Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finally on the Needles...

Spending a few hours at the laundromat has its advantages...

On the left is Joe's first Cigar glove (in Cascade 220 The Heathers), and on the right is the beginning of Mom's socks (Tweed Cascade in charcoal). Playing it safe, I had them pick out their own yarns when we visited this most excellent yarn shop in St Louis. The glove is coming along better than I thought, but then again I haven't tackled the fingers yet - just held aside the thumb and pinky for working later. Mom's socks SHOULD be a no-brainer. My first socks were nice comfy socks in worsted. Then I went to sport weight, then to sock weight. I'm going to stick with worsted for now, since they're quick and comfy in this cold weather. I'll tackle more sock yarns when I get a few more socks under my belt. I'm still not as consistent as I'd like.

Totally different subject - since when was it appropriate for kids to BANG on the door at Halloween a mere 2 seconds after ringing the doorbell? I'm at the PC, only 5 strides from the door, and those little punks keep banging on my nice storm door. I'm turning into That Crusty Old Cat Lady On The Hill, I know it. But this Crusty Old Lady appreciated the 7-year-old in the Grim Reaper costume. At least he was polite, AND creative. He got two handsful of goodies.

Monday, October 30, 2006

WW Confessions - Week 30

Boy, I've been bad with consistently posting about this, eh? Well, I've been bad about attending meetings. I've been putting work first, which is really awful. So I went today, and after 2 weeks of non-point-calculating (going to STL and then being generally icky with a cold), I'm down 0.4 for a total of 28.8. So overall good news. Plus one of the ladies at work is back "on the wagon" with me, and that's always a help.

On another note - I had made a good friend at these meetings - we started basically the same week. She's about 10 years younger than I am, and she's desperately trying to have a kid. She serves in the Air Reserve, I think, so she attended the WW meetings in camo and humongo boots she'd take 5 minutes to unlace each week. In the beginning, we were the only two below the age of 50 at the meetings, and we really bonded. For a while, she'd been doing well, then she began getting really emotional (due to hormone shots and such), and the last time I saw her she was really down. Then one of the ladies at the meeting decided to get witchy about GWB and directed it towards her (hell, I don't care for the dolt, but I don't go to WW to talk politics). That was the last meeting at which I saw her, and it made me really sad. Kind of like AA, I'd only really known her first name at WW. Where had my friend gone? Did she get pissed off because that old bat got high-and-mighty with her? Did she start attending another meeting?

At the end of today's meeting, as I was packing up to leave, one of the older women spoke up. "You know that girl who used to come in with the army getup on? She came into my store the other day, and she was asking about everyone. I asked why hadn't we seen her, and she opened her coat - she's expecting a baby!" The woman reporting this then pointed at me and said, "she made special mention to ask how you're doing. She misses talking with you."

And there you go. Congratulations, Katy. I miss you too.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

SP9 Super Short Story

Per my SP9 hostess, we are to create a fiber-related short story using only six words. Here's mine:

I mailed yarn today. Beware, Spoilee!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Much to Say, But I Don't Feel Like It...

Our trip pictures are posted here.

I'd post pictures of Joe's finished socks, but I really don't wanna talk about it. Just chalk up one more rule on Things Beth Learned The Hard Way: don't cast on at a beer tasting.

After our trip, and my whirlwind outing at Rhinebeck, Joe packed up for another business trip, and I was thrown into work mode right away. So my house is a mess, I'm catching a cold, I had a late night Planning Board class Monday, and today I had to leave the house at 5am to take some inventories in Newark. Got home at 1, took Nyquil and a nap, and now am going to try and put my SP9 first little present together. I got a good swatch done for the French Market Bag, but I can't see how this yarn felts, because MY WASHER IS BROKEN!!! Yup - it was an old one anyway, but Joe put in about 8 pair of jeans while I was having yarngasms upstate, and alas the spin cycle is no more. And by taking it apart to realize it really WAS toast, we pretty much ensured it's just a really big paperweight at this point. And since I don't feel like hand-felting a swatch because it reminds me how depressed I am over lack of washer, I'm gonna wait until we get the snazzy new washer. Good thing Joe got his bonus check.

