Better Blue

Another FO report.  These are the Blue Ridge Motif socks, from SoXperience, by Edie Eckman.  (If you go to the SoXperience link, scroll down to the photo of several socks in early progress.  Mine’s left front.)  They were knitted for Mary as a very belated birthday present.  While the colors were such that I knew several of you would LOVE them, I knew instantly that these socks were the reason I hadn’t been able to settle on what to give Mary for her birthday.  You see, Mary lived in Virginia for a while, so it’s all the sweeter that she now has her own bit of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the desert with her.  She’s also been my crochet coach, so it was only fitting that she got the first even partially crocheted item that was worth giving away!

Pattern:  One Edie handed out at the workshop, but it’s basically a VERY standard top down, stockinette all the way sock with a heel flap, and a motif sewn in via picking up and binding off stitches.  I was sorely tempted to try the alternate motif placement on the heel flap, but as I knew before I finished the first cuff that I was making these for Mary, I stuck to the pattern.

Yarn:  Claudia does an exclusive each year for SoXperience, it would seem.  The watermelon colorway from last year is back at Carodan, for those who missed it.  I love this yarn; Tofutsies, watch out!  You might be displaced by the local (ish?) dyer whose soft yarn with colorways often named after local stuff is a pleasure to knit with.

Needles:  Size 1, after a frogged #3 attempt.  I used the Addi Lace, and I’m not a fan, not at this size.  Maybe that put a hole in your hand tip is appreciated in a larger size, but I truly feared Sissy would take an eye out when she was near these things.  It’s been replaced with a Hiya Hiya #1, and ooh boy!  If you haven’t tried these needles, you’re missing out.  They’re truly the perfect circular needle, but a review will come another day.

Hook:  Wee doggy!  My first efforts with anything smaller than the H hook, I think, and I jumped all the way down to a D.  That’s about as small as I care to go.  I will mention that there’s no hook for me like the Boye hooks.  There’s something about the head and the throat shape that are just right.  Hooking with them is effortless, and considering my very novice skills, that’s saying something.

I’d been waiting for Mary to receive her socks before I blogged, because I didn’t want her asking more questions, and I wasn’t in the mood to fib about where yet another knitted gift really went.  Today seemed right, because my last post was indeed rather blue, and that’s not the way I want to leave things, not on a day of celebration.  Not on a day when the President’s helicopter (what do they call that?  Birdie One?) was making Sissy nutty.  (Yes, I also live close enough to Monticello that we all heard the bird flying not so high in the sky, twice.  He’s left the area, in case anyone cares.) 

I’m spending my National Holiday knitting, as planned.  I’m actually going to finish the I’ll never tell project today, I do believe, so I’ll have lots of time to spend on the baby blanket my Ravelry notebook says I want to finish by July 15th.  Or, I’ll have time to cast on something else…

Happy 4th!


Well, here we go.  Grab a beverage, a snack, and settle in somewhere comfortable, when you have more than a few minutes…  I didn’t take photos.  I took my camera, but I was too engrossed in my classes to even think about it!

Saturday morning, I headed northwest to Carodan Farm for SoXperience.   I’d signed up for both of Edie Eckman‘s classes, Motif Crochet (for Knitters), and the Blue Ridge Sock with Flower Inset.  When we checked in, we got a great little goody bag.  The yarns are much prettier than this photo shows; deep, dark jewel tones, and so very soft to the touch.  The yellow wad is Post-Its, which I think most of us use in one fashion or another while knitting.

HERE is the link to Edie’s teaching schedule.  She’s going to be teaching five or six (I can’t recall which) classes at Stitches East, and I sure hope at least one falls while I’m there.  I stongly encourage you to take a class from her if you get the chance.  I really wasn’t excited about the Motif class when I signed up, but figured I’d approach it as a learning experience.  Ha!  I am now chomping at the bit for the August release of said book!  I might become a happy hooker after all. 

So, the Motif class. 

