Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays -- whatever you celebrate -- and will have a Happy and Healthy 2008!

This year was somewhat of a tumultuous one for me -- many life changes and worries about my furbabies. However, life seems to be calming down a bit and I am getting a routine settled into my lifestyle. Going back to work fulltime -- after only working parttime out of the house or fulltime from home for 7 years -- was much more difficult and stressful than I imagined. It isn't the job that is stressful -- oh, it has its moments like all jobs -- but just the change.

I am responsible for 17 counties and work with individuals, hospitals, universities and colleges, municipalities, other local governments, fire companies, etc. etc. It is a good job but keeps me on the road a lot. Fortunately, I work for the best people. I am often exhausted at day's end, and I will say that I would not do this job for any other United States Senator than the one who employs me. I have known him for 12 years and completely believe in him and his standards. I have watched him move through state government and now into the federal government. He is a one-of-a-kind in temperment and how carefully he selected staff.

Sorry I don't have any photos to download. I think I need to update the photo program on this computer because it will no longer download my new photos. I have a new laptop that I keep at the office so I guess it would be just as easy to download the photos onto it and write the blog during my lunchtime. that's a thought....

What I am looking forward to in 2008 and some New Year's Resolutions:

1) We are traveling to Palm Springs, CA in late January for my husband's conference. In 2006 we visited La Quinta Resort and I cannot wait to a return visit. It is gorgeous and there is a yarn shop that I am particularly fond of....

2) Losing weight. Yes, I am going to lose 15 pounds if it kills me. Exercise and sensible eating. Cutting out soda in my diet and adding water instead. Coke is my big downfall.

3) Attending the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling at the end of April. Three days of knitting with others, learning new knitting tricks and making new friends.

4) Growing our local knitting group. Molly, the LYS owner, will be moving into her new shop in early 2008 and we are going to meet there instead of at the library. The library has been so generous to us and we would have never come this far without their kindness. But, it is time to move to a new space.

5) Not fretting so much about my Golden Retrievers and spending that time enjoying them more. They are aging -- as we all are -- and I just worry constantly. I think this summer's health problems will always be in the back of my mind.

6) Cooking more and eating take-out less. The part for my oven has arrived so once the Sears repairman fixes it, then I should be able to keep this promise. But, back to #2, I have to remember to cook meals and not bake cookies!

7) Take more time for knitting and also get back to doing counted cross stitch which was my first craft love. Yes, I do have time for both and need to make myself take the time.

8) To enjoy life more!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

As the pages turn...or 3 book reviews

Recently I had about an hour to kill while waiting for one of my Golden Retrievers to be groomed so I spent some time in the knitting book aisle at the local Barnes & Noble, one of my favorite hangouts.
Three new knitting books caught my eye so here is my uneducated overview of them:
The Knitter's Book of Yarn is labeled as The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using and Enjoying Yarn. This lovely hardback book is written by Clara Parkes. The author offers a wonderfully complete description of the types of yarns available on today's market, describes the spinning process and completes the book with 40 gorgeous patterns. The color photography enhances the text and the author included at least 2 photos of each pattern, one of them often being a closeup. Price is $30 but I think it is well worth the money. Yes, it did come home with me.
Super Stitches Knitting is a guide to over 300 stitch patterns and is written by Karen Hemingway. The pages are bound in a semi-hard cover. Let's talk about those pages...full of many stitch patterns I have never seen before and all shown in a straight-forward way in nice photographs. Patterns are divided into 11 categories, making it easy to find the type you want/need for a project. Actually, the book is so attractive that it made project pop into my head. Price is $19.95 and also worth the money. Ah-hem...yes it too is living at my house.
101 Designer one-skein Wonders is edited by Judith Durant. This is a second in the series...and there is no indication if others are planned. Patterns vary widely and are submitted by yarn shop owners, designers for yarn companies, knitwear designers for magazines, and knitting book authors. The paperback publication is well done and the concept is interesting. All patterns can be knitted from one skein of yarn. This is ideal. Why? Because it makes knitting affordable for almost everyone. That is so important to the continuation of this important handicraft. The paperback book is $18.95.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Relaxing in Vermont

Hubby and I traveled to Vermont over the weekend and are here until tomorrow. Weather has been glorious -- sunny and warm for this part of the NE in mid-November. However (isn't there always a however) it began raining last night and hasn't let up much today. I was going to travel to Manchester (19 miles each way) but think I will just sit here and knit on a pair of socks I am making as a Chistmas gift. Sock number 1 is finished and I am decreasing for the gusset on sock number 2, so am making wonderful progress. Am very pleased.

Visited the LYS in Manchester twice and wil do a review and take photo of purchases for a later posting.

Think some soup is in order for lunch. More when I return home this weekend.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Knitting Smorgasbord...UFO's/Swap Partners/New Projects

Gray sky, chilly temps, frost on the pumpkin and ground...Autumn definitely has arrived! But, we also have had some gorgeous sunny days that made the changing colors of the leaves brilliant. This year's drought didn't give us as pretty an Autumn as in past years, but it was nothing to sniff at either. I love Autumn. Thanksgiving -- my favorite holiday -- is just around the corner.

I dug into the sock bag and came up with 3 UFO's...the one on the left has 1 sock completed and the other partially knitted. They are larger than I need (now I used fewer stitches) but I plan to finish these and use them as bed socks. Opal is warm and cozy and just what I need on a cold Central PA winter night. The next pair is going to be used as a present for Irina. She lives in Kiev, so wool socks are just the item for her. And, last but not least, the second of these socks is almost finished. They are for me...a sportweight Lorna's Laces (I think that is what the yarn is) in a k2, p2 ribbed cuff and a simple leg and top of foot in k3, p1.

