Archive | September 2015

A Literary Evening, and a Hat

So last night, I got to hang out with a best-selling author. No biggie, right? Ha! Many years ago, my mom started writing to Nancy Thayer, who writes women’s fiction and has now written more than 20 books and whose latest, The Guest Cottage, was one of Huffington Post’s favorite beach books. Well, through those letters, a friendship grew. It helps that Nancy has some family locally, so she comes through our area periodically. A while back, she invited my mom to come to an alumni event at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and since Mom doesn’t drive and I love Nancy’s books too, I got to tag along.

The reception was first, full of people who already seemed to know each other. Nancy recognized Mom immediately and gave her a big hug; I got a hug too, after a quick, awkward “do we shake hands or do we hug” moment. We chatted for a few minutes, then left so she could work the room. After that, we moved to the auditorium to listen to a conversation with Nancy and a local journalist/writer. That was fun too, but the best part came after. Nancy had invited us to join her afterward for drinks, so we got to party with the author! We were with one of her old friends, who was delightful, and another couple who had driven five hours to meet Nancy. Nancy’s nephew joined us too, and I found out he’s a musician, working with a band and recording an EP. His name is Andrew Foshee and he’s a singer/songwriter with a great folky sound. He’s got a few songs on iTunes now, and I’m looking forward to hearing his new music.

It was just a really fun night talking with smart, interesting people about books and music and life, and I realized I don’t do that very often. And I think I should. Maybe not every weekend, but more than I do right now.

And in between, I’ll keep knitting. I worked on this hat last night during the reception and finished it this morning. Funny story about this one: I got carried away last night and just kept knitting, so the body of the hat was 7″ instead of 6″, which meant that this morning I played a scary game of Yarn Chicken. I won, but it was too close for comfort! I won’t try to repeat that.  IMG_3469One of the cool things about this pattern is that it’s reversible. The “wrong” side looks like a nifty seed stitch pattern.IMG_3470But I still prefer the “right” side.IMG_3471This is the Slouchy Broken Rib Hat and it’s one of my favorites.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shelve my newly-signed Nancy Thayer books!

Two Finished Hats

“I like big sticks, and I cannot lie.” IMG_3463The puppies discovered they can reach the pile of sticks we made during our yard work and they’ve been having a marvelous time pulling them out one by one and fighting over them. Because as you know, just like with children, you can’t simply give each puppy a stick and call it good. No, one stick is clearly better than the other, and both must fight for the right to gnaw on it. Jack won this time.

In between taking the dogs outside in the gorgeous almost-fall weather, I managed to finish two hats. One is the Lunar Eclipse hat, which is even getting button accents. IMG_3458The other is a basic pink. It’s not quite as bright as it looks in this photo; it’s more of a dark raspberry pink. I’ll leave off buttons on this one.IMG_3464What color next: purple, teal, or green?

I also got to take the girl shopping for a Homecoming dress yesterday. The dance is this Saturday and the rest of the week is pretty full, so last night was basically our only opportunity. We found three great options. Two were full-length, gorgeous but more formal, more Prom-ish. One was shorter, with a swirly skirt, beaded waist and gathered bodice. It’s lovely, looked gorgeous on her, very feminine without being overly revealing. She wasn’t sure any of them were “the One” but with limited time, she had to pick. She picked the shorter one and by the time we got home and she modeled it for her dad, she was really excited about it, liked it better than she did in the store. So she had him take a photo and she texted it to some of her friends. Two of the three were supportive and encouraging, they loved it, so cute, she looked great. But the other one? She decided to tell my girl she looked like one of the Golden Girls, that the dress was pretty but it made her look older. Seriously?? If you’re shopping for a dress with a girlfriend and ask for opinions, I get it, this would have been acceptable. (Depending on the friendship. I definitely have people who could say this to me without fear of retribution.) But once the dress is purchased with no other options? That’s just mean, I think. Or thoughtless, I’m not sure which. Either way, my daughter was hurt, and I hope she’s able to set that comment aside and remember how she felt in the dress before. It’s just one more example of why it’s best to think before you speak!

