Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Weekend Out of the Office

Greetings from the deck of the Cape Henlopen!

Actually, I’m only writing this on the boat, not posting it from the boat, but please play along.

It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve had a weekend where I didn’t spend at least one of the days in the office--and bring home a couple of hours worth of work as well. Well, I got to spend this weekend up to Massachusetts!

I started my trip on Saturday morning, originally planning to take the ferry from Orient Point, but I woke up little too late, so I drove around instead. The primary reason for the trip was an event coordinator meeting and a Board meeting on Sunday, but I wanted to spend time with my nieces. So the plan for Saturday was go to my sister’s house and then on to the Wool Patch in Middleboro. (Must visit yarn shops when traveling!)

The ride up I-95 was pretty good, even with all those buses heading up to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Clear weather, pretty foliage along the way.
However, when I was about 20 minutes from my sister’s house that started to change. It got a little spritzy, and before I knew it there was this frozen stuff hitting the windshield. Snow. Making this thud-like sound on the glass. FREAKIN’ SNOW!!!!!

I know, Vermont got hit with a ton of snow last week. I shouldn’t complain. But I’m a Long Island girl. It’s too early for snow. We don’t get snow until maybe January. I’m not ready for snow. (And yes, I drive a Subaru Forester, so this shouldn’t freak me out. But it does.)

Anyway, these big, icy, scattered flakes were melting when they hit the ground, so no biggy. Right? So… I arrive at my sisters’ house, hang out for a bit, and then we put the girls in the car and take off for the Wool Patch, which is only a few miles down the road.

Carole had told me about this shop, so I was anxious to check it out. Located right off I-495, this is a very nice shop. Nice selection and good prices, especially on Cascade 220. I wound up buying just a ball of Rowan Wool Cotton to make some baby socks (I’m trying to be good--really I am), but next time I need some Cascade I’m heading here.

After that we headed back to the house, put a log in the fireplace, and got dinner under way. Oh, and by the way--as the day went on, the snowfall got heavier and heavier. Here’s what it looked like right before dinner:

See the snow on top of that thar roof. Yikes!

When I finally left around 7:30 to drive to my hotel in Milford, there was a good half inch on the ground--and it was still coming down heavy! Amazingly, as I drove up 495, You know how they say if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change,” that’s exactly what happened as I drove north to my hotel. In the space of a half hour, it went from heavy snow to a snow/rain mix, to heavy rain, and then nothin’. By the time I got to the hotel, there was nothing but a little snow on the grassy areas.

Oh, almost forgot--two exits from the hotel I decided to stop at A.C. Moore for a peak at the yarn. Here’s what I walked out with.

All the yarn was 25% off. I bought two of those (for Christmas gift for other sister), two more in royal blue (for me), and a pair of size 10½ needles.

I’m making headbands for all of us. Yes, this is the same headband that my mother’s making for the other sister. Yes, I’m making one for myself in black. Yes, this is excessive.

So much for being good.

Anyway, I finally arrived at the hotel. I had my heart set on spending some time in the whirlpool, but unfortunately it was out of order, so I got myself a glass of wine, did a little blogging, and called it a night.

Next day, after an extra hour of sleep (sweet!), I went off to the meetings. My unit is running a civil war reenactment at Hildene in Vermont, so this was our chance to promote the event to other reenactors. The best part about this meeting was getting to see some friends I hadn’t seen in ages, including… Carole! And Dale! And Hannah!!!

Carole and I had been e-mailing back and forth during the week about getting together, but the last few e-mails never made it to our inboxes. (Gremlins?) I didn’t know she was going to this meeting too, so it was a nice surprise to see the whole family.

We played show and tell with our knitting projects and generally misbehaved (not too badly, though) in the back of the room during the meeting. The time went all too fast. After the coordinator’s meeting was done, Carole had to leave and I had to wait for the Board meeting to start. I may have to make a trip up there again just so Carole and I can make trouble. And martinis. And knit and spin!

