Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Is Almost Over!

I am so glad that this year is almost over. Not that it's been a bad year but it seems the theme of this year was "major household issues" dealing with spending money way too early for things that we were saving for. I guess that comes with the territory when you buy a 40 year old house.

I started this blog back in April so the list of Finished Objects on the side is almost everything that I did in 2007. I am very happy with what I accomplished and look forward to new things in the new year.

I looked back to my resolution list for 2008 and it stands as:
1. Learn how to knit using two circular needles
2. Knit a project using color work techniques (more than one color in a row)
3. Finish the Great American Aran Afghan

BUT I also just went through my stash and listed out my projects that I currently have yarn for. Out of the 16 projects listed (yes - 16 projects counting GAAA only once even though I have 21 squares left to knit) only #3 will get accomplished. I did see a couple themes in the projects stashed though: lace, scarves and kid sweaters. It should be a really cute knitting year for me.

I wish everyone well and hope that 2008 brings great things!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Free Pattern - Boa Tube Scarf

This is a quick and simple project that is great for little girls playing dress up or for that special older lady that loves a little flair. I think I've made 4-5 of these in the past and they take very little time to make

[I'll post a finished picture ASAP]

Boa Tube Scarf

2 balls of Fun Fur (60 yards each)
US size 10 DPNs

Gauge: It's a scarf, let's be adventurous . . .

Cast on 24 stitches and place 8 stitches each on 3 DPNs
Join in a round and knit until you're out of yarn

Close up of DPNs

Notes: You really can't be anal when it comes to this type of project. If you should happen to knit 2 together by accident just increase to make sure you keep 8 stitches on each needle. It's not like you're going to be able to see any mistakes. If you prefer a longer and skinnier scarf go with 18 or 21 stitches total instead of 24. This is a great mindless knitting project to take with you!

One other note: The scarf turns out so much better if you pull the yarn out of the ball correctly. You want to go with the yarn rather against it so that you'll have as much fur on the outside as possible. I'll try to illustrate:

If the end of the yarn is on the right, then you're going against the fur and you'll have a crappy boa scarf

If the end of the yarn is on the right this time then you're going with the fur. You'll have a lush boa scarf this time

I have 3 nieces and they have all loved having these for dress up or for a fun day out!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finished Objects - 2 Irish Hiking Hats

These were last minute gifts knit up using yarn left over from the sweater. I probably have enough to make a third hat but I really can't stand picking up stitches right now. The first hat will go to my Father-in-law to match the sweater and the second will go to my husband because he begged me to make him one to match. He was my assistant to get the right sizing and just fell in love with it. So now he has about a million hats now - I swear he buys a new toque in every city he visits.

Photo gallery of the two hats:

Pattern: Irish Hiking Hat (bulky version)
Yarn: Wool-Ease Chunky in charcoal
Needles: US size 9 circulars and US size 10 DPNs (I didn't have size 9 DPNs handy)
Time Frame: about 3-4 nights of knitting for each hat

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finished Object - Jerry's Sweater

I am so proud of myself for finishing my first adult sweater way before the deadline of Christmas. The true test will be if it fits correctly but it's might warm - exactly what my father-in-law asked for.

I liked working the cables with the seed stitch borders. I made a conscious effort to weave in my ends as I went so it would be less work for me in the end. I learned a lot about sweater construction with this project and how I would like to try other methods in the future. Knitting the sleeves on was challenging at first but by the second sleeve I was cruising. One nice benefit was that it served as a comfy blanket for me each knit that I worked on it.

I am worried that the sleeves are too long BUT he asked me to make the sleeves longer than normal for warmth so I hope it's just right. I can't wait for Christmas day now to see him try it on! The cool thing is that I have 2 full skeins left over so I'm going to try to make him a cabled hat as a bonus gift.

Pattern: Jack's Aran Pullover-Adult from Men in Knits
Yarn: Wool-Ease Chunky in charcoal
Needles: US size 9 and 11 circulars
Notions: stitch markers, cable needle
Time Frame: October 15 to December 12 (weeknights only)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Finished Object - My So Called Scarf

I finished this scarf on Sunday night and I was only disappointed in my Bind Off row. It made the scarf flair out at the end unlike the Cast On row that was nice and straight. I'll have to research different methods to see how I can do that better in the future.

I like the this pattern and it was a great mindless project to work on as a break from the more complicated sweater. I might do this one again in something that self-stripes just to see how it turns out.