I made that.  ME!!!  (You’d really be impressed if I’d blocked it.) My very favorite part of the first class was the super-cool cast-on Edie taught us to avoid crochetintheroundholeitis.  See how tight and closed my motif (ME!  I did it!) is in the center?  Squee!  That alone was worth the price of admission.  Now I can crochet chemo caps in a few minutes, because I’d cast them aside when I couldn’t close the dingdang hole at the top.  I can read crochet charts now, and boy are those things logical.  What you see is what you get, and it doesn’t get any better than that.  I think Edie had all of her swatches (from the cover shot anyway) for her new book with her, and let me tell you…  If you drooled over the colors and shapes in that measley photo, again, you owe it to yourself to see Edie and her swatches in person.  The colors are so contemporary and vivid, and it was so helpful to see the same swatch done in solids vs. contrast, or the three circles done in the pattern I did (ME!), but with three different borders/edges.  I don’t visualize well, so actually SEEING the differences in person was impactful.  I now truly feel that with patience and dropped shoulders (just in case Edie does read this), I can crochet most anything.

The afternoon brought another motif and a sock.  I’d actually done one of these suckers about five times (if you count how many times I did part of the pattern before even “don’t frog” Edie suggested I go back to the point of non-mess-ups), but it was in DK weight, and y’all know I’m a fingering weight gal.  So, thanks to blogless Margaret from RCK (my knitting guild – Judy and Carrie were there too!) and her D-hook, I produced one motif on my second try, and took off on my sock, on a size #3 circ, which was then frogged at home after I tried the sock on.  I’ll show progress shots later this week, but with my trusty size #1 Addi, I’m making a sock that fits.

The yarn was a custom-dye by Claudia for SoXperience, Blue Ridge Blue.  The DK weight seemed a little deeper and darker, and one gal in the afternoon class said that the first sample she saw was MUCH darker, which would match up with my idea of the Blue Ridge Mountains better than what I have, but I still like the yarn and the colors.

After the class, Edie made good on her offer, and with just the Magic Loop booklet and my feeble explanation of what I thought might have gone wrong on the heels of my first attempt at two socks on one circ, I am quite sure I will have complete success on my next try.

I also grabbed some of this month’s Tofutsies special yarn, Bandstand.  It’s very lovely, and I’m curious about this knit flat cuff that starts the pattern that goes with it.  That might be next on my sock queue…

So, my question is, does this count as knitting in public on WWKIP Day?  I mean, I wasn’t at home, but I don’t think we opened any non-knitter eyes as we were back on the farm…


Whirlwind Weekend

I don’t even know where to begin.  It was a fun, full weekend, and we’re not done yet.   Go grab a cuppa’ and a snack, and then we’ll see how much I can cram into one post. 

First, we have to slip back to the contest prizes.  More have arrived!

It’s not a great photo, but it’s been rainy and/or overcast here since I honestly don’t remember when.  The sun almost made it out yesterday for a while, but not when I was at home.  The yarn is a custom colorway from NH Knitting Mama, just for this contest.  The colors are some of my favorites, as noted in my recent coffee swap questionnaire.  The stitch markers are from InsanKnitty, and while the photo is inadequate, there’s a cute basset hound and a bone amid the ruby red beads.  Thank you so much Amanda and Michelle

Speaking of Michelle…

We had a great weekend.  Friday night, we went out to dinner, hit the grocery store, and then sat up late knitting and talking.  Saturday, we headed out for Carodan Farm.  It was a pretty drive through the countryside, with redbuds and blooms galore, but Caroline was as accomodating as ever.  I wanted the April Tofutsies yarn and pattern, so she kindly walked over to her home, unpacked a skein or two, downloaded the pattern, and brought it back over.  While Michelle had no trouble finding yarn, I touched everything and yet, I wasn’t moved to buy much.   I had this feeling I was leaving something behind.  When Caroline asked if she could help, I jokingly asked what she would feature in the shop newsletter that would find me saying “Shucks!  I wish I’d seen that!”  She laughed, and left the shop again, returning with Online’s new cotton sock yarn, the whole box, so I could see all the colors, and with some Elsebeth Lavold Bamboucle (which for whatever reason, didn’t make it into the photo). 

I love that pattern too.  The sample was done in Koigu, which of course, I have in my stash thanks to my Red Colorswap pal.  I was torn between the Anne and the Heather yarn, but the Anne came home with me.  The Bamboucle is a must-see.  It’s not so boucle, and it’s actually cotton, bamboo, linen and nylon.  I think it will be a little scarf, but who knows?!


It would truly take all day and dozens of photos to show you everything Michelle had in this basket.  There were treats for the dogs, shortbread which the Knight is sure were for him, teas, flavored syrup…  and three new magazines.  I am going to take a moment to mention that I’m sorry I let my suscription to Creative Knitting expire.  They have a new editor, and the whole feel of the magazine is different.  (Yes Jessi, that’s Spin Off, and a subscription is in order.)  Knit Simple is always a good choice, and the assortment of “tee shirts” they offer is sure to have something for everyone.