As you all know, I am a big fan of The Loopy Ewe and joined an independent yahoo group called the Loopy Swap. I have made two really nice new friends -- Danielle who I will be knitting for and Debi who is knitting for me. I am really enjoying emailing each of them and getting notes in return. Our "gifts" to them are to be mailed in February, so my knitting for Danielle will begin right after I finish my Christmas knitting. I won't post the photo of the gift until after she receives it...something has to be a surprise! The only requirement is that it be made from yarn purchased at The Loopy problem there...stash here I come!!

The scarf is my new project for me. I was in a stash box and came across this GORGEOUS aran weight wool yarn that I bought at MD Sheep & Wool Festival two years ago. I remember that it was to be for a felted purse...well, I knew I wouldn't knit the purse but loved the yarn. The pattern calls for a bulky weight yarn but I adapted it by adding 10 stitches and going down one needle size to a 10 (yes, those ARE Options Harmony needles I am using and I love them!) to get a fabric firmness that I wanted. The pattern is from a really nice book by Louisa Harding hats gloves scarves that I bought with a gift certificate in the Spring. The scarf will be a nice car knitting project for next Sunday's trek to Stratton, VT where we are planning to vacation (sssshhh...please don't tell the Golden Retrivers because they know if they get sick I will stay home with them and I realllllly need a vacation).

Had a wonderful time late Friday afternoon with Roberta at Starbuck's. We discussed some possible big changes in her life and I am excited and hopeful for her. We enjoy getting together to talk, discuss knitting projects, frogged projects and potential projects. A great way to end a terribly stressful work week and get me started for the weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What a Tangled Skein....

I have not done any knitting the past two nights. Oh, there was time (finally!) but instead I spent a total of 5 freakin' hours untangling a skein of Schaeffer Anne fingering weight yarn from my stash. This is the second skein of Schaeffer Anne that has been so tangled. I have one more in my stash and if it is as tangled I swear to never buy the yarn again. Very sad because the colors are gorgeous and the yarn is really nice for the scarves I am knitting.

Dropped Stratton at the vet this morning because I think he has another ear infection. Those darn ears...we have to catch this before it gets worse and creates another ear hematoma. The good news is that the thyroid meds are working -- he is down to 132 pounds -- hasn't been that weight in a long time. My goal for him is 120...will see if that happens. Strattie is doing so well on the thyroid meds ... he was 154 pounds, lethargic and very sad in early May. His reading was .9 with 2.5 being normal. Last reading was 2.1 and we check it again in December.

Hope to cast on the scarf this evening. Of course I am working on other projects but want to start this one in a bit of a lacey scarf pattern. More later....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I Fell Off The Yarn Diet Wagon

Was in Lewisburg today on business. Of course I took my lunchtime to stop at Mad About Ewes to pick up yarn I ordered for a baby blanket -- it was ordered pre-diet and I just haven't been to Lewisburg to make the purchase.

During my last trip I bought a pattern for a bulky knit top down those of you who are well-acquainted with me know my adversion to knitting a sweater. I honestly thought I had enough stash yarn but I need 1 more skein. I bought this yarn years ago so there is no getting just 1 more.

Brown Sheep Bulky is a nice yarn and quick knit...perfect for the pattern. So, 4 skeins of Prairie Fire came home with me. Photos will be posted after I begin knitting. Tonight I might even do a gauge swatch. I tried on the model Libby had knit and it fit perfectly. I am so glad I decided to try it because I was going up 1 size...would have been a mistake.

Libby has a lovely shop and really nice yarns. She carried Kraemer Yarns and is the only person I know of in this region who sells that wool. It appears to felt nicely and the colors are nice and rich. There also are "color families" in either 4 or 5 colors...nice for a variety of projects.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

September Socks!

I LOVE the colors in my September socks. They are knitted from fingering weight Socks that Rock from Blue Moon Fibers in colorway "Rocktober." This yarn is fabulous (although pricey) to knit with and wears well...I knit a pair from STR last winter. My "Rocktober" socks are done within the month and I am thrilled...lately my knitting has spilled into the next month. Hopefully, this means my life and time schedules are back on track....only time will tell on that.

The leaves are beginning to change color in Central PA and I love this season. Cool, crisp mornings and we have had brilliant sunshine. Of course the downside is that it get dark earlier in the evening but it comes with the territory.

I have joined the Secret of the Stole yahoo group and am anticipating the first clue on Oct. 5. This will be my first project using beads. The designer recommends a plain colored lace yarn but of course I am being different and am using some stash fingering weight hand-painted yarns in shades of grey, purple and blue. I went to the LYS for the beads and bought some purple that are gorgeous with the yarn...however, they are going to be returned. I cannot get the crochet hook through the beads and I refuse to prestring beads onto my yarn. I know I will never finish the project if I am forced to use that method.

So, I went to Earthfaire and found some purple irridescent beads with blue inside. They should arrive this week and I hope they work. If not, I am going to knit the stole without beads. JoAnne's did not have any that would work.

As for socks I think my next pair will be from Trekking XXL twist in very muted shades of olive, brown, camel, and a little purple (at least it looks purple to me). Am interested how they will pattern. I tried to photograph the yarn but it looked like a blob in the picture. Hopefully, the socks will come out better in the photo.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Emma's Hat

Isn't this toddler hat cute? It is being modeled by a stuffed floppy Golden Retriever puppy. I knitted it for my great-niece Emma who was born last November...even though she was not supposed to make her appearance until late January. Guess she didn't want to miss the holidays. And she didn't...the hospital released her to her parents on Dec. 24. A wonderful present for all of us!

This little hat is knit in Aran weight domestic wool from Kraemer Yarns in Nazareth, PA. Almost a hometown yarn company as they are located about 3 hours away.

The pattern is from the wonderful knitting book Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I LOVE this book and plan to make a few other patterns from it this fall and winter. I love the eyelet row that has the icord woven through it! I think it makes the hat extra cute!!