Pattern: My So Called Scarf - I found it via the Ravelry pattern browser
Yarn: Fingerlakes Soft Wool in lavender - I used 2 hanks
Needles: US 8 bamboo straights
Time frame: November 10 - December 9 (knit on weekends only)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Chugging Along . . .

No pressure to finish. Really! In fact I'm already searching for a matching hat pattern to knit up as a last minute gift to go with the sweater. I should have extra yarn and I know he'll wear a nice warm hat made by his favorite (and only) daughter-in-law. Here's my progress:

I should finish up the second sleeve tonight if all goes well. I'm a little paranoid about making sure they're the same length so I'm not rushing this part. Here's a close up of the cables on the front and down the sleeve:

They are simple cables and I love how they look with the seed stitch panels. Once the second sleeve is finished I'm going to take a break for 2 nights and work on that scarf. I have a feeling that the collar is going to be difficult or at least challenging so I want to start that fresh. I am so glad that I didn't overload myself with Christmas knitting projects. 1-2 WIPs at one time is about all I can handle!

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Did It!


I completed the National Blog Posting Month challenge! This post is my last one for the month of November and I'm so glad it's finally done. I love a good challenge with prizes but posting on the weekends is just not fun.

It was a neat thing to try to see if I could really do it but let's be honest - my motivation was the prizes. The odds are that I won't win anything at all. If that should be the case then I'm going to reward myself with something unusual. Maybe a skein or two of funky yarn that I would not normally buy because of the price (Noro, Lorna's Laces, Debbis Bliss) or maybe a set of rosewood needles from my LYS. I may just take a trip to my LYS without anything in mind and see what fancies me.

I will not be posting this weekend to take a break so on Monday normal knitting, spinning and adorable baby/cat topics will be back in full effect. I have 22 days left to finish that sweater - it's going to be close!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's a Sleeve!

By gosh, if you just keep on knitting eventually it's got to be a sleeve! The decreasing is starting to make the rows go faster finally and I'm making progress. Here's a shot of my first sleeve:

I still think I'll finish in time. I technically have until Saturday, December 22nd to finish because that's when they're flying in. I could get away with not having the collar done because he did have special instructions for that section. I could play it off as wanting to fit and re-measure him but I'm saving that for my last resort.

I never thought I'd say this but I think I need a bigger knitting bag. This sweater barely fits. I have way too many knitting bags now as it is. I'll re-think this next time I start a large project. Right now I have one bag for my knitted piece and then a different bag for my extra skeins and supplies like cable needle, interchangeable circular set, scissors, pens, pattern, stitch markers, measuring tape, tapestry needles, etc. Very cumbersome. Maybe that's why I like knitting afghans in pieces . . .

Anyway, here's the whole thing as of today:

Samson is completely unimpressed. He's curled up as tight as possible on my bed in my office and is snoring. Someday I'll have to get a video of that - it is very cute!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hi Daddy!

I'd like to take a break from regular blogging to share some pictures and a short video with my husband who is traveling in another country right now.

Here's your big boy playing games:

Trying to climb onto Mommy's lap:

Running over to the night stand to play with the drawer:

Stuffing his face with waffles:

And trying not to be bothered by Mommy during his cartoons:

We love you Daddy and can't wait for you to come home!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time to Fess Up

Yes I'm still knitting the sweater sleeve and yes it's still cumbersome but I am making progress so I will be patient. Thank God for the weekends and my breaks with the mindless knitting scarf!


I was cleaning up the kitchen today after lunch and I noticed my large stack of magazines. I just finished another one today yet 2 more came in the mail. As far as I can remember, I only pay for one subscription (National Geographic) and all the rest are free. Here's my growing pile:

Very neat, all organized by title first and then by month. I thought I should just toss them in the trash - one has been there since August. But I can't do it! Six years ago I started traveling for work so like a fool I signed up for the frequent flier program with every airline I could find. Every program gave me bonus miles for signing up, probably around 5,000 each. Now that those miles are about to expire (since I've never flown with these random airlines or redeemed miles) they sent me offers to use the miles for free magazine subscriptions. I must have 7-8 free subscriptions now and no time to read them all.

This week I'll try to read through 1 magazine a day during my lunch break. There's got to be a way to get down to a manageable amount! Right now I have: Money, Self, Shape, National Geographic, Smithsonian and Newsweek. I think I might have signed up for more than that with the last offer they sent me. Ugh. I tried to get my husband to sign up for some to use up the miles but they turned out to be very sexist (ex. Maxim, Stuff) but he does like to flip through his Backpacker when it gets here.