Then, there are the highlights from the basket.  I mean, everything in there was obviously selected by someone who know me well, especially my requested candy-coated sunflower seeds, but these are the things I thought the rest of you might appreciate and/or “need.”

Love this very sleek mug.  Can’t wait to drink from it, and it might get a quick wash for that early evening cuppa’ I’ll need after this long composition.  Yes, it’s slightly assymetrical, but that’s part of its charm.  I like brown a lot too, so even without loose tea packed inside, it’s a keeper!






Next, there’s a treasure I think some of you will have to special request from Michelle’s shop.  (She is indeed the InsanKnitty linked at the top of the post.)  It’s a yarn cutter, taken off the chain, and slipped onto a clip, with some very “me” charms added.  I’m still thinking the blue teapot needs to move over to my charm bracelet.   This little baby is going to be clipped on my project bag, and it will go everywhere with me.  No more worrying about my scissors on planes, as Caroline pointed out when we were looking at the cutters in her shop. 




I loved Pez dispensers as a girl, and this little one delights me to no end.  Could it be any cuter?  It has a hook to be a keyring, but I know that with my life, it would be dirty dingy in no time, so I’ll have to think of a nice, clean place for it to live. 






The folks at Lindt are so clever.  Isn’t the little black sheep precious?  I hate to rip the foil, but you can bet that if I don’t, the Knight will. 





Can you guess what this is?  Yep!  It’s the cutest tea ball EVER.  It’s now offical; I’m going to have to collect novelty tea balls.  I had no idea they made anything fancy or silly, but isn’t this fun?  Even the metal “tag” on the end is a little slice of citrus. 




Michelle had been taunting me all week last week about her secret project.  Sigh.  It was worth the wait!  She hand felted this adorable little rooster, bless her heart!   He’ll have to find a very high, very safe perch, because Sissy’s reach expands a little every day.   

Michelle also made me a very sweet cloth with a “profile” head shot of Winnie the Pooh, but I just can’t get a good shot of it.  It’s hard sometimes to get a good photo of a cloth, and you know I’m not a great photographer.


There’s so much more, but this is already very lengthy, so I’ll stop here for now.  There’s a photo of Michelle and me just before she left this afternoon, and much more about tea and friendship, but the Knight wants to take me to dinner, so you’ll just have to wait!

PS – Where did spell check go?!  WordPress, what have you done!?







Eatin’ Crow

Anne gets a front-row seat, as does Caroline from Carodan Farm, and KSee and Robin can beam on like proud mamas.   But that’s just a teaser; that will make more sense after I tell you about my change of plans yesterday.

The baby shower got bumped, not because I dislike the guest of honor, but because I had a chance to meet another blogger and some of her friends, and go to Stony Mountain Fibers, the LYS owned by a friend of my inlaws.  You see, Firefly (aka: Rosanne) called Friday night to say that Robin was coming to town, and was there any way I could be tempted to change my plans?  You betcha’.  (I already had a dinner date with mom to be and two other ladies this coming Tuesday.) 

I caught up with Robin and Mary  for lunch and a quick trip in a local artists’ boutique.  (Robin chronicles the trip nicely, including a funny shot of a pup in a pink sweater and matching sunglasses.)  Then, we headed to Stony Mountain Fibers, where Margaret, another Charlottesville gal, joined us.  I’d read her blog before too, and I’d seen her name along with a local knit night I keep meaning to attend.  They – everyone except Rosanne and me – tested out the spinning wheels, and I now at least have an understanding of the spinning lingo.  It’s a fascinating process, and I might take a class for curiosity’s sake, but I still maintain that I love to knit too much to get into spinning.  Besides, can you see me spinning with Sissy around!?

So, while others spun, I shopped. 

Robin found the FiberTrends sock pattern, and luckily, there was more than one copy.  I am determined to do two socks at a time, so I’m going to try Magic Loop again.  (I did my very first pair of socks ever via Magic Loop, and didn’t enjoy it.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures.)  That’s a 40″ #1 Addi over on the left, and then assorted yarns that wanted to come home with me.  There were several colorways of Tofutsies I don’t have, but I left them for another day.

