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Monday, April 05, 2004

A Cross-Reference 

I'm closing out this blog and have opened up a new cafe at the following site:

URL: http://nownormaknits2.typepad.com/now_norma_knits_2/

Come on over and have a cappuccino with me!

Cross-Reference 

I'm closing out this boring free blog and have opened one up here:

http://nownormaknits2.typepad.com/now_norma_knits_2/

Come on over and have a cappucino with me.



Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Calm Before the Storm 

Having a great time over at the Audrey-A-Long watching and reading about everybody's Calmer color choices while I'm drumming my fingers on the table waiting for mine to arrive. It's really neat that everybody is letting their own personalities show through their color choices. There is going to be a real rainbow of sweaters when we're all finished. Wouldn't it be neat if we could all be photographed together!

I was just browsing through eBay and saw a pack of Night Sky, the discontinued color that Theresa is using, up for auction in a few days. I wonder if it's an Audrey-A-Longer who is bidding for it presently?

The seller describes it as a "light royal," and I wish I knew for sure -- what if it's "my" periwinkle, (dark periwinkle) or what if it, as I was wondering, has a slight bit of green in it, which would make it a good color for me? I just don't know and can't tell from the online color swatches. I was also Googling and came upon one site in particular that, if THAT'S where I first saw the swatch of Laurel, I NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS would have ordered it. It is UGLY UGLY UGLY in that online representation, but I think it's just a problem with that particular site's color reproduction. I sure hope so!

I do have the Cascade Key Largo in my stash that is in a beautiful cayenne pepper type of color, and that is beautiful cotton/alpaca yarn, and perhaps it could be substituted, but I don't want to take chances with this project unless I'm forced to. I'm also not sure that cayenne would be the greatest color for this particular sweater, it being all glamorous '50s and all, as discussed at length at the blog-along.

I forgot to mention that a few days ago I bought an Ott-Lite floor lamp off eBay to help my eyes when knitting and reading. It hasn't arrived yet. I'll be very glad when it does. I also scored tonight a bag of turquoise Cascade Key Largo. I put in a bid several days ago, and nobody bid against me. I had forgotten about it, to be honest, until I got the notification email tonight. Cool. I like that yarn a lot. I haven't knitted with it yet, actually, but I think it's a lot like the Cotton Fleece I am using presently on the Pacific Grove. Speaking of Pacific Grove, I'm halfway done the front again, and while it's looking wonderful and I'm glad I'm redoing it now that I have more experience knitting AND have the wonderful Addi-Turbo to use on it which is making the stitches more beautiful, I still have this nagging feeling that it's going to come out too small. I'm mulling asking some people's advice on how to add onto it, being that it's made in squares much like an afghan, or perhaps I will even attempt on my own. I'm very skeptical, though, that I have the skills to do what I am imagining. I need to relearn to crochet. There is an optional finishing suggestion with this pattern to do a couple rows of single crochet on the bottom, neckline & cuffs, so why not use crochet to add some width at the sideseam and length to the garment if it's too short? I think it's doable, especially since the sweater IS made in afghan-style squares.

I have strong urges to begin swatching up the Buffalo Brownski Peace Fleece, but I'm fighting them, since I have now three cottony projects in various stages of planning and completion, and spring and summer ARE coming, even though they're expecting 9 inches of snow here tomorrow and tomorrow night. Argh. And to think I was going to plant some seeds the other day. I still could have done it -- cold-weather things such as turnips, spinach, broccoli, and lettuces -- as the snow will not last long and the seeds would have sprouted anyway, and I use season-extenders such as gardening fabric. But a prediction for 9 inches of snow is a psychological barrier to playing in the dirt! Ayuh.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Chestnuts Roasting ? 

Oh.My.God. I am absolutely dumbfounded at how BEEEEEAUTIFUL the Buffalo Brownski Peace Fleece is. It arrived today and was here to greet me after a long and arduous day working at my sister's chocolate factory, and after such a long day immersed in the wonderful smells (and the occasional taste, I will admit) of her high-quality chocolate, it's as if I've come home to dip in a veritable pool of that same chocolate. The color is more wonderful than anything I can describe, very chestnutty, rich brown, with flecks of burgundy and either darker brown or black, and it is deep and lustrous with a sheen. It matches my eyes almost exactly. (not that I would go on about how beautiful the brown of my eyes is!) The yarn is very clean and it was packed in a sealed plastic bag. There is no hint of the smells some people have said they experienced with their PF. The wooden buttons are going to compliment the sweater so beautifully, too. I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to knit this beauty. I am so happy--SO HAPPY--with my color choice!! Boy, I am going to want to keep my house at 50 degrees all next winter and wish for many below-zero days so I can wear this sweater as much as I can.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I feel CALMER already! 

