Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Resolutions

For 2009 I'm going to keep things as simple and organized as possible. Of course I have a list. It's broken up into categories based on my main focuses in life:

1. Let Will play outside as much as possible
2. Visit our relatives down south
3. Read to Will every day (not just at bedtime)
4. More date nights with the hubby

1. Complete 3 more squares of the Great American Aran Afghan
2. Knit socks for the men in my life (and me too)
3. Knit up all the projects for Shakespeare in Lace
4. Spin at least one day every three months

Saving Money
1. Eat at home more often
2. Continue to spend less than we earn

Environmental Issues
1. Get reasonable estimates for solar panels
2. Stay active with environmental campaigns and public policy

Getting Healthy
1. Walk on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes each work day
2. Eat more vegetables


Such a good compilation of stuff! Playing outside and reading to my son is easy to accomplish - fun too. The Knitting goals aren't that bad either. I didn't spin a single ounce in 2008 and that just sucks. I'm going to try to take a day off from work once every three months and just spin all day. I'll call it my Mental Health day.

A lot of these are connected with others on the list but the biggest challenge will be getting healthy. I'm just plain fat right now and ugh - who ever says they want to be fat when they grow up? I work from home and have a treadmill, rowing machine, plenty of workout DVDs so I have no excuse. I usually end up working through my lunch break and that's not helping my mental sanity at all. If I can do at least 30 minutes on the treadmill each day my outlook for my job and my life is usually better. Plus, I love listening to Brenda Dayne's podcast. Between her and Lime n'Violet I've got enough podcasts to work out until June at least!

Overall I think I came up with very attainable goals for myself. Good stuff that I should already be doing. I'm hoping that making small changes and sticking to them will actually create a routine and part of everyday life.

Pleasant Surprises

Last week I received a Christmas card from a college friend. She signed her name, her husband's name and then "Baby-to-Be (Feb 09)". I think I almost cried right there in my kitchen. She's been trying to have a baby for a long, long time. I can't believe she's finally pregnant!

I immediately decided to knit this Baby-to-Be a present. It had to be perfect though. They're in a warm climate so it can't be to heavy, plus I wasn't sure if they had a special theme planned for the nursery so it would have to blend with everything. Oh and unisex too because I have no idea if Baby-to-Be is a girl or boy. I thought about knitting up Yarn Harlot's Sam Blanket again and I even made a trip to the yarn store. I wasn't crazy about the colors offered so I came home empty handed.

I went back on Ravelry and tried searching every way possible. Then I found the XOXO Blanket as a free Ravelry download. PERFECT!

To personalize the blanket I went with our college colors of Scarlet and Brown (Caron's Simply Soft in Autumn Red and Chocolate). Not exactly baby colors but I know that she will appreciate the choice. The XOXO design symbolizes hugs and kisses for the baby but even more - the letters XO symbolize the Greek letters for Chi Omega. That was the sorority that we were both members of and by joining that's how we met and became friends.

There's instructions to sew on a fabric backing so I'm leaving all my ends out until I make that decision. I would have to find the perfect fabric in order to do that - also because I've never sewn fabric to anything knitted so that will be a learning curve for me.

It's a quick, easy and fast knit and I should easily have this done by the end of January. I've almost got the second strip of 6 squares completed. Only 3 strips (18 squares) to go!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Knitting

I need a vacation from my vacation! Lots of fun though and I would say it was a great holiday!

Over the last week or so I worked on 3 blankets for the Northeast Oddball Charity project that I'm a member of. I added a section to Bubblegum:

I added two sections to Lavender Satchel and my Mom added a border:

With the empty needles I then cast on for a new preemie blanket called Be My Valentine:

It was so nice to work on these while my family was visiting. Everyone wanted to know where the blanket was going next and where they would be donated. It's a great project to have as a break in between larger ones. Speaking of which, my Mystery Stole 4 got about 10 rows on it and I should be done with Clue 5 if I ever get to knit on it again . . .

I've got 2 projects now with deadlines so they've become a priority. I'll grab pictures of those tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adding not Subtracting

I have decided on purchasing Alhambra as my reward for losing the first 10 pounds. It's gorgeous and I already have the perfect yarn for it.

I have decided to slowly add things to my daily routine instead of taking things away. So instead of "eat less sweets" I'm going to "eat more veggies". I had all sorts of complicated workouts planned but they'll never stick. I decided to make my mantra "be more active" and using my treadmill on the weekdays and playing with my son on the weekends. Simple and I hope it works.

I think it will be around 2 years to hit my goal weight if I do this smart. So 50 pounds over 2 years is about 25 pounds a year, or about 2 pounds a month or about 1/2 pound a week. That's not too bad. (Except I already weigh one pound more than yesterday - damn you water weight!)

I'm working on another charity blanket this week and periodically on MS4. I love what I'm working on lately and not having the rush of Christmas overwhelm me. I need to do this every year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Motivation for Weight Loss

Last night as I sat down for dinner I came to the realization that I have no idea how to lose weight. I've never done it before and just steadily gained over the years. After having a baby, that weight doesn't just magically melt away with nursing. It stays for a very long time actually - unless you do something about it.

Taking a long hard look at myself and researching the multitude of calculators out there. I have about 50 pounds to lose before I can get close to my goal weight. Based on their figures I would need to be 65-70 pounds lighter but I truly believe that's very unrealistic based on my frame and body type.

50 pounds is a nice round number but it's huge, not an easy feat. I need to get healthy so I can set a good example for my son and be around for a long time for him. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease . . . and the list goes on and on for problems associated with being overweight. I'm not waiting until January 1st - I'm not waiting another day. It starts now.

