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January 2008
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March 2008

Take A Giant Leap

It was March 1, 2004 when I took a giant leap into Blogland.  I had been reading blogs, enjoying the community and comradery of bloggers, for about 2 months before I took the leap.  Four years have passed and it is startling to think of the way blogging has changed my life.  Many amazing friends both near and far have come into my life as a result.  I truly never expected the friendships to be so true, so strong and I never thought I'd meet so many bloggers face to face. Everything about this community amazes me…the generosity, warmth, caring, sharing can't be match anywhere by any other group.

With a Blogiversary comes a party and you're all invited! Parties mean party favors and, while I'm a little sad that I can only give out a few, we can still have a great time, don't you think?  I appreciate each and everyone on of you who stop to read and comment, whether it's daily, weekly, monthly, or just once in while. I appreciate those of you who read and never comment. You do count even if you don't weight in on a post. I know you're there and I'm pleased you stop to read.

To start the party, let's do the prizes first...

You'll love knitting Miriam's new Flutter Scarf pattern (your pick of a hard copy or PDF).  Miriam puts so much thought into her designs and she creates some of the best lace around.  You'll also receive a skein of Lark's alpaca/soy yarn. This yarn is so soft, so beautiful and it's also hand dyed by Anne of Wooly Wonka...a total Utah package!

Mimsnewscarfissopretty

A skein of Sherbet, a vibrant shade of STR light weight, which just screams summer and we're all in need of a little summer, eh?

Blogcontestyarnstrsherbert

This is a very big bump of Spinderella's thrums (easy to spin!) in a mauve-y shade…with a Barebones Spindle. (Must spread the spinning bug.) Another totally Utah package!

Bigbumpoflynnsthrumsandspindle_2

Other goodies will also be included in the gift packages....goodies like chocolate (and more!).

Now, here's what you must do to join the party.   

Last year you told me your secrets and it about blew me away…you were so open and generous and it touched me deeply.  This year I'd like to hear a story.  The story must be about the landscape, the place on this earth that brings you peace and joy.  Is it an exotic beach, a mountain top or is it your own backyard?  Maybe it's the city block you live on, or the park around the corner.  Tell me where it is (not necessarily the exact spot), describe it, what it means to you, and include how often you are able to go there. 

Three comments will be chosen at random for the above prizes, but I'm going to read every comment carefully and handpick the one that speaks to me, makes me want to pack my bags and head on out.  That person will receive a special prize (TBA).  So, get ready, get set and tell me where to go!

The contest is open until March 13th, the day before my birthday, and to celebrate that event there could be another contest and more prizes. On March 14th I'll announce the winner of this contest and we'll keep the party going.   

Let's party!!


Not a Post

Rattlesnakesocksjustalittlebigger Try as I might, nothing came to mind for todays post.  The last two weeks have been crazy busy and all the fun and good times have caught up with me...I've hit a wall.  You've already heard about my knitting (except the Rattlesnake Creek Socks which don't grow much), but are fun to knit when I get a chance.  You've seen how nice the weather has been and the last two days have been much the same (can it really be spring?).  You've heard me complained about my knitting setbacks and, well frankly, there isn't much else going on, at least not until tomorrow.  Come back then for the excitement, I don't think you'll be sorry. 

Today I have a few of my new favorite things to share. 

Greatnewcookbook Blogfree Val told me about Alice Waters new cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, a couple of weeks ago.  She said all the right words about it and that made me buy it.  The recipes and ideas are simple, easy, basic and elegant....good food, organic food, sustainable food, and easy to do...it sounded like heaven.  I'll be trying my first recipe this weekend (if I can decide which one).

Devastator Double Bock!  We love our local brewery/political commentator. Every year they take something from the Utah political climate and name a beer after it, such as, Polygamy Porter (started it all), Evolution Amber Ale, 1st Amendment Lager and now Devastator (after the destruction of downtown SLC) by the "powers that be". Since it's 8% you must purchase it in the liquor store...but it's worth the trip!  You'll be devastated after just one (or two).

My new very pretty Sigg Bottle (pictures didn't work out, but you can see them with the link).  It is metal and reusable a million times.  It doesn't attract odor or emit unknown toxins like plastic can. They are stylish, cool and easy to carry around.  Bet you can't pick just one (I have two so far).

