Thursday, March 30, 2006

One Great Week

I'm on a roll! I've had such a good week.

I passed my first test towards getting my CEBS, which means nothing to someone who isn't a big ole employee benefits geek like me but I'm excited.

My lab tests came back in the "normal" range for the first time. So now I have some claim on normal in my life. Normal health=good; Normal everything else=boring?

I went to LL registrations last night (the last one of the year woo hoo!) without enough kids signed up to field 8 teams, came home with enough kids. There were 5 of us running registrations and we were all busy all night!

Stayed up past my bedtime and caught up with paperwork for LL!

Have actually gotten some knitting done too!

I went out and had dinner (and cocktails) with my friend Kim a few weeks ago. I was carrying my newly finished Lucy Bag (this is the only picture I could find of a Lucy bag here). I don't know if it is because the women who create the Two Old Bag patterns are here in Minnesota or what, but all the knitters in these parts seem to have made a few. I'll post a picture of mine soon. (it's under my desk at work right now).
ANYHOW, Kim admired my bag. Having imbibed a couple of adult beverages I said, "I'll make you a bag!" I asked her what color and she, also having imbibed, pointed to her green tweedy sweater and said, "this color". I had just finished two Lucys in a matter of a couple of weeks and was Lucy'd out. So I found this pattern online. I'm making it in a heathered light green, with darker green for the accent tucks. The tucks are kind of a pain but I think that has to do with my tense type A knitting.

I'm hoping that I can finish it this week, felt it and concentrate on making a lining this weekend. I bought a funky cool fabric for the lining and a bright zipper too. The pattern doesn't call for lining, but Kim is a busy, stressed out elementary school teacher who throws a ton of stuff in her purse. I have never seen her carry a purse that didn't look like it was going to burst. I am also hoping that she will like the green. Being a stressed teacher, and being unusually stressed out that night, she was imbibing faster than I was. I don't know if she really wants the green or if it was the beer talking. Can you have beer goggles when it comes to being attracted to a color or a purse?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Crazy Midwestern Stuff

Things have been crazy, crazy the last few days. I have been working on completing some WIPs and, keep your fingers crossed, I should have at least one FO to post this weekend.

Last weekend I drove to South Dakota to visit my parents. They are originally from SD and retired there about 18 months ago to get out of the city. I can't imagine leaving the city, but they are happy. Watertown does have a yarn shop so I paid it a visit Saturday afternoon and bought some Mountain Colors.

To get to Watertown SD from Minneapolis I have to drive through a whole bunch of quirky little towns. Some a whole lot quirkier than others. Dawson MN, the last town before I hit the SD border, has gnomes everywhere. According to the City's webpage each gnome is made to represent a citizen of the town. No explanation why they want to do this, just a short blip saying they have gnomes. Here are some of the gnomes that are in a park right as you enter town.

They are EVERYWHERE. I'm all for hobbies though and it looks like this town definitely has one. Wouldn't these gnomes be warmer in the Minnesota winter in nice knit hats?

The other sources of craziness are Little League and work. I'm trying to get a certification for my job so today I'm taking the first of 8 tests towards the certification. I am 41 years old. It's been a really long time since I've studied anything that didn't involve yarn. I've really tried to knuckle down and study, but it's hard. I don't have the attention span for it. Yesterday I spent all day doing a final cram for the test today, but everytime one of my co-workers came by and said, "do you want to walk over to Caribou for a latte?" I jumped up and ran off to get coffee.

I haven't mentioned it, but I'm President of our local Little League board of directors. You might be wondering, gee Kate, isn't your son too old for Little League? Yes, yes he is. One more year and I'm outta there. But I campaigned for our league to have the opportunity to host a post season tournament. We are officially a tournament venue this year and I need to stick around for it because it will be a lot of work for all the volunteers. This time of year is my busiest when it comes to LL as it is the time we register kids, prepare for the season, etc. Lots of meetings, lots of paperwork, lots of phone calls and mailings to parents.

So, there you go, all my excuses for not having a single piece of knitting finished this week. Be back tomorrow.

Friday, March 24, 2006

What I Discovered in My Stash Closet

I finished cleaning out my stash closet. I've got a huge bin of "what was I thinking" yarn (most from my acrylic crocheted afghan days) and everything else re-sorted neatly into bins. I collected yarn from all over the house and put it together. I found the missing Fantasy Natural and Kureyon.

Everything wool was already in plastic, sealed bins except for a project that was laying on the closet floor. Two balls of the softest Anny Blatt wool ever attached to the project. And wool moth larvae chewing away on it!!! It looked as though the yarn had been sliced with a knife, but on closer inspection, there they were chewing their ugly little yarn stealing heads off. The panic. The sick feeling in my stomach. The throwing away of the project (sob). UGH!!

The only other 100% wool that was not in a bin, but on a shelf, was 10 (yes count em 10) skeins of Brown Sheep Burly Spun It looks okay, no splits, no larvae. But how can I be sure? I've quarantined the Burly Spun. I've added cedar blocks to all the sealed plastic bins containing 100% wool. If you have stash all over the place in paper bags and baskets, check it. Save it before it's too late.

Here is the finished stash closet. Note the empty shelf!

Yes, this is only half the closet. Yes, I have the Burly Spun in a double secret quarantine location. I'm still pretty proud of myself. Plus, I obviously have room for more. My husband is pretty happy about not having to trip over bags of yarn in our shared walk in closet.

Here is the "what was I thinking" bin ready to be donated.
My understanding of wool moths (can you tell I'm obsessing here?!) is that they only attack pure wool. My Encore and Woolease is safe. I hope this is true because I just cannot justify making things for kids that can't be thrown in the wash. And as you know, I can only stand knitting with cotton for so long. So I need my wool blends to be safe from the little fiends.

Speaking of cotton, I brought the #$^&%&$ cotton sweater to my sister's last night. I was babysitting her two youngest because her oldest had a late hockey game. She admired my sweater and said "I want one". Before I knew what I was saying, (cue ominous music) I replied, "I've got this cotton yarn in another colorway, I'll make you one"!!! What was I thinking? I am now committed to the horrors of another cotton sweater.

And another. I found 15 skeins of a cotton/modal blend dk (it says it is worsted, but it's not) yarn in my stash reorganization yesterday. Each skein has 186 yards. That is more than enough for the Vintage Camisole and Picovoli, with 9 skeins left over!! How many light blue cotton tops can I knit? Any other suggestions would be more than welcome!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Over Committed AGAIN!

I've signed on for the Sunrise Circle KAL and the Sexy Knitters Club Somewhat Cowl KAL. Plus I've got the &^%^$#%^(*& cotton sweater to finish. Sleeves for my cool jean jacket. My mohair shawl. I also have to whip up a poncho for my niece's birthday in the next month or so.

What have I done?! Why can't I achieve project monogamy? This is why I don't have an Olympic Gold Medal button. That and I can't figure out how to post and link buttons. Any advice (on any of the above) is welcome.

Monday, March 13, 2006


I have absolutely nothing knitting to write. I have been an absolute witch with a "b" all day. I have been completely unable to embrace life and all it's ups and downs today. It snowed heavy, wet, March in Minnesota snow all night and this morning. It took me an hour and 45 minutes to complete my half-hour commute to work this morning and I think it set the mood for the entire day.

I don't want to whine or make excuses, but in October I learned I have Grave's disease. Now anything condition that has the word disease in it automatically sounds horrible. It's not. It's livable and I really am getting better, but one of the symptoms of Grave's is irritability. Before my diagnosis, I would have just uncontrollable irritability for days at a time. Imagine your worse PMS rage stretching for weeks at a time. Now, I'm medicated and it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it sucks. It's like watching a runaway train and not being able to do anything about it. I know I'm being nuts and over-sensitive but I can't stop it.

Grave's is a form of hyperthyroidism. It's less common than hypothyroidism, which is when your thyroid is sluggish and doesn't work. You're tired and can't lose weight. Just about everyone knows someone on a synthetic thyroid because of hypothyroidism. Women go in and get diagnosed more easily because when you've been laying on the sofa, crying about being fat, a large portion of each day you go see your doctor.

Grave's is much more subversive in my opinion. You have tons of energy. You eat whatever you want and you don't gain weight. Who goes to the doctor for that? Then comes the heart fluttering and the sudden, brief high blood pressure you can hear in your ears. Who wants to go to the doctor for that? You're only going to get bad news about your heart. Then there is the weird trembling in your fingers or thumbs. Who wants to be told they have MS? It's probably just too much knitting. So you attribute all these symptoms to other things and sometimes so do your doctors. Then comes the weird eye thing. Somehow Grave's swells the tissue around your eyes and make them bulge. In me it's only one eye. People tell me that can't really tell, but it's all I see.

So today I was crazy Grave's girl. Now I feel better, but I'm exhausted. 19 more months of treatment and they believe I'll be "cured". I can't wait. I'll knit tomorrow. I'll be entertaining and funny tomorrow. Tonight I just want to apologize to everyone for being a giant raw nerve today. I'm sorry if you are one of the people I snapped at. I'm sorry that I had no patience or attention span. I'm sorry I was a bitch. I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I have the attention span of a three-year old!

To reward myself for finishing a cotton sleeve, I started a lace shawl last night. It's my first attempt at lace knitting and a really simple pattern from Knitter's Stash. I'm using some Outback Mohair which is fuzzy fuzzy soft and I didn't have to take out a bank loan to buy a really big skein. (I want to try expensive mohair, but what if I hate knitting with mohair?)

Albert ventured out of John's room long enough to try it on and seems to approve.

I really am going to finish the $%^&@@%* cotton sweater, but I need a break from knit, knit, knit in the round with cotton yarn. I was to the point of having to stab myself in the forehead with my needles to keep myself awake.

Once I started the lace shawl, I realized I would need another skein of mohair to finish the shawl. So I was forced to run to Yarn Cafe to buy another. (Come on, I haven't bought yarn in two days!). While I was there I found some great Schaeffer to use for the sleeves of my jean jacket project. Which I am not allowing myself to start until I finish the sweater. Or at least the next sleeve.

Here is the jean jacket project. Which I'm not starting yet. But I might wind the yarn. And knit a gauge swatch. . .

Saturday, March 11, 2006

On The Road

I've been on the road for work. Let me just say that the only people who think business travel is fun, exciting, glamorous are those who have never had to do it. I've been traveling for business for about 11 years. I do less of it now, thank God, but at the peak of my traveling salesman gig, I was on the road about 30% of the time. Which is 29.5% too much.

I know people who are flying around the world, see the Taj Mahal, etc. Not me. I travel the U.S. I've spent enough time in places like Iowa and Nebraska to give you directions to all the malls. When you are a woman on the road alone in small towns and cities, you spend a lot of time at malls. In Lincoln Nebraska only loose women go out for a drink and dinner alone.

This week I was in Chicago. No, correction, I was in the burbs of Chicago. The upside was I got some knitting done. And, yesterday I went to Kool Knits (my link function doesn't seem to work)at Most of our office was on the trip so one of my co-workers had rented a car. Being he had a car, is the dearest friend a person could possibly have, and is in general a really good sport, he took me yarn shopping! Kool Knits is in fact very cool as are the people that work there.

My best find was a sleeveless jean jacket that has little holes punched into it. You knit yourself some sleeves and mattress stitch them onto the jacket. Their sample was knit in a great variegated yarn. I didn't buy yarn for the sleeves, but I am thinking Lorna's Laces Shepard Worsted, or Plymouth Outback, or perhaps the Malabrigo I've been drooling over at Yarn Cafe. Actually this wasn't my find, this was my friend, Fritz's find. He saw it on the wall and immediately knew I would want it. How 'bout that? He also scared himself by recognizing Rowan yarn in a bin.

Our next stop was Elmhurst. Fritz's hometown and location of yet another yarn shop. Now I spend a lot of time praising the yarn shops I love, but I honestly can't recommend the one in Elmhurst, which shall remain nameless. Upon seeing a 6'1", 56 year old man enter the shop, the women in the shop plyed him with cookies and then suggested he try Al's Hobby Shop across the alley as he wouldn't be comfortable in the shop. Consequently, he wasn't and we ended up leaving empty handed. That's okay, it was a whole lot of novelty yarn and Encore. Fritz had to stop and buy cigars almost immediately upon leaving the shop to regain his manliness.

Elmhurst itself was terrific. Lot's of cool little funky shops, sidewalks in residential neighborhoods, and kids playing. I expected June and Ward Cleaver to walk down the street at any moment! Loved it.

So about the knitting. Last weekend I engaged in two knitting activities. Going through my unfinished projects and knitting some Fuzzy Feet (pattern on Knitty). In the giant bin of WIPs I found this:

It is a "Wonderful Walaby",49
which is basically a knit hoodie. I'm making it in cotton Fantasy Natural which is probably why I stopped. I HATE knitting with cotton. It's dead and dry and no fun. But I have the majority of the body and had a little sleeve started. Why on earth haven't I finished it?! So I'm going to finish this thing. I took the sleeve with me and got about 7" done while traveling. As much as I dislike knitting with the cotton, I know I will wear it all the time. This is definitely a product rather than process project.

The Fuzzy Feet are done in Nashua Handknits Wooly Stripes. I love this yarn. It is everything cotton is not. It's soft, it self stripes and it was a pleasure to work with. Here are the Fuzzy Feet.

Before felting:

And after:

The toes are kind of pointy. The pattern calls for decreases that are all in one spot and a grafted flat toe. The pattern picture on Knitty looks like round decreases though. When I make the next pair (and I will make another pair) I'm going to change the decrease method. I like 'em though. The Wooly Stripes was very hard to match up. I pulled about half the second skein apart to try to find a match and wasn't able to do it. This is a flaw for slippers, but I don't think it would be a problem for a sweater. It is a little out of my budget for a sweater right now however at $9 an 88 yard skein.

Okay, long rambling blog to make up for lost blog time. I'm home now and will get back on track. Thanks again to the very nice women at Kool Knits (if you ever find yourself in Naperville, IL visit them!) and my friend Fritz (MFF).