I have enough of the yarn remaining to knit a hat one size larger for a co-workers niece who will soon be one. I was closing in on the decreasing but somehow I had an extra stitch. I got frustrated with it so I frogged the hat and will start again tonight. I hope I have enough yarn and if I do there won't be any to spare.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Disappointing Yarn Shop Visit

Spent this past weekend in Washington, D.C. for "training" for my job. The training was so-so but the weather, walking in the neighborhoods with their beautiful townhomes, and the restaurants and pubs were fabulous.

I decided to visit Stitch DC while in town. Stitch DC has three shops -- one in Georgetown, a second on Capitol Hill which is where I was staying/working, and a third in Maryland. I trekked to the Capitol Hill shop and discovered it to be as disappointing as the one in Georgetown. I called in advance to ask about sock yarn and was told they had "lots of it." Well, ya, they do but come on folks it takes TWO small skeins to knit a pair of socks...and they had quite a number of single skeins and gave me a blank look when I asked for the matching one.

The shop mainly sells sweater yarns, magazines and did have a lot of nice new knitting books. The young women who worked there was very friendly but I could tell was not a sock knitter. I didn't buy anything which goes against my own rule of always buying something in a LYS. Our support is how they stay in business. But, there was nothing...not one thing...I wanted to buy. So after spending a half hour there and exchanging plensantries I left empty handed.

I did finish Emma's hat and will post its photo in a few days. Am hoping to finish the second September sock this weekend and will also post its photo in the next email. I have enough yarn from Emma's hat to make another one so am knitting it for a co-worker's niece who will be 1 in a few weeks. Details to folllow....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Autumn Weather is Here (at least for now)

The temps dropped somewhat in the past two days. Overnight there was a storm somewhere that caused high winds during the middle of the night. Translation: we had a 100 pound Golden in bed with us. Brandeis who is 11 1/2 has always been terrified of the wind and when there is thunder mixed in...he just doesn't do well. Here is a photo I took of them last Saturday waiting for a treat from their daddy. From the left is Teddy Bear, age 4; Stratton, age 8; and Brandeis, age 11 1/2.
Today's skies are sunny and the air is cool...a perfect day for football and hummm...perhaps the first handmade pair of socks for the season??

I am finishing my second sock from Socks that Rock colorway "Rocktober" and expect to complete it on Monday while riding the train from Harrisburg to Washington, D.C. Will be in the Capitol until Friday morning at a conference. Really don't want to go but wasn't given a choice. Well, I could have pushed more but have to go eventually so might as well do it now.

Also am knitting a wool multi-colored hat for Emma my great-niece. They will be moving to upstate New York -- Fort Drum to be precise -- and she is going to need warm things to wear. This is a cute hat pattern that goes quickly. I didn't have a 16" circular needle in size 8 so I got out the longer size 8 DPNs and it works perfectly. No reason to spend money on a circular needle with the others are already in the case.

My next socks are going to be a dark green/grey Trekking XXL. My description of the lovely yarn does not even come close to doing it justice. I think they will be a great wardrobe addition.

Our local knitting group the Penns Valley Area Knitters hosted a surprise Baby Shower for Misty, one of our knitters, during Thursday night's meeting. Most surprises never are truly a surprise but this one was! Check the updated photos on the group' s website. Also, if you are one of our knitters who reads this blog, please go to the website and look at the information for the Sept. 27 meeting. It is going to be held at Inn on the Sky which is only a few miles from our usual spot. The directions are on the site.

Now I must go get ready for the Penn State/Buffalo football game. Won't be nearly as exciting as last week's Penn State/Notre Dame game but will still be a lot of fun.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yarn Hunger Strike! TRANSLATION: I'm Knitting From Stash

I am taking the concept of a "yarn diet" one giant step further -- I am going on a "yarn hunger strike." Why? Because I have such a huge stash I won't even show it to my best knitting buddies. Do these statements strike fear in your hearts? How did I end up thinking this way? Organizing over the long Labor Day Weekend gave me pause to think and reconsider the amount of yarn I was buying.

Wouldn't be so bad if I had more time to knit. The new job, although enjoyable and fulfilling, is also time filling. Fortunately, my Golden Retrievers seem to be healed or on the mend and please God keep them well. Their nursing care took a lot of time this summer, but I needed to care for them and they certainly needed their momma.

I have plenty of sock yarn to keep me busy for years, others for sweaters and the like, and still some for baby items. I am going to knit from stash until I get to a reasonable amount of yarn. No ifs, ands or buts about it. The only yarn I am going to purchase is from The Loopy Ewe because I am part of her Sock Club and there are two more installments. Maybe by the time Spring arrives I will be brave and sign up for next year's Sock Club. Sheri does a fabulous job!

It is hot and humid again here today. What happened to those cooler temps of a few weeks ago? But, I am going to try to complete a second sock tonight. It will soon be time enough to wear hand-knitted socks. They do feel wonderful.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another Grange Fair Ends

Tonight marked the ending (until next August) of a 133-year tradition in Centre County...the Grange Fair and Encampment What is that, you ask? It is a week (plus a couple of days) of 930 green Army tents and 1,300-plus travel trailers and motor homes parked on the fairgrounds which are located just steps from my front door.

Oh, Grange Fair is is hundreds of food vendors, games of chance, carnival rides, entries in various categories including livestock, 4-H, needlework, photography and a whole bunch of others.

Grange Fair is a time for family reunions, many people seeing their camping neighbors for the first time since the last Fair ended, and general fun. Some people do live there the entire week, while others, such as myself make daily and often nightly visits for meals, to meet friends or just to cruise the fairgrounds.

The photos give just a very basic overview.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Book Review

At last week's knitting gathering Lori shared her copy of the new book Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd. Sounds like a basic book, doesn't it? I was skeptical, until I opened it and didn't want to give it back to Lori. In some respects it is "basic" but in others it takes the sock knitter to new horizons.