Last confession for the day: I am hoarding the free address labels that get sent to me in the mail asking for donations. I can't be the only one! I just got another set today from the Arbor Foundation that are very pretty. I don't think I've ever donated to any of the groups that send these to me but I keep every one! I just did a quick inventory to see how many I really have:

With the online banking that we have I will never use these up - and they keep on coming! I need to just slap myself silly next time I think about ordering address labels. I placed an order when we first moved into this house and WHAM! tons of free ones started coming in the mail. If I pledge to not move from this house for the next 20 years I'll probably never need to purchase address labels again. They do come in handy at Christmas time and any other time I have a mass amount of mail to send out. I feel guilty not donating but I can only donate so much in a year. My kid needs to eat too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Building That List For 2008

This morning I came up with a great idea for #3 on my resolution list:

1. Learn how to knit using two circular needles
2. Knit a project using color work techniques (more than one color in a row)
3. Finish the Great American Aran Afghan

I've got all of the yarn purchased already and it filled up a storage bin. I'm at a skill level where I could probably do 2-3 a month if I set my mind to it. Not only would it be nice to have a finished afghan to actually keep for myself but imagine an empty bin! I'd be able to actually shop for yarn without feeling guilty!

This would also help me with the "Knit from your Stash" movement. I don't mind stashing yarn when it's a hank or two. But this is for an entire afghan so it takes up much more space. I really want to move on to other projects (shawls! sweaters!) but I can't do it until this one is finished and out of my storage area. It's such a cool project that it deserves to be a priority for 2008!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back Home

We made the trip back home today everything is unpacked and we're getting back to normal. I finished my candles and got all of the supplies taken care of so I could settle in and knit. I almost forgot to blog today. It's 8:49 pm and I almost forgot. I'm so glad that this month is almost over.

I say that and then I realize that I have exactly 1 month to finish knitting my Christmas presents. Oh crap.

Yup - short post so I can go back to knitting on that scarf . . .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday Night Fun

No knitting last night but it was well worth it. We went out to dinner with 2 other couples and then enjoyed a couple games of bowling. Lots of fun and laughing pretty much all night long. I'd share pictures but I think I'll just keep them for blackmailing :)

I bowled a 100 and then a 130. Not too shabby!

I woke up without a voice this morning so I'm going to try taking DayQuil and eating hot soup. I definitely need this to pass because it will be impossible to work on Monday without having a voice. I really can't afford to call in sick either because there's too much work to do whenever I take a full week off. It takes half a week just to catch up!

But if I did call in sick to rest up I could enjoy a full day of knitting . . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

Three Needle Bind Off

I finished the front part of the sweater so the next step was to seam the shoulders together using the Three Needle Bind Off Technique. I was intimidated but after watching the video on Knitting Help it was a piece of cake. I really liked how nice the seam looked when I was done. It's very easy to do. Horrible picture below because of the flash.

Then I picked up the stitches around the arm to start knitting the sleeve. That took forever because I wanted it to be even. It's still off by one stitch but that's close enough for me. This is a close up of the very beginning of the sleeve. Not that exciting but it does give you a better idea of the dark charcoal color of the yarn:

My only problem with the way this sweater is constructed is that now I'm knitting with a gigantic piece. It would have been much nicer to knit the sleeve and then seam it up to the main piece. It's hard to find a knitting bag that will hold everything. Right now I'm using 2 bags for just this one project! The good news is that once I finish with the sleeves I just need to work on the collar and then I'm pretty much done. There's only the side seams to do and that should take no time. Still on track for Christmas!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust . . .

That beautiful lemon meringue pie didn't even make it past this morning:

Oh well, we've still got two more pies that are so rich no one can finish a whole slice. Everyone is in a "functional coma" after the meal and ready to watch some football. The big guy has already go his seat ready:

It's been a great Thanksgiving so far. Let's just hope the freezing rain lets up and we can have some regular snow to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm on vacation so it's matter of fact that I come down with a cold or something sinister like that. So I'm under the weather today but I was still on a mission. Wednesday was the preparation day dedicated to the 3 pies that I wanted to make for Thanksgiving. We're not having turkey as normal - it's ham this year because we like that better - but it's a tradition to have homemade lemon meringue pie. Here's this year's masterpiece:

Oh yeah, it's just beautiful. My other 2 pies are done and cooling in the fridge. We're trying the chocolate chip cheesecake pie again this year and trying a new recipe with the chocolate peanut butter pie. I don't cook that often but I do enjoy baking desserts and making appetizers - I know, I'm weird. I'm hoping to have more family over for next year's Thanksgiving so that I can try making the apple cinnamon pie with the lattice work on top. I did it once a few years back and I've been itching to try it again. I just need more people to be able to justify making 4 pies!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Results from the First Two Pours

I still have more candles to make but as promised here are my two pours from yesterday!

candles1, originally uploaded by Angela & Gerald.

candles2, originally uploaded by Angela & Gerald.

candles3, originally uploaded by Angela & Gerald.

Monday, November 19, 2007


My husband and I took this week off from work but we still put the big guy in daycare so that we could get a few things done around the house before heading up north for the holiday. Today I decided to get out all of the boxes of candles that were left here by his Grandma when we bought the house. I already had a nice size of supplies for making candles but that didn't compare to the mass quantities that she had stored away. I have been like a kid in a candy store all morning. Here's the stash:

Keep in mind that only one of those boxes is mine. I had the luck to find a moving sale a couple years ago at a Michael's and they would rather sell everything at 70-90% off then pay movers. Oh yeah, the knitting supplies were gone before I got there but I bought every taper candle and candle supply they had. Two baskets full for about $20. It was the sale of a lifetime.

Anyway, here's my molds set out waiting for wicks to be screwed in:

I didn't have a set type or scent of candle in mind so I quickly looked through the stash and found a small box of bayberry votive candels in a dark green. They all went into one double boiler. Then I found some that were off white and yellow without a scent so I added a little blue coloring to it along with cinnamon scent to make it festive. No clue how they'll turn out but that's the fun part. Here's the blue-ish one cooling:

And another of the dark green bayberry candles still very hot and completely liquid:

To set everything off I had the iPod going to keep me motivated. First it was Eminem because the beats on his albums are great for waking you up. Then a little Van Halen's Balance album to rock it out. Currently I'm listening to Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell I and singing at the top of my lungs. To say that I have an eclectic taste in music is an understatement!

Stay tuned for candle results tomorrow . . .

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Slanting Scarf

BTW - I'm still looking for people to sign up for the PIF Exchange. If you're interested you'll need to comment on my post here. Come on! Let's make the world a better place with handmade gifts! I'm going to make some fun candles as soon as I get 3 people to sign up.


I'm going to assume that my counter tops are accurate with right angles for their corners:

Last night I finished up my knitting on the Oddball Baby blanket and picked up the Christmas scarf. I fixed the mistake that I had made a week ago and got back to knitting without looking at the pattern. After about an hour I couldn't tell if I had made an even bigger mistake because I noticed that the scarf is coming of my needles at an angle. It shouldn't be a big deal once it's all done and cast off but it did cause some concern last night for about 10 minutes where I could have sworn I did something wrong. Just another night of knitting and contemplating possible mistakes I guess . . .

Saturday, November 17, 2007

First Real Snow

BTW - I'm still looking for people to sign up for the PIF Exchange. If you're interested you'll need to comment on my post here. Come on! Let's make the world a better place with handmade gifts! I'm going to make some fun candles as soon as I get 3 people to sign up.


Yesterday we had our first real snow fall for this winter and it was beautiful. Big, fat, heavy chunks of snow. When I got up this morning there was a blanket of snow covering everything. Our oak tree hasn't quite lost it's leaves yet so it was cool to see the red leaves with snow on them and then our giant evergreen in the background.

This snow will probably last about a day or two but it's perfect for inspiring me to work on getting ready for the holidays. I'll need to run to the store to get the final ingredients needed for my pies.

I've only got 2 rows left to knit on the Oddball Baby Blanket and then I'll have it mailed out first thing Monday morning. I can't wait to shop for some goodies to send to the next knitter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Charity: Oddball Baby Blanket

I was so excited to see that the Oddball Baby Blanket arrived yesterday! This is the primary color themed blanket that will eventually go to a children's hospital in Snowbear's hometown that specialized in infants and children. It's been nicknamed the Crayola Box blanket and I love it. Shandeh used a basket stitch pattern for her red section and I continued with that pattern for my navy blue section. So much fun! I should be finished with the knitting tonight or tomorrow night and then I'll be out shopping for fund goodies to include with the package for the next person.

