Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Fling Recap

Ok, so it's taken me three days to get around to posting a Fling recap. I've been in recoup and re-entry mode. This traveling thing...seems so fun and glamorous when you're planning it, but then you actually do it and have to deal with the reality of going away and coming home again to real life! It's true...I usually need a vacation from my vacation!

But enough of was Fling, you're wondering? Well, it was great! I didn't go last year, and I've never been to any other knitting retreat event, so I had really no preconceived notions of what it would be like. In fact, to be honest, I signed up for it on a whim, knowing that only a limited number of people's names got picked in the lottery for it, thus I figured I probably wouldn't get it. When I did get picked as one of the lucky 100, I figured it was meant to be and I was just open to whatever that turned out to entail, including me spending three days with 99 strangers, one of which would end up being my roommate!

I needn't worried. With only one very odd and bizarre exception (and I won't bother going into it because it was just so random that I'm sure there was probably a good explanation for it), everyone I met at Fling was lovely! Knitters generally are anyway, right? Everyone was there to have fun and knit and it was great. My roommate and I actually paired up via the Ravelry Spring Fling board beforehand, so it wasn't a complete surprise.

Janice and I could not have been better suited. We ended up having so much in common, and we talked and laughed late into the night the whole weekend. Totally wish we lived a little closer to each other so we could meet up in person more often!

And now is when I have to admit: I was terrible about taking pictures. I had my camera with me all weekend, and it turned out that I took TWO pictures the whole time. Sad, I know. The one of Janice and I above would be one of them. The other would be one of Cookie A. during her Sock Innovations class on Friday morning...

Here she is explaining the mathematical madness of "cable suckage" -- the phenomenon of losing width due to the stitch crossover in cable patterns. I'd read much of her new book before going, so the concepts she talked about weren't completely new to me, but it was interesting. This was a design class, and while I have no illusions of being able to design socks as fabulous as hers, I was encouraged to realize that my design process, while different than hers, uses many of the same ideas. So I feel like I'm doing something right.

On Friday afternoon, I took Wendy's class on toes and heels for toe-up socks. I've never done a toe-up sock, but I now know how to do Judy's magic cast on and a slip-stitch heel going in the opposite direction that I'm used to, so I'm all set to give it a try. Wendy also has a new book out, so I'll likely try one of those patterns. I have to say, Wendy is a hoot...great sense of humor and a wonderful teacher.

Saturday morning was my opportunity to go shopping at yarn mecca, er, Loopy Central. (This event is organized by Sheri of The Loopy Ewe fame.) Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing! What a wonderful store! If only all LYS's could be like TLE! And to think TLE is mainly an online store, with very limited in-person shopping hours. Anyway, I mainly study to buying roving, and I found some absolutely gorgeous stuff (from Scarlet Fleece and Yarn Love)...I did take pictures of that, but they are on my phone, and I have no yet figured out how to get them off. So, they'll be coming later. LOL I picked up a bunch of patterns as well, and of course a few skeins of yarn hopped in my bag as well. I just couldn't help it. All told, though, I stayed right at my budget for what I planned to spend there, and I paid cash, so I felt mighty virtuous about it all.

Saturday afternoon was my final class, advanced lace, and it was with Anne Hanson. Can I just say Anne Hanson is my #1 knitting & designing idol? She is amazing. Her work astounds me. If there was ever a knitting celeb I was going to stalk, it would be her (but of course I WOULD NEVER stalk a knitting celeb! That would be creepy, right??). In fact, I was so worried that upon meeting her, I was going to start to babble endlessly about how much I loved her work and her blog and thought she was totally cool and her husband has great hair and I want to be her new best friend that I actually avoided her all weekend until her class. LOL Seriously. I saw her throughout the weekend and I could have gone up and introduced myself, but I was certain I would suddenly be crazy and stupid that it would prompt her to back away from me while frantically feeling around her knitting bag for her pepper I just didn't. I observed her from afar. (Even that sounds creepy! It's not like I had binoculars though, ok? Sheesh!)

Anyway, her class was great, and I now feel equipped to tackle an actual knitted lace pattern like her Bee Fields shawl. After class ended, I did have the chance to introduce myself (and she seemed to remember me from comments I'd left on her blog), and I took the opportunity to show her my Rivolo scarf, remember the one I made last winter out of some of my first handspun yarn? She was so nice about it and liked it enough to take a picture of me with it on and she even posted it on her blog! (OMGI'monAnneHanson'sblog!!! Howcoolisthat???) Apparently I was perfectly normal and not scary to her as she even sat near me that night during free time in the lounge.

