Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Progress Report

Well, first off, my original Valentine Swap partner officially flaked out on me (and after all that obsessive stalking of the mailman - ugh!). I should not have feared though, as the many participants in the swap quickly made donations towards a proper package, and my "secret" angel who shopped for me ended up being my knitting pal, Stacy. She was great! She actually spread out my gifties over 3 separate dates.

The first package arrived in the mail, and it held a skein of the softest sock yarn by Spunky Eclectic and a bag of Dove dark chocolates (yes, they were mine, all mine, and I didn't share). The next package was given to me at our first knitting night since her 2nd baby boy, Zane, was born in January. It was great to get to sit and knit for the first time in a few months, and even better was my 2nd package; Claudia Handpainted Fingering yarn in the most awesome spring colors, and a sock pattern that I can't wait to get started. My third and final package was delivered to me at home this past Saturday. It contained one of those soft and squishy lambs that they sell at Bath and Body Works (been wanting one of those since Christmas), and a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in Good Luck Jade that I have been eyeballing for some time.
What could have been a very bad experience was made into something wonderful. All those people who gave donations to make sure I wasn't left out was amazing. Not only that, but a sweet, wonderful person on Ravelry sent me a package just because she felt bad that I and another girl had been waiting so long. She sent her hand-made stitch markers, a skein of sock yarn (boy, do these people know what to get me or what?), and a little box of black licorice. I have to admit, Courtney and Madison thought the licorice was chocolate (and I didn't tell them otherwise), so their expressions were pretty funny - needless to say, they were not a fan, but I had my fun =)

We went to Virginia for Easter to visit Jess and Jay (givers of THE YARN). While there, we saw this......

What is truly funny is the name of the vehicle. We've been calling my husband's car the "Hoopty" for a few years now. Little did we know, there was a real Hoopty (actually the VA Tech Hokie Hoopty) rolling around in Virginia. A trip there is not complete without a Hoopty sighting.

On the knitting front, I completed Courtney's Happy Feet socks, and here they are.
I have also completed 11 hats so far, probably that many more to go.
I have also started my niece Marie's birthday present. It is a neck pillow shaped like a dog. I'm calling him Mr. Woofy until she gives him a proper name.The yarn is a bit of a nightmare to crochet with, but I will not be beaten! I am also working on a pair of Embossed Leaves socks for ME!

I had declared 2008 the year of ME, but it is quickly becoming apparent that it in fact is not and will not be the year of me. I have 2 special birthdays coming up this year. Both my Mom and my Aunt Sharon will be turning 60 this year. I purchased the Vintage Sock kit for my Aunt's gift, and have a special pattern picked out for my Mom as well. In addition to those two, I am knitting Mr. Woofy, plus a pair of socks for Jessie's birthday, and Stacey just sent me a pattern for her make-up gift from last year. Fortunately, we hit a yarn store while in VA, and Jess picked out her yarn. Here's my total VA haul....The yarn in the center is for Jessie's socks, and the other two are for me! That's it for now. Gearing up for a very knitty day tomorrow - meeting with my Salem County friends during the day, then meeting up with Stacey to knit tomorrow night - yay! Pat and I will be assisting alpaca shearing on Saturday. The owners have sold the farm due to health reasons so this will be our last year doing this. They are really neat animals, though alot of work. Shearing alpacas is a more time intensive production than sheep, so it will be a long day - we probably won't be able to move on Sunday, wish us luck (will try to take pics with my crappy camera, which appears to be getting even crappier). Knit on people!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh So Very Tired!

Yesterday I attended my first sheep shearing. It was a great learning experience in so many ways. I learned how to skirt a fleece, so now I am equipped should I ever want to buy one. Of course, the two farms I was volunteering at were so generous and allowed me to "take whatever I wanted". I tried to be good, really I did, but that comment is like leaving a kid alone in a candy store. Not to mention, Wendy, the owner of the 2nd farm, started working on me regarding taking all 15 of her fleeces before we were finished at the first farm! She really was great and I had alot of fun with all the women who were helping. I did call her a drug dealer though - maybe I shouldn't have considering she's a pastor's wife =) She seemed to think it was funny, so I think I'm okay. All in all, it was a great day working side by side with some really terrific women. I did forget my camera (of course), so I stopped off at a WaWa for a disposable. As soon as I get it developed onto disc, I'll post them. Here's what came home with me......Seven bags o' fleece in total. I'm waiting for it to warm up a bit before I start cleaning them. I've only cleaned alpaca fleece, so this will be a new experience. Speaking of alpaca, Patrick and I will be going to the alpaca farm for our 3rd year helping with shearing the beginning of April. Will try to remember the camera that day, though alpaca shearing is alot more stressful and slower than sheep shearing. Wish us luck!

