Saturday, June 30, 2007

An Owl Would Have Been Faster

MANY days after the fact, my HSKS pal finally got her package. Phew! I was beginning to think it was lost. As fate would have it, she and Anne's pal posted to the swap's blog, back to back. Can you see the matching item? Yup. We shopped together for a whole week, you know. That cute little owl came home with both of us. Twins, I guess...

Please note the stitch markers by Blume's Accessories got mentioned by name. Go Mary! You're on your way, ready or not. It's always such a relief to hear that my swap pals REALLY like at least some of what I picked out. I can't take much credit this time; I had ordered another sock yarn, but it wasn't really available (I seem to bring that out in automated systems), so Sheri of The Loopy Ewe suggested the well-received Shark colorway. Thanks, Sheri!

What's that Loopy? Oh, I miss you too. But don't worry. I'll order again soon, I'm sure. And I'm thinking you'd like to go see the Order of the Phoenix movie with me, and maybe go to Chicago on a business trip, and you're definitely going to Myrtle Beach to supervise the sock knitting and I suppose you'll have to attend part of the conference too...

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to go here. Have Loopy, will travel!

Knitting for All the Right Reasons

Folks, please pop over and join Amy's cause. Her hometown isn't a big city, and it's just up the road from the even smaller town where I spent my teens. I think most of us at least think about doing more charitable knitting, and WarmUpWinc will allow me to put my needles where my heart and mind have been. I'd love to be able to blow Amy away with the amount of hats, mittens, scarves and more we send her way!

Not What You Expected

Some of you were expecting photos of two knitters from blogland meeting. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. POUT. I was doing payroll while Michelle and I finalized plans, and I didn't write down the time. I got it wrong, and by the time we talked, she was 15 minutes from our meeting spot, while I was still over an hour away. Big sigh. Guess it just wasn't meant to be right now. Sorry Michelle!

In other news, my Green Yarn Junkies pal's box mailed out this morning, along with my first No Sheep Swap package. (Yes, mailed on the last possible day to be considered timely...) But more interestingly, I finished my vest. The arm holes are bigger than I like, but otherwise, it fits well, which for my first garment is good enough. I loved knitting with the Plymouth Royal Bamboo, and since I have nearly 250 yards left over, I can make another little project. My sweet husband suggested socks, but I don't think that's anywhere near a good choice for that yarn. It is a fairly heavy vest, as summer clothing goes, but on, it doesn't feel heavy at all. I will likely wash and block it later today, and wear it very soon. Maybe then, I'll be able to get a better photo. If you haven't tried bamboo, I highly recommend it. It just glides through your fingers and off the needles. I also mastered the three-needle bind-off on the shoulders. Piece of cake! I'd done seaming before, first just a bit on Mugsy's sweater, and then, on the Mitered Squares bag. There really was very little on this - just the shoulders to the back with the three-needle bind-off, and then, each side to the VAST arm holes. Oat Couture patterns are great!

That's about it for knitting content. I'll likely finish the first two circs. sock later this afternoon, and then I'll have to decide what to cast on next. Probably a dpn sock, but I do have non-sock projects I could and should consider.

Don't forget to get your bingo card in for the second round of Virtual Vacation bingo. And sign-ups for the second round of the dishcloth swap end at midnight tonight.

In non-knitting news, I have to give props to my incredible sister and her husband. We had an early birthday dinner for me last night, as they've headed off on vacation. My sister gave me FOUR charms, including the one Anne spotted on our Richmond yarn crawl. The picture could be better, so that's a grater on the far left, a colander on top, a whisk on the right, and the needles and yarn in the center. My sterling charm bracelet will be much heavier once those are added!

However, my always funny, kind brother inlaw gets the bow. Because botching dates and times is what I seem to be doing this summer, I somehow flopped Anne and Ingrid's arrival date around, thinking I could go with my sister and other friends to Williamsburg, for the big Longaberger event there. So, my other brother inlaw's girlfriend signed us up to weave our own baskets, something we've done before, but these were special, designed just for the Williamsburg crowd. Long story short, my sister said she'd found a friend to go with her to take my spot, and I stayed at home and greeted my guests. I thought nothing more of it. No one shared any details, which I thought was a bit rude, but I decided they didn't want to make me pout - which you know I am apt to do - and let it go.

Wrong! They were all in on it. My brother inlaw, disdainer of all things baskety, set aside his eye-rolling urges and instead, rolled up his sleeves and made me a basket. I can honestly say, prince that he is, my own hubby wouldn't have done that for me. Now, I have known my brother inlaw most of my life, as he's also a volunteer firefighter, and first dated my sister when I was just a little girl. My inlaws are his son's godparents, so even before he and my sister reconnected and eventually wed, he was still a significant family friend. My other brother inlaw's girlfriend was sworn to secrecy, so now I know why she didn't email with details of the trip either. I love it! There's the close-up of the Colonial Williamsbur signature pineapple (a symbol of hospitality) and the special nearly Williamsburg Blue trim. Note the splint commemorating the event, and the beautiful tie-on. He also initialled the bottom, in Longaberger tradition, got the weaver (the guy who talked him through it and helped out as needed) to sign it, and then stood in line to turn it into a certified collectible with a signature from one of the Longabergers. Thank you!!! I am truly spoiled.

PS - I love spell check, but it doesn't love me back. "Baskety" isn't a word. "Blogland" isn't either, if you can imagine...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Healing Drool

Fred here. I'm the beautiful basset hound she mentions once in a while. Before the Harry Potter forum, which was before the knitting obsession, she had the basset hound forum. When one of the other bassets or their people had a problem, we sent healing drool. So, that's what our house is sending to Michelle, Chewy and their household - boxes and all. Please stop in and offer them support, prayers, good karma, hugs, kisses, or whatever nice thing you are into.

