Sunday, February 25, 2007

Planned Lateness due to Stress

I'm heading out for a four-day business trip, and am frantically trying to get everything done before I leave. That means not only packing my clothes, files, work stuff, etc., but also means laying out a week's worth of school clothes, making sure the family has food to eat, etc.

I will also be missing the Bean's birthday on Tuesday. That makes me sad. I trust the rest of the family will be able to make it extra special for her.

There is just not enough time to do everything, so that means some things have to be put off.

Among those:

  • Choosing the winner of my blog comment contest.
I appreciate all of the responses to my question, "what do you like to see in LYS reviews?". I wish that I could figure out how to reply to each one, but blogger doesn't let you email from the comments. To be fair, if any more comments come in after today, they won't be eligible to win the sock yarn. I will do the drawing when I get back on Friday.

  • Finishing my Sock Swap partner's sock on time
I've been knitting like mad, but unless I blow off everything else today and just knit, it's not going to get done by February 28th. Of course this has to be the shortest month of the year, right? I'm driving on my trip, so there will be no airplane knitting. And evenings will mostly be spent working, so I can't even plan on more than a solid hour of night-time knitting. I really hate not making this deadline. And with the Bean's birthday party next Saturday, I can't even count on the weekend. So Meg, I'll have to say ETA will be March 15th at the absolute very latest -- hopefully sooner.

Needless to say, I won't be updating the blog much this week. I hope to have time to squeeze in a visit to one yarn store, and do a bit of knitting ... but mostly, it's all about work.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Scenes from a Maine Vacation

I'm knitting madly on my Sock Swap socks, hoping to get them off the needles by the last day of February. I know that I won't be able to mail them to my partner in time, but I'd like to fulfill the first month of the two sock KALs I am in.

We had a lovely few days in Maine, sledding, skiing, and just spending some family time together. I didn't take many photos, but here are a few.

On the way home, at hubby's insistence, we stopped at Patternworks
I will do a full review in the coming days, but let's just say that it's a very nice store and I spent quite a bit of money on impulse items.

Now back to the socks ....

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Queen of Rationalization

This past week, I visited 3 yarn stores that were new to me. Since I've decided to post thorough yarn store reviews, this was not recreational shopping, but part of the job I've chosen to take on. In order to thoroughly evaluate the staff and customer service aspects of these yarn stores, I was forced to make a purchase at each location.

The damage:

Trekking 100 sock yarn, Louet Gems Opal sock yarn in 2 colorways, Mountain Colors Bearfoot sock yarn in Brick colorway, Addi dpns in size 0 and 1, and a crochet hook case made by Lantern Moon for my sock dpns.

I also was fortunate enough to catch the etsy update for Yarntini:

I didn't notice until tonight that 1/2 of my sock yarn stash is in shades of blues and greens. Oops.

Now I really must get knitting on the swap socks so that I can knit up some of these for me!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Each One Teach Two

I have a close friend that I tend to drag into my current obsessions. We met through scrapbooking, and then when I got into rubber stamping, I taught her to stamp. When I started playing with polymer clay, I quickly got her hooked. When I sold my work at craft fairs, I quickly got her into doing craft fairs, too. I'm sure she will admit that she goes along willingly, but it's just funny how I manage to pull her along.

So last summer, when I returned home from visiting my grandmother, I called her up. "Guess what?" I said. "I learned how to knit and I am totally obsessed."
I was thrilled when she said that she and a friend had been discussing that they wanted to learn how to knit, too. So at that point, all bets were off.

At that stage, I knew how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. That was it. We made plans to meet so that I could help her choose yarn and needles and teach her to knit. We decided to meet at Michael's Craft Store during my lunch hour. In retrospect, it was crazy, because I had a meeting right after lunch, but I wasn't going to wait any longer to have a knitting buddy.

I did some Googling to get some tips. I came across the Craft Yarn Council's Each One Teach Two site, which had some great ideas. The program encourages knitters of any ability to teach 2 new knitters, who in turn will teach 2 more, etc. I was heartened by their advice that you don't have to be an expert knitter to teach. Specifically, the site states:

You don't have to be an expert knitter to teach the basics. Whether you've been knittting for two weeks or twenty years, you can join the Craft Yarn Council of America in its new campaign—EACH ONE TEACH TWO. If you teach two people, and each of them teaches two more people, and those all teach two more—well pretty soon everybody will be sharing your love of this fun and rewarding skill.
Since I had been knitting just a shade more than 2 weeks, I found this very reassuring.

I had planned on spending 5 minutes in the store to choose yarn and needles, but, well, it was quite a bit longer. And then I thought that she should have a book to help her when I wasn't around, so we browsed the book section for a bit (ended up with Knitting for Dummies, which is the book that helped me to learn).

