Sunday, February 22, 2009

What a Lot to Do . . .

Added this evening: I had to jump back on and share that my St. Patrick sweater is now blocking on the guest room floor. Yeah, baby - it's done! I tried it on and it looks to be a perfect fit! Yay! Oh Yay!! I tried taking a photo, but it's awful - you can't see any of the details so I'll have to wait for a better day - or beg Knifty Red for some photo assistance :-) I hope it dries by Thursday so I can wear it to Connecticut!

Written this morning: There's always a lot to do, isn't there? It seems that way to me.

I've been making an effort to take better care of myself lately, which entails getting more exercise - not always so easy here in Chicagoland. It's way cold again, and even I, who loves all four seasons, am getting very tired of this weather. Cold, warm, quickly cold again, rain, more ice, more snow, nasty windchill . . . I live in Chicago. It's February. I don't really know what else I could expect ;-) But the days are getting longer and Spring is on its way - even if we can't quite see the evidence yet.

I am spending more time on myself, which is somewhat limiting other activities. Still, I think it's best for me, so I don't really mind. And today is my day "off" so I have a little time to get a few things caught up.

I managed to get my Ravelry projects and stash updated, and photos taken, etc. Yay! And I'm working steadily on the baby afghan I promised to finish for a friend of my cousin's. I don't normally take on projects from someone else, but there is a story here - the friend's mom made baby afghans for each of her daughters as they had children. The youngest daughter hadn't had any children when the mom was diagnosed with cancer. I guess the mom knew that her prognosis was not good, so she started on an afghan for this daughter, even though she didn't have any children yet. The mom passed away, and the daughter eventually had a baby girl - and asked my cousin if she knew anyone who might be able to finish the afghan that the mom had started. That's where I came in.

I did my best to capture the mom's gauge, and the afghan is a simple ripple. I wasn't able to duplicate her exact stitch pattern, but I'm close enough (I think) that only I and a crochet expert could tell. It is crochet, so it goes a lot faster than knitting - thankfully. I've been working on it first each time I sit down to knit to get a little more done each time. I've had it since last fall, and they weren't in too much of a hurry - still, they've waited long enough, so I'm working on it as I go with all the the other projects. I tried taking it on the train the other day, but it's getting to be too bulky and large for train knitting, so it's relegated to comfy chair knitting at home.

Earlier this week, I made a list of the projects on the needles that I want to finish up before starting any more (yeah, right). Having so many things in various stages of completion is starting to mess with my head. The day I made the list, I finished the first pair of socks, and I put them on the list just so I would have something to cross off and feel like I'm accomplishing things :-D They are made with Crystal Palace Panda Cotton in the Night Lights colorway. For all its faults, which I listed in detail a few posts ago, it knits up quite nicely. But I won't use it again. I've already discovered that bamboo is just not my favorite fiber to work with. Guess I'm purist in that - give me plain ole' wool any day of the week. Well, maybe a little cashmere now and again, but for the most part - wool. Woolly sheep wool :-)

Speaking of which, there is good news and bad news about the Iona Sweater. I had a wonderful lesson last Sunday afternoon with PatsyZ and we spent a great deal of time with the Corriedale that has the Iona wool blended with it. The good news is that (1) the pin-drafted roving that I got back from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers is just stunning; (2) the color is the most amazing silvery gray; and (3) I'm already loving it even though I've only spun a wee bit of it for test purposes.

The bad news is that there is only about 3 lbs., and between 8 and 10 oz. of it. What this means is that unless I spin spot on for every bit of it, there will not be enough of it to make the sweater I want to make. I've gone back and forth between a cardi (October Frost, from A Fine Fleece) and a pullover (Celtic Dreams, by Beth Brown Reinsel). I've decided on the pullover (again). But unless I get a really lot smaller, I will be right down to the wire in terms of yardage for the size I want to make, and that's assuming that I actually am able to spin it exactly right and completely consistently throughout. I'm looking for something else maybe to make with it, but I really had my heart set on a sweater. I'm considering making it a little shorter, maybe going 3/4 on the sleeves - I'm not sure yet, and guess I will have to wait until I get it all spun up to figure it all out.

