Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chris is coming home today!!!

It is a long week this week (this is night #4 of a 4 night work week) and I am so happy! My kiddo, Chris, is coming home this morning. He left a couple of days after his high school graduation in May to spend some time with his dad in Florida. His plane gets in at 10:45 this morning and he will be hanging out here until December when he goes to Naval Boot Camp... (Great Lakes in December, sounds a wee bit nippy to me...) So, once I get off of work at 6:20am, I need to go home and take ALL of the wool that is currently occupying every available inch of floor space in his bedroom and TRY to find some place to move it to... And WHERE am I going to find room for this? I have no clue. The garage is out because of the buggies and moths that tend to be out there. The bedroom is out because I still have boxes in there that I haven't unpacked from our move last November. I could stash it in Chris's room, but then he wouldn't have anywhere to move or sleep. The bedroom closet has the same problem as the bedroom, still need to unpack boxes. The cubby/pantry area is filled with yarn and other knitting stuff and is piled about shoulder high so that is also not an option. It is going to have to go in the living room until I can make room for it on one of my days off this week...

The sunsets here in AZ are not as spectacular as the ones I remember in NM, but this was a nice one. One minute before, it looked even more awesome!

I have swatched for my next KAL. I am going to be doing it in really nice wool/silk blend and it has matching beads. I will get around to getting a picture of it and getting it posted sometime in the next week... (yeahrightsurewhatever...)

Brunch sounds nice while we are waiting for Chris to come in. I think Mimi's Cafe would be a wonderful place for an omelette and a mimosa (or two). Why do people look at you funny when you want a glass of wine at 7am? Heck, I have been working for 13 hours, a glass of wine tastes pretty good when it's the end of a hellish week.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My newest lace project

Here is a close-up of my current lace knitting project. This is the border of the Magickal Earth Shawl from the book "A Gathering of Lace". I have the lace next to a 15 inch ruler for a comparison. I have about 3 repeats of the pattern pictured in the close up. The pattern calls for 48 total repeats, then the two ends of the border will be joined together and I will pick up loops from the end closest to the ruler and knit from outside to the middle of the shawl. I think I will be picking up something over 1500 stitches when I start on the body of the shawl. I think I have lost my mind yet again.

Here is a view of the 11 repeats that I have currently finished (a little less than 1/4 of the total length of the border). This is a 48 row repeat, but there are only about 35 stitches per row so it does seem to go pretty quickly.

I am also a member of the Secret of the Stole KAL. If you are interested in another mystery stole type of knit-a-long, this one closes membership on October 4th, so join up quickly! I ordered some Plum Zephyr wool/silk lace yarn for this and got my beads in the mail yesterday. I am hoping to swatch it up this weekend!

A quickie question to the Albuquerque SnBers out there... Are you all still meeting at the Flying Star restaurant off of Rio Grande on Tuesdays at 7pm? It looks like DH and I will be headed back to ABQ for a little break sometime in October and I would love to have a chance to see some friendly faces while I am down there. We will be coming in sometime on a Saturday and will be going back to Phoenix on Wednesday so I can get back to work on Wednesday night... Let me know if y'all are still getting together, I would love to see everyone! Yes, I will be stopping by Village Wools to see what kinds of wonderful treasures that they have (and bring a few skiens home with me!!!) SHHHHH! Don't tell my DH about the yarn store! He doesn't think I need any more wool, LOL!!!!

I am hanging at home tonight, battling another round of "The Gift that Keeps On Giving" that someone at work decided they needed to share with the rest of us... BLEH! Low grade fever, stuffy nose and feeling like I got hit by a freaking Mack Truck... I hope to be back to work tomorrow evening...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

It's football season again!!!

Ashley (aka Boo aka Boo-Boo Kitty (from Laverne and Shirley) aka NummyMuffinBooBooButter (from MST3K))thinks she is a spinning wheel and took up residence in the box that my Louet Victoria was packed in... Isn't she just the cutest little kitty cat?

Life is good, work is going well and people are great!

College football season (for my Beloved Gators) started today. Guess who didn't watch the game. Unfortunately, this is my long week at work. That means I work Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat from 6pm to 6am this week. Since the game started at 9:30 am (my time) on Saturday, there was no way I was going to be able to catch the game. So, I have a TON of stuff on the DVR to watch before 4pm Sunday. First up is the Gators vs Western Kentucky, then I will catch the Cal vs Tenn game, then I will watch the Busch race from California. Hopefully, I can get all of that done and catch a small nap before the Cup race starts! Thank Goddess I have the mixings for some mean mimosas to enjoy when I get home from work at 6am on Sunday morning! DH did make sure I watched the last 6 minutes of the football game between Michigan and Appalachian State. WOW! I am glad he made me late for work to watch THAT game...

This is why I really don't agree with the rankings system for college football. Yes, the Michigan game is the perfect example of the phrase "that's why they play the game". Michigan was ranked #5 nationally for college football. Appalachian State is not even a Division 1 college football team. (Can you say OVERRATED???) Michigan was beat by a better team. THEY WERE RANKED #5??? USC is ranked #1 because of their bowl victory over this same Michigan team last January. I think it is high time that the NCAA starts seriously thinking about a PLAYOFF system for Division 1 schools. Use the current Bowl system that is in place as the sites for the playoff games. Start the playoffs in late November with the National Champion crowned in January. Take the top 16 teams as determined by the current (flawed) rankings system and start the games the Saturday after Turkey Day. Play a game every other Saturday (to allow the teams some rest and allow the players to take final exams) and the National Championship would still happpen at about the same time of the year that it is currently scheduled for... That would be my solution for this problem.


The next project on the needles is the Magickal Earth Shawl from the book "A Gathering of Lace". I would have put a picture into ye olde blogge but I haven't had the camera out in a bit and haven't snapped a picture of it... I am making this one out of a pinkish colored cashmere yarn. It fulls out nicely when washed and feels so nice and soft... mmmmm...

I am also trying to make my reservations to go to Oklahoma City in October for my Master Spinner 2 class. I log into the SW airlines site to cash in my free round trip, get to the dates that I want to take the class (they are both open for the free round trip) then when I go to select my travel times the site tells me that my frequent flyer number and/or password are incorrect. Now, I couldn't have gotten that far in the process if the number and/or password were incorrect. So, I will have to call SW airlines sometime this week to speak with a real human being and find out what is going on... GRRRRR...

August set a record here in AZ for the most days in a month above 110F. Oh joy and rapture...

Sometimes, it is fun to do something totally out of the norm... Last night at work, we got to learn how to leave in case of emergency. This exercise meant we got to walk around in the outdoors and into our cafe in our bunny suits. It's always fun to check out the reaction of my fellow co-workers when we walk into an area where people dress in street clothes while dressed in bunny suits. They wonder what is up...

My recipe for a mean mimosa:
1/4 - 1/2 oz orange liquour (I usually use Cointreau)
Orange Juice
Cheap dry champagne (I usually use Cook's)

In a champagne flute, pour about 1/2 to 3/4 inches of orange liquour. Add champagne until glass is about half full of champagne (after the foam has gone down) add orange juice until glass is full and garnish with an orange slice if desired. Another good substitute is to use Chambourd instead of orange liquour. I add the orange liquour to add a more rich orange taste to the drink.

Time for me to fly... more updates later...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finally finished!