Okay - that's about enough. I need a beer and some quality yarn time. Because at this point, I'm just too overwhelmed to do a damn thing with the house. If you see us on the news in one of those "I can't believe people live like this" stories, please understand.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Please, Sir, I Want Some More...

(Sung to the tune of "Food, Glorious Food" from Oliver!)

Wool, glorious wool!

Sheep, Llama, Alpaca

Just look at the yarn

And your lips will smack-a

Who needs money anyway

Who really needs food –

With WOOL,

Once again, WOOL,

Fabulous WOOL,


A few comments: Yes, it was wonderful. Yes, I spent way too much money. No, I didn't meet Yarn Harlot, but then again unless she poked me in the butt with a knitting needle and told me to hold her sock, I wouldn't have taken my eyes off of the feast before me. 4 hours and 2 trips to the car later, I still didn't see everything. But I do have plans for several hats, even more socks, and a SWEATER! So to all you yarny friends out there - you now have an open invitation to my house this time every year.

Oh, the Fun...

My normally wordy self has been absent for a few days due to traveling. I'll tell you more when I get all the pictures uploaded to my gallery, but it involved my mom, her friend, some yarn, lots of beer and wine, horses, and a city that is very happy about their Boys of Summer right now.

My poor husband was such a good sport, considering he was surrounded by knitters.

And yes, I'm frogging that scarf. Just not yet. I'm almost done with Joe's sock, and I have an adventure today that will push all negative scarf thoughts out of my head. Forever.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

This Scarf is Goin' Down...

I was all about working on the Branching Out scarf (see below) at lunch today, and it's the first time I've brought the scarf out into fluorescent lighting. And guess what? Even though all of my Artful Yarns Virtue Cashmere skeins are the same color and lot - ONE SKEIN is of a slightly different hue - the blues and greens are duller than the other skeins. And guess which skein it is? #2 in the 2.87 I've used so far. Smack dab in the middle. Enough of a difference to notice exactly where the change is at the beginning and end of the skein. I hate them. I hate them all so very much.

So, what has Beth learned today, folks?
1) Fix mistakes as they happen. Don't let them fester.
2) Obsessively check skeins of yarn to make sure they look the same - especially after in knitting use. NO MATTER WHAT THE TAG SAYS.
3) Use a lifeline in lace projects from now on.
4) Stop staring at the damn scarf and just frog it already. The colors aren't going to change.

I want my mommy. :(

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Haaaaay to my Secret Pal!

Just wanted to give a shout-out "Jawja-style" - even though she's in NJ - to my Secret Pal (Haaaaaay). We've been exchanging emails, but I haven't said much since I posted my SP9 questionnaire. I think it'll be MUCH fun, since this is the first SP for both of us, and we're just gonna have a blast.

After viewing this Branching Out scarf (scroll down) and seeing the genius of the lifeline, I'm really tempted to frog all 2.87 skeins of my scarf and get it right. Because if I'm gonna spend my hard-earned dollars on cashmere, I shouldn't hone in on my mistakes every time I look at that damn scarf, right? Egads. This is gonna break my heart. Anyone care to hold my hand while I rip this puppy out? Sigh. I guess I've learned my lesson. And as my SP9 spoilee says, one thing to learn right from the get-go is just accept mistakes and take care of them as they happen. **EDITED TO ADD: There's no way in heck I'm frogging this sucker. After looking at it this morning (it's been a while since I've actually looked at the darn thing), the mistakes are a lot bigger in my head than they are on the scarf.**

It's amazing how many 1-2 year knitters I've been reading during this. I think as a 1-year knitter that I'm just a total beginner. Now I realize that the only thing limiting me is myself. VERY cheezy but true. Limitations, be damned. I'm starting something new and exciting - TONIGHT! ;) **EDITED TO ADD: So, all I did was wind some yarn from a hank into a ball and start a swatch to see if the Andes wool I bought at Woodstock would do for the Knitty French Market Bag. I've read that it felts really well, and this colorway is so pleasant. So not an adventurous evening, but I'm getting there.**

Man - I've been a bit spastic in this post, eh?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Our Last Two Weekends

What have our last two weekends been like? Exhausting. Productive. Chaotic.