The boat’s starting to make the turn around the Orient Point Lighthouse, so it’s time for me to go. Later!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Last Crochet Class

OK, I've been teasing you about the last night of my Adult Ed crochet class. It's been over a week now, so here--finally--are the highlights of the final class.

"Susan," our instructor, brought in a bunch of free crochet patterns that she picked up at Michaels. She even picked up a couple of knitting patterns especially for me (which I thought was very nice of her). She also gave us her home number in case we had any questions, also very nice of her.

One of the other women in the class, who's been cranking out really nice afghans like you wouldn't believe, asked Susan how to do a half double crochet stitch. Well, Susan had the same reaction she had when I asked her about the reverse single crochet stitch--"Half double crochet stitch?!?!?!?!? Uh... uh...," and with that she scurried away to help someone else. That's OK. At this point, everyone in the class seems comfortable enough with the basics that I'm sure they could figure it out with a decent basic book.

The promised Christmas ornaments lesson didn't happen (yesssss!!!). Instead, everyone worked on their granny squares, scarves, and afghans while we all chatted. It was kinda nice. I gave up on the granny square (for now) and decided to try this.

That's the beginnings of a scarf that I'm making with a ball of Artful Yarns Portrait. I had started a knit scarf with if two years ago (pattern on the tag), but wasn't happy with it. So, I decided to see how it would look with some simple crochet stitches. I think it's much happier in crochet. (Really--I think the yarn is happier. And yes, sometimes the yarn tells me what is wants to be. Come on, I'm not the only one who feels this way...) Here's what alternating single crochet and double crochet rows looks like--in x-ray vision:

And, of course, we had to have an interesting moment during the last class. The woman who's been making the crocheted bathing suit--let's call her "Kitty"--made some interesting comments. (Just to refresh your memory, this was the woman with the black and yellow bathing suit who does cat rescue and has 17 cats.) First of all, the other thing she was working on--the pink and purple crochet thingy--it's another bathing suit. She's going to make a whole bunch of them over the winter and sell them next year. OK, that's fine.

Well.. apparently, she has some issues with insurance companies and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Seems she had some kind of disagreement with her auto insurance company and somebody (either her or them) decided to drop her insurance. Then, the DMV irritated her so she dropped the whole register-your-car thing. (I'm guessing that there's no reason for a car inspection, then.) We all just kind of sat there in stunned silence. I'm mean, "Susan's" husband is a cop. Me thinks it's not really smart to admit all this--and be proud of it, to boot. Well, the awkward silence was finally broken when one of the women said, "...and, where exactly do you live???" We all cracked up.

So, there you have it. While I didn't finish that baby sweater, I did come out of the class with a good grip on the basics of crochet and feel confident that I'll be able to figure it out myself.

Of course, I may be a little nervous driving around the neighborhood now....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Guest blogger

Oh, no... Elizzabetty just can't get any time to write an entry in her blog, so I volunteered to give it a shot. I hope I don't delete anything...

She's been sleeping and knitting on the train lately, but mostly sleeping. The "Bluefoot" socks are coming along in spite of the napping. (I don't know why she hasn't knit anything for me. Maybe I'm just not worthy...)

Anyway, hopefully she'll get back to blogging in a day or so. Might just be she needs a sugar fix to get her energy back.

Maybe this would do it... maybe not... but she's got nothing to lose, and a sugar buzz to gain...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This and That

Lots to tell you about, but not much time to go into detail (it's rather late), so here are some highlights...

Sock update

Both of the "Bluefoot" gift socks are at the exact same point. I'm following the suggestion of Betsey McCarthy in "Knit Socks!" to knit both socks simultaneously. (The ribbed pattern is also from this book.) So far so good.

I've been doing 2-3 rows at a time on each of them, so although it feels like I'm going slowly, I'm actually making decent progress. (They're about 2 1/2 inches long now.)

