Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Final Bliss

Well, I hope it won't be the final bliss, because I would love to stay in touch with you, my wonderful one skein secret pal! Yesterday I got my handknitted gift! My computer is having a hard drive meltdown but I wanted to post my thank you before I send my poor mac off for a transplant. I received a beautiful scarf done in one of the recycled silk Sari yarns. It sure is beautiful and totally unique. It self stripes in a lovely way and will go with lots of outfits. It is mostly made up of red tones from brick to magenta, but there are bits of navy, gold, jade and purple as well as splashes of pumpkin, turquoise and emerald. I will post a photo as soon as I can. I wore it yesterday with a white t-shirt and jeans and got complements at the supermarket! I love the drape and feel of the fabric and will always treasure and enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jeff leaves Utah for Panama today. He has been at the Missionary Training Center run by the LDS church in Provo Utah since June 28. He has been learning Spanish and culture and how to answer questions about what we believe. Sadly, knitting is not part of the curriculum, but I told him to keep his eyes open for knitters down there, it can be an ice breaker, especially since he himself knits! He has had a good experience on this adventure so far. His letters are full of faith, hope and a willingness to work hard. He is already excited to meet the people of Panama and has a sincere desire to serve them.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Knitting TV

When we got our satellite TV a couple of years ago, it came with a DVR which is a giant hard drive that allows one to stop the program in progress and record shows. I have enjoyed it because I can record shows and then click through the commercials. I now get really frustrated when I am watching actual live television and I can't skip the ads. Another result of having the DVR is that I can get the computer inside the satellite receiver to search out and save all the episodes of a given show that I want to watch. Last year, I turned that characteristic into an art form as I began watching endless reruns of M*A*S*H while speed knitting my sample of the Oregon Sweater for Cloverhill. My whole family got into it and so I may have the only 10 year old in America who knows who David Ogden Stiers was before he played the clock in Beauty and the Beast. He chose to watch M*A*S*H instead of SpongeBob SquarePants, and that should tell you something. Well, after finally getting through all the episodes at least a couple of times, we got sick of M*A*S*H. I honestly never thought it would happen. Now we are into House. (all exept for the 10 year old-he thinks it's boring, which is good because I have to be a little more careful about censoring than I did with M*A*S*H) I love House. Actually, I think I may be becoming unhealthily obsessed with House. Just kidding. I can stop if I want to. I can. Really.

Anyway , I started watching it because I am a long-time Hugh Laurie fan, from his Jeeves and Wooster days. So funny. Plus I think he is quite easy on the eyes in an everyman sort of way. House is not a funny show, but it is emotionally honest and straightforward and human emotions just can't help but be comical if one is honest with one's self. It is also sad and cathartic and, at times, beautiful. So now, it is my knitting show. I am working on the Chinese Lantern Sweater and it is taking hours and hours, and my sister has requested arm covers (like mom's) for her to wear while cooking. This sister is confined to a wheelchair and sometimes gets burned while cooking, so these will be extra protection for her skin while reaching into the oven and reaching across the stove to the controls. Who knew elbow length fingerless gloves could be so useful to people with health issues? As I've said before, they have become some of the most emotionally satisfying knitting I've ever done. Anyway, as for the telly, watch and knit I shall. I have to finish watching season 2 before season three starts! This sounds like I am sick in the head, but it is only when I knit....really....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stitches Midwest

I am back from Stitches Midwest in Chicago, and my experience teaching there just gets better and better. The people are great, I really enjoy the students and the working environment is so much fun. I got some great comments-some with some really specific and helpful advice for improving my classes.

I loved the market and found a few delightful treasures. Starting from the top, we have an exquisite yarn from Grafton Fibers, which I have known for beautiful spinning fiber, but the yarn is a new addition. Mohair Silk-yum-look at the shine! I next indulged in a Fair Isle bag kit from Black Water Abbey Yarns. They import classic, rustic Irish wool in a really pleasing and rich array of colors. Moving down the stack though, I think my favorite find was yarn from Jojoland. This company is brand-new to me. The owner has been knitting for a year (!) and is now designing truly extraordinary yarns. She had a small, no-nonsense booth with the pictured shawl hanging front and center. I was mesmerized by it and the other samples. Her yarns have a subtle kind of self-striping that makes Noro look overbearing by comparison. I bought 7 balls of a lovely soft colorway with greens, pinks, peaches, and cream for this shawl, which is knit circularly from the middle out. I almost bought needles at the market so I could start on it, but I refrained so I could use it as a bribe for myself to get some projects out of the way.