This is Joe playing with a rented toy. You see, we needed to put the recently-felled maple lumber somewhere to dry. So we needed another building or shelter. Because a large house, a detached garage, and a garden shed just aren't enough on our little 0.33 acres. So we opted to get one of those temporary shelters that people use for cars and (ahem) boats. In order to build the shelter, we needed a place to put it. So this little dirt-and-rock pile that had been hanging around since the Shed Demolition of 2003 needed to be moved and/or flattened.

Because you don't want the lumber right on the ground or exposed to moisture, Joe built a floor that the shelter would rest on. So last Sunday we went to Lowe's and got, oh, 24-2x8x12s and 7 sheets of OSB. The mud flaps on the truck scraped the whole way back from the store. Basically, Joe built decking first, then put the OSB on top of it. Here is Joe working with the wood. I just like it because it's a pic of him in coveralls. Mrrow.

The finished floor, as it looked this morning. This of course was BEFORE we went through the grueling task of erecting the skeleton of the shelter. And realizing it was really a 4-person job. And that the instructions SUCKED! And that the floor wasn't big enough. But two hours and many frustrated, awkward moments later - we did it. All by ourselves. But we were too tired to even go into the house to get the camera. We went in, had some beer, some fried chicken and mac & cheese (mmmmmmm...), and we've been watching TV ever since.

This will be a strange week, due to many things scheduled this week, resulting in a perfect storm of commitments. But I did finish my scarf - just finished weaving in all the ends. Once I wash and block it, I'll post a pic. But until then, I think I need to go pass out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gratuitous Cuteage Here...

This is BTU - both his initials AND the cutest nickname for a kid-of-a-Tech-grad - EVAH! Props to my dearest friend Amy for this award-winning picture of her amazing little boy. Well, I guess Senor Noodle had something to do with him too. Heh.

I miss you all (except BTU - haven't met you outside of the womb yet, dangit) more than words can say. Please come back East soon so I can embarrass you with hugs and adoration. Heck. I need to get my ass back to SF.

Best Finished Object

Per my lovely SP9 hostess, I am posting my "best" FO. This is a purse for my neice Jordan from SnB Nation (I think). The reason why I'm proud of it: I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I had previously only knit the Big Bad Baby Blanket. This had increases/decreases, i-cord, changing colors, reading a chart, sewing it all together, felting, adding a zipper, and there was even an error in the pattern (fortunately I messed up in READING the pattern, so for once those two wrongs made a right). Voila!

On the Needles...

Okay. So after visiting my SP9 hostess's blog as well as some others (including my spoilee!!!), I feel totally inadequate. Man, you people can knit some serious sweaters! I'm so depressed. But here are my current projects, in all their glory. I'm rounding 3rd and heading for home on most of them, so I'm excited to start up some new ones. And be a little more adventurous.

Here's the Branching Out scarf in a cashmere I bought on a trip to NYC. Is this the best yarn with which to do this project? No. Was this the best project to start having only knit for 6 months prior? No. But I love how it's turning out, major mistakes and all. And it's sooooo soft. One more skein to go.

Joe's 2nd sock. For some reason this sock's coloring isn't as random as the first one - more blue/purple in big chunks. Oh, well. At least I started Sock #2 - now it's just a matter of finishing the dang thing.

A simple checkered scarf for me. I started this project (a) because I got this great superwash yarn on sale and (b) I wanted something I didn't really have to pay attention to. This is my knit-while-watching-Lost project, since I don't have to look at the needles much. It helps when there's a heavy Sun-and-Jin episode with lots of captions. Like last night - egads!

Okay - that's about it. I gave up on Joe's illusion scarf, because after doing the trial B of BEER! I realized I don't like illusion knitting - on a scarf, at least. Didn't like how the wrong side looked. And to me, scarves shouldn't have a wrong side. So I'm going to make him a HP PofA scarf - but I have to buy the miles of yarn first, and that's not in the budget at the moment.

Also starting up Cigar for Joe's Christmas present (it's not a surprise - he's picking out the colors). And maybe a tank for myself. You know - just to get over that first hurdle of making actual clothes.

Better go - boss is coming. Man, I'm going to get fired for this one of these days.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

WW Confessions - Week 28

Well, I had a gain. I knew I'd have a gain. It wasn't as bad as it could've been, since I missed last week (due to work, darnit, but I had 6 more days to catch a meeting and didn't - Bad Beth), but it was still a gain. Total is still 27 lbs lost, but I'm ready to get over this hurdle. I can't keep kidding myself.

