Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Coffee Extravaganza

Well, let me just say that I am one lucky lady! Once again I've been given a wonderful generous swap partner. This time it was Roe for the Spring Fling Coffee and Yarn Swap. I got the card in the mailbox on Friday night, but of course wasn't around when the post office was open to go pick it up. That is, until yesterday. On a day where I truly felt like one of those little cartoon characters who walk around with a thunder cloud over their head. Boy was I in need of cheering up, and Roe's parcel was just the thing to do it!

I didn't get a chance to open my parcel until well into the evening. After meeting with my lawyer, after meeting with a real estate agent (both appointments serving to make me crankier by the minute by the way) I finally could dive into the heavy box sent from New York!

I opened the box to find a treasure trove of goodies packed inside. Coffee like I've never seen before; Cinnamon, Pecan Torte, Swiss Chocolate, and Hazelnut Cream. Treats such as chocolate covered coffee beans, biscotti, Walker's shortbread and a delectable box of chocolate "coffee cups" - I am picturing a mocha flavoured mousse in those! Then there were the mugs. Yes. I said mugs. A fantastic New York mug and then a great (it's purple... how could it not be great?) travel mug that has a filter that attaches so I can make coffee on the go. Oh and I can't forget the bath type stuff (for lack of a better category). Two summery lip balms, a coffee bath bomb and then the prettiest soaps ever - made by Roe herself I may add! Roe also sent me two skeins of Koigu - I lurve Koigu - and a skein of Vicki Howell's "Love" bamboo yarn, which is as soft as butter! She also included some patterns; Pomatomous - too funny given I've been itching to make that one as of late - another sock pattern that looks great and then a tulip patterned cloth. (Roe - you've noticed my love of tulips I see!)

So a HUGE thank you goes out to Roe for sending me a fantastic Coffee Swap parcel. Roe - you are a swapper extraordinaire!

In knitting news, I finished my purple Artichoke socks last Friday. I've just not been near the computer long enough to post the picture of them! I really like them - the fit is great and the pattern was so quick and easy. They only took a week to knit the pair. What more could a girl ask for?

I also did some work on my sleeves of my Gathered Pullover. A very little bit. I'm feeling somewhat guilty, because instead of staying strong and resisting the urge to start another project, I quickly put aside the sleeves of greyness for something light and summery. I fell victim to my Jade Bamboo and the Josephine Top pattern from last summer's Interweave Knits. I wasn't going to, but Saturday was so sunny and warm, it kept calling to me and I couldn't hold out any longer!

On the sewing front (you'll remember I was all talk not too long ago about the fact that I was going to get sewing like a fiend?) well - it hit a snag. My machine was on it's last legs. It was on death's doorstep. It would hardly go at all. Old faithful friend of 18 years, it just was too tired to continue. So - I retired it and bought a new one. Just a plain, simple Singer machine. Nothing fancy, no bells, no whistles. But hopefully it will last me as long as my last Singer did. 18 years of hard work and overuse is nothing to be sneezed at. However, new machines make me nervous. You have to get to know them, learn their quirks, settle into a relationship with them. And I've not had the right frame of mind to do so yet. So my sewing has sat untouched for days now. Maybe this weekend. We'll see.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Busily patting myself on the back for productivity!

The other being Friday and therefore "Knit Night" I was able to do quite a bit of knitting. Not on any of my ongoing works in progress, but on an entirely new project and one that I wasn't even contemplating in my Ravelry queue list. So what happened? Well - my fickle self happened. I was going through my knitting files at work on Friday - yes. I do have a knitting file on my computer at work. Why you ask? Well in the winter when it's too cold to sit outside I take my break and lunch at my desk and obsessively search for patterns. Honest, just on my breaks. I swear. Ahem...