(Anne, if you read this, seriously...I'm a normal person...really...I just think you are cool and awesome and really enjoyed getting to meet you!)

The rest of the weekend was largely spent knitting in the lounge and eating. And eating. And eating some more. And did I mention the eating? Holy cow, Sheri made sure we were fed well at all times, and though dinners were on our own, there were so many good restaurants right there that you just could not go hungry!

Oh, yeah, the knitting...I managed to actually finish a few things while I was away! I finished the first sock of a pair I'm designing, which I started when I was in's working name is Brickle...

It's made of Regia Bamboo, and while I like how the texture works with the color, I think I'm going to make the pattern out of a semi-solid before committing to publishing it.

I also started and finished these You Snag mitts for the girlie out of Austermann Step...

Aren't they fun??

And since I've been home, I've started this...

It's the Dream in Color Shrug, the pattern for which I picked up at TLE. I've been seeing this pattern around and it looks so nice, so I wanted one for me. However, upon getting home, the girlie saw it and said she'd like it, so this one is for her. The yarn is Three Irish Girls Elenya (a merino/alpaca blend) in the Aiden colorway. I've had the yarn for a while and this is a perfect project for it. I absolutely love how the colors are playing out in it! They are fantastic! I'm about half's a very quick knit and easy pattern to memorize.

Ok...there is probably a whole lot more I could say about Fling, but these are the highlights. Mainly: it was great! Would love to do it again! :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Checking in from Spring Fling!

Coming to you, LIVE, from St. Louis! :)

I arrived yesterday and immediately got into the groove of Fling...meeting my fellow Flingers, eating cupcakes, eating Mexican for dinner (complete with margarita, of course) and eating dessert. Are you noting a theme? Uh, yeah. Lots o' eating going on. Hm.

Today was our first full day...I had two classes today, one with Cookie A. and one with Wendy. Cookie's class was a sock design class based on her new Sock Innovations book. It was interesting, though I'm tend to go about things more organically/intuitively when I design and use less of the math that Cookie was showing us, though I think I end up with similar results. It was good to confirm that at least how I do things makes sense, even if it isn't the exact same process. Wendy's class was heels & toes for toe-up socks, which was really good...I've never done a sock toe-up before, so it was great to learn the different cast ons and how to do a slipped stitch heel going in that direction. Wendy's got a great sense of humor, class!

Tomorrow I get to start my day off with an in-person shopping trip to Loopy Central (woohoo!) and then my last class will be in the afternoon, Anne Hanson's Advanced Lace class...I so cannot wait for that!

But now, I'm off to my room to grab some knitting and head down to the lounge for some social time. More later!

Monday, April 20, 2009

St. Louis-bound...

With barely a week behind my Florida trip, I'm gearing up for The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling in St. Louis this weekend. I have never been to St. Louis before, nor have I been to a knitting retreat before. Should be great fun! I'll be taking classes with three incredible knit designers: Cookie A., Wendy Johnson and Anne Hanson. How cool is that?! I'm giddy just thinking about being in the presence of their knitterly awesomeness! I'll also get to enjoy shopping in person at The Loopy Ewe and hang with a bunch of other cool knitters, all without having to stop and make dinner or do laundry! I soooo cannot wait! 

Lots to do between now and the airport on Thursday...not sure I'll be around much between now and then. I'll be sure to post a recap of the weekend once I return, though! Promise! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What I Did on My Easter Vacation...

Photo-heavy be warned...

Easter in Florida...there are worse things, lemme tell ya!

So...we went to the beach...

...this is as much sun-bathing as my hubby does, but at least he wasn't twitching. Much. ;) (He's just not a beach guy.)

We went out to eat (a lot) and had really good's my mom and me...

...for the record, we are freezing our collective arses off in this picture! We were out on the deck of the restaurant, and it was freakin' windy, and we were in the shade! But, good fish and a few rum and cokes and you're willing to put up with a little hypothermia!

We went and walked beneath the pier at Fort Clinch, always a lovely time, and managed to get a reasonable family picture that will serve as proof that we actually took a family vacation that included all four of us...

Fort Clinch is an excellent place to find really nice shells. I happened upon a lovely conch shell and went to pick it up, only to have it try to pick back at me...

Ooops! So sorry! Didn't know you were in there!

Scared the bejeebers out of me! (I put him back!)