So how can I stick with whatever program I choose? I've decided to bribe myself with luxurious yarn and knitting. I've broken up the 50 pounds into 10 pound increment goals to make it more attainable. This way I have something to look forward to in the short range. These would all be for me and not something I would give away:

1. Purchase a Pattern (probably one of Anne Hanson's designs), cost around $5-$10
2. Fancy sock yarn (lots of possibilities here), cost around $20 - $30
3. Cashmere scarf yarn (no clue yet on what), cost around $40 -$50
4. Stole/Shawl yarn (I'm thinking something fancy, Zephyr maybe?), cost $50 +
5. Sweater yarn (no clue but I won't limit myself on cost), cost $100 +

I tried to make the goals increase as I go so that they become better and better. I do have a full physical scheduled next month so I'm hoping to get a realistic goal weight from my doctor. If it's more than the 50 pounds I'd like to have a subscription club be my final prize. Something like the Socks that Rock Club or the Year in Lace would be a great way to celebrate.

It shouldn't be hard to get my husband to buy in on the costs associated with each. He's training for triathlons and definitely understands the need for motivation and goals. The hard part will be changing my routines to actually make this a priority. These goals should help.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

MS4 - Clue 4

I finished knitting Clue 4 on Sunday night and actually remembered to take a picture this time. I really love knitting on big lace projects and it's making me more and more anxious for Shakespeare in Lace to start up in March.

I was sad to see no beads in clues 3 and 4 but I understand that for comfort when wearing the stole they had to be left out. After the theme was revealed it was challenging for me to stay into this project. Serendipity is ok but I like clear themes and "a little of this and a little of that" was hard for me to keep focused. At this point I really don't care though. I'm taking this first stole as a learning project to prepare me for wonderful things in the future.

(I really should take a photography class someday - just horrible lighting on this)

I've started to wonder what I'll do with this when I'm done. With the merino yarn it should be warm but the beads make it a bit dressy for around the house wearing. Plus my 2 1/2 year old would love to just whip it around his head in circles and find ways to chase the cats with it.

For now I'll just be turning out 10 rows or so a night just enjoying all of the yarn overs and the 8 beads to come in Clue 5!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oddball Charity Knitting

I finally have my camera back in working order just in time for the holidays.

I recently finished my section of the Forest Greens Northeast Oddball Charity blanket using Caron's Simply Soft in soft green with a basic woven stitch:

Since all of my Christmas knitting was finished early I stepped up and signed on for 4 of these blankets knowing they would probably make it to me this month. I'm hoping this helps out my other knitters right now!

I love it that this group has gone regional. It's not that I didn't mind shipping to Montana when needed but it's so much cheaper to ship to the Northeast and it's nice knowing that they'll end up somewhere around here. Plus, our group is smaller now so less time waiting for a blanket to get to me. YAY!

We're active in two different websites, one on Knitting Help and one on Ravelry. Feel free to join the group in your location. I've definitely had a great time working on these and meeting other knitters in my general area.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have already sent in my questionnaire for the International Scarf Exchange 7 swap. Love, love, love this swap. Last time I knit for someone in Australia, got a package from the UK and was completely spoiled.

They have extended the deadline to December 8th for signing up and scarves should be mailed by February 26th leaving plenty of time for people to finish up their holiday knitting. They only accept 200 people each time and there are still spots available.

Sign up and spread the word! It's a great experience and I loved every minute of the last one.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Knitting is Done!

Thanks to good planning and an early start my Christmas knitting is officially done before December even got here. I had only two major projects to do this year but since I had extra yarn and extra time I made a bit more than originally planned.

1. Bath set - 1 knit rug, 4 hand towels and 8 wash cloths using Lily Sugar'n Cream Confectionery Colors Twists in denim.

2. Niece fun & cozy set - 1 Hearts & Flowers blanket to snuggle with and 2 awesome scarves for her dress up box using Patons Melody in magenta, hot pink and mango.

Yesterday I tried working on a GAAA square and it felt so forced I couldn't do it. I made a ton of stupid mistakes and then decided to just shelve it again until after January 1st. My mind just wasn't into cabling even though it was a sensible project to work on.

Instead I worked on my Mystery Stole 4 project. LOVE IT! I knitted non-stop last night for at least 3 hours and it never felt like work. This is how knitting should be! I'm sure I'll want a cabling project in the future but right now it's lace on the needles that feels right. My hopes are to work on this with little breaks for the charity blankets here and there until it's finished.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obsess Much?

While updating my queue in Ravelry and working to get organized I found that I have lots and lots of lace knitting planned. I live in a cold climate and I'm not exactly the type of girl that would wear lace often. Maybe a nice shawl or wrap for a wedding but that's about it. So I guess I need to figure out who in my life is going to get some of these beautiful projects in the future!

I do like knitting just to knit. I have several projects stored away for when the need to give a gift arises. That saves me from all of the deadline crazy knitting that I just don't work well with. I also like to use fun yarn to try out different patterns and those I end up finding good charities for.

Here's my problem: I've been knitting for about 8 years now and never made myself a sweater. I've made baby sweaters and one nice adult sweater so it's not intimidating to make one. I'm getting better at many of the techniques involved. I think I just keep waiting for me to magically lose 50 pounds so I can be fitted properly. Since that's not going to happen anytime soon, I'm going to add making a sweater for myself to my To Do list for 2009. It was probably on my list for 2008 . . .

Now I'm off to Ravelry to find "big girl" patterns and hope the the cost of yarn doesn't bankrupt me in the process.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finished Object - Hearts & Flowers Blanket

I got so much done this weekend! Not only does my stash have a new, beautiful home but I was also able to finish my big Christmas project last night! The Hearts and Flowers Blanket for my niece is completely done, all the ends are woven in and the border is attached.

It's so girly, so fuzzy and so warm! I hope it's perfect for Saturday morning cartoons in the air conditioning!

This was my first project using lots of color work and I'm happy with the results. My only complaint for this pattern was the yarn amounts were off by for the non-main colors. That really wasn't fun to reorder yarn from 2 different places. There's no way I would have been able to even finish the second strip with the yarn amounts they recommended. I'm very disappointed with that part.