So, despite being full from breakfast, I’m eating crow.  As I predicted, the Magic Loop version of two socks at the same time makes more sense to me than my beloved 2 circs method.  I’ve frogged this version in favor of the Cascade Sierra Quattro I purchased last weekend, and yes, those are pedicure socks.  I have two pairs I need to gift sooner rather than later.  My technique isn’t pretty, but it’s working, and that’s all that matters.  I’m hoping that by the end of the socks, I’ll have a system that works, and after another pair of socks, I’ll have to decide whether to invest in more 40″ wee sock needles or to take my new skill and try again to transpose it to the two circs method.  Stay tuned…

Where to start?!

I truly don’t know where to start.  The water’s fine – let’s say it’s a toasty spa, big enough for all of us – so hop in!  There are little trays clipped on each side for your beverage of choice, so settle in and relax…  Don’t mind Mugsy.  He’s busy trying to give me the cold shoulder. 

First up is my latest Loopy Ewepurchase.  The photo is a little dark, but the colors are lovely.  There’s some Cherry Tree Hill in a colorway I can’t name, because the intended recipient might guess, just by the name.  There’s also some Dream In Color Smooshy in Black Parade, which I purchased just because I had to have some Smooshy and I liked those dark colors, oozing from one to the next.  Then, there’s the Baby Twist, because I love the brick red color, and because I can’t get enough alpaca.  I also had to have the Scotch Thistle Lace Stole pattern, and they threw in a calendar full of cute lambs and such, along with the Loopy Kisses…

Then, there was my much anticipated December Tofutsies Sock Club yarn and pattern, from Carodan Farm.   I’ve yet to see a photo online that does this colorway justice.  It’s softer than the photos show, but I don’t know how else to describe it. 

I couldn’t just get the Tofutsies, so I also ordered some of the Mountain Colors Mountain Goat in Mystic Lake.  (It was on sale, you see…)  I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, and chasing Sissy around the great room alternating between, “Come here Sissy” and “No!  Bad girl!” isn’t inspiring me.  I’ve scooped her up, and after cleaning Mugsy’s ears (bless his tolerant heart), she’s considering another nap.  I hope she’ll sleep a while, and then we’ll have one more wild round outside and call it a night, I think.  Of course, the colors are too vivid here, but you can see all the different hues in there. 

Before we move onto the boxes of wonderfulness I didn’t order, we’ll pause for a gratuitous Sissy shot.  She’s easy to please; she likes whatever Mugsy’s playing with and boxes.   Y’all know the size of that box.  Let’s come back to it in about four months, shall we?  I predict Missy Sissy, Princess of Poo (her names for today) will crush said box, if we can even see it around her almost adult form.  You don’t know how I cherished to the two minutes of not worrying about where she was or what she was plotting while she sat on the box and chewed…

Everybody shift to the left.  (Come on Jessi; be a sport and let someone else sit in the full body massage seat, will you?)  Yes, it’s fair to pick on Jessi, because she knows she’s in great favor in our house!  Look at the Christmas goodies she sent us! 

I have my own Party Pooper!  (Sissy hasn’t done that in the house; she’s being VERY easy to housebreak!)  The Knight has TWO boxes of Raisinettes, one of which went to the firehouse tonight.  Crowned Prince Mugsy the Patient has enjoyed crunching the very cute treats – tasty, he says – and Sissy attacks my face when I use the yummy lip balm.  There’s much more there, including a mug that will serve my “quality” coffee at work, and another BEAUTIFUL pair of needles, way in the back.  I have to say again how blessed I feel to have made some incredible friends this year, just because Anne all but browbeat me into blogging and swapping!  Thanks Jessi girl, from all of us!!

The last package was a first, I believe.  Mugsy has always gotten Christmas, birthday, Easter and who knows what else presents, sometimes wrapped with a tag, but dear Donnaand her beautiful Oliver sent him his own package!  I’m sure the Postal employees thought nothing of Master Mugsy ____ receiving a package, but it was a delightful little pick-him up!  

Again, the photo could be better, but look!  Truly beautiful note cards, three different gorgeous cottons, treats galore so Mugsy can willingly share, a little baby which Mugsy will be given the chance to enjoy first, although I predict he’ll let Sissy have it, a pretty cloth, some chocolate for me (a brand I’ve not tried, but I can’t wait, and it’s in my beloved mint), and a pretty ornament I managed to nearly cut out of the photo altogether, because I was distracted by Sissy, of course.  Shopping for Oliver and Donna sure was a great start to finding my holiday spirit, and receiving the box surely helped maintain the joy I found a few days ago. 

