Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Amazing Lace Kickoff - Challenge #1

Test, test, test. . .

Introducing Team Knits-n-Things, captained by Heather, a seasoned knitter, loving mother of one, and an aspiring educator. This team looks very promising. Even though they were a late entry to this competition, they appear to have all their ducks in a row. Let's meet the team:

~Team member Kersti hails from Canada. Kersti likes to call herself "Rainbow Bright" because - count it up - all the colors of the rainbow are there. It's a regular ROYGBIV fest here - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, in that order, can be seen within this wonderful fiber. This is a lovely crepe wool, hand-dyed by those truly inspired folks over there at KOIGU.

~Team member Convertible comes to us from those lovely, kind, and dedicated knitters at Knitty.com. Check the Spring/Summer issue for your own pattern! Designed by Rebecca Hatcher, this breathtakingly beautiful creation begs to be knit in something luxurious and hand-dyed, so teaming up with Team Knits-n-Things was a natural choice for this beautiful pattern.

~And finally, Team member and captain Heather comes into this competition with 7 years of knitting experience. Heather considers herself an intermediate knitter, and has experience with lace. Among her favorite lace projects are the World Lit By Fire scarf from Lavish Lace, and a quick-knit eyelet baby hat pattern from a free net pattern.

Together, this team plan to take on summer full-force. The team will pull together to pass the "down" time during a family vacation to the Outer Banks in June, and will keep each other company on many late evenings (as is tradition for many members of this team) in both June and July. Should the team not make it as far as they'd hoped by the end of summer, the team will go into marathon mode during Team member Heather's son's vacation with Daddy in August. Heather will need a lot of support during that time. If all goes well with this team, the remaining team members will recruit others in order to assemble a new team to help Heather through this potentially difficult time.

So, as you can see, this is a formidable team - great fiber, wonderful pattern, and a knowledgeable knitter. Will this be a team to watch out for? Only time will tell!

Now, back to you in the studios!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Me and My Teammate(s)!

Okay, so here we are - Team Knits-n-Things. The Convertible (from Knitty.com) will be done with Koigu's Kersti line, in the beautiful colorscheme you see here. Wonderful. Absolutely gorgeous. How lucky was I that Knit Happens was having a sale on bags (yes, bags) of Koigu? OMG! And the Kersti is just the gauge I need for the Convertible - well, with some fiddling. I will probably have to go up to a size 7 needle since I pretty much knit right to gauge. So a bigger needle should equal perfect gauge.

So, we are almost ready to go. Need to knit a swatch, take a pic, and post it, too, but that will have to wait until I get motherless knitting time! I am going to try to keep this a secret. Not only because it's going to be Mom's Christmas present, but also because she does NOT need to know that I spent $100 on Koigu over the weekend! She would have a cow and give me "the look" and I don't need "the look" right now!

There's also a bit of sad knitting news today. I for some reason went ahead with the Koigu I got at MDS&W for the Clapotis even though I did not have the suggested yardage to complete the project. And, surprise, surprise, it doesn't look like I will be able to finish the Clapotis unless I can hunt down some more KPPM in P711, lot 165. I have checked with Carodan Farms - where I purchased the original 3 skeins, but their website says "sold out." After realizing this, I sent an e-mail begging them to check their stock and see if, by chance, they had one or two skeins lying around. I may have to put my Clapotis in a bag and cart it around with me, trying to match up that Koigu. I hate ripping things out, and yet, I know that Koigu can be so very hard to match up with the uniqueness of the painting! DRAT!

So, since I can't knit on that right now, I've taken the initiative to start the baby blanket that I want to do for my SIL. Since I am using baby yarn retrieved from my stash(!), I cast on for the full compliment of stitches even though I said I wanted it narrower than a normal blanket, but I think it will still be manageable. And, don't alert the NFP (Natural Fiber Police), but I'm knitting it in Red Heart acrylic. I can't bear the thought of a wool blanket that I've spent so much time on being felted accidentally in the dryer!

This will be my first try at cables, and I really like what I see so far. I've simplified the pattern by knitting the center portion in stockinette. If I were to fiddle with all those cables, the baby would be three by the time I finished knitting! It's going much faster, and feels much more manageable with the stockinette center. The next time I knit this one, though (maybe for my own sister????), I may try a seed stitch center. Who knows. Have to keep it interesting. It's a brilliant pattern. I will post the link to the pattern and a picture of my progress next time. . .

Saturday, May 27, 2006

?Good Idea?