Now with the blanket done I do have a little yarn left over. I need to see exactly how much before I decide to make a cute scarf to match for her dress up box. I've got plenty of time before it needs to be mailed out so I'm off to Ravelry to start searching for the perfect pattern!

Pattern: Hearts & Flowers Blanket (ravelry link)
Yarn: Patons Melody in mango, hot pink and magenta
Needles: US size 15 straight & circular
Time frame: 9/25/08 to 11/17/08

Friday, November 14, 2008

I love my Stash and Ravelry!

This afternoon my parents and my husband moved an older china cabinet up into my office. I'm going to use this as yarn storage. We probably bought if from Wal-Mart about 7 years ago at a bargain price. I was beginning to run out of room in my bins and it was very difficult to see what I had already purchased. I would find myself purchasing new yarn and forgetting about the gorgeous yarn I already owned. Now I can see everything and get to anything I want easily:

This is the coolest thing ever!!!!!

Now it's like I have my very own yarn shop in my office! I tried to organize everything but I have a feeling I'll be updating it again soon. For the time being I just wanted to have my yarn visible and accessible.

This is the best part. My Dad was here and we had some time to waste before picking up my son from school so he helped me photograph each hank and upload it into my stash on Ravelry as we moved the yarn from bins to the cabinet. Cue the singing angels: Hallelujah!!!

Here's my stash.

Not only is this just cool to have, I can easily search within Ravelry to find patterns based on the yarn specifications. I'm in heaven! I have been wanting to do this for so long but just never had the time. I might even be able to help someone out with my leftover yarn that I put in the trade/sell category.

The yarn that I didn't upload to Ravelry is my scraps for teaching people how to knit and my charity yarn. I figured that can be saved for another day if needed. The cabinet isn't full so I have plenty of room to grow my stash if needed. Before I was struggling with bags of yarn stored all over the place. It feels so nice to be organized once again and it should be easy to maintain this with uploading pictures of new purchases.

My hope is to be able to knit for a while from my stash until the economy improves and this makes it so much easier and attractive to use yarn I already own!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Absent Minded

I finished knitting the third strip for the Hearts & Flowers Blanket last night. I just need to weave in the ends before I can start seaming them together. I'd show a picture but my battery charger for my camera is missing and I'm too lazy to grab my old clunker camera out of storage.

So weave in ends, seam up the three strips and then somehow magically knit on the border. I have no idea how this border is going to work because I don't have a circular needle big enough or long enough for the entire blanket. I may have to learn how to crochet for this one.

The good news is that I should have some yarn left over to make a fun matching scarf for my niece's dress up box. We'll see if time and yarn allows . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday Book Night

Yes I know it's Thursday but we tried something new last night and I wasn't sure if it was going to work. After our trip to London I remembered how much I love reading (no knitting needles on the flight back). I used to read for an hour and a half every day on my commute to work when we lived in Chicago. My favorite thing to do on road trips was to shop at old used book stores. My how times have changed!

Living in Central New York and having a 2 year old is simply wonderful. No commute since I work from home and having a very active son means my reading time is limited to stuff he likes to listen too. It's been challenging trying to find time to snuggle on the couch with a good book and still have time to knit as much as I'd like on my never-ending project list. My husband and I decided to try a new schedule to work within our new life together so now Wednesday is Book Night!

On the plane back from London I finished Eragon (Inhertitance) written by Christopher Paolini and I couldn't wait to get started on his next book in the series, Eldest (Inheritance). I don't have another trip scheduled in the near future so this was the driving factor for making a book night. I'd like to get our son on board too but last night was rough so we ended up watching Backyardigans and cuddling.

I had a hard time first reading Eragon because it reminded me so much of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Elves, Dwarfs and evil wizards were common between the two. The interesting new thread was the idea of Dragon Riders and how the legend becomes a reality. Now I've come to like how Paolini writes and I'm engaged with the characters in that I'm concerned enough to keep reading and see how things turn out for everyone. He's an amazing writer and it's crazy to think how good he is at such a young age. I can only imagine what kind of work he'll be doing in 30 years!

My husband and I both read last night and we found the Audio Visions XM channel (I think it was 856) was great for background music. No vocals and the music was relaxing but wouldn't put me to sleep. Overall I felt really good at the end of the night so I think we're going to keep Wednesdays as book night for the future.

Tonight it's back to the grind with my Christmas knitting!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Breathing Room

I am happy to say that I should have all of my Christmas knitting down before the end of this month. YAY for me! This is only because I took a realistic look at how fast I knit and shelved a few projects for birthdays. Plus it didn't hurt to start work on these well before September.

I just recently got back from a quick trip to London visiting friends. Not so much tourist stuff this time but it was very nice. I did a full yarn shop crawl and found three stores that I really liked thanks to Planet Purls' shopping guide for London. In order of shopping (not preference):

1. All the Fun of the Fair - Very tiny shop with limited yarn selection. It was more of a small hobby shop than a yarn shop but my friend did find some nice chunky yarn to make a couple scarves.

Leaving this shop and heading to the next one we were accosted by a random zombie mob with great costumes and make up. I had fun taking their pictures and screaming with horror!

2. Liberty of London - This was a full department store that had a section for sewing and knitting. Loved it except I was all hot and sweaty from the walk over there (silly fat American). I did buy some cashmere/merino yarn for my mother as a thank-you present for watching our son. I really liked the little table and chairs they had set up for just sitting and knitting while you watched the square traffic.

3. John Lewis - Another department store but wow, this must have been the headquarters for distributing Rowan yarn in London. I only wised I had enough room in my bag to buy a sweaters worth of yarn. Next time! BTW - The yarn department is right next to the toy department so it was perfect for entertaining my husband while I shopped. I had to go get him and tell him I was ready to go.