I have finally finished the "Swan Lake Stole" or the stole formerly known as Mystery Stole 3. It was my first attempt at blocking and I blocked the stole a little bit too tight, so there are points in the stole that aren't supposed to be there. I am really happy with how it turned out. It is very warm, I am looking forward to a nice, formal event to take it out and use it. I figured a stole that is this nice deserved me getting into a dress to take the picture :-)

I just got home from Florida a few days ago. My grandma passed away and I flew down for the funeral. That is one reason that things have been quiet around the old blog. It's kind of funny how someone's death will make you question so many things that you once seemed so sure about. Things like religion, the afterlife, what you believe... One of the things that it does make you think about is how important the people in your life really are... Your spouse, family, friends, you realize how important they are and how much they truly mean to you. It brings back memories of friends that I have lost touch with from moving... It's a good thing. There are so many people that mean so much to me that I have not told that they are so important...

I'll add more details on what has been going on this last month in the next couple of days :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Whatever gets you through the night

Another good use for strainers from IKEA, they make wonderful kitty beds... Boris is doing the test drive! He was NOT impressed that I woke him up to take this picture of him.

Carole, my thoughts and prayers are with you. This is a tough time for you but please remember to take care of yourself and remember that you are loved!

My first night back on shift is coming to a close and I have stayed awake for the entire shift! Yippee! I really am enjoying being back on nights again! I didn't touch my knitting tonight but I did have lots of fun in the factory.

Last night (in my world, 2 nights ago for normal folks) my hubby and I went out to OzzFest and saw Ozzy in concert. Wow! Talk about bringing back some memories from when I was in high school. The concert was pretty good but the people watching was great! It was a blast! We are headed out to see Rush on Friday at the same venue.

I was knitting on MS3 and wasn't paying enough attention to the knitting until I realized that I had knit 20 rows WRONG! 20 right side rows on the wrong side... Grrr... I am still tinking this mistake. Maybe that is one of the reasons that I did not touch my knitting this evening. What a mess! That will learn me not to pay attention to my knitting.

DH got all of the ceiling fans in the house on Monday. The one in the bedroom is a GODSEND! I am looking forward to getting home in an hour, putting that puppy on high and getting a good days sleep! The first night switching over to night shift is always a bear!

Monday, July 23, 2007

I love cloudy days in the desert

Here is my progress on Mystery Stole 3 after clue #3. So far, it is progressing very nicely! I don't know what happened but (knock on wood) this pattern is going quite smoothly since the really rough start. I still count stitches after the right side rows (with all the K2Tog and yarn overs) but we have come out evenly after each one so far... I am still debating whether to do the extra extension on the stole and at this point I think I will add the extra length even if it means getting a little behind the rest of the group.

I am such a geek! On Friday, Mike and I decided to go to the Harry Potter movie then go to B&N at midnight to get the new Harry Potter book. I spent all day on Saturday reading the book from cover to cover. I will NOT give any spoilers from the book in case you haven't picked the book up yet or in case you haven't finished reading the book. I am now on my second read through of the book. My son got me hooked on this series and it has been an interesting series to read through.

I have a cat that climbs ladders. Remember the pic I posted about the cat on the ladder and not knowing how she got there? The other day, I watched her climb the ladder, step by step. She's quite the little acrobat!

It is now official, I AM ON SHIFT! YIPPEE! That means I am actually writing this from home at 10am on a Monday morning and on my personal laptop! I don't start my shift until Wednesday night at 6pm so I have a 4 day weekend this weekend and next weekend! What a relief! I made it through all of my preliminary certifications last week so I can be on shift with the other guys who are already there!

When they call this "The Monsoons" they are not joking. Since the beginning of July, we have had The Monsoons. A couple of them have been real frog chokers! The rain has been so heavy that it has washed out our dirt road 3 times now. Today is a cloudy day so I am expecting a real frog choker to come tonight. The lightning has been incredible and we have gotten a TON of rain. It feels like living in Florida in the mornings, the humidity is quite high!

Since I am back on nights, I am also back to ice skating! I got them sharpened last week and got back onto the ice. I am still trying to get my balance back after not being on the ice for 6 months but it is slowly coming back. Maybe by the end of this week I will be back to spinning and jumping again! Now, I just need to find a coach down here in Phoenix!

Back to knitting my shawl. Mike is getting the ceiling fan hooked up in the bedroom and I am sticking around the house to help him out today. That means a bit of knitting time while I wait!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Progress on Mystery Stole 3 and other musings

Here is the progress on my Mystery Stole 3 KAL that I am doing. I finished clue #1 just in time for clue #2 to be released tomorrow am. WHEE! I love working on this stole, it is a lot of fun! I have frogged this puppy a bunch of times (an additional 3 times since my last entry, usually around row 50 something) until I discovered that Lifelines are not a sign of weakness. Now, I have my lifeline in at row 100 so I am ready for the next clue! My lifeline is mint flavored dental floss so my stole won't get a case of gingivitis while I am knitting on it, LOL!!! Someday, I will be able to spin frog hair to knit up into another stole! I'll post my list of "things I have learned from my first lace knitting experience" over the weekend.

Yesterday was July 4th and the temperature got to a balmy 116F. So, being the geeks that we are, we made sun tea and decided to see if we could fry an egg on our front patio. We dehydrated the egg and cooked it a bit. I think the next time we try this lovely experiment we will set a pan out first thing in the am and fry the egg in that to see if it works. What does 116F feel like? Go in your bathroom, turn your blow dryer on the high heat and high fan setting and run the blow dryer up and down your body. This is a pretty close approximation. One word of caution, riding a motorcycle in 116F heat is not a really brilliant idea and the seat on the bike gets REALLY REALLY toasty! We were going to go to the fireworks in Chandler last night. We got up there, paid our 5 bucks for parking, walked around a bit, decided we didn't want to wait until 9:30 for the fireworks to start (it gets dark at 8pm in these parts since we don't observe Daylight Savings Time) and decided to drive back towards where we live and watch the local fireworks. The town and the local casino both put on a fireworks display. Since they started while we were on our way back, we just pulled over to the side of the road and watched them both. The ones that the town put on were quite impressive for their first try at fireworks. The casino fireworks must have hit a glitch because there was no finale. NO FINALE? No Happy Ending? Nope. Nada... But all in all, they were pretty awesome.

Today, the tape player gave out in my car. Since I got my XM radio way way back when the cassette tape option was the only option to get a signal, this killed off my XM radio. I stopped out at Best Buy and got one with one of them radios with that newfangled FM modulator and now we have tunes again. Once you go to music without commercials, it's hard to go back to listening to the local wacky DJ commercial filled stuff that goes over most of the commercial airwaves. With a 1 hour commute each way to work, I don't want to listen to 45 minutes worth of commercials... BLEH!

The temp is currently a nice 112F. The weather people in their infinite wisdom have predicted that it might just rain this weekend. Our highs are only supposed to get up to 109F or so. WHEE! It's a cold front! I might have to wear jeans to work since it will be cooling down so much!

Since the stole is caught up, I have time for spinning tonight. I only got 4 hours of sleep last night because of the fireworks so I may not get too much done...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

I have lost my everloving mind

My life apparently isn't busy enough. I am working 5 days per week, anywhere from 8 to 12 hours per day, I am spinning like a mad woman, I have about 15 rovings and 4 handspun yarns to list on Etsy, so what am I up to now? The Mystery Stole 3 KAL!

See that teeny-tiny crochet hook there towards the bottom (the size 13 crochet hook)? That is used to get the yarn through the size 8 beads used on the stole. See the glasses over on the right? They are used so I can see the teeny-tiny hook on the crochet needle and so I can get the teeny-tiny hook through the center of the beads. Man, it really bites to get old... +1.25 correction (as in reading glasses, ewwwwww). I color coded the chart to make life easer for my ADD brain. I have also learned to count my stitches at the end of every odd row to keep from either tinking or heading to the frog pond.

