Thursday, February 25, 2010

I am doomed

It had to happen. I'm on row seven of the lace edging of my Olympic Knitting blanket and I'm fairly certain I won't have enough of the main contrast yarn. I'm knitting as fast as I can, but that just gets me closer to running out sooner. Fine. I ended up with one ball too many of the main yarn, so I can trade it out. But that means I need to make another trip to the yarn shop and I'm hours away from the killer cold DD has. I can feel it coming on and it's just a matter of time before I'm the one coughing up a lung. To top it off, I have to go back to the petrie dishschool for parent teacher conferences this afternoon. The conference isn't mandatory, but when you know your kid's teachers are going to tell you how great your kid is doing, trust me, you'd drag yourself out of your death bed.

I'm also pretty sure I'm going to make an idiot of myself by crying in front of DD's teachers. The school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, which is mere miles from where I live, has really gotten me. I'm fighting to maintain sanity, and for somebody who lives on the hairy edge anyway, this ain't good. School was always my refuge. It was the place I thrived and achieved and felt a sense of control. I was lucky enough to have a couple of teachers who supported and nurtured me, and to see a teacher being a hero and saving lives... Dr. David Benke, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. In this world where the word "hero" gets used WAY too much, you are truly a hero, and worth my tears.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't buy any green bananas

... because that gigantic meteor really is headed for Earth. The end is near and I have proof. DD is home sick, so I went to her school to pick up her 15 pound biology book. She needs it so she can do her homework and not get behind. International Baccalaureate students have a pathological fear of falling behind in their studies. That could possibly stem from their instructors telling them that if they do fall behind, they will never, ever be able to catch up, so they should just step in front of a train and get it over with, or words to that effect. I only have DD's description to go by, but I'm sure she'd never exaggerate.

Her high school requires all visitors to put their name on a name tag when they enter the building. They don't ask for any I.D. so you could put any name you want on the darn thing. Next time, I'm going to be Catherine Zeta Jones. Except for being older, shorter, fatter, and grayer, she and I could be twins. I slap on the name tag, then walk six feet to the office directly behind the desk where you get the name tag. Yeah, I know--I roll my eyes every time. A very nice woman wearing the cutest crocheted sweater volunteers to open DD's locker for me. On the way to the locker, she stops to close another kid's locker--a piece of a coat was hanging out of the partially open door. This thing was a mess, your typical high school kid locker. Jimmy Hoffa could be in there, and you'd never know it. I steel myself for whatever happens to be in DD's locker. Here's what we found:

If this is not proof of the Apocalypse, I don't know what is. Most of the time, you can't see the floor in DD's room, for all the CLEAN clothes lying around, yet her locker is immaculate. My head is still spinning, and it's not just from the bug I'm about to come down with.

Cute Crochet Sweater Woman tells me, oh by the way, the school is crawling with kids coughing up lungs. Nice! If I didn't pick up some sort of disgusting virus at my doctor's office this morning, I could make up for it by licking the door handles on my way out. When I give DD her 25 pound book, she asks if it's O.K. to do her homework at the table, in the same room where I knit. I'm trying desperately to finish my Knitting Olympics blanket before the closing ceremony Saturday night, but it's not looking good. By then, I figure I'll have one foot in the grave and the other on that green banana peel.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's all about the bacon

My usual method of taking care of my health is a nightly glass of medicinal wine; a week of tennis in a warm climate during the dead of winter; and cortisone injections in whichever body part is complaining the loudest. So far, it's worked. I'm not dead yet, I just look really bad first thing in the morning. Tomorrow I go for my sort-of-annual physical, so what did I have for breakfast this morning, mere hours before they check my blood levels for bacon fat? Check it out:

This, my friends, is the pancake flight from Toast, one of my most favorite breakfast restaurants EVER. It's four stacks of the pancakes of your choice, complete with whipped cream. Today I had carrot cake, apple, bananas foster, and peanut butter and banana pancakes. My doctor will be impressed with all those fruits and vegetables. I am virtuously smug with myself.

What you don't see in this iPhone photo is almost better than pancakes--the bacon. It was four or five strips of perfectly cooked, crispy, unctuous BACON. I devoured ate it so quickly, I didn't even count them. Vegetarians, please don't hate on me. This is in my blood, literally, and there's no saving me. Life without bacon would be empty. Healthier, but empty.

