Saturday, August 29, 2009

2nd Package

It's been a whirlwind week, what with actual students showing up in my classroom this week and all . . . but I didn't want to let even one more hour go by without thanking my Secret Pal for a lovely and awesome 2nd package!!

I should have taken a picture on Thursday night as my family played the Harry Potter trivia game (achem *Iwon* achem). That was a really great surprise! Thank you so much!

The rest of the package was equally delightful! There are two skeins of fingering weight yarn ready for me to dye, (I think they'll be headed for the indigo pot my friend Gregory is setting up at her farm next month), a most gorgeous and huge braid of spinning fiber in lovely plum shades (I'm thinking it may be BFL???), and the cutest sock shaped needle gauge. I'd secretly been coveting the needle gauge! Must be that's why she's my "secret" pal!!

Once again, thank you so, so, so much! I loved absolutely everything!

Today, I'm off to knitting group in Bowie, to work on the sleeves for my Poppy sweater I'm knitting (another KAL with my sister - she's ahead of me, finishing her second sleeve as I type!). Here's a progress pic, taken as I was finishing the tube of the body. Since then, I've attached the back and two fronts to what you see here - in Noro "Chirimen" which should make it bearable to wear this with the required cami underneath, since all Noro, no matter how beautiful, is just too scratchy to go next to my skin! This is a fun knit, and I highly recommend it to everyone who likes a bit of creativity in their knitting, but may not want to brave changing a pattern around to accomplish that! Check it out! Sorry for the sideways pic - forgot to edit!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Goodbye, Friend

Well, after 8 well-served years, my Jeep has met the end of it's very useful (if somewhat pampered - for a Jeep) life.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the CARS program, and traded in my clunker for some cash towards a brand-spankin' new car. My first. OMG!

I was intrigued by the idea of the CARS program, since I KNEW that I was not going to get a good return on my car. It was 10 years old, with close to 150,000 miles, and the A/C system was shot - apparently a common problem in the 1999 model Grand Cherokee. And, well, sorry to say it, but it IS the truth - it was a GAS GUZZLER. Since I don't drive very far at all these days (my work and my son's school are both within about 5 miles of our house), I didn't really feel the "pinch" that much. But I was very aware that it was drawing near time to put some money into it for repairs of some sort.

Friday night, that realization hit home. I had to stop suddenly in D.C. (okay, I was about to run a red light, but still), and when I stepped (hard) on the brake, I felt them sorta smush in, rather than grab hold. I did come to a stop, but I glided to a stop, I didn't STOP like I needed. Since I was not far from my destination, I went on and found a quick parking spot and waited till the ride home to panic. On the very slow ride home, it was very clear that those brakes were D-O-N-E. I canceled my plans for Thursday, and enlisted the help of my child to get the car all cleaned out and ready (although I think they take them in whatever condition you bring it to them - more on this later), made sure I had all my necessary paperwork, and asked my lovely sister if she'd mind accompanying me the next day.

We got lots and lots of knitting done while waiting for different things (well, she got lots and lots, I just got 1 lots!)

Jennifer knitting:

We are both knitting versions of "Poppy" by Lisa Mason. Awesome, creative knit, if anyone's in that market!!

When the day was done yesterday, I drove home in this:

Isn't it CUTE???? It's a good thing it is, because they told me what was going to (did) happen to my Jeep. The CARS program is intended, partly, to take some of the environment-killing gas-guzzlers off the streets (and give the car industry a boost - both of which are happening), and when they use a car for the program, they have to disable it. Kill it. Put it to sleep (I like this last description best). So, they drove my car into the service bay, drained the transmission fluid, and poured in some evil potion in place of it. Apparently, death comes quickly, because when they drive the cars out of the service bay, they're already coughing and sputtering! I feel like a beloved pet has left me! But I'm also excited to have my first brand new car, not to mention the first car I've owned/signed for by myselfies, so I think I just might make it. The Jeep, no. Me, yes.

Anyone need a lift?

Oh, and P.S. - if you're in the market, go over to Honda and ask for Elliot Bourne. He'll hook ya up with a few jokes on the side, and everyone will be happy. And mention my name so that I can get some cup holders for The Boy, will ya?


Monday, August 10, 2009

Circle Cardigan

After an entire summer of knitting, I'm FINALLY finished with the Vogue Knitting Circle Cardigan. This knit is beautiful, but it takes A. LOT. of patience!!

I really like it, and I'm really glad that I finished it in time for the beginning of school. My building is famous for blasting the A/C, so I always need a little something to help out! Staff meetings in the library are notoriously cold as well!

Here it is:

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece - 5 skeins (I JUST tapped into the 5th skein, so I'll knit up a chemo cap with the rest)
Size - Larger
Modifications - the yarn I used was a bit of a bigger gauge, so mine is a bit bigger than others out there, but then again, I'm a bit bigger than others out there, so SCORE! I also left 9" open for the armholes (again, probably because I'm a bit bigger than the supermodel who's modeling it in the magazine). Other than that, I knit according to the directions, which were great (besides the little rant over semicolons - see my RAV notes!)

I also spun up a little skein (131 yards) of some California Red wool for the Spinner's Study group I'm in on Ravelry. Each month we "study" two different fibers - those who knit it share their experiences and findings for the good of the rest of the group. Such a sacrifice!

