Sunday, May 28, 2006

Busy week!

Sorry I haven't updated in the last few days...whenever I've had any spare time at home, I have been out working in the garden. We have been manually weeding all the beds, and when I post pictures of how big the garden is, you will wonder how we are still alive (I'm wondering right now). And of course it has been in the upper 80's/lower 90's the last few days, tomorrow is expected to be more of the same. We don't have everything done yet, but we have enough done for the things that really need to be planted tomorrow. The rest of it will happen gradually over the next couple weeks.

Here is a photo of the cats, just before we headed out to the garden at 6:30 this morning:

I also somehow managed to get the iPod holder done. However, I'm having some difficulty felting it. Here it is pre-felting (attempt).

Actually, my iPod looks proportionately smaller in the photo than it really is, so don't think I've gone TOO crazy. Anyway, the pattern says to felt it in a 4-cup Pyrex, using water as hot as you can stand, and slosh it around until it's nicely felted, which should take about 15 minutes.

So, here it is. I used boiling water, and sloshed for 25 minutes, but it still looks pretty much the same except wet. So, the plan tomorrow is to try it again but use my stand mixer instead of trying to do it manually.

Oh, and I sent my first SP package out today. Yes, I know it's Sunday. I went to the automated package sending machine - specifically did it today because I knew no one else would be there. I hate going to the post office, but that machine kicks ass.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Belated weekend update

So C and I went into the city on Saturday to meet up with our friends Dawn and John. We took the train in and walked to the Art Institute. Since we're members, we figured we'd wander around for awhile before heading over to the Field Museum to meet them. Well, the security guard told us that C couldn't go in with his backpack, and we would have to pay $1 to check it. While standing near the gallery entrance being annoyed by this and trying to decide if we should just do it or head straight over to the Field, we saw no less than 15 people walk in, right past security, with backpacks. The inconsistency was the worst part of it. I filled out a comment card at the information desk - to me that's a load of crap.

Anyway, we then walked over to the Field Museum, got there around 1:00, and find out the museum is closing at 3:00 due to some special event (not noted on their website, which said the museum was open until 6:00). Luckily, Dawn and John showed up while we were still in line, and we all decided it wasn't worth paying to get in for less than 2 hours. We wandered over to the Shedd Aquarium next door, which was $23 per person (ouch) but was fun, except for the people in front of us with HORRIBLE B.O. at the dolphin show! That was the worst B.O. I've ever witnessed.

So after the aquarium we went to Millenium Park, where I finally managed to get a few photos...

This is the Cloud Gate sculpture, affectionately called "The Bean" by locals. It was actually just officially declared finished a week or so ago (it's been there awhile, but they had to buff out the seams between the metal sheets, etc.)

Here is what it looks like standing under the Bean, with lots of other people (I am in there somewhere but good luck finding me - even I couldn't do it)

And finally, the video fountain, which didn't start spewing water until AFTER I put my camera away..... (dammit - why is this upside down? I hate Photobucket. I have rotated this thing I don't know how many times. You're just going to have to see it upside down.)

So after that we went to a great dinner at Rosebud, which was a lot of fun.

Oh, I also started re-working on my iPod case on the train, and got a couple inches done on it. I did another inch or so yesterday. So, 4 more to go, plus a flap thingy, and then I have to felt it and do a bunch of finishing work. The kicker is, I don't even like the colors of the yarn I ended up with, but I'm finishing so I can at least have something to keep my iPod in until I do one in better colors. Anyway, I will take pictures of this soon.

Yesterday we did TONS of weeding. There is still lots more to do, but we are hoping to plant everything over Memorial Day weekend, so we just have to keep at it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

SP8 Goodies!

So, I got home from work today and had something in the mail from my secret pal! It was a beautiful card, along with a bunch of origami bookmarks she made and some stitch markers made by her son.

Now for the photos :)

Here is the card (I love pansies, by the way!) and stitch markers.

A close up of the stitch markers so you can see how fabulous they are. They're copper and enamel, and I love them. Her son made these!

And just look at these gorgeous bookmarks! I love them all, but my favorites are the one with the dragonflies (in front) and the one that fades from purple to white to teal. These are just what I need, given the huge stack of books I've got going. And now I no longer have to use, um, squares of toilet paper to mark the pages *hangs head in shame*

So, since this blog is currently the only way I have of contacting my SP, I want to give her a big huge THANK YOU. This is a wonderful start and makes me feel really good. I am looking forward to getting to know you! You have also inspired me to do something similar for my giftee - I'm going into the city this weekend so I think I'll pick up something fun for her while I'm there.