4. I Knit London - This was the main shop I wanted to visit. They have a liquor license so it would be perfect for us! I bought some beautiful Fyberspates silk lace weight there last year and I wanted to see what else they had. It turns out they're negotiating with a different lace vendor and didn't have any Fyberspate yarn. Buggar! I did end up buying some beautiful Malibrigo sock weight yarn - because sometime in the next decade I'd like to knit myself some socks:

Thankfully we had an uneventful flight back home AND when we got home our son's Halloween costume actually fit him! YAY! We took a few minutes and made a couple crowns for him so he could be a King and just hoped they would last the day. This is him all dressed up saying "I'm strong!"

Trick or Treating went so well we had to go back to our house and empty his pumpkin bucket so he could keep going. He had a great time and made us proud with his "THANK YOU!" after getting candy from each house. Not bad for a 2 year old . . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I'd like to apologize for the last post but I was pretty mad so I'll just let it stand that I was venting. I waited a couple days and placed my orders for the remaining balls of yarn needed with 2 separate companies. It turns out that one of the colors is discontinued so I lucked out. By the time I got back from London both packages were here and I was able to finish strip number 2 last night.

I ended up doing a little retail therapy but not on purpose. In my regular blog updates I got the new entry in my Google Reader from Lime & Violet about Shakespeare in Lace. I think I actually squealed and danced when I read it. It took about 15 minutes to order it.

I read the description a couple times and then told my husband about it. Then I proceeded to talk myself out of buying it because it was a total want and not something I needed. Then my husband told me how great I am and proceeded to talk me into buying it because I never splurge on things for myself. Yup - about 15 minutes from the initial reading to my final purchase. I can't wait!

I would have to say that Anne Hanson is one of my favorite designers. I love so much of what she does and when I saw that she was one of the designers for this subscription it was just a sign that I should do this. I was an English Literature major in college so I definitely appreciate the inspiration from Shakespeare's plays. The luxury fibers are a great bonus too. There's already a group on Ravelry for it so I can anxiously wait for the first shipment (March) with other fellow knitters.

I've never purchased a subscription like this before so I think I'm going to think a bit on how to prepare for each one so I don't get too far behind. Finishing up everything on my needles right now it a big part of it so I'm on the right track!

Friday, October 17, 2008


I have no words for the anger that I felt last night. Let me explain . . .

I was in a great mood and feeling pretty good about myself last night. I had plenty of time to finish the last square in the second strip of the Hearts and Flowers Blanket and cast on for the third and final strip. I was cruising along and then I realized I was almost out of that particular color of yarn. I looked through my bag and no magenta. I looked upstairs in my stash thinking I had just forgot to grab it - no magenta. I went back through the pattern thinking maybe I misread it and used magenta when I should have used a different color - nope, I knit it exactly to the pattern.

So let me summarize. I bought the same brand yarn specified in the pattern, even the same colors. No substitutions, no changes whatsoever. Now I have 4 skeins of mango and no magenta. I didn't even have enough magenta to finish the square in the last strip and I have an entire strip to go.

Disgust. That's the only word that I can type to describe how I feel.

I now have to go to my local stores and hope that they have this brand and color. I originally ordered everything online so I wouldn't have to do this hunting for specific balls.

How is it that a yarn company can't get the yarn requirements right for a pattern using their own yarn? I'm just so . . . disgusted.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No New Knitting!!

I have officially become overwhelmed with the projects in progress and using up my needles. I was searching for a size to start another project when I realized they were already in use. Light Bulb! I have too many UFOs!!!

So, from now until January 1st I've decided to not cast on any new projects and try to tidy up around here. My knitting bags are all over the place and I'm starting to forget where I was in each pattern (mainly just the complicated ones like GAAA). I have no intention of finishing everything - I just want to see some substantial progress!

Here's my mental list of what definitely needs to be finished by mid December in time for Christmas:

1. Hearts & Flowers Blanket - Biggest issue will be staying motivated with the seaming & border
2. Wash cloths to finish bath set - I knit on this during work conference calls to stay focused on the conversations (really I do, if I didn't knit I would be on the Internet or emailing clients) so it shouldn't be a problem to get these finished up in time.

Other UFOs to make progress on:

3. Mystery Stole 4 - I'd like to finish this while the Yahoo group is still active in case I have grafting questions since I've never attempted that before.
4. Elizabeth I, Dainty Bess - No rush with this one but I do plan to take this with me to London next week so I should get a good portion done.
5. GAAA Tabler square - I put this one in "time out" after I had to rip out the entire square since I realized too late it was way too big. I'd like to finish this one and have a fresh start with the GAAA next year.
6. Shifting Sands scarf - I have the rosewood needles, yarn and pattern ready to go, I just need to take 5 minutes and learn how to cable without a cable needle.

For most people this is probably not a lot of UFOs but for me it's a bit too much. I'd like to start a couple other projects soon plus I've been wanting to sign up for the TKGA Masters classes or maybe just their correspondence classes but right now I have too much going on. I keep seeing so many patterns out there that I want to try but I don't want to invest in buying a ton of needles all the same size just because I can't seem to finish anything lately. I'm too cheap!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catching Up - Yet Again

My life is crazy, work is crazy, everything is just crazy right now. Work is starting to slow down and it might not be a good thing. I have been working almost every night on the Hearts & Flowers blanket. It's like working on a big floofy scarf since it's knit up in three strips then seamed together. Here's my first strip completed including ends already woven in:

This was my very first project with Intarsia techniques so a huge pat on my back for that. Thankfully the videos on Knitting Help were just what I needed to get started. The second strip is just flying along now that I know what I'm doing. It also helps that the hearts are just two colors and pretty simple. I should have that strip done sometime this week:

I think my next challenge will be determining which method for seaming the strips together. Then the whole "picking up a million stitches for the border" is probably going to take some time. It's only October though so there's plenty of time to have it finished and mailed out in time for Christmas.