I've decided to spin a few other things first, just to get myself focused. And first on the list is the beautiful cloud of grey Shetland that Michelle at Boulderneigh gifted to me. I weighed it, and there is 4 oz. there - should be enough for a pair of socks, and a challenge to me to spin it very finely to make sure I get the yardage. Then I will spin up the rest of the BFL I did recently. It's very close to the size I want for the Iona wool, and will challenge me to come back up to a thicker singles. It's important to be able to move back and forth between thick and thin yarns, else you run the risk of being stuck making only fine yarns - not what I want to happen to me :-)

I went to the International Kennel Club dog show at McCormick Place yesterday - always big fun. I went with my friends, Barb & Bob and we had a great time. I don't get to see them enough. Even more fun - caught up with Rachael and Jamie there, too!! Yay!!

Well, that's the news from The Third Coast this weekend. :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wheee!

What a great day I had today. So welcome after two weeks of being sick.

I cruised up to Fleet Feet in Elmhurst to get a second pair of my Nirvana shoes. I'm going to use the first pair as my "walking around" shoes and these new ones on the treadmill. I discovered that my old New Balance shoes hurt. Since I haven't really worn them since last fall - I've been wearing my hiking boots all winter - I could really see the difference between having shoes that actually fit your foot, and ones that don't.

I also got a bunch more of the Magical Socks - Balega's. OMG they are so amazing and I'm very happy to have gotten a free pair along with the ones I bought. I had a $25 credit at the store, and I got an email from them for 10% off my total purchase plus a free pair of socks. It was a very good day!

Then, on the way home, I had to get on 290 East to get to back to the Tollway. And since I have been carrying around my gift certificate to Knitwerks, I thought - hey, I can just drive downtown and then take the Dan Ryan to the Bishop Ford and stop at the credit union and drop off the dry cleaning in Lansing. Perfect!!

What a lovely store, and meeting Cherrl was such a pleasure. I really recommend this store. She had a lot of yarns I don't generally see - and a good book selection too. This is well worth a little trek to the city! I had big fun - here's the proof! Cherrl carries Blue Heron Yarns. I ran across some at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair two years ago and found it so unique - I've been looking for more ever since. That green / blue / purple is a skein of Blue Heron's Beaded Rayon (525 yards), in the Cactus colorway. I got three of them. :-D Not sure what I will make, but with 1,500+ yards, I have enough for something substantial.

There's a green silk project bag from Lantern Moon (I have two already - I love them!). I got two pairs of Brittany needles. I've been wanting to try some shorter straights, so picked up some 8's and some 4's, and then splurged on some Lantern Moon 6's. I also picked up enough Noro to make a Lucy Bag for a belated Christmas present. Spent way more than my gift certificate, but because I'm a member of the Windy City Knitting Guild, I got 10% off!! Woo Hoo!!

This is the first yarn shopping I've done since August 2008. I did buy one skein of test yarn, but this was real shopping. Since I spent more than my gift certificate, I definitely fell off the wagon - but it was worth it ;-D

Monday, February 9, 2009

Home Sick . . .

I can't actually remember the last time I had a cold. A sinus infection, yes. But a real cold - the kind that lasts for 14 days with one remedy and two weeks with another ;-) - it's been awhile. This one is kicking my butt. I was able to walk yesterday - a good long walk on the treadmill - but this morning I could only do four miles and it about killed me. Even my favorite oatmeal didn't revive me, so I made the decision to call in to work. I'm hopeful that my head will clear sometime today and I'll be back to functional.

I got nothing accomplished that was on the list for the weekend except my walk and more work on St. Brigid. I have completed two full repeats of the pattern. It's getting easier - I'm starting to get the hang of the charting nomenclature she uses, but it's just not intuitive for me so I'm still double checking the key pretty much all the time. At least I'm picking up some speed - the first rows took me probably 15 minutes a piece. Yikes!