Here's the goodies that Shandeh sent me:

That journal is lovely and I want to find a nice purpose for it. Here's a shot of my navy blue with Shandeh's red:

Red is the toughest color to photograph. It really is a vibrant red but no matter how I tried I couldn't get it to come through correctly. Some day that wonderful husband of mine is going to build me a light box. Maybe that would help . . .

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Half Way Point

BTW - I'm still looking for people to sign up for the PIF Exchange. If you're interested you'll need to comment on yesterday's post here. Come on! Let's make the world a better place with handmade gifts! (I'm going to put this at the beginning of every post until I get 3 people)


I'm about 2 inches shy of beginning the decreases for the front panel of the sweater. I'm definitely ready for a change and I'm looking forward to actually reading the directions. I'll post a picture as soon as the front is finished.


Well, today is officially my 15th post in November and with only 30 days in this month I'd have to say that I hit the half way point. I signed up for National Blog Posting Month mainly for the prizes. It's sad but at least I'm honest! These prizes are way cooler than anything I've seen before. I know that the odds are against me for winning but it's fun to try.

I normally blog during the week days about my knitting and lack of spinning. This challenge has forced me to write about non-craft related things which is ok. When December 1st comes I will most likely revert back to craft topics with a mix of baby and cat pictures. I definitely won't be posting on the weekends - that just takes too much away from my family time!

I would also love to be finished with my 2 Christmas knitting projects by then so I can relax with my spinning 1-2 nights a week again. With all of our TV shows probably going to reruns soon it will be nice to just let my husband play xbox, listen to music and spin all night long. I definitely have enough roving in my stash to spin all winter long!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Continuing That Resolution List

BTW - I'm still looking for people to sign up for the PIF Exchange. If you're interested you'll need to comment on yesterday's post here. Come on! Let's make the world a better place with handmade gifts!


Yes I am still working on that sweater and loving it. I'm close to finishing the front panel this week and starting the sleeves next week. Oh yeah! This is such an evil project because I'm learning that sweaters just aren't that difficult to make, they just take a little longer than a normal project. I see more sweaters in my future for sure!


On to expanding my resolution list for next year. Today I'm going to add learning color work:

1. Learn how to knit using two circular needles
2. Knit a project using color work techniques (more than one color in a row).

Did you notice that I didn't specify which technique? That would be because I have no idea which one to try first. I'm going to keep it broad just to make it easier on myself. So far I know of Fair Isle and Intarsia but that's about it. I'd like to educate myself on all the different ones out there and see which one I like best. I've never actually tried using more than two colors in a row before so this should be fun.

Just to prove that I'm serious about these I already asked my husband to buy one of the Bea Ellis Knitwear Headband Kits. I narrowed it down to either the Nordic or Telemark pattern but he can pick the colors. I'm so brave!

The biggest reason why I want to learn this is that my favorite sweaters tend to have the Nordic-ish patterns on the yoke. I would love to knit up a couple for myself and then some smaller ones for my son. The cuteness would be out of this world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pay It Forward

I loved this movie and I cried like a baby at the ending. So I tried to avoid this thread on Knitting Help but my curiosity finally won over and I read up and joined. This is the idea:

It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. It’s based of the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on. So here’s how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise! What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

So it's official. The first three people who leave a comment on this specific post and request to join the Pay It Forward exchange will receive a handmade gift from me. Those three people (I hope) will then in turn post the PIF information on their blogs and request three people each and do the same thing. Make sure you leave your email address so I can get your shipping address. If you don't have a blog you can always post a reply on the PIF thread on knitting help and get your 3 people through that site.

Here's the even better news. I know that I have a few occasional international readers so I don't care if you're not in the US, I'll ship it just about anywhere as long as UPS will allow it. I plan to start these handmade gifts next Monday and Tuesday. They aren't going to be knitted items because of Christmas deadlines but they will be very cool - I hope!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Preparations

Knitting last night on the scarf went well until I noticed a mistake that wasn't able to be ignored. I ripped out about an hours worth of work. No worries though. It's a gift so it needs to look nice. Tonight I'll go back to knitting the sweater. The weekend was a perfect break for me so that this project doesn't become monotonous.

