We *ARE* in Kansas!

“Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.” That’s a line from The Sound of Music, but it rings true for me. I certainly haven’t done anything to merit the knitterly goodness that continues to come my way.

Today’s dose of incredibleness came from Criquette of beautiful Kansas. I must admit, prior to this afternoon, Kansas wasn’t one of the states I longed to visit, but she’s a great tour guide, and now, I’m thinking I need to fly out to visit my favorite cousin (in Iowa) and see some of what I’ve always lumped together as the “bread basket” of our country.

Here’s how it started, minus the note card that instructed me to stop ripping into the box and proceed to Criquette’s blog, where I received specific, step-by-step instructions on how to open the numbered presents. Each postcard had a lovely note written on it, explaining why it was chosen. Then, each step included a little story as to why that gift was selected, and where it was found. (Go on, go check it out. I am touched and impressed by her ability to plan a tour I’d really love to take!)
Each item was wrapped in a lovely green and tied with a midnight blue ribbon. Heck, Criquette even explained why she’d chosen those colors to represent the blues and greens of her beloved prairie, since she knew me well enough to know I wouldn’t have been excited about yellow. Details! Each and every detail was well-executed and made her thoughtfulness ooze out of the box and into my living room. Evidently, the South has no monopoly on good hostesses; I think the folks in Kansas go out of their way to make a girl (and her dogs) feel welcome and eager to see more too!
While I’d love to take you through each item, reading the “travelogue” on her blog will give you the same feel, minus the gifts, which are all mine. Well, um, not ALL mine; the dogs do get their treats, even though Criquette assures me they’re made with human-quality ingredients. There’s a local tea in three varieties, chocolate coated sunflower seeds, more chocolate (hmmm… maybe the Midwest is more aptly called the Snack Wagon?), a hand-knit scrubby with handmade soap inside, luscious yarn, and of course, The Wizard of Oz items.

Hush, Anne. I don’t know if any of my other regular readers know why the Wizard of Oz is so ironic for me, but that’s what friends are for. Let it suffice to say that I have a connection, and I appreciate it so very much, especially the funny notepad, which you really should click on and read. Mugsy would never desert me like that, nor has he ever chewed on shoes. Fred did have a right shoe fetish as a young pup, but he only carted them to his crate and held them in his mouth. The vet says it was because they smelled like me. Hrmph. Still, it’s a very cute pad, and I like it very much.

I had to stop petting the yarn to type, but I am fascinated by the yarn (available here), and the chocolate coated sunflower seeds, which match. Who knew?! (So long, dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. There’s a new crunch in town.) Evidently, the prairie is a fascinating location, full of all kinds of goodness and wonder. Maybe you should check it out on your next vacation. It’s certainly on my radar now, as is the most awesome Criquette! Once more, a million thanks for a great Virtual Vacation, which arrived on an afternoon when I sorely needed it.
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Woof, Ribbit and Wow

We’ll start with wow, verse 1. Y’all hear about knitterly goodness rather regularly, and you will hear some in verse 2, but first, I want to share some plain, old friendship WOW. Remember my Total Tote? Well, imagine my surprise when UPS brought one to the office this morning. Imagine my continued surprise when I read the comments section on the packing slip, and realized it was from a non-knitting friend. I am truly blessed with the best friends a gal could have. Thank you, R!

We’ll get back to the bag, but friends are much more important. I remember reading somewhere once that the average person has a single digit number of TRUE friends in a lifetime. (It was long ago, and the details and source are long gone from this mind.) This person made a distinction between acquaintances and real, see you through it all friends, and that’s a point well-taken. Maybe I’m deluded, but I’m sure I have more than single digit real friends at this very moment. I’d do a roll call, but this is a knitting blog. I just needed to take a moment to note how lucky I am to have some phenomenal women (and a couple of men) to call my dearest and best friends.

And now, back to the bag. I hope my first photo shows that it’s more than ultra suede. It’s very suedey (dollar says Blogger’s spell check hates that word!) on the outside. VERY. I don’t mind, but I mention it because I tend to think ultra suede is smoother. It’s bigger than my usual bag by a lot, but for what I want this bag to do, it’s perfect. A sock and all of its yarn could travel in one compartment, ALL of my handbag necessities in the littlest one, and I’d still have room for another project. Heck, I think my Pound of Love yarn would fit in the biggest compartment! This shot to the right hopefully shows that the two compartments in the main section are divided by that piece under my thumb, so the Pound of Love could travel, one way or another. The front, outside compartment is separate, and bigger than my current handbag, the Sidekick.