Yay, I joined the Audrey-A-Long http://www.keyboardbiologist.net/audrey/ at the ground level, you might say! No sooner had they opened the doors this morning than I happened upon Theresa's blog and signed up. As of tonight, I'm an official member (SO exciting -- but do I need a life?) and I've already dropped $107 on pattern book and yarn. Scary. This will be our little secret, k? This is not the kind of thing you can share with just anyone, you know! We are all gonna be SMOKIN' in that sweater!!! I hope I have a spring/summer wedding to attend, or something special, for wearing that beauty when it's finished. When I ordered the pattern book (pricey in itself, dammit) and clicked on the photo of Audrey, it's described as "beginner" level. Well.............I dunno.........it has some pretty fancy work goin' on around the neckline. I'm up for it, though. The rest of the sweater is ribbing, and beautiful. I told Abigail tonight in IM-speak that she better not be stealin' this sweater, coz I know she's going to want to, but actually I would be very flattered if she did. Besides, what would it hurt (except the checkbook) to have to make another one! As it is, I had a hard time deciding on the color. I chose Laurel (a celery-ish green, I think -- hard to tell from the online color swatches), but there were a few good colors in the running. There are loads of other beautiful designs in that pattern book, too, so it seems as if it'll be worth the exorbitant price. Criminy, though, when am I going to get that poor Pacific Grove done? Better get to it RIGHT NOW, before the yarn arrives. Obviously Ryan's tunic will be put on hold for a while.

Oh, and I heard from Abigail that Greta L-O-V-E-S her scarf. She apparently put up an away message yesterday that was something like, "The only good thing in my life today is the beautiful scarf that my favorite Abigail's mother made for me, and I love her for it." The kids are all going through a tough semester, it seems. Abigail is "hating" school, and she just told me that "everybody" is having a tough semester, so the timing was good for the scarf to arrive. For Abigail I do not have a knitted treat, but tomorrow I'm putting in the mail a jar of liquid love -- Ben & Jerry's hot fudge sauce. I put a note in that she has to provide the spoon. She'll get a kick out of it.

Everyday Peace 

Well, I'm not an official participant in the Everyday Cardigan Knitalong -- only a voyeur. I sneak in there and read about everybody's progress and comments on the pattern and yarn. I have ordered my own EC kit from PF. I chose Buffalo Brownski and can't wait to see it. It was hard to choose from all the wonderful colors on the color card, especially after seeing the swatch-and-wash results I got from the less-than-exciting (at first) periwinkle I bought from them. I'm eyeing the color cards from Beaverslide Dry Goods, too, and it's beyond me how I'm going to keep my job and still get all this knitting done. On the other hand, I BETTER keep my job so I can pay for all this knitting and related paraphernalia! And I'm excited to learn more about Theresa's upcoming Audrey project.

Meanwhile, my poor beleageured brother-in-law at the chocolate factory has called to ask desperately for any hours I can give them between now and next Thursday, and I have the deposition of a neurosurgeon at the University this afternoon, and Abigail is in TWO plays at Hamilton College in the next two weeks (including Good Friday/Easter weekend!) THEN my friend Michelle wants me to join a Bikram yoga class with her soon. I am very intrigued, and I definitely DEFINITELY need to get into an exercise routine again, even if it's only to keep my back and neck in shape for more KNITTING, hehe! But I said to Michelle, "I can't knit while I'm in a yoga class!" She said I could for the 15 minutes early that we're supposed to show up before class!! :-D

After my deposition in Montpelier yesterday (over an hour's drive each way, ick) I took a detour to go into Williston village to find the seemingly legendary Northeast Fiber Arts Center. It took me a couple drive-bys to see it, because it did not look on the outside as I was expecting it to look, and I went in and spent some good time in there. It has the look and feel of a well-established good fiber shop. Rather less inviting, aesthetics-wise, IMHO, than Kaleidoscope, but seems to carry a wider variety of lines, and has umpteen bazillion books and patterns. I bought a Jaeger book that appealed to me because of its more fitted and youthful-looking patterns. The patterns are in Trinity yarn, but she doesn't carry that line. She showed me some yarns that could be substituted, and it almost appears that any DK yarn will work too. Since I have PLENTY of that in my stash, I left without buying any yarns, but I did get a couple sets of cable holders and the US 6 bamboo DP's I needed and the US 8 Addi-Turbo 24" for Ryan's tunic. I have to say, again IMHO, that the completed projects in that shop are not as inspiring as the ones in Kaleidoscope. It was worth the trip, though, and I now know where I can get some things that I might need that I don't think K carries -- such as Cotton Fleece, for example.