I watched a Bollywood movie on the treadmill yesterday. They are usually pretty long, and I figured a slow, long walk would help. Kaal. Although it was reviewed well, I thought it was awful and I was thankful that it was shorter than most Bollywood fare. I got it because the item number I had seen from it was sensational, and that's been a pretty good barometer of how the film's going to be. Not so in this case. The item number I saw was at the very beginning of the film, sort of just in there as an "extra." SRK was not even in the film, just the item number! That was disappointing. And even having the eye candy of John Abraham didn't help this film in any way. It was more of a horror/thriller kind of film - tame by US standards I would think, and just not a good film. The best part about it was the soundtrack, which is fabulous. That opening number (Kaal Dhamaal) and the number over the closing credits (Tauba Tauba) where the best things about the film.

I'm thankful that today I have a DVD of The Tudors, Season One to watch as I nurse this cold. No church lady knitting for me tonight :-(

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wendy Whiner . . .

Anyone else remember that old SNL skit? If not, you're probably a baby ;-D Well, I've been Wendy Whiner pretty much since yesterday.

I have been sneezing for 5 days now. Not nice little polite "a-choo!" sneezes. Oh No. No, I'm sneezing great blasting, seizure-like sneezes. The kind where you have to check to make sure your underwear's still on, and where your nose rains snot. TMI? Sorry - but geez, what a pain. Literally. My poor little nose - one of the cutest parts of my body - looks like I could guide Santa's sleigh. And it hurts. And I sound horrible. And I'm tired. And more than a little cranky. And I didn't ring my allergist yesterday to get some Allegra and some Singulair - because if this is an allergy, those two things will take care of it - which means I have to wait until Monday night to get some.

I was reasonably sure it's some indoor allergy - until this morning. I had a go-round with the Neti pot yesterday and used it again this morning - and I'm just wiped out. And it's not getting any better, so now, I'm thinking I have a cold. Dammit Dammit Dammit.

Here's a look at a week's worth of St. Brigid. I was worried about having enough yarn because the cables are just sucking it up, but if 3,000+ yards is not enough, then I don't know what would be. I'm liking it - it's slow going and the charts are in some weird nomenclature that's not intuitive (pardon me while I whine again) so I have to read the chart key for literally every cable. None of them are sticking in my head yet. This photo is much lighter than the yarn actually is - much closer to Navy blue, but the cables are popping really well - I was a little worried about this since the yarn is so dark. I really like this Queensland Kathmandu Aran. This is the second sweater I have made with it.

Oh please - let me whine some more - I have been working on some train socks - in Panda Cotton for my Iona sister, T. I'm going to visit her at the end of the month and she's allergic to wool, so I thought that would be a nice hostess present. Panda Cotton. Yeah, right. That's a misnomer. It's NOT all cotton, it has a large amount of bamboo. I don't like knitting with bamboo. (No - not at all - obligatory Rocky Horror Picture Show reference) And once again - just like the last time I made socks with bamboo blend - I've split a hole in my left index finger (my needle pushing finger). Dammit. Oh - and did I mention it's splitty as all hell? I have NEVER knit with anything as splitty as this yarn. It has two redeeming features - it knits up really nicely, and for me anyway, it doesn't pool except at the gusset. I'll have a photo soon :-)

On the happy side of things - I got to have lunch with my cousin ME, and then dinner with my sister-in-law yesterday. ME has jury duty, very close to my office - and she actually got on a jury - I was jealous. I only seem to get called to 26th Street (the criminal court), and because of certain members of my family (criminal attorneys, police officers), it's highly unlikely that I would ever get picked for a jury there.


I met my SIL after work and we had dinner at her club - which is very swanky, and the food was very yummy! It was kind of nice to get dressed up to go out :-) Sneezing and all. I don't get to see her very often so although I sneezed and blew my nose throughout dinner, we managed to spend close to three hours talking and laughing and catching up. We were actually supposed to go yarn shopping today. It was going to be my chance to go to Knitwerks and spend my Christmas present (but of course, I felt like crap and couldn't go back downtown :-( ). She's a knitter, too, so I took her the Mountain Colors Sandstone Targhee that I recently spun up. She loved it :-)

If this is really a cold that I have, she's likely going to get it - and she's already advised that if that happens, she's coming back here to hurt me. And I can't say as I would blame her :-D

I managed to do all the laundry and to get a haircut today, and I updated my Ravely stash and projects - and I worked some more on St. Brigid - so as whiny as I am, at least I was moderately productive - but now it's time for me to rest. If it wasn't already after 5, I would take a nap.