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.

Past-Due Gratitude

Firstly, Mugsy, the Knight and I wish to thank each and every one of you for your sympathy and support. The Knight is working on his own memorial for his hound, and I think that when it is complete, I’ll share more with you about the life and times of Sir Fred Aloysius, and all of his other aliases. Because it’s coming up in face to face conversations, let me politely but firmly state that no, we won’t be getting another dog any time soon. Fred was the Knight’s dog, and he doesn’t want another at this point, and that’s all that matters.
Thursday, much knitterly goodness came my way, and all I was able to do was note its arrival. I heartily apologize to Nannette and my SP11 pal, as it was in no way a reflection upon their thoughtful, “perfect fit” packages. In fact, the timing of the arrivals was perfect; it gave me a bit of a distraction during an otherwise awful time of waiting and wondering.

My secret pal sent this book, which is curious, because perhaps only Devon and maybe Ana know how very much I’ve wanted this book. It’s actually still in my “stash” at Knitpicks and on my Amazon wish list, but I’ll fix both of those tomorrow, or that’s the plan anyway. Mugsy and I looked at all the socks, but the truth is, I want to make all but maybe one or two of the patterns in there! Thank you again, secret pal!

Next, I must begin to recount the details of Nannette’s tremendous tea swap package. I hope I don’t forget anything, but if I do, I assure you it is an oversight, not a lack of enthusiasm! As you can see, there is one of everything in there. Here’s an inventory:
Republic of Tea Dragon Well loose tea (on my to try list for a long time!)
Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Grand Green
The Tea Port Provence Rooibos
Maeda-en Sencha Green Tea
Scone Mix (in the highly recommended King Arthur Flour brand)
Carmel Apple Biscotti
Singoalla cookies
Sugar-free green tea candy
Green tea mints
Green tea bath tea (I’ve been wanting to broaden my tea uses!)
A tea ball – needed for work
A cute honey bear (stick with molded honey attached for sweetening)
Reusable cotton bags (again, makes loose tea more portable)
An awesome “Knit” blank book
A kit to knit a felted wallet
A garden flag
A book – Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs

The garden flag is already flying, and you’ll likely see it in other photos in the days and weeks to come. I needed a new flag for out on the back deck, and had purchased several (school fundraisers – I am a sucker), but hadn’t gotten around to putting one in place. The cheery colors are just what the doctor ordered! Mugsy and I will think of Nannette and all of the great swappers from the tea swap while we sit on the deck and have tea on pretty fall afternoons. We’ll probably be reading the book too. I just discovered Debbie Macomber and knitting fiction, and now I learn there’s tea fiction too!

The knitted coasters are perfect too. They are in a colorway I have picked up a couple of times but always put back, as I have so much cotton and knit so few dishcloths. Note how Nannette even went to the trouble of making a little twisted cord to hold them all together! (Hey Shawnee! Won’t “our” tea for one cup be beautiful on this?!) You can’t really tell here, but the colorway is a great, soft blue and green, with white. They are so pretty, and will help me feel pampered while I sip my tea.
I love blank books almost as much as Anne does, but I don’t think I’ve said so before, which makes this book all the more special. I think I shall use it to record all of the teas I’ve received from my swap pals, and keep notes on them, so that when someone asks, I can make an accurate reply, rather than try to rely on my becoming more addled every day memory. (Right now, it’s very busy clinging to every precious thing Fred ever did, but you knew that, right?) Neat that it is green (as in green tea) and says KNIT on the front, yes? Why, of course I do realize that it would be more rational to use it to record knitting things, but it’s my book now, and I’ll use it as I like. (Hope you don’t mind, Nannette!)