Here is my progress so far, after about 37 rows. This is my first time doing any real lace knitting on lace weight yarn. So far, so good. I did the test swatch last night. I am using a really nice baby alpaca/silk blend on size 4 needles. The yarn overs show up very nicely so the needles were the right size. How many times have I frogged this puppy so far? Only 3. I am pretty proud of that. This pattern uses beads (another first) and I am hoping to keep up with the KAL during the summer. If it turns out well, I will probably take it with me up to Minnesota next June for my (ahem) 25th high school class reunion. We will be on a riverboat cruise (last I heard) going down the St. Croix River in the evening, so it will get a little nippy during the night.

Why am I the only person who GAINS weight when I get sick? I spent 2.5 days this week with the stomach virus that has been going around work. Oh Joy and Rapture! When I am too sick to want to spin up any wool, I am not doing well... I am plying up the last of some BFL I dyed and will list it on my Etsy site. I started spinning up the Superwash BFL and it spins up like a dream! I am looking forward to finishing that and knitting up some lacy socks with it.

The spinning is going well. I am still knitting on some socks and this stole. The dyeing is a blast! I am finally getting off of my butt and getting samples into my own dyeing notebook so I know what I have dyed up. It's fun to experiment with colors and textures.

The weight loss is going pretty well. I got off of the diet for a while and now I am back on it. I started back in March and I have gone from a size 16 (at about 185 lbs) down to a size 10 (at about 160 lbs). I would still love to get down to a size 6 by next year. Once I get back on nights, I can start skating again. Until then, it's the weights and my usual run around the factory like a crazy woman.

This is Natasha. Somehow, she got herself on top of a 10 foot ladder and is trying to figure out a way to dine on canary for dinner. Godzilla (the canary) does not like the idea.

July looks to be a busy month. My dear hubby got us tickets to Oz-fest later this month, we have tickets to the Rush concert and then we are taking the motorcycle to San Diego for a comic book/sci-fi con. It should be a lot of fun. Until then, I get to wait for the last Harry Potter book to come out in print (yup, this geek has a copy on advance order like 10 million other kids in this country) and knit some more on the stole. Tomorrow, DH and I will have a grand adventure putting up our new ceiling fan in the bedroom. We got the fan on Memorial Day weekend but we haven't gotten around to installing it until now. Well, we sort of needed the 10 foot ladder that Natasha was standing on to be able to install the thing. It will be nice to have since the temps are still in the 110+ F range. The floor fan just isn't doing the job any longer.

Enough stalling, time to get back to working on the stole and get some yarn plyed up. I have until next Friday (until clue 2 comes out) to finish 100 rows...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

It's only going to get into the Teens today

Teens, not as in 15F or 18F but 115F.... Bleh! What is a person to do when it gets this freaking hot? Road Trip!

I found out last Thursday that I had Friday off. We had 2 choices: the Dine "Sheep is Life" festival up in Window Rock, AZ or the Estes Park Wool Festival in Estes Park, CO. Mike and I priced tix to go there and between airfare and hotel it would have been $1000 for the weekend in Colorado. YIKES! So, we thought about driving. 14 HOURS? No thanks. So, we called up Mike's folks and we all met in Window Rock, AZ. We had a great time, learned all that we wanted to know about Navajo Churro sheepies, learned about washing and natural wool dyes and met up with some friends on the Res! (Hi Ida and Virgil and kids!) The weather was beautiful, only in the mid 80's F. I came home with 10 lbs of Navajo Churro sheep hair and washed it up. Man, this stuff turned out beautiful. I still need to card it and it will go into my rug that I am making up right now. (No, not weaving).

Here is a great method I found to wash most all fleeces:

1. Clean the fleece. This involves shaking out the crud, seperating out the really dirty bits and taking out the second cuts.
2. Turn your water heater up to 140F (or use cold water in the heat of the day at my place)
3. Fill up washer with hot water and turn off washer (no agitation, the fleece gets angry when you agitate it and it felts)
4. Add 2 cups Arm & Hammer laundry detergent and 1 cup of ammonia
5. Add Dirty Fleece
6. Close cover on washer and let soak for 40 minutes
7. Turn washer to final spin cycle (the spin cycle without water) and spin fleece. It may be a good idea to turn off the water to the washer to make sure that no water gets onto the fleece while spinning.
8. Remove fleece from washer and clean out the dirt in the washer with a wet cloth.
9. Turn water back on and fill washer again with hot water
10. Add 1 cup of Arm and Hammer laundry detergent, add no ammonia
11. Add damp fleece back into the water and soak for 40 minutes
12. Spin the fleece again on final spin cycle.
13. Remove fleece from washer and clean out the dirt in the washer with a wet cloth.
14. Turn water back on and fill washer again with hot water
15. Add damp fleece back into the water and soak for 40 minutes. Add no detergent or ammonia
16. Spin the fleece again on final spin cycle.
17. Dry fleece with your favorite method of drying.
18. After fleece is dry, card and spin to your liking!

I found these really cool screened laundry baskets at IKEA that I put my fleece into and put it out on the front porch for a couple of hours to dry the fleece. With temps in the hundred and teen range, it doesn't take long to dry. I have found this method cleans some of the dirtiest, greasiest fleeces I have done. I have cleaned Churro, Shetland, BFL and Ramboullet using this method and it has worked for all of them! (Fine to course wools) I got these instructions from a wonderful helpful person in one of my Yahoo spinning groups!

I am REALLY behind in my etsy store. All of this roving and yarn still needs to be put up in my store, YIKES! I have found a good use for my son's old bedroom, it has now become my wool room. Here is where I put my wool up to dry, braid it, package it and store it for sale in my site. I am going to get a new site (my own store) up late summer/early fall once I get back onto nights and have my 3 & 4 day weekends to get the site up and running. I am also hoping to do 1 -2 wool shows this fall and sell some of my rovings and hand-spun yarns. I am not sure if this will work out since I am in the middle of a plant start-up at work, but I think I may be able to do this.

OK, the spinning bug has bit me really hard! I signed up for the SOAR retreat (the annual Spin-Off retreat) and signed up for a workshop called Spinning 201. Of course, I did this late and I am now number 2 on the waiting list for this class... Bummer... So, I decided to sign up for a Master Spinner Class at Olds College. Yup, I am going to Oklahoma in October to go to the Level 2 class to learn to ply better, learn to spin exotic fibers and learn more about sheep fur! I am REALLY excited! I have no clue if anyone I know will be there, but the idea of 5 days of spinning classes (full days) really makes me happy! I hope to be a teacher one day and this will help me learn all sorts of new stuff! They have 6 levels of Master Spinner classes and I covered all of the Level one stuff in my 4 week class I took at The Fiber Factory here in Mesa. I am finally feeling really confident in my spinning abilities. My yarn looks really great and I am having a blast doing it.

Today's fiber to spin up: Superwash BFL. I order 3 lbs of Superwash Blue Faced Leicester roving from Sheila over at Wool2Dye4 and got really prompt delivery. (Sheila has been great to work with for both yarns and rovings. No Affiliation, I just love getting stuff from her.) I dyed it up in a Royal Blue color and I am going to start spinning it today on Lenny (my current name for my Lendrum spinning wheel). I have some Shetland lamb fleece on Vicki (the Louet Victoria wheel) but I need to re-card some of the batts since I am finding them difficult to spin with. (Difficult meaning I didn't card them enough and I still have some clumps in it.) So far, the only thing I didn't like was that it got "yucky" in the dye pot when I dyed it a solid color. I am sure this is because the wool is superwash and slides easily. I will let you know how it spins up. This roving is SO SOFT!!! It is yummy! I just want to cuddle with this stuff. If the spinning goes well, I will probably paint some up and sell it on my etsy site or at my store when it gets going.