A Finished Object

This morning on the train I weaved in the ends of a scarf I finished 2 years ago. (Yikes!) This was the first project I made for myself. (I had completed 5 gifts scarves in the middle of working on it 3 Christmases ago.) I wanted to wear it today but had forgotten about not weaving in the ends, so I took care of it this morning. After about 3 stations stops it was done!

It's made out of Plymouth Indiecita Alpaca that I bought at Webs--my first non-acrylic yarn purchase! The pattern was free with purchase of the yarn. It has this 10 row pattern that was a little complicated to follow at the time (I had just started knitting again and had just learned how to purl), but by working on this scarf I really learned how to tell the difference between a knit and a purl.

Non-Knitting News--Celebrity Sighting

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to document this, but while walking to lunch today I spotted my first celebrity in the new neighborhood (NYC Meatpacking District), although it really was kind of a minor celebrity. Donny Deutsch--advertising agency CEO, CNBC talk show host, friend of "The Donald"--walked right past me on the sidewalk. Normally I'm really bad at recognizing celebrities in person. I was once in an elevator with Mickey Rooney and had no clue. The man was a regular chatterbox--I was oblivious, until someone pointed it out to me as he left. For some reason, today I noticed. Oh well...

Root Canal Update

Everything's fine! I don't even need the ibuprofen anymore. Thank goodness for modern medicine!

Next time... my last crochet class.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Extreme Knitting

I never thought that I'd have the opportunity for an extreme knitting entry, but today was my lucky day!

That is a picture of me at the dentist's office, knitting a ribbed sock while getting a root canal. Seriously. A root canal. I didn't start out the procedure knitting, but I think I was about half way through when I thought to myself, "well, this root canal seems to be going pretty well... I wonder if I could make a little progress on that sock." And so, they handed me my project bag and, well, the proof is in the photo! Not the fastest knitting I ever did, but hey--progress is progress! I'm sure they thought I was nuts when I asked them to take a picture, but they humored me just the same.

And as you can see, we both came through the procedure just fine. Many thanks to Dr. DiBernardo and Colleen of ProtoDental!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lunchtime Errands

One of the great things about working in NYC is being able to visit yarn shops during my lunch hour. Today I got to go to Purl on an errand for my mother.

Now before I go on... Carole--please don't be jealous. After all, you got to spend a weekend in Maine! LL Bean! Sock yarn on sale!!! I wasn't buying anything for myself! Honest!!!

You see, there's a pattern in the Holiday 2005 issue of Family Circle Easy Knitting for a cashmere headband that my mother really wants to make for my youngest sister for Christmas. It calls for Classic Elite's Lavish--a gorgeous 100% cashmere yarn, but at $62 per skein is a bit pricey. So I did a little online searching for a substitute yarn and came up Classic Elite's Posh--30% cashmere/70% silk, with the exact same yardage and gauge as Posh at half the price. I showed Mom, she liked it, so there was only one more decision to be made--color. She wanted it to go with the Tahki Baby Print (#27) scarf that I made for my sister two years ago. (It was one of my first projects--a 1x1 ribbed really long narrow scarf.)

So armed with some leftover yarn from the scarf, I scooted out of the office, hopped on the subway, and made my way to Purl. Even though they were kinda busy and crowded (it's a really small store), the staff--including the owner, Joelle--were extremely helpful. The luxury yarns are kept behind the register, but they took the time to help me compare my strands with the yarns. I wasn't long before I found the perfect match. So, whaddaya think?

This yarn feels like buttah! The color is Hydrangea, and it has just the perfect balance of blue and purple. Will ya look at that? Mmmmmmmm...

(By the way, Purl is one of my favorite yarn stores. Wonderful selection, fair prices (you gotta check out the 40% off box near the door), and Joelle and her staff are always pleasant and helpful. It's just one or two quick subway stops (depending on which train I take) from my office and only a short walk from The Point, one of my other favorites. )

And so, with my mission accomplished, I picked up some lunch, hopped on the subway, and was back in the office within an hour. Of course, every so often I had to touch the yarn. How could I resist?