I think that Ann Budd's book is one of THE best sock knitting books I have ever seen (or owned...yes, today I got my own copy). I consider it to be a veyr good investment as socks are the primary garment that come from my knitting needles. The author does go through the basics of knitting a sock, talks about gauge, the parts of the sock, how to measure to get a good fit, and all that other good stuff.

My second favorite part is the patterns for 5 different stitches per inch. My FAVORITE part and the reason I purchased this book are all the various designs for leg ribbings and lace patterns in repeats of 4-stitch, 6-stitch, and 8-stitch. For me, these will be the most used portions of the book.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A long, stressful summer/July socks

I do think life is looking up at our house...home I am not jinxing things. We had a lot of health issues this summer with all three of our Golden Retrievers -- Brandeis age 11 1/2 (who had a 7 pound tumor removed from his liver -- thankfully it was benign!); Stratton age 9 (who had 4 surgeries for ear hematomas and then got hot spots all over the top of his head because of sweating underneath the bandages that kept his ears in place on top of his head -- oh those bandages were also sewn to his head); and Teddy Bear age 4 who developed a breathing problem (which was allergies we think because the meds seem to have solved the problem). Whew!

I did relatively little kntting (or blogging) since mid-June when this all began. I did enter my Feather and Fan socks into the Grange Fair and placed third with them. The Grange Fair and Encampment is a site to behold and I will take some photos this week and post them...this is one event where seeing IS believing.

Today I had a lovely time with several of my fellow members of the Penns Valley Area Knitters at a picnic at our family's tent. Thanks for coming Billie, Melissa, Roberta and Misty. Oh, and also Denny, Melissa's husband stopped for a while. We had a fun time knitting, chatting, and of course eating. The humidity finally broke and the temps dropped so the breeze in the tent was wonderfully welcomed!

I seem to be back into the swing of knitting socks...oh and shawls but will save them for a later post. The completed socks are from Opal which I purchased at MD Sheep & Wool Festival 2 or 3 years ago. I love how they striped. They are my July socks which I admit were finished in early August. I felt lucky to get them done.

On the needles are my August socks which won't be finished until early we see a pattern emerging. They are from Blue Mountain Fibers Socks That Rock in the "Rocktober" colorway.

Squeeling with delight...see the lovely Lorna's Laces sock yarn in nice fall colors? Roberta brought the 2 skeins to me today as a gift. We have known each other for a number of years and she has been worried about me and the Goldens this summer. Thank you Roberta for all of your warm thoughts and good wishes. Also, for your kindness of the sock yarn. It will be the next fingering weight on my needles ... I am thinking a Feather and Fan pattern....gotta check the number of stitches. But, whatever the design (watch here for updates) Roberta's gift will be the next yarn knitted.

I am off to work on that sock in progress. Hope all of you had a good summer and are ready to enjoy beautiful Autumn weather (thinking positively!).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

June Socks

True to my pledge, here is another pair of knitted socks for another month of the year -- June. Aren't these cute little buggers?? They are baby socks for a niece who is expecting in February. These are from some leftover Trapunto that I got from Molly.
Hope to get a few more pair knitted as a friend's daughter is also expecting, but she is due in late December.

I did not officially participate in the "Summer of Socks" like many other bloggers/knitters. Guess I already had proclaimed that unofficial intent in January.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

(Almost) May Socks

Opening an office, a lot of travel for work, and some general lack of sleep delayed the completion of the second sock from On-Line that I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in early May. Finally finished the toe and grafting this evening at the knitting group. So, now a matched pair...almost perfectly matched stripes. Will let you know what I think after I wear them...I haven't like other cotton socks I have knit but this yarn has some nylon in it so perhaps these will be a better pair.

Am knitting an oblong shawl from sock yarn that is hand-painted in shades of gray and pink/raspberry. I think it will be lovely when completed. More on it in another posting.
Knitting group was lively tonight. I have missed several meetings and it was good to see so many people tonight at the library. I brought home more completed 10 by 10 inch squares that we are using for our Linus Project blanket donation and also for some laprobes for the veterans in the VA Home and Hospital in Altoona.
Weather was gorgeous today...too bad I was at the office all day...I would have enjoyed sitting on the deck to knit. Hope the weekend weather cooperates.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Knitting in Public

Am on vacation in Corning, NY at an LPGA Golf Tournament. I certainly don't spend my hours walking the course like my husband does each day. Instead, I strategically place my fold-up chair at either Number 9 or 18 and use my time to knit socks. Currrently I am knitting a pair of self-striping socks from On-Line's Beach line. I bought the yard at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and love the feel of it. Will be glad to get the pair done so I can give them the real test -- wearing them.

Also have been reading a knittng novel I bought at my LYS. First book in a new series is called Cast On, Bet's Off: A List & MaxDevereaux Sit & Knit Mystery. Author is Jack Olesker. Really quite good. I know I will get future books in the series.

Back to that sock! Look for photos soon. Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Loopy Ewe's Sock Club is Outstanding!!!

Today's mail included a nice red,white and blue USPS box....from Loopy Ewe...oh my...could it be the first installment of THE SOCK CLUB??!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS it was and Sheri did not disappoint me. In fact, I was so awed by the contents I called and told her that my expectations are high and she certainly did not disappoint.

See the contents in the photos. First there is the lovely pattern designed by Lisa Parker at Wildhorse Farm Designs. This one is called Summerfield Socks. It is designed for 64 or 72 stitches but I use 56 stitches for my fingering weight socks. Fortunately, it is an 8-stitch repeat so I can adjust to suit. The Loopy Ewe sells really cute plastic zip top bags for sock or other projects. Well, this first package included one complete with Loopy the Lamb in his 4 socks, the name of the shop and the words "SOCK CLUB" on the front. This is a collector's item...there are only 150 people in the club!