Got going again on the Pacific Grove last night. Completed one more square and started another. I still love that sweater and that yarn. I think I'm worried, deep down inside, though, that after a lot of work the same thing is going to happen again -- that it will be too small or too large, so I think I'm proceeding with less zeal and zest than before.

I bought some seeds the other day............ohboy, what's going to happen when gardening season gets here?






Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Buttoned Up 

Wahoo! It's done! The blue cardigan is done! Let's have a cardi party! Drinks all around! And if I do say so myself, it is a nice piece of handiwork. Too bad this dumb stupid blog (ah, but ya get what ya pay for) doesn't allow me to post photos. SO frustrated with that. I will take the photo when I get some natural light, though, to keep in my computer files 'til the day I get a better blogsite so I can post it and the others waiting in the wings. Also for my album of completed projects.

I stopped in to the "other" yarn shop today to get more needles, but they were out of stock of the two sizes I needed. Instead I picked up two "essential" patterns for hats and felted mittens. A must-have for my knitting library, wouldn't you say? Gotta have them for the Peace Fleece, if nothing else. Had a lovely chat with the nice lady in there. I think she might be the owner? manager? don't know. She's not terribly local, (says she lives in Northfield -- that's a HIKE from Burlington) which makes me wonder if she is the owner, but she did seem to have some authority, as she ogled the buttons on the Anna cardi and wanted to know the maker and wrote it down when I told her. I was able to tell her the maker AND the website, as I had done the research in trying to find another to match yesterday. She gave me compliments on my knitting and wondered about the pattern. I surprised her by telling her it was the Knitting Pure & Simple pattern that I had actually purchased there. She wasn't aware there was a collar option, and she really liked it, and also was pleased to hear that I loved the pattern and had such great success with it, as she says a problem has recently surfaced with their pullover pattern. Oh, GREAT, since I bought that and was planning to knit it up sometime soon for myself. I checked online when I got home at the KP&S site to see if there were any errata published there, and didn't find any. BUT she also looked it over real good and was very complimentary on my knitting gauge, etc. I do believe she was sincere and not just bullshitting me. She immediately said, "This is Cascade." (!) I asked her how she KNEW that, and she said, "Oh, I know my yarns." She explained about the Galway yarn a little bit, and I said I had knitted a sweater from that yarn that I actually bought there, and really liked it -- said it's very close to the Cascade. She said yes, that you either carry one or the other. I guess it's one of those Ben & Jerry's or Haagan Dazs things -- you can't carry two competing premium yarns or ice creams. How silly.

She said that she had somebody recently bring in a couple pieces for display (apparently employees or commission knitters or something) and she was so unhappy with the sloppiness and loose gauge that she wasn't even sure she was going to put them out. She didn't show it to me, though. We had a chat about loosy-goosy gauges that both she and I abhore.

But, without being too braggy, my cardigan looks way better than the photo on the pattern! That one, too, is very loose, and it's pictured with the crew neck, which is not as attractive as the collar, IMHO, and fairly ugly buttons. The designer's website has an invitation to send in photos of finished projects of her patterns, and if she publishes it on her website, she will give you a free pattern, so when I finish the other one for Ryan (both patterns from Knitting Pure & Simple, but different ones, so she's gotta love that), I'm going to ask Debbie to take photos of her kids in the sweaters to submit there. A free pattern is no big deal (retail value about $4.50), especially since I've already purchased SO MANY of that lady's patterns, but it's something.

So, onward and upward, I've picked up the Pacific Grove Pullover again. I tried with no success last night to get a square size that worked. Tonight I decided to go back to the Size 7 needle that I loved for the tension and finished product. Duh, though, I had forgotten that I had a Size 7 16" Addi-Turbo, and last time I was struggling with the cheap aluminum 32" circular. This is working perfectly -- nice and smooooooooooooth for the Cotton Fleece to flow off the Addi-Turbo, and the 16" is juuuuuuuuuuust right, like Baby Bear's porridge. Now I just hope I've hit upon the right number of cast-on stitches. I'm trying 43 this time, as opposed to the 37 I was using last time. I'm only in the middle of my first square and won't know if it's right 'til I've finished. Here's hoping! I am sick and tired of trying with no success on this thing! I do want to wear this sweater sometime in the near future. Ha-ha, the lady in the store also has bought the Pacific Grove pattern! She didn't say if she'd knitted it yet or was working on it or what. But I pulled it out of my bag, and she said, "Oh, I have that pattern, too." I told her I'd sent away for it, and she said she had too. ...........Hm...........I wonder if I see a local knitalong in my future......?