I See a Red Moon Rising

Busy busy weekend! Does everyone else have weekends like this, where it’s pretty much GO GO GO from Saturday morning until Sunday night? I’m ready for a boring weekend. Someday. Instead, we started off with a parade, and I do love parades. Especially ones with my daughter’s band playing! They were fantastic, of course. After that she had time for a quick lunch, then she was off for a day-long band competition…where her band got FIRST PLACE in their division! See, I told you they were fantastic! I wasn’t able to go to this one, though I would have liked to, because we’re still trying to make progress on the fence.

We’re at the heavy labor part of the process: digging by hand the post holes with roots/rocks. Then the husband went and bought fence posts, gravel and concrete, but we just didn’t have time to get as much done as I’d hoped. That’s okay, it’s still forward progress. Just no fun photos yet. The fun photos come later. We went to the local Fall Festival that night, a fun craft show/carnival/fair kind of thing, and had a blast. I found treats for the puppies… IMG_3402and treats for me!IMG_3403I was also on the lookout for a new collar for Grace, since the buckle snapped on hers. We use martingale collars because they’re both pretty squirrely and like to wriggle out of regular ones. The first booth I tried had really cute ones, but the martingales had no buckle, and when I asked, the lady treated me like I was an idiot. “They don’t come like that. This is how the martingale works,” she told me, demonstrating how the loop tightens. Well yes, I understand that part, but the dogs go outside on chains and if it’s loose enough to put on and take off, it’s loose enough for her to slip out of, and that’s not okay. This lady clearly thought I had no idea what I was talking about so I moved on, and glad I did, because I found a booth selling Slik Hound collars. We’d bought collars from them before and they really are high-quality. I just wish we’d bought martingales at the time. Fortunately, the kind woman at this booth knew about martingales with buckles and didn’t think I was crazy and helped me order one for Grace. I can’t wait until I get it!

I ended the weekend on a good note: I sat outside last night and watched the eclipse and did some knitting in the dark. With two craft fairs looming, I’ve decided to focus on making more basic slouch hats, since they always sell well and I’ve got great yarn in my stash. That’s what I was making while I sat in my backyard with the puppies frolicking around me. It was lovely to see the moon and sit outside where it was so quiet and peaceful…for the most part. The dogs heard an owl next door and went a little nuts since that was a new sound to them. We made it to about ten, the moon was fully eclipsed and gorgeous, and though part of me wanted to stay up and watch the whole thing, the rest of me was tired. So here’s my Lunar Eclipse hat: IMG_3450It’s a simple broken rib pattern and I did really well for a long time. Then came a row where my k1,p1 pattern was wrong at the end, and I had to tink (in the dark!). I’m pretty sure the error is right here; I’m just not sure how to fix it. So I might tink back another row or two. Even doing that, I should be able to finish this hat today.IMG_3451

Oh Grace

 This is not what you want to see when you’re out in your unfenced, corner-lot-on-a-busy-street yard. The puppies were playing, running, chasing. They hit the end of the chain, her collar snapped, and Grace kept going. She ran the perimeter of our yard for a few minutes, ignoring me of course, before running into the neighbor’s yard. I followed her into their side yard which is thankfully blocked off with brush and fence, and was able to grab her neck. Then I carried all 65 pounds of her back home. 
I’m still kind of freaked. I mean, aside from the busy street, she didn’t even have her collar with the tags! Ugh. This fence can’t happen soon enough. 

Adventures in Chart Knitting

I cast on for a new cowl yesterday. I had that lovely Mochi Plus in shades of blue and found this perfect wave cowl pattern called Clemence. I downloaded it and cast on, and then realized the stitch pattern was in a chart. See, sometimes knitting patterns use charts with little symbols to represent a stitch, like shorthand or something. And sometimes they write out each line. It’s just personal preference. I suppose charts take up less space or something, which is especially important in complicated lace patterns. In any case, I prefer written patterns. It’s hard for me to remember what each little symbol means, so I’m always looking down at the key to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. But I love this cowl and it was just right for this yarn, so I did the first row without problems.