While I'm at it, Mommy failed to make a deadline for her little 100th contest. So, let's say you have until midnight EDT on July 1 to leave a comment, okay? Then, she can pick a winner on Monday, and I bet she won't let me drool on the prize.

And Auntie Anne? Thanks for naming the dishcloth swap after us. Ahroooo!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

100 Post Milestone

Funny how this whole knitting community/blogging/swapping thing grows. I picked up knitting in late November last year after Anne's Thanksgiving visit. After a few almost gentle nudges, she convinced me to start a blog so I could sign up for the Knitter's Treat Exchange. Now, only a few months later, wordy, chatty me has 100 posts, or rather, will once I post this one. Thank you, each and every reader, especially those whom left comments. I try to respond, but if you don't leave an email address, there's a chance I'll forget to answer in the blog. And a special thank you to the wonderful Anne, for sharing your passions with me, even when I'm being a gooblette and need remedial instructions.

Today, Mark and I ran away. He announced last week that we were both going to be off today, which in a family business is rather brash. He didn't ask his boss - his father - or mine - his mother - but simply wrote our names on the calendar and then made his announcement. No good reason, really. We took his truck over to program the two new remotes, but his cousin would have made arrangements without us both taking the day off, and most certainly, Mark could have driven to Elkton alone. Still, it was a great break, a fantastic treat, and getting to spend time with Gary at work (nothing like bring your cousin and his wife to work day, huh?), surrounded by people who obviously like and respect him was icing on the cake. (If you're in Virginia, Dick Myers is a great spot for auto needs. If you need parts, ask for Gary and tell him Chan sent you.)

But you don't pop in to hear me sing the praises my childhood friend/inlaw of distant sorts and/or his employer, do you? And as much as I adore Gary, he's not exactly 100th post material, so...

After hanging out, getting the remotes and a few other minor parts and repairs and having lunch, we headed home, in a slightly roundabout way. Last week, in a moment of weakness, I did some stash increasing. I stumbled onto a blog flaunting the Tofutsies Sock Club, and, well... You know what happened, don't you? Turns out one of the best prices I found was one county away, at a shop I'd been told had the best sock yarn selection in the area. (Which means anything about 45 miles from Charlottesville, in any direction.) So, I ordered (and couldn't stop at just the sock club, but you saw that coming too if you're a regular reader), and waited. Nothing. Sigh. Finally, I get the dreaded email... I'd selected a color not in stock. (It happens to the best systems, at the best stores, so that's hardly a complaint, okay?)

So, a few emails back and forth, and Mark and I had a date at Carodan Farms with Caroline. We pulled up in front of the cute shop, which is just steps away from what I assume is her home, and before we were out of the truck, Caroline was coming up the walk. She was friendly, helpful, gracious, and merely smiled as Mark did his best bull in a china shop routine and knocked various notions off the rack, one pair of mittens in the floor, and who knows what I missed. My only complaint is that it is a good thirty minutes beyond Limerick Fibers, which is a good 25 minutes from my house, so... It will be a special treat to stop in, and I would love for each of you to come visit so I have a good reason to go!

First, the reason I found them, the Tofutsies June Sock Club. (Took long enough to get to the yarn, didn't I?!) South West Trading Company doesn't seem to give their yarn fun, funky names, but you know I love the pinks, white and black here! It's a limited edition color, and if I understand correctly, it's only available in the June Tofutsies Sock Club. The good news is, your own local yarn shop might carry it, but if not, perhaps you'll give Caroline and Carodan Farm your business. $16 got me the yarn - which I believe I paid $16.99 for in a Richmond yarn shop - and the exclusive "Wild Kat" pattern which looks incredible. (Sorry folks; all non-sock knitting is likely to STOP once my tank is done, which might be tonight or tomorrow. I just have too many great sock yarns and patterns, and Summer of Socks certainly doesn't discourage me! I did wisely include a few pairs of socks in my Christmas KAL list.)

Next, the yarn that I actually ordered BEFORE the Tofutsies, because it was on the front page of their website, and it called my name. I'm pretty sure I already have some Claudia's for ME in my stash, but I consider buying her yarn part of my efforts to support another Virginia woman in business. After all, she is based about an hour from here, so that makes her local, right? That's an exclusive colorway called watermelon, which the artist dyed just for Carodan's SoXperience, which I just missed this year, dang it! Caroline had the CUTEST baby hat done in the worsted weight, and I see myself ordering it in the name of a baby hat for the friend loving bright colors but enjoying the mystery of her first pregnancy, so... There's really enough green in there that I think my friend would plop it on her baby's head, in his/her John Deere onsie, and think it was just wonderful. See the flecks of black in there? I know you do - look in the right-most part of my photo. That makes SEEDS when the yarn is knit up! Dontcha' just love it!?

Then, Sue had convinced me that I *NEEDED* my own hank of Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, and being the impressionable novice that I am, I heeded her advice. Meet my elderberry (the color I really wanted, so I'm glad whatever I tried to order wasn't really available), which isn't at all neon, as the flash implies. There was a storm moving around us, and I guess this one shot got flashed... It's a great, dark, fall-looking hank of deep jewel-tones that wants to be a warm pair of socks for this winter. (And yes Sue, it's right here within reach, and I can't stop petting it.)