It's so girly and perfect for my niece. I hope she'll be able to curl up with it watching cartoons and feel very special that it was made just for her!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Finished Object - Cable Blanket

It's a very busy time of year for me so I don't have much time to comment on this FO. It's going to a very special baby due on November 27th who's got 4 older brothers waiting to meet her.

Overall the pattern was easy to memorize and I enjoyed working on it while I watched TV. I used 5 1/2 balls of Plymouth Encore DK so with 2 1/2 left over I might have enough for a cute little follow up project. I would recommend this pattern as a good TV or road trip project.

Pattern: Cable Blanket from Debbie Bliss's Simply Baby
Yarn: Plymouth Encore DK in mango
Needles: US sizes 3 & 6, 32 inch circular
Time frame: 8/4/08 to 9/24/08 (would have been sooner if I hadn't started the Mystery Stole 4 project a couple weeks ago)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mystery Stole 4 - 2nd Clue

I finished up knitting the second clue for MS4 last night. I have to say that even though there are tons of guesses on the theme for this one I'm not really interested. I like it so far and I'd be fine if there wasn't a theme. I love this yarn. I love working with beads now (total convert). I love that people keep asking me who it's for and I say "maybe it's for me - who knows?"

Here's my status so far. The picture is horrible but you can kind of get an idea of the length and design from here:

Since I finished with this clue a full day early I'll be able to work on my cabled blanket all tonight. I don't have much to go so it's really serving as a min-break from the lace knitting in between clues. I would like to finish it soon though because I'm itching to start the Hearts & Flowers Blanket for my niece. That bulky yarn in neon colors is going to be fun to work with!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mystery Stole 4 - 1st Clue

This project doesn't fit with my normal knitting. I wanted to knit the Mystery Stole 4 as soon as I heard about it. Adding beads to the mix only intrigued me further since I've never knit a stole or knit with beads. Why not have it be a mystery and join a KAL with thousands of members around the world?

Of course, red never photographs well by trust me. This is a deep, earth tone red with black hematite beads. Love it!

Love it!

I finished up Clue #1 last night and just downloaded #2 this morning. I may even keep this for myself!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Spending Spree

I would have to say that my anniversary weekend was a great time. I started out the weekend a little early by shopping for the tiny crochet hook for the Mystery Stole 4 project that starts this Friday. Michael's was having a 90% off clearance sale so I purchased this brown, black & tan bag for $1.99:

Actually I didn't spend any money on it. I got the crochet hook, this bag and a similar bag for my mother-in-law using my gift card and she paid the 13 cents I was short! It's a great bag with a nice lining and a little pocket inside. Love it! I'm now officially a collector of knitting bags - I think I shop for those just as much as yarn now.

Speaking of yarn, my husband is not great to shop with for yarn. It's not what you think - he doesn't discourage my purchases, he over-encourages them. Really! He pressures me to buy so sometimes I have a hard time just slowly down and touching the yarn and really thinking about things. I think I'm just cheap. He's the best though. My husband is the perfect enabler. This is what I bought:

My first stop was Knit Knackers almost by accident. I didn't know where James Street was so on the way to Yarn Forward we passed James Street so we just lucked out. It was a smaller shop for yarn but she had an amazing selection of roving and spinning supplies. I just stood there in awe. I have no room for more roving so I could only just look, I haven't even spun at all this year. It's just shameful. I did find a lace weight hank of Malabrigo in an electric blue. It's super soft so I just had to buy it and try out this famous yarn for myself. That was my only purchase at Knit Knackers.

Yarn Forward is just an amazing shop. I found some great Cadenza in purple that I really liked so the owner ordered another skein for me from her other shop in Kanata. I went back the next day to pick it up and ended up purchasing 3 balls of Tosca in red & brown and 1 hank of Misti Alpaca in a earth tone brown. Love, love, love this store. I actually grabbed my Ravelry queue for when I went back and wrote down a shopping list so I could have existing projects to shop for.

The couple that own Yarn Forward were very friendly and completely knowledgeable about every type of yarn. I felt completely at ease there and it would have been great to be local and shop there often.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Silly Washcloth Pictures

I wanted to put a real picture up in Ravelry for my washcloths. I was trying to take a close up of the stitch definition and no matter how hard I tried it kept being way to blurry. Here's the shot I wanted:

At that moment of frustration my husband walked into my office. I innocently asked him how I can take a nice close up picture with my new fandangled camera without it being so blurry and it all just got out of hand from there . . .

He's my go to guy for anything technical so he immediately got out the tripod and started figuring out the best angles. While he was doing that I took this picture that was ok for me:

He then took my super cool camera, screwed it to the tripod and took this picture after playing with the settings:

After several tries he thought our old camera that was bigger might work better on the tripod so he unscrewed my camera and screwed on the old clunker (it's still a really great camera - just too big for my liking). He fiddled for awhile and came up with this one that we determined to be the best quality:

Pretty cool. Way too much effort for a Ravelry picture of a washcloth but definitely a learning experience. How do those famous bloggers do this every day with their yarn and projects?I've heard of the light boxes that people set up but it just seems like a lot of work for my personal knitting pictures.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Traveling Scarf

Yarn Harlot may have her traveling socks but I find that my lace scarf works best for me when flying. The lace weight yarn takes up very little room in my purse and the pattern is just complicated enough to keep my attention for long periods of time. It's the perfect type of project when you start expecting delays every time you fly somewhere.

This time I went to Puerto Rico for work and I took my Dainty Bess scarf with me to work on. We had on time departures for the entire trip so while we were very lucky I didn't get much knitting time in the terminals. Most of my knitting was done in the air with about 10 hours total of flying time. I did get a few looks from other passengers but no rude comments this time ("I can't believe they let you on the plane with those!")

Here's my blurry progress:

I more then doubled the length of the scarf on this trip and that's even with frogging 3 rows after I noticed a mistake. I think 3-4 more trips and this baby will be done!

Working on this scarf made me more anxious for the first clue of the Mystery Stole 4. I can't wait for that to get started - first clue is Sept 5th!