I may be crazy, but I signed up for the Amazing Lace challenge!
It really sparks my interest because: 1) I was doing student teaching and writing mad papers for a class at the same time as the Olympic Knitting Challenge. I was really excited about that, and joined the challenge in my own way, attempting to knit a pair of socks for my grandmother at the time. I only completed one. Bummer, no medal for me. But I had no time. After all, I do want a job teaching one day (a job which I have been offered, by the way, thank you!. . .anyone have some good tips and tricks for first graders? . . . .) so that means I had to actually take my "job" seriously and not knit during planning time or skate my way through papers for my class - wouldn't want to muck up my excellent grade point average!

And 2) the second reason for wanting in on this challenge? Christmas and my mother. That may look like two reasons, but it's really one big, great reason. My mom (and dad) has been great about letting me stay here with The Boy and finish up my degree/get back on my feet after the big "D." She deserves the shrug she has been hinting at for Christmas, right? Only my knitting ADD will have me working on ten million things other than that if not given the proper motivation! So this challenge may just be it! The shrug I want to knit for her is lace (Knitty's "Convertible"), and this is a lace challenge, after all.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Good Weekend!


Me and The Boy had a great weekend. Pictures to follow! First, we spent a wonderful Friday evening. It all started with him running up to me on the school playground, telling me "I HAD A GOOD DAY!" Wonderful. It's not been that way everyday lately! We've had problems, phone calls in the middle of the day from the teacher, and tales of woe and "no recess" in the evenings! UGH. Please don't tell me I have THAT KID for a child! No, no, no! Please.

So, after that glowing report, we came home to find my framed degree waiting for me on my desk. Wonderful. I am "official." Better change my sidebar! By the way, I promptly scanned it into my computer and forwarded it to most everyone I know - at least those on my e-mail list!

Later, we had homemade pizza from Gaggi. Wonderful again. She makes awesome pizza! Zac had been asking for her pizza forever! Then, all night long, we talked about our plans for the next day:

The Andrews AFB Air Show/Open house! Last year when we ventured out there, it was the first day that he went all day and stayed dry! I was so proud of him! I can't believe it's been a year since he was potty trained! We were really struggling there for a bit!

This year we took a friend with us:

Zac just loves playing with David. He's the son of a good friend, and he's just a great kid. I love that he was willing to go with us even though his Dad was working! He's so nice and polite, and well-mannered. I want Zac to be just like him when he's a big kid! He had a great time at the Air Show, and next year we plan on bringing ear protection so that we can sit in the front row to get close-up views of these guys:

Yeah, see, we want to eliminate the view of the Port-a-Potty!


In knitting news - I'm still fawning all over my Impressionist Clapotis. It's indescribable. I won't even try. I've dropped the first stitch, and I am just as in love as I was when I cast on! YUM!


Well, somewhat!! :O) I still need to tack down the cowl and sew in about 2 ends. I hate the finishing part. I'm very intimidated by it! I've only tacked down one other hem/edge before, and it's been a while, so I need some good peace and quiet before attacking that thing! I think I will still be able to get a lot of wear out of it, though - I am very sensitive to temperatures, and if I'm going somewhere that there is A/C this summer, I can easily see myself breaking out this wonderful sweater! I knit it in a cotton/wool blend, so it should really give me a lot of wear! Pictures soon!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Love, Love, Love

I think i'm in love. Seriously. In. Love.

With my Koigu!!!! :O)

Looky how it looks so far for my clapotis:

I'm calling it my "Impressionist Clapotis" because the colors remind me of a field that Monet himself would have painted. They must be geniuses over at that Koigu place. I'm thinking of proposing marriage. It's that serious. And never mind that I cast on for something before I actually finished one of my works in progress. I had to do it. Once I decided that the Koigu would look great in a Clapotis, it was all I could think of! So serious.

In other knitting news, I'm ALMOST FINISHED MY Somewhat Cowl!!! Yay! Here it is as of bedtime last night. I've worked a bit more today.

Now, both sleeves are finished. I just have to pick up the neckline stitches and knit that 6" cowl. No prob. As long as I can ignore the call of the Koigu long enough, I should have a new sweater by the middle of the week. No prob. . . . Huh? What was that? Did you hear someone say "Monet"??????????

Friday, May 12, 2006

Alter Ego

Yay, I'm Hermione! She's my fav. . .

You scored as Hermione Granger. You're one intelligent witch, but you have a hard time believing it and require constant reassurance. You are a very supportive friend who would do anything and everything to help her friends out.

Hermione Granger


Remus Lupin


Ron Weasley


Albus Dumbledore


Ginny Weasley


Harry Potter


Sirius Black


Draco Malfoy


Severus Snape


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


So my pals over at eDiets.com got to talking. We were wondering what each other looked like. My screen name over there is Heather219, and, being one of only two "black Heather's" I know, I bet them they couldn't guess what I really looked like. I think I was right about their perceptions of me!! Hee hee - the one description I read was 5'8 (I wish), and blond-haired and blue-eyed! Now, I'm going to pretend that that is a sterotypical "Heather" image, and doesn't really mean that they think I'm dizzy!