So I stumbled upon Artichoke Socks in my file and I thought what the heck are those? (I always delete the pictures when I'm copying and pasting into word from the Internet to print something) So I googled it and this is what I came up with. Meg's Artichoke Socks. And then I remembered seeing them on Knittywhipped. Go ahead click on the link to her blog. She has a definate way with words, which is what got me saving Artichoke in the first place.

So too make a long story short, I started Artichoke Friday morning on my coffee break and got the whole first sock done by mid-afternoon yesterday. I am a third of the way into the second sock today. This is one fast pattern. It's super easy to memorize and seems to speed along nicely. My only complaint (and nothing to do with the pattern at all!) is my yarn. Now maybe it's just me, or maybe this is the way the yarn is supposed to be, but all of a sudden after turning the heel the colour of the yarn changed for about an inch and a half, then went back to being it's pretty purple self. I'm telling my self it's ok. No one will notice. If they're that close to my foot, well then that's their problem, but still. It's annoying and bugs my obsessive compulsive self. Not enough to rip it all out and start again or anything, but just enough to be kind of like a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Is this common for this yarn? It's JoJoland Superwash. Anyone had any experience with this? But the long and the short of it is, the pattern is super easy. The fit is great and what the heck, they still look pretty if I don't look at the weird splotch on the foot.

This weekend I also finished Summerlin. I'm so happy how the turned out! I LURVE them! The little girls got them yesterday and of course the mommies changed them right away to snap a picture. Poor Alex was drowning in her dress. I promised to make her a smaller size so she can wear hers this summer (rather than wait until she's about 10!) She's apparently alot tinier than I figured on. But the babies' dresses fit perfectly. So here's the three little cousins in their brand new dresses!

I also sat down at the ol' sewing machine to start working on my dresses. I've cut both out and had I not run out of brown thread - 300 spools of thread in this house and nary a brown one - I would have had a new frock to wear to work tomorrow, but alas... maybe in a couple of days!

I'm feeling great about how much I got done this weekend. Of course my house still looks a fright and there is clutter on every available flat surface in the house, but I got loads done creative wise, five loads of laundry washed and folded, and even took time to make a roast beef dinner complete with yorkshire puddings for supper tonight. I am queen of my world this weekend I tell you! Tomorrow reality shall hit and I'll once again be just a mere little cog in the machine that is called work, but for now, I shall relish in my accomplishments!

Monday, May 12, 2008

One project down, three more to go

Of the boring projects that is! Well, ok. They're not bad projects, I'm just bored with them because it's the same old stitch over and over. I need something with interest, something fun...

Last Friday night I valiantly tried to finish my socks, but you know it's time to put them down, when you're actually catching yourself dozing off mid-stitch. I managed to get all the way to half way through the toe decreases, so figured I'd earned the time off to sleep by then anyways! Saturday morning I was up bright and early and managed to finish off the socks, darn in the ends and wear them that day! Oh happy me! They are so comfy in my shoes. Lovin' them! :)

Sunday morning I decided I should have a little reward for being so good about finishing my socks, so I cast on for the first of what is to be three Summerlin. Let me tell you this is an awesome pattern and if you have a little girl to knit for and you posess any basic sewing skills, go cast on now. You won't regret it. It takes no time at all! I decreased the 1 year old size in equal increments to create a 6 month old size, then again to create a 3 month old size. I finished the baby bodices on Sunday and the bigger one on Monday.
I also did a couple more inches on my Montego Bay Scarf and at SnB, Wednesday night, I worked on the sleeves of my Gathered Pullover! I feel good that I've been so productive! I may switch gears for a bit though and focus on some sewing, but we'll see. I do seem to always revert back to my obsession with string and sticks no matter what intentions I have for fabric and thread. That being said, this week I did buy some lovely fabric for a little summer frock, and some black and cream satin for a bit of a fancier dress. I should also get my hiney in gear and make G and new national vest for the Mid-Canada Competition next month. I've had the velvet for it going on two years now. Although I suppose that's really nothing. I've had the velvet for a new highland jacket for her for about four years. Ahem. Procrastination perhaps?