So, there’s your wow, and we’ll move right into the woof, or wow verse 2. My super-dooper Dog Days spoiler sent me an incredible package. Each item was wrapped with a little comment, and what a hoot! I love the rooster (I didn’t have that one!), and the rooster note pad’s note said “I’ll help you remember what yarns you want to buy!” Clearly, she read a lot of my blog, and she knows I’m counting on Ravlery to help me shop a little more efficiently. There were emergency knitting needles, which looked for all the world like two pencils to me, a flip-flop sugar cookie, bath treats, a cow cross stitch kit (wicked, that spoiler!), tissues, some Cotton Tots (which I can’t wait to try, as the other pattern I’m crazy about in my new book used that for the sample photos), a Ball band cloth pattern, a ball band cloth that Mark has already announced is his, and a cute little jar that I can shake and see sand and shells and remember the beach! I love it all, and I thoroughly appreciate the time and effort Linda put into getting to know me! Thank you so much, Linda! Had you not put the Dog Days button on the box, I would have assumed you were my KVVS pal!
Last, and definitely least, is the lack of knitting content. I couldn’t understand for the life of me why, on a pattern marked intermediate, I would cast on 135 and then knit in moss stitch for seven rows, add a stitch, and the get around to the main pattern a couple of rows later. I followed the book’s instructions for the increase, and made a hole. I didn’t catch it until several rows later, and figured I’d pull it shut when I wove in the ends and such. Well, on row 15, I still don’t know what happened, but suddenly, there was a huge, unravelling hole and stitches slipping away by the second. When I looked at it to try to figure out how to fix it, I undid another five or six stitches, on different rows. With that, I moan, groaned, and frogged. The dear Knight finally took hold of what had been the start of the ding-dang baby blanket he insists must be ready before said tot is born, and I continued to unravel and rewind.
You’ll have to wait another day for the details on which book and which pattern, because I just got a phone call saying I’m late for dinner and there’s a meeting to follow…

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?

Still Green

Friends, I think I’m in a rut. It’s a lovely cloth in a cotton-linen blend, but it’s a sage green. Green. It’s all I seem to be able to reach for these days, but that will change. It must! I’m going to knit a little something for my KVVS pal, so unless she’s really into green, there will be a different colored finished object soon enough. I love this pattern. It’s in a booklet the awesome Anne gave me, and it’s called “Soft Texture.” Indeed. I think Mark wants it for his own, but no dice. I also must announce that I care not the least to knit with linen or linen blends. Ick, yuck, and almost yuck yarn worthy. Scratchy. I will do a linen face cloth for Mark (and let’s all hope he doesn’t adore it and want more), and mostly likely, he’ll get a twin to this one too, just because I’ve got the yarn, and it’s good to keep the Knitter’s Knight happy.

I did find the link for the Petal Dishcloth (pictured a couple of posts before this). In a true gooblette moment, when I unfolded the page, which was merely folded in half, there was the link, across the bottom of the page. Imagine…

I also shoved the Sockza socks on blockers. Follow the link to note that you’ve knitted your socks, sent your socks (tomorrow, for me!) and again when you receive your socks. Maybe all of y’all knew to do that, but I needed my dear Devon to point that out, so I’m returning the favor. I really do love that pattern, but there are so many others I want to do that it will probably be a while before I knit the same pattern twice again. I’m pretty sure the June Tofutsies Sock Club is next for the needles, and yes folks, that will be a return to the two circs. method. I like dpns a lot, but they wore out their welcome (snapping, poking in the palm, etc.) with that last effort. The yoga socks in Wick remain on the needles in a fancy Ziploc bag, but when Mugsy isn’t sleeping on said bag, I am picking them up once in a while, because I love the Wick.
Thanks for all the Fred good wishes. He’s better, but not much, so I’ll call Dr. Nancy in the morning, and either tomorrow or Tuesday, the big boy will go see her. It’s heartbreaking, but I still have hope…
There’s still time to sign up for the tea swap. We’re rounding up some nice prizes, and the first contest isn’t far off, so don’t wait until the last minute to sign up or to post your questionnaire!