Friday, August 15, 2008

12.5% Done!

I have been working on the Cable Blanket lately and just last night I started on the second ball out of eight.

I'm definitely much faster now that I've got a good handle on the pattern. It's pretty much 2 main rows with an occasionally cabled row thrown in. The only difference in the main rows is how your start the row but the basic stitches are the same. I definitely like it so far. At this rate I should have it done sometime in September, plenty of time before the baby should arrive in late November!

I liked that this Plymouth Encore yarn has some wool content because it should be a cold winter. This blanket will work nicely for covering up in a car seat or watching a hockey game. I also like the peach because I'm sure this little girl is going to get showered in pink presents since she has 4 older brothers in the house.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finished Object - Basket Rib Hand Towel

A little house keeping today . . .

I finished the last towel this past weekend but haven't had any time to do anything else this week. There's 3 total to match the rug I knit up. Next up is the assortment of wash cloths.

This cotton yarn and quick patterns make great road trip knitting. Truly mindless knitting so I don't lose my place when the big guy starts hollering for more juice or another pretzel.

Pattern: Basket Rib Hand Towel
Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream Twists in denim
Needles: US sizes 7
Time frame: 6/6/08 to 8/10/08 (for all three)

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Last night I realized that I forgot to switch to the larger needed for my Cable Blanket project. I had only knit three rows of the pattern but tinking back 480 stitches wasn't appealing to me. So I had a choice to make. Either tink back 480 stitches or frog the whole thing and start over again. For a split second I just wanted to frog because it's so quick. Then I realized I would lose 3 nights of knitting by frogging but only 1 night by tinking.

So I did the smart thing by tinking back and I actually had time to switch needles and knit 1 pattern row. It's so upsetting when you have one of these decisions to make but I'm happy that I fixed the problem and I didn't just frog.


I mentioned to my husband that I was thinking about buying the yarn and bead for the Mystery Stole 4 project that starts up in September. I've never joined one before, never knit a stole and never knit with beads before so it would be a good challenge. Jokingly he suggested before I buy any more yarn to see if I could knit up all of the yarn I already own . . .

Uh, yeah, like that's ever going to happen in my lifetime.

Even though he was joking it stayed with me. I'm drawn to all of these new and interesting projects but my current stash doesn't fit. I pretty much have yarn for scarves, GAAA afghan squares and a few charity projects. I can only knit so many scarves. I'd like to get into more complicated lace projects along with socks and sweaters for myself but the yarn for those is expensive. In the future when I find myself at a fiber festival I need to start looking for those types of projects - or I just need a scarf knitting extravaganza and put a serious dent in my stash.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Very Exciting Blanket Casted On

Well, the blanket itself is just a normal blanket. I'm using the Cable Blanket pattern from Debbie Bliss's Simply Baby: 20 Adorable Handknits for Baby's First Two Years book. My yarn is Plymouth Encore DK in Mango - it looks like a soft peach. With the 25% wool content it's not as soft as normal baby yarn but it's for an Upstate NY baby so it's got to be warm!

The exciting part is that my friends have 4 boys now and they have always wanted a little girl. They love having a big family and the boys are great. I love each one and how they have their own unique identities but they still come together to help each other as a family. We just found out a couple weeks ago that they're pregnant again only with a girl this time!

I had purchased this peach yarn in the hopes of making a warm blanket for a baby girl. This yarn has been waiting in my stash for almost a year now. There was no temptation to make anything else with this yarn. I knew there would be a baby girl coming our way eventually - especially after attending 3 weddings this summer.

I was able to knit 5 rows of garter last night and finally got in the rhythm of knitting with this yarn. It's a very different feel from the Lion Brand Cotton Ease that I was using on the last blanket.

I expect this project to take about 2 months to complete because of the smaller needles (US 6) and cabling involved. Plus I have a few trips coming up where it's not feasible to take this project with me. The baby-girl-to-be is due November 27th so I should have plenty of time - that is unless she decides to make an early arrival . . .

Monday, August 4, 2008

Finished Object - Jack's Blanket

Let me just say that I really like this blanket pattern.

It was interesting enough to keep me engaged yet mindless enough to work on and watch TV. The yarn is very soft and I hope durable. I am looking forward to getting this out in the mail to my very pregnant friend who's not due until September 10th. I'm soooo early with this one!

The pattern calls for the finished measurements to be 90 cm x 90 cm. I think I went overboard because mine was about 120 cm by 80cm without any stretching.

Just a tad bit too big for baby blanket standards but folded in half it's a good size. I think this would work well as a crib blanket on chilly nights.

Pattern: Sam's Blanket
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Lake
Needles: US sizes 7, 32 inch circular
Time frame: 6/22/08 to 8/4/08

Friday, August 1, 2008

Yarn Purchase!

I actually squealed with glee when I saw that my package from Herrschner's arrived today!

Last week I saw the Hearts & Flowers Blanket & Pillows pattern in my Knitting 2008 Desk Calendar for July 23-25 and I instantly thought of my niece in Florida. My sister-in-law is a big fan of bright colors but I wasn't sure if this would work for her daughter. I scoured the Internet but I couldn't find the pattern online to share. I ended up contributing it to Ravelry. But I did find a picture in some one's Photobucket site here. I sent that to my sister-in-law and asked if my wonderful niece would like it.

After a huge YES that I almost heard here in NYS I decided to start hunting for yarn. I checked my local Michael's, Jo-Ann's and AC Moore but they didn't have the colors needed. I then searched online at regular shops and then on eBay. Nada. Then I remembered Herrschner's, they were my discount source for cotton yarn awhile back so I thought I'd give them a try. BINGO! They had every color I needed, the amounts were in stock AND they were cheaper then anywhere else I had looked. I still took a day to think about it and then I placed my order.