Oh! As promised, I thought I'd share a picture of G and her dance teacher, Lor(who also happens to be (BF)G's neice)and baby Emilie. Emilie got all sorts of lovely comments that day on her outfit. I'm sure my head was quite swollen from all the praise and I'm surprised it actually fit through the door by the time I got back home!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday, sweet Friday

How I love Fridays!!!! I'm not talking about during the day, while I'm still at work. I'm talking about starting at 4pm. When I walk out the front door here at work. I can feel the tension of the week melting away bit by bit with each step I take towards the parking lot. Friday night is what I like to think of in my little world as "Knit Night". I know I've mentioned this before in previous posts, and if you're reading this chances are you're a knitter and therefore will understand my complete joy at sitting at home on a Friday night curled up on the couch with my knitting at hand. I love nothing better than a "Knit Night".

Today promises to be no exception. Everything should go according to plan. (BF)G is making supper tonight - BBQ Chicken and home-made fries, so I don't even have to think about that. My only diversions away from my knitting tonight are the alarm guys are coming to install an extra key pad for us sometime between 5pm and 8pm and I have to remember to pick G up from her part time job at McDonalds at 8pm. Other than that the night is mine.

(BF)G and I always try to keep Friday nights as free nights. We don't go out, we don't have people over, we simply don't make plans (and we're always somewhat cranky if something does crop up that we can't get out of). It's our only night off that we can spend together. And tonight the kids are home from their dad's so it's even better. Our house will be filled with laughter and noise! Every second week the kids are with their dad and "switch over" is Friday before supper, so while I still enjoy those evenings, both (BF)G and I like it best on the weeks the kids come back home!

Tonight's knitting will be my second sock. I'm really liking knitting with the "On Your Toes" in bamboo. There's something about the texture that almost massages my fingers as I work with it. It's also super soft, but gives the impression of being really strong too. My only complaint is that sometimes the threads are kind of splitty so I have to be a bit careful, but other than that, I'm really liking it!

I have a plan. I'm making myself finish at least one of what I'm thinking of as my now boring WIP first before I will allow myself to cast on for something new (and therefore exciting). I figure the socks are the easiest to finish. Then my Montego Bay (I've only about 20 inches at most left to go, which sounds like a lot, but really it's fast moving when I'm not inadvertently pulling all the stitches off the needle! Last but not least will be the sleeves of my Gathered Pullover. I really have no motivation for that one. It's a winter sweater after all and my heart (and hands) long for something summery.

Of course this plan is not written in stone. If you've read any of my other posts, you'll know that I'm very fickle! What seems like a perfectly logical well laid out plan for success can be tossed out on a moment's whim upon sight of a new pattern or new yarn.

So here's hoping all goes according to plan and that the gods of free time allow me my one evening of the week to do as I please! To all else who plan to do the same as myself, may you have a happy, fun and productive "Knit Night" of your own!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Coffee Swap Assignment #6

We'll go free form this week - Post about your WIPs, post about your package, post about the weather where you are - just be sure to include that the post is for the Spring Fling Weekly Topic somewhere inside it when you tell us it's there! I'd love to hear how folks are enjoying the goodies they received, if they have, or how much fun you had shopping for your pal!

Where to begin for this one. I know. A popular subject today here in my prairie home town... the weather. So much for spring. I know I mentioned "snow showers" in my last posting as well, but I figure this deserves another mention. It's what makes us prairie-folk hardy (or crazy, not sure which really). Yesterday it snowed. It snowed to beat the band. In fact as I was driving over to the other end of town for the highland dance competition it was snowing so fiercely it looked like December 4th not May 4th! Luckily, for the sake of all those annoyed by the white stuff, it was for the most part melting as it hit the ground, but seriously folks. This is just about enough. The weather forecast was calling for +19C yesterday not snow!!!!!!!!!! If one can believe the forecast - and the aforementioned statement about what the weather was supposed to be like yesterday should make you all realize what folly that can prove to be - it is to be sunny the rest of the week. We shall see...