As above, I don’t believe I’ve blogged or even mentioned to my nearest and dearest that I’ve had this sushi knit in my shopping cart more than once too. I look forward to deciding which pattern I’ll follow – or be a renegade and do my own thing? (not likely) – and to adding zipper abilities to my finishing skills. For the record, I do not like sushi, but I do love these colors. I went through a raw oysters and beer phase early in my adulthood, but that was a long time ago, and with the exception of a good steak, I like my meat COOKED.
Last, but hardly least, here’s Mugsy inspecting his tea treat. He really appreciates being included, especially since his mourning mother failed to buy him a toy for his birthday. He did get his special meal though – two nights in a row, since I already had planned for it to be shared – and his big treat came tonight, when the Knight FINALLY allowed Mugsy to ride in his “new” truck. I suspect that we are well on our way to becoming the weirdos our friends talk about, because we take our dog everywhere, appropriately so or not. I’m not quite old enough to be a crazy old lady, but evidently, I’m mature enough to thumb my nose at convention and do it my way.
Again, we thank you for all of your emails, comments, etc. Even if I failed to reply personally, please know that we read each and every one, and it helped bolster us.

Sock and Swap News

Well, Camille got her Sock it to Me package, and unless she is so sick she’s delusional, she seems to really like them. Hooray! It seems yet again I stressed over socks for a stranger unnecessarily. Whew!

Via email, Adrienne, my Sockza pal, let me know that my socks are world travelers now. Not only did the fly from Virginia to England, but they biked around Europe with her this summer. That should calm my socks for strangers fears, but, erm… no. I’m glad my sock swaps were successful, but I’ll not be signing up for more.

My tea swap package is still out there, looking for its home. Perhaps today? I’m eager to see if my pal is as pleased with it as I was when I assembled it.

However, I’m not sitting idly waiting on my packages. (I’ve lost track of what is on the way to me – things I’ve ordered and swapperly goodness.) My dearest mother inlaw brought me some chocolate mint tea from her cruise! OH. MY. GOODNESS. It smells like a peppermint patty. Add hot water, steep, and a dash of sweetener, and you have a cup of liquid happiness. It’s in a cute little wooden box. It’s the same brand she found on another adventure this summer, but that raspberry tea wasn’t as impressive as this. Of course, I can’t find it locally, and only in a couple of spots online. Figures. Still, I count myself blessed to have such a thoughtful mother inlaw, and I even politely offered her a cuppa’ too. We’ve also decided we need an electric kettle and a teapot for the office now.

Sweet Cherry Bag

Can you see the cute little cherries on the ribbon? Squee! I hope my pal will enjoy that little touch. The package is ready to ship out tomorrow, save a note and some tissue paper. But let me tell you, CotLin is the only linen of any blended sort for me. Sigh. It slides on through, comparable to any of the ” – & dairy product” cottons, and I bet one wash would find it snuggly soft. I see a fitted item for me in this very color, maybe, next spring. Try it for the extra-special cloths you might be giving as gifts, or treat yourself; you deserve it! I am amazed at how it costs less and feels worlds better, but don’t take my word for it. Order some and try it for yourself.
In case you missed it the first time, this is Amanda’s “Mandy’s Candy Bag” pattern. You can also find it on Ravelry.
So, a little accountability check here. Tea swap – ready to ship out tomorrow. Sock it to Me – half way there on the socks, some shopping left to do, and really should ship by next Saturday to arrive before October 5th. Vegan swap – Do thoughts count? I’ve thought a lot about what to get my friendly pal, and I do have some yarn for her, and it needs to ship before October 15th. SP11 – Package #1 shipped out earlier this week. I already have one item for the final package, and have “commissioned” something for her with one of my truly artistic/crafty friends, to be a Halloween themed package. Should ship before the 15th too. My Felted Bag package has a personal deadline which the pal should be able to guess, but I think I’ve already told you I’m not talking about that swap here, right? 😉
Whew. Wow. I’m shocked. After Monkey #2, which should be done within the next week, I will have time to cast on for the Knight’s birthday (or Christmas if I miss the first deadline) surprise, my felted bag pal’s bag, finish my Summer Daze Tofutsies, and begin holiday knitting. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train!
Now, to cast on for that #2.