Anne's new Wooly Wonka shop, redesigned and built by the fabulous KimG is up and running! It's easy to navigate and full of tempting lovelies. Anne's yarn and roving are so beautiful and I love they organic colorways she produces.  Her first anniversary is on March 1st (a very good day) and she'll be giving prizes all month long. Check it out...you're going to love looking around and shopping there! 

New yarn must be included in any favorite post and this is my new favorite yarn...Manos Silk Blend in the colorway Violets. Mmmmm, if Spring wasn't on the door step I'd start a hat!

Zmanossilkblendyummystuff


Setback x Two!

Beautifulmountainsofthewastach
Yesterday we had our warmest day of the winter.  It was SO nice, so pretty and it was almost warm.  Moxie and I took a little longer walk than I've been able to do and it felt good.  However, it was still hard to keep my breath, but my recovery time has improved.

The weather did make up for the knitting disasters that struck this past week. Any knitter knows that gauge is very important and if the gauge is off, even by a bit, it's very likely your garment isn't going to fit.  As I knit a sweater, I check the gauge throughout the project to insure it will turn out as expected and fit well.  About 6" into the second sleeve on EPS, it was very apparent that the sleeve was too big around, the gauge was off and the sleeve had to be frogged.  Out, out damn sleeve....back to square one.

SecondsmallsleeveforepsSunday morning I started anew on the sleeve and it is now back on track…second sleeve looks more like the first. Yay!  It is the process (it is!) and the process continues (albeit a little behind schedule).   By March 1st I hope to UNITE the EPS pieces and start knitting the yoke!  Woo and hoo!!!  Of course, I'm ignoring the fact that I wanted the sweater finished by March 1st. 

Arggggggggstabbedthroughtheheart_2

Monday night I had a few minutes to spend on Aspen Grove.  Good progress was made, but half way through the second chart I noticed a huge mistake.  The double decrease changes from a Sl, K2tog, PSSO to a center double decrease and I had not made the change. I am a blithe, arrogant knitter who just does what's easy, thinks she knows what's going on and pays too little attention to detail.  It bites me in the ass with every bit of lace I knit, and yet, there is no change in attitude (call me a slow learner).  SO, out came 40 or so rows (big frown). I am now back on track, checking and rechecking each row to make sure the decreases are correctly executed..it IS THE PROCESS.  It is!   

Here's hoping the rest of my knitting week goes a little more smoothly and the warm weather sticks around. You'd think a grrl could catch a break somewhere, eh?


Is it Obsession or Another Bug?

Lace was the one thing that kept my interest while I was feeling poorly at the first of the year.  I felt as if I'd fallen into a hole and as it turned out it was a hole; a yarn over created hole.  Knitting lace became an obsession for me during January (and it still is). It was all I felt like doing...and even now,  it still feels right.  This feeling has also made me just a little obsessed about lace patterns and yarn.

Ravelry has been a wonderful resource because I can look through my own stash, search for the type of lace pattern that intrigues and entices, and make match ups of said yarn and pattern.  My queue filleth over.

Ballandskeinhanddyedzephyrinflame Project Spectrum III has also inspired and infused my knitting color sense.  It's red, orange, heat colored yarn I want to knit (perhaps because I'm craving warmth and sun that never comes!) and there is plenty of that in my stash.  The pattern I found this past weekend was one I'd had my eye on for years and years from Interweave Knits 2000, the Fairy Tale Scarf by Sarah Swett.  It will be knit with Judy's hand dyed Zephyr in the color Flame!  The two of them should make a happy couple.

Colorsofkoigufornewspringshawl Another scarf/shawl that caught my eye is the Zetor Scarf that's been popping up in queues all over Ravelry.  (Friends activity is a great place to find inspiration, even if it is a little dangerous.)  Instead of a simple, plain yarn, I've decided to knit this ala Charlotte's Web, with several skeins of coordinating Koigu.  The Koigu in my stash has marinaded long enough!   (Believe me there are many more skeins than what you see here!)

