Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This year was the best Halloween that I can remember. I took the day off work, and Mom and I went to the Halloween parade at my sister's school. This is her first year as Principal at the elementary school, and, after 20+ years of teaching 8th graders, and 7 years in administration at the high school level, this was quite a switch. She had to dress up in a costume! Hilarious! After weeks of agonizing over what she could be, (while still maintaining a shred of dignity and credibility) she decided that a scarecrow would be the least embarrassing costume. OK, I set to work. Fabric for patches, raffia for "straw", hat, birds and bandannas all transformed an ordinary pair of jeans and denim shirt into this:
Here is a full length shot of her with some of the kids:

And here she is with nephews Zach and Danny, who are going to have a little sister very soon:

And here she is in her office saying "This had better not end up on your blog!" I assured her that the only reason I took off work was to get some pictures for the blog. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Somebody Help Me!

I used to have a couple of socks on the needles at any given time. One at home, and one in the car. Then I discovered knitting blogs and Internet pattern resources, and got a severe case of "I need to cast on [insert whatever sock pattern I happen to be reading about at any given time]right away." And don't even get me started on Ravelry. Ravelers are just a bunch of enablers! Anyway, instead of having one sock-in-progress sitting patiently on the little table next to my knitting chair, I have graduated to a footstool to hold all of my current projects.
Granted, the bottom two trays are full of sock yarn scraps that need to be worked into this mitred square blanket.
Yes, it's been a while since I touched it, but it's been way too hot here to work on such a big piece of knitting. The basket on top of the blanket holds my current socks-in-progress. (Not to be confused with the socks-in-progress that have stalled for some reason or another and are fermenting in a drawer elsewhere.)
I emptied out the contents of the basket onto the floor, and took some photos. I kind of feel like I'm airing my dirty laundry, but I'm hoping that I can shame myself into actually finishing something from this basket in the next week or two. Or three. Or four. Certainly by Christmas. St. Patrick's Day? OK, Easter, but that's it!

The top three photos are relatively recent cast-ons. The second two are socks that have been sitting in that basket for way too long and I'm getting sick of looking at them. I've either got to finish them or add them to stash of fermenting projects. The bottom two photos are a hat using yarn from my Secret Pal, and a snuggle that I read about on Nichole's blog. I got the pattern from the website. I couldn't help myself with the last two. I had never tried Soy Wool Stripes yarn before, and I just couldn't wait. (Love it, by the way). And the last item, the snuggle, is for homeless pets. Who can resist making a nice warm blankie for an animal in a shelter? Not me.

Seriously, I have to stop casting on new projects. I have run out of double-pointed least until the ones I ordered arrive. Hopefully they will be here any day now, because I really want to cast on these Rainbow Socks by Susanne Kitzmann that I read about on Shelly's website.

See what I mean? I'm hopeless.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dogs on Thursday

Even though these poor, deprived dogs only have about seventy-ba-jillion toys, it never fails that they both want the toy the other one is playing with.

Hey, that's my ropey-toy!
No, that's my ropey-toy!

No, that's MY ropey-toy!
They're off to settle this question!

Monday, October 22, 2007

It Gives Me That Warm Feeling Inside

Literally, warmth for the winter. Thanks to the best Dad in the world and his trusty pickup truck, take a look at this:
You are looking at two tons of pellets for the pellet stove. Yes, 2 tons, as in 4000 lbs! We're gonna be warm this winter! Well, at least one room of the house will be warm, but it's a big room, and that's where I do my knitting--can't have frozen fingers. The rest of the house will still be like walking into an icebox, and I'll be wearing two pair of socks and slippers to bed under lots of blankets with my 52-pound-hot-water-bottle-with-a-heartbeat (a.k.a. Emma) under the covers. But my knitting chair is right next to the pellet stove, and I'll be toasty warm while I'm knitting. Nothing else really matters, does it?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yarn Harlot Day - Where to Start?

Yarn Harlot Day was everything I had hoped for, and more.