Next, let's move on to some kitty photos!

This is my lovely Siamese cat, Tindomerel. I like looking at pictures of her, because the pictures are actually quiet! Hee, hee. I've been told by many Siamese lovers that she is very loud even for a Siamese. But she is good company, very affectionate and loves to play.

And here are Lomion and Tindomerel together. Pictures of Lomion usually end up looking funny because he's so dark there is no definition in his face. All you see is his eyes in a sea of black.

And here are the socks I finished awhile ago (with Lomion peering in from the upper left corner). See how HUGE the foot is on the right one? The one on the left is also a bit big, but not quite as bad. I just can't decide if I should rip them apart or not. The dumb thing is that it's not even about gauge, it's because I didn't follow the pattern correctly. In either case! Gah. I have enough of this yarn left to do at least one more sock, if not two, so I might just cast on for another one and see what happens.

And finally, I thought I would leave you with a photo of the reason I don't get to knit more. It takes me over an hour to get to and from work most days. It's about 23 miles. Rain makes it even worse. I hate Chicago-area traffic.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Being a SP is hard!

I've done a little online shopping and of course I find myself gravitating to all things purple, which is not what I need to be looking for gifts. Gah!

My cable needles were delivered today so I can start working on my rug anytime. If I quit getting stuck in traffic, which is taking up more of my time than the internet these days!

(and now, off to actually do something useful for awhile.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Self Portrait!

Whee! Here I am, just about to go to work. I'm absolutely thrilled about it, can't you tell? I think more than anything, what you can tell is that I'm in desperate need of a haircut and dyejob. Yikes.

Anyway, I know you are dying to see my reading list (actually, reading stack, as I actually have all these sitting around waiting for me to get my ass off the internet and read them):

I am about halfway through this. If you've read her blog, this is pretty much the same - funny as hell.

This is the only other one I've actually started reading. It's quite interesting, a fairly complicated concept, but I studied the idea in one of my MBA classes and wanted to learn more. I think this one will take awhile to get through.

More fun knitting books... :)

Got this one in the mail from C's aunt last week (love her!) and can't wait to read it. This will probably make me even more impatient to go to Italy!

I bought C these for his birthday and he went through them in just a few days...the intent was for him to read them during his train commute, but I think he was done with them before the weekend was over. Anyway, I'm very curious to read them myself.

I definitely need to get through this one. There's an election in a few months!!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

4 days till I can have a real workout.

So the mole-removal surgery was April 27th (though I didn't mention it here). I had to limit my activity completely for a week. After that, I was told no swimming for another 2 weeks (I swim a LOT so this has been painful). I've been walking a couple miles (or more if I can) every day, but it's just not the same. Meanwhile, I have been baking up a storm, and eating it! I feel like a COW. So Friday is going to be my first day back at the gym, and I am so looking forward to it. I'm toying with the idea of going to a yoga class on Wednesday, instead of walking. I think my shoulder can handle that much movement a couple days early. It really only feels uncomfortable if I stretch my arm far toward the opposite side, and I really don't have too much occasion to do that. Anyway, hopefully soon I will be on the path away from cow-ness.

Update on the sandwich bread situation: I haven't eaten any as I had lunch provided at work today, but C said it is really really good with the flax in it. That is a relief.

Oh, and the fancy bread went over well at work today. I think some people were disappointed it wasn't chocolate, but didn't want to admit it. Poo on them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Defective pantry.

So, I was happily throwing together all the ingredients for this week's sandwich bread, when I discover in the midst of mixing that I seem to have no sunflower seeds. Gah! This is the sort of thing I consider to be a pantry staple, where as soon as you use the last bit you buy more, and you take it for granted that you always have some. Well, not this time. We needed garlic anyway, so C ran out to the store. Of course all he could find was roasted and salted, and the recipe needs raw. He went to 2 stores and asked, and everyone thought he was nuts. So apparently one can only purchase sunflower seeds at Whole Foods. I gave up and used flaxseed instead; hopefully that will taste OK. It looks and smells fine, now that the bread is done.

Got my SP8 match today, now I just need to start coming up with cool things to do for her. I usually have a ton of fun with this kind of stuff; this is just the largest-scale such effort I've been involved with.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I NEED to make this.

