Knit & Crochet Blog Week #1

I’m going to warn you that I’m going to double-post today.  I only read blogs at work during the week, for the most part, so I didn’t see this until this morning on at least three of your blogs.

Starting Out

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

Oh my.   This will be a refresher for a few of you, but I have new reader-friends who might enjoy this prattle. 

Anne & her mom, summer 2007

I first learned to knit in my childhood, from an aunt and a great aunt who were both grand charitable knitters.  It didn’t take.  I was more interested in dogs and tennis rackets than sticks and string.  However, somewhere in late November of 2006, Anne came for Thanksgiving, knitted, offered to teach me and I laughed at her, but she left behind a knitting virus that has only waned slightly a time or two since.

I had to refresh my memory on my own.  I spent a lot of time with  online sites, watching videos (mostly from Knitting Help), and I finally figured out that I’m a continental knitter.  Once I worked that out, the rest was history!

On that note, please offer up a prayer, good vibes or whatever sort of good wish you do for Anne’s mom.  She’s in the hospital right now, and she’s one dear, kind lady!

Little motif from Edie's class

Crochet?  Several women get credit for that.  I tried to teach myself, and sweet Mary even resorted to having her hubby make a video of her doing a special stitch I couldn’t manage to teach myself.   Rosanne kindly gifted me my first set of Boye hooks, which made the crocheting world a better place.  While I have almost no knitting needle loyalty, I crochet exclusively with Boye, except when I’m trying something new, and then I go back to the tried and true.

Then, Edie Eckman taught a class and made me fall in love with crochet and that cool, circular start (don’t even know the proper name for it) that I use for knitting too sometimes.  Last, but hardly least, Anita has also sent me hooks (Boye, of course!), patterns and more!  It takes a village to teach me to crochet…

Feel free to join me in joining the celebration a little late!

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Favorite Things

Last night, Anne bought a Christmas CD.  “Favorite Things” from my favorite musical, The Sound of Music, was on it.  Today’s been a day of favorite things for me, aside from hugging Anne good-bye this morning.

(Note to other SoM fans – you NEED the 40th anniversary DVD!  The Knight got it for me, and it has a Karaoke section, along with everything else!)

The Knight had to work today, so he missed lunch with my favorite cousin and her parents, who are conveniently, my favorite aunt and uncle.  We gathered because we never can see too much of each other, but also because we’re in the habit of getting together on the weekend after Thanksgiving to celebrate Nannie’s birthday.  On the way down, I jammed to XM’s Christmas music, and they seemed to be playing all of my favorites, so I sang along, and was feeling rather festive when I arrived.  (In case you care, I dined upon another favorite – a black and bleu salad.)

Surprise!  There weren’t just hugs and food and good conversation.  My aunt found one more of her mother’s jewelry boxes, and there were four items up for discussion.  We’ve been very judicious with my grandmother’s possessions, so all of her remaining children and grandchildren have something that was meaningful to her.  However, this most recent find held some of the greatest treasures.  My mother, a nurse like her mother, had wondered where the nurse’s pin (kinda’ like a portable diploma for nurses, it would seem) was.  It will soon be on its way to her, as a big Christmas surprise.  My aunt had missed their mother’s wedding band.  It now resides immediately adjacent to her own, and will be handed down to Favorite Cousin (FC) in due time.  There was also a pretty little ruby ring, and it is headed to another girl cousin.  Since I’m the one who lives in the shadow of UVA, I was gifted with my grandmother’s nursing school ring. 

Of course, just as the worn wedding band fit my aunt’s finger perfectly, this one slipped onto my ring finger and will stay there indefinitely.   (Yep.  Class of 1927, she was…)  I didn’t inherit my mother’s coulda’ been a hand model hands, but this is important, so ignore my stubby fingers and just look at the ring.  It’s well-worn too, and that just makes it feel better.  It’s ironic how similar it is to my own class ring from high school, but trust me on that one, because I’m not inclined to go try to find it, and taking more ring photos is out of the question.

Here’s another shot.   That ring will make the next week a little easier, as Nannie’s birthday slips by.  I’m so grateful that my aunt is so kind and generous; she knows we need our tangible reminders too, and she’s willing to share. 

Oh – and I got some shopping done too.  Thanks to a great find in a catalog this morning by the Knight, my inlaws are done, and so are my sister and her hubby.  I picked up a few things for my Winter Wonderland pal too.   

Which reminds me…  This week’s question:

What is the ideal setting for enjoying the perfect cup of coffee? Who would be there – or would you be alone? Inside or out? Morning or night? With food or just the steaming cup of joe?

Well…  Since I’m more of a tea girl, coffee is generally a social beverage for me.  Prior to Anne’s visit in June, I don’t think I drank coffee unless I was cold, needed a jolt, or wanted an after dinner non-alcoholic sip.  My favorite coffee memories come around a table at a nice restaurant, with a fine china cup in one hand and a smile on my face.  There’s laughter, and my friends and family are there too.  I also enjoy it when the Knight makes a Starbucks run on our way to the firehouse (which for the record is ALWAYS between home and town).  Again, it’s me at the big round table in the bay, with friends and maybe even my nephew hanging out. 

So, no on being alone, inside – check, and it seems that despite my recent cravings for morning java, my *IDEAL* cup comes at night, either with dessert or in a Starbucks mocha that qualifies as a dessert AND a coffee.  Interesting.  That all kinda’ surprises me…

All we need is just a little patience…

Anyone else groove to GNR? 

Patience.  It takes more than a little to do lace.  I knit.  I frog.  I count.  I frog.  I knit.  I count.  Not necessarily in that order, over and over again, and we’re all of about 50 rows into the lace that cannot be shown here, but is on Ravelry.  (Gee, that’s a hint, huh?  Not for a knitting friend…) 

So, I require a sanity project, which I can pick up and clickity clack through after the lace has tested my patience.  My new favorite easy-peasy is the Doily Cloth, and here’s the start of #2.  Since I can’t find 10 inch, #5 or #6 dpns, I’m trying it on two circs this time.

Also, here are a couple of shots of the gorgeous Alpaca Sox yarn Anne picked up for me on Wednesday.  Yum!!  Can’t wait to knit with it, and of course, it’ll be socks.  I’d not seen it in person before it became mine, but it’s so soft, so very soft.  I’m really looking forward to picking a pattern and creating socks with this yarn.  Thanks, Anne!

One last thing…  Amanda’s doing her part to boost the economy, and my personal spending.  Free shipping!  Go, go, GO to her Etsy store!

Prayers Answered

Yippeeee!  Sorry I didn’t post sooner, but we have good news on Mugsy’s heart.  The right side is as large as it can be and still be within normal limits, but the left side is as average as can be.  That does suggest that there’s something not working as it should be with the lungs, so we’ll see an internist on Monday. 

Also, Anne’s here, so all’s as well as it can be.

Now, I need to go get my knitting so I can be all settled in for House.   

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…

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.

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…