What I found was this - if oriented the fiber the right way to spin (the way it came off the factory machines, I'm assuming - it would spin nicely up with a long-draw style. The fiber I had was also very "rustic" feeling and would be ideal for outer wear or a vest, but nothing like a scarf or socks - not something you'd want next to the skin. Now that it's spun up and two-plied, I feel the same. BUT! The thing that endears this fiber to me is the RED hairs in the fleece that, when spun up, give the fiber a bit of a tweedy look - very interesting! I hope it comes out in the pictures:

Tomorrow, I hope to try dyeing this stuff up with some easter-egg dyes. I'm leaning towards a yellow or a green. I want the red hairs to still be visible, so I'm going to probably stay away from the blues or reds . . . I'll post my results later on in the week!

Hope everyone's having a great summer. Stay cool - it's finally gotten hot here, and besides the school shopping that I just HAD to get out of the way, I'm only venturing outside to go to the pool if this keeps up!


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Thanks, Pal!

Yesterday, I received a package from my secret pal!

She sent: a beautiful skein of Berroco Comfort Sock. Who knew? This stuff feels wonderful and would be great next to my skin, since it's nylon and acrylic, but I'm thinking that with 447 yards, it's not going to become a pair of socks, but a scarf/shawlette! We shall see. Maybe I'll get a wild sock hair. Haven't been knitting them much, but I really do love wearing them . . .

Also included were some "Pattern Tamers" in case I DO choose to make a shawlette - then I'll have no problem tracking down my place in the pattern, since they're gorgeous magnetic strips - very handy!

And last, but not least - a gorgeous book called "Knitting Memories" filled with reflections by well-known knitters like Teva Durham, Lily Chin, and Lela Nargi.

Now I'm really wondering who this wonderful pal is. Such a wonderful package, full of things I really love, but wouldn't necessarily buy for myself. Exactly the point.

Thanks again, Pal!


Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer Update

Well, this blog is like no-knitter's land this Summer! I have not been blogging at all, but not necessarily from lack of content! I have been somewhat busy, but mostly it's been about The Boy - as usual and expected around here! And, since I've been forgetting my camera ALL THE TIME, there's darn little to show!

In the last little bit, though, there's been stuff that I think I need to blog/report! First, my family's reunion this time was in Knoxville, Tennessee. If I ever reach the breaking point and need to move away from all the madness in Mayberry, I'm definitely going to Knoxville! I loved the city and (once again) wished I'd extended my stay to play tourist a bit more! The family did a great job of showing us around, though - I think we saw more of Knoxville than other cities where reunions are. Usually, the reunion is so jam-packed with activities, that there's not much time or need to do other things or go other places.

Friday night(s) we always go to a host family's house for a back-yard barbecue. This time we were at the Gaiter's house. They live on Gaiter Lane. The road was closed that evening to ease our family's traffic. Think they have much influence in the area? It was a beautiful house and grounds, and we all were able to find a little nook to relax and have some dinner.

Saturday morning we all were asked to show up at a neighborhood park for pictures. This is a break in tradition since we normally just take our group pics at the family picnic later Saturday(s). Soon, we found out why they wanted us here. Location, location, location:

That's a ginormous statue of Alex Haley, taken in Haley Heritage Square. The statue is so big that The Boy was able to climb around and sit on the book that Haley holds in his hands. This is MOST of the family that remains here in DC. There were similar groups of family from Alabama, Ohio, and Tennessee, and some smaller groups from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan. Hope I got everyone!

Family reunions are about unity, and roots, so here's a picture of the elders of our family that were there.

After the pictures, we did go to a picnic. From there, we were taken to catch a riverboat for a short tour. Great!

Zac enjoyed himself immensely, and was fascinated by the paddles at the back of the boat.

The evening was for a formal dinner, and on Sunday we were treated to a brief word from the family church's pastor before things drew to an official end. Since we still had some time to relax before catching our flight, The Boy and I explored a cute little market square area, ate some great snacks from a great little shop called Coffee and Chocolate (yum!), and explored a little artsy park. It was a great weekend!

Since then, I've been finishing things up on the knitting front. I can't believe how much/little I've gotten accomplished. The Tour de Fleece helped me with my spinning, and I now have 660 yards of a 2-ply corriedale. I got half of this corriedale last year about this time on my cruise to Candada. Now that it's finished and I know how much I have to work with, I'm planning on a vest.

I also finished a cowl that I knit in the Morning Surf pattern from some of my very first handspun. This stuff was spun on my Golding spindle a while ago! I think I started knitting it last Fall during The Boy's soccer practices!

Finished as well is the baby blanket for my former SIL. I love these Patons blanket patterns - so quick and easy. And, it's in my usual cover-the-carseat size that won't drag on the ground or need excessive folding. Cause with infants, it's all about saving time not doing unnecessary things!

I am ALMOST finished with the Cotton Fleece Vogue cardigan that I can never remember the name of! I'm hoping to finish up today - I've got maybe two inches of the outer ring to go, and then I get to sew things down. Yay! Since I have about 4 projects that I really want to cast on NOW, I really can't wait till this is finished!

This week I am "on my own" since the boy is vacationing with his dad, and I've plans for lots of knitting, cleaning, and hopefully getting to do some things that I give up when I'm on Mommy duty! Hopefully I'll be updating here more often as well!