It's been pretty quiet here lately, because - well - it's been quiet. Spent the weekend working on the house (we are pack-rat-clutter-freaks) while Joe cleared an area for the new wood shelter. Some fun tractor pictures will be up soon.

Maybe if I have some time tonight I'll start taking pictures of projects currently on the needles or the cats or even just random weirdness that you'll find in our house. Because (and I quote former coworker Alphonse who said this constantly and with great seriousness) it's all about ME!

Isn't that what blogs are all about?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Secret Pal 9 Questionnaire

This is my first SP, so please bear with me...I'm mighty long-winded...

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
- I enjoy just about everything. I don't particularly like the feel of acrylic, but sometimes I think certain projects call for it. Since my LYS is a little ways from me, and sometimes the hours don't jive with my schedule, I'm all about getting whatever I can at a large craft store if I don't have a SUPER SPECIAL project in mind and just want to try something out.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
- I got this backpacky thing online that has some good needle storage. My circular needles were bought as part of a set that holds everything in a handy little case. But dpns are kept in ziploc bags in my backpack, as glamorous as that is.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
- My mom knit for years but only recently got back into it, making baby blankets for a local hospital. She tried to teach me, and I was just horrible. Then I bought a "Teach yourself to knit" kit, and that was okay, but the purls still weren't happening. Then I bought the Stitch'n'Bitch books. That took me in a whole new direction, and everything just clicked. Plus lots of online help from my Snarky friend. I'd say I'm a beginner-plus with lofty hopes. ***EDITED TO ADD: That didn't really answer the question, did it? I've been knitting for about a year***

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
- It's kind of all over the place, but here it is.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
- I really enjoy grapefruit (but not generic citrus), vanilla, and anything fresh-floral. Like honeysuckle or rose, but not that perfumy "fake" floral. Victoria's Secret used to have "Her Majesty's Rose" which was a spot-on scent of real roses.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
- Currently on Weight Watchers, so I try not to go there. But if I'm going to indulge, I love me some DARK chocolate.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
- I've crocheted as long as I can remember (mostly general granny square things), and I taught myself to tat about 10 years ago (but I don't have the patience most days). I enjoy cross-stitching, but I go in spurts with that. Most of my time is spent on the upkeep and rennovation of our home, which is the ultimate DIY project. I don't spin - I think it's fascinating, but I don't think it's for me. Yet.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
- Pretty much all over the place - mainly "adult alternative," but I hate labels. I love everything from classical piano concertos (I'm a Rachmaninoff freak) to creative hip-hop (creative being the key word). I adore Death Cab for Cutie and have a soft spot for John Denver. I tend to like angry women, angst-ridden men, Elvis, and just about every singer-songwriter from 1960 to 1979. I enjoy good blues, new age instrumentals, and I'm crazy about Christmas albums. I love Broadway (new and old) and film soundtracks (Garden State, Gross Pointe Blank, Beautiful Girls). The only things I DON'T like are twangy country and violent/expletive rap. Am MP3-friendly.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
- Deep blues and greens are my favorites, but I like just about anything. Not crazy about pastels unless they make sense (things for babies, watercolors, etc).

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
- Husband, 4 cats, no kids yet.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
- Yes to scarves, hats, and mittens - it gets COLD up here! Not crazy about ponchos, but I love shawls.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
- Not really anything - mainly due to not having much experience. I'm just getting the hang of socks, so I'd like to explore some new patterns with those. Really have fun with things that are different (like hedgehogs-heh) but also enjoy things that don't require constantly paying attention to a pattern, since TV-watching usually goes along with the knitting.

13. What are you knitting right now?
- Joe's 2nd sock in Lorna's Laces Blackwatch, Knitty's Branching Out scarf in cashmere, my own "5 x 5" Where's Waldoish checker scarf for myself in some Italian superwash I can't recall, and just now doing some experimenting to possibly make Joe an illusion scarf with BEER! written on it.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
- Always.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
- Straight vs circular - depends on the project. I prefer wood for most items, but when dealing with something thin I prefer really pointy aluminum.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
- NO - hint, hint...