Monkey Pooled

Sock it to Me pal, we’re halfway there. It’s a terrible photo, but there it is. It is too big for my sock blocker, which means your foot size is average or better. I will block them when both socks are done, which I hope will improve the presentation. The pooling doesn’t bother me, so I hope you’ll appreciate it as the way the yarn flows too. (Funny thing about pooling – hate it or accept is as part of the art?) However, I am crazy about the pattern. I now understand why Cookie A patterns are favorites of sock knitters everywhere.
In other knitting news, the yarn for my tea pal arrived Tuesday. Now, the big decision is whether to cast on for the bag for that package, or the second Monkey? I won’t have much time for either tonight, or Thursday night. Wow. When I talk like that, the weekend is almost here! Any big plans for your weekend?

Ravelry Me!

ChanKnits is now at Ravelry. The world is a better place. I don’t know that I’ll use it to the full potential, but I do want to search out alternative yarns for patterns, and I want to track future projects to be, and I want to log my stash…

Yeah. Anyhooo, Anne was a single digit number ahead of me, so now, I just need to know what her Rav Name is, and the world will be right!

I’m off to knit and play with Ravelry, which will not take away from my blogging time once I get set up. In the meantime, I do want to thank Holly for her thank you for hostessing gift. I love ’em! The blue teapot reminds me of a charm I have on my silver charm bracelet, but I’m not walking through the house to find it, photograph it, upload the photo, etc. Just trust me, okay? Also, if you’re in the tea swap, pop over there for some shopping hints!

Favorite Things

As a part of the fourth generation of my inlaws’ family business, I like to support other small businesses. As a woman, I like to support other women in business. It’s also fun and easy to shop at a friend’s store. Thanks to Etsy and the internet, the world is my oyster. Thanks to Jessi for being a great friend AND a wonderful indie dyer and stitch marker maker. (You may shop for your own here.)

Jessi and I worked out a little trade for the Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers yarn and the sweet dog-themed stitch markers. I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the yarn, but I had to have it. It reminds me of mint and dark chocolate, which are two of my favorite things. The dogged markers are certainly right up my alley, and have been immediately elevated to favored status. Ironically, even Jessi doesn’t know that shades very similar to THAT blue and green grace Fred’s “dress up” collar and leash, which were hand-made by another basset hound owner/friend. It’s funny how things work out that way.

Jessi also made some markers for the tea swap. When she shipped them to me, she also added a pair for each of the co-hostesses. There are more for sale
on her Etsy site, if you aren’t done shopping for your tea pal! Folks, THAT is why I swap and host swaps. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but there are so many rewards. Meeting Jessi was a blessing, but her friendship and support keeps growing. She not only joined the tea swap, but sponsored it, and thanked the hostesses with just the perfect gift! (Shhh… there are other gifts too, but I have to be sure Devon and Mary got theirs before I ruin any surprises. There’s also another sponsor, but see the swap blog for more information.) Now, I can take my dogs and my tea with me when I’m knitting!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, yet again, I must find something to knit while I wait on the yarn and needles for the next project. I guess I’ll give the short row heel another try.

Dishcloth Square Blocks

Meet Dishcloth Square Blocks. Or at least, that’s what I’m calling him. He’s #2 in what seems to be a weekly series of dishcloth patterns, being designed by Anne. He’s done in Lion Cotton Red, with #7 straight needles, in my very Continental method. You can find the pattern here, but be sure to note the contest rules for both cloths.

And don’t worry. He’s not going to live on the tree. The Knight has already claimed him as his own, and I suspect that before the sun sets, DSB will have been called into action.

I was impressed with the Lion Cotton. It was soft! I’ll have to see if I can’t find some more, since I don’t recall where I picked up this ball, but I do remember that it was the only color they offered…

Now, what next?? You’re not going to get to see Amanda’s socks while she’s on vacation. That just doesn’t feel right. If she was here to taunt – er, make that see them herself – that might be different, but since she’s out in the middle of the ocean enjoying some alone time with her beloved, I think the socks will just quietly head north on Monday, and you can pop over to her blog for a shot of the finished pair. I *NEED* to start on my Sock it to Me pal’s socks, but her yarn won’t be here until next week. I am going to send my pal a little package next week too, but the socks obviously won’t be included. I guess that forces me to figure out what I’m going to knit for my tea swap pal, huh?