At least I thought I did. Then I re-read the instructions and realized the chart is meant to be read bottom to top and right to left. What is this craziness? I texted my knitting SIL to vent and she pointed out that you knit bottom to top and right to left. Stumped, I had to agree she was right. But still, I said, I read left to right. Her response? “Pretend you’re Hebrew.” All righty then.

I ignored that first (wrong) row and just started the next row doing the chart properly. And once I figured out how simple the pattern really is, it was fine. I even took it with me for car knitting during the girl’s flute lesson and worked without the chart and didn’t mess it up (I don’t think.) And I’m glad I kept going because I think it’s going to be gorgeous. IMG_3388It’s knitting up quickly and I’ll have enough yarn left over to do matching fingerless gloves and a hat.

Here’s a fun puppy photo from the other day. We took them to the dog park on Sunday and they wore themselves out big-time. That night Grace crashed on the couch and the kids thought it would be fun to wrap her up in the blanket. She didn’t care a bit. IMG_3360She looks like she belongs in Star Wars, like she’s Obi Wan Kenobi or something. Funny dog.

My New Local Yarn Store

People, yesterday was a big day for me. You remember I recently moved to a new city, and the only crafty store I could find was Michaels? And that the yarn selection at Michaels is, well, it’s kind of crap? I mean, there’s some okay stuff, but it’s just a really small selection, and…it’s not GOOD yarn. Well! I have found salvation.

I had lunch with two long-time friends yesterday. They came to see my new house and then we went to Rock & Run Brewery, a locally owned pub. Great drinks, great food, great atmosphere. I loved it. Then one of my friends asked if I’d been to Corbin Mill yet. (It’s an old mill with several crafty shops in there; I thought there was quilting and beading and antiques.) I said no, not yet, hadn’t had the time. “Did you know there’s yarn there?” she asked me casually. Nonchalantly, like it was no big deal. Are you kidding me?? Six weeks I’ve lived here and had no idea I was two minutes away from a yarn store?? It was decided: after lunch we were going to the mill.

So we did and it was marvelous! It’s called the Old Mill Stitchery (see, that doesn’t scream yarn. No wonder I was confused.) The yarn section wasn’t huge but it was fantastic. Lots of Classic Elite Yarns, Berroco, some Shibui, and more that were new to me. Even the Berroco, which you can find in most LYSs, was really well-represented, with yarns I hadn’t seen before. There were samples hanging up everywhere, gorgeous complicated knits. As I wandered through petting the yarns, I chatted with the lady working there. Apparently the store has been there for 20 years or so, though I’m not sure if it’s always had the yarn. She was the needlepoint lady; the knitting lady would be in the next day, as would a knitting group. Oh, and get this: I had JUST missed a yarn tasting by a day or so. And the next one won’t be until spring. Argh. You can bet I signed up for their mailing list immediately.

The hard part was that my friends are not knitters. One is a rug hooker, so she appreciated the large section of dyed wool. The other is not crafty. As she said, we can make it and she can buy it. So I didn’t want to torture them too long. We browsed through the yarn, the wool, the little antique store section, and saved the bead store for last. Lots and lots of pretties! I can’t wait to go back and look for materials for some new stitch markers. I didn’t wait long for the yarn. As soon as my friends dropped me off, I let the puppies outside for a few minutes, then drove right back up to the yarn store. I even had some birthday money to spend! An hour later, it was gone, but my arms were full of these luscious treasures. IMG_3371Araucania Ruca Solid. This is 100% Sugar Cane. What?? I didn’t know such a thing existed. I don’t usually buy much brown yarn, but this one reminded me of milk chocolate. It’s also extremely soft but what made me buy it was the drape. It feels very elegant, and I think this will become a gorgeous shawl. Bonus: it was 50% off!IMG_3372Classic Elite Yarns Chateau. I’ve played with this yarn before and it’s heavenly. It’s so lightweight and soft, it’s cloud-like. It’s mostly baby alpaca with a bit of bamboo, so of course I love it. Alpaca is my favorite. This is going to become some kind of striped scarf for me. IMG_3373I’m a fan of sparkle so this Ava by CEY caught my eye, and I snagged the last two skeins of silver. I haven’t decided if this will become a project by itself, or if I’ll use it as an accent on other projects.IMG_3374More sale yarn! This is Kodiak by Berroco, another new yarn for me. Another bulky, super-soft alpaca blend; this is obviously the type of yarn that speaks to me more than any others. It was all 50% off, I loved all the colors and I couldn’t decide which one to get. I also couldn’t afford to buy as much as I wanted, so I got a pink, a cream and two dark grey, and I’m pretty sure they’ll play together to become some kind of cowl/scarf thing.