This solitary ball of Wick waved at me too, and I'm a sucker for friendly yarn. It had no friends. There was a great selection of Wick, but this colorway was alone, and I couldn't just leave it there. Any suggestions as to what to do with it? It's only 120 yards, but I'm hoping that maybe I can squeeze a pair of toe-less yoga socks out of it. Truly, I'd love other suggestions. Wick had caught my eye somewhere, probably on one of your blogs, but of course, I don't remember where, or what you were making...

Last, and honestly, least exciting, are the patterns I picked up. Caroline had probably the best selection of well-organized single patterns I've seen. (I'm still searching for the one Anne bought at Limerick's that I liked too.) I love this little Fiesta Fishbone Lace sock pattern, and for once, I won't have to stop a pattern well in advance of the written instructions to make myself a short sock! Then, there's another Oat Couture, Auntie's Afghan for baby. I even admitted to Mark as he raised his eyebrows at checkout that I probably wouldn't knit it up, but I actually had bookmarked that pattern back in the spring, before I overdosed on blankies. Knowing how much I'm liking the OC vest pattern I'm doing now, I couldn't resist. So, as a reward for those of you who made it this far, post a comment about my purchases today, and I'll use the random number generator to select a winner. One entry per person, and best of luck to each of you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dog Days Questionnaire

1. Do you knit, or crochet, or do both? How long have you been knitting\crocheting?

I knit, and I'm trying to learn to crochet. I've been actively knitting about seven months now.

2. Have you knit dishcloths or dishtowels before?

Yes on the cloths, and not yet on the towels.

3. What are your favorite cotton yarns? Is there a cotton or linen you’ve been dying to try but have not?

So far, Peaches & Cream is my favorite. I'd like to try Knitpicks' CotLin and/or Shine. I really just enjoy trying new yarns, so send me your favorite, especially if it isn't something I've used before.

4. Are there any cotton yarns you don’t enjoy knitting with?

Chenille of any sort.

5. What type of needle do you prefer using? (Metal/Wood/Plastic)

Metal, although I am enjoying my Bryspuns. (I only have #8s in those.)

6. What other projects do you enjoy knitting or crocheting?

Socks, socks and more socks. I also like felting and have a host of different projects for Christmas.

7. Do you have other hobbies or enjoy other kinds of crafting?

My hobbies include yoga, tea, walking, spoiling my dogs and cooking. I also am into rubber stamping, scrapbooking, and have done needlepoint, cross stitch, and other needle arts.

8. What kind of treats do you like? Chocolate? Candies? Nuts?

Dark chocolate. Nuts of all kinds. I'm not much on other candies, except for breath mints, and with those, the more intense, the better.

9. What colors are your kitchen and bath decorated in, if any?

Good question. (What did I put last time, I wonder?) My kitchen is trying to work around the very ugly burnt orange/rust colored countertops. Anything will work. My bath is done in white, blue and green.

10. What are your favorite colors and what colors do you dislike?

My favorite colors are constantly changing. My dislikes seem to be too. I dislike golds or road sign yellows, and orange is definitely out. (However, there are exceptions to every rule. Shannon's multicolored cotton is awesome, even with orange in it!) I'm not crazy about purple either.

11. Do you drink coffee? Tea? Other beverages?

I do. Tea, especially green or black, is my favorite. Coffee? Not so much, but Anne is slowly converting me. Chai is good too. This time of year, a sugar-free lemonade is refreshing as well.

12. Do you have any kids (human or pet variety!)?

Yes. We have two dogs, Mugsy the Jack Russell and Fred the Basset Hound.

13. Do you have any allergies?

Not that matter with yarn.

14. Please share 3 tidbits about yourself that you think your pal and other swappers might find odd or interesting.

Oh gosh. That's open-ended, huh? Let's see... I hate cows. I'm a country girl, but for whatever reason, I have no tolerance for cows. I'm not afraid of them or anything, but they're gross and stupid. I went through a phase in high school where I took the flowers off the table at every restaurant I ate in, including McDonald's. (I carried a big purse then.) One more? Summer makes me think wicker and white and blue toile...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Owl Post

While I live in an area more like the Forbidden Forest than Hogwarts Castle, the owl still had no trouble finding me. After a bit of confusion brought on by my lousy attempt at sleuthing, Kit, my REAL Hogwarts Sock Swap pal, sent me the most wonderful Ravenclaw sock kit. That great silver thing in the center is a great Gargoyle bottle opener, who will be permanently placed on the deck, where he can guard the house from any creatures trying to sneak in from the woods, and so he can also open a chilled adult beverage as needed. (Or an old fashioned Coke in a green bottle.)

Lookee! Kit made not one, but TWO bags for me. In bag number one, we have the can't wait to be tried Knitpicks dpns, standing at attention in their own little compartment. Clever, eh? Hiding in the bag are more treats! Just look! See the stamp? Something from the Phoenix Gallery? Hmmmm.... I love Fawkes the phoenix, but I also adore Phoenix, AZ, so all Phoenix connotations are appreciated. And see those, there on the right? Those are the cutest, best designed travel scissors I've seen. Hubby will be so happy! He rolls his eyes when my knitting travels, because I don't carry my "good" very sharp scissors with me. THIS pair will travel with us and the sock on Wednesday for more road time knitting!

Bet you're wondering what's in the brown Phoenix paper, huh? The soap is incredible. (I'm a soap and smell-good potions and lotions kind of girl.) It's made from ground sunflower seeds and more, and I can't wait to try it. I like lavender a lot too, so it's just a great fit, all the way around. Ravenclawish soap. Bronzish sunflower, blue-ish lavender, and paperwork to read too. Yup. I'm a gooblette as Anne calls me. I actually read the whole thing.