When the stars line up, magical things happen. A short time after consuming this heavenly breakfast, I come across this website. My life will never be the same. Yep, you're not seeing things. This is bacon-flavored lip balm. I swear I can hear the angels singing!

Deep South Dish has a contest going. I could win this bacon lip balm, so until March 1st, I'll display a linky to their site. I have no shame when it come to bacon. I thought you ought to know that about me.

Tell me this wouldn't make you weep tears of pride

Lindsey Vonn's got nothing on my DD. This is what she brought home today, from one of the toughest teachers she has. No gold medal could make me prouder. Kiddo, you are the greatest!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's knot funny, Sirdar!

New Rule: I will not ♥ any yarn I haven't used for at least two projects. I'm smacking myself upside my own head and feeling like a fiber fangirl because I was all gaga over Sirdar's Snuggly Baby Bamboo. I still love the feel of this stuff, still love the colors. But the knots. Mother of God, those knots!

The first skein was like a Godiva chocolate truffle, smooth and creamy and oh so yummy. The second? Six knots, and those are just the ones I found without taking the yarn off its cardboard tube. Six! Crap on a cracker, this is just not right. The first thing I do, of course, is Google "Sirdar Snuggly baby bamboo yarn knot problems," and wouldn't you know, I get enough pages to make me more than a little concerned. But this is after the fact, after I've started my Olympic Knitting project and after I've fallen in love with the delicious hand of this yarn. But honestly, Sirdar. You're making yarn, not dating my daughter. Do I really need to do a background check first? I've been to a fiber mill. I know that a human being ties those knots, not a machine. To my mind, this is a defective skein and should be sold as a mill end, not as a full price yarn.

It's tough times like these that show you who your real friends are. Cheryl, owner of the Recycled Lamb, took back the offending skein, no questions asked. Fortunately, she had a replacement and it was even the same dye lot. This is my lucky day, and I'm buying a lottery ticket.

It's hard to knit with your fingers crossed, so please send some good knitting mojo my way. I'm not going to count on my luck holding out, because I'm not even half way through the main section of the blanket. I'm still planning on knitting a little summer sweater with this yarn. Fool me once Sirdar...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I ♥ Sirdar Snuggly

The Arch-Shaped Socks I'm knitting for the Ravelympics are thisclose to being finished. In the meantime, I've neglected to mention the other Big Thing occupying the needles right now, Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket. A big chunk of garter stitch, even if it is bias, can get a bit boring after a time. But the yarn itself--oh my! I decided not to go the tweed route, but instead work with bright colors, something soft and cuddly. When I found Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo, it was love at first sight. And not only are the colors gorgeous, but the hand just makes me want to swoon. Snuggly is 80/20 bamboo and wool, which makes it the best of both worlds--you get the luscious feel and drape of bamboo, and the springiness of wool, but unlike 100% bamboo, this yarn is machine washable. I consider that a must for baby blankets. Bamboo also has antibacterial properties. Who knew?

Can't wait to get to the fan and feather lace border of this simple but gorgeous pattern. Since this is a Knitting Olympics project, it will have to be finished by the closing ceremonies. I can do the bias garter stitch in my sleep, but the pick-up-stitches border might be a bit of a challenge, so I'm not getting cocky about this blanket. Here's a peek, just to get your curiosity going:

This yarn is pure bliss to work with, so soft and light and not as splitty as some bamboo yarns can be. I'm hoping it will keep its shape pretty well, too, and not get baggy, since I have a feeling more of this yarn is going to find its way into my stash. My summer wardrobe needs some sort of glammed-up tee, and I need some airplane knitting for spring break. Sounds like a plan to me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seeing through the haze

I have a thing for sock yarns, even if I don't always use them for socks. Forget shot glasses and t-shirts--my idea of a great souvenir is a skein of something luscious and yummy and preferably local to wherever I happen to be visiting. Don't get me wrong. A really great 1824 weight makes for a versatile option when you love the yarn but aren't sure what you'd do with it. But I love me some sock yarn, and my stash doesn't lie. I love it so much, I'm a member of the Rockin' Sock Club, for a second year in a row. Only a fiberholic can understand the excitement of trying to guess the colorway, or what the pattern will be like, months before the yarn even ships. And only a yarn addict understands stalking the mail carrier until, JOY, that precious package finally arrives, and you rip it open, hands shaking.