I haven't decided which size yet - I like them both. But this is the cutest thing ever. I didn't realize until tonight that the non-baby one is 2 feet tall! So this little one might be better. It's still 15 inches tall!

Finally, some photos.

First, the fabulous raspberry cream cheese bread braid I made this afternoon. I made four of these. Two of them are now in the freezer, to be brought out in about 6 weeks when I have a load of people here for my graduation. One is out for eating - I have had two delicious slices and now am overly full. Oof. One has been set aside for me to take to work on Monday, since everyone complains I never bring in any baked goods (I must point out that "never" is only in comparison to one of my coworkers, who seems to bring in 5-layer cakes twice a week for every stinking birthday in the department.) Anyway, I am quite impressed with myself about this bread. It looks fancy, and tastes wonderful, and it was pretty easy (mostly) to make.

This is our one lilac bush that is currently in bloom. (I know the photo looks upside down, but really, it's not!) We have 3 more that will bloom in about a month, and 3 more that usually bloom in late July but I think they are dead, so we'll probably be cutting those down. Anyway, lilacs are one of my favorite things about spring. They smell soooooooooo good.

We got the quote for the front yard landscaping, and we're going to go for it. They are going to rip out our front walkway, put in a new (stone!) one, and put in a planting bed for the lovely perennials I've ordered. Unfortunately they won't be out here to do the work for at least 3 weeks.

And I promised some photos of my stash! Here is the whole thing, as I mentioned, in a hanging bag in my closet.

Here we have the top two shelves. The top is completely full of Fishermen's Wool, some of which I am going to use to make a rug with cables on the outside edges. I am both excited and apprehensive about this upcoming project. The second shelf is Patons Classic Merino in a nice forest green, which I am using for C's sweater I mentioned a few days ago. I'm about 6 rows into the basketweave on that, and could be even further if I would quit wasting time online.

The third row is pretty much all Manos (swoon), but not enough to make anything with. I pretty much cleaned out what was left of a sale one day, not worrying about having enough for a project since it's not dye-lotted. I figure I'll get more when I go back next - I haven't been to that particular store since January, even though it's only 20 minutes away. I'll be going soon to buy SP8 goodies though. The lower shelf here has some random yarns, most notably a 100% alpaca hand-dyed from Great Adirondack. I was going to do a wrap/shawl with this, but it's 600 yards and that doesn't seem to be enough, so I may need to seek out some more, or change my plans.

The top here is mostly leftovers from past projects. The very bottom is a jumble of all my needles and notions. To be fair, I was supposed to have a nice place to keep that stuff. My husband, who does woodworking on occasion, was making me a nice hardwood box for all that stuff when he had his unfortunate table saw incident that ripped his hand open. He's OK, but the hand still has quite a bit of healing to do. So for now, the needles are here.

Tonight I think I may go back to the felted iPod holder I have been putting off. I pretty much screwed up the body of it, so I threw in the towel about 3/4 through the I-cord. But I have enough yarn to start over, and think I should be able to finish it pretty quickly on size 4 needles.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rough few days.

Sorry I dropped off for a bit there - I have had a few really difficult days at work and by the time I've gotten home, have been very upset and not up to doing anything at all online.

Anyway. I've had a few knitting mishaps. I would post photos, but they don't show well in photos.

First, I started another pair of socks. However, this yarn is decidedly thinner than the yarn with which I did the first pair. To make socks with this yarn, I'm going to need ittier-bittier needles. At first I was thinking maybe a looser knit would be OK for summer or something...but nah, it looks like crap. So that's been shoved aside.

Then I did a gauge swatch in basketweave to make sure all was well before starting on a sweater for my husband. Well, the swatch looks like crap. Why? Because I knit the wrong side backwards. The next one I did was perfect. (This is still difficult for me, because it takes me a good hour to knit a gauge swatch.) So anyway, good swatch done, I start working on the ribbing at the bottom. Next day at the doctor's office waiting room, I notice the ribbing looks nothing like ribbing, because apparently I've forgotten how to do ribbing and I KNIT THE FREAKING WRONG SIDE BACKWARDS. Holy hell. I think I'm going to go back to just knitting in the round. Bah. Well, I did start the sweater over and the ribbing looks quite nice now. But it drives me batshit to have wasted time over something so stupid.

