Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Knitting reading

Visiting my mom's house is like taking a trip to the knitting library. Not only does she have a huge selection of knitting books, all the newest mags, as well as all her old ones, she also has a color copier so I can "borrow" her patterns. While visiting last weeked, I read a couple months worth of Simply Knitting, a newish magazine out of the UK. It's a nice, colorful, well-designed magazine (a magazine editor notices these things!) with some cool patterns. I copied a pretty Autumn Walks coat, some bootie patterns, and an Oriental Bag from the October 2005 issue, and a wine bottle cozy (I know, do we really need this? But it could be a nice gift) from the January 2006 issue. I also paged through an old issue of Family Circle Easy Knit, which has been renamed Knit Simple. I found patterns for a cute baby sweater and hat, a clutch putse, felted bowls, and decorative flowers. Look for all of these things in the near or not-so-near future!

I also found a couple of books to add to my knitting-books-to-read list (and to my wish-I'd-written-that list!) Mindful Knitting: Inviting Contemplative Practice to the Craft and Compassionate Knitting: Finding Basic Goodness in the Work of Our Hands are both by Tara Jon Manning and published by Tuttle (2004 and 2005, respectively). Manning connects the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and meditation with the practice of knitting. These books contain reflections on this, as well as pattnerns to put them into practice. I can't wait to see what she says. At least she hasn't written Spiritual Knitting yet! Maybe that will be my next book. (Writing update: I did write over 3,000 words last weekend, almost a whole chapter.)

I'm going to order Mindful Knitting and Compassionate Knitting from, a great site (now owned by ebay) that sells new and used books at bargain prices. I get most of my books there, even new ones for gifts. Check it out. And don't forget to check out my book blog. I've posted a few new reviews there.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sophie's first sweater from Gram

Since I don't have any FOs to report on, I thought I'd share this beautiful sweater my mother just finished for granddaughter Sophie, who we're adopting from China. Read more about it at her knitting blog, Keesus Knitter (named for the beautiful lake they live on, which I'm currently visiting while they're out of town).

I commented that this pretty varigated blue/green yarn would also work for a boy, which may be a possiblity. Because the wait for our adoption of Sophie from China keeps getting longer (it could be as long as two years from now; in fact, that's likely), we're thinking about pursuing another adoption in the meantime, perhaps of a boy from Vietnam. This wouldn't jeapordize our China adoption, but it would be put on hold for awhile so the two kids don't come too close together. Like I said, this is still in the discussion stage, so it's not for sure. And it's a bit of shift to start thinking "boy" when I've already been buying pink stuff, but we had planned on two kids anyway and were going to try for a boy after Sophie.

The getaway to Lake Keesus is really a writing weekend, and the weather is cooperating by not tempting me to be out in the sun. Thanks to clouds and sprinkles, I wrote for almost three hours and got over 1,500 words done on Chapter Two. I'm going to do a bit more tonight and hopefully the same amount tomorrow.

On the knitting front, I'm still working on the two blue projects: the yoga bag and the toddler chunky sweater. Ed and I are going to watch a movie tonight (either Elf or Walk the Line) so I hope to do a good two hours of knitting. Maybe I can try to finish them before the Project Spectrum blue month of June is over.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Project Spectrum: June

Well, it's already past the middle of the month, and I'm just getting on board with Project Spectrum. I kept waiting for an email to connect me with a new postcard buddy, but I didn't realize you have to re-sign up each month for that. (Last month my buddy was Rae at A Knitter's Life. I never got a postcard, but I did gain a reader. And I enjoy her blog, too.)

So the Project Spectrum color for June is blue, which I think is appropriate, since it's my birthday month and blue has long been one of my favorite colors. Do adults have favorite colors? Growing up, mine was blue (witness the blue gingham check bedroom) but in my adulthood, I've grown to love deep earthy colors like pumpkin and sage green. But I've almost always had a blue (or purple) bedroom, because those cool colors are so soothing. Even now I'm swatching blues in my bedroom wall to repain to match the Calvin Klein Bamboo Flowers bedding.

Without knowing it, I just started two projects that fit the color of the month. This is the Om Yoga Bag in Lion Cotton in a color called Morning Glory Blue, but that actually looks more purply that in this photo. I've done three sets of the eight-row lace pattern so far:

And this is the Child's Hooded Sweater in Lion Wool Ease Thick & Quick in Teal. I knit almost the whole back while watching the Enron movie ("The Smartest Guys in the Room") last night. I highly recommend it. The greed and lack of morals is really appalling.

