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?

Check this out

Y’all know I love Carodan Farm. Their newsletter had a bit in there about a new project they’re doing, in conjunction with Socks for Soldiers. I thought some of you might be interested. I also want to stress that one needn’t knit socks to participate! There are other, non-sock options, including washcloths and beanies, but read the guidelines, because they’re very specific.

I remain in awe of the knitterly kind karma out there.

PS – Blogger? Knitterly *IS* too a word. So there! (I’d stomp my foot, but Blogger wouldn’t hear me.)

What a Wonderful World

It really is a wonderful world, full of fantastic people. Yes, yes, I do keep saying I won’t have time to blog again until after all of the madness that is the next week of my life, but I knew you guys *NEEDED* to see this! I went straight to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix from work (no comments at all, until Anne and Amy have seen it, and I won’t comment without warnings first), so imagine my delight when I got home and had TWO packages waiting for me. One was from my semi-local Carodan Farm, but I can’t show that just yet, although some of it was actually for me.

The other was a birthday box from dear Devon! See!? That’s why I celebrate birth MONTH. Why limit yourself to one day of presents and cake? It was all wrapped up so nicely, in pink and red (two of my favorite colors, you know), but I was too excited to snap a pre-unwrapping photo, so just take my word for it. That’s the “group photo” of everything. The book, Knit Fix, is such an appropriate selection, because as Devon noted, our first real chat was because Anne referred me to Devon (Anne’s SP10 pal), because Devon had knitted socks before. The rest is history. Who knew!? A friendship was formed in that heel I couldn’t turn without Devon’s patience and row by row counting. There’s imported chocolate there too, on the far left and that brown square on the left of the yarn. Dark chocolate with nuts. My hubby doesn’t like dark chocolate, but has eyed them just the same. Now that’s friendship, folks. Devon either brought TONS of chocolate home from her trip abroad, or she’s cool enough to share!

The tea is some of Devon’s favorite. While I’m a loose tea girl, bag tea does go to work with me, and that Earl Grey is going in the morning. I’ve never had Taoz Earl Grey, so it’s time to try it, no? Nor have I had Trader Joe’s White Pomegranate, but that will get tried soon too. I love fruity, white teas, but that will happen at home where my precision tea water pot lives. (Long story. Maybe on K1, T2 one day…) Now THAT is how you have a cuppa’ cyber style, without losing the spirit of tea.

The card is just darling too. I am trying to learn to make cards, but I’m very much the newbie, so this one gives me all kinds of ideas! Of course, it will also get saved for future scrapbooking, because I am, as Anne calls me, a gooblette. Flip flops, a cool tote, a towel, and a little journal. What more could a girl want for a trip to the beach? When are we going? Oh yeah, not until the end of the month. Shoot.
You want to know about the yarn though, don’t you? Well, Devon said she though of me when she saw it, and she should have. It is Jojoland Melody. 100% wool, and 220 yards per ball. I will have to make longer socks than I normally wear, because this yarn is just something else. (Hmm… Devon, do you think it would be nice for those baby cables I covet so?) I’ll have to get more photos in natural light at some point, because that hardly does justice to this wonderful rainbow of Chan’s favorite colors!

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!