The yarn is a gorgeous merino/bamboo/nylon from All Things Heather in a colorway called "Skinny Dipping." The skein is a gorgeous summer color of turquoise, green and yellow. Yummy!

Sheri always has just the right additions to make her packages extra special. This one did not disappoint. Of course there are the always present packet of Hershey Kisses that come with each order and additionally a sheep-shaped soap and a packet Kool-Aid Lemonade. To top it off is an adorable thank you poem from Sheri.

Wow! I don't know how she will top this for the next quarterly mailing! Thanks Sheri.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

MDSW was the usual fiber lovers dream....yarns of all weights, colors, textures in building after building. Much of it was hand-dyed in gorgeous hues ...brights as well as muted colors. Something for every knitter or crocheter. There seemed to be plenty for spinners, too, but not nearly as much selection as for knitters. I was very conservative in my purchases this year and bought 2 skeins of cotton blend sock yarn for summer socks, a few patterns (which were my major goal this year), and a gorgeous kit for a vest made from garter stitch short rows and garter stitch miter squares.

I traveled to MDSW on a bus with 55 other fiber-holics. The bus trip was organized by The Knitters Underground in Centre Hall, which is my LYS and also a former employer. Our travels have picked up a few more participants so this year Molly rented the larger bus. The driver was happily suprised at how many people were making the trip. Molly's trips are really nice and include a little perk -- a very useful totebag with an original "Molly design" silkscreened on it. And, she knows how to start our day at 7 a.m. Inside the bag was a bagel, OJ, cream cheese and jelly. She doesn't do the breakfast stops we did when I organized the guild trip but instead does the bagels. Personally, I prefer the breakfast stop (because I am starved upon arrival and the food lines are often somewhat long) but most riders just want to get much as I like the bus trip I might go on my own next year and spend at least 1 overnight. The jury is of course still out on that decision.

In addition to fiber fun there are the animals ... I got to pet baby goats and angora bunnies...such fun.

Billie and I always have a good time shopping together. This year we both had the same gameplan...begin in the big building and head for The Mannings. I really like their sock yarns and patterns and was quite lucky...that is where I bought both summer weight skeins of yarn and also a few patterns. We meandered through the other booths and were carefully looking...we were on a mission for Billie. She knits THE most gorgeous lace shawls I have ever seen and was searching for the right colors in yarn to knit herself a square shawl. We have a lot of the same taste in colors -- purples and tealy-greens -- so we spent time looking for a color combo that jumped out at her and called her name. There were several candidates but the winner came from Tess Yarns and Billie's choice is gorgeous in hanks and will be outstanding when knitted. I can't wait to see what creative design she comes up with.

Let me return to our arrival...Molly made a few announcements to the riders and I suggested she add no live animals could be brought on the bus trip home. No one could buy a rabbit, goat or sheep of any size or age. Other chuckled and some shook their heads in disgust at the thought of the announcement...well folk, I have some previous MDSW visions....

While waiting for the last group of people to return to our bus, lo and behold the next bus was getting a live adult sheep. The idiot woman who bought the poor animal was trying to put it into a dog travel crate that was not nearly large enough with the plan of having the sheep ride in the underneath luggage compartment of that bus the whole way back to New Jersey. It didn't happen, thankfully, because the fumes would have smothered the creature. The bus driver refused but to me it looked like he was I grabbed my cell phone and Melissa's MDSW book and called the number inside the cover. Got a recording. So, with a "don't leave without me" to Molly I was off the bus and went outside to watch the proceeding. I was going to head to security but it wasn't necessary. They got the sheep onto the bus and as it pulled out we saw it in the back passenger seat. I bet it and the other passengers were damn glad when that trip ended!

Yes, this will bring about some correspondence from MDSW, to the Howard County Fairgrounds and to anyone else I can think of associated with MDSW. I know the vendors are there to make money but they also need to be responsible with the sale of the animals. They need to make sure they are properly contained and in a good space for their trip. No, I am not a member of PETA but I have common sense and also compassion for those with lesser brains -- in this case the lesser brains were housed in the head of the woman who bought the sheep and also in the person who sold it. Oh, BTW, the latter stood by and watched the exchange between driver and new sheep owner. I do hope she learned something...but I bet she didn't.

Monday, April 23, 2007

April Socks/Yarn Organization

Don't these socks remind you of Spring? The bright colors were my inspiration to survive those recent rainy, gloomy days in Central PA. They are soft but yet sturdy...the first pair I have made from Perchance to Knit. These are the Azalea colorway. I just love them. Our 70+ degree temps are supposed to drop back a bit later in the week so maybe I will have an opportunity to wear these socks before fall!

Readers have asked where I buy my sock yarns...primarily from Sheri at The Loopy Ewe. Her selection beats all others I have reviewed and her customer service is outstanding. If you are a lace knitter, keep checking her site because Sheri is going to start selling lace yarns which are perfect for shawls. She is promising to post those yarns this week. I have bought a few yarns from her and they are earmarked for shawls -- my personal choice is using sock yarns. Check her site often because she sells out in the blink of an eye but reorders and gets the yarns as fast as the hand-dyers can get them to her. Most of her sock yarns are hand-dyed, made by 1 or 2 women so her business is also helping to keep other small, female-owned businesses (commonly known as cottage industries) in operation. If you shop from Sheri, please tell her I sent you!

Keith couldn't find me much of the weekend...I was knee deep in yarn. I decided it is time (well, actually waaayyyy past time) to organize my yarn stash -- a lot of which I have had for 5 years or more. I have been planning this adventure for months but never knew where to start. So, I just opened a box and started. I had notepad, pen and labels in hand. Each rubbermaid storage container is labeled with a box number and the notepad has the corresponding box number and box contents on its pages. I think I need to live to be very old or perhaps even have an additional lifetime to use all of this yarn. But, now I know what I have and can knit from stash.