And, to satisfy their curiosity - here's a picture of me and The Boy at this year's Cherry Blossom Festival. Please excuse the 6 chins:

See, not at all the stereotypical Heather. Although, I will admit, I am dizzy! :O)

And, by the way - I've lost 8 pounds since joining eDiets.com - thanks, in a GREAT part, to the ladies I mentioned above. They rock!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sheep and Wool photos

Brace yourself. You may get dizzy looking at this wonderful shash enhancement!

This is the purchase from Ellen's Half Pint Farms. Wonderful. If only I were rich.

And from Little Barn. These folks are from Alabama. They must make kind, wonderful, thrifty people in Alabama, because this was an AWESOME booth! Wonderful yarns at bargain basement prices, a huge fan to cool you off while you stand in a HUMONGOUS LINE carrying tons of wool fibers, and free water at the checkout counter to boot! Wooohoo!

You can see the cotton sock yarns that were only $3.75 each! Yay! And, the wonderful purple (!) alpaca that I plan to make the Glampyre Knits Renaissance Keyhole sweater with! Again, wonderful! What a bargain - each skein was $2.75! I bought a bag, just in case!

KOIGU! My stash has no Koigu! This is the only purchase that was not really "planned." As in, I didn't set out to necessarily buy some Koigu at the S&W, but since there was a reasonably small pile to sift through at Carodan Farms, I was able to make a decision and buy some of this along with some reinforcing yarn for my mother. Now I am coming up with plans for this yarn. I wish I had gotten one more skein to do a Clapotis, but am still considering doing it in a smaller overall size with what I have. Ever since I connected the two - Koigu and Clapotis, it's all I can really see for this yarn!

Clearview Farms sells this wonderful yarn, called Cestari. I am knitting the Somewhat Cowl in a green heather colorway from a previous visit to S&W. This time, the yarn has been updated. Instead of 75% cotton 25% wool, it's now blended with a touch of silk as well. Oh yeah! I'm thinking Picovoli now. Seems to make sense!

Oh. My. Goodness!

How to describe this? I really love the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! And they didn't really have to show their appreciation to me by having it on my birthday this year. Gee, thanks, you shouldn't have. . . okay, you should! Thanks!

I had such a good time. It probably would have been better if I actually had time to stop and meet up with my Maryland Meetup crew (unfortunately, I had to leave early due to an impending and looooooong overdue appointment with the hairdresser). But as far as it goes - when you are at a fiber festival such as this, mean people are banned at the front gate, so everyone's your friend anyway!

I talked with so many people, laughed at the humongous lines with fellow shoppers at the Little Barn booth, stood in line sweating and clutching hordes of yarn at said booth (thankfully, those thoughtful people at the Little Barn had the brilliant idea to point a humongous fan directly on the line! Or was the line drawn to the puff of air from that fan??), had reinforcing yarn questions answered by total strangers (fellow knitting lovers), and discussed the possibilities of knitting socks in basically whatever yarn you desired at Ellen's 1/2 Pint with - again - perfect strangers! I even convinced that perfect stranger to abandon the "cashmere" bin at said booth and go around the corner to check out the AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL SOCK YARN at Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farms! Wonderful.

Can I just say - I went to this event strapped with $170 of birthday money (my family knows I love to blow all my birthday cash at MDS&W), AND, I was very, very, very tempted to spend all of that money at Ellen's 1/2 Pint on that unbelievably gorgeous sock yarn! I mean What the H#@&? Were they divinely inspired at that place when they dyed this stuff? What about when they spun it? I mean - HELLO! I bought a hank of sock yarn in the sunniest colors (I think it's even called "Blazing Sunshine" - divine!) - yellows, oranges, peaches, and golds, and it's 475 yards of 50% wool (soft as can be) and 50% tencel. This stuff shines like it was the sun itself. I. can't. wait. to knit this into some yummy socks. And then wear them all over creation! I was in heaven! I think I spent almost an hour in that booth, drooling over the yarns. This thought went through my mind several times: "I've got how much cash? And how much did I plan to spend of my own money anyway? I could easily get away with buying all 5 of these skeins. Who needs to make a decision here? Get them all!!!" Fortunately, sanity won over that insane streak, and I think I made out like a bandit overall, for my birthday money and "planned" cash spending. Check it out below.

SP8 Questionnaire!