Here's my box getting inspected by Gracie:

The colors are so bright - it's like nothing I've ever worked with before:

It's Paton's Melody yarn in Magenta, Mango and Hot Pink:

They are so bright and just perfect for my 4 year old niece. The yarn is super bulky I think and very soft - those 12 skeins should knit up very quickly. Plus, this will be a color work pattern for me so it's time to work on improving that skill!

I've packed up the yarn again because I have one more baby blanket that will need to be completed first. Jack's blanket should be finished up by Sunday, then it's on to baby-girl-to-be's blanket since she's due November 27th. I'm going to try to have this bright blanket done by Christmas but if not I'll use it as a birthday present. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself with deadlines!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Getting Healthy & Entertained

I am so close to finishing Jack's Blanket (Ravelry link). Working that last skein has been killing me though. First I find a thinned out crumpled section in the yarn that has to get cut out then 2 rows later it's a knot. I had many profanities come to mind but since my in-laws were visiting I just sat there amazed at such a crap skein of yarn. I think I have just a couple nights of knitting left, maybe 12-14 rows. I'm glad I like working on this pattern. Not sure how I will rate the yarn overall. It's great to work with but knots are hard to approve.


Like the majority of the US population I'm overweight. My husband is doing well with his weight loss by training for triathlons. He's tracking his progress with his own blog called Clydesdale Triathlete. I'm very proud of his progress and it's good to know that he's working to improve his health.

I was an athlete in school so I never actually exercised, I practiced. I would run a 2 mile warm up before soccer practice and then have a full 2 1/2 hour practice. I would never have called myself thin - more like athletic, toned definitely not fat. I never expected losing weight gained while pregnant would be so hard. I guess I just thought it would magically melt of in the first 6 months. With my husband traveling so much it's pretty much impossible to commit to any kind of team sport. I also have a hard time committing to a gym membership when we have this:

This is technically the dining room of our house but since we have a large kitchen and eat there we turned this into our exercise space. We bought a commercial grade treadmill a few years ago because of our fat-ass size and usage. Just recently we bought the rowing machine for my husband who used to row in college. I think my son uses it now more as a toy than it gets used as an actual work out machine. I've never rowed before so it's intimidating to me - I never know if I'm doing it right.

I tried the Couch to 5K program several times. Each time I get a couple weeks in and I end up too sore to keep with it. My husband on the other hand loved it and used this program to get up to running 3 miles regularly. I don't know why but it just didn't work with me. So I'm trying something new.

I'm just walking. I need to get back in the rhythm of doing something every day but at the same time I need to not be sore because I have a kid to chase after (so needy). Walking is pretty boring and it's hard to get motivated. I'm combating this with blocking out an hour every weekday in my work calendar. I'm also listening to Lime n Violet's podcasts. I think I have over 60 downloaded from the very beginning and they're very entertaining so far. I'm hoping to get to the point where my workout time is dictated by the time of each podcast which is about 45-60 minutes so far. Right now I'm sticking with a minimum of 30 minutes until I'm not dieing after each workout. Baby steps. Any other podcasts that I should try?

I'm combining Getting Healthy with Knitting and hoping it will help me lose some of this weight. I've lost a few pounds since January by eating better but it's just a drop in the bucket. If I got with all of the assessments based on height and age I should lose about 45 pounds to get into the healthy range. I know at least Gracie will keep me company, the kitty condo is set against the window in between the treadmill and rowing machine . . .

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blanket Calculations

I am on my fifth and final skein of yarn for Jack's Blanket and now the anxiety comes . . .

I need to end on row 12 or row 24 AND have plenty of yarn left over for 10 border rows. I have never been good at estimating yarn. I tend to run out right in the middle of the row. I'm taking the risk to go to row 24 then work the border. My measurements estimate about 8 pattern repeats plus both borders to be 90 cm. I may have more yarn left over than desired but it's better than not having enough!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

UPromise - College Savings

Here's a good one that covers two of my passions: Family & Saving Money. Let me first say that UPromise isn't paying me to say any of this. I'm just continually amazed that people don't know about this and aren't getting the same cash back (free college money) for their kids.

I first heard about UPromise when Senator Bill Bradley was trying to be the Democratic Nominee for President back in 2000. I don't know if he started the idea but that's where I heard of it. Back then I listened to every campaign speech and I really analyzed every candidate based on what they were saying and what their track record was. It's not that I don't want to do that now - I just don't have time with a 2 year old . . .

Anyway, I signed up for it as soon as I realized that it was legit. My husband and I didn't have any kids at that time so I just had him listed as the beneficiary (we later changed it to Will).

The basic idea is that you register your grocery cards and credit cards with the site. You then get cash back from retailers when you make purchases at the grocery store, participating restaurants and online purchases as long as you when from UPromise's site then to the retailer. We didn't make too much at first because we didn't have much priority on saving for college for a kid that we hadn't conceived yet :) Every 3 months the balance in your UPromise account is transferred to your kids 529 college savings account as long as you have at least $25 at the time. That never happened for us back then because we weren't earning that much and we didn't have a 529 to transfer anything to.

Once I learned I was pregnant that whole situation changed. I evaluated every purchase we made and saw that we could be getting much more free money if we just put a little thought into our purchasing process. Here's my most commonly used examples:

1. I printed out a list of participating restaurants in our area using the zip code search and just kept in it my purse for those spontaneous lunch outings with my husband. It also helped me to remember to use our debit card for those purchases since you can't get the 4-8% cash back using cash. Total savings earned to date: $36.55

2. I try to do my majority of grocery shopping at a participating store like Wegmans and only use non-participating stores like Wal-Mart for last minute items. The kicker here is that I don't change my shopping habits at all. I still use coupons and I still buy my favorite store brands. I just get savings from my normal shopping. Total savings earned to date: $17.01

3. All online purchases my family makes are researched first for a decent range of prices and then checked with UPromise to see if they have a participating retailer. I would say 75-80% of the time we can purchase through UPromise and get the cash back but there are places like Amazon that sometimes have better prices and they don't offer cash back. All Christmas presents, wedding and baby showers and birthdays start here for long distance friends and family. All regular purchases like iTunes start here as well. It's amazing to see how many retailers are listed. Total savings earned to date: $162.66