Today, I am taking the wheel and headed up to New River to celebrate the Summer Solstice with some great folks! Whee! There will be spinning, swimming, food and great company. On Wednesday, I have a meeting with the bosses to find out when I can move to shift. I sure hope it will be soon, this working 10 - 12 hour days 5 days per week is not fun. I would love to have my 12 hour shifts back working 3 - 4 days per week! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Proud Mom moments

My baby just graduated from High School. This is a picture of Chris and I after his graduation ceremony. I am SO PROUD of him! Yes, I am wearing a Hawaiian shirt to a graduation ceremony. What do you expect? It's rural Arizona, it was close to 100 degrees when we got to the school and it was Memorial Day weekend. Besides, isn't it my job as a parent to embarrass my offspring whenever I can? LOL!

This is a few days before graduation. Does the kiddo look totally petrified or what? This was his swearing in ceremony for the Navy. Yup, not only did he graduate from High School, he also enlisted in the Navy that week. So, I am now a Proud Parent of a Sailor! He departs for Basic Training on Dec 5th. Right now, he is down staying with his dad in Florida for a bit. He will be helping his dad move and will be working with him over the summer.

This was an example of 2 of the weeks that I have had since I last blogged. It has been absolutely wonderful!

This is my mom and I at the Grand Canyon. My parents came to visit for 2 weeks in April. It was AWESOME. We took our first trip to the Grand Canyon, we watched the NA$CAR race in Phoenix and had a great time visiting. We learned a lesson that day... When the wind gusts are 50+ MPH, it is a BAD time to go out on the scenic overlooks at the Grand Canyon. The weather was a bit cold (hence the jackets) but the scenery was breathtaking. WOW! We had a lovely dinner after we did the bus ride for the day.

This is the Grand Canyon at night. Yes, this is a real picture of the Grand Canyon, not just a black square.

After my folks left, my hubby's folks came for a visit. It was lots of fun. We only had the weekend together, but it was a lot of fun. They live up in Santa Fe, so we can visit them more often.

We have had lots of visitors to our place. My bestest friend from way back in Elementary school, Julie, and her hubby Loren came out to see the new house. We grilled some steaks, had lots of wine and a tequila tasting and played cards. Great times! Julie, the Orchid looks wonderful! All of the flowers have bloomed and it is very happy getting southern exposure!

This is what my Dear Sweet Hubby and my Wonderful Kiddo did for me for Mom's Day. Isn't it purdy? They put in a fountain in our front patio. It is so nice to have the water feature in the desert! We are using our waste water from our reverse osmosis system to run the fountain and water the plants! We wanted to do something with the waste RO water rather than wasting it by letting it run down the drain.

This is my new baby, the Louet Victoria. What do you think? I wanted a wheel that was a little more portable than my other baby, the Lendrum. This wheel has been great. Right now, I am spinning some of my hand carded Shetland fleece that I washed. I have discovered a lot of great things about this wheel. Even though it is a double treadle, you can use one foot to do all of the treadling! This is a GOOD thing when you have a broken toe and can only use one foot to treadle. (My hubby's shower bit me the other morning.) It is a very smooth treadle and it is a great wheel! Yes, I still use my Lendrum for the majority of my home spinning but this is nice to take with me to SnB and I can carry it onto the plane! I am hoping to order a Woolee Winder for it in the next couple of weeks!

Being on day shift bites! I have NO TIME to do anything anymore. My dyeing has taken a back seat and I don't get nearly enough time to spin! I was supposed to go back to nights in May, but it looks like that will be pushed out to October at this point. I am learning A LOT by working on days and I am very happy to have the opportunity to learn, but I really miss my 3 and 4 day work weeks.

Should I go to the Estes Park Wool Festival?

Lori H, can you send me your email addy? I have lost it!

Ziggy Kitty went to the Rainbow Bridge on March 8th. We miss him terribly.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

SEX and the married spinner

Warning: the following entry will contain references to sex. Leave now if you are uncomfortable with the subject matter...

OK, for those who have stuck around, here is my haul from my SEX (Stash Enhancement eXpedition) at Stitches West in Santa Clara a couple of weekends ago. Notice that one thing that is sorely missing is YARN... Well, not really, this is all yarn, it's just yarn in the raw form. There was some really YUMMY rovings out there that I picked up from Blue Moon, Carolina Homespun, Lisa Souza Dyeworks and Judy's Novelty Wool! Yes, there is even some raw Corriedale wool in here that is begging to be dyed and spun! Nope, I didn't win one of the Grand Prizes they had there, or there would have been the need for a second suitcase for all of the roving I would have brought home! Stitches West was a real treat! It was HUGE! I have never seen so much sheep, alpaca, cashmere and other natural fibers in one place before. I was tempted to pick up a couple of balls of Tofutsies, but I decided to pick it up here at my LYS instead. The rovings are Corriedale, Blue Faced Leichester, Angora/Rambouillet and Merino wool. Yummy! I also picked up a nifty "Crafty Kate" (we don't call them lazy Kate's any longer) and another niddy noddy to take with me on the road. I am currently spinning up some Merino and hope to get it plied later this week.

The conference was really awesome. I got to see some old friends, get too little sleep, learn a hell of a lot about the new technologies coming in my job and had a chance to do a little bit of wine tasting in Napa Valley. We discovered the best way to go about wine tasting. First, you find a little no-name winery on the side of the road and stop in for a tasting. If the wine is really good (and this one was), you ask the wine server for a recommendation on somewhere else that THEY would visit. This lead us to 3 great wineries that had some of the most unbelievable wines I have had in a while. I was able to pack all of the wine in the suitcase and all are ready to drink now, yippee! I am hoping to break open one of the white wines this weekend.

I have made up another alcoholic concoction. I had so much fun with the Ultimate Grape Martini that I tried for another version in cherry flavor. The first recipe is something I am calling a Virgini-tini. This one has so much cherry flavor to it that it will feel like you got your virginity back :-)

1.5 oz Cherry Vodka (I used 3 Olives brand)
0.5 oz Creme de Griotte (or any cherry liqueur. This is the one they had at BevMo)
Mix in a martini shaker and pour into a chilled martini glass

The next one is the first attempt, the Cherry Martini:
1.5 oz Cherry Vodka (I used 3 Olives brand)
0.5 oz Triple Sec
1.5 oz 7-Up
Mix in a martini shaker and pour into a chilled martini glass

The second recipe has a nice cherry flavor too it, but doesn't go wild with cherry flavor like the Virgini-tini does.

I started on days this week and started working with the Install/Qual team at the new factory. I am learning so much from this new job. I also found out that they aren't moving me for another month. I will have a "new" cube (as in a totally re-designed cube) in the same area as the rest of my counterparts. I am still having problems with this waking up in the morning and driving in rush hour traffic both ways, but I am getting used to it...

Time to get back to my spinning. I hope to have a day this weekend to dye some wool and put it up for sale on Etsy! My yarn is still there, which means that the right home just hasn't seen it yet! :-)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ruh-Roh, there are BOXES in my cube!

I am on my way to see these guys again!

About 6 weeks ago, I had one of those last minute midnight cube moves from the building I used to work in over to my new building. I came into work this evening and there are boxes in my cube and every other cube in my row. I think I am being moved again but no one has told me. I am starting to wonder if I will ever be able to stay in one cube longer than 3 months? Since I am on my way to San Jose and Santa Clara, I guess the move will have to wait for another week since I have not been told when my move date actually is... GRRRR...