SP8 is about to start! Wish I'd been in the group that got their info this past week so that I could do some shopping at MD Sheep and Wool! That would have been great. Then again, maybe I can blame that HUGE stash enhancing trip on stocking up for my Secret Pal! Yeah, that's the ticket . . .!!!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Hmm, favorites – Shaefer yarns, and soft things like alpaca, silk, mohair, merino, etc. I am very sensitive to wool fibers next to my skin, so I like the softer ones, or the blends. Besides 100% acrylic (necessary only for some baby items), I don’t have any that I absolutely don’t like. I’m up for trying new things as well – I don’t know everything, right?

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have an interchangeable set that I use to knit bigger items on, so that’s stored in it’s own case when not in use. My double points for socks are kept in their cards or banded together if the card wears out, and stashed in a pretty storage box that sits next to my couch. It is designed just for knitters to keep yarn and notions in.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I have been knitting for about 7 years, I think. I consider myself an intermediate to advanced knitter. I still get intimidated by long, complicated sets of directions. I have knit socks, sweaters, hats, shawls, baby items galore, a blanket or two, and have even tried FairIsle.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I am starting two wish lists on my blog once I figure out how. One list will be knitting related, the other will deal with teaching supplies/goodies! I have a bunch of sites bookmarked, but just need to sit down and figure out how to create the lists.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Lavender

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? I’m training my sweet tooth to behave since I’m trying to lose a significant portion of myself! I keep telling myself “I hate candy. Blech!” It may be working.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I love scrap-booking. Another thing to do when I find the time. HA HA. I also have done cross-stitch in the past, but don’t make time for it any more since I find knitting to be so much more practical! I do not spin.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I’m a jazz fan at heart. I like (okay, love) Cassandra Wilson, Joshua Redmond, and Rick Braun. As for contemporary music, Heather Headley, Joss Stone, Jill Scott, etc. My computer does MP3/CDs.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? My favorite color is red. Close second is green. I knit with green a lot! I’m a more earth-tone type of person – greens/browns, deep colors like purple, navy blue, and deep reds are what I pick out most often.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? My family situation, huh? Sounds scandalous! I am a divorced mother of a four year old son named Zachary. He is the love of my life!

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Yes to the scarves, hats and ponchos. No to mittens.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? It seems I go through moods with my knitting. Socks are always fun and scarves are so practical. I enjoy charity knitting (hats/chemo caps for cancer patients). Also shawls (lace), and I seem to really love quick knits. Lately I’ve had fun knitting with the Sexy Knitters and doing quick things like the Picolvoli and Somewhat Cowl. I never knew knitting a sweater could go so quickly!

13. What are you knitting right now? HA! My knittingADD has me working on several things at once. 1) Simple Cardigan from Debbie Bliss in natural brown alpaca, 2) the Somewhat Cowl in a cotton-wool blend from Cestari yarns (Chester Farms), 3) the Sixth Sense socks from my knitter’s group in a cotton sock yarn that I’ve never tried before (Sockotta), and 4) finishing up a lace scarf from the Lavish Lace book in a Shaeffer Yarns silk/wool blend that is so lovely! I have plans for much more, but am forcing myself to finish up at least one or two of these projects before casting on anything else!

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Definitely

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I prefer to use circular needles for just about everything. I knit socks on a size 3 circular most times, but also do them on wooden DPNs when using a pattern different from my “standard” one. Usually wood is my first choice, but my interchangeable set is aluminum and I love them. Also the circulars I use for socks are aluminum, so really I’m not picky. I do love the beautiful wooden needles, but I’m not too much of a needle snob. I knit with what’s around to get the job done!

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? My grandmother has a swift I can use to help wind yarn when needed. I like to wind my yarn into center pull balls myself, although my LYS will wind the balls for me if I purchase through them, and it’s wonderful to have things so neat and tidy!

17. How did you learn to knit? My mother taught me when I was a teenager. I knit half a sweater at that time. I picked the needles up again about 7 years ago – when I was about to be married, and haven’t put them down since.

18. How old is your oldest UFO? Sadly, about 3 years old. It’s a PI shawl from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s creation. I was tweaking it and apparently got carried away. Now it’s sitting around intimidating me into thinking that I will never be able to figure it out. I’m letting it have it’s way for now.

19. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

20. Is there anything that you collect? Yarn. I seem to have a passion for collecting hand-dyed sock yarn in unusual colorways.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? I really want The Opinionated Knitter from Elizabeth Zimmerman. I love her books. They give you so much insight. I have let my Interweave Knits and Knitters subscriptions run out since I didn’t really have time to read them. I also want to try knitting with linen yarn. I always see great looking swatches and samples, but worry because it always seems so stiff and uncomfortable on the skein/ball. Koigu wool is also very yummy, but causes me much grief because I can never decide on a colorway!

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Cables and felting.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I love knitting socks. My foot is a size 9 medium.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) May 6th! :O) Happy Birthday to me!