In terms of knitting, I finished my sock on Saturday night! Managed to get myself completely obsessed with the lure of finishing it that I stayed up way too late as a matter of fact and then found it hard to be all bright eyed and bushy tailed for the morning competition, but I just blamed it on the weather. Not the fact that I was silly and obsessed with a sock. Many wouldn't have understood. Last night I jumped right into starting the second sock in effort to ward off second sock syndrome.

Of course the Montego Bay scarf and Gathered Pullover still sit, untouched (but not unloved) for the time being. Actually - Montego Bay was going to get some loving attention yesterday during the comptetion, but when I pulled it out of the bag, much to my horror I pulled the wrong needle and half the stitches came off and I was too saddened by the resulting dropped stitch mess that I just picked up the stitches as I could without thinking too much and tucked it quietly back in the bag.

As for the coffee swap, I am a little behind in my mailing goals. I had hoped to have it sent off already, but unfortunately hit a wee snag in whole business. The snag being that between being away last weekend and having to worry about finalizing competition registration this past week I've not had time to get to the handmade portion of the parcel. Now - I realize the fact that I had time to finish my sock makes it sound kind of lame that I was too busy for the other project, but let's just say the other project doesn't involve yarn and instead involves a different kind of craft which is too loud to be done late at night, when the rest of the household is trying to sleep. But the remainder of the parcel is already to go and I am really excited about it! I really, really hope my partner likes it too!

Friday, May 02, 2008

An outfit for a wee highland lassie

I actually finished this last week before heading out to Toronto, but haven't had any time to upload the picture until now! When little Emilie was born a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly took a notion into my head that it would be really cute to make her a little highland outfit for a shower gift. I'd made a blanket for her already (gave that to her at the hospital as you may recall), so wanted something completely different. I remembered the old pattern I had of Grandma's that was for little "Mary-Jane" booties and thought it would suit perfectly for a pair of wee ghillies. Eliminate the ankle strap, add a length of ribbon and bob's your uncle. The wee kilt was supposed to be in the same tartan as G's national outfit, which is a beautiful Dress Red Cunningham, but could I find the left over fabric anywhere in my house??? NO! Of course I couldn't. Oh well. I'm not sure what the tartan is that I ended up using. If someone knows please let me know, but I think it's pretty anyways.

Of course I wasn't at the shower to see the reaction to the outfit as I was enroute back home from Toronto, but by all accounts it was well received. Mommy Lorraine hopes to put the outfit on baby girl on Sunday to wear while she "cheers" G on at the provincial championships. She says it doesn't matter if it's too big - it's the perfect day to wear it! Perhaps next week I'll have a picture of our highland lassies together to show off!

In other knitting news, I finally had picked up my Clemetine Shawlette again only to realize it was so full of mistakes there was no point in continuing. I frogged it back to the beginning and packed it to take to Toronto. Five starts... I kid you not! Five times I tried and five times I failed. I failed to get past about row 10 without mistakes. So it's back in the frog pond to be looked at later, when I'm not bitter.

I am thoroughly bored with my Gathered Pullover's sleeves and I've got about 12 more inches to go at least. Ho hum. No interest in it what so ever. My Montego Bay scarf has suffered the same fate. I guess I can only do the same repeat of rows for so long before my brain begs for something different, so it's on hiatus too. I think it'll be a good SnB project. I can chat away and not notice the miles and miles of the same stitch over and over again!

So... And you knew this was coming! I started a new project in Toronto. Just a pair of socks, but they're soft and pretty. I am using On Your Toes Bamboo in a greyish-blue with hints of pink colourway. So far I'm really liking them, although I see the potential for Second Sock Syndrome given that they're just stocking stitch except for the top band of lacy-ness.