I was lucky enough to attend Knot Hysteria last November, in Port Ludlow, Washington. Tina Newton, dyer extraordinaire of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, taught a day-long dye class. It was a blast, not only dyeing yarn for the very first time, but meeting Tina as well. I learned so much, but I came away with one extremely important realization--I'd rather buy hand-dyed yarn than do it myself. Don't get me wrong. I really like the skeins I brought home. I would even describe a couple of them as downright gorgeous, but I guess that's kind of like when parents think their baby is the most beautiful baby ever, even if nobody else thinks so. The whole thing gave me a greater appreciation for the professional dyers of the yarn world.

When I needed a sock yarn for the Ravelympics, I chose Blackbird, from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Raven line, for the Arch-Shaped Socks. It's a very dark colorway that has an interesting side effect--hazing. A bit of the color ends up on your hands (and needles if you use the plastic kind.) Hazing is not the same as bleeding--if the yarn bleeds, that indicates the yarn is fading. In my mind, the haze is a good thing. It means the dyer wasn't chinzy with their dyes. They used enough to really saturate the yarn with color, and the extra that ends up on your hands and under your nails proves it. Give your hand-knit a nice soak and you're done. Good dyes might haze, but they shouldn't fade. Makes sense, eh?

For me that's a small price to pay for deep, rich colors. It also means you probably won't end up with those funny little white spots where the yarn blanks didn't pick up any dye. It most certainly means you aren't using anything I dyed, and that's a good thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Virtual chocolate just doesn't quite cut it, so here's a linky to something almost as sweet.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Best laid plans... meh

I'm something of a lemming, when it comes to knitting. I won't tell you how many Jared Flood Noro scarves I've made, although in my defense, if it's good enough for the Yarn Harlot, it's good enough for me. Still, if I had a third foot, I'd kick myself in the butt right now. Not only have I committed to Ravelympics (socks), but also to the Harlot's knitting Olympics (Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket). These two people are dangerous, I tell you, and a bad influence! I have sixteen days to knit a complicated pair of socks and a fancy baby blanket, and oh yeah, clean the litter box and walk the dog, drive DD hither and yon, cook and clean, and attend to personal hygiene requirements.

My initial Ravelympics plan was an original sock design. I tend to wing it when it comes to designing my own stuff, since most of the time I know it will only be for personal consumption and not repeated. I had big plans for this sock, however. This pair would make me famous. Ha! Here's where parameters smacked me back to reality. I didn't have the right yarn for the job, which is a little like trying to change a tire with a screwdriver. I have lots of yarn, but nothing that will get the job done. Everything in my stash is just too dark. This sock needs lightness to show off the stitch pattern, or it just won't work.

Being the resourceful former Girl Scout that I am, I came up with a radical plan--pick a design that will work with the yarn I already have. I know this sounds like crazy talk, but I live on the edge people, so follow me off this cliff if you dare. Take a long, hard look at your stash, and if the color palate looks like a black cat hiding in a dark room, maybe you need to branch out just a bit. In the meantime, work with what you've got. My Super Secret Ravelympics Socks are on hold until I get over my stash enhancement guilt and get into some lighter colorways. You haven't heard the last of this project, however.

One of the Ravelympics rules is to stretch yourself, so I've settled on the Arch-Shaped Sock pattern. I downloaded the pattern ages ago, but was a bit intimidated by its weird architecture, which makes it a good choice. I'm using some Blue Moon yarn (a requirement for Ravelympics Team Blue Moon) that will work with this pattern. I'm hoping to slam it out in less than four days, so I can move on to the Tweed Baby Blanket. Here's my progress so far:

This might not exactly be swifter, higher or stronger, but if I get these and the blanket finished in time, it will be an Olympian feat. More to come.

Friday, February 12, 2010

2010--the year of the Felted

Someone once told me, "I don't make new year's resolutions; I make goals." I like that--takes the pressure off. My goal this year is to not have to slam out knitted gifts at the last minute because I got lazy during the prime knitting months of the year, January through December. Knitting is not an aerobic activity. It does not burn off the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie calories just because I'm forced to do it 24/7, for five weeks.