Something to Crow About

I just had to show you the little decanter my mother inlaw gave me for my birthday. I collect roosters (not chickens, not hens, not chicks, just ROOSTERS), and I finally agreed with my husband that I am about maxed out. However, my mother inlaw couldn’t resist this guy, and I’m glad. He’s stuffed with oil, assorted peppers and garlic cloves. Isn’t he beautiful? I couldn’t find a spot to photograph him with justice, so… forgive me. He’s just so colorful and fun, and he makes me smile. And no, I won’t use the contents within, for two reasons. Firstly, because I am a woman who believes sell by dates really mean use by, and use by dates are gospel, so there’s no way I’m using questionably cured peppers and such. Secondly, how could I disturb the beauty? In time, they’ll fade and I’ll be so glad Anne talked me into blogging, because I’ll come back to this post and see what colors he had originally, and the pick my own, with something blue in there, and a greener green, and that strong yellow I don’t like in anything else, because that’s what Mack and Jackie looked like. (Yep. I’m a farm girl and I had pet roosters.)
My husband is still waiting on the toneau cover for his truck, so UPS, please let it come tomorrow, okay? He was very disappointed when UPS brought me another birthday present, but while I’m very excited about my pewter water pitcher, he wasn’t nor did he think you would be. (He didn’t think you’d care about the rooster either, but I already know Devon cares, so he’s wrong. So there!) He actually tossed the padded envelope at me that must be from my No Sheep Swap upstream pal at me, but the Love inside didn’t seem to mind. Seriously folks, I know you’re tired of my bamboo fetish, but this stuff (with 30% silk!) is something beyond soft. It’s the Peter & MaryJane colorway, and you know how I like my cutsie colorway names! I can’t wait to knit with it, so just as soon as I find a pattern, look out!
The grumpy yarn mail tosser did give me a swift and a ball winder for my birthday, and last night, when I mentioned that I needed scales to figure out how much of my Royal Bamboo I had left, Mr. eBay as we call him let his mouse do the clicking, and I’ll soon be annoying you with my precise reports on how much yarn it takes to do each sock in a pair. So, he is a good man, even if he misjudges your lack of interest in pewter and decorative pickled stuff in a funky jar.
And congrats to Sharon, winner of the 100th post contest. I’ll be getting a prize in the mail soon! She’s also one of the hostesses for the very clever Virtual Vacation Swap. If you missed out on this one, bookmark it and stay tuned. I won’t miss the next one (I’m sure this is just the first of many!), and I’ll make sure you don’t either.

Not What You Expected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS – I love spell check, but it doesn’t love me back. “Baskety” isn’t a word. “Blogland” isn’t either, if you can imagine…

Knitter’s Virtual Vacation Swap Questionnaire

1. If you could visit any state in the US, which would it be and why?

Oh, that’s a toughie. There are so many… Maine. I’ve only been once and I was kinda’ along for the ride on that one. Washington. It’s just so different from my image of the West Coast. Montana. Big Sky Country. Texas. So many friends and family there. (I’ll quit there.)

2. If you could visit any country in the world, other than your own, which would it be and why?

Again, can’t do just one. Scotland, because I want to see the ancestral home and more. Ireland, because it’s such a great mix of the pastoral and urban cities. New Zealand, because I miss my cousins, and with all those sheep, there must be great wool, thus, great yarn… Greece, because it’s the one place I feel I must go or I’ll really be missing something.

3. Have you ever driven across several states/providence/countries?

Oh yeah. The favorite example would be the cross-half-country trip around 1992, to a wedding in Chicago. “Life is a Highway” was a Top Forty hit, and I will never hear it without thinking of Rebecca and that trip!

4. Have you ever visited someplace you consider exotic? Where was it?

Nope. The only islands I’ve been to are off the Virginia coast, if that counts?

5. What was your favorite “travel” vacation? Why?

Any of those summer trips in college with Rebecca.

6. Have you ever played tourist in your own home city/state (if international, country)? Explain.

LOL… Yeah. I live next door to one of James Monroe’s holdings. I work at the foot of the back side of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. We have a host of great, local wineries and vineyards, a couple of unique museums, and I love to share it with friends!

7. Are you a museum visitor, beach comer or an amusement seeker?

Mostly beach comer with a dash of museum visitor thrown in. Since I can’t ride the rides anymore because of my back, amusement parks just get on my nerves.

8. What’s your favorite type of yarn?

Sock yarn! Or did you mean a brand, or particular fiber? I really don’t have a favorite. I like to try different yarns, different brands, and maybe when I’ve been knitting for more than just over six months, I’ll develop more opinions.

9. What’s your least favorite type of yarn?

Novelty yarns. Otherwise, everything has a purpose. Acrylics are great for soft, easy-care baby items and such. I didn’t really enjoy knitting with Noro Kureyon, but the finished results are nice enough to make it worth the trouble.

10. What items do you like to knit/crochet?

Right now, I only knit, but I’m hoping Anne’s mom (two different blogs, there) will teach me to crochet in a few days. But that wasn’t the question. I love socks. I like felted bags an awful lot too. Dishcloths are quick and fun. Hats aren’t bad. I’m going to cast on for my first sweater/vest shortly, so I’ll get back to you on that one.

11. What do you pack, knit/crochet wise when you go on vacation?

Dunno. Won’t be an issue until July. I’m assuming socks, and maybe a dishcloth?

12. What other crafts do you do/would like to do other than Knit/Crochet?

I scrapbook. I make cards/stamp. I used to cross stitch and needlepoint but have no interest in either right now.

13. Are you allergic to anything? (Yarn wise or treat wise)

Not really.

14. What is your favorite color? Least Favorite?

My favorites are greens, reds, blues, pinks… actually anything except orange or a strong yellow. Those are my least favorite, and I’m not crazy about purple or lilac/lavender either, but I love pastel pinks and blues.

15. Sweet or Savory (Treat not personality)?

Sweet, sweet, sweet!

16. Anything else we are forgetting to ask that you think your partner desperately needs to know?

Not really. For matching me, I do have dogs but I don’t smoke, if that matters.

ETA – I live in central Virginia.