Anyone speak Yiddish?  I hear there’s a name (?) close to Freyda that means Joy… 

Looking for my Benefactor

I arrived home to find not one, not two, but FIVE packages on the porch for me. Amazing! Two were Pampered Chef supplies, so we’ll gloss right over those. Take a look at what the rest of them had inside! All of that, for me. Well… maybe not, but we’ll say it is.

The mass on the left is Carodan’s own wool. Evidently, on the last Saturday in September, I already knew I wasn’t going to make it to the Fall Festival and I purchased a little extra when I ordered by October Tofutsies Sock of the Month Club. (That’s on the right, with the pattern peeking out at the top.) The replacement Harmony needles from KnitPicks are the blur in the lower center, and that awesome book on the bottom is the big mystery.

Are you my benefactor? I’m positive I’ve never ordered from Powell’s in Oregon. Heck, the only thing I’ve ever gotten from Powell’s of Virginia is a hope chest, and I didn’t buy it. Besides, I was still using my maiden name then. Also, the ship to/bill to are to my name you all know me by, and there is a super-secret (shut up Anne) first name, by which all of my online shopping happens. The order was filled/placed on October 3rd, which was the day I left home thinking both dogs were healthy and all was right in my world, so there’s no good reason for me not to remember making such a special order. Whoever you are, THANK YOU from the bottom of my Amazon left me high and dry on this one heart. I am taking this book with me tonight to my training class, carefully tucked into my portfolio, so that while I’m supposed to be learning how to use all the neato features on the new website, I can really be learning how to knit the perfect sock. (I mean, if I can blog and knit, can’t I figure out how to do whatever on a website?!)

Here’s a close-up of *MY* Tofutsies. October is my favorite month, green, a favorite color, so… MINE! A great apple green with dashes of black, white, and maybe some grey too. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this yarn?!

I would also be remiss if I didn’t blow kisses to Caroline or whomever re-addressed my package and still got it to me in a timely fashion, all while either preparing for or being at Stitches East. They didn’t even charge me an idiot fee or the additional shipping I’m sure they had to pay. Now THAT is customer service. Thanks, Carodan!

Now, knitting has been happening, but you know we can’t talk about what you can’t see, because then Anne begins going gangsta’ on our friends, trying to get them to tell her about her surprise. Like she really wants to ruin it. Silly girl…

So, I decided I wanted to finish my first pair of Tofutsies. I cast on (love that magic cast on!) while playing fetch with Mugsy. No need to do more than glance at the pattern and go, much less look at my notes or the first socks, right? Erm, uh…

As you can see, it *DOES* make a difference whether one casts on 14 stitches on EACH needle or TOTAL stitches. Not only is the sock on the left wider at the toe, it’s toe portion is actually SHORTER before the pattern begins, because, well, it’s faster to get to 36 stitches on a needle when you have seven more stitches to begin with. Sadly, it seems that the second sock is the version intended by the pattern’s designer (am I right, Deby?), but since #1 is done and I liked the fit… I’m leaning towards frogging and repeating sock #1, but I’m also wondering how I ended up with 36 stitches when I started with an odd number and increase on each end of each needle. The socks are for me, and will always be work with closed-toe shoes, so… ?? Thoughts? Opinions?

My Addled Brain

Imagine my outrage when I got an email saying my Tofutsies Sock of the Month package had been returned to Carodan. Why you ask? Well, let me assure you that the good folks at Carodan are perfect. I, however, clearly don’t even know where I live. Any first grader can recite her address just right, but not me. Can you believe the USPS wouldn’t deliver a package with my name, my work street address, and my home city, state and zip code? (Roll your eyes. I did. I mean, I live in rural America. I thought that was worth something.) I want my green Tofutsies and the Fiddlesticks pattern, dang it! (Any of you who read regularly or actually know me know those socks were made for me!!)