Thanksgiving is a week and a half away but preparations are already being made. We're having a spiral cut ham this year - oh yeah we live dangerously - and I'm taking care of the pies as usual. Since there will be 4 and 1/2 of us there we're having 3 pies:

1. Chocolate Chip Cheese Cake pie - new last year
2. Chocolate Peanut Butter pie - new for this year
3. Lemon meringue pie - family specialty every year

All are home made and all will be absolutely delicious. Desserts and appetizers are normally my thing when we have family get togethers so I love being able to bake. If this ends up being the final dessert menu I'll post recipes here as long as I'm not violating some one's copyright issues. Are recipes copyrighted?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Re-Knit and Re-Touch

Well, yesterday was frustrating but well worth the effort. I went back to the hairdresser and she fixed the orangeness of my hair. I wanted strawberry blond originally but now it's more like a darker golden blond than what I had before. At least people won't stare now:

This whole experience has made me rethink my choice in hair color and hair stylists. First, it would be nice to go back to my natural color. I think it's a dark blond but I'm not sure. I haven't been all natural since junior high. Second, my stylist should have known that my regrowth would not have dyed the same way as the rest of my hair. I had even asked her if it would take longer since I assumed she would lighten up my roots and then do the all over color with the red tints. Nope. But I like her and she fixed my hair with no charge. I'm going to have to think about this issue more.

The new pattern I tried for my mother's Christmas scarf (that she requested) is actually the original pattern I wanted. I don't know why I talked myself out of it before but it really is an improvement:

I love the zig-zags and I love how thick it's turning out. I think it will make a lovely scarf and be practical at the same time. Plus she picked out the yarn so I wanted the pattern to show it off.

This scarf will now be my weekend project while the sweater will be worked on during the week. I have to schedule it out otherwise I'd feel horribly overwhelmed and worry that I won't get both done by Christmas. I have about a month and a half left to finish, piece of cake right?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rip It, Rip It Good

The theme for Friday night seemed to be this. I wanted to go strawberry blond for a change and my hair dresser was all for it. Just a baby step towards red so that's not that crazy. I ended up orange:

Maybe you can't tell from this picture but trust me, it's orange. Then I decided to relax with some knitting. I knit about 2 inches and then wasn't crazy about the pattern with that yarn. See what I mean:

Maybe with a chunkier yarn but it's not doing it for me. So let's hope I can rip it and decide on a better pattern. Let's also hope my hairdresser can take the orange out of my hair.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Expanding Horizons

I don't know if other people are like me but when I learned to knit I found the easiest way to cast on and just stuck with it. It wasn't very elastic but worked for me with most projects. I decided today to learn the Long-Tail Cast-On technique with the help of Amy over at Knitting Help. Within a few minutes I've got it down. I did have to play the video a few times but that's just because I'm so anal. I casted on and ripped it out 3 times just to make sure I remembered. I love that each video is short and to the point. Here's my final cast on:

Not very exciting to most people but I'm thrilled to have a new technique to use. This is for the scarf that my mother asked for her Christmas present. I thought an elastic cast on would be nice and it's only 26 stitches so no worries on ripping it out several times.

I decided that I need a little break from the sweater. It's going really well but sometimes you need a small project on straight needles that goes quickly. I changed it up to Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf pattern. I liked the stitch pattern and loved the idea that it's a one row pattern. Super simple and perfect weekend knitting while our family is in town visiting.

I'm so glad that I found Knitting Help years ago. I've used it so much and just recently I saw that there's a 3 needle bind off needed in my sweater pattern. I'll be going back to the site & videos once again to help me through!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Did you vote?

Still knitting on the sweater so no interesting pictures today. Hold on for another rant . . .

This past Tuesday was Election Day and I was glad to see it come and go. I get so tired of seeing the signs on the side of the road and getting bombarding with commercials for different candidates during the evening news. None of that affects who I'm going to vote for and I can't figure out why they spend so much money on it.

Each year I determine if I'm going to be in the area for Election Day. Last year I had to submit an absentee ballot because I was traveling for work. It's super simple. This year I was here so I just printed out a sample ballot form from my County Board of Elections website so I could decide who to vote for. I took about an hour to look up each candidates website, find out where they stood on the issues that matter most to me and then decide which person I liked best. Not exactly rocket science.

I took that ballot form with me to the polling place and used it to vote. Took less than 5 minutes to actually place my vote and that includes eating the chocolate they had out for people. I even stopped to talk to one lady who was knitting a basic garter stitch scarf to pass the time.

I feel pretty strongly about voting because I consider myself to be an informed voter. I don't just vote for people that I've heard of or like their last name. With that in mind I refuse to listen to someone complain about the government if they didn't vote. People actually died to give us the right to vote for our representatives. Women, minorities, people who didn't own land - all couldn't vote without a fight. All of us have rented at one point in time.