Wanna know what's in the other bag? Can't tell. Then, you'd want me to share, and I don't want to. Lookee there. A sack full of Ravenclawed Lindt truffles. Oh my. (Ravenclaw tip: Chocolate is a nutritional supplement. Antioxidants and everything. It will have its own place in the food pyramid next time, especially if there are women rebuilding that pyramid.) I've already sampled one of each, because... I could. Since we are doing the whole virtual/electronic bit here, I can be gracious. Have one. (But just one, just in case I've under estimated your powers.)

Last, but hardly least, I'll get around to showing why it is called the SOCK KIT swap. Everything needed to whip out a pair of socks, including a pattern and some stitch markers. Love that pattern. Learning to cable has been on my knitting to do list since about January (as in, almost since I reconnected with my inner childhood knitter). Now, I *MUST*. After all, Kit sent this whole package, and it would be rude not to use the pattern she selected, right? Right. (Never mind that Kit is a delightful, understanding soul who would certainly be okay with me using the contents within as I see fit. Peer pressure works! I will cable before SoS is over!) That pattern is perfect. I see great socks I'll be able to wear with my favorite jeans and my brown clogs all winter long... Did I mention that I was thinking I wanted some simple, dangly stitch markers? Well, there they are. Some are plain, and some have a great little moon on them. Perfect, because I require stitch marker variety so that I don't get them all confused. (The end of row marker must be different from the others.)

So, thank you again Kit, for a Ravenclaw sock kit fit for a princess. I'm having a very hard time not casting on RIGHT NOW. I once was silly enough to think that I'd never have more than one project in the works at a time. Then came the spring and baby blankie stress happened. Then came socks, and I knew my knitting life would be empty without a sock to travel along on my travels. Now, I'm trying to keep myself in check and avoid starting twenty different projects at once! What's that Ravenclaw yarn? Shhhh... Of course I hear you. Just promise me my friends, that when I'm locked away because of the voices in my head, you'll smuggle in yarn and needles.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

More Joining

Yes, it's true. More socks! Socks and swaps. Does it get any better? (Love that colorway too... I love brown and turquoise together.) This one really gets underway after Sockapalooza, so if you like socks, please join us. Thanks, Amy for keeping me sock swapping!
Now, on that note, Amy and others have finished their Sockza socks. I just got the yarn, and am feeling like I'm waiting until the last minute. It's more than a month before I should ship them off, and I know the pattern will fly off the needles, yet all these early birds are making me feel behind! Pout!
In other knitting news, the back of the vest is finished. I doubt I'll show pictures until it is finished, including blocking. This baby is definitely going to need it. At the very least, it wants to be steamed and pressed before anyone else ganders at it.

Sockin' Along

And the first Sock of Summer marches on! I love two circs, although there is still some moving of stitches, but that must be the norm, regardless of what kind and how many sticks you use to make said sock. However, the sock would likely be done if I hadn't decided I really want to finish that vest before it's too hot to enjoy it. So, the sock will become my portable project and the project I grab when my hands want a bit of a break from the somewhat tedious stockinette and garter stitches of the vest, and/or from the weight of the vest. Bamboo is a light, fun yarn, but in vest proportions, it still weighs a lot!

I also have a bit of housekeeping to do here on the blog. Anne has opened sign-ups for round two of the dishcloth exchange, which is aptly called Dog Days of Summer. Of course, the boys think Auntie Anne must have named it just for them, and they're thinking up some fun contests and prizes based on that theme! (Mugsy is *SURE* the wet, white dog is an artistic rendering of him.) Please sign up before midnight on June 30th and join us in this bit of summer fun.

Next, being the joiner that I am in the online knitting world, I had to join Michelle's Christmas KAL. I haven't even started thinking about Christmas knitting yet, so it's good to have a friend and a KAL to smack me into reality. Tune in here for an upcoming list, although I suspect there will be a few mystery items, as my friends and family have started to check in here too. The more the merrier, and Christmas is all about being merry, so do join me there too.

We now return to the knitting already in progress...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ready, set, SOCK!

You're only getting a post because the dogs are still out, and I can't cast on and hop up and down to let them back in. As soon as they get back from their perimeter check, we're off to the first Summer of Socks sock, and my first sock on two circs! See? Cat Bordhi's Columbine Peak and the Fortissima Cotton Color my Felted Bag pal sent me. (One more time, THANK YOU, oh still secret pal!)
If you need me, I'll be with my sock.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What to do when there's no sock to do

(Mugsy and I scared a squirrel when we went out on the back deck for the photo. Sorry!) The Oat Couture vest in Plymouth's Royal Bamboo is a little yellow-greener than my monitor shows. (Those point guards are coming in handy already, Felted Bag pal!) I'm knitting it on my Bryspun needles, and I like them a lot. Great tip, some flex to them, warmer than metal... but not my Knitpicks Options. I do like those best, but these are a nice straight needle. I'll have to order them in a #7 for dishcloths.
Before I forget again, happy Bloggerversary, Nancy! She's having a little contest too, and while I'm not sure my answer is the right answer, I'm trying anyway! Pop over and wish her well, will you?
The best news is that tomorrow, Summer of Socks begins! I will be casting on my first two circs. sock, maybe even tomorrow morning, if I can get to bed at a decent hour tonight, which isn't likely. (A meeting, and another tomorrow night, DARN IT!) I will decide firmly on the yarn tonight, and a pattern too, so that all I have to do as soon after 5AM tomorrow as possible is pick up the yarn, the circs and cast on!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Birthday meme

Interestingly enough, I was thinking about a famous person with whom I share a birthday this morning. Good timing, Anne!