So, I head home pouting enough that sweet Mugsy, the I go to work to eat all day now dog, felt inclined to stare at me with great concern the whole way home. However, I scared the little bean bug-eyed when I saw a package on the porch! Whhhoooo Hoooo! Little did I know that before I could feed the Bug (like he needed it) his wee handful of kibble and get to my package, the Knight would come in the back door with a padded envelope too.
Because I could just rip it open, the envelope was first. A new tea bag coaster, or whatever you like to call ’em. I use them when I use tea bags, but I also keep one at my electric kettle for the spoon, Splenda wrappers, etc. Nancy, you are so dear!! He’s simply beautiful, and will be very happy and well-loved in my rooster kitchen. (Who wants to bet that the Knight mistakes him for a spoon rest?) I tell you, the gals in this tea swap are the kindest, most fun group of women you’ll find anywhere. If you didn’t join us this time, we hope you’ll be there for the next one, some time in 2008. Every swap has its moments, and there are always complications and frustrations, but I really can’t say enough about my fellow swappers this time. Nor can I crow enough about this pretty rooster. Thank you, Nancy. I remain in awe of the attention to detail many of you possess and use for knitterly goodness!

Now, go get a cup or glass of your favorite libation, and settle in. We’re going vegan folks! (Sit back down, Anne, or you’ll get none of the chocolate.) No, I’m not going vegan, but I do want to make healthier choices. I was a no meat vegetarian for a while – still did dairy and seafood – but that was years ago. Anyhoo, because I love Cass and am a curious bird, I joined the Vegan 2 Swap. Folks, this very well may be the most rewarding swap I’ve been in, no discredit to any of the others. My two “truly vegan” pals rock, and I feel I’ve made two new friends! So without further ado, here’s the first of many photos of the package that will make Anne sorry she didn’t sign up for this one.

I know you need details, so just settle down and exercise your patience (or read faster). Here’s the happy, German, vegan sock yarn Nicole sent me. Just so you know, both yarns came wrapped, but I wanted you to see all of the cheerful colors! It’s called “Flotte Socke” and I do believe it has a bamboo base, not that I know a lick of German. I do believe this is the colorway/yarn I need for my MagKnits Rainbow Socks. What do you think?
Then, there was the Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton, which also held the darling little wooden rooster! (Yay for me. Wait ’til the Knight awakens from his siesta and realizes not one but TWO new roosters slipped into the house, and only one of ’em will live in the kitchen, which is where he is trying to keep all of the roosters. Silly man.) That’s no nesting box either. (Roosters don’t nest, people. Geeze.) It’s a wonderful fabric box Nicole made for me, and I predict many a sock project will rest within, along with some smaller lace projects, and any other little work on the sticks I can fit in there. I’m telling you, I have some seriously awesome pal mojo going!

Here’s a close-up of the little darling. He’s just lovely, and Nicole was kind enough to include a little booklet with more information about the company, so he might need friends…
Before I share my goodies, I think I need to make Anne read about the yummy pizza with a basil-tofu ricotta and a pesto sauce. Nicole actually included two recipes, and the other is for one of her favorite spreads. Yum! I bet Mugsy will eat tofu with me…

There were more hand-made goodies. Here’s the sachet and some really pretty magnets, along with the how did I miss them essential double-ended stitch holders. Why didn’t any of you tell me such a thing existed? Granted, I don’t use stitch holders a lot, but I’ve been shuffling stitches back and forth when these ideal tools existed! What else have you been holding out on?

Here’s a close-up of the magnets too, because I know you like photos, and these are too pretty to miss. Aren’t they pretty?

Okay, okay. Last, but hardly least, are the treats. German chocolate. Marzipan coated in chocolate, which makes it wonderful. (Okay Nicole, I lied. Between the email to you and now, I had to have a piece. Who cares if I ruined my dinner?) But wait! There’s more! Yogi Tee. (Kin to Yogi Tea? Anybody?) Mr. Tom, which appears to be nutbar heaven. Bath salts. Vegan treats for Mugsy too, but you’ll see them in the first photo about this package. I am spoiled, and so is my dog!

While Nicole wrote a long, detailed letter, this was resting atop the package. Sweet, no??

How ’bout a cuppa’? Kick off your shoes, grab your knitting, crocheting, your book, whatever, and let’s just enjoy the evening. Inside though, because it’s still way above 80 degrees outside, with humidity to match. I think I saw a mosquito that could carry off this cute card too.

Be Still My Heart!