My last crochet class.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Survey says...

Quizzes. I love them, and I'm amazed by the number of neat quizzes I've come across in blogs. Every now and then I disagree with the results, but most of them are amazingly on target. How do they do that???

Anyway, here's one I ran across on curlsandpurlsNYC.

You Belong in Rome

You're a big city girl with a small town heart
Which is why you're
attracted to the romance of Rome
Strolling down picture perfect streets,
cappuccino in hand

And gorgeous Italian men - could life get any better?
What City Do You Belong in? Take This Quiz :-)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And now for some knitting content. (It is a knitting blog, after all.) It's gift knitting, but since the recipients don't know about my blog (yet), it's relatively safe to discuss them. (I'll tell them after the holidays.)

On Saturday I stopped at Seaport Yarn on my way into work to pick up the yarn for Christmas Gift #4, codename "Pink Cable" (Lamb's Pride Bulky in RPM Pink). It's "sister" project, Christmas Gift #2, codename "Amethyst Cable" (same yarn in Amethyst) is well on it's way to being done. The colors look great next to each other. Pink Cable is a size smaller than Amethyst Cable, so it should go fairly quickly.

Progress is also being made on Christmas Gift #3 (codename "Bluefoot"). It's the ribbed sock from Knit Socks. I picked up a second set of needles so that I could start the second sock and knit them simultaneously. Hopefully I'll start that on the train tomorrow morning if I don't snooze.

For the time being, I'm putting some of the other projects that I'm knitting for myself on hold. I think once I've finished the "sister" projects I can safely go back to them, but I don't want to wind up frantically knitting just days before Christmas so for now I'll try to be disciplined.

Oh well, that's it for now. Can't wait to hear about how Rhinebeck was. Hopefully next year I'll be Rhinebeck bound...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yarn candy

On Monday I spent most of the day in a five and a half hour meeting. (Yikes!) However, before the meeting started, I got this goody in the mail.

Look what was was inside.

Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Steelhead. It was a purchase on eBay. (Yes, I do buy some yarn on eBay on occasion.) The seller even included those Smarties. Wasn't that nice? And, I also got a package from Webs--a bag of yarn to make Christmas Present #3! (I really do need to get a move on more of those Christmas presents...)

This morning I went straight to work on Christmas Present #3. (Finally, I managed to stay awake long enough to do some knitting!)

I didn't get very far today, but that's OK. Even if I just do a couple of rows a day, I'll still make progress. Christmas is still a ways off, right. Please, tell me I'm right. Please???

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hook, line and sink[ing fast]er

Tonight was crochet class number 3. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Gauge is still not important.
  • The women in the class kept calling the acrylic yarn "wool." WOOL? I'm sorry, but I don't think they'd recognize wool if a sheep bit them in the ass.
  • "There is no right or wrong technique. You can change a stitch if you want to. Just do whatever makes you comfortable."

And here's a conversation that occurred between me and "Susan," the instructor, at one point during the class:

Susan: Hey--maybe you could teach knitting.
Me: [nervous laughter]
Susan: So, what kind of things do you knit? Blankets?
Me: No blankets. I've made some sweaters, mittens, hats. Lately I've been knitting socks.
Susan: Oh...
Me: Next week can you help me with the crochet trim on that baby sweater. It needs a single crochet as well as a reverse single crochet.
Susan: Reverse single crochet?!?!?!?!? Uh... uh...

And with that Susan scurried ran--yes, RAN--away from me! Does this woman not know how to reverse single crochet? This is for a pattern out of my BEGINNER BASICS book! BEGINNER!!!