I got to see lots of great knitted garments which is always an education. Things that don't thrill me when I see them in a magazine captivate me when I see them in person. I also loved Tilli Tomas yarns, which I was not familiar with. She has beautiful luxury fibers and bags.

So, all in all a great weekend. My 12-year old daughter flew to Chicago with me and my sister-in-law picked her up and had some excellent doting-aunty time with her while I was teaching. Sara had an awesome time. I am so looking forward to Stitches East-right here in Baltimore!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Special Thanks and Then Absolutely No Knitting Content

So, the Secret Pal exchange gets better and better. I am so excited to "meet" my pal I can hardly wait. I may have to fly to MN to give a hug in person! My gift for July was an incredible skein of Colinette Point Five-one of the most unique yarns ever. Thick and thin and in the most beautiful colors of Autumn. I'm not sure if the photo shows it , but there are purples, browns, golds and fawns and taupes and every other color of a walk in the woods on an October day. As if that weren't enough, my kindred spirit of a secret pal, who understands that yarn is art in its own right and that knitting it up is just the icing on the cake, sent along the perfect display container-a beautiful turned wood bowl. Yum. It has a proud spot in our new family room, where I can enjoy it every day. Thanks again, pal--many hugs to you.

Today is Sunday and church was lovely. We are having some folks that my husband works with at church (he is a lay minister-the Bishop of our congregation) over for dessert later on, so an early dinner is bubbling away, giving me a moment to try and write. We got home from Maine 2 weeks ago, but the memories are still so fresh in my mind that I wanted to comment a little on the meaning of the trip. It was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my wedding. Eric and I went to Maine on a whim for our honeymoon. We drove up the east coast in 3 days and ended up in Ellsworth, near the entrance to Acadia National Park. I am not sure we even have any photos of that trip, as I am not sure we owned a camera yet. I have wanted to go back ever since because of the memories I had of Maine being a bit magical. It was so cool in July that I remember we had to buy sweatshirts and other clothes because we came from the muggy 90 degrees of late July in Maryland not expecting total refreshment in the temperatures. I remember the rugged coastling and seeing water everywhere. We saw some seals and explored many rocks and tidepools. So, I spent a lot of time looking for a place to go. I really lucked out on the house we found. It was so perfect that I would buy it in a heartbeat if it ever went up for sale. It was a shingled ginger-bread cottage come to life that looked directly out over the ocean. Here is our view at sunrise:

The kids got to see the rugged coastline and even the seals. We spent many hours together just watching the sea or watching the fire or playing our new favorite game, Gobblet, which is a combination of chess, tick tack toe and Sorry, sort of.

On our last day there, it was pouring out. We packed the car with the rain just pummeling us. As I was taking one last run through the house. I caught the fog lifting a little off of our little stretch of coastline and captured this view:

In the end, I think that everyone will have fond memories of our trip. I know I will.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Catching Up: The Second

Here are pictures of the latest arm covers for mom, modeled by Sara, and the Fall Fair Isle Sweater for Cloverhill. I was in a total panic after I washed it because the Karabella 8 absorbed so much water that it stretched beyond any recognition of my original gauge. The sweater became a dress. Blocking was not a possiblity. I spun it out again, rolled it in every towel I had and still it was completely unuseable. So, in desperation, I put it in the dryer on very low heat and started drying it. I figured that it really couldn't be worse. It finally started looking more like it used to when it was almost completely dry. I stopped it before it actually started fulling, but man was I worried. So, make a big swatch with Karabella 8 and wash it and weight it to see what it will really do. Holy Cow.

Catching Up: The First

In the midst of all the travel and other summer goings-on, the air conditioning finally got fixed around the last week of June and the addition is all but finished as of about a week ago. I am going to set up my spinning wheel today and hope it will find a permanent home there. I am thrilled with the way the room turned out and am happy that it has already become the favorite room in the house. I love the half-round window, especially with the addition of my lovely leaded glass medallion.