On the knitting front, I was almost finished Courtney's socks when I realized one was larger than the other - I was ready to decrease for the toe when I realized. Ugh! So a froggin' I went. Hoping to get them close to done tonight, though I am quite sore and tired from yesterday's activities. On the baby hats, I have completed 11 so far. Getting ready to start on my Vintage Socks - I see alot of alcohol in my future while working on those! Oh, and look what Carol made for me from THE YARN....
She hand-wove this for me and I love it! It is so very warm when I get a chance to use it - Courtney has pretty much claimed it during tv time every night, so I have to wait for her bedtime for "my time" with it.

Jean took the us to Carol's farm the other weekend so the girls could hold some baby lambs. Courtney was afraid to hold them, she didn't want to drop them, so she was content to look and pet. I'll leave you with some "baby" pics!
Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Snow Days

Friday ended up being our first snow day this year. Needless to say, the kids were thrilled!It was nice to just hang out and not do the usual daily before school drill. Finally took a pic of my Loopy Swap loot from my pal LaLa. Here it is...She knit me Evangeline Mitts and Koolhaus Hat from DIC Classy. Very soft and pretty. The yarn you see is her own hand-dyed in a colorway I've been eyeballing on her blog - lucky me!

Next, my finished Urban GypZ toe up socks. I really liked the color of the yarn, but it felt a little on the heavy side. Though these were originally made for me, I believe they will end up with my sister Jessie, as they are a touch loose on me, and she is Big Foot (ha! ha! Jessie).On the knitting front for me, I've turned both heels on Courtney's socks and should finish by the end of the week. The yarn is Plymouth Happy Feet in an orange/purple colorway. Weather was too crappy to take outside for pics.Also, working on a sweater I started months ago, as well as some baby hats to be donated.

I have to say, I am really enjoying the yarn I am using for these baby hats. It is Bernat Softee Baby. It is really soft, not your typical acrylic. The colors are great too. Will take pics of all the hats before they are sent off.

Future knitting? Well....... I got my insane Vintage Socks kit the other day. Can you say 32 page pattern? I will definitely be talking to myself in public if I actually make it through these. That being said, I am excited about the final product and believe the intended recipient is going to really appreciate them. I was very happy with the colors chosen as well.

I was contacted by my Valentine Swap partner, and my package is supposed to be mailed out soon. Will post pics once it is received. Off to knit some baby hats!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oh Babies!

Today was my kind of day! I finally made it down to Salem County to meet with my knitting friends. Jean invited me to come down early to see some babies - she didn't need to tell me twice. Look what I have....Please ingnore the human having the very obvious bad hair day, and focus on the cute little lamby!

And you know what, they come in more than 1 color!This one really wanted to come home with me! It is impossible not to fall in love with these sweet little things. We made the rounds to three different farms - 1st Carol's , then Wendy's and finally Liz's. Carol is also known as "Pusher #2" (right behind Jean), and Wendy and Liz I got to meet for the first time today. They are so kind to let me come and visit. Here are some pics of babies and mamas.

Oh, and almost as good as holding them, Carol let me do this....
She also let me borrow her boots since I was, um, unprepared for the sheep pen (found out sneakers are the worst thing to wear around poopies).

After all my lamby fun, we were off to the coffee house to sit and knit the afternoon away. There were alot of laughs, knitting and spinning. What a great day, if only I could bottle it!

On the knitting front, I finally finished Becky's socks. Here's a crappy picture.
They will be on their way to AZ, where it is probably already too hot to wear the damn things (it's Hell I tell ya).
I received my terrific package from my Loopy Swap partner yesterday. As soon as the weather is not crappy, I will take it outside and take crappy pictures of it to post (there is a crappy theme with my pictures - my apologies). My Valentines Swap partner decided not to bother, but the others involved in the swap were quick to mobilize - the generosity of all those people is so touching. It really takes the sting out of a disappointing experience.
I also finished my Tomato Salad socks as well, so will post a crappy pic of those as well, once weather permits. Happy knitting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lots of Things

Okay, first I'll start with an actual finished item. A little background.... I have a friend Amy, and baking is to her what knitting is to me. I am fortunate enough to be her guinea pig for new recipes (it's a terrible job, but someone has to do it). Amy will supply me with her creations cleverly disguised in order to throw the family off (i.e. labeling chocolate brownies as "beans and broccoli"). Oh, I did I mention chocolate is her specialty - no wonder we are friends =)

Anyway, this was her latest disguise....
And this is what was inside!
And this, is how I ate it (yes, that is whipped cream!)In case you're wondering, it is one of those wonderful little chocolate cakes with the gooey warm center. I ate it all by myself with no witnesses present, so it did not count. Amy is the best!