We started out at 9:00am, drove to Joanns, had lunch & shopped at Wegmans, then headed off to Borders. Having called the day before, I knew they weren't handing out wrist bands (which determined the order for the book signing) until around 4:00, but we were there by 1:00 anyway. What can I say? We were excited! They politely told us go away you crazy knitters please come back at 4:00. What to do? Shopping! We went to LL Bean, Smith & Hawken, a few other stores, then drove to another shopping center and went to Trader Joes, at which time I realized I left my credit card at LL Bean. Panic! I left (blogless) Pat and Sue to conquer Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware without me while I frantically navigated the crazy traffic back to LL Bean. Luckily, they had my credit card in the safe, waiting for me to come back or give them a call. Back into traffic to pick up Pat & Sue, then back into traffic to Borders. We arrived at exactly 4:00pm!

Borders was great - everything and everyone was very well organized. I'll never understand how they got 250 chairs into that place, but they did it. There were about 7 knitters there before us, but we were still able to score excellent seats in row three, right in front of the podium. Then it was three hours of waiting, but the time flew by. We were talking with other knitters, oooh-ing and aaah-ing over yarns, patterns and FOs.

I met Donna Lee of What You Think On Grows. How cool is that? I have been reading her blog for a while now, knew that she was going to the Harlot event, and that one of her daughters is named Emily. So I overhear a woman saying something to her daughter, calling her Emily, and absolutely contrary to how I normally behave in crowds of people, I said "Excuse me, are you Donna"? I'm so glad I did, and I'm even happier that she said yes! She and her daughters are so very nice.

Here are some shots of the crowd:

These shots are courtesy of a very kind knitter named Jennifer. I didn't get her blog or Ravelry name, but she had blond hair and was sitting in the second row. I wanted shots of the crowd, but was reluctant to climb over everyone else in my row. Jennifer kindly took my camera and and got some great shots. Thanks Jennifer!

Then, it was time for the Yarn Harlot herself. My boss warned me that I was soooo excited about the Harlot that I was sure to be disappointed. Not true. Even though she was suffering from a terrible cold, and I'm sure she just wanted to crawl up somewhere and take a nap, she was fabulous. Warm and humble, and very funny. Hilarious, in fact. Disappointed? No Way!!!! She was everything I knew she would be, and so much more. She spoke for over an hour, and then took questions from the audience. After that, she signed books for who knows how long...and was gracious and posed for pictures with everyone, even though she was sick. Now that's class. Here are a couple of pictures of her signing a young spinner's spindle. (Look at that Kauni sweater - fabulous!)

I'm not including any of the pictures of me, because it was a humid, rainy, hot day in good old South Jersey, and I looked an absolute mess. I have no idea what I said to Stephanie when she was signing my books and getting pictures taken with me, but I must have been a blathering idiot. That, combined with my appearance, must be the reason that she said "Oh, thanks very much, that means a lot to me, thank you, thank you," in a very gentle tone of voice. Kind of like the tone you would use when talking someone down from the ledge of a 50 storey building.

If knitters ruled the world, I have no doubt that we would all declare an International Yarn Harlot Day. Until then, my own unofficial Yarn Harlot Day was perfection. Except for the weather. And the losing of my credit card. And the blathering idiot part. Other than that, everything was perfect!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We're Off To See The Harlot...

...The Wonderful Harlot of Yarn!

Details and pictures later this weekend!

Lots of Pink, and Tired Dogs on Thursday!

I think I finished quilting this blanket in record time -- eleven days!

This is the quilt that mom pieced and sewed, and I just did the hand quilting. The reason for the rush? A new baby, of course. Well, not the actual baby yet, just the baby shower, but a deadline is a deadline. It was so much fun, though. I kind of miss quilting. I haven't made a quilt since I discovered the joys of knitting socks. It is so much easier to throw a sock-in-progress in your handbag versus a quilt-in-progress. I have always carried large handbags, but one that would hold a quilt is too big, even for me!