I am almost finished with that phase of the project and then it will be on to the sock yarns. They are organized but I am doing some re-organizing. The rubbermaid containers are going to the rental storage area to give me more space in that room. Can't wait and neither can the cats...all of these boxes have taken over their playroom!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Washing Socks

Many people choose to wash their handmade socks in the washing machine and some even are brave enough to put them in the dryer. Well, then call me "Chicken" with a capital "c" because I handwash all of mine in Eucalan which has a wonderful smell and doesn't require rinsing. I let my socks soak about 15 minutes per pair in this wool wash, swish them around and then gently squeeze out the excess water. Then they are rolled in a towel and NOT rung out but again gently squeezed. After this they are hung on the bathroom towel rack to dry. Yes, it might take a whole day but I'd rather that than shrink, felt or damage them. I use sock yarn that is colorful and often costly. Additionally, the hours I put into knitting these gems is worth a little extra care in washing and drying. Others have methods that work for them and that is great. This works for me and I am sticking to it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Needle Chatter

Reading other people's blogs is fun, interesting and sometimes educational. There has been a lot of chatter the past 2 weeks about the new Addi Turbo Lace Circular Knitting Needles. Another gimmick...well, that is what I thought. Then I read Wendy Johnson's blog Wendy Knits! which in my humble opinion is the premier knitting blog in cyberspace. There are a lot of really good blogs but I really am addicted to Wendy's...can't wait for her evening posts...just like the next chapter in a really good book.

Sorry, I digress. Well, when Wendy discussed the new lace needles and gave them a thumbs up, that was a decision maker. I was knitting the Feather and Fan shawl pictured (see new lace Addis in the photo, too) in this post and was using my lovely new Knit Picks interchangeable circular needles. They are nice needles -- I love their pointy tips. But, when I would flip around the shawl to knit the next row they would unscrew just a this maneuver a few times and wa-la, a gap that catches the sport weight yarn. I was frustrated so decided to bite the bullet and see who had the new lace needles for sale. The lace needles I needed were $15.95 and I really didn't want to spend the money. I have wooden Clover needles in that size but I don't like their join because the bump catches the yarn -- wish the company would fix that problem because I love their straight and DPNs and I had regular Addi Turbo circulars in that size. Now, if I was a more experienced knitter and didn't have the help of either 2 cats or 3 Golden Retrievers when I am knitting I could use the slicker surface.

I now have a size 5 circular in the new lace needles and I am very pleased for several reasons....the tip is as pointy as the Knitpicks; the cord is THE most flexible of any circular I have ever seen and when unrolled stayed that way; the join is smooth and the needle is still fast to knit with but is not as slick. All what I wanted so I feel my money was well spent.

My Google search for a sales location came up with one of my favorites, Angelika's in Lakeside, Oregon. I ordered them on-line on Thursday and they were in my mailbox in Pennsylvania on Saturday. Very fast service. I really like shopping with her...great and quick service.

Well, I am going to take a cleaning break and go sit in the sunshine -- we finally got some -- and knit a bit. I think socks are calling my name today! Happy Knitting everyone.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Socks ... and more...

Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all and may the luck of the Irish be with you throughout the year!!! I really could eat Shepherd's Pie today and wish I was in my favorite Irish Pub on Beacon Hill in Boston. But it is not meant to be this year.

I am still on pace for completing a pair of socks each month...I know, I know it IS only March but by now I am usually already behind my self-imposed schedule. These Feather and Fan socks are really nice and I love this yarn. As I said in a previous post I found it in my stash and probably have had it for 5 years. An early ebay purchase. And probably one of my last ones...I don't do ebay anymore. I got burned by two vendors and ebay wouldn't help me I'd rather pay a shop owner for yarn and know I am actually getting it.

I have fallen in love with the Feather & Fan pattern and am doing it in this oblong shawl from sport weight Frog Tree Alpacha in this gorgeous dark teal color that I bought at The Knitter's Underground in Centre Hall, PA. Molly has a lovely selection of all kinds of wools and as a very accomplished knitter she can help you make the right choice for the pattern/design you want to knit.

Once this shawl is completed, I am making another one...that information is for a later post...but I bought the yarn from Sheri at The LoopyEwe who is my very favorite on-line sock yarn merchant. Yes, the next shawl will be from a varigated sock yarn that she just began selling...Seacoast in the Autumn colorway. This yarn is a blend of merino wool/bamboo/nylon. It arrived in today's mail and has an amazing feel to it. No photo now...will save that for later.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What Will This Be?

A pair of socks of course! Aren't the colors gorgeous?! This hand-dyed fingering weight is from Perchance to Knit and I bought it on-line from The Loopy Ewe of course. Last week was a crazy ordering time from Sheri whose head must have been spinning. She posted 5 pages of new sock yarns and most were gone within the first hour of posting. She is getting more yarns this week and will be posting them asap. She has great selections and colors for the knitters.

This yarn is called Azaleas and as a nice treat each skein comes with a cute hand-made stitch marker. Very nice touch. The yarn is soft and should knit nicely. It is in purples, raspberry, orange, light pink and a little yelllow peeking here and there.

I think I know which pattern I will use but am going to keep that as a surprise for another posting.

I do need to knit the second sock in the Lorna's Laces Sportweight that I posted in my last message but the colors in Azaleas are just calling to me. It looks like Spring! The LL socks are dark and winter. They will be wonderful and will get finished but I think tonight I will experimenet with this new sock yarn.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mid-Winter Blahs!

I haven't been knitting much lately. Seems I have been stricken with the mid-Winter blahs or perhaps it is just some other things I need to resolve that have zapped my energy and desire to do much of anything.