4. By far our biggest savings has been switching to the Citibank UPromise credit card. I'm not a big advocate for credit cards but you really have to have one for online purchasing and for your larger transactions like trips and household stuff. So I figure if you have to have one you should pay it in full every month and get the best rewards possible. I believe they give you a higher percentage on gas and grocery purchases but the bottom line is 1% back on all purchases. We use this card for all of our personal (vs work) purchases and we've been very happy with it. The best is getting cash back from a retailer for an online purchase AND getting another 1% back from Citibank on that same transaction. Total savings earned to date: $416.99

5. Miscellaneous items: At one time our home phone service qualified so I got $$7.60 total from SBC (we're now with Verizon). I started taking surveys through E-Rewards and got an initial $2.00 but I should be getting an additional $50 before the end of the year. I switched our energy provider just recently and for last months bill I got $3.69 back. I also have gotten gas at Mobile a few times (probably out of necessity) and got a total of $4.02 from them. You can also have friends and family sign up and contribute directly to your account. We haven't gotten much from this yet but it's worth it if you have people in your life that want to help save for your kids future.

Overall I have gotten $652.52 from UPromise transferred directly into Will's 529 college account. Since we're only able to put $100 a month into that 529 account right now that equates to almost 7 months extra savings. He just turned 2 in May so I'm hoping to take advantage of more in the future. As long as I'm not spending any more money than I intended I feel like I'm on the right track. Most of the time these vendors offer coupons or free shipping if you click through UPromise first.

They've just recently announced a couple things that I hope to take advantage of in the future:

1. Travel - My husband and I travel often for work and we have a work website dedicated to this but our personal travel could be booked through here since we normally use Orbitz anyway.

2. Auto - We will probably need to purchase a new vehicle in the next 5 years so I'm hoping we'll have a participating dealer in our area by then. It sounds like a good deal if you know exactly what you want to buy.

I hope that this helps a few people save more for college. I can't even imagine what it's going to cost for my son to go 16 years from now but I'm going to do what I can to save every penny possible to help. My husband laughed at me when we first signed up and got less than $50 in the first year. Now he's a believer and actively searches the site on his own before making any purchase. It feels good to save money on something we were going to buy anyway AND get money for Will's college account at the same time.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm on skein 4 out of 5 for Jack's Blanket and my next project is another baby blanket. I'm still working on finding the right pattern but I already have the peach/mango colored yarn ready to go. So when both are done I'll probably have worked on these two every day for 2-3 months. Not exactly exciting to write about. Time to change things up.

I've decided to write more about what I'm passionate about in life. It's a short list but I could probably write a post every day until Christmas and still have more to say.

1. Family
2. Knitting
3. Making/Saving Money
4. Environmental Issues
5. Getting Healthy

Everything that I really care about falls into one of these categories. Most actually relate to other items. The problem is that Getting Healthy isn't really high up on my list right now and it should be. I should lose weight so that I can play outside longer with my son, have a longer life thus knit more :)

I will still be knitting every day but be warned: I'm breaking out of my mainly "knitting only" theme. I only knit so fast on this blanket . . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Raising a 2 Year Old

I have to say, being a Mom is pretty cool. I get all of the cuddles now that he's in the "mommy stage" and I get to kiss all of his boo-boos. Now that Will is 2 (as of May 5th) he's communicating more than I could ever imagine. This morning we flipped through one of his picture books and he named every item, everything from a car to a parrot to stars and coins. I am so proud of him.

Since we've finally got some heat his favorite activity is to play "OUTSIDE!" and in the "POOL". I think we're going to have to move getting an above ground pool higher up on our To Do list for the house. He loves to splash and even kicks his feet as if he's swimming.

When he gets tired of the pool it's all about the "SAND!" although in Will's voice it sounds more like "SEEND!". I can't figure out this kid . . . here he standing on his head in the sand:

Oh yeah, bath time is a requirement whenever he plays in the sand and we end up finding sand everywhere! Our biggest challenge is having him keep the sand in the sandbox. I think every kid wants to just throw it especially when they just finished splashing and "throwing" the water from the pool.

He's getting bigger but his favorite play area in the house is still my cupboards. He takes all of the pots and pans out then hides inside with the door shut. We get to listen to him giggle until he slams open the door with a big smile as if to say "Hear I Am!"

Love it. Love being a Mom to Big Will. Not so sure I can handle adding any more kids to the mix. This big guy takes all I've got right now, especially with his Daddy traveling so much for work. I was an only child so maybe that's his fate as well. It's hard to think about sharing my attention with a newborn but maybe I'll change my tune as he gets older. A little sister would be nice and just think of all the cute hand knits I could make . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

About Half Way There

I've been working on Jack's Blanket now as my main project pretty much every day. The only exception is if we're at camp then I don't bring it because of the smokey smell that gets on everything. I'm almost done with the third skein out of five and I'm not getting bored with this at all. It definitely helped that we went to the Jersey shore this weekend and I worked on it in the car most of the way for the 10 hour plus round trip. Here's the current length:

I'm very pleased with this pattern and I'm glad I thought about trying the shortcut for SSKs. In Arctic Lace, Donna mentions that the Inuit people found SSKs to be too many movements for just one stitch (think K2tog as one movement). By using k2tog through the back loop it's similar enough to the SSK that it works for them. I'm no expert on stitch definition but I like how the lace sections look AND it saves me time on these very long rows:

I'm also happy with purchasing my first circular needle for this blanket. I have a set of interchangeable needles but I didn't want to worry about tightening up the joins every row. I'm thinking about using my AC Moore coupons to stock up on a set of permanent circulars for larger projects like these. Wait - who am I kidding? I'll just buy a needle here and there when I need it for a project!