LarksfabulouslaceweightyarnMarciasbeautifullaceindigodyed_2 To compound and confound the lace obsession, Miriam has introduced her new Flutter Scarf and it's knit with Lark's fabulous yarn.  The local grrls alone could keep me knitting lace forever more without ever leaving the State.  Lark's yarn is a lovely blend of alpaca and soy silk, hand dyed by Anne!  Mim's Icarus is already in my queue because of a beautiful lace weight yarn that Marcia dyed with Indigo and put into my possession a couple of years ago.

Rowansprayformuirprettygray Then there is the exquisite Rowan Kid Silk Spray I've stashed just for Muir.  Can't you just see this knit with crystal beads?  So elegant!  This would be a perfect project for for PSIII during the Air phase.  I have been planning projects with appropriate yarns for every phase.  You could call it another obsession.   

Myhandspunoberonforphileme I've also been considering several projects from Victorian Lace Today and the Phileme Scarf for my on handspun (the gorgeous blue Oberon from Wooly Wonka).  Also, Susan's new design  Moroccan Days/Arabian Nights (dyed with Kim's exquisite yarn!) is now ready (check her side bar) and there is also a KAL on Ravelry.   There are many, many more projects under consideration, too.  Now I KNOW I have holes in my head.

You may have guessed I'm distracting you from the fact that not much progress has been made on Aspen Grove. That should change tomorrow night when I'll finally be able to stay home and knit.


Tangled Up

This weekend I caught another bug.  It bit me hard and I was completely swept up, taken down and tangled up with sweet Emmylou, my spinning wheel.  It's been a month of Sunday's since I took time to sit and spin for any length of time and it was a blast to get back at it.

Bigpileofmessyfibertobespun The bug first bit when I sat down Friday afternoon to finish spinning up the funky Crosspatch batt.  It didn't take long before the second bobbin was full, all the fiber was gone and plying was the only thing left to do.  But, I wanted to spin, not set up the wheel for plying.  It was then I decided to take a look at the overflow of fiber and find something to spin that took my fancy.   I pulled out the bins of fluff, plus a couple of bags, and was shocked at the amount.  Oh my, I do need to do some spinning, and quick!

Buttersoftcormospinningthreebobbins After sorting through the fiber, what called to me the loudest was the soft and pure cormo wool from Anne's Wooly Wonka Exotic Fiber Club.  As a little bonus, she had included a bump of lovely soft blend of cormo and angora.  I decided to spin the three bumps and then ply them together. A three ply would make a soft, warm hat. One bobbin is complete, the second partly spun, and I'll work on this exotic fluff the rest of the week.  At first I worried that pure white fiber would be boring to spin, but that is far from the truth...it is heaven.

Spinningonmyfavoritespindles I was so captured with spinning desire that I also pulled out the square spindle that Cara and sent from Rhinebeck.  A few months back I had spun a bit of hand dyed blue onto my Golding Spindle.  To be able to create a plied yarn, I needed to spin a second spindle full (remember my Lizzy Kate?).  It was so nice to spin on a spindle again...a beautiful spindle.

Apileoffunkyhandspunyarn

On Sunday morning it was time to ply the funky Crosspatch batt.  It was as fun as a barrel of monkeys to watch the fiber twist around itself to create a very textured and slubby yarn.  It should be fun to knit, too.  It's been a long time since I've had the inclination and time to spin so, it was fun to spend a bunch of time at it this weekend. Now to find a fun pattern for this yarn!


Sleevage, No Lace

Allpiecesofepsgettingreadyforyoke

This week has been all about EPS, that is, what little time I've had to knit. Life has been too busy to sit with Aspen Grove (or much of anything else) and so, when there is a minute to spare, the sleeve has been the perfect companion.  The last three busy nights have been all about meetings and sleevage and so the sleeve grows.  It's been good.  Happily, tonight is my "catch up on relaxing" night, which goes hand in hand with my "catching up on TV" night (Survivor).  I'll be (finally) knitting lace, happily knitting lace, the lace I've been longing for, wishing for, dreaming of all week long.

Rattlesnakecreeksocksinbearfootyarn Monday, before the busy week began, I put in a little time on the Rattlesnake Sock.  Don't you just love the way the cables look like rattler rattles?   Very cool, Anne!  The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot and it's knitting up so nicely.  What doesn't show in the picture are the varied shades of red.  Ruby River has every red from deep maroon to fiery orange and together they conspire to create a warm and vibrant colorway.  That makes it the perfect yarn for PS III.  Bearfoot is a soft, sturdy fluffy yarn and it should wear well. There are two more colorways marinating in the stash and I think they'll be used soon (so much good sock yarn, so little time!).

Bobbinsalmostfullwithonlyalittlef_3 If there has been little time to knit, you can bet there has been little spinning going on. (Next week will be for spinning!)  There is only a little fluff left to spin and then two bobbins will be full.  Maybe I can finish the spinning tonight and get some time to ply this weekend.  Cheryl just finished spinning a Crosspatch batt and oh my, she did a beautiful job.  My hope is to have more time to spin in the next week and into March, too!

Yesterday afternoon, while taking Moxie for a walk, I heard the song of a house finch...he was singing his heart out! Spring MUST be just around the corner.


Thursday? YAY! Thursday!!

AND, one month from today is the first day of Spring.  Many of us are holding onto that thought...the thought that, despite the cold, the snow, the bad weather, Spring cannot be far off.  Speaking of bad weather, while we haven't had much snow this past week,which means we have had one of the two "dreaded" weather events that happen in the Salt Lake Valley...the  "dreaded inversion".

Thereisamountaininthatpicture There is the "dreaded lake effect" and the "dreaded inversion". The last few days it's been the "dreaded" inversion. The inversion comes visit when warm air traps cold air in the valley, due to lack of air movement (like a storm). We've been spared many days of the "dreaded" inversion this winter, due in large part to the "dreaded lake effect". However, the "dreaded" lake effect has put so much snow on the valley floor and the snow helps to trap the cold air in the valley.  There is a mountain in that picture, but it's hidden by the dreaded inversion.   At times, winter it feels like a no win situation.

Rather than have a negative "D is for", however...let's concentrate on the positive. Happily...D is for DOG! 

Darn it all...isn't that face the doggonedest, darling dog face you've seen?

Moxieistryingtobeagooddog

Myviewmyconstantcompanion_2 Moxie is the happiest, funniest and most loving dog we've ever had as a part of our family.  While he usually does his own thing (sleep) during the day, while I was sick he never left my side.  He was my constant companion, always there, acting very differently than usual.  He was worried and it showed!

Moxieisonlythinking_abouthiswalkMoxieandhuslkerplayingaround He loves to go on walks, especially long walks around the neighborhood, or at Wheeler Farm.  He gets so excited when other people or animals come along and he love to talk to other dogs. Here he is with his buddy Husker...they won't hold still for anything! People often respond to Moxie's excitement with delight…everyone loves Moxie and Moxie loves everyone.

Moxieloveshisticks Moxie has a habit of picking up sticks and bringing them home.  He looks around near the end of the walk and finds a nice stick, just the right size and carries it proudly home.  If we had a fireplace we'd have a nice pile of kindling.  Smith lets them stack up on the patio for awhile and then redistribute them along the trail. Must keep our Moxiedog in sticks, eh?

Moxieloveshistoys When he's extra happy (like after having a special treat), he runs for a favorite toy.  He hops around, jumps on the furniture and has a roaring good time while he celebrates this wonderful, flavorful event.  No dog has ever been the creature of habit that Moxie is.  You can tell the time by his actions and he is full of expectation.  A Zen dog he is not.   I swear, he thinks he is human.

We love our Moxiedog.


Intentions of Delusion

It seems silly now, but I had a long list of "things to do" while enjoying the Holiday.  The intended list included knitting on my Rattlesnake socks, starting the second sleeve for EPS, finishing the first section of the Aspen Grove shawl (even though I was only half way through the chart), and a few household tasks, like laundry.  Oh, and there were a couple of errands that needed to be run, too. 

As the day unfolded I could see my list was rather ambitious...the usual state of my life is lived in delusions of grandeur, and it looked very likely that little of what was on the list would be accomplished.  After Smith left the house at 7:00am, I tossed a few clothes in the washer (ah, the sense of accomplishment) and sat (still in my pjs) to knit a little lace.  Maybe, just maybe, a few things on the list could be accomplished as it was early in the day.

Aspen Grove's first section of lace is the most difficult as there is patterning on both front and back rows. The hardest thing for me was to suspend what I know (or think I know) about lace.  The yarn overs are not on every row and, sometimes you have a yarn over from a previous row that isn't knit in the way you think it should be. At other times the stitches fit together unexpectedly but, all in all, if you watch carefully, read the lace, you'll see it will line up the way it should.  It will be easy to "read" and easy to see the stitches are in the correct spot.

Years ago, before I ever started knitting lace, I took a class on lace.  The class was daunting and confusing, but the one thing that stuck with me, and still holds me in good stead, is the message(s) the teacher stressed over and over.

Read the lace. Stitch markers will only obscure the pattern.  The row below will tell you if you're executing the stitches in the right place. The patterns will line up and that's is how you'll know you're correct.

Aspengroveupclosewithribsandleaves click

This is still true for Aspen Grove, even though it is more complicated than most lace.  It may seem crazy to some, but I do knit lace dangerously...no stitch markers, no life line....I just plunge ahead.  But, I do make sure to watch where I'm going, to read the lace and to make sure the stitches line up, section by section, row by row.   You can see in the picture that the "leaves" line up, one on top of the other, and the ribs that separate the four sections are distinctly visible.  As I knit, I make sure the decreases for each leaf sit on top of each other and the rib stitches are all in line.  That way I know this section is correct before I continue on to the next. The hardest part is leaving out the yarn overs as they only occur (as increases) on every fourth row.

Tipsforlaceknitting_3 Keeping track of where you are in the lace pattern can be challenging.  Here are a few of my favorite tricks.  First, blow up the charts so you can clearly see the symbols.  I also mark every other row with a highlighter.  This helps the individual rows show up well and they are easier to see.  Sticky notes are perfect for keeping track of the exact row you're knitting, but put it above the row so you can see where you've been and how the lace fits together. (This is part of "reading" the lace.)  The charts are kept in a project sleeve that opens on one side, so it's very easy to move the sticky note from row to row.

Donewithfirestsectionyay As the day wore on (there was a break for lunch, some errands, plus a few loads of laundry) I had to admit I was being obsessive about the shawl.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the first section finished (despite being on row 64 of 82 at 3:00pm)?  The next two sections would be easy, fun and quick knitting. Something to look forward to and, I must admit, that's what drove me to work on the shawl (to skip dinner) and finish row 82 at about 10:00pm.  Bed felt good and so did the sense of accomplishment.  The rest of the week will be spent on the what I didn't get to on the list and that's good enough.    


EPS Reporting In

Firstsleevesisjustpasttheelbow

There it is...the first sleeve for my EPS*.  It's a little crazy it has taken so long to get this far.  The body is finished, first sleeve done, next sleeve just begun, yoke (the fun part) to come.   When I first proposed the idea of knitting this sweater to the SLC SnB group I had no idea that life’s ups and downs would get in the way of knitting production and I would still be knitting my EPS come late February.  The sleeve seemed to drag on and on, but this weekend my knitting mojo just took off and the sleeve was finished rather quickly.  The vision of a finished sweater is on the horizon, a vision I wasn't sure would come to pass.

A few SnBers meet together on Sunday for a few hours of knitting and this week Eliza and Cheryl arrived wearing their version of EPS.  It was so much fun to see them together.  You can make this sweater in any yarn, at any gauge, with any sleeve, hem or neck you like...that's the beauty, a sweater all your own and much of the work is done with a little math. 

Twowashedoutfacesbutyoucanclearlyse

Cheryl knit a cardigan with EZ's yoke pattern (she used Meg Swansen's DVD for perfect finishing techniques) and Eliza knit the saddle shoulder version. Don't they look great?  Several other Ewe-tah grrls have been working, too.  Lauren has finished her sweater (she has yet to model it for us) and Cayenne’s is also finished.  She used handspun Romney for the body of her sweater!   A few other SnB grrls, Anne B, Lark and Heather are also working on sweaters, and like me, are still in the progress stage.  There is no race and the main goal is to enjoy the process. There are many others who have joined the EZ EPS on Ravelry and many beautiful sweaters to see...check it out!

Elizabeth (Zimmermann's) Percentage Sweater (If you don't know what that is you should google it or pick up one of EZ's many books and investigate.)