Here is the new mom-to-be with the quilt...

...and here she is with the Debbie Bliss Alphabet Blanket I made.

It was a small shower (a "sprinkle", I suppose) and that was what made it really nice. Kris has two boys now, a 5 year old and a 3 year old. She had a third boy but he did not survive. Long, and very sad story, and we are all focusing on the positive right now, and what a miracle it is that she was able to get pregnant again, and carry the baby this far. She is 34 weeks, and is seeing specialists weekly--stress tests and ultrasounds for the baby, and a cardiologist for Kris. This little girl is due around Thanksgiving, and we will all be truly thankful for a happy, healthy baby and mommy.

Emma and Tara would like to have done something exciting and blog-worthy this week, but they are both just so exhausted from having company over to the house.

Jumping up on people...licking their's a lot of work, but somebody has to do it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Serious Lack of Respect

I'll tell you, knitters around here get no respect. I was away from my desk for about an hour this afternoon, and I come back to find this...

...on the wall above my computer. In case you can't read the post-it note, it says "The yarn harlot?".

OK, perhaps I have mentioned the upcoming Yarn Harlot event once or twice at work. Perhaps I have mentioned it more than once or twice. Perhaps I have written "Harlot Day" on October 19th on everyone's calendar. Perhaps I have been going on and on about the Harlot and how she is the rock star of the knitting world, and how every knitter within a 500,000 mile radius will surely be there to welcome the famous Harlot to New Jersey. Is that any reason to mock us knitters?

Observant readers may notice that the handwriting from this post. Yes, my boss is the culprit...again. It is one thing to make fun of my car, it's another thing to disrespect the Harlot. I know who is NOT getting warm and toasty hand-knit socks for Christmas this year.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dogs on Thursday

Yes, it is Dogs On Thursday, but I have to start out this post with some lovely sock yarn that I bought from Shelly Kang (aka The Heathen Housewife) this past week. Oh, and see the pack of note cards on top? She added them to the package as a bonus. Don't ya just love surprises? The yarn is so soft and luscious, and the colors are beautiful. Can you believe Shelly dyes these herself? I can't wait to find the perfect sock pattern for the yarn. Well, one of them is for my Secret Pal, but I won't include it until the final "reveal" package just in case she stumbles onto this post and figures out who I am. Treat yourself to a visit to Shelly's website and take a look at her lovely knitting, and her impossibly sweet daughters!

Why does the sock yarn get top billing (aside from the fact that I love it so much)? So I could segue into this picture of Emma:

She was "helping" me take the picture. Such a helper. What would I do without her? Tara just sat quietly by, chewing on a nylabone, wondering what all the fuss was about.

While you are visiting other blogs, go on over to Nichole's blog. She is having a contest, and the cause is near and dear to my heart - homeless pets. There are lots of ways to help homeless animals, and several ways to enter into her contest at the same time. I've cast on for a snuggle, but haven't gotten very far yet. Still quilting that baby blanket. Quilting, quilting, quilting. It's has to be done by Saturday, so I'm taking tomorrow off from work and will be quilting my fingers to the bone.

Now for some answers to questions:

Regarding Crocs, Covered In Yarn said "I love love love the little ballet slipper style, but I have an uber narrow foot. The regular crocs swallow me whole, are the ballet's the same way or do you think I may be able to swing them?"

Well, I'm not sure, as I have an average width size 8 1/2 foot, and crocs only come in whole sizes, so the ones I ordered are size 9. They do seem to be a little narrower than the "Cayman" and "Beach" style of crocs. All I can say is to try them for yourself. The advantage to is that the shipping is free, both ways. I've sent shoes back before, and it was super-easy to do.

Regarding the Debbie Bliss Alphabet Blanket, silfert said, "Spectacular! I've never tried a pointed edging. Was it hard?"

