Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Part I – Blogs and Socks

This is a record for me…it’s only been a week since I posted anything and I’m here again. It seems like I never seem to be able to take the time to get something in here; today, I’m making time. I got written about in someone else’s blog! Yup, me. Go check out “Chronicles of the Lazy Knitter” at Monica liked my idea of “Zen” knitting and wrote about it in her blog. I’m glad I did something that others might find enjoyable. Monica is FAR from the lazy knitter she calls herself, though. She is a busy gal with her needles and always seems to have things to show for it. I finish things slowly, but Monica seems to finish up quickly and neatly. And she can knit socks…I’m kind of envious of that; I don’t have a good time with socks, usually.

I did just get a book called “Crazy Toes and Heels” by Mary Ann Beattie ( and it seems to be just what I needed to conquer socks. So far, and this may be a bit premature, I am liking this. The book has a zillion pictures, perfect for someone like me that likes things to be visual. I did teach myself to knit from pictures and videos on the Internet, so it makes sense to me to have lots of pictures available to refer to. I’m working on a pair of toe-up socks, using Lion Brand Magic Stripes sock yarn. I didn’t want to spend a lot on sock yarn until I figured out whether or not I would like doing them. I had some Lion yarn from when I tried to make socks before, so I decided to use it. The blue stripes I started about a year ago only have about a 3 inch cuff so far and don’t seem likely to get much farther. I wonder if I can use them for something else? They were done cuff-down, two at a time on two circulars and for some reason, I just don’t seem to enjoy working on them. These socks from the new book are also done two at a time on two circulars, but they seem to be much more, almost fun, if you will. Monica said socks were “Zen” knitting to her and I didn’t understand it at all, but there’s a lot of stockinette in the foot part when you’re doing toe-ups and it can be kind of “Zen” doing that part, I think. I mean, I’m not missing any of the NHL playoff games; I’m still knitting tons (at least for me), and it’s not hard to do. I did have to pay a little bit of attention while I was doing the increases from the toe to the foot, but it’s wasn’t rocket-science by any definition. I’ll post some in-progress pictures so you can see how they are coming and update as I continue.

My “Branching Out” scarf (from is coming along nicely. I seem to have gotten into a rhythm with it and don’t often have to tink rows because I have too many or not enough stitches like I did in the beginning. I’m even getting so I can knit a few rows while I’m talking or watching tv, and that was really impossible before I got the hang of the pattern. I still can’t remember all the repeats – there are 10 repeat rows, but only 5 of them are actually pattern stitches – but I’ve found that if I use a clicker-type row counter to keep track of where I am instead of writing a tick mark on paper, I can keep track better and even put it down for a bit and come back to it and still know where I am.

I’m not working on much else right now. It’s beginning to get warm here in upstate NY and I’m getting so I’d like to be outside doing something instead of inside knitting. It is still the playoffs, though, so if there’s a hockey game on, I’m probably watching it or recording it to watch later. My team, the NY Rangers, actually swept their first-round series against the Atlanta Thrashers, so I had a lot to cheer for last week. I hope they can keep going and I will be watching all the games, whatever happens. Keep your fingers crossed….

I completely forgot to include something else I bought at Chancellor last week: it’s called “Heal My Hands” and it is available at I am not affiliated in ANY way with these folks, just a very satisfied customer. I picked up one “cake” of their hand balm and I’m thrilled with the way my hands feel after using it for a week. If you have chronically dry hands, you just have to try this stuff. If it works for you like it did for me, you’ll want to keep it around at home and at work and use it everywhere. I also like the fact that it contains nothing but natural ingredients and they are all listed in English so you know what you’re getting. Ok, enough commercial from me; I just really like this stuff.

Part II – Me
Still doing pretty well, though I do have some minor med issues to work through. I am due for some blood work before my next visit to the doc to see if the supplements I’m taking are adequate. I’m severely deficient in some vitamins and minerals due to malabsorption issues relating to my gastric bypass. Like I said, I’m feeling pretty good this week, so maybe everything is falling into place. I’ll see how it all goes and post back again.

Remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Part I – Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Festival

Yesterday, Mike and I went to our very first Sheep & Wool Festival ever. Not just of this year, you understand, but ever. We had a great time! We went to the Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Festival at the Clermont State Historical site in Germantown, NY. What a beautiful place it was, right on the Hudson River, up on a hill. The weather was kind of gray and a little bit cold, but we enjoyed ourselves a lot in spite of it. I did feel sorry for some of the vendors, though; they had no place to go in out of the cold and couldn’t even walk around to keep warm. I did notice a LOT of hand-knit sweaters keeping folks warm, though. ;o)

There was a fellow who was demonstrating how to shear sheep with hand-shears and talking away at the same time. There wasn’t a nick anywhere on the sheep that I could see, and even though the poor sheep looked so uncomfortable, they were all kind of mellow about it all. He sheared three sheep during the course of the day, and not once did he get kicked that I could see, and I would have kicked him if he had man-handled me like those poor ewes. I’ve put up some pictures today, including one of the shearing, for your viewing pleasure.

Now for what you really want to know; what goodies did I get? It was soooo hard to decide what to actually buy; there was so much stuff there and much of it was so gorgeous that it was just hard to make up my mind. It was not a very large festival; it kind of reminded me of the small Garlic Festival we go to on Labor Day weekend every year in Vermont. Not a large area, but maybe 20 (maybe a few more or less) tents of vendors, some crafts for kids, some historical things going on, and, of course, food. The vendors sold everything from pillows stuffed with wool to jewelry to weaving supplies and woven items to spinning supplies and equipment to roving and wool from sheep and alpacas and pretty much any other animal you can get fiber from.

I saw some gorgeous hand-knits and felted items and it was just so difficult to walk away from some of the stuff. I’m sure you can understand how I was feeling. I finally narrowed it down to two places that I wanted to go back to; one had some lace-weight in the most beautiful colorways and the other had alpaca from her own animals. I did decide finally on the alpaca; I’m not really a lace person, though this was pretty stuff, and I finally just decided that I would probably not use it. The alpaca I bought is a nice weight, maybe you would say it was worsted weight or a little thicker, but so soft I just could not leave it behind. I picked out a beautiful soft creamy white – four two-ounce hanks at $10 each. The owner said it would be about 130 yards per hank, so about 520 yards. Now I’m not sure exactly what I can make from this amount and type of yarn, but even if I only fondle it periodically, I consider it worth the price. I also bought, from the same vendor, the most adorable felted llama (see the picture I’ve posted with the yarn). It was so cute; how could I leave it behind? The yarn and llama came from Aspenwood Alpacas ( and the name of the alpaca that my particular wool came from is Ultimo. Ms. Serino, the vendor/farmer, had all the wool sorted by which animal it came from and had pictures and the name of the particular alpaca with each animal’s wool. The felted llama came from Peru via Spruce Ridge Farm ( When I checked out the websites, I found that both are very near me, within ½ hour, driving.

I also bought a 6.4-ounce ball of variegated roving. No, I don’t spin. No, I haven’t done any felting other than knitted fabric. No, I don’t know what on earth I am going to do with it. BUT, I fondled it and I couldn’t leave it behind. I did find something I might consider trying, but I will have to do some research first. We watched a felting demonstration where the woman did both needle-felting and wet-felting to make hats. She explained that she had been a milliner by trade and wanted to try her hand at actually making the materials for the hats and that’s how she got into felting. Anyway, she had on the most interesting scarf I had ever seen. She allowed me to check it out and it appeared to be woven strands of roving, fairly thick strands that is, woven together and fastened somehow on the long edges, and with roving “fringes” or maybe you would call them tassels, on the ends. I have a picture of her wearing the scarf and have cropped the picture to show only the scarf as I don’t think it would be cool of me to post her photo on the Internet without her permission. I did want you to be able to check out the scarf, though, because I think I might try something like that with the roving, though I might also try felting a bit of it or…I don’t know, whatever takes my fancy, I guess.