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
- Started the Branching Out scarf in March. Takes a lot of focus (being my first lace project), so I've screwed it up a bunch. But I'm enjoying how it's turning out. It's just slow.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
- Thanksgiving. The leaves turning and falling, the chill in the air, the warmth in the home. Guaranteed days off to spend with family and friends. I love how time seems to slow down, the last "hush" of happiness before holiday chaos.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
- Refrigerator magnets from different states, countries, landmarks, and parks - the larger and tackier the better. I use them to hold up pictures of friends and family all over the fridge, so good magnetic strength is a must. And Christmas albums. Oh - and pottery. Love pottery.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
- Anything by yarnharlot (see the amazon wishlist).

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
- I have yet to muster the courage to knit a top/shell/tank/sweater for myself. I'm just plain scared.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
- Yes - I wear a women's size 10 shoe, medium. My feet are just about 10" long and flat. And ugly. Hence loving colorful socks.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
March 2nd

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Joys of the Hudson Valley

As this was my first weekend of not working (in a while), we thought it would be fun to just have a great Hudson Valley Weekend. We started off by driving just a smidge upstate to Rhinebeck for the semi-annual Crafts Fair.

On a day like this, most of the cons of NY (higher cost of living, NY attitudes) seem to fade away. Sometimes I just can't believe we live in a place so beautiful.

The Rhinebeck Crafts Fair is MOSTLY wonderful crafts. Joe got information about a Windsor Chair woodworking class, and we met this awesome stone-carver lady from Maine with the best company name - "She Rocks". I swear, if I had $1100 extra laying around, I would have bought this bowl, no doubt. It had to have taken her days to carve it out.

Then there are always the freaky people. Those who create dolls that look just like newborn babies...FROM HELL.

Met a great knitter lady who was selling some felted boxes and baskets (sorry, didn't get the name!), as well as a spinner lady who was selling felted hats. Now, if they'd been selling YARN, I'd be all over that. But I didn't need any hats, boxes, or baskets. What we needed was some pottery. And other stuff.

Ooooh, the addiction that we fed. From top left, moving clockwise...Photos of an old porch and the Hudson Valley at leaf-changing time. Utensil holder. Au gratin dish. 2 misc bowls. Wooden spoons and a set of salad "claws." Turned wood bowl painted the deepest emerald green. Mustard, pepper, wasabi sauce, and cranberry hot sauce. And this doesn't even include the dishes we ordered from Dutch Hill Pottery that should arrive early December. Most of our dishes, bowls, and mugs are handmade ceramic (as well as casseroles, pie plates, serving trays, etc) - we both have a problem with buying more and MORE. I'll definitely take some pics of the new dishes when they arrive.

So Rhinebeck, as usual, was wonderful. But it was very crowded in the town, so we went through Poughkeepsie to have a late lunch at The Coyote Grill. Not stupendous, but very good. Decent margaritas, too.

Saturday night we attended a Broadway Direct performance featuring our neighbor Hal. It was truly amazing. He has a voice as deep and as beautiful as his heart. One thing we learned - he was in one of the original casts of The Fantasticks. Oh, the stories he could tell...

Then Sunday we went to Taste Of Montgomery, where all the local restaurants get to show off their efforts. The day started out HORRIBLY - torrential rain. But right around noon it cleared up in the oddest way.

The tasting tent on the Little League field. Notice the Clouds of Doom in the upper left. They threatened, but they never followed through.

The only drawback was that we were held inside this beer-vs-wine prison. You could have fine local beer, but you couldn't be near the food. So we kept circling back around to the beer area, eventually just having the guy pour the beer into our wine glass then sneaking back to the food area. Sucky NY liquor laws. I shouldn't complain. I can buy booze on Sundays.

The edges of the storm, hours after it hit Montgomery. It seemed to hover in the east all day, but our Sunday afternoon was bright and even a bit warm. You can barely see our house peeking out through the trees over the middle of the long building.

The weekend we had reinforced my love for this area. I'll post more pictures in our gallery soon *Edited to add: They're HERE*, but I just don't have the brain power right now. Plus I need to think of my SP9 answers. Augh! Plus, no WW update right now - had a gain of a week, but couldn't get to the meeting due to work. We'll see if I can get it back down before my makeup meeting.