Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Best of Friends

I have plenty of stuff to blog from my westward journey, but I am short on time, so I will focus on the No. 1 highlight.

My mini-group of quilters, the M&Ms (stands for Melrose Mondays), all met on Thursday night at Sandy’s house. Sandy always hosts the group, and they moved this meeting off of Monday, Feb. 10 in honor of my visit. I stayed at Sandy's house for three nights on the trip (Tue-Wed-Thu) before going to Palm Springs for a softball tournament.

Left-right, Beth, Anne, Sandy, Lisa, Me (holding RT), Denise, Carol and Nonie.

OK, so it has been five days and I’m still feeling a little teary getting ready to write this.

When I attended my last M&Ms meeting as a California resident back in June, I found out that this group had decided that they wanted to make a quilt for me. On Thursday night, it was unveiled.

This isn’t the greatest picture. I know that Sandy’s friend Penny (visiting from Chicago … and she has a quilt that will hang at Paducah! Wow!) was snapping away as I turned into a watery mess as I saw this for the first time. I'll take better pictures when I'm home again for more than 48 hours.

I picked the background/border fabric at Ginger’s back in June. The group did the rest. I slept under the quilt that night at Sandy’s then it got safely tucked away until I got it home on Monday morning. I was unwilling to give it to the airlines as a check bag or to the post office to ship, so I did some serious stuff juggling so it would fit in my computer bag. Actually, it was the only thing that would fit in my computer bag. Aside from my actual computer, of course.

I’ll get better pictures of it later, once I get home from the upcoming trip-that-shall-not-be-discussed.

Fortunately/unfortunately, the quilt was not the only thing I picked up in LA during the first two days of my trip. It seemed like after i hugged every single person I saw, they handed me something to take home.

Here you see all of it. Only numbers 1 and 2 came with me from Pittsburgh. Here’s the down and dirty:

1. Bear, 2. Roaming Tigger, 3. The best chocolate covered pretzels ever, gift from Sandy, from Trader Joe’s, 4. A shot glass from Cal State LA for the Hubster, 5. Shot glass from UCLA for the Hubster, 6. Undersleeves [a], 7. Travel shirt [a], 8. Practice T-shirts [a], 9. Sponsorship plaque from golf tournament [a], 10. UCLA table runner kit from Sandy, 11. TRX trainer from the person I trained with the last six months I was at UCLA, 12. The 18 yards of fabric I picked up for $100 at Ginger’s (oopsies), 13. Visor [a], 14. Shorts scammed from Lori so I could work out in the weight room on Thursday morning, 15. Practice shorts (2 pr) [a] 16. CD calendar from Ginger’s, 17. UCLA men’s basketball media guide, 18. Leftover fabric from quilt, 19. The actual queen-sized quilt. A 20th item, a really neat glass Christmas ornament that Ali (who blogs but won't tell me where) got for me, had already been carefully packed away for the trip home, and I forgot to pull it out for this photo (I know Ali reads the blog, so you should know that we love it! Chris even oohed and aahed over it and he NEVER does that!). Forgot to take a pic of it now, so somebody remind me when I get home again, m'kay?

Stuff with the [a] designation came from Bruin softball/Ali.

Yeah. I had to buy a $10 Wal-Mart duffel to get everything home.

There’s plenty more to talk about from the trip. I saw a million people who I miss terribly, zipped around the California freeways (including the 405, 10, 110, 210, 57, 605, and 105!) like I never left and I blew through business cards in Palm Springs like they were water, but that was the point.

I had a really tough day with The Job today. I’m getting the feeling that people in the home office are cheering for me to fail over the next two weekends at our “big” tournaments, and that just isn’t going to happen. I’ll talk to the boss at some point over the 12 days I’m gone, but let me tell you – I’m most certainly taking a personal day when I get home, because this has gotten ridiculous.

I have a whack of photos stored on Flickr and hopefully I can find some time to blog while I’m gone. It can’t possibly be as busy as the LA trip was, can it?

I miss my normal routine, although who knows what my “normal” is these days. That said, I leave in the morning and won’t be home again until March 10. I look forward to finding myself again at that point. I’ll be back, hopefully soon! ☺

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet

I'm just beyond exhausted with another day in California ahead of me.

I have plenty of blog fodder from my stay in LaLa Land, I'm just too damn tired (and busy) to get a post together. So I'm just posting to say that I'm still alive (I think) and in california.

Home Monday at 6 am. Red-Eye. Wish me luck.

PS- M&Ms, I still start to cry when I even think about my quilