Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Ok, so winter has arrived here in SoCal--rain, rain and more rain. This chilly rain makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with a few of my favorite things (or least favorite things of the moment):

1. a cup of Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla roobios tea (caffeine free but a whole lot of flava'). It someone manages to taste "thick" like a latte or something, very strange but in a good way.

2. a cozy fleece blanket

3. a cat or three--preferably ones that just want to sleep and not pounce on my toes

4. either a quaint mystery (like any book from Nancy Atherton's "Aunt Dimity" series) or an engrossing novel (just finished The Kiterunner--amazing!)

5. Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate pudding or Trader Joe's Mediterranean hummus & organic white corn tortilla chips, or both so I can switch off and get both the salty and sweet tastes 'cause I like that kind of thing--I think one of the most perfect foods is the chocolate covered pretzel.

6. My knitting (you didn't think I would leave that out, now did you?)
Currently I'm working on a baby sweater from a Pingouin book I bought on
Ebay--says "automne-hiver" (Fall-Winter) but there's no year. I'll post pictures
when I get a little more done.

How do you like to "weather" the rain?

Stay warm & dry out there people!
Ok, back under that blanket I go...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Sad Day...

In case you haven't heard, Australian actor Heath Ledger was found unconscious today in an apartment in New York. Paramedics tried to revive him but they weren't successful and he passed away. So sad--they think it was a drug overdose. He was only 28 and had a two-year old little baby at home. I personally thought he was talented and had quite the sexy hint of a smile kind of face. And of course I'm a sucker for an exotic accent (ok, so Tristan's California accent isn't so exotic but I'm from the East Coast so it sort of maybe could be). You can view that sexy smile in a photo montage put together by the LA Times. Brokeback Mountain was probably his most famous movie but I've also enjoyed him in 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot and Casanova. I wonder what he would have done in the future...

And an update--have you seen what that awful Westboro Baptist Church sent out today? Makes me sick.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

2007--a Knitting Retrospective

A year in pictures...well, most of the year anyway. I don't always remember to take photos of my projects, particularly some of the smaller things I send off to various charities...

January: Shawl for my boss's birthday in green variegated fingering weight 100% alpaca purchased on ebay several years ago, followed by a close up of the fir cone stitch
Socks for afghans for Afghans youth items' campaign, followed by a close up of the slipped stitch check pattern from the Reader's Digest knitting and crochet stitch compendium. Used up some yellow & green scrap wool.
Close up of the check pattern (sorry for the flash blur):
February: I know I made a few more items for afghans for Afghans and a pink stuffed elephant for a friend's baby but I failed to take pictures of them...will do better in 2008!

March: Bunnies for Easter Baskets for the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation. Friends Darcy and Claudia came over and spent an afternoon helping me to stuff the "baskets" (the pink Easter bags seen in the background (had some blue & purple ones too)) with treats and small toys in addition to the bunnies--I think we made up 36 bags in all...Used various white acrylic yarn--mostly Simply Soft and leftover pink and purple acrylic for the ears (the fuzzy ones are some pink mohair leftover from another project) Also crocheted a baby sweater and some bibs for a baby shower but again, no picture!
April: Baby blanket for afghans for Afghans made from Mission falls wool purchased from Supercrafty. Love that yarn--so soft! Crocheted in a very simple pattern from where else but the Reader's digest book.
May: Purple sweater for my friend April. The top back and panels are made of a lovely cotton hand-dyed yarn (possibly from Blue Heron???) purchased during a Black Sheep sale. The solid purple used for the sleeves and the spider-web type lace at the bottom is 100% corn yarn called Cornucopia purchased from Compatto in Santa Monica. I was very excited--this sweater was completely my own design--1st time not even using another pattern for a "start"-- and it actually fit my friend perfectly!
Close up of the i-cord edging and the lace detail...
June & July : I know knitted several things during these months but darned if I took a picture of them! I did one pair of Big Black Socks for Soldiers but the rest are a blur....I think I was doing some quilting since it was too hot to hold yarn...

August to September: Baby blanket for my friend Claudia made from the now discontinued Cotton Angora (purchased during Black Sheep's sale). The blocks are from Debbie Abrahams' book 100 Afghan Squares to Knit and include a triangle, a hexagon, a heart, a circle and a square. Several of my coworkers wanted to learn to knit so we started a Friday lunch knitting group and in October/November we used these same patterns to make a baby blanket for afghans for Afghans using Mission Falls wool purchased from Supercrafty (the pictures are on my computer at work--I'll have to dig them up)

Close up of Triangle Block--I also added a pair of crocheted baby booties as a "garnish" for the wrapping...
October: did some more knitting for afghans for afghans--several pairs of mittens, two children's vests and two hats--thought I took pictures but I can't seem to find them.

November: worked on the baby blanket with my knitters at work and started my Christmas presents but spent most of my time finishing up my graduate e-portfolio (I barely got any sleep for most of the month and promptly ended up with acute bronchitis and a double ear infection after Thanksgiving which meant a week and a half sick in bed--still trying to recover as the cough continues to linger and I am still soooooo tired).

Pink Snowflake sweater for my sister from the Spring 2007 issue of Knit It. The yarn is a wool/cashmere blend (you got it--purchased during the Black Sheep sale) but the only problem was that I bought it in the summer and when I started to work on it in November I thought I had originally wanted to make it just like the pattern--substituting purple for the grey at the bottom and using the same pink for the top. Realized when I was about a quarter of the way through the sleeves that I apparently had originally planned to switch the colors--so that's why there are purple stripes on the sleeves, as I ran out of yarn and couldn't find the stuff anywhere! Oh well, my sister liked it. Tracking down a zipper (and sewing it in) also made this a challenging project but at least I have figured out a way to knit with both colors at once for the snowflakes, using my regular knitting style and a modified continental style for the color in my left hand--much, much faster than dropping one color and picking up another! I also shortened the sleeves and took off about 2 inches of the length to make it more suitable for a petite.
Knitted Tam for Tristan's Aunt Marilyn (from Knitty--it's Tam "C"). Used some off-white wool/alpaca blend purchased on ebay last year and some rainbow Koigu. Only took about half a ball of each so I'm thinking of making myself one too! The knitty pattern is for worsted weight so I did some crazy math and modified it so I could use my sock weight yarn and do it on size 2s (ribbing) and size 3s (pattern). It only took one weekend day to knit and then another day and a half for it to dry over a dinner plate (stretched it out to the perfect size!).
Ties for Tristan's Uncle Ken (Ellen & Natalie--I too was inspired to make knitted ties! Well, the green one is knit and the blue is crocheted--pattern calls for an "E" hook but I only had an "F" hook or larger so F it was). The green is a Cascade wool/cotton blend and the blue is an alpaca/wool blend purchased on ebay.Close up of the stitches. The blue one needed a tie tack but I couldn't find one I liked so I used a small vintage rhinestone pin (and told Ken he didn't have to wear it but could pass it off to Marilyn if he wanted to, instead!)

I still have one more Christmas project that's not quite finished (yes, I do realize it is now January but what can you do?) so I'll wait to post pictures of that one. I'll try to keep up with the pictures, posting my projects at least monthly because now I can't remember where I got half of the patterns for the above items or the name of the yarns that I used. I also bought myself a handy dandy notebook from the Socks for Soldiers Cafepress store so I can keep track of all my project schematics (so I have a better shot of recreating some of what I've made). I'll let you all know how that works out. Happy New Knitting year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Resolutions...also known as "decisions"

Happy New Year! Ok, so it's just another day, right? There are very few years when I actually feel that divide between old and new on New Year's Eve. This year was not one of them--Tristan was sick and I pulled something in my neck while stretching to reach a skein of Koigu on the top shelf of my closet the day it was a quiet evening at home, catching up on movies and working on an afghan that should have been mailed out before Christmas. Oh well.

My quiet evening also gave me time to think about things I want to do differently this year or do at all, now that I have all of this free time. Oh, you didn't hear? I finally finished my Masters in Library and Information Science so now I'm looking at about 30 extra hours of free-time a week. Somehow I don't think I'll have trouble filling that time as my to-do list is about 2 1/2 years long. Anyhow, maybe if I post them for all the world to see (meaning the 2 people who actually stop by to see this blog since I haven't updated in months) then maybe I'll actually keep them this year. I need to borrow some of Tristan's thinking. He refuses to call them "resolutions" because you can resolve to do something but not really, truly commit yourself to do it. He prefers the term "decisions." So, I have made the following "decisions," in no particular order:

1. I will read more books this year (made it to 79 this year, aiming for 104 next year)
2. I will call my sister more often--not just on her birthday and major holidays
because her laugh just can't be heard in an email.
3. I will exercise more (or really at all)--gonna wear that pedometer even when it doesn't match my outfit.
4. I will lose some weight and fit into those expensive wool suits I bought in Boston 3 years ago (hopefully as a result of #3)
5. I will try to finish some of my UFOs, particularly the ones for me (selfish, I know):
Black mohair beaded sweater (bottom left)--started it about 3 years ago to wear to a holiday party but every year it gets bumped out of the running by Christmas presents for other people
Brown skirt--really, I think I'm only 1 or 2 pattern repeats away from finishing it
Hexagon Skirt--I have all the yarn, Rowan 4-ply Tweed, now discontinued so lets hope I ordered enough! (still available on ebay, though!) Blues, greens & purples separated by charcoal grey
Brown coat from Rowan's Vintage Knits book (Rowan Tweed chunky--also discontinued...)
6. I will knit at least one item for charity each month, rotating between the following (and any others that strike my fancy):
afghans for Afghans wool children's items, afghans etc.
Socks For Soldiers
primarily big black socks but they also take beanie caps and washcloths for those who
don't do socks
Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation many different groups--last year crocheted 13 bunnies for
Easter baskets
Native American Support warm items like mittens, socks & hats for children & adults
Stitches From the Heart items for premature babies
7. I will make an effort to get to Stitch n Bitch more frequently--I sure do love the WeHo Group!
8. I will try to blog more (aiming for once a week)
9. I will not eat anything from the vending machine in the kitchen at work
10. I will eat more vegetables and fruit (and carrot cake muffins do not count)

Ok, that's my head start. I'll probably think of some others but those can wait until Chinese New Year's.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday and let's hope 2008 is a better year.

Stay tuned for pictures of my 2007 knitting projects--I promise!