Oh, and just to make things interesting, there's a new woman in class. Yes, this is the third out of the four classes and she just started tonight. She actually can crochet, but she's been having problems with a couple of projects. One of the projects is pink and purple--I'm not sure exactly what it is. The other project (the one she's having the most problems with) is yellow and black. When I first looked at it, I thought it was kid's bee costume. It had a yellow top and bottom and black striping in the middle. Well... apparently it's something she started 20 years ago. Yes, years! It's a bikini bathing suit that she's trying to turn into a one piece bathing suit (that would be the black striping stuff). I. Kid. You. Not.

And the topper--apparently she does cat rescue. She has 17 cats. She asked us if anyone wanted a cat.

Next week's class--Christmas ornaments.

I'm afraid...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Keeping my head above water

Work is getting in the way of life. It's always like this, to a certain degree, this time of year. I work in publishing (professional publishing, not the fun, glamorous kind of publishing), and the bulk of what my department publishes happens from August through November. Long days, including weekends (some spent at the office). However, not only is work getting in the way of life, it's getting in the way of blogging, and--even worse--it's getting in the way of knitting!

I usually do the vast majority of my knitting on the train. Well, train time lately has become nappy time. In the morning I'm barely awake enough to drink my tea, and in the afternoon in the evening at night, I barely get through the paper before my eyes start drooping. Then, depending on what time I get home, I either sit down to do more work or just try to go to sleep. I know... it's not healthy... but I really just need to get through the next couple of weeks and things will start to wind down a bit.

So, in an attempt to relieve some of the stress, I went to a yoga class after work on Friday. I've been attending classes here since 1995--at times more regularly than at other times. But now that I work only a couple of blocks away, I'm trying to get back into a more regular practice.

Well, class was great! I walked out of there way more relaxed and with a much clearer head. And, during the meditation portion at the end of class, guess what I wound up meditating on:

Yup. Morehouse Farm Merino. Soft, pretty, touchable, merino. Ommm...

Unfortunately, as I was walking across 14th Street, some moron decided to put his limo into reverse just as I was walking behind him. So, as I scrambled to get out of the way, I made sure smack the back of the limo with my umbrella--good and hard.

Om Shanthi, ya freakin' dumbass.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My First Lace Project

I first got the urge inkling to do a blog this past spring. I figured it would be a good outlet for my knitting obsession hobby, and might even increase my confidence in my writing ability. (I may work in publishing, but I am not a writer. There, I've said it. Can't write to save my butt.)

Well, between then and now there have been so many knitting firsts that would have been so blog worthy--my first sock, my first cable, my first baby sweater, etc.--that I've been getting increasingly frustrated. By the time I finally get around to starting a blog there will be no major achievements to blog about! I will have used them all up!!! (I know, it's irrational, but that's just me.)

Well, finally, I've got a blog-worthy first--my first lace project!

In process on the train.

OK, so it's just a basic garter stitch scarf, with strategically placed increases and decreases that give it that fancy diagonal look. But it's being made with Morehouse Farm Merino. So yummy...

It looks a little wrinkly now, but I'm going to have faith that once it's blocked it will be beautiful. (After all, if Stephanie says it, it must be so!)

So, might lace knitting become as obsessive as sock knitting? Right now it feels like I'm knitting with thread. Very pretty thread. Maybe it just the 10 1/2 needles. But the colors are oh so pretty.

We'll see...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Hudson Valley Fiber Tour

OK, tour might be an exageration, but with two stops on my journey south--which included respectable yarn purchasing--well, I'm gonna call it a tour. (There would have been a third shop, but they were closed. Damn.)

After leaving the Watervliet Arsenal, I made my way south towards my first destination--Countrywool in Hudson, NY. Right at the end of my drive I had a little trouble finding it, but one call to the shop and I was on my way.

That's the view off Gardner's Road. Breathtaking, isn't it?

That's the view from the driveway. So pretty and peaceful.

That's just one wall of Cascade 220. (There's a lot more!) Wool heaven!