Three events:

1. (The one I knew off the top of my head - thanks, Daddy!) 1863 - American Civil War: the Battle of Gettysburg begins.

2. 1963 - ZIP Codes are introduced for United States mail.

3. 1979 - Sony introduces the Walkman.

Two births:

1. 1961 - Diana, Princess of Wales (d. 1997) (The one I was thinking of this morning.)

2. 1906 - Estée Lauder, American entrepreneur (d. 2004)

One holiday:

Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day) - national holiday of Canada.

Here are the rules: The rules: You go to and type in your birthday (only the month and day). Then you write down 3 events, 2 births, 1 holiday, and then you tag 5 friends.

I'll tag anyone wishing to play along, because not everyone enjoys meme...

Button up!

I have been remiss in adding an important button to my blog. I do knit daily, even if it's like yesterday, when I only get in a few rows. If you sign up, click on any of the patterns, and it will take you to a page full of patterns, including my beloved Squatty Sidekick.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Thanks to the internet and tracking information, I knew before I left work that there was Loopy goodness on my front porch. Two skeins of Misty Mountain Farm's Blue Ridge Yarn Jubilee in different colorways, and sweet Loopy herself there. I have one skein in front of me now, and honestly, I can't stop petting it. I won't give anymore details, as one skein is for my Sockza pal's socks, and the other is of course, for me. However, having calculated my yarn purchases from the Virginia Yarn Crawl, that might be my last Loopy purchase for a while. (Think? No Sue, you're right... I won't be able to help myself, but it sounds good to admit I have a problem and pretend I'm in control!)

This little pretty was also in the Loopy box. I love bracelets, so the idea of a row/stitch counter that I can wear while I knit in public really appeals to me. I swear, I think all of Mary's purple writing must be wearing me down, because I find the blues, teals and PURPLES in the bracelet very pretty. Now, if I can just figure out how to best utilize it...

This little happy marker was also in my Loopy box, illustrating another reason I love shopping at The Loopy Ewe. Customer service, little gifts with purchase, and the best selection of sock yarn out there... what's not to love?! Yes, I buy sock yarn elsewhere, especially in person, but Sheri is the best, and has a cute blog too. (Pssst! Wanna know a secret? Sheri gives some SERIOUS hints about the sneak ups on her blog!) Is it just me, or does that blue, purple, teal and silver look simply wonderful?

Speaking of the talented and dear Mary, a second package addressed to me waited on the porch. (There were actually FIVE packages, but they were for Mark.) I knew it was coming, but was expecting it tomorrow, and I most certainly was not expecting all of the wonderment within. Just look!

Those are the stitch markers I was expecting. I'm breaking my own rules here and posting about goodies going out to others, but I can't help it. All of you need to see this lady's talent and help me pester her into business! I tried making stitch markers, and all I'm going to say is that the remainder of my starter kit is heading out to Mary later this week. It's the very least I can do for the incredible array of stitch marker awesomeness that arrived at my house today.

I was kinda' expecting these gems, as I'd shamelessly sent Mary a whole string of the milifori beads not long ago. Note the happy little sage green ribbon - one of my favorite shades of green, one of my favorite colors! I am so blessed to have found so many talented, generous, kind, friendly knitters online. So much for boring, dreary Mondays at my house. Second Monday in a row with outpourings of knitterly goodness on my front porch, and I still don't even know the name of one of the dear souls responsible for the great gifting...

Mary sent two sets of the milifori markers, and these, for me. I'd apologize for all the photos, but I know you want to see them all too! Aren't they sweet? I only wish I was more suited for something so pretty and classically ornate, but I'll enjoy feeling elegant and loved when I use them - all of them. The queen of charm bracelets is fast becoming a lavish stitch marker collector, all by the kindness of others!
There were three more sets in my little package (good things really *DO* come in small packages!), but I've changed my mind and will reveal them later, as they are gifts. I had to show you the purple dice though, which I suspect will be Blume's Accessories signature item, as they are very Mary, at least until she can convince her hubby to move! ;) So everyone, feel free to leave comments here, as Mary drops in for a cuppa' and some reading with her crocheting regulary, or pop on over to her own blog and tell her how badly you need her to set up shop somewhere online, post-haste, so you too can own your own Blume's Accessories custom-made with you in mind stitch markers!

Fellow Knitters

I have found so much more friendship and support than I could have ever imagined via the online knitting community, so it is time to attempt to return the favor.

The ever so awesome Michelle has released her first design! Because she's so kind and generous, the pattern is here and free. Be sure to leave her a comment if you're going to use it, and I'd love to see your finished cloths, and I'm sure Michelle would too.

The second shout out is for a knitter I don't know, but Anne took a couple of classes from her earlier this year, and I've been hooked on her blog for months. Annie Modesitt is further along in her pattern designing and in her knitting fame than Michelle, but this unbelievable pattern can be yours for a song, or for a very generous donation, with proceeds being used to help Annie's family through a very difficult time. It's a lovely pattern, and that my purchase can make a ripple in the pool for another knitter is a nice bonus.

Lastly, Stephanie, aka: The Yarn Harlot, is having a birthday, so drop in and wish her a great one.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

We had a nice cookout with Mark's father's family, and then spent the afternoon watching the race. (As in Nascar.) That allowed me just enough time to finish my second sock in my second pair of socks. I really love this pattern!