And of course, there was knitting. On the way down, I finished this afghan square for the swap I'm in (just two more squares to make! I did start the next one, but no picture of that yet)...I am so loving the mitred square. It is awesome!

I also got over half of this pencil pouch done on the way down, and I finished it on the ride home...

It's a WendyKnits pattern that I knit for the April Spring Fling KAL (the pouches are being donated to HELPSudan).

Took along some Regia bamboo that has been in my stash for some time and started a new sock, totally winging the pattern, which admittedly doesn't show up that well in the colored yarn, but I think it will look cool on a solid or semi-solid sock at some point. Still, gives it some nice texture, as the bamboo yarn is really very smooth and soft.

Most excitedly, I finished up my Lemongrass bolero...

I'm sooooo happy with how it turned out!The Aurucania Pomaire was a great yarn for it, and it will make a nice little spring-into-summer sweater. Here's how it looks closed with a shawl pin...

Lastly, on Easter evening, after dinner, we walked the beach for a while. The girlie was being silly, jumping over the waves, and I was trying to capture her in mid-air. And then THIS happened...

Whoops!!! Salt water + electronic devices = not good. :( On the up side, I was impressed that it took exactly one year for either of my kids to destroy their phones. (They got them for Easter last year.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


We're baaaaaack! Just got home earlier this evening, and as always, no matter how nice a trip has been, it is always wonderful to come home. 

I've got more to say -- with pictures -- but not tonight. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Just wanted to pop in with some Easter greetings before the day was over. So, hope you're enjoying your day of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and time with family and/or friends. :)

We're still in's our last day. (Sad!) It's been a nice trip...very laid back, no big rush to do anything, which is nice. I woke up with a cold the first morning we were here (blah!), and while I've felt sort of under the weather most of the time until today, it hasn't been so bad that I haven't been able to enjoy our visit. 

We've been to the beach every day except today (though I'm hoping for an after-dinner drive to walk on the beach and say goodbye to the Atlantic), and we've spent lots of time together, playing games (my mom and step-dad are total Wii fanatics, so the kids have been having fun doing that with them!), eating out (shrimp salald! fresh fish! mmm!), and laughing. And of course I've been knitting (more on that -- with pictures -- once I get home) and reading...I started and finished the first of Charlaine Harris' vampire series, Dead Until Dark. OMG! What a fun book! I can't wait to read the next one (which neither of the local bookstores here have in stock, darn it!). 

Ok...almost time for step-dad's famous baby back ribs and potato salad. Does it get any better?

Happy Easter! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Florida minus one...

There is SNOW on the ground today. SNOW. It is April 7th, people! Granted, it is Pittsburgh and it is not unheard of for there to be snow on Easter in April here in the 'burgh. When the kids were little, it used to make dressing the kids in their cute Easter shorts and sundresses a bit difficult without covering the cuteness with snow gear. We had the same problem with cute Halloween costumes some years, too. October to April, snow is possible. It's nuts.


Did I mention we leave for Florida tomorrow? Thank GOD!

I'm actually feeling rather ahead of the game for this trip. The packing is mostly done. I still need to gather knitting projects, but that's the fun part of packing. I need to do some tidying around the house, and I'm planning to go to the gym tonight since I'll miss for a whole week. (I skipped last night...besides feeling overly tired from a poor night's sleep the night before, it was SNOWING, and I couldn't bring myself to go out in it.) And with any luck, I'll get to bed early so we can be on the road at ungodly o'clock.

Sunshine and I come! :)


Friday, April 3, 2009

One more good thing...

...ok, maybe it's a stupid thing, but it seriously makes me laugh like an idiot every time I see it. I love this commercial. No idea why. 

I watch it, quote it in a really bad Scottish accent, and then walk around smacking my family members with my knitting needles while yelling the word "dipsitck!", just for the effect. Try it. It's great fun. ;)

Five Minute Friday: Good things...again...

It's Friday, and one aspect of my life is still in big, giant suck mode, and it is threatening to consume me. I do not want to give in to that. So! Instead, I thought I'd resurrect Five Minute Friday, which I haven't done in eons. Today's topic will be: Good-things-to-think-about-in-order-to-try-and-stop-obsessing-about-that-which-I-have-no-control-over. 

Or maybe just Good Things would be a more manageable title? Here we go!

1. Regardless of how unbelievably hard or sad or unmanageable life seems at any given time, I know that God is God, and I always trust him to work things out according to his good purpose. He's never let me down.