How can you criticize any elected official if you didn't cast your vote in that election? It doesn't make sense to me. With the Internet now there's no reason not to be an informed voter.

On a side note: Some candidates didn't have websites and with no debates or articles giving me information on them how could I possibly vote for them. One guy had a simple one page site that outlined where he stood and that worked for me. I don't need fancy sites, just an accessible place for me to learn about the person to make an informed decision.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pattern for Spring Knitting

I get those advertisements in the mail for one free magazine all the time. I usually send them back if it's something I'll at least flip through. If it's knitting related I always send for it, you never know when a pattern might come in handy. This time they sent me a free pattern too. So cool. That's the way to get me on board and subscribe!

It's called Knit 'n Style. Anyone heard of it? Me neither. I automatically filled out the reply card and then saw the pattern. It's one that I would actually knit:

Simple, no buttons, perfect for my office when it's just a touch cool in the mornings. The yarn called for is brand new: Plymouth Yarn Super Taj Mahal, 70% superfine merino, 22% silk and 8% cashmere. It's safe to assume that this is going to feel luxurious. So a little research with the help of Google and the cheapest I can find the yarn is $85 USD for package of 10 balls and I'll need at least 14 because I'm what you call a big girl. If I were to buy all 14 individually it would be at least $133 USD.

I don't know about you but I can't remember the last time I paid that much for a sweater. I know that the merino/silk/cashmere is expensive but wow that's a lot. Maybe I'm just cheap. I'll have to wait for this yarn to be out for a few months and then see what substitutions can be made for similar results.

No I'm not cheap, I'm resourceful/frugal/sensible. Besides, for $133 I could fill a cart up at Target with clothes for our son. That I could do without blinking an eye . . .

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Skin I'm In

If you're looking for knitting just skip today's post. I'm still working on the sweater and the front looks exactly like the back. I'll try to get back to knitting related stuff tomorrow.

Yesterday I had an appointment with a new dermatologist. I've been living in my new home for almost two years now and I've been putting this off - with valid reasons. I am covered head to toe with freckles, moles, beauty spots, angel kisses (my mom's favorite term), whatever you want to call them I've got them. I've been fair skinned all of my life and this is just something you deal with. Lots of sunscreen, hats and in the shade as much as possible. No matter what I do I still get more. Just in case you don't believe me:

Yup, everywhere. Here's a close up on my forearm (just ignore the blond arm hair please):

A few years ago I got a couple small ones on my toes and then one on my pinkie finger. I thought it was just dirt at first. Silly me. I'll spare you a shot of my non-manicured toes.

So I've been seeing a dermatologist regularly since I was in junior high. It's a fact of life. When I first went in they removed 3 moles and everything came back normal. I moved to Chicago, got a new dermatologist and he decided to take 4 moles that caused him concern. These were the same 4 moles that the first doctor said were fine, hadn't changed at all. No worries though, it's better to be safe than sorry. Those moles weren't cancerous either.

Fast forward to yesterday. I wait 45 minutes just to see the doctor for maybe 5 minutes at the most. He looks like a kid in a candy store when he first sees me. Immediately he decides that 1 has to go. I ask him about one that I can't see that well and he says he wants to take that one too. After less than 5 minutes he walks out. All in all he wants 3 moles removed. The same 3 that the past 2 doctors said were fine. The kicker to this one is that he doesn't do the surgeries all in one day. He wants me to come in 3 separate times to have it done. Now that's pushing it buddy. That means I'm going to have some sort of stitches for more than 6 weeks with a toddler at home and a traveling husband. Not exactly convenient.

I put off this appointment for so long because I know that as soon as I see a new doctor they get all excited and just start picking the ones they think look the worse. To me, I know they are just being cautious because I'm a walking caution sign for skin cancer but I think I have enough scars for this lifetime. I've accepted the fact that I'm not the bikini type - having a baby kind of decides that for you. When people ask what happened to me when they see a scar I have resorted to telling them that it's a bullet wound from our time living in the city. At least that's more exciting.

Public Service Announcement: If you have any moles you should use the ABCDE method for checking them often. It's easy to remember and exactly what every dermatologist uses to determine if it should be removed and tested.

A - Asymmetry, Is it shaped symmetrical?
B - Border, Does it have a definite border?
C - Color, Is it just one color?
D - Diameter, Is it smaller than a pencil eraser?
E - Evolving, Is it exactly the same and unchanged?