The quiet time also afforded me the opportunity to ponder the great visit I had with Anne, her mom Ingrid, and all of the fun things we did throughout the week. The yarn crawl was fun, but not because of any spectacular finds. Rather, it was the company, and the fun that comes from sharing a hobby with friends. If you read Anne's blog or Amy's, you won't find that they were any more blown away by the yarn crawl than I was. Meeting Amy and Karen was a great treat! I'd heard Anne speak of her, and being a part of that first face-to-face meeting was a bonus.

So, since I took no photos except at home, here are my favorite photos, stolen from Anne and Amy. Thanks ladies! (And Anne, is there SERIOUSLY not a picture of the two of us? I swear you made me pose for at least one...)

I actually did TAKE this one, but with Anne's camera. Love those ladies in green, with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind them. (Yes Anne, those are what we in the East call mountains.)

I never like pictures of me, but there I am, in my favorite shirt, with Amy, in front of Stitch DC. I think that's the first picture of me in DC since my college days, but let's not go there!

This is my new favorite picture of Mugsy. It is the essence of Bugginess. (We call him Mug-bug or Buggy sometimes.) Anne took it Monday while I was at work.

Fred can't be left out, so here's one of my own favorite shots of him. I might have posted this one before, but it is as much the essence of the Hooey Hound as Anne's shot of Mugsy is of the Mugster. (My dogs will answer to anything. I think you could guess that.)

Thanks Anne and Ingrid, for vacationing here. It was a delight!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

All By Myself

Well, Mugsy's at my side, as usual, but Anne and Ingrid have headed back to Atlanta, and Mark is at the firehouse for duty. It's going to take a bit to get back into our steady routine, but the upcoming week will make it easier, as it is our meeting week - Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for both of us. It's always a treat to have Anne here, and it was especially nice to get to not only meet her mom, but to spend time with them both!

Their visit actually ended as all good yarn-focused visits should, at a yarn shop, but more on that later. I'll backtrack to Friday night. Before a very bleak, disappointing meal at Ludwig's, Charlottesville's German restaurant, we stopped in at Michael's, where Anne and I both bought more Patons SWS. Michael's is markedly cheaper for the SWS, at least in this area. It's such a great yarn, and I can't wait to try out Natural Denim (on the right) and Natural Navy (on the left). I'd also like to pass along Devon's very common sense advice that didn't occur to my own little mind - it's probably not a good plan to try a restaurant you haven't eaten in before with guests. Duh? It's safe to say that none of us were impressed, and Mark will have "I told you so" rights indefinitely, as he did suggest a restaurant we frequent rather regularly, but I ignored him.

The Virginia yarn crawl ended at Limerick Fibres (or Fibers... I've seen it spelled both ways), my favorite local yarn shop. They never cease to amaze me with their down-home friendliness, organization and selection. I made a couple of purchases I can't/won't tell you about for swaps, but the bulk of my shopping was for me. The Cascade Cotton Rich just jumped into my hands as soon as we walked through the door. I love the color and the softness, but have no grand plan for it. It could be a face cloth, but I don't think Mark will be excited about a hot pink one, and I use the pouf thingees, so who knows what it will become? There are some little babies on the way, and one already here whom I owe a gift, so maybe it will find a purpose in baby knitting.

Evidently, the last stop with Anne and Ingrid had me thinking blue, because the vast majority of my purchases were blue. I fondled the Plymouth Boku (wool/silk) last time I was there, and I think it might be a Noro Kureyon alternative. I have a plan for the little 99 yard skein, but it involves someone I know reads my blog, so only Mugsy knows my secret, and unlike Duke (of Bush's Baked Beans fame), he REALLY isn't telling. Y'all know I can't come out of a shop without sock yarn, and I am happy that Lola (the owner) has added more sock yarn! The Sockotta in color 14 NEEDED to come home with me too. Can't you just see me knitting with it at the beach next month? Same with the Cascade Fixation. It wants to be a darling little pair of yoga socks. Mary found one pattern for me, and my daily knitting calendar also had a footie version earlier this week. Yum!
I just couldn't stop crawling though; on our way to a very early dinner with the inlaws, Mark and I stopped in It's a Stitch for one last item for a swap box. I was shocked that he wanted to go in. He was dressed for crew at the firehouse, and I think he just wanted to see how the ladies who own/run the shop would react. I don't know the nice lady who was working, but she was polite, and even at two minutes to closing, took a moment to show me how to do socks on two circular needles, which you'll get a report on later this week. Say it with me... I must not start new socks until Thursday. I must not start new socks until... You see, that's when the Summer of Socks begins, and that's when my first socks on two circs will take to the needles! I just need your help. This will be the first time since my first sock (all of what, a few weeks ago!?) that I won't have a sock in progress. Add in my overwhelming urge to try the needles and yarn my Felted Bag pal sent me, and truly, I need all the help I can get!
So, no crawling tomorrow. It's Fathers Day, which means heading to Mark's paternal grandfather's for a cookout with the extended family, followed by a relaxed evening at home with lots of knitting on some non-sock item. I think my Oat Couture vest to be done in the Plymouth Royal Bamboo is calling me, but I'm really have a hard time hearing it over the roar of the circs and Trekking...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Crawl until you drop

Before I get into the details of today's yarn crawl, let me take at least a moment to thank my most awesome Dishcloth pal, Shannon! She's one tricky, kind gal! She used her middle name and kept me posted on the status of my goodies from day one. Yup. All of that goodness is mine, save the red canister in the back right. Those are - get this! - dog treats! The dogs are very excited, and wouldn't believe the same woman wrote "Cats rule, dogs drool" in her letter to me. I hope I don't leave anything out. There's a cute bracelet, dark chocolate with caramel, a brand of green tea I haven't tried before, two patterns, a scallop picture (I'm allergic, and was silly enough to say so in my questionnaire, so Shannon was silly enough to send me a scallop!), a beautiful beach scene bookmark, FOUR cloths, two soaps, and some Peaches & Creme, which I haven't tried yet. If you look hard enough, you can see that she even customized my letter with some sketches! I am spoiled, yet again. Thank you Shannon, and dear Devon, the hostess who made the match!