I am about to leave work, head to IHOP for a yummy pancake breakfast then head over to the airport to go on my trip! (it's 4am, I think the drunks are gone now) I am SO EXCITED! Someone on one of my lists had this brilliant idea that for each pound that we lose, we get to buy a pound of yarn (and roving, if we are spinners). I think this is a GREAT idea and will keep us motivated to keep eating healthy and exercising. This means I am coming home with a LOAD of fiber and yarn :-) I am officially down to a size 14 and they are even a bit loose on me now. (I didn't want to get size 12's for the conference since I wanted to be comfy and have clothes that fit a bit loose). I am still working out at least 2 days per week (up to 10 miles each time on the bike) and the fat is slowly coming off. The "junk in my trunk" is starting to look much better also!

Forecast for the trip: rain every day and highs in the 50's. I am glad we are supposed to be indoors all week! I have lots of my sweaters and cold weather clothes packed for this trip. I am really looking forward to seeing my old co-workers from my old site. I miss them a lot! I like my new home and my new workplace but I miss the friends that I made back in New Mexico! I am homesick for NM and don't think I will be able to make it out there for a while... :P

The Woolee Winder is so great! I spent a couple of hours on it this morning after work while watching Batman and Robin. I got so much more spinning done in the time and my singles are MUCH more consistent! So my initial reaction was right on the money. DH complained that my last blog entry made it sound like he didn't know how it worked. He knew how it worked right away, he was just having fun with the ingenuity of its design and we discussed other mechanical things during that time also! (I'm gonna miss you while I am gone, honey...) Ziggy is so cute, he hangs out on my shoulder while I am spinning on the couch and watches me spin wool. He just lays there and purrs. I stop every so often and pet him and tell him what a good kitty he is. When he was a kitten, he used to love to climb on my shoulder while I was making dinner and would just ride around the kitchen on my shoulder when I would go from task to task. If he doesn't make it until I get back, I was able to spend some good quality time with him and tell him "goodbye". I told him that he needed to keep going until I get back, but as we all know, cats never listen to a damn thing we say to them. But we have had a lot of good talks and a lot of good purrs between the two of us!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Woolee Winder is here

My new Woolee Winder came in the mail today! So, instead of waking up and getting ready for work, I decided to be a few minutes late for work and try out the new toy. It has to be impressive if my hubby (who doesn't spin) is enamoured with it when I try it out! He had a blast figuring out how it worked and we chatted about it while I started figuring out how to use it. This first picture is my new Woolee Winder, along with Natasha lying in the sun (solar charging her little kitty batteries for a mad midnight romp through the house).

Here is a close up of the wool I am currently spinning and how it looks on the winder. I am currently working on a white/light lavender 100% merino wool roving with the winder. OK, so this was not the brightest choice on the planet for someone who has only been spinning for a few months. Next time, I'll remember that.

So, how is it working out so far? I only have about 45 minutes worth of experience on the Woolee Winder but so far it has surpassed all of my expectations. I was able to pick it up pretty quickly. Getting used to the differences between this winder and the one that came with my Lendrum was pretty easy. There is the "clicking" sound that comes up when I let the yarn go to wind around the spindle but it became a very soothing sound after I got used to it (about 15 minutes). It was REALLY hard to suppress the urge to stop the wheel and change the position of the guide that I used to use on the spindle. I LOVE the fact that once I got started and got my rhythm going with it, I was able to go A LOT faster than I had been able to go with my old winder. All in all, I give it 2 thumbs up for ease of use and what a difference it has made in my spinning. I do feel like I can be more consistent with my spinning than I was able to before with all of the starting and stopping. Nathan was GREAT to work with and I would highly recommend getting one. It is worth the cost!

OK, we had a BLAST at the Ren Fest on Monday. DH joked about how we paid $20 each just to go shopping, but it was in fun! My girlfriend Julie and her daughter Alyssa came out there with DH and I. The weather was a bit chilly (in the upper 50's) and the forecast called for 30% chance of rain. No problem. We got there and looked around for a bit. Then I found this beautiful cloak. It is made from black velvet on the outside and lavender satin lining the inside. It also has a nice hood (that you can't see from the picture) to cover your head. Well, I bought it because despite wearing a long sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt, I was still really cold. I wore it around all day and it kept me nice and warm. It was REALLY nice to have once the rain started. Alyssa bought herself a Didgeridoo and was learning to play it. It was really cool! (A didgeridoo is an instrument played by Australian Aboriginals, it kind of looks like a hollowed out log and makes a really cool sound). We had some sprinkles, which was no problem, until the thunder and lightning started and the heavens cut loose with rain and wind. BLECH! We found shelter and waited for the storm to pass. We caught one show, the singing nuns, before we left for the day. We all decided that we would head out there one more time before April 1st so we could see some of the shows this time! And so we could shop some more. I found a place that served warm Mead, yummy! It hit the spot on a chilly day. We wandered around, Julie picked up a neat beaded rose for her mom and some other goodies, Mike and Alyssa had a couple of Bloody Marys while we were there, we munched on Turkey Legs (of course), we didn't pick up any leather mugs, Mike loved hanging out at the fossil merchant, we found a cute shelf cat and a neat wooden cat for the living room. I had such a great time! We will go see The Ded Bob Show next time we are out there!

I have discovered the recipe for the ultimate Grape Martini. DH thinks it tastes like grape kool-aid with a hell of a kick. I think it tastes like the Grape Martini I had at the restaurant. Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 oz Grape Vodka (I used 3 Olives brand vodka)
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1 1/2 oz 7-Up or lemon lime soda

Mix the ingredients in a martini shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. I haven't figured out which garnish would be good with this (no, grapes would not work), maybe a lemon twist? The new martini glasses came via UPS yesterday and I was able to try them out. The work great for keeping a martini nice and cold. The glasses will probably also work for white wine and other drinks you want to keep cold but don't want to put ice into.

My guy crashed out of the Daytona 500 last weekend... DH's guy won the race (although the finish was somewhat controversial). Great race. This weekend (while I am shopping at the Stitches West Marketplace), I will be missing the CA race. I will have to record it on the DVR so I can see it when I get home next week.

I need to pack and get the needles and a "no-brainer" sock pattern in the backpack for the trip. The spinning wheel is coming with me to San Jose so I can play around with the roving I find at Stitches West. I am so excited! I can't wait to get the suitcase packed and go!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Searching for the Ultimate Grape Martini

Mike and I were out at this really cool fusion restaurant (a Japanese Fondue place) in Chandler in November. When we were there, we both ordered Martinis. Mike likes a perfect gin martini, stirred not shaken and don't leave it in the shaker so the ice melts! I decided to try their Grape Martini. YUMMY! This is the Martini glasses that they served the drinks in. Aren't they the coolest thing? You put ice in the round bowl portion of the glass and your martini in the triangular glass. Your martini stays nice and chilled while you drink it without the martini getting watered down with ice. Mike and I have been searching for these glasses with no luck. Today, I found them and ordered them! They should be here in about a week. I picked up some Grey Goose Grape Vodka at BevMo this evening and I am working on duplicating the Grape Martini that I had at the Fondue place. I have found 3 different recipes to try, so I am going to try one when I get off of work in the morning. Let the tastings begin! After working a 12 hour shift, having a martini at 6am really isn't all that strange! Now, I need to find a 24 hour pizza place and life will be perfect!

This jewel is currently up for sale on my site. It is my first hand-spun yarn that I am selling. I have one ply in black and the other ply is a lime green and violet color. (see the post below to see the roving it was spun from) It looks really cool, the picture has subdued the colors a bit. I am very proud of this yarn! I've had a few folks look at it but no takers yet...