I'll defintely post more blue before the month is over.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

FO report

While I was without Internet at home for almost a week, an amazing thing happened: I spent more time knitting (and reading books) rather than blogging and/or reading blogs. I'm surely not the first knitting blogger to note that blogging takes time away from knitting. But I see blogging as just another creative endeavor, so it's not a competition for knitting but rather a complement to it (not to mention all my other creative endeavors).

Here is an update on the knitting I've accomplished in the past week: I knit up a quick scarf (above) in plain-old garter stitch from this nice, soft wool blend yarn from Joann's, the name of which is escaping me right now. I only bought that yarn to match the Plymouth Encore next to it, from back when I was buying lots of pink for hat/mitten/scarf sets for little girls last Christmas. I actually ended up liking this pink/orange/yellow combo, especially after I added the fringe. I used two skeins and make the scarf long enough to wrap around. Now I just need to do the mittens.

Also, the baby set from Paton's Katrina, a nice stretchy yarn, is finished. I made a hat, two sets of booties (the first set was so tiny, I did a slightly larger pair), and added buttons to the sweater. I'll give this to my coworkers Heather on Tuesday. She knits some, so I know she'll appreciate it. I've decided to alter this pattern again, decreasing the number of buttonholes (Don't all those buttons look funny? And what mother wants to do all those up on a squirmy baby?) and also making the buttons go to the top.

I also finished knitting the Watercolors teddy bear, but I haven't sewn it together, stuffed it, and added eyes yet. I'll post a photo as soon as I do. With all those completed, I started two new projects: the Om Yoga Mat Bag from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation for myself, and a cute toddler size sweater (pattern here) out of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick. The yoga mat is my first foray into lace (so far, so good), and for the toddler sweater I've learned the Twisted Garter Stitch, which looks pretty cool.

It just dawned on me that I'm going to my parent's soon and have nothing to felt there! Maybe I'll try another fortune cookie...

Front hall closet

Four down, one to go! That's how many closets in our condo my husband and I have redone with the wire Closet Maid closet organizers (that includes one pantry, one rather large walk-in, and our laundry room closet).

Last weekend, we did the front hall closet, which is pretty small but needs to store a lot of crap. I decided that rather than have the hanging rod go all the way across, I'd break it up for his/her coats, then put shelves down the middle for all the stuff we're constantly needing to reach, like scarves, mittens, sporting equiptment, etc. I got the nice canvas bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond (using a coupon, of course).

A rolling basket on the floor contains bike helmets and is flanked by two crates, for our blades and ice skates. Games are above the coats, and photos are on the higher shelf. I'm hoping to have room to store some old photo albums here, too.

I used up some leftover paint from my last condo, a nice dark sage green, which looks nice against the gold and contrasts with the white.

Ed is getting very good at installing this system. (We highly recommend the ShelfTrack system that attaches from the ceiling. It's much stronger.) Now all we have left is his closet!

(This post has been moved from my old SpiritualDecorator blog).

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I'm back!

Well, Mr. Comcast Technican came yesterday (and on time, too!) and we once again have working Internet at home. It was a challenge being Web-free at home for a whole week. Even though I have the Internet at work, I have no time lately to do anything personal there, so not only have I not been blogging, I haven't read any blogs for a week. Lots of catching up to do.

Since I haven't been blogging, I have gotten some knitting done. I will post a few FOs tomorrow (when I get my camera back. I left it at my friend Staci's house after a lovely Women's Group wedding shower for fellow member Bridget last night.)

Also, while I've been forcibly fasting from the computer, I missed World Wide Knit in Public Day, which was June 10. Apparently there was a gathering in Chicago, in Millennium Park. I'm bummed I missed it, but will mark my calendar for 2007. (Our CBS TV station did a story on it.) Most "public" knitting I see is on the el (I usually see at least one person a week knitting), but I use my train commute to either do work or do the crossword and/or Soduku as a way of not thinking about work and hopefully helping to avoid Alzheimer's. I know knitting would be relaxing, too, but I save that for home, where I'm truly relaxed. I did knit on trains in France. I don't know if people were staring at me because I was knitting or because I was speaking English, though. I only ever saw one other person knitting there, and it was a woman from Wisconsin!

Even here in the U.S., knitting in public always elicits lots of curious looks and can be a surefire conversation starter with all kinds of strangers. Once when I took the train to South Bend, Indiana I got to know a little girl who was fascinated by my knitting. I do it, too, often stopping to chat with people who knit in public (although I try to leave the rush-hour el riders alone). Most knitters are pretty friendly about it, although some clearly just want to knit, not be an unofficial ambassador for the craft.