It was such a fun day, and it pleased me so much to find such a wonderful creative haven so close to me. I’m not normally a very out-going, social person, but I do think I’ll go up there one day and check out the knitting group. It might be neat to have some new yarny buddies.

Here’s the downside: I came home and started putting my new yarns away, and looking at my gorgeous gorgeous stash actually made me sad! I have so much beautiful yarn, and I’m afraid now that I’ve got SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) and that’s not okay, because I want to have time to use all these fantastic yarns I’ve collected. Does anyone else ever feel like that? I either need to knit more often and faster, or I need to stop buying yarn, and not buying yarn isn’t going to happen, so I better stop typing now and start knitting.

Except I’m tired of all my WIPs. Time to cast on for something new?

More Rehab on the House

My weekend was not knitting related at all. When we bought this big old house that needs all this work, I guess we resigned ourselves to weekends of manual labor for the rest of time. We’re still working on the fence. It’s slow going when you can only work one to two days a week, but I keep reminding myself of how much money we’re saving by doing it ourselves. And we’re getting SO close! I spent early Saturday digging up weed roots along the fence line, and took great joy in knocking down this stupid rickety old trellis.IMG_3349That afternoon, we strung the line and measured for fence posts.IMG_3351Sunday morning, we went to work with the rented auger and it went much more smoothly than I anticipated. We have a huge yard, around 300 square feet, and with mostly 8′ sections, that’s a lot of post holes. IMG_3353There were maybe four or five where we hit root, and we’ll have to go back and dig by hand. The rest we got done in half a day. The worst were the ones were we’d get down maybe two feet and then hit the thick, dense clay. We’d have to pull the auger out, clean off the mud, and try again, and several of them took four tries before we got down to 30 inches. But we did it, and I’m encouraged! We might actually get a fence this fall. The best part was when one of the neighbors stopped and told us how nice it was to see us working on this house. It’s been neglected for a long time, and I’m loving the fact that making it pretty again will bring joy to the neighborhood, not just us.

I also moved my daughter’s desk down from the attic into the sitting room. She’s been doing her homework at the kitchen table, which isn’t ideal for any of us. Plus this desk, which my fantastically talented husband built, is gorgeous and I wanted to be able to see it. I love it here in front of the window. IMG_3340(Side note: I cannot WAIT to refinish these floors. I know the water damage won’t go away completely, but man, this wood will be gorgeous after being sanded and refinished. I’m just not brave enough to do it by myself.) Anyway, yes, love the desk here and am in fact sitting here as I write this, loving the view and being downstairs with the puppies. And the girl seemed to appreciate it last night. It’s much more comfortable than the attic room, and she doesn’t have to move everything when it’s time for dinner.IMG_3368I haven’t completely neglected my yarn. I did manage to get another Yoda hat knit, so I have five hats done. Last night I got three sets of ears knit. Just a couple more hours and they’ll be ready to go, either to sell on Etsy or for my craft show next month. And I do have a finished object to share, even if it is from last week. This is the Bit of Lace Hemp Triangle, and I used some shimmery purple Merletto. I love this project. I love the big hook and the skinny yarn. I love the loose lacy fabric it creates. I love how fast it works up. I love the versatility of the finished piece, how it can be a shawlette or a scarf. I’ve got enough left to make another one just like this, so I’ll be able to keep one and sell one. IMG_3337I should be able to get some knitting done later today, but first I get to have lunch with two wonderful ladies from my Coldwater Creek days. Should be a good day all around!