One week from today (Feb 24th) I will be on my way to San Jose, CA for a Microlithography Conference for a week. I get to learn all about the latest and greatest in my field and I am taking a class in photoresists to learn about the problems they can have. It just so happens that on the 24th and 25th of Feb there is a knitting thing called Stitches West going on in Santa Clara which is about 3 miles from the hotel I am staying at. Guess what I will be doing on Saturday and Sunday? I am SO excited! Last year, I missed Stitches West by 1 day so I feel really lucky to be there at the same time as Stitches West this year. Some of my online friends will have booths or be working out there, so it will be fun to put a name with a face. If St. Joan sees this, I am buying you a drink either Sat or Sun! I didn't sign up for any classes because by the time I found out that I would be able to go, all of the good classes were full up. I will sign up for the brochure and take a few vacation days next year if it's really a cool thing to go to. I am looking forward to seeing the West Coast Knitting "Mecca" as I have heard it called!

Monday, Mike and I are going to be headed out to the Ren Fest here in Phoenix with Julie and Loren. (Julie and I have been friends since elementary school and we both live here in the Phoenix area). It will be so fun to see them again! I have not been to a Ren Fest down here, but it looks like it will be a big one. I haven't been to a good Ren Fest since I left Minnesota. Damn, I really miss seeing Puke and Snot!

Once I get some sleep under my belt, I will be back to dyeing the rest of the roving and watching cars go around in circles on Sunday. Yes, NA$CAR officially starts back up this weekend with the Daytona 500. There have been enough alleged and real cheating scandals in this one race than I have ever seen. My guy starts in the 2nd row and my other guy starts in the back. I need to find a Columbian flag before the April race here in Phoenix!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dyeing part 2: THE LARCH

The larch.

Lots of stuff happening, let's start with our first attempt at painted roving. This is how it started. I mixed up some lime green and purple dyes, painted on the roving in 2" stripes for the lime green and 3" stripes for the purple. I left an inch between the colors because I wanted to have some natural color peeking through.

THE Larch.

Here are the rovings after wrapping them up in saran wrap and placing them into the pot to be steamed. Pretty...

The Larch...

After steaming, cooling off, rinsing and one last spin cycle in the washer. Here is the final result. I learned a lot from my first hand-painted roving experiment.

First: 1 inch is a good amount to leave between colors to get the colors to go into each other without blending. I only had 2 small spots of "brown" where the green and purple dyes mixed together on the roving.

Second: Painting the roving does prevent the "grabby" roving result that I had from the immersion dyeing.

Third: I really CAN do this!

I am going to be helping out Lisa over at One Planet Yarn and Fiber with some roving dyeing. What a truly nice gal! We grabbed a cup of coffee yesterday and chatted for a while about everything from spinning to sheep to SnB's to sheep breeds to online businesses. It was a blast! Now that I have more comfort with the roving painting, I can get down to business and get her projects done over the next few days.

Last night was the official start of "cars going around in circles" season. Hubby and I watched the Bud Shootout in High Def for the first time. It was like being at the race! Way too cool. Some things should NOT be seen in High Def. On the other hand, pit crew butts should ALWAYS be seen in High Def... LOL!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cats on books and everything else...

Fromage, Boris, Ziggy and Mew-stradamus decided they needed to get all sorts of kitty fur all over the new couch. We have now turned into those type of people who cover all of the furniture until company comes over. I think this means we are officially old...

Current projects: Dyeing roving and knitting more sockies.

I am currently knitting on a pair of Pomatomus socks. Yes, I am SOOOOO last year when it comes to socks. I decided to do them toe-up and quickly discovered that this pattern is not the easiest pattern to translate into a toe-up pattern. If anyone else wants a few hints, here ya go.
First - Cast on 37 stitches on one needle and 36 onto the other needle (I use 2 circs) before you go into the pattern on chart B for the first time.
Second - On the first repeat on the leg (chart A), make sure to do the SL2, K3 Tog stitch to get back down to 36 stitches.
I also found that the yarn I was using with a size 2 needle (as suggested) was way too big. (This is superfine merino sock yarn, not thick stuff). So, I ended up frogging about 5 hours worth of knitting and going down to a size 0 needle and starting all over again. The pattern looks REALLY cool, so I am going to give it a try.

Dyeing: I did my first dyed roving during the Stupor Bowl! AND IT WORKED! I had never dyed any roving and thought I would start with immersion dying some roving a solid black color for a hand-spun yarn I am working on. It did grab more than I had expected (not felted, thank goodness) but it is spinning up just fine. I am going to try painting a solid color and steaming it this weekend to see how well that works and if it makes the roving a dark enough color. I figured if I am going to card different solid colors of roving, the immersion should work well (since it will get run through a drum carder), but if I am wanting the roving to be less "grabby", I will try painting it.

I have been having a great time mixing up all sorts of 1% stock dye solutions so I can start experimenting with color mixing. I have been using the book Color in Spinning by Deb Menz to start learning how to mix colors and play with color mixing in roving and in hand-spun yarns. Scout suggested this book when I was curious about dyeing yarn. I have found a few things that will help with my yarn dyeing, but I am going to be using this book to learn more about color theory and how to make that certain color I am looking for. I feel like I have made a quantum leap in dyeing!

My very fast flyer came in for my Lendrum wheel today! I am so excited! I have been having a couple of little problems with my wheel recently. This first is the excessive squeaking from the bobbin (which usually starts about 30 minutes after my hubby goes to sleep in the next room). I picked up some lube to hopefully solve that problem. The other headache was with the plying head. When I would use the plying head to ply my singles (and using the LONG band), I was having a VERY hard time getting it to turn. It felt like I was fighting it hard to try to get it to work. This is the first and second time I have had this happen. In my Lendrumspinners Yahoo group, they mentioned this problem and the solution is to take a little bit of fine grit sandpaper and lightly sand inside of the plastic ring. The problem had something to do with certain wheels being made during high humidity and when they get to a really dry climate the wood contracts the plastic piece in the plying head and so it doesn't spin well. If you have a Lendrum wheel, it's a great group with a lot of good information!

Slim down update: I have been pretty good about working out, but not as good as I want to be. I have been working out at least 2 days per week (a day short of my 3 day goal) but I have been lifting to failure on my weight days and I have been lifting 2 times per week. I have been doing this for about 3 weeks and (without a diet change) I have gone down to a size 14! Yeah me! Next week, I will be starting to add diet changes into the plan. Last week, I decided to take some measurements of "problem areas" on my body. I remeasured this week (I shouldn't have done it, but I was curious) and found I lost 3/4" off of my butt and 1" off of my belly (also known as the "Muffin Top")! I will do another measurement in 2 weeks, after my monthly cycle works itself out. (I gain water weight like crazy the week before so any measurements in the next two weeks would not be valid). I am up to 9 miles per day on the exercise bike (at a medium tension), I am up to 60 crunches per workout session and I am able to do 3 sets of 15 reps on all of my upper body exercises! My favorite song to do crunches by? Fat Bottom Girls by Queen (and with a starting measurement of 43 inches, I qualify!). My favorite lifting song? Since I Held You by The Cars. My aerobics songs are whatever comes up on the iPod at the time. I am up to the letter J in my song list this week! I really wish there was a work out plan to slim the belly but let me keep my butt! I am really enjoying having some "junk in the trunk" for a change!!!