The owner of Countrywool, Claudia Krisniski, was busy unpacking after having attended a spinning retreat, so I wandered around touching all of the yarn. What a great shop! So much yarn, a nice selection of books and spinning supplies, and everything laid out for easy access. Every now and then Claudia asked if I was doing OK--she was so nice! I wound up making a modest purchase--a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot (Evergreen), the Magic Loop booklet (if Carole says it's a good thing, then I gotta try it), and some really cute stitch stoppers for my mother.

The next time I'm in this neck of the woods I'll definitely be stopping back.

After that, it was off to my next stop--Sheep's Clothing, Morehouse Farm Merino Store in Milan, NY.


The store is pretty unassuming from the outside, but it's enormous inside. I was in merino heaven! So much yarn. So many colors. So many sample garments made from their original patterns! It's a bit overwhelming, but somehow I managed to get a grip. There are two main areas that are full of yarn/sample garments, and then there's the back room...

Back here there's more yarn, lots of books, and those comfy chairs and a couch. I could have stayed back there all day! And off to the side there's a kitchen where you can help yourself to coffee, tea, and cookies and a little back yard area with tables and chairs if you want to relax al fresco. Can they make you feel any more at home???

So, after much aimless wandering around browsing, trying to take is all in, I finally settled on the following purchases:

  • Bijou scarf kit in the Santa Fe colorway (this will be my first lace project)
  • "Muttens" kit (fingerless mittens) in Denim
  • 4 skeins of yarn (pink & violet (sport weight); seafoam & blue grey (worsted weight)) from their reduced price baskets (skeins that have knots in them)
  • Barbizon sweater pattern
  • 2 set of DPNs (Clover and Brittany)
  • The most beautiful double pointed needle case I have ever seen!

Oh, and the staff--wonderful! Oh so helpful without hovering.

Not a bad haul for someone who was trying to be good, yes? (I really shouldn't have bought anything. Please--make me feel better and agree with me that I was being relatively good, pretty please???)

I will definitely be back for another visit. Maybe even make a weekend out of it and go on the farm tour. Now all I have to do is convince Jim that a yarn shop weekend would be fun.

Maybe I could bribe him with a side trip to here. It's only a couple of miles away... near that other yarn shop that was closed. Hmmmmmm...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Our Reenacting Season Finale

On Saturday I was up in Albany with my reenacting unit for Civil War Heritage Days at the Albany Rural Cemetery. Although we could have camped at the event site this weekend, I have to admit that the idea of sleeping in a cemetery creeped me out seemed a little odd, so we hoteled it Friday and Saturday nights. Anyway, it was a really great one-day event.

Beautiful weather, neat displays, great entertainment, and even President and Mrs. Lincoln made an appearance.

Best of all, the spectators got a big kick out of "Evelyn," my unit's authentic 12-pound Napoleon cannon (named after Evelyn Keefe, a dear friend and supporter of the unit). Here's a picture of Jim talking to the spectators in front of a couple of camera crews from the local TV stations.

While the guys put on a couple of artillery firing demonstrations, I made good progress on Jim's second soldier sock. (No sock pictures this weekend. Sorry...) The event ended with a very nice commemorative service for the Civil War dead who are buried at the cemetery, after which we packed up and loaded Evelyn on to the trailer with the help of the commander in chief.

I bet you never knew that the president was such a hands-on guy!

Well, we finished packing up by around 4 p.m., headed back to the hotel to change out of our reenacting clothes, and went to the movies and had dinner. Just like a real date for a change!

Sunset over Albany.

Sunday morning we met a couple of people from our unit for breakfast and then took Evelyn to her winter quarters at the Watervliet Arsenal Museum. Unfortunately, our contact at the museum was unavailable to meet us, so we couldn't leave her there. Jim had to take her back to Vermont until we can make arrangements to drop her off again.

So, Jim went home, and I began my journey south--with a couple of pit stops at yarn shops!

To be continued...