Amy's Mom has been going through some chemo, so I made her this hat to keep her noggin warm.I used the Raleigh Hills pattern from Ravelry, with Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran (soft and yummy). The way I see it, I need to make Amy about 10 more hats for all the "testing" she has sent my way.

I also sent off my two swaps, and since both partners have already opened their packages, I can safely show them now. First, The Loopy Ewe swap....

A closer pic of the socks (Vine Lace from Socks Socks Socks with Claudia Handpaint in Citrus)
Next, the Valentine's Day Swap.....

Both partners enjoyed their packages, and I am now awaiting mine. I am waiting on those, as well as the Vintage Sock kit I ordered over 3 weeks ago. Check out http://www.tsocktsarina.com/sockkits/vintage.html to see what I'm talking about.... then we can talk about why I should be committed. Actually, those socks are going to make the most awesome gift for someone who has a big birthday coming up this year.

Hoping I get at least one package today, as I have just found out that the fuel pump on my truck is dead and am stuck home. I was supposed to meet with my knitting friends down in Salem County today, but alas, the truck had other plans. Oh well, I'll just knit here =) Happy knitting everyone (all two of you!).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Feeling Blue....

Okay, so I'm not blue as in down in the dumps, but blue as in LOOK AT ALL OF THIS BLUE YARN!!!!!!
These are pics from the last two days washings. They are two ply and are blue denim and faded blue denim. Aren't they purty? I am almost done washing the skeins I have, and then it's on to plying the smelly cones. I have no idea how long that is going to take. Jean has decided they need to be 2 ply, so who knows. I did purchase a swift and winder online today, so I won't have to travel to Jean's to do that portion now. Can't wait to see what we end up with. Jean has suggested I select sweater patterns for the girls from these books:
I think that is what I will do. That will put a small dent in the yarn. Speaking of yarn, I went to the Superbowl Sale at my new favorite yarn store, Woolbearers, today. I went planning on buying woolwash and needles only, but you know how that goes.
Some sock yarn managed to jump into my basket as well. The women who run that shop are so nice, and the atmosphere in there is terrific. I bought some Dale of Norway Baby Ull for some fair isle socks I'm planning on making from the Socks! Socks! Socks! book, handpainted merino/tencel sock yarn (stash was lacking in this color, it was necessary), and a skein of Fortissima Socka in a color that called out to me. It sure is fun being a customer in a store, and not an employee. Of course, I am in need of finding some employment, and these purchases really shouldn't have happened, but I had a good time.

Next post will be my Valentine's Swap package. Gonna photo it tomorrow before I send it off to Michigan, woo hoo! Also finalizing my Loopy Swap package, but will not post it until I know it's been received (my partner now knows me on Ravelry, which can link to this, which would ruin the surprise - so... NO PIC FOR YOU!)

Friday, February 1, 2008

The YARN (Part 3)

I made it down to Jean's today and boy do we have ALOT of work to do. I brought my smelly cones as well as the 26 skeins I washed yesterday. First, here is the yarn that Jean washed and plyed.Looks innocent enough, doesn't it? We did decide today that this yarn is going to work best as 3 plys, and for the yarn that is on the cone, it makes most sense to ply before washing. I was a little afraid at first, mainly because this yarn really does have a strong mildew odor. Turns out, it wasn't bad at all. Here is Jean test-plying on her wheel.I ended up working on some plying, while Jean took my clean skeins and wound them on her ball winder.
This is quite an operation. Unfortunately, Carol had the flu, so I only had one "pusher" to hang out with today. This is the new drug she is trying to deal.....

I'm not buyin'! Actually, she had me sit at the loom (very intimidating), and showed me how it works. I saw her final results and they are beautiful! Fortunately, I live in a very small house, so a loom is out of the question, not to mention the fact that I am total afraid of it. Just thinking about threading the thing gives me a panic attack!

I had a really nice day hanging out with Jean. We went out to lunch and I got to learn even more about her life - this woman has done everything! I'm looking forward to getting together with her again soon (probably the end of next week), but I have to get some work done first!

I will leave you with pictures of Jean's basement. Most of the drawers you see have yarn, with the exception of one full of ribbons she has won in various knitting/spinning competitions. All of the shelves are full of yarn. She is amazing! (Check out her closet, that is ALL fiber for spinning - I want to live in her closet).

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!