a long time. Sandy took the picture of Regenia and I playing with the CTH sock yarn. In the end she bought a skein of CTH Supersock (a color I had been looking at for a couple of weeks but couldn't afford) and I put the lace yarn back. I may go back and get the lace yarn if the yarn I ordered from ColourMart doesn't work out for the Bugs Pi, or if I succumb in a moment of weakness :-)

After a some sitting and chatting at Yarn Haven, we moved on to one of my favorite restaurants, the Lakeside Tavern, which sits on top of a hill in Concord Park and overlooks the Concord Marina. I had hoped to take her to Jenna's at Choto Marina, but they are closed for remodeling, so Lakeside was my second choice. We sat on the terrace and enjoyed a great meal while watching the water, the boats, and even a train go by as the sun dropped in the sky. The view at Lakeside is the best! Even better was the fact that my parents picked up the tab in honor of our graduations coming up this next week (Regenia from King College and moi from the University of Tennessee).

The final two pictures are my yarn purchase of the day. Yes, it's pink sock yarn--*very* pink sock yarn! Ewe-nice approves through, as it's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Flamingo Stripe. I've always wanted to knit some Lorna's Laces yarn as I know it's a superb fiber, and pink was a no-brainer choice for this pink-loving girl. The fact that 20% of the proceeds from the sale of this color go to breast cancer research is the frosting on the cake for me. I cast-on for a new pair of socks while Regenia knit away on a purple hat as we sat on the Terrace at teh Lakeside Tavern last night. It was a very fun afternoon!