And I want more Manos but I'm too lazy to go to the store. I'm impatient for SP8 to start, that will force me to get off my ass and spend a ton of money on yarn.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I am so effing sore.

There's no one to whine to, so I'll do it here.

One would think that swimming 10 miles a week would classify as being in good shape. Well, seeing as how I am not allowed to swim for a few weeks due to the recent mole removals, I have been walking for an hour every morning. Yesterday it ended up being added to, as I needed to go shopping at several different malls (or levels of hell, for me). This morning I felt like I was walking through a vat of molasses. Now it seems every muscle I have is sore - even my arms! WTF?!?

Meanwhile, I am trying to seriously de-clutter my house today. The place disgusts me. I don't know where all of this shit comes from - I don't even have children! But you can't walk through a room without tripping over mounds of stuff. I swear I want to just walk through the house with a garbage bag and throw away every stinking thing that is on the floor or a chair or somewhere else it doesn't belong.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

SP8 Questionnaire Answers!

OK kids, here we go!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I love alpaca and wool - these are what I have the most experience with. So far my top favorite is Manos Del Uruguay. Love it. I'm interested in trying some nice cotton or ribbon yarn, but haven't experimented with those yet. The only thing I really really don't like is the cheapie acrylic stuff from Walmart or something. I am also not a fan of Noro Kureyon, beautiful as it is, because in my experience it breaks all the time and that drives me crazy. I haven't tried any other Noro yarns so I don't know if their other products do the same thing or not.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

OK, this is embarrasssing, but nothing really. For awhile I had them all (ALL) in the same bag I was toting my most portable project in. Right now I have them on the bottom shelf of a sweater-shelf bag where I'm keeping all my yarn (will post photo later).

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I've been knitting since January 2005. I think I'm advanced beginner to intermediate. I've made several different types of bags (including a yoga mat bag), hats, one sweater, and some socks (besides all the obligatory scarves). On deck soon is a rug, which seems like a lot of fun.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Amazon, but I'm not entirely sure how to link to it. I'll try anyway.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

Vanilla, pumpkin, or coconut.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Unfortunately yes, in a major way. Dark chocolate is my poison of choice, but I prefer plain chocolate (can't stand the froufrou stuff like Godiva), or the dark chocolate Reese's cups (my own personal crack). I also have a soft spot in my heart for Frango.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

Um, I garden (organically), cook from scratch, and make my own cleaning supplies (yes, I'm a bit of an eco-freak who avoids chemicals whenever possible).

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Primarily classical, new age, and eighties goth (including some bands that have gone way past the 80's such as The Cure and Clan of Xymox). Yes, I know these preferences seem very incompatible with each other. I do also like some of the mainstream 80's music but I get sick of it really fast, just like I did in the 80's. My computer can play MP3s, my (current) car stereo cannot, but I do have an iPod.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I. Love. Purple. My car is purple. I am instantly drawn to purple yarn. I like jewel tones and autumn colors in general. I wear a lot of black, but find it boring to knit with, at least on its own. I am not a fan of pastels.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I live with my husband and two cats. No children.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Scarves - yes. Hats - sometimes. Mittens - yes. Ponchos - not to date, but probably would as I tend to be cold all the time and have pondered knitting one.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I like trying new things, so not one particular thing I knit a lot of.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A pair of socks I'm not sure about, and a felted iPod cover (which I have been ignoring because frankly it's not at all fun to knit).

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

For straight, I prefer bamboo. For circs, Addi-Turbos are my favorite. Overall I prefer circs but I haven't used them in about six months.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yarn winder, no swift yet (contemplating buying one).

17. How did you learn to knit?

Via Stitch 'n Bitch. I am acquiring new skills by finding patterns that have something I want to learn, and just doing it.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?

Um, about 3 months old (and about 2 months ignored) Not sure if it's officially abandoned yet.

19. What is your favorite holiday?

Christmas. Most other holidays don't have a whole lot of meaning for me.

20. Is there anything that you collect?

Aside from yarn, not really.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I subscribe to Simply Knitting and Interweave Knits. I'm mostly looking to expand my horizons since I am fairly new to all this.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

My next technique goal is cabling.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yep, a new one (done one pair so far, and it leaves a little to be desired). Measurements... Heel to toe 10 inches, and right now my tape measure is inacessible so I'll have to figure out the rest of it later.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

April 5th.