Monday, March 29, 2004

Blogger Blues 

First off, let's just get this out of the way: AOL sucks. What is UP with that piece of crap organization and why do I continue to be loyal to it? It's ridiculous. I didn't even know that they had some blogging space until another blogger told me, "If you're on AOL, I bet you will have problems with the free space they give you for a journal." (how's that for a "negative recommendation"?)

Well, ayuh, 'tis very true. I tried to start one today, because I'm unsatisfied with this one, too, because all I can do is write a journal entry and not put in pictures and an "About Me" space, links, and all that good jazz that I see in other people's blogs. Well, at first blush I was pretty damn excited because it appeared that it had ALL that good stuff. Only problem is, you're limited to 2,500 characters, I learned way after I had done the setup and had wasted a good hour writing an entry only to get an error message that I'm only allowed 2,500 characters. No message about how many I've gone over or anything, and it WASN'T a very long entry. This is clearly unacceptable and will NOT work for me.

Then I clicked "add pictures," and it brought me to my stored pictures on my computer, slick as a whistle, but I put a checkmark next to the one I wanted (it was a test, using the recently completed "Greta scarf") and there was no option beyond that -- no "add picture," or "copy" or "send," or diddly squat. Just sat there. Nothing. And it DIDN'T add the picture. The only thing it DID right was add my "About Me" section, which isn't worth a piece of crap if there is no blog attached to it. Oh, and it also DID, to give it credit, link to THIS journal under "other journals," when I put in the information, which is good because I didn't want to lose all this, even though I haven't been using this one very long.

Crapola.

And in other crapola news: I had to redo BOTH button AND buttonhole bands on the Anna cardi. I had that thing all done, looking SO AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL and I was so proud of myself and happy with the results. Then, as I was sewing on the buttons, I noticed that I had mistakenly made 6 buttonholes, and of course I only had 5 buttons. What a major pain in the ass. I knew I had a few choices: rip it out and reknit it with 5 buttonholes; buy another card of 5 buttons to add the ONE missing; or change the buttons altogether.

I called Kaleidoscope, and to be honest, I'm not all that in love with the customer service there. The first lady I spoke to didn't know much about buttons and said she'd have the owner call me back. The owner did call me back, only to tell me that she doesn't have those buttons anymore, and she can order them for me if I'm not in a hurry, but she just placed an order, and with this company there is a minimum order. I can understand all that, but I sort of get the impression from this lady that she is a lot like my sister in her business. I.e., she maybe only wanted to work a couple, three days a week, and she mistook her hobby for something she'd want for a business and the business is maybe more than she'd really like to deal with. She's nice and everything, but seems a little less than fully helpful and seems hurried and harried and not overly interested in me when I'm in there. It's my "first" great yarn shop and I feel loyal to it, and it's sort of convenient, but I wish there was a bit more of a feeling of "we want you here." Which I DO get from some of the employees there, by the way, but not necessarily the owner.

Course, I had a somewhat similar experience in another shop that is just in the process of opening. This one was classic: I was being helped by the one employee who was there, looking for a pattern. We were working together, I was a rank beginner at the time (this is just in January, and I feel I've progressed so far so fast that it seems like ancient history now), and this shop is an adjunct to a quilting shop that's been there for quite a while. The person who was apparently working (or the owner maybe?) in the quilt shop came over and said to the person helping me, "Would you like a break?" and that person fled the premises so fast I could NOT believe it, dropping me like a hot potato without even saying, "I'm leaving for a break now -- I'll be back in a few minutes," or "I'm sorry," or anything. Geez, Louise.

So..................back to the Rhapsody in Blue cardigan. I have redone the two button bands and now have to sew back the buttons in the right places for the changed buttonholes. I am very worried that I might have cut a stitch on the bottom of the sweater. It scares me to death. I tried to be SO careful, and I have tried to determine whether in fact I have done some terrible damage, but so far I can't fully tell. I don't like the way the buttonhole band came out as well as it did last time, but I think it's still good. After I "finished it the first time" early this afternoon, I definitely felt post-project depression. My exhaustion overtook me. I tried to get a little nap, but there were phone and doorbell and husband-coming-home-for-lunch interruptions, so that never worked.