Boxes First

I stop for boxes containing yarn. Who cares about planes, suitcases or other little details? I got to leave with the joy of new yarn in my heart (but without a hairbrush, not that it counts, because I figured it out in time to stop and buy one en route to the airport), and I arrived home to find more of the same (both yarn and hairbrushes, but the hairbrushes weren’t new). As the Knight was trying to get me to the door so he could get me to the airport Tuesday evening, I was admiring the Vesper Sock Yarn that had just arrived. On the left is Meteor, which is a lovely brown/red/turquoise colorway. On the right is Crew, which is just assorted greens and white. The picture hardly does the yarn justice. I’ve often admired the Vesper colorways, and now I have two to call my own!

When I got home Thursday night, there was another box waiting for me from Knitpicks. There was another pair of 16-inch circs, as I’ve decided I like that length best for my sockies, and finally, at long last, there was some CotLin to try. (Center, in Moroccan Red.) It feels softer than the other cotton-linen blend I tried, so I’ll give it a whirl. My mother inlaw selected some of the Felici self-striping in Hummingbird (on the left), as she was honest enough to admit that she won’t be bothered to hand wash hand-knitted socks. I couldn’t help but order some of the Firefighter colorway in the same yarn. I don’t know whether I’ll make them for the Knight or for me, but I want to come up with a little Maltese Cross pattern for them. (No, I still haven’t unpacked. I packed light, so there’s nothing but dirty clothes and the books from my workshops in there, and the two cookbooks I purchased, but they aren’t touching my soiled laundry. However, the yarn has been fondled and blogged, so don’t question my priorities!)

Since I don’t think Knitpicks does a great job of displaying their colorways, here’s a closeup of the Hummingbird. We really lucked out here! My mother inlaw will love it, and I’m looking forward to casting on for her wee little socks. She wears a ladies size 5 (US), so it won’t take long at all to whip out some simple socks for her. I will say that the colors aren’t quite as bright/neon-ish as my photo shows, but it’s a heck of a lot more than you’ll see on the company’s site, so I hope it helps. Her birthday isn’t until November, so I doubt you’ll see these socks much before early November.

Likewise with the Firefighter. There’s nothing close to the whitish pale gray I captured with my sub-par photography skills. There’s a rather solid, true light gray, a dark gray, and some not quite fire engine red in this one. Heaven only knows when I’ll cast on with this, because unless there’s a pattern I’ve not been able to Google, I’m going to have to swallow hard, take a deep breath and venture into the land of writing my own pattern on this one. I don’t want anything too lacy or patterned, but I do want a Maltese Cross or two on there somewhere, maybe dead center of the front of the leg, between two twists or something?

In other knitting news, Amanda’s second sock is into its toe decreases. Then – of course! – I’ll whip out Anne’s second, “manly” pattern, and then, with whatever is left of a rather busy weekend, I’ll tackle the elusive heel of the toe-up Tofutsie. I also need to finalize my plans for my Sock it to Me pal’s sock pattern and yarn selections, because that will be my project for next week, and likely, the week after that. I haven’t forgotten about my Tea Swap pal either, so that’s the NEXT item in the assembly line. My felted bag pal has a pattern, and I need to make yarn selections there too, but since she reads my blog, that’s about all you’ll hear on that project. I also need to get started on the Knight’s blankie when he’s not around, but again, SitM and the Tea projects come first! Once those are safely behind me, I can start holiday knitting.

Knit, Sip, Chew, Chat

Not necessarily in that order, of course.

Invitations are in the mail, so to speak. If you’re on the guest list, you should receive yours sometime today. If not, check your spam folder, and then let us know. If you’re not on the guest list this time, there will most likely be a next time, and we hope you’ll join us then!