Ziggy - He is still hanging in there, but going downhill. The tumor on his neck has grown to the point where it is starting to bother his ear and he is scratching at it a lot. He is also sleeping all of the time and not very active. He still jumps on the counter, still likes to beg for food and still loves to mess with my shoelaces when I am putting my shoes on for work, so it's ok. We are keeping an eye out to make sure he isn't in any pain. He hasn't shown that he is in pain yet, he still has an appetite and he still uses "the box" so we are thankful for each additional day we get with him.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More socks and a rant...

Still been busy with the socks! This is my latest made-up pair. They are really nice and comfy! The yarn was hand-dyed from Scout in a color called Lilacs in Bloom. It's a really nice combination of green, pink, purple and brown. I just love the way the socks turned out. In this first picture, you also see Ashley (The world's cutest and most cuddly kitty cat) getting her cute little butt into the picture. She was nowhere to be seen until the camera came out, then there she was, on the bar waiting to9 get into the picture! Brat cat!

Here is an attempt to get close up on the leg pattern. It looks like winding vines, but I haven't been able to get a good shot that shows the pattern very well.

The workouts are going well! I did 2 out of 3 last week and did my first one this week. I feel like I am starting to see a very minor difference. We will keep it up, one day at a time!

Now, I really need to rant! I will preface this by saying that I knew I would have to be pretty flexible when I took my new job. Since the new job really didn't exist before and they were kind of flying by the seat of their pants with the training, it wasn't a problem. The whole rant starts 2 weeks ago when I get an email at work letting me know that I have been "evicted" from my previous office home and needed to move to my new office home by the next day. This would have been enough notice if I worked days, but since I am on a compressed 12-hour work week, this only gave me one evening's notice. Not a problem, I came over to the new place, found my new "home", grabbed some boxes, packed and moved. So, I am all set up in my new home, but I do my work in my old home, so it involves quite a bit of hiking between the two buildings. Not a problem, I know that I will start working in my new plant (the one attached to this office building) in a week and a half. Well, I had a meeting with the boss today and found out that I am being switched back to the 5 day per week day shift again for anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months! If I wouldn't have asked, I wouldn't have found this out! That is scary ! So, needless to say, I am not a happy camper in the least bit! I LOVE WORKING NIGHTS! I LOVE WORKING COMPRESSED WORK WEEKS (3 days on, 4 days off then 4 days on and 3 days off the next week). Here is a list of the things I hate about switching back to days:

1. Traffic jams - now I have to try to time my commute to the huge traffic load on the roads at 7am. BLECH
2. Everyone works out at the gym at lunchtime - no more being able to get on a machine without a long wait
3. If I wanted to skate during the week, that is shot in the arse! Unless, I pay $4.00 per hour more to do freestyle skate at 6am before I go to work. (at $10.00 per hour!)
4. Back to working all the overtime I want for free... There is no such thing as an 8 hour day on days, it doesn't exist.
5. Meetings.... BLECH!
6. Only 2 days off per week!
7. No way I can go back to ABQ for a quick trip to go to SnB
8. No quick trips anywhere until I go back on nights
9. Too many people around to get any work done
10. I am NOT a morning person!

OK, I think I am done whining about this. At least I know that this is only temporary and I will be back on nights by this summer. Now, here is my list that I am forcing myself to make to think of good things about going back to days

1. I can work out 5 days per week
2. I can swing by my LYS after work
3. I can hit the local SnB group after work
4. I can get together with friends since my days off will be 'normal"
5. More time with hubby (although I don't believe this)
6. I can go to yoga classes offered at work
7. I don't have to take classes on my days off
8. I get to work doing something I have never done before
9. The cafe at work will have more than one selection for lunch
10. I can finally get some office supplies!

I ordered some more roving and a bunch of dye. I am going to try my hand at etsy again selling hand-painted roving and yarns! Not to make a lot of money, but it does supplement the "fiber fund" nicely! Look for me back up there in 3 - 4 weeks!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sicky Sockies

What did I do while I was spending the better part of two weeks lying on the couch with the bug? The first thing that the little "inner voice" was urging me to do was to finish a pair of socks that I had started but had been sitting in a backpack for the better part of 4 months. This first pair (in purple) is Koigu, knit on size 1 needles using a pattern from the Sensational Knitted Socks book by Charlene Schurch. (I absolutely LOVE her book). This sock was such fun to work on! I finished this one in a few days and wondered what else to do?

So I decided to go into the stash for the beginnings of sock #2. This was the sock yarn that was sent to me during the Dye-O-Rama swap that I was involved with last year. I had this yarn all wound into balls to be used, but I couldn't decide what to use it for. The colors are absolutely GORGEOUS in this yarn and the yarn is REALLY soft!!! Makes me want to purr like a little kitty! So, after not seeing anything in my sock books that made me want to go "OOH, I need to knit THAT sock", I decided to go to one of my Stitch Directory books and pick out a stitch and design a sock out of it! This sock was knit toe-up, used a short-row heel and topped off with a 2x2 ribbing.

Here is the top-down view of the sock. I thought a lace pattern would be fun with this sock, since the yarn is so heavy. It would have made a perfect winter sock up in New Mexico, but since I have moved down to Arizona, I needed something that would be a little bit cooler. If anyone is interested, let me know and I can post a pattern of how to make this sock (or at least the stitch pattern I used for the leg and top of the foot). I absolutely LOVE how this sock turned out. I loved it so much that I wore it to work for the first two nights of the week! Very comfy, nice and soft and keeps the feets nice and comfy!

I have a third sock that I finished last night but I haven't got the pictures uploaded to my laptop yet. That sock started as one thing and ended up turning into something completely unexpected.

I am a strange animal. I love to knit socks but I really hate to follow patterns. Why? It seems like the patterns look so nice on paper, but one I knit them up, they are either too loose on my foot or too tight. (This is always following patterns for "average" foot size. WTF is average???)So, through my vast many years of sock knitting (OK, 2 years), I have come up with a system that guarentees that my socks will fit me every time. Disclaimer, this works for me, you may not find the same results...

Here is what I do:
1. Knit a gauge swatch. (I can hear the grumbling already) I knit the swatch because I need to know what this yarn knits up like with this set of needles I am working with. I have had the same brand of yarn give me different gauge with the same needles. It's an important part of the formula.
2. Measure my foot width at the ball of my foot (the widest part on my foot). I take this measurement to get the size of the tube. Now, what if my ankles/legs are wider than my foot? Easy! Take a measurement for your foot and take a measurement for your ankles/legs. You can then increase the leg/ankle portion of the sock for your measurements!
3. Subtract 1/2 inch from my foot measurement. You can also multiply the foot measurement by 0.90 and use that number. I have an 8.5 inch measurement around the ball of my foot. (I subtact 1/2 inch since I tend to knit tight)
4. Multiply my gauge swatch times my result from step 3. For the current socks I started, I have a gauge swatch of 8 stitches per inch. Step 3 gives me a foot measurement of 7.65 inches. If I multiply the two = 7.65 * 8 = 61.2 stitches.
5. I look in my pattern books, my sock charts, my sock patterns and look for something within 4 stitches of this number. For example, I may find a really cool 8 stitch repeating pattern that I want to use, I would cast on 64 stitches. Or I may find a nice 6 stitch repeating pattern that I like, so I would cast on 60 stitches.

I find this system allows me to get socks that fit me well and I can use the stitch patterns from other sock patterns or from sweater patterns, blanket patterns or any other source out there. It allows me to be creative. From there, just insert your favorite heel and toe in the right places and you are off and running.

I also tend to carry the leg pattern down onto the top of the sock rather than knitting stockinette stitch over the whole foot. This is a matter of personal preference. I tend to walk around my house in stocking feet all the time so the extra pattern does get seen in my socks. If you tend to be the type that wears socks only in shoes and no one sees the feet, you may not want to knit the extra pattern.