When all was said and done, that left 10 minutes for the knitting lesson. I hopped into the passenger seat of her minivan, and demonstrated the cast on. Then I taught her the knit stitch. Thankfully, she picked it up right away, because at this point I was going to be late for the meeting. I abandoned her in the parking lot with her yarn and needles, and rushed off to my meeting. Later that night, or perhaps the next, I went to her house and taught her to purl.

I realize now how lucky I was that she "got it" right away, and just how rare that is. My Monday night knitting class has had 5 brand new knitters in the last month or so, and none of them seemed to "get it" until at least week 3 -- and that is with expert teaching. My friend has zoomed on to be a prolific and fearless knitter, with more FOs in 3 months of knitting than I will have all year. She's now tackling Janet Szabo's Taste of Aran afghan, with great success.

Two weeks ago, while we were visiting, my mother expressed that she would like to learn to knit. I gave her some yarn and needles, taught her to cast on and to do the knit stitch. She made the usual increase mistakes on the first couple of rows, but then by row four was knitting with very even tension and accuracy. At row 10, she put it away, saying that she would do more another time. When I called her two days later, she had just picked it up again, and said that it was going well. I was amazed, since I had to knit constantly for two days before I felt that I was getting it. I haven't seen her progress, since she lives 4 hours away, but I'm confident that she is doing a fine job.

Again, I'm really lucky. Either that, or I'm a great teacher, LOL.

So, I've done my part, teaching two. If you haven't already, grab a friend and share the obsession. And once they've learned ... print out this certificate from the Craft Yarn Council for your "student" and make it official!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A contest .. up for grabs, one skein of Tofutsies sock yarn.

I am about to embark on a crazy travel schedule for work. I intend to hit as many yarn stores as I can while not being late for meetings. We are also planning on heading to Maine for vacation, though I don't know for how long. I plan on getting in at least one full day of skiing, since I have yet to test out my new boots and skis this year. If the snow arrives as promised, I will be a happy girl.

So, in light of my travels, I thought I would post some yarn store reviews. What kinds of things do you like included in reviews? What don't you like? Do you read reviews of stores that you are not likely to visit any time soon? Leave me a comment with your thoughts about LYS reviews, and you may win a prize. Up for grabs is one skein of Tofutsies sock yarn in the 724 colorway:

I may have another prize as well, depending on the number of comments.
I will do a random drawing on Sunday, Feb. 25th.
So let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

My Sock is Saved!!

Or rather, my sock swap partner's sock is saved. It will probably still be late (deadline is Feb. 28th), but at least they will look good. I took myself off to the yarn store on Saturday to beg my knitting instructor to help me figure out how to save it. And Mary came through, as I knew she would. I aspire to be the kind of knitter that Mary embodies: patient, kind, and the ability to spot and fix the error no matter what mess is made.

So now I am in love with the socks again, and I continue on. I promise that I will load pics as soon as my sock partner receives the socks, but since I want them to be a surprise, the photos will have to wait.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

All Day I Dream About Socks

Title of this post courtesy of Larry Keller, who in 7th grade informed me what the ADIDAS on my sneakers really stood for .. and no, it wasn't 'Socks'.

So I have truly and irrevocably screwed up my Sock Swap partner's first sock. I know exactly how I did it, but I don't know how to un-do it, short of frogging past the entire heel. Since the heel took me 2 solid knitting evenings (approx. 5 hours) to finish, I just can't do it again. I mean, I can, but then the socks would be delivered in April. I'm hoping that with blocking it won't be quite so bad. I would try to duplicate it on the 2nd sock, but I don't think I will be able to deliberately make the correct mistake. Argh!!

In better news, today's mail brought some knitterly goodies: My first issue of Interweave Knits (which I bought weeks ago, but it was the first in the subscription, I guess). Some Knitpicks dpns (size 0, 1 and 2). And the new book, Favorite Socks, which I love love love. (also something for my downstream secret pal, but I won't post that here).

And I'm still basking in my bargains from Sunday's Super Bowl sale at The Yarn Garden -- 41% off all yarn. I was decadent and decided to indulge in some Meunch Touch Me -- 4 different colors, to be exact, for a total of 13 balls. This will make some lovely Christmas presents for next year, and of course, a scarf for me.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Purple Monday

I am so grateful to my Secret Pal ... last week was just one hellacious day after the next, and she cheered me up to no end with her notes and private messages.

I was able to de-stress at my mom's this weekend, and then came home to this great box of loveliness, courtesy of my SP:

Here we have:
  • A gorgeous skein of sock yarn from Lux2Night . I know just the pattern I want to make with this. I need to finish my sock swap partner's socks first, but I can't wait to cast on with this yarn.
  • A package of Chocolate Turtle flavored coffee (chocolate turtles are one of my favorite candies, so I'm eager to try this).
  • A great big bar of Lindt White Truffle -- also one of my favorite treats.
  • 2 fabulous sets of beaded stitch markers. SP, did you make these yourself?
Here's a closeup of the stitch markers. They sure beat the blue and red plastic rings I've been using.

Thank you so much, SP!