Sunday, March 25, 2007

Boggles Me Mind

It still makes me thrilled to take a ball of yarn like this one and to make something like this....
These are my St. Patty's Day socks - delivered a little late for the holiday, but still within the month of March!
I'm really proud of this work. To tell you the truth, these socks aren't the best stitch work I've ever done, but I made a huge leap forward in my knitting education by making them. I followed Wendy's toe up pattern, which I've coveted since I began reading her blog a million years ago. When I knit top down socks I tend to hate the toes, they always end up pointy and with this little dollop of point yarn at the front as a result of using the Kitchner stitch to bind off. With Wendy's pattern you get that nice rounded toe and you ended up doing less work on your heels. Over all it's an awesome look. I tried this technique following pattern notes and tips from Wendy's blog and even in her book - but I failed every time. I just couldn't get my mind around the wraps that make up the short rows. In an act of true generosity Wendy published a very detailed instructional manual on how to accomplish these socks. A few rainy Saturday's ago I sat down on the couch with the tv turned off and worked out the problems. All of a sudden it was there and clear to me.
Since I was pushing myself to create with this new short row technique, I figured what the hell, let's conquer something else that I've been afraid of - picot edging. In trying to understand the picot edging for the top of the sock, I was forced to understand a Cable Cast On. Guess what dear knitters, Ms. Zimmerman was right - we do this fun. What I also came to learn was that when we push ourselves to learn something new, it's a little like learning to fly. I'm ridiculously proud of this work. The socks are a little out of shape and you can see some mistakes, but I know with a little blocking that these socks will reach their full potential and I have moved the ball forward in my knitting education. I feel fantastic.
Socks off the feet ...
And this is the wonderful yarn that Nancy sent me from the Romancing the Yarn contest. I've decided that they'll be summery ankle / tennis style socks.
I think I'll go cast on!
Another brief note to anyone who was kind enough to keep my dear Aunt Carol in their thoughts and prayers - she's doing better and resting at home after a set back that had her back in UPMC. But I understand that she's feeling better now. To give you an idea of how much my auntie is loved, she received over 100 cards in her first week in the hospital. Over 100 and they're still pouring in. She's that great and we love her so much.
That's all the news that fit to knit!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patty's!

Happy St. Patty's Day, Everyone!

Me? I'm knitting me some good Irish-green socks. Being of the Scottish / Irish dissent, I find these quite appropriate. Pictures to come when the second sock is off the needles. Also making the FO pile? Well, something for someone's baby. 'Course I know they read this blog - so no pictures until the Mommy sees it first.

Now, go do something green!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Nifty Swifty

Look what came in the mail! It's my Nifty Swift. I can't say enough about The Knitting Zone. I ordered this at about noon or 1 pm on Monday and it was in my hands Wednesday morning. I also didn't pay shipping on the swift because it was over $50. A great feature! They sent me an email right away confirming the order and by the next morning I had the shipping / tracking information. It was a wonderful experience.

What really surprised me upon arrival was the size of the box:

(Ball of yarn included for scale)

Yeah - it's a small box, it turns out that my swift is a portable swift. When I got home, I pulled it out of the box and it assembled in two easy steps and I was winding yarn in no time. It took longer to clamp my winder to the table than to set up the swift. It takes up almost no room and can easily break down to fit inside this box, but I've got to tell you it is so pretty that I don't think I'll ever want to put it away. It's now in my knitting corner looking pretty.

Another shot for you.

Another small victory is that I finally wrapped my mind around Wendy's toe up sock pattern and I've got to tell you - that girl is on to something. The toes on these are great and the heel is super too. I really like this. Since I learned how to knit socks top down, learning to knit toe up was kind of like learning the ABC's backwards. But once you sit down with the tv off and really think about the instructions Wendy gives it does click and end up making pretty good sense. I think I may be a convert. Thanks Wendy!

On a sad note I've got to send a prayer out to my Aunt Carol - she very unexpectedly had a seizure today and is having brain surgery tomorrow. I love my Aunt Carol and I've very recently come to understand how much she loves me. My heart is fearful tonight - I just want her to be well. If you've got an extra prayer available, I beg you to give it to her. Trust me, she deserves all the best wishes everyone's got.

That's all the news that's fit to knit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Birthday Presents!

Yesterday, this old fart ordered herself up a birthday present:

It's a Nifty Swift from the Knitting Zone. I'm soooo excited. I've really held off ordering a swift and have been abusing Chris instead by forcing him to help me wind skeins. It's usually a slippery slope we walk when one of us (usually Chris) mans the ball winder and the other has to do a goofy dance running yarn around two dining room chairs in order to achieve knitting bliss. I'll miss these days, but am content to allow them to be happy memories and to be replaced by this new toy!

I had formed some opinions on what I need to have if and when entering into a long term relationship with a Swift. I mean, $62.50 isn't chump change and I'm hoping that this is sort of the Rolls Royce of swifts. At the very least, it better be pretty darn Nifty Swifty, if you know what I mean. I had decided against the umbrella / clamp to the table swift because truth be known, I don't love the look of them and I kind of hate to clamp things to my furniture. I've made an exception with the ball winder, but I think I'm at my clamping max. So I wanted it to be table top, but to still fold up for New York City apartment living space issues. This seems to fit the bill and I do think it looks kind of Nifty too - so hey. And the good people at Knitting Zone gave me free shipping and I got an email this morning that it has already shipped out Priority mail. This means I could have it tomorrow or Thursday. It could be a Swifty weekend for me! Happy Birthday!

Shout out to Darren - whose comment yesterday had me laughing for awhile this morning. There was a time in high school when I would ride around in Darren's car and he would do things like pick a dark and scary back road to pretend that the head lights went out on the car. I would scream and sometimes flail with fear - which one time resulted in me throwing the moving car into neutral at an inappropriate time. Who knew cars could make noises like that? Oh, good times!

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's My Birthday and I don't want to cry!

It's my birthday! I'm sort of surprised that I'm advertising it because last night I was telling Chris that I wasn't going to acknowledge the day. But I'm feeling good about it right now, so here we are. It's a beautiful day and people who I love have lavished me with good wishes, pretty cards and even a present or two (Chris gave me the book "Teach yourself Visually Knitting Design". I'm really excited about this book and was totally surprised that he remembered that I had dug it in the bookstore a few months ago.)

My mom gave me a beautiful sweater, my friends gave me a new purse that knocked my socks off - I love it (pictures to come when I've got my camera) and Chris and I are off to dinner with friends tonight to celebrate a little more.

So, in these here 31 years, I've collected the best friends on earth - expanded my amazing family by adding Chris and his crew and basically made myself a very happy little life. I couldn't be happier than I am right now. My life is good and stable and solid and very, very happy. I've been lucky enough to be loved by the best people on earth - you don't get better than that.

A shout out to my mom. We had quite an adventure together 31 years ago today. Thank you so much for giving me this life, mom. I really love it and to date, it's the best present ever! : )