I also found the cutest silver jewelry; the earrings and the necklace have amethysts set into them, along with a Celtic-style block and a little stylized sheep at the bottom. How could I resist? They also came from near me – go figure that I didn’t know all these places were so close to where I live. The jewelry came from Millpoint Emporium in Amsterdam, NY ( and that’s only about 20-30 minutes away from me. I’ve posted a picture of the jewelry as well, with a detail shot so you can really see the sheep.

The best part of the day was the present that Mike bought for me. He told me he was going off to the porta-john while I was looking at the roving. When I came out from buying my roving, I looked for him, but couldn’t find him. He showed up a couple of minutes later with a box in a bag – he snuck off and bought me a ball winder to go with the swift he’s working on for me! He is a really great guy, don’t you think? I mean, here’s a guy that doesn’t mind going to see sheep, suggests that we check out yarn shops while we’re out on a ride, buys me yarnie things, and has a good time doing it all; how great is that? I am really a lucky gal.

Part II – Me
Doing better the last couple of weeks; doc changed up my meds and I’m feeling a little less down. I still have some health and diet issues, but I’m trying to work through them. I’ll get there; it’ll just take time. In the meantime, I’ll keep knitting and writing my way through. I think it helps, so why not?

Remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sunday, April 8, 2007 - Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 8, 2007
Happy Easter!
Part I – General Rambles

Good morning and Happy Easter to all. It’s early as I write this and Mike is still asleep. It’s very quiet here. Just Alvin and I are up, hanging out on the couch – me with my coffee and her asleep next to me, as usual. Later I’ll do some baking though nothing special. It’s just Mike and I today. We didn’t color any eggs or make any baskets for each other, though he did buy me some Lindt truffles (one of my favorite things) and surprise me with them late last night. I gave up chocolate for Lent, so he didn’t bring them out until after midnight. One of the lawyers I work with in the office had given me a 2-pound box of chocolates for helping out on a contract negotiation and they had been staring at me from the top of my dresser for about 3 weeks now. He knew I had given up chocolate, but gave me the box anyway. Of course it was from a very good local chocolatier, Krause’s, if you’re ever in the Albany, NY area, and it was a lot of temptation, but I didn’t crack.

I really think I just transferred my chocolate cravings into yarn. I’ve bought so much yarn lately; I don’t know what I’ll do with it all. I did order a bunch of patterns recently from (not affiliated with this site in any way, just like the patterns)

· Tapestry Shawl (K-23)
· Heartbeat Sweater (K-24)
· Lightning Lace Jacket (K-15)
· Pacific Grove Pullover (K-12)
· Himalaya Tote (K-19) (pattern, not the kit)
· Ocean Lace Stole (K-06)
· San Francisco Shirttail (K-08)

I think they’ll inspire me to use up some of my stash. I wish I hadn’t found the site, though. They have patterns for just about everyone, in just about every size and they were having a sale! I just can’t resist a sale; can anyone? Once the patterns come (and my last email said they’d been shipped), I’ll sit down with them and see if what I have can be used for any of them, then I’ll start swatching. I’ve been so “off” lately that even a simple dishcloth has given me problems. I frogged a dishcloth last night about 5 times and then completely gave up on the pattern and wound the entire pile of “froggings” into a new ball of cotton. Maybe I’m “over” dishcloths for a while. Maybe I’d rather do a project that I can wear, so I’ll wait to get the patterns and see what I can do with them.