Here's the plan: make it fun, make it fast, make it stress-free. If that doesn't scream "felt it" I don't know what does. There are so many great felting patterns out there: think slippers, nested boxes and bowls, and fabulous handbags, just to name a few. Here are some of my favorites.

Here are the linkies to these great patterns. What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Free camera--just do my laundry

Somebody keeps breaking into my house and leaving their dirty laundry and stealing clean clothes. (I wish they'd steal my crappy camera.) I'll be doing laundry the entire day, but at least I have an excuse to knit. DH plaintively said, on his way out, he'd help me fold the laundry if I'd tackle the washing and drying. I know reverse psychology when it's being used on me.

Speaking of crappy cameras, I finished the Woodland Shawl and here's proof. Sort of. It really is a bad photo, but at least you get to see my kitty Katie.

The yarn is LoĆ°band Einband / Icelandic Laceweight, gifted to me by a very talented and funny Canadian. I've included a non-Ravelry linky to the pattern.

I sometimes forget that not everybody worships Ravelry as I do, but Rav has saved my knitting bacon so many times. Just this morning I was working on a sock pattern that I just KNEW had mistakes. I checked out some of the other Ravelry FO's of this pattern, and of course it was ME, and not the pattern. Sort of. I find that a *repeat helps me read a pattern correctly. This pattern doesn't have any, but a few Ravers set me straight and made me feel a little less dumb. I've frogged the socks, but I'll get back to them as soon as the Ravelympics are over. I'm going to need the needles for my Sock Hockey entry. Instead, I'll cast on the Brandywine Shawl. Yes, I know I need another shawl like I need a third boob, but I can't resist this one. It's tip up, and uses sock yarn. It also supports a very good and ongoing cause, and a very talented designer. Romi, you rock!

Monday, February 8, 2010

This is just wrong.

I don't consider myself to be a very "trendy" sort of person. I'm not all that concerned about what's IN, fashion-wise, but if that's your thing, great! Go for it--if you've got the money and the closet space to do a 180 every time the next new thing comes along, then good for you. But when I got the Spring Trends email from Saks and saw harem pants... people, I cannot let this one go. There might be one person in the universe who can pull this one off, although I think anybody who wears them should PULL THEM OFF. NOW. If you are that one person who has the kind of personality that harem pants don't look stupid on you, don't bother contacting me. I don't speak Klingon. Judge for yourselves:

I love the sweater, but the Lipstick Diaries doesn't mention who did it. As a knitter, I'm glad to see that hand-knits are hot again, but spare me the "I just took a dump in my pants" look. No sweater deserves this kind of treatment.*

While I might not be the most fashion-forward person, I am a foodie. Searching the web for Super Bowl gut-busters, I kept finding recipes for blondies. One of the most intriguing was this one, from What a Dish. I didn't add the glaze, but my-oh-my are these good, so good that I've been instructed I cannot make them again until Christmas. That's fine, since it will take that long to get them off my ass. Try them, but don't say I didn't warn you. The recipe makes a 9" by 13" inch pan. This is all that's left:

See you at the gym.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Feeling the love*

Yesterday was a good day, knit-wise. You know somebody loves their knitted gift when it makes them cry, as long as they aren't screaming and threatening you with a restraining order. McSassy loves the Monster Booties and that makes me happier than I can tell you.

I also received a mystery gift certificate from my favorite LYS**. I'm pretty sure it was from the tennis friend I gave the knitting lesson to, but since she is the world's worst at answering her emails, I may never know. Thanking you anyway, Dana.

I really need to get my butt in gear and swatch for my Ravelympics project. This means, of course, that I will instead start some other project completely unrelated. WARNING: This tendency could be contagious. I have a yummy skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silk Thread II, which I dyed myself at Knot Hysteria, that is begging to be knitted into a shawl or wrap. Please do not waste your time reminding me about the Woodland Shawl that is 90% complete. I don't like being confused with facts. Meanwhile, I'm on a quest for the perfect baby blanket yarn. Suggestions are welcome.