If you answer NO to any of these questions you should get checked out just to be sure, especially if the mole has changed. Don't let my little rant sway you. I happen to be covered in these but most people just need to visit the dermatologist only a couple times in their lifetime when questionable moles appear. A family member of mine got checked out a couple years ago and even though he didn't think it was a big deal. It was cancerous. If he had waited much longer they might not have got it in time.

I may complain about the removals but it sure beats having cancer!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Book Review: Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair

This must be the longest title for a book I've ever read. The full title is:

Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-Life Misadventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit After He Split

It's very wordy, kind of like the author. I first stumbled across Laurie's blog a couple years ago and I've been a constant reader ever since. She's just hilarious. I love the words that she makes up and it's so much fun to read about her adventures as a transplanted Southerner living in LA. I had tears streaming down my face when she posted the news of her oldest cat, Roy's passing. I can still recite the story of how he got his name by heart. I even made my husband read it.

When the announcement came out that her book was was almost ready to hit the stores I wasn't sure if I wanted to buy it. We have very little in common:

She's divorced with no children, I'm happily married with a son
She's from the South, I'm from the North East
She lives in LA, I lived in Chicago and now in Central NY
She has an obsession with new shoes, I wear the same pair every day until they're worn out
She has a long commute & works in an office, I work out of my home
She runs into massive traffic issues, I might run into a delay due to a tractor in the road

Very different perspectives on life. But I must say that I can relate to her. Her fear of being social and going to social events is spot on. I can't say that I'm afraid but it is much easier to stay home, much more comfortable. Even though when I do go out with friends I have a great time and always say that I should do that more often. It's very comfortable to stay home and not venture out, especially now with a toddler at home. You just never know when a meltdown is right around the corner and it's just easier to deal with that in your own space.

OK - back to the book. It's a very quick read with several patterns in the back for ANY level knitter. I would have liked a few recipes to be included too but maybe her next book will be more cooking related. I read my copy cover to cover while delayed at the airport. I had to keep myself from laughing out loud many times. My giggles got many strange looks. Her decent after the divorce is touching and very real. Her discovery of herself and network of friends is even more inspiring. Maybe "empowerment" is the best way to describe her path. Her identity was rolled up into a neat little package and when the wrapper came off, all of her issues came spilling out. It was an honest story, sad and comical just like real life.

I decided to post a book review today because it's a great book to read by all knitters but even better for those of us that just need to move out of our comfort zones and live a little. It's priced well and thoroughly empowering and entertaining at the same time.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Starting That Resolution List Early

Last night I got thinking about how it's already November. I did fairly well on my Resolutions for this year so I think it's time to get started on my 2008 list (all craft related of course). After listening to a few Knit Picks podcasts I came up with my first one:

1. Learn how to knit using two circular needles

I really like this one. I do like using DPNs but I don't care for the spacing they tend to leave in my work. Using circulars seems to help this but there's always the decreasing stitches that you have to use DPNs for. I'd like to learn this technique and see if there's a big difference in my finished work.

Techniques are a great place to start for resolutions because you can always build many projects off of them. It's better than being project focused in my opinion because there's no pressure or deadline associated with it. I just want to learn it and try it out on a few projects. See? No pressure.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Post on Saturday?

Well, since I joined up with the NaBloPoMo I am required to post every day. I don't think I've ever posted on a Saturday before. This could because my weekends are filled with playing with my son. Here's Will showing us his big mouth:

Originally uploaded by Angela & Gerald

But I am happy to report that the back of my first adult sweater is officially done and I've already cast on the front. So cool.

Originally uploaded by Angela & Gerald

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finished Object - Basic Hat

Pattern: Basic Hat from March 2, 2006 entry from the Knitting Pattern-a-Day 2006 Calendar
Yarn: Wool-Ease sportweight (discontinued) in Wood #232
Needles: US 6 circulars and DPNs
Time frame: about 4-6 mights of knitting

Inspired by the Warm Up America initiative, I contacted our local Rescue Mission to see if they needed any specific hand knit items. They requested hats for adult men since many items that they get are not suitable for a man. I then realized that I could not possibly meet their need myself, I just knit too slow. So I contacted my peeps over at Knitting Help in the Charity section and they all have risen to the challenge! I've already received hats from 2 people so I got motivated to finish the one that I was working on. My husband liked the hat and said it was manly enough. YAY! Here it is modeled by my husband: