Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The trouble with normal is it always gets worse. (Bruce Cockburn)

The start of something good.

I didn't get much knitting done this week, despite having given the appearance of living with needles permanently attached to my hands. There are two projects sitting on the coffee table, just waiting to be seamed. I'm still hoping the elves will come into my house and seam them up. After all, that's what they did for the cobbler.

Most of my knitting has been on the Sock Blanket. I've added another eleven squares this week. That puts me a month ahead of my goal to knit one square a day. I think that I've done so much work on the blanket because I have all the pretty mini skeins to choose from. I'm really glad that I did the three swaps.

I've joined another swap from Ravelry. It's a Virtual Vacation. I'll be putting together a package (with a $25 limit) of yarn and souvenir goodies to send to my secret pal. In return, somebody will send me a box of treats. I'm really very excited about putting together the package. I've already "stalked" my secret pal and I have a list of ideas for the box. I'm planning two knitted items to include, and a really cool theme that will involve visiting some of my favorite local sites. Naturally these local sites include my favorite yarn shops, since I need to get my pal both yarn and fiber. My problem is going to be keeping it all a secret until I mail off the package.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. (Oscar Wilde)

On Sunday I talked about my visit to Yarn It in Ft. Pierce. These are the pretties that I bought for myself. The alpaca is unbelievably soft! I have 8 ounces total, which should be enough to make a nice shawl or shrug. I may even try a short sleeved sweater. I really want to start spinning them now, but I have several projects sitting in the spinning basket ahead of them.

I did get the first 4 ounces of white wool plied together. I think it's going to really bloom once I set the ply, so I won't list the yardage or WPI yet. But it is a nice worsted weight, and incredibly soft. The first bobbin of singles for the next 4 ounces is spun, and I'm keeping it pretty consistent with the first skein. I'm proud of my control. Spinning solid white is visually boring (I really like the hand-dyed rovings, with the always-changing colors as you spin), but the incredible softness of this roving makes up for it. It is going to be really difficult to give this yarn away.

Monday, April 26, 2010

...where everybody knows your name...

Do you remember Cheers? It was a popular sitcoms back in the 80's. One of the things that I remember best is that Norman would walk into the bar, and everyone would greet him, "Hey, Norm!"

Of course, the sad part was thinking that the bar was Norman's entire life. Sure, he worked as an accountant and was married. But his real life, his social life, was spent sitting in the bar with people he only knew through the bar.

Tonight, I realized I have become Norm. I walked into Barnes and Noble, and was greeted with big smiles by several of the bookstore employees. The guys behind the Starbucks counter started my drink before I even ordered it. I set up my wheel, greeted Paula (who was waiting for me with her new spindle), and I became a part of the regular crowd.

Marc was there, chatting online with a new girl. Sue had her textbooks out, studying for yet another test. And the quiet guy in the corner was reading as usual. A comment was made that we've gotten too comfortable, us regulars; we know too much about each other for being strangers. Quiet guy (aka Bob-that's-not-his-real-name) actually spoke up to point out that was the reason he stays quiet. Only to learn that by being quiet, the rest of us have been free to make up stuff about him on Wednesdays (the day he doesn't come in).

Yeah, I probably spend too much time at B&N. But at least there's no alcohol involved...

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something. (Jackie Mason)

I think I have found the perfect day out. Yesterday my daughter, mom and I went to downtown Fort Pierce. Our first stop was the Farmer's Market, on the Indian River Lagoon. I was surprised to see how many booths there were, since the last time I was there was several years ago when it was first getting started. The market has really grown, and includes an arts & crafts market sponsored by the Fort Pierce Jazz Society.

We had blast wandering through the market. Mom found some beautiful bird feeders that she wants for her yard, made from old tree stubs. I wish I had gotten a picture of them. There were some really neat lawn chairs that we liked, carved like alligators and butterflies. (Typing that, it sounds weird. I should have taken a picture of them.) And of course there was a lot of hand-crafted jewelry, and some wonderful hand-sewn skirts and bags and aprons. (The aprons were actually picked out for purchase, before my daughter reminded us that we didn't actually ever wear aprons.)

And of course there was food. Cakes, and cobblers, and scones and brownies... so many delicious treats. The breads were the real temptation, though. One booth had coconut bread, which I managed to resist. I did give in before the day was out, and came home with a loaf of blue cheese walnut bread and a loaf of chocolate bread. (I'm not sharing, either.) We also treated ourselves to lunch, which was eaten riverside.

The Farmers Market would have been enough to make the trip worthwhile. But the real reason for driving to Ft Pierce was to check out a recently opened yarn store. (Come on, you know me. You should have expected this.)

Yarn It is located on 2nd street, so it's an easy walk from the Farmers Market. Next store is a bead shop, which I know will appeal to some of my fiber friends. (I resisted the temptation to peek inside, because I really didn't want to be tempted to spend any of my fiber money on beads.)

Yarn It has only been opened a week, and Celeste is still working on getting stock. But what she does have in is a good range of types and price. Celeste is very easy to talk with, and I'm looking forward to visiting with her frequently.

One of the things that mom and I both liked was the sit-down-and-visit attitude. As I fondled fiber throughout my visit, I moaned that I wished I had my wheel so I could play. Celeste offered me use of one of her wheels (there were several in the store), and even offered to let mom and my daughter try their hands at spinning. She has plenty of room for people to sit and knit, or weave, or sew, or just enjoy the day socializing amongst the fiber.

Did I mention that Yarn It carries knitting, spinning, weaving, and sewing supplies? Naturally, my big draw was the fiber. I usually buy my fiber for spinning on the internet. In Florida there are only a handful of stores that carry fiber for spinning, the nearest ones being north of Tampa and in Gainesville. To have a fiber source within easy driving distance... it's wonderful.

It's even more wonderful to be presented with a basket of alpaca and told to feel free to fondle.

Oh, boy did I fondle! The alpaca is (mostly) local, and Celeste preps and cards it herself. It's natural, not dyed, and absolutely beautiful. I settled on buying four ounces of a light fawn shade (almost an apricot) because I picked it up and couldn't manage to set it back down. I also bought four ounces of a slightly darker fawn shade. There was some gray that my daughter liked, so I have an excuse to go back soon.

Plus I have dibs on this loom.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I can't complain, but sometimes I still do. (Joe Walsh

My daughter has had to work until closing four nights this week. I'm really not happy about it, for many reasons. (The words "school night" come to mind.)

Because I don't want her to have to wait in the parking lot (it's a tourist area, on the beach, in front of a couple of bars), I get there early just in case she's let off first. While I wait, I listen to podcasts and knit. It's not the most comfortable place to relax, but at least I'm accomplishing something.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Challenge: "food"

I decided I wanted to try and take on the Thursday Challenges again. I used to do this on a regular basis, way back when my blog was new. It was fun, trying to come up with an appropriate photo for each week's topic.

My first thought for this week's topic of "food" was to share a favorite family recipe (something else I've been wanting to do more often here). Instead, my mind has been focused on NYC because my daughter is coming for a visit in two week. So I give you this picture of a market in China Town. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I have so much to do that I am going to bed. (Savoyard proverb)

I finished the baby socks I was working on, and they are so gosh-darn adorable! I want to make more.

I also finished the knitting portion of the French Press slippers. I can't believe how quickly these knit up. They really don't look like much right now. I still have to seam them together, and then felt them in the washing machine. I really hate to seam things, but I'm going to try to push through it this week. (Heck, maybe I'll even finish the last seam on my Riva sweater while I'm at it!)

I also cast on a pair of socks. This pair is for Becka. Somehow she always gets my colorwork socks. This is a fun, easy slipped stitch pattern so it's going quickly. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to carry them around as my pocketbook knitting. But by winding the balls as center-pull, there really hasn't been any problems.

I've already picked out my next two projects to cast on, so I need to get busy and finish things up this week.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time. (Tallulah Bankhead)

4 oz Falkland, from Crown Mountain Farms
23 wpi (light fingering) in 2 ply
270 yards + 308.25 yards

I finally set my skeins of the Falkland. I had plied them a couple of weeks ago, and then just hung them on the hooks until I could find the time to soak and whack them. It doesn't take long to do, just 20 minutes soaking in the sink (while I'm busy doing something else) and maybe three minutes to slap them on the edge of the bathtub. But for some reason, i just kept putting it off. And I shouldn't have. There really is a reason that you leave the yarn on the bobbin until you're ready to finish the process. The ply lost it's energy, because the yarn doesn't look as amazing as it did in the beginning. I still love it, and it's still wonderfully soft and cuddly. But it would have been better if I had taken the time to do it right.

I haven't done any other spinning. I was just too depressed and sore last week, although I probably should have made the effort just for the therapeutic effects it would have had. This week I've tried to get on my wheel a couple of times, but I haven't managed to actually do anything. I really need to make some progress over the next couple of days. There's a new LYS opening in Ft Pierce (about an hour north of me), and I want the excuse of needing more fiber when I go visit there.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

If you can't do what you want, do what you can. (Lois McMaster Bujold)

I know that the past week, my posts have been very depressed. There's a good reason for that; I've been very depressed for the past week.

But thanks to my wonderful children, my good friends, offers of chocolate, and my mom, I am feeling much better.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I know where there are hungry gaters...

When my children were little, this was the threat-of-last-resort. You know the one, that when you heard it you knew that whatever was going on had to stop because mom was about to become a crazy woman. Even though you knew that there was no way mom was really going to follow through with the threat (She can't really ground us until we're 45, can she?), it still stopped you in your tracks -- just in case.

Well, just for the record,

I do know where there are hungry gaters...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."