Now, I must note that we decided to punt Jamestown today, because of the weather and the travel time. (Only a couple of hours, but still...) Instead, we went to Richmond. We had plans for some non-yarn sight-seeing, but between the rain and the downtown MESS, we quickly abandoned all non-yarn and lunch plans.

First, we stopped at the Short Pump Ben Franklin. It too had some Cascade 220, lots of Patons wool and SWS, and was clean and lovely. (Yes, another Ben Franklin. I'm impressed.) I bought some swap and prize goodies and a few notions for myself.

Next stop was the Yarn Lounge. It was an interesting shop, but I think I was too hungry to really get too excited. It was also post-downtown mess stress, so there may have been some residual grumpiness on my part. The dog in the shop was cute though.

Third stop on the Richmond, VA round of the crawl - The Knitting Basket Ltd. on picturesque Grove Avenue. It was a crowded little shop in the basement of a toy store, but I found some Tofutsies and another swap something. There were many yarns I'd not seen before, but the Tofutsies were nearly lonely with the few other sock yarns. I seriously think it has more company here in my sock yarn basket! Anne spotted some silver charms at the register, so I'll have to let my family know they exist and would look great on my charm bracelet!

Then came Unraveled, Inc., in a little village-like shopping center. Friendly folks, some local wool, but nothing jumped out at me. Anne did purchase a few things there though. They kindly gave us directions to the last stop on our Richmond crawl, and that was very nice!

Last, but not least was Lettuce Knit. I don't think Anne was impressed, but I was! I found some Jitterbug, and something happened that has never happened to me before; they offered to wind it for me. Of course, I said "Please, thank you!" and was further impressed when Lynn pulled out a copy of the Jitterbug free pattern, printed on green, 8.5" x 11" paper, in an eye-friendly font. They also let me fondle some new sock yarns they'd just gotten in, but it wasn't in their system yet, so alas, it wasn't for sale. I will go back though, or at least beg my sister to stop in for more Jitterbug! (That's actually rather brown, flecked with all kinds of other colors. It was raining outside, so you didn't get the good outdoor light shots!)
Still, I have to report that I failed to find the two items I was most hoping to find... a special brand of needles and a certain notion, both for a swap. I can buy them online, but I was hoping to find them semi-locally, but to no avail. Likewise, despite my happy sock yarn purchases, both of which I was hoping to find in my travels, the overall sock yarn selections were very disappointing. The nice ladies at Lettuce explained to me why they stock so few sock yarns - gauge, fiber and colorways make it difficult to purchase and stock successfully with too much diversity - but I'm afraid it didn't make sense to me. Yeah, I have a marketing background, so I get some of what they were saying, but I just don't understand why the home state of Claudia's, which is rather popular online, can't do a better job in at least ONE store. And if you do find a decent selection of Claudia's, good luck finding two skeins in the same dye lot. POUT. I'm not the only sock knitter in Virginia. Ladies, there's a reason you can't keep Jitterbug and Claudia's in stock. Take a hint. BUY MORE, in more colors!
Tomorrow, I hope to sneak away early from work and show Anne my favorite local shop, Limerick Fibers, in Gordonsville. I'm also hoping they'll soon have their website open for all to see.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yummy Stitch Markers

Now that Devon and Anne have their packages, I can tell you that these lovelies came from the gal who just opened this Etsy store.

These are Anne's red velvet cake markers. The woman is insane for red velvet cake, so when I saw them, I knew she *NEEDED* some!

And since Devon is a pastry chef (how lucky am I to be able to boast that I have a friend who is a pastry chef?!), I knew she'd appreciate these eclairs too.

Tossed in just for me, as a bulk-buyer's gift I suppose, was little little cutie. I'm not wild about buys, but I do enjoy using this one as a marker. She just brightens up whatever project she graces!

Let the record show...

All the knitterly goodness that arrived on Monday in the anonymous box was from my Felted Bag pal. I don't even have my bag yet, but already, I'm nominating her as a super swapper. My apologies to my HSKS pal (hello? are you out there?), and to Kirstin, who is, after all, "just" a Ravenclaw prefect, not even my prefect, I think.

So, I'm feeling special. I've got Tibbers Sox spoiling me rotten in Sockapalooza, Michelle, the mistress of niceness sending packages just because, and now, my still anonymous bag spoiler too.

I have to tell you... I went as far as analyzing handwriting, trying to figure this out.

So, with that straightened out, I'll share some yarn crawling results. For more details, you can see Anne's blog and/or Amy's blog. (They both brought cameras. I didn't. I was more concerned with finishing my dishcloth for my pal...)

First stop - Sunday. Ben Franklin craft store in Waynesboro, VA. Not generally something to make you go ooooh, but they do have a great selection of Cascade 220, which Anne adores. I found some squooshy organic cotton to make another cloth for my hubby, and some Caron felting wool, probably to make another Squatty Sidekick. (Amy wasn't along on that adventure.)