The always awesome Michelle has started the best KAL ever. Have I mentioned I don’t watch TV much at all? Well, that has changed, all because of one thoughtful friend/employee/dog & house sitter. He plopped Season 1 on my desk and said, “Watch it. You’ll love it.” As fate would have it, we stopped in to visit his father’s duty crew at the firehouse a few days later – on a Tuesday night – and stayed riveted to the television for an hour. We devoured the first three seasons just in time. You’re on notice – don’t expect any contact from me on Tuesdays from 9-10 Eastern. (I do want a Tivo though; we became accustomed to the commercial-free version.)
I also feel obliged to note that everyone in the free world loves The Needle Lady, except me. Even Anne loved it. I did note they’re polite enough and they have a selection of primo fibers. Maybe I’m just too picky. Dunno. I think it’s because I am a part of the fourth generation of a family business that I have exacting ideas about how my patronage should be valued. I might get over myself (the Knight says his best friend is House and I am what would happen if House and Cuddy [my fav!] had a child) if places like The Loopy Ewe and Carodan didn’t lead me to believe that my expectations are very realistic.
Also, swing by and visit Blume’s Accessories. Like all of the Etsy folk I know, Mary will also treat you right. She’s just getting started, so check in often.
I think the Monkeys will be a completed pair tonight too. Then I can ship that and my tea pal’s package out tomorrow!

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm…

Since I don’t go to UVA football games, I have to dodge the game traffic when I want to shop during a home game. I was going to head to the next little town over, but instead, I went downtown to The Needle Lady. It has been several months, and the owner is almost always there on Saturdays, so I gave them another chance. Big sigh. They carry very different lines than the other LYSs, and when the owner is there, they are friendly and offer to help, but the general cluttered feel still bothers me. It also bothered me that when she found this “sock project bag” for me and I wanted two, she didn’t offer to order another for me. I would have paid up front, or whatever it took to make her feel secure, but the offer wasn’t extended, despite my not subtle at all, “Do you have another? I’d love to buy two.” I already had a book and at least three skeins of yarn in my hands at this point. Hello?!

You see, it is a nearly perfect bag. That strap is long enough to be doubled as a shoulder strap, or worn around the waist. Perfect! Just yesterday, my wool and I stood indecently on the back porch and threw the ball for Mugsy while I Monkeyed on. It balanced precariously on the top railing, while I was thankful the leaves hadn’t fallen off the trees yet, because Ma was in her nightgown. My sock bags are all capable of hanging on an arm, but when you’re playing fetch AND knitting, the yarn would like to be more securely out of the way. And just look inside this thing! Great pockets for dpns, circs, pencils, whatever. Luckily for all of us, there’s a link on the card, but before I give you that, look at that yellow card on the left (top photo). It’s Kitchener instructions, right there on the sock bag! Now, I’m in love with toe up, but what that means is that when I do choose to top down, I definitely won’t remember how to get started kitchenering.

So, since you’ve been faithfully chewing through this rant mixed with great find report, here’s where you can find your own Knit Knack Sack. (Check out the patterns! Scarlett is heading my way. Squee!!) Please look around; they come in leather too, but I think that’s too heavy for me.

I also purchased Lace Style, because some of you know that I am trying to get up enough courage to tackle my first real lace project. I have a couple of should be Christmas gifts projects in mind, but I want something pretty basic to test the waters. Any suggestions?

I also picked up some swap yarns, but I can’t show you EVERYTHING I buy for my pals, can I? A girl has to have a few secrets. I fondled several new Tofutsies colorways, but when I saw #809 with its brown and blue (and some stupid lavender in there), my defenses crashed. Honestly folks, I want to make myself socks in every single colorway. Swap pals, now and future? Send me Tofutsies, whether it suits our swap or not, and I will put you in the Swapper’s Hall of Fame. And dudes, this stuff is MACHINE WASH AND DRY! (Yeah, yeah, Mother Inlaw will get a pair too, but probably for Mother’s Day, as she’s getting Hummingbird socks for her birthday and a shawl for Christmas, or vice-versa.) The Classic Elite Bam Boo was on sale, but I just picked up this one lonely blue guy, because it’s not exactly bamboo weather in VA anymore. Sure, TODAY it is, with highs in the mid-80s, but the nights are still cool, and heading for cold. Anyone other than Sharon care to guess what I’ll “swatch” with the bamboo?