That is the one thing I love about knitting socks! Once you understand how a sock is made and how to make the socks, you can use your imagination and make any kind of sock you desire! No patterns are needed!

How is the workout going? This week, I have been the weight room twice, done the bike and the weight lifting. I still need to get in there later tonight for another workout.

Yarn diet? The socks I started today are "ankle socks" (I always called them booties) that I am making out of some Lorna's Laces from my stash. So far this year, we are 3/3 in using our stash yarn!

New Year's Resolutions - 25 days late

First resolution - more pictures of man butt!!! This was some nice man butt I found at the F1 race last year. I can't remember which crew this man butt comes from, but the one on the left is really yummy! I need more pictures of man butt in the collection.

Well, being down sick for two weeks really settles a person down and makes them think about important things in life, such as the ability to breathe using one's nose and the joy of using one's lungs without it triggering a coughing fit! Sitting on the couch, trying to recover and knitting like crazy for 2 weeks has got me thinking about New Year's Resolutions. Now, I am not the type of person who normally makes resolutions. In fact, I have never made a New Year's Resolution because my attention span isn't long enough to carry me through a couple of hours, let alone 12 months. I have a couple of goals that I would actually like to TRY to accomplish this year, so I figured I would make the dreaded resolutions and see how they turn out. I figure that if I share them with everyone, it forces me to keep doing it and forces me to actually follow through. Who knows? Maybe they will work!

Goal #1: Be able to fit into a size 6 by the end of June.

Now, how in heaven's name do I plan to do this one since I like to be seditary and I have a sweet tooth? Let's break it down into semi-managable steps. First, I will exercise 3 nights per week while at work! My plan is to hit the weight room at work 3 nights during my work week and work out. 3 of those days will involve 30 minutes of sweaty "get your heart pumping" type of aerobic exercise. My current fave is the stationary bike, but they have a rowing machine, stair climber, treadmill and elliptical trainer to choose from. It doesn't matter which one I play on, I just need to choose one for 30 minutes each day. 2 of the 3 days will also involve weight training. I will start with the upper body only (biceps, triceps, chest and shoulders) to keep it simple. Once I have been doing the lower body stuff for a couple of months, I will revisit adding lower body weight training to the schedule. I would like to add my favorite exercise (ice skating) to the schedule also, but I am not sure about how much time I have to devote to that. Let's put ice skating on the "to do" list and get to it as we get more time.

Diet - Do we have to do that??? Nope! Every time I try a diet, I fail in the most miserable way! Since there is no diet out there that allows me to eat French Fries and truffles, I am not doing a diet! Well, OK, I am going to eat differently. I am calling this my "Laurie Moderation Plan". I will allow myself to eat anything in moderation. How will this look? I am not sure yet. I figure I will drink my two 1000ml bottles of water per day as a starter. I will work on eating more unprocessed foods and eating more veggies. I will try to cut the soda down to 1 can per day and cut the sugary snacks down. For right now, I will settle for 1 sugary snack per day. If I do eat a sugary snack, it will be a serving size as portioned on the label. So, if a pint of ice cream has 4 servings, I can only eat 1/4 of it. That shouldn't be too hard. I will concentrate on eating in moderation and not eating because I am bored, tired, depressed or any other emotional eating. I will start slow with this one and introduce one good habit at a time. I am figuring slower is better.

Right now, I am wearing a size 16 pair of jeans. I would like to be wearing a pair of size 6 jeans by the end of June. OK, so they may be a REALLY tight fitting pair of size 6 jeans that I may not be able to breathe in once I button them up, but I would like to get to that level. Hopefully by the end of August the size 6 jeans will allow me enough room to breathe!

Goal #2: Slim down the yarn stash

OK, now that a bunch of the unpacking is done in the house, I realize that I have a LOT of sock yarn. OK, I have a shitload of sock yarn. I really need to use the sock yarn that I have and knit myself a bunch of really nice socks. So, this year's socks will be worked using yarn in the stash! There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. 1) my current Sock of the Month club membership does not count. 2) if Scout has a really nice new color, I can pick that up or 3) Out of town yarn shop purchases don't count.

Ziggy Update: He is still with us! Yeah! He is going downhill, which we knew would happen. He has his good days and his bad days. Recently, I have just taken to carrying him around all over the house when I am not working so I don't disturb his sleeping on me. He still likes to sleep on my head, but he has been sleeping a lot more lately. He is still eating and still showing his dominance over the other male kitties in the family, so we just keep spoiling him!

Tomorrow, I will try to post pictures of the 3 pair of socks I have finished since I got sick. One pair was a UFO from August, the other two were started this month!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's been close to a month?

Yes, I leave Albuquerque and my blogging habits get really really bad...

For you kids who aren't familiar with our 11 kitties, this is a picture of our oldest cat, Ziggy. (Who also goes by other names like ZiggyKitty, Brat Cat, sh*thead and "go away cat".) Well, this cat has literally lived 11 of his 9 lives in the 16 years we have had him by doing things like surviving 2 nights outside with the coyotes in Placitas, getting through 3 strokes, regularly jumping off of a second story balcony (at our Gainesville apartment) and other fun stunts. We found out last week that Ziggy has cancer (there is a fast growing lump on the side of his neck that is about the size of a tangerine right now). We are not sure if he has weeks or months to live, but he won't be around much longer. We are considering ourselves blessed that we do have a time to be with him, spoil him rotten and say goodbye before he goes to the Rainbow Bridge. Hubby and I decided that we would take him to the vet when he quit eating or was in distress so he wouldn't have to be in pain for a long time. He's still quite the obnoxious little twit, but we make sure he knows we love him!

House stuff: We should be getting our couch in the next week! WHEE! We are about 60% finished with the unpacking of the boxes but we have moved the boxes out of the general living quarters (they are in the master bedroom, in the closet and in the garage). We are going on the "unpack one box a day" plan until we get the boxes empty. We picked up a new TV for the house and we are waiting for the DirecTV folks to come out and install the HD dish for the TV! This is the first time that we have gotten rid of ALL of the mismatched college student furniture and we are actually working on a design theme through the house! I'll post pix when we have our couch done! It was a 5 week lead time on the couch, but I think it will look great in the media room! Once we have our couch, we are going to be inviting folks over to finally see the place!

Man, time sure does fly when you are having fun. I took my son to his new school on Monday and got the order form for his cap and gown and his graduation announcements. He graduates from high school during Memorial Day Weekend, so we aren't expecting people to come down for it, other than his Dad...

On the alumni front: WE WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in FOOTBALL! We are the first college to hold a National Championship in football and in men's basketball in the same year! GO GATORS! Man, after having to endure grief from all of the media saying that our Gators didn't belong in the game and our Gators were going to get our butts handed to us on a silver platter, the final score was Florida 41 Ohio State 14. Hmmm, I guess our Gators didn't get that memo... We had fun in Phoenix doing all of the "pre game" festivities and pep rallies, but we didn't make it to the game. Hubby and I agreed that when 2 tickets to the game cost more that a house payment, we should just watch the game on TV! (Last I heard, tickets were going from $1800 up to $3000 per ticket!) I have to say, the Ohio State fans that we met over those couple of days were some of the CLASSIEST college football fans I have ever met!

We are finally done travelling and finally done with the business trips! It is so nice to finally be able to relax and put my feet up at home! I haven't done much spinning since Christmas, but I will be hitting that hot and heavy after this work week is done! I have totally fallen in love with spinning wool and I am looking forward to posting some of my creations and getting started on a pair of socks with some of my hand-spun wool!