2. Five days until Florida. YES!!!

3. It is raining like crazy today, but that just means it is not snowing and spring is here.

4. Tonight is a martial arts night, so I can go kick, punch and throw willing subjects to the ground.

5. My WIP list is at an all-time low...only six items! Awesome!

6. Only 20 days until Spring Fling and my trip to St. Louis for a long weekend of knitting goodness.

7. My grandson turns four next that little boy so very much. :)

8. I have three children I love more than life itself...they are always a blessing to me, no matter what is going on in their lives. (No one said parenting would be easy, right?)

9. I have a husband who is more loving and patient than I deserve and who probably should have been mentioned before #9 on this list.

10. There are seemingly a bazillion day lilies springing up green leaves in my flower bed...can't wait to see how many blooms I get this year.

11. I'm almost 30 pounds lighter than I was last year at this time, and I feel so good!

12. I'm learning to spin beautiful yarn, and it makes me so happy to do so.

13. I have friends who I know I can always count on...another immeasurable blessing.

14. No matter what else, there is always hope.

See? I feel better for doing that!

I hope you all have some good things going on in your Friday. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Some days, life just sucks...

...but you have to carry on anyway, and it helps, I find, to force yourself out of your angry, vitriolic thoughts and focus on something good. So, let's go with that, shall we?

First, you readers apparently know me well enough to know that I am far more likely to walk around with a monkey on my head than I am to quit eating meat and other animal-related products. Yep, going vegan would be a huge joke for me. I love me some meatless meals, but don't even try to take away my eggs or cheese. I'll hurt you. ;) (And for those of you who didn't figured it out, the monkey on my head was from Ravelry's April Fool's joke of putting something funny on top of each person's ravatar...this year, I had a monkey. I think I had a Carmen Miranda hat last year. LOL)

Second, and speaking of monkeys, (amazing how often I do speak of them, it seems, LOL), I finally finished my monkey socks! I missed the KAL deadline by two days, but at least I've got yet another pair of yummy socks to enjoy on my feet...

These socks were amazingly hard to photograph so that the actual pattern showed up well. I guess it is the rather boisterous Rio de la Plata many colors! But they look great close up, to which Nigel, our Garden Gnome, can attest. (Nigel has been laying face down in the mulch since mid-winter, darned sot! Finally pulled him up today and told him to clean up his act. Sheesh! No one needs to see that!)

One of the big reasons I didn't get my socks done by the KAL deadline was that I went on a spinning binge. I spun this...

...some lovely green Falkland fiber from cosymakes, with which I tried my hand at spinning woolen. I'm afraid I'm never going to be good at that, but the yarn turned out to be a fun thick-and-thin, averaging a heavy worsted-bordering-on-bulky weight. LOL Not sure what it wants to be yet, though.

And then I started to spin this...

...this is some Masham roving I got from CJ Kopec Creations, in the Candy Corn colorway. The colors are fabulous (this was taken at night, so the lighting is a bit over-warm). The fiber itself is's not the softest wool in the world, and it shed something fierce as I was spinning it (I was wearing black sweats and a black t-shirt, too, LOL), but it is willing to be spun incredibly thin, and it does end up with a pretty halo. I'm curious to see if it will soften up at all as it is handled in knitting, or maybe when it is soaked? Anyone ever knit with this before and have any insights? Anyway, that bobbin was the first half, which I managed to spin fine enough to end up with a true, consistent sport weight when I Navajo plied it...

I kind of wish I'd done it as a two-ply because I think I could have gotten a fingering weight, which is my ultimate spinning goal. In fact, I just purchased some fiber specifically with the goal of spinning some fingering weight sock yarn for a specific sock pattern. I'll fill you in on that more as I progress in that project.

Lastly, SIX DAYS until we leave on our Easter/Florida trip! Woohoo! You have idea how much I need to get away and melt my brain in the sun for a while. No. I.D.E.A. Truly. It's been that kind of week, folks. :P

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


...still here! Didn't fall off a cliff! Just busy..busybusybusy! I have pictures to post, just as soon as I have a chance. But, to tide you over, from the following list of items, see if you can pick out the April Fool's joke... of the end of March, my weight loss total was 29 pounds!
...last night I sparred for the first time at the gym and learned what it feels like to be punched in the head!
...I've finally decided to take the plunge and become a vegan!
...I fell short of my March KAL goal -- a pair of finished Monkey socks -- with only the toe of the second sock to go by midnight last night!
...And speaking of monkeys, there is a monkey on my head today!

So, which one is the joke? Hmm? ;)