Here again, mixed results from the Needle Lady. She offered advice on my bamboo vest, which “grows” when I wear it, but then totally missed the point when I very enthusiastically asked if she was carrying the Tofutsies Sock of the Months. Nope, and no offer to explore it either. That’s okay. Caroline at Carodan will have it, and I’m betting I can order October 1, and pick it up at the Fall Fiber Festival. (Anyone else going??) So you see, I’d like to support each of my LYSs, but some just seem to fit me better than others. The Needle Lady has a tremendous following, carries some incredible yarns, and can be friendly, so I will go back when I need silk or something special I know they carry. And I certainly encourage visitors to swing in; you’ll feel you missed something if you don’t, but Carodan, Limerick Fibers and It’s a Stitch will remain my semi-local top three.

Red and Read

It’s really a true red, but that’s indoor photography for you. The boys – Mugsy, Fred and the Knitter’s Knight – are all sound asleep, so it doesn’t seem right to go out to snap a picture for my blog. (Mugsy would pop up and follow me, which would cause Fred to cry, which would wake KK, which would make us all grumpy!) Sorry. 😉 I can tell you that I’ve found a cotton albeit blend to be gushy about, and Cascade Cotton Rich is it. It’s about triple the price of a similar quantity of whatever and cream brands, but it’s also triple the pleasure to knit with. All those patterns I’ve seen for clothing made of “dishcloth cotton”? I’d make ’em with this stuff. My pal will have to let us know how it washes and holds up, but it’s pure knitter’s joy on the needles.

Obviously, it’s for my KVVS pal. I’m happy to announce that my pal’s package, along with my Dog Days package, which should still make its way on time, will ship out on Monday. I have to give a shout-out to Willis (the owner) and the gals at the Charlottesville branch of The Virginia Store for the big assist in shopping for my VVS pal and more. (I’ve purchase my first Christmas gift!) You know I love good service, and that store never fails me. I hope my pal likes her virtual vacation too. (Hint – note that I did NOT venture to Monticello’s gift shop for museum type gifts.) The lady waiting on me was very curious about knitting and swaps, so maybe next time I go in, she’ll be knitting!

The same sales lady recommended the Debbie Macomber books. Sadly, my lame-0 Barnes and Noble doesn’t carry them in stock, so that helped me just spend my gift card and NOT renew my membership thingee there, which I never really earn back, because of Amazon and Borders. So, I’ll be leaving here and going to trusty Amazon and my prime shipping, and I’ll have the book for less, probably before I’m ready to read it anyway. Now, please scoot on over to Debbie’s site. There’s a free pattern, which will change on August 18th, and Mary, this one is for crocheters! She has a blog too, which lacks photos, but does mention a new knitter in the family.
I’m more of a non-fiction type of girl, but I do enjoy a good what my family calls a “beach” read, so if you’ve read the Knitting Series, let me know what you think, but no spoilers, okay? There’s also content on the site I linked above for Debbie’s new inspirational book, which I did buy at B&N, along with another sock book, Vogue Knitting Socks Two. I love those little books, although I’ve yet to actually knit anything from one. Sigh. So many books, yarns and patterns, and so little time!
I also hit It’s a Stitch for some personal and swap stuff. Sigh. The lady I like best wasn’t working. I want to love that store and say great things about it, but instead, I’ll tell you that I very nearly paid for two Addi circs. I already own, because the sales lady wasn’t listening. She sold me 2 – US #1/2.5mm circs., when I very clearly explained that I have those and NEED the 2.25mm size for my socks. BIG SIGH. She says Addi doesn’t make them, but I bet they do. However, since I’m having trouble finding them, good ol’ Knitpicks (books in stock, 40% off through August 17th) will get my order, because I *KNOW* they have the 2.25 mm size, and their website always seems to “listen.”
THEN, the same lady insisted she’d never heard of a sock pattern calling for two different sized needles. Now, I know I’m no expert, but I’m positive I’ve seen other patterns that do indeed call for different sized needles for the same sock! Hello? Am I wrong? Then, she told me to just knit the whole thing on the #2s called for in the bulk of the pattern… And what does one do when the said professional tries to tell her she’s wrong? I can tell you what I do. I decide that if I can’t make a mini road trip to Carodan or Limerick Fibers (no website yet, but oh, I hope it will be up in time for Christmas!), I’ll just order online. I hate that, I really do, because as part of a local small business, I *WANT* to shop locally and support small businesses, but geeze folks, can you meet me half way and provide a modicum of customer service?!
Whew. I think some tea and stick therapy is in order. Why is it so hard to run a decent yarn shop?