I do have some lovely baby alpaca to knit up into something. I bought 18 skeins (I think) when I was in Kentucky visiting my sister. I had planned to make a sweater from the book “Big Girl Knits”, but found I wasn’t quite ready for a project like that yet. I made such a mess out of “Cherry Bomb” from that book that I’m reluctant to try anything that complicated right now.
I’ve been reading over EZ’s “Knitting Without Tears” (Mike bought it for me for Christmas last year) and it makes so much sense that I think I’ll just make some swatches with the yarns I have and note the needle sizes, etc. so I’ll have an idea of what project each yarn might be good for. Swatches ought to be “mindless” enough for me for a few days. I mean, how hard can it be to cast on enough for a 5 or 6-inch square swatch and knit it up in stockinette? I saw Lily Chin once on “Knitty Gritty” and she suggested that, when swatching, you knit a couple of rows and then do YO, K2TOG for as many times as the number of your needle size so you don’t have to remember which needle size you used for the swatch. I thought that was a great idea and I’m planning on doing that with my swatches. I can just store the swatch in the ziploc bag with the yarn and I’ll have it and know immediately what size needles I can use to get gauge.

I’m also making plans to go to some sheep and wool festivals in the next couple of months. Fortunately, Mike likes to do stuff like this….at least with me, he does.
Here’s a list of the ones I’d like to go to, with links so you can check them out, too, if you want to:

· The Chancellor’s Sheep and Wool Showcase, April 14, 2007:

· Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival, May 26 & 27 (Memorial Day weekend):

· Finger Lakes, September 15 & 16:

· New Hampshire, Columbus Day weekend:

· NYS Sheep & Wool, October 20 & 21, Rhinebeck:

· Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival, September 8 & 9, Essex Jct.:

The first one is just next weekend and I’m trying to organize a car pool with my knitting buddies at SNB. It might be easy, as it’s only about an hour or so away and has the added attraction of being close to the Webs shop ( in Northampton, MA, so I don’t think it will be too terribly difficult to get folks to go there, too. Mike has even found some places he’d like to check out for his hobbies, so he’s pretty much sure he’ll have a good time, too.

Update on my WIPs: (Sorry, no pix updates today)

“Branching Out” – made the mistake of trying to work on it at SNB and messed something up. My stitch count is way off, so I’ll have to carefully tink until I get back to where it’s right and then keep going. This is NOT a project for any time that I have anything but the scarf to pay attention to. Not at SNB, not during a hockey game (PLAYOFFS ARE HERE AND MY TEAM IS STILL IN IT!), and not when there is anything distracting going on at all. Which of course, leaves not a lot of time to work on it. I figure if I can get a row or 3 done every day, I might make it by next fall….

Socks – can’t seem to make myself pick them up. I just look at them and think, “those are NOT fun to knit” and leave them in my project bag. Funny thing is, I want a pair of hand-knitted socks so I can see if they are worth spending time knitting. Is that weird or what?
Otherwise, I’m going to do some swatching and wait for my new patterns to come.

Part II – me
I’m doing a bit better this week. I saw my doctor this week and she put me on some new meds and we’ll see how that works out. I still haven’t joined the gym like I wanted to, but I think that might come this week. It’s been hectic for me this week.

My boss, who is very well liked, is retiring and doesn’t want a party. She is letting our office take her out to lunch, though, and I’m organizing it. We’re also having an “open house” type thing tomorrow so that others can come and say goodbye. I have folks from all over the agency calling me to see if they can contribute to a gift for her; she doesn’t want one, but she’s getting something anyway, and I’m trying to handle that, too.

I wonder if being so busy keeps me from being as depressed? That is something to think about, certainly. I know that the type of busy that I am makes a difference. When I’m doing things that I don’t perceive to be “my job”, I get stressed so much that I just know I’m going to screw them up, but when I’m doing things that I’ve taken on willingly and I think they are my job, I just deal with it so much better. Go figure.

Once again, I won’t promise a date for my next post, but I will promise to try to get here more often.

Until next time, remember, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!