Do you knit in public? Why or why not? What are people's reactions? I'd love to hear...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Technical problems

Sorry I've been silent for so long. We're having a problem with our Internet box. Comcast is supposed to be out tomorrow morning, so hopefully I'll be back up soon.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I've got the blues

It's been awhile since I've posted a FO (finished object, for you knitting blogs newbies). That's because it's been awhile since I've finished an object. But finally, here is the blue baby sweater for my co-worker (who I hope is not reading this) for her baby boy, who is due in August. She is leaving our office in two weeks and moving to Goshen, Indiana. Her first-born can be seen on the cover of this month's U.S. Catholic magazine. And if you look closely, that's me in her little fist! (Is she adorable, or what?)

Yarn: 2 skeins Katrina in "Dawn"
Needles: Size 5 metal
Pattern: My adjusted top-down baby sweater pattern
What went well: I like this stretchy yarn for this. It's a nice weight for a summer sweater. Too bad it looks like it's being discontinued. (Or maybe just renamed, as the name is now unfortunate)
What didn't go so well: Made a boo-boo by adding a buttonhole too early, but have decided I now like the buttonholes going all the way to the top. Another adjustment to add.
Cost: I think about $6 for the yarn (on clearance); haven't bought buttons yet
Other comments: I'll try to finish a quick hat and booties to match in time for the going-away party in two weeks.
Spiritual lesson(s): #1. Sometimes mistakes are actually ways to learn to improve things.
#2. This was hard to knit, because I've been very depressed about the whole baby thing and have a huge list of people I could be knitting baby sweaters for. But rather than worry about all them, I just focused on the project at hand. And when I thought of Heather, I was happy to knit for her and her little boy. To paraphrase the 12 Step wisdom: One sweater at a time.

Cheating on my yarn diet

I went to Joann's Craft Store for two skeins of yarn. I swear. I had a friend's car (Thanks, Delia!), so I was running errands yesterday and buying all those heavy things I can't throw in my backback when biking (potting soil, laundry detergent, cases of soda). So I stopped at Joann's to get one skein of Angel Hair in Berry to finish a scarf (it's a nice soft angora blend) and one skein of Lions Watercolors in Aqua to finish this teddy bear.

But wouldn't you know it that they were having a clearance sale, and the Watercolors was on sale for $3 a skein (regularly $5.99). I really like this yarn for baby sweaters (See the one I knit here) and was planning one in pink for Sophie. So I stocked up on pink (10 skeins) and picked up four blue ones, in addition to the one aqua I came for.

I also got four skeins of turquoise Patons Allure, which is another super soft yarn for scarves. Can you believe $1 a skein? I had been so good on my self-imposed yarn diet, not purchasing any for a few months (except the "shopping" I did at Easter from my mom's stash). My stash may be smaller than some, but I live in a pretty small 2-bedroom condo, so I'm trying to lose a few pounds (of yarn). Well, just like my regular diet, it's back on the horse after a weekend of cheating.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Major league birthday

What a great birthday yesterday. I had a wonderful lunch with friends Karen and Delia, then did a major shop at Trader Joe's before picking up Ed from the train and heading up to Wisconsin for the Brewer's game with Mom and Dad. The Brewers lost 10-4 to the Washington Nationals (they've been struggling these past few weeks. Bad pitching, my dad says). It also was a special tribute to the Negro Leagues, so the Brewers were wearing the old-time uniform from the Negro Leagues.

When we weren't being entertained by the sausage race (Hubby Ed won $3 whent he Polish won), we were excited to learn that the man who had been sitting in our seats when we arrived turned out to be Jessie Barfield, former right fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays and NY Yankees in the 1980s and known for having one of the best arms in baseball and a home run hitter, to boot. He was there with his son, who was training with the Brewers before the draft. He was incredibly nice, chatting with my dad (pictured above with him) and signing a ball for him.

When things got a little boring in the eighth inning, my mom took out her sock knitting. I should have brought mine; I had left it in the car. We didn't have time to tailgate before the game, but my mom brought a birthday cheesecake that we enjoyed afterward in the parking lot. (I'm not a big cake fan, but I love cheesecake. This had four flavors: plain, cherry, caramel apple, and French silk. Yummy!) A very fun birthday all around!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Happy birthday to me

Today I am 42. This is a toughie, because I had hoped to be a mom by 42, and now with our adoption wait getting longer that's not going to happen. I will be 43 by the time Sophie gets here in 2007. But if you figure that she will be about 1 year old by the time we get her, then she will have been born when I was 42. Trying to look on the bright side.

I have a nice birthday planned: a day off work, lunch with friends Karen and Delia, and then Delia is graciously letting me borrow her car so Ed and I can drive to Wisconsin to watch the Brewers play tonight with my parents. And I started the day off with some early-morning blogging and reading of knitting blogs. Now I'm going to go finish that baby sweater. Got to have something to show mom tonight.