But, in the past couple of days I decided to "push" myself to knit these simple socks from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in colorway Baltic Sea that I bought from Loopy Ewe who is my favorite on-line sock yarn supplier. Taking a break from the usual knit, knit, knit I did a simple k2, p2 cuff for 1 3/4 inches and then switched to an equally simple k3, p1 for the leg to a total of 6 1/2 inches. As you can see I have completed the heel flap and heel and am beginning the gusset decrease...which is my FAVORITE part of knitting the sock. These will be my March socks...and I will post a photo of the finished pair soon I hope!

See this other yarn...the pretty shades of blue from J. Knits...of course also purchased at Loopy Ewe. I am going to use it for one of the nice lace patterns in the new Interweave sock book Favorite Socks which I raved about in a recent post. Perhaps I will do the cover sock, I am enticed by the picot edging and the lace design.

I have knit lace socks in multi-colored yarns but (in my opinion) a delicate lace sock needs solid or almost solid yarn to really show off the spectacular pattern.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Moving Right Along

I haven't had much time to knit in the past 2 weeks -- or to blog -- but Barbara said she was going to catch up with me on the blog tomorrow so I decided I wanted to write something to keep her amused in this cold, snowy weather. Hi Barb!!! Hey...enjoy your trip to Arizona and your family visit...we will miss you at knitting group but really want you to go and have a great time!

The purple-ish hand-dyed sport weight yarn that has been in my stash forever (see last post) is knitting up beautifully in the Feather and Fan pattern. As you can see, one sock is done and the other is knitted to the middle of the heel flap. I expect it will be done by sometime Monday. Aahhh, speaking of Monday -- President's Day -- in all of my years of employment it will be my FIRST paid Monday holiday. How am I spending the day, well knitting and looking for office space. The latter is my choice as I want to get a list to my boss this week so a spot can be selected.

Look what I found in a knitting bag. I started this sock from Trekking XXL before Christmas and forgot about it. I love the mix of the dark navy/black with the brighter colors. And, this first sock is past the middle of the foot. What a bonus find!

I am still pondering the next socks on the needles -- many, many choices. I think on the size 3's (sport weight) will be one of the Lorna's Laces I bought from Sheri at The Loopy Ewe which has become my VERY favorite site for buying sock yarn. She is the best and her customer service cannot be beaten. She is always getting new yarns and has a fabulous selection. One the size 2's will be one of the Fleece Artist colors I also bought from Sherri...and more were ordered yesterday.

Finally am making myself spend an hour a day organizing yarn and eventually will have the project completed. Yes, I have a lot of yarn but it takes me so long because it is so disorganized at the moment and I am trying to make some sense of it. I am moving it to a storage area that I rent for the Golden Retriever Rescue -- there is plenty of space for my yarn boxes and having them out of the bedroom will make the cats so happy! More space to chase their little mousy toys...

Look at this book, Sensational Knitted Socks that I bought at Barnes & Noble with a discount coupon. All sorts of lace patterns and other designs for socks. Humm...this one is going to get a work out. Am waiting for the Spring issue of Interweave Knits to hit the newstand next week. The preview of patterns on their website looks interesting.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

February Socks and More

As promised -- total sock content for this posting. I love knitting socks...anyone who knows me can attest to that. I do knit other things but socks are my favorite. They are portable, quicker to knit and those sock yarns that are on the market today are so yummy...everything from self-striping to hand-dyed to some nice solids.

Many of you have asked me where I get my sock yarns. Well, some I knit are from my stash while the Trekking XXL was purchased either at Knitters Underground in Centre Hall, PA or at Mad About Ewes in Lewisburg, PA. I love Trekking XXL. However, these days most of my yarns are from an on-line shop located in Missouri...The Loopy Ewe at Sheri continually adds to her available lines and colors. On Monday she is promising to add sock yarn from more designers and many, many colorways. I can't wait!

See the pink shorter socks in this post? They are my finished February socks. Yes, I started them in January but they WERE finished in February. My rule is when they are finished not when they were begun. These are a hand-dyed, soft merino wool in a DK weight from Black Bunny Fibers and I knit them on size 4 DPNs. I usually use size 3 DPNs for DK weight yarn, however these are not to wear with shoes or boots but rather to keep my feet warm while I am sleeping. They did a perfect job last night during their trial run. Soft, warm and cozy...just right for a cold winter night.

The socks from the purple-ish hand-dyed DK yarn are my first venture into knitting a sock design that I like in the yarn I selected! This is a top-down Feather & Fan pattern that I found on the internet via a Google search. I love it because it is 48 stitches...just the perfect number of stitches for my DK yarn. Speaking of stash yarn, I was digging through a yarn drawer the other day and lo and behold his gorgeous yarn that I bought on ebay at least 5 years ago. And please note the DPNs...a set of size 3 metal needles from Knit Picks. I also bought a pair of size 2's and am so glad I did. I was hooked on wooden needles but these pointy metal ones (that are not much heavier than the wooden needles) are quickly becoming familiar in my hands.

I am so excited. My new sock pattern book arrived today from Interweave Knits Their customer service is also outstanding. I ordered this book via phone on Wednesday and it came today -- Saturday. Favorite Socks is a gorgeous hard-backed sock book with 25 patterns, complete with color photos and very readable written directions and charts that have been printed in Interweave Knits (my FAV knitting magazine) in the past few years. Some use more than my usual 56 stitches so I will have to swatch and see what I think. Those with 60 stitches can still be done on size 2's but the others might have to be knitted for someone other than me. BTW, this book offered a nice surprise when I opened it...the inside pages are spiral bound and it lays flat. Woo-Hoo!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day. That poor creature was pulled out of his sleeping quarters by a bunch of high-browed men in top coats and top hats. Poor little Punxsutawney Phil was quaking and shaking. He was so scared.