It was really pretty easy to do, once the edge stitches were all picked up and ready to go. I didn't follow the instructions exactly - it said to work each of the four sides separately and seam the corners. I picked up all four sides at once and worked in the round, thus eliminating the need to seam each of the corners.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Harlot Alert!

Several weeks ago, there was a report on Ravelry that the Yarn Harlot would be coming to New Jersey on October 19th. Yes, none other than the famous Stephanie Pearl-McPhee coming to our little State! As soon as I heard this, I arranged to take the day off from work, and proclaimed the day "Harlot Day" on calendars at work. (I thought about writing to the State Legislature to have it proclaimed state-wide, but thought better of it in a rare moment of sanity.)

Then I went to the Harlot's web site to check the Harlot On Tour schedule. The New Jersey date wasn't listed. The schedule ended in September with a teasing "...more to come" at the bottom. No problem. Just be patient and keep checking. And checking and checking. Sometimes several times a day. Was it just a rumor? A conspiracy? Why didn't I check the Harlot's schedule before writing "Harlot Day" on everyone's calendar at work? In ink, no less! The horror. The shame. The paranoia...

Until yesterday. The Harlot blogged about coming to New Jersey! It's true! The details are:

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot)
October 19, 2007 7:00 PM

Borders - Marlton, NJ
515 Route 73 South
Marlton, NJ

RSVP to Karen Landers
856-985-8909 or

I'll be there with bells on!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dogs on Thursday

...or should I say hungry Dogs on Thursday. This is what happens when Emma's meal is a little bit late, or if she is just too hungry to wait until her regular mealtime.
It's a shame you can't hear the eardrum-shattering bark that accompanies the "rug dance". Tara would never stoop so low as to ball up all of the kitchen throw rugs into a pile and then start barking. She will, of course, quietly observe this curious ritual from the doorway. After all, if meals are going to be served earlier than usual, she doesn't want to miss out.
The rugs are back in their proper spots, and the hungry dogs are being fed. [sigh] All is right with the world again.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Refreshing Lack of Leather

Yesterday, I placed an order with Zappos, an online shoe store that actually has a category called "Vegetarian Shoes", made without the use of leather or any other animal product. Color me happy! Guess what was delivered today?

Yes, less than 24 hours later, this package arrived. It contains two pair of Crocs - Mary Janes and Primas, both in black.

Hey, maybe I should wear one of each style! No, maybe not.

On a related note, before I discovered the joy of knitting socks, I used to make quilts. I would hurry through the patchwork or applique so I could get to the fun part - the hand-quilting! Well, mom made a baby quilt, and she doesn't like hand quilting, so I offered to do the fun part. I always used these leather thimble-type things that slipped over the middle finger on my right hand. Without it, I couldn't push the needle through the layers of the quilt. I know, metal thimbles have been used for generations, but I could never get the hang of them. Too clunky, too tight, too loose...whatever.

So now I have a quilt to be quilted, and I no longer use leather. What to do?
How about that cushy first aid tape that sticks to itself? Yes! Cut off about 4 inches, wrap it around the top of your finger, and you're in business. I'm happy, mom is happy, and the cows are happy. Happy, happy, happy!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Finally, some knitting content

You know how when you get to the end of something, you just don't want to finish it, because then it would be, well, finished? Like the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle, or the last bite of cherry pie... that's how I've felt about the Alphabet Blanket that I made for my niece Alexis. No problem, though, as she is still in her mother's belly until (hopefully) mid-November. Well, my mother has made a quilt for little Alexis, and I offered to do the quilting, so I figured it was time to get off my butt and finish Alphabet Blanket so I don't have to worry about it while doing the quilting.

Ta Dah! Here it is being blocked. (The pink is way too pink in this picture!)

Now, to give credit where credit is due: I first saw this blanket on Jenn's blog. She made one for her son before he was born. Go take a look - she has an adorable baby boy. I had a great time with this pattern, even though there were some errors in the charts. It's from Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits book. No worries though, as a fellow Raveler emailed me this link with errata for Debbie Bliss patterns. Gotta love Ravelry!