The nicest part of the day was reknitting the band, because I did it in the warm sunshine on the front porch. You cannot fully appreciate the pleasure of this unless you live in the deep cold north as we do! I took off my socks and sat on the bench on the front porch for about an hour, facing the setting sun, redoing the band. It was just lovely.

Now I'm feeling completely exhausted (haven't even yet put the buttons back on or woven in the final two ends) and am very UNexcited about the prospect of returning to work tomorrow. Not only that, but I have to do Grand Jury -- ick. I am feeling rather blase about starting a new project. The Pacific Grove Pullover needs to get resurrected and restarted, it being a cotton sweater. I think I'm more in the mood, though, (if indeed I am in the mood at ALL, which is only marginal) to start Ryan's tunic to match Anna's cardigan. Perhaps it's time to set aside the knitting for a while, or maybe I just plain need sleep.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Peace, Baby 

Update on the Peace Fleece swatch: I washed it in Eucalan, and ohbaby, it came out S-O N-I-C-E! When putting the washed-and-dried swatch next to the skeins, you are hard-pressed to believe it's the same wool! Literally. Either that Eucalan is an amazing product (it IS) or ........... well, there is no "or." It now has the lovely sheen that I adore and that I said was missing in the wool when I first knitted it, and it has attained a more soft hand and a bit of a halo from the mohair content. Still not as soft as C-220, and decidedly heavier in weight, but still, much nicer than I originally thought. Yay, bonus! Now I will HAVE to order some of their wonderful colors. People in the Knitalong site have been complaining about a smell -- a straight-from-the-barn smell. One lady said she was worried that her dog would think she was keeping livestock in her closet. Well, I don't know...... I didn't get any of that. I did definitely get some hay pieces on my skeins, like it HAD been stored in a barn or something, but I rather feel that's part of the charm (some other Knitalongers said that, too). And if it does smell a bit like cow poop, well, being from Vermont I'll hardly even notice, but even if I do, it will be well taken care of with a plunge in that wonderful Eucalan. I ought to, just for kicks, give another swatch of it a try in the Brown Sheep Wool Shampoo just to see how it compares...since I'm getting all scientific now about this hobby and all!

Another interesting thing: The gauge did not change at all after washing and drying flat, without even any active blocking, per se. I just plunked the swatch down on a towel to dry, and I even transported it to the chocolate factory in my show-and-tell bag for "the girls" over there (I've discovered some Knitters over there. Capital K on the Knitters was intentional, hehe.) while it was still damp, and I just pulled it out of the bag this morning and checked the gauge, and those are my slightly-less-than-empirical findings.

I've read in other knitters' blogs and at the Everyday Cardigan Knitalong site that other people have found that the gauge relaxed significantly after a wash, and also people are having trouble getting gauge. I've come to the conclusion that a lot of people are lazy-loose knitters and I must be a pretty tight knitter, although it doesn't feel like it to me when I'm knitting, unless, of course, I use those dreaded plastic needles that I tried.......(oh, yes, and UPDATE ON THE PLASTIC NEEDLES: they are getting ditched! and I do mean DITCHED. It would be straight to the compost pile if they weren't plastic, so maybe I'll think of some better use for them, like stakes for my houseplants or something! ;-)

So what were they all ON ABOUT at the Knitalong? Course, it could possibly be different about the gauge with different colors -- I'm learning all about dyes and mordants and -- oh, hell, now I'm just showing off using words I've read but don't even know the meaning of.

I was hoping to have an entire day of peaceful, relaxing knitting after slaving away at the chocolate factory all week, but my poor hubby informed me that he was hoping I'd get back early yesterday so we could go to a movie in the afternoon. (I didn't -- I got back at 7 p.m. -- yes, on a Saturday, too, of my supposed vacation. grumble.) So I promised him we could go to a movie THIS afternoon, then we remembered that there is an 80th birthday open house we should go to from 1-4, so we've decided that perhaps we can hit the birthday party right at 1 and then go to an afternoon movie, so that really puts a crimp in my knitting plans. Course, there is some driving distance involved in all this, and I can knit in the car. But.... whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, not what I wanted!

Re-cast off the first sleeve of the Anna cardi and got really going on the second sleeve. Boy, I thought I was almost done this cardigan, but man! Even though it's pretty little for a pretty little girl, the finishing is taking a long time. But it's going to be so worth it. I love it. I keep wondering if I should do a zipper instead of buttons, but no.......I can't think that way.........the buttons are SO GORGEOUS, they really make the sweater.


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