What did he do? Well, he didn't see his shadow...which supposedly translates into an early Spring. Well, I think he made a bigger joke out of those pompous guys in Punxie than they made of themselves. Right now it is snowing harder than it has all winter! You go Phil!!!

Knitting content tomorrow.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Fiber-y Day

Today was such a knitting day in my mailbox! Woo-hoo!!!!!

Drumroll please...I am going to knit my first sweater -- well, that announcement just sent Billie heading for cover! Come on Billie, it is really an easy pattern...honestly....would I kid you??!! You betcha!

I love this Lorna's Laces Swirl DK in a great color combination -- raspbery-purple-gold. It is going to look great in this mock turtleneck sweater from the book Modern Classics. The yarn was supposed to be for a gorgeous lace vest but I decided that lace and this swirl really won't work well together. So, the sweater is plan B. But of course there is a little hitch...not enough yarn. This morning I quickly called in Virginia and she had enough skeins of the colorway in this dyelot. So, as I write, the yarn is winging its way from VA to PA.

Also got some patterns in the mail from Annie's Attic so now I am searching through stash to find some yarn and match them up.

Check back tomorrow or Saturday for TOTAL sock knitting content. The February socks will be done. I proposed finishing a pair a month this year...I NEVER said they had to be started AND finished in the same month.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Flowers...What a Surprise!

Brandeis, Stratton, Teddy Bear, Patches and Lily sent me these today...with some help from their Daddy. Are't they gorgeous! In celebration of my new job which begins on Monday. I have worked at home for 6 1/2 years and now it is back to an office and being on the road. I was hired by U. S. Senator Bob Casey as a Regional Field Representative. What an honor to work for such a wonderful person. I will be doing a lot of the same things I did for him during the 10 months I worked in the region on the campaign.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This and That

We returned from Orlando last Thursday. Our luggage finished its vacation on Friday. All was accounted for so I guess I can't complain. Orlando was nice...but we don't do the theme parks. I think they are way too costly at $45 per person per day when we don't go on the rides, get tired of the same food and don't buy Mickey Mouse souvenirs. My husband had a conference there for a few days and the warm weather and some sunshine was a nice change of pace.

Didn't get a lot of knitting done but did finish 1 baby sock. Will post a photo when both are complete. Hope to get some knitting done this evening but a 2-hour phone call this afternoon cut into my plans for housework. I am trying to straighten up some things and will have to utilize some of tonight to do that.

Also want to get back to lace knitting. The photo is of a Fir Cone pattern used in a scarf. The yarn is a yummy Schaeffer Anne that I bought on-line at the Loopy Ewe...she is my favorite on-line shop these days.

Am now signing off and closing down the computer...otherwise I won't have any knitting time. Must learn to budget my time at home better since I will soon be returning to work fulltime.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Do Baby Socks Count?

I am making some baby socks for my new great-niece who was born in November at a whopping 2 pounds 7 ounces. She is now almost 6 pounds and came home from the hospital a few days before Christmas. But, she is still so tiny that she can't keep socks or booties on her feet. I found a cute pattern for some fitted ones so I have started them from leftover sock yarn and also will use a little of some full skeins. Look how little the sock will be (see the photo with the cast on). I do like the yarns I have chosen...can't wait to see what the yellow, white and black Opal knits like for her.

I think if I knit multiple pairs of these it should count at 1 pair of my size socks for my personal monthly sock knitting challenge. Don't you?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January Socks

The January socks are done. OK...I admit it they were started in December 2006 but they were FINISHED in January 2007 ... so they count at the first pair for the new year. What a way to begin sock knitting for the new year by someone who insists on matching socks. My first pair of fraternal twins. However, I really like them. Nice sturdy fabric from a heavier weight Opal knitted on size 3 needles. Goes quickly that way.

Next pair is on size 3 and is Trekking XXL...I think OR will it be the Claudia Handpaints from that wonderful yarn shop Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg, VA? heading to FL this weekend for 6 days and the colors of the Claudia remind me of flowers and warmer temps. Maybe I will get off my duff, get out the winder and swift and wind those 2 skeins. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year! OK...I know it is January 7th but with my travels to Harrisburg and to Washington, D.C. this is the first chance I have had to post.

I rarely make resolutions (because I rarely keep them) but I am resolving to knit one pair of socks a month (at least) in 2007. I have so much stash sock yarn it is ridiculous and I am vowing to knit some of I need nice socks. Tonight I am almost finished with my first pair .... oh, alright I started them in mid-December but I am counting them as my January socks. They are a nice pair of self-striping "ragg wool" looking socks made from Opal. And, they are my very first fraternal twins. I am adament about matching socks, but these were knitting from 1 large skein and the repeat was so far into the skein that identical socks were not possible. So, they are really pretty. Will post the photo in the next chapter...have to kitchner the toe.

Also am trying to knit from stash but AM NOT making the current popular pledge to only knit from stash. I'm not crazy enough to think I won't be buying sock yarn from the Loopy Ewe or from Mad About Ewes. Their selections are too nice to pass up.

I can't wait to get to the PO tomorrow. A box from the Loopy Ewe arrived while I was away. I forget what I ordered but I think some of it is for a shawl. Not that I have finished the shawls or scarf (lace patterns) that I am working on. I think I will take one with me to FL this weekend and work on it. Also will only take along one pair of socks to knit. Maybe I will get something finished! Hold that thought, now will ya....

Weather is supposed to get cooler this week so maybe I can even wear a sweater and my new down coat. Guess that makes my decision...I will take along the lace scarf (from sock yarn) that I am knitting to go with the coat.

See that photo at the beginning of this entry? It is the Victorian Lace Today book that was a Christmas gift from my husband. The photos are beautiful, the patterns wonderful and it is just a delightful book to have in my knitting "library."