The cotton is Pakucho, 100% Certified Organic Cotton, made in Peru. It's a Trendsetter's yarn. It has a lot of information on its label, and I'm all about reading up on details, so that will be a treat when I get around to knitting with it. (No time soon; I'm in love with the Sidekick, and the Summer of Socks begins in just 8 days... wanna bet the first pair will be done on two circs!?)

The Caron Felt-It was a bargain and I loved the color - Wildflowers, the named it - so I couldn't resist. It's not as soft as the SWS by any means, but I really wouldn't expect 100% wool to be so soft. It will be fun to see how yet another yarn felts up too. So, those are the sole purchases from the first stop on the Virginia Yarn crawl, but both were too good to leave behind.

Stop #2 - Tuesday, Old Town Alexandria - Knit Happens. I've surfed their website several times, and I think Amy probably gave it a rather thorough review. I enjoyed petting several yarns, but there was nothing in the right color in the right yarn for me, so believe it or not, I left empty-handed.

Stop #3 - Also Tuesday, The Capitol Hill store of Stitch DC. Very friendly, helpful staff. The employee went so far as to call another LYS in the area to see if they had the KA dpns I desired. (They did not, but the yarn crawl continues...) Not another Stitch location, but the competition! How sweet is that?! They had several brands of yarn I'd never seen before in person, and the first must-have was the Scarlet Fleece, hand painted not too far from me! I couldn't resist the Wrangler colorway. I predict I'll be hunting down more of that in the future.

I also couldn't leave behind the Poems, even if the colorway is a bit too pastellish for my liking. That's color #553, if you check out their color chart. However, there really wasn't a colorway that was just to my tastes, so I just picked up something that will allow me to experiment with yet another self-striping yarn, because you know I'm on a campaign to find something that I like better than the loved-by-many-but-not-me Noro Kureyon!
Tomorrow, Anne, Ingrid and I will head to Jamestown, and do some yarn crawling in that area, and maybe hit a shop or two on our way home, if it's not too late to visit Richmond...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Spoiled ROTTEN

Warning: picture-laden post. I just couldn't help myself!

Where to begin?! I guess I'll backtrack first and show you the lovely, large granny square Anne's mom made for me with the yarn from my Knitter's Treat pal, Barb. I'd wanted to do something special with the brightly colored ball of cotton, and Ingrid's offer to whip up a granny square for me was too good to refuse, even if my mother inlaw might claim it. Thank you so very much, Ingrid! What a very special treasure that will be. (She stopped by and met my mother inlaw today at work, so I can honestly say that no matter where it finds a home, it will be a treasure!)

I knew sweet Michelle was sending Anne a surprise care package, but imagine my complete and utter SHOCK upon returning home from work to find not one, not, two but THREE packages on the front porch, two of which were addressed to me! One held the treats on the right, presented in that darling little hearts "take out" style box: a cute, cute tea dishcloth in a perfect rose, a Harry Potter bookmark, Bernie Bott's Everyflavor Beans (aka: HP jellybeans), pink polkadot tissues in a purse pack, and a perfect little tin of mints that appears to be custom-made to match my little Sidekick purse! All of this, just for the privilege of getting to know Michelle while agreeing to help surprise Anne with a package. The world is full of incredible people, and the best of them can be found in the online knitting and swapping community!

That tea dishcloth is too cute, too perfect (I have the pattern too), not to share: You must especially admire the perfect mini bobbles in the top portion of the teacup. Michelle must tell me her bobble technique, because mine is grossly lacking in comparison!

While that was an incredible surprise, there were two more grand boxes on my porch. One was Michelle's box to Anne, which was indeed a COMPLETE surprise. I worried all day that Anne would be at my house when the box arrived, but as luck would have it, she and Ingrid were still out and about when I got home, so I hustled the boxes inside. Here's Anne trying to figure out why she's getting a package at my house:

I have several pictures of Anne pouring over the contents, but you can see her blog for complete details on the very special package she received from Michelle.

Last, but most hardly least, was the package from my Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap pal, which was so much more than I could have EVER hoped for! Obviously, she did some research. Anne and I both oohed and ahhhed through each and every little wrapped item, and then repeated the process as we moved outside after it was obvious the threatening thunderstorm had passed us by. Good grief!! I have been truly blessed with great pals thus far, along with the bonus of some new, great friends too! If the HSKS has a contest for best spoiler, I'm nominating mine, just as soon as I confirm who she is. No, it's not an anonymous swap, but I'm still guessing, as she signed the card "your pal". Kit the commenter from way back seems to be none other than Prefect Kirstin, and I'm guessing she's the exceptionally generous upstream pal o' mine... Either way, I hope my spoiler will speak up so I can really thank her, because I truly feel spoiled!

Here's a better look at what's inside:

There's two skeins of yarn, both in a bamboo blend, two Addi turbos in size 1, tea, tea soap, tea trays, Cat Bordhi's book Socks Soar..., chocolate treats, tip protectors (Mugsy thanks you. Truly. There's nothing that ruins a pup's nap quite like finding Mom's needles in his side when he moves into the spot she's recently vacated.), and a card with a picture of Colonial Williamsburg. That's special, because I'm not sure we'll do more than pass by it on the little tour van on Thursday, if we venture into Colonial Williamsburg proper at all. Ingrid is most interested in Jamestown, and Anne, in shopping. As I visit Colonial Williamsburg just about every year, it will be okay if we miss it this time, but it did tug at my heart to see that picture!

Well, Mugsy would like some lap time, and I do hope to finish up my cloth for my pal in the dishcloth swap tonight, so one more grand thank you to Michelle and Kirstin (I presume?). It will be hard to decide what to knit next!