I'll leave you with some eye candy:

*Yes, I know there's a lot of linkies in this post, but trust me, they are all fabulous!
**Local Yarn Shop, for those of you who don't knit YET.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It ends up in the ocean, you know.

I'm lucky enough to be able to travel fairly frequently. The club where I play tennis has a yearly tennis trip, and in the past we've gone exclusively to Mexico. This year, however, Jamaica was chosen. We need to go to a resort that has enough tennis courts to accommodate our group, though I suspect the troubles in Mexico might have influenced this year's destination. I wonder, however, if those who decide where we go need to do more research. People, the main bar ran out of Campari! This is a rather telling fact, but don't jump to conclusions--the one lone bottle they had wasn't full to begin with, and it's quite possible there was another guest at the resort as hip as I am. There's nothing sexier than sipping a Campari and soda--it makes you look very sophisticated. Don't believe me? Click on my Campari linky, you'll see Jessica Alba. I rest my case.

I don't know where our tennis trip will be next year. Joe, in his blog, asked for vacation destination suggestions and said the only place he wouldn't consider was the Caymans. Seems they turned away a gay cruise, and he decided not to ever go there. I can understand that. It would creepy to go to a place with that kind of judgmental thinking, but guess what? I WILL be going there, and on a cruise no less. Weeks ago, the DH booked a spring break cruise, and it's too late to change it. Several people have commented on Joe's post that they believe the tourist homophobia no longer exists there and I hope that's true, but I wish I had known about it before we booked. I would have investigated further. We might have chosen a different cruise--if the Caymans doesn't want gay people, they might not want out-of-shape, go-to-bed-early, parents of a teenager either. Our demographic doesn't do a lot of off-shore banking or heavy partying.

I don't think it's enough just to be concerned about the safety of a destination or the dollar exchange rate or the weather, when you're deciding where to go on vacation. What and who do we support with the money we spend there? What kind of impact do we have on the ecology? Some of us in my tennis group visited Dunn's River Falls, near Ocho Rios (online stock photo):

I was expecting a hike along side the river and maybe a dip in one of the pools under the falls. What we got instead was more like a Disneyland ride from hell. We climbed straight up the falls, in the water, clinging to the rocks and each other. There were hundreds and hundreds of people, all trying to get to the top without falling and knocking down everybody below us. And I couldn't help but wonder what kind of damage we were doing to this beautiful place. I also wondered how many people took the guides' advice and went to the bathroom BEFORE getting into the water. Seriously. We passed several restrooms, and I didn't see too many people making a pit stop before starting the climb.

Of course, no Disneyland Ride From Hell is complete without the souvenir DVD they try to sell you at the end, but I turned it down. I have a policy of not bringing home photographic evidence of the stupid things I do while on vacation. You'll just have to use your imagination.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ta -da!

Check it out--my first pair of knitted grandchild booties! I think they're adorable. All the details are on Ravelry. Thanks, Shauna, for a great pattern.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Some things are just too cute for their own good...

And this is one of them:

Seriously. Have you ever seen anything cuter in your life? Good thing I'm about to be a grandmother, because I would have knit these cuties anyway. Now, I have a reason. Thank you, McSassy, for requesting them. I'm hunting down a suitable yarn today.

Even if you don't knit or crochet or sew or quilt, you MUST check out this site. How did miss this blog for so long? I can't even tell you all the gorgeous stuff you'll find there. Really. Check it out then come back here and tell me I'm right.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Slam Dunk Hat--easy AND cute!

Coming back to altitude has kicked my butt. Maybe I donated too many red blood cells to the Jamaican mosquitos. I just can't seem to get going; however, I did finish the hat that Golden Apples so graciously reverse-engineered. It is super-cute and the proceeds go toward a good cause. Here's your linky to the pattern. And here's an iPhone photo of DD wearing it. I really do need a decent camera.

I'm so tired, I passed up tickets to tonight's Nuggets game. Carmelo probably isn't playing anyway, so what's the point? It cracks me up that I love watching basketball so much now, when I hated it in high school--playing basketball that is. I was short and scrawny, and nobody wanted me on their team. Smart move on their part. Now, I would love to find a short old lady league to play on. Maybe they lower the basket so we can dunk the ball. THAT would be cool!