(Charles M. Schulz)

I've probably mentioned this before, but the down side to being a single parent is that you have nobody to share things with.

When your child does something incredible and wonderful, thus proving once again that he/she is a total genius levels above anyone else's child (yes, even more fantastic than your sister's child or your best friend's offspring), there is nobody to nod proudly and agree with you. (Your sister and best friend are blinded by the love for their own family, and won't be able to see the truth.)

And when you are depressed and confused and ashamed over stupid choices, there is nobody to put their arm around you and share in your trouble. Sure, your sister or your best friend would be there for you if you asked, but I'm talking about the times when you don't want to go to anybody.

When a decision has to be made, a single parent has to figure out the answers alone. Even if there is someone to discuss options with, the ultimate choice has to be made by yourself. Which means that when you make a really bad decision, there is nobody to share the blame. It's extremely depressing. (The plus side is that if, by some wonderful chance you make the right decision, you don't have to share the credit. Or so I believe. I've never actually experienced that, so I'm only talking theory.)

I'm sorry to be such a pessimist. It's been a very long day of a very bad week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm telling you, things are getting out of hand. Or maybe I'm discovering that things were never in my hands. (Real Life Preacher)

I have a lot of finished objects to share today. Not because I've done a lot of knitting; it's because the last time I shared my progress was three weeks ago.

I did finish the socks for my cousin Danielle, and my daughter was able to take them on her visit to New Jersey. I've mentioned this before, but I really love Deb Barnhill's Back to Basics pattern. This was the third pair I've made using this pattern. The yarn was Red Heart's Heart and Sole, which is a nice easy-care sock yarn. The picture doesn't really do the colors justice. There is a great turquoise stripe that I thought would clash but ended up keeping the oranges from being too bright. I think they would be wonderful to wear with casual jeans.

I also managed to finish a shawl for Aunt Robin before my daughter's trip. In fact, I wove the ends just in time to tuck the shawl into the suitcase before taking Becka to the airport. And wouldn't you know, she was so busying visiting with the relatives that she forgot to give Aunt Robin the shawl. So I'll have to mail it later this week.

And then I'll have to stop and buy some more Lion Brand Homespun. The yarn is horrible to work with; it splits way too easy. But the finished result is the most incredibly soft, warm shawl that I wanted to sit and cuddle under all night. So I guess I'll add one for myself to the queue.

After rushing to finish the two gifts, I decided to take a break. I did two basic preemie hats for Loops of Love. I feel bad that I'm doing such basic hats, but the Bernat Softee Baby is self-striping and turns out so pretty there didn't seem any point to knitting fancy.

I spent a lot of time knitting on my Blankie, finishing 27 squares since my last update. Which means that I'm 32 squares ahead of my goal to knit one square per day. Luckily I received another mini swap, so I have more pretty yarn to use. This swap was the 4switchmeknot swap in Ravelry, and it was the easiest swap ever. All I had to do was pick out which yarn I liked best from the website. The yarns were measured and skeined for us, and she even sent out a surprise stitch marker. I've picked out a couple of skeins of sock yarn for my stash, if I manage to sneak any money out of my budget. (Not likely in the near future, but still.)

Sunday I started a pair of baby socks using the "leftover" yarn my friend Paula gave me. (I had tried to get her to give me the entire skein, because it was so pretty and I loved it. But she was able to resist my "pretty-please" face. So I settled for the leftovers for my sock blanket. And these baby socks.) When I started these socks, I thought that they would be a good way to teach sock making. But knitting such a tiny sock is a bit fiddly, so I'm not sure that it will work out.

By the way, the picture was taken with the sock sitting on a 3x5 index card, just to give you a sense of size. The pattern is Pieces of Eight (Susan Lawrence).

I started one more project. This one has been on my queue, so casting on was a good thing. These are the French Press Slippers. So far I've done the soles, and one of the four sides. It's a quick knit, I did this much while watching a movie, but since I have to keep track of which row I'm on in the pattern it's not something I can take around with me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterward. (Baltasar Gracian)

You would think that as old as I am, I would have learned a few simple lessons.

  • Just because all the cool kids are doing it, doesn't make it right. And it doesn't make it okay for you to do.
  • When you do something you shouldn't, you will have to pay the penalty. (Others may appear to get away with it, but you will eventually get caught.)
  • Objects can only be stretched so far, before they break.
There are other lessons, but these are the ones that I should have paid more attention to recently. If I had, I would have been thought twice about the tight jeans and thus avoided a really ugly scene. (Trust me, lesson number three is vital to remember.)

The three lessons would have also helped me avoid this terrible week, had I applied them to my household budget as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Depression occurs when one looks back with no pride, and looks forward with no hope. Robert Frost)

Some days it just isn't worth waking up. Even for a Monday, today was a totally doom-and-gloom affair. I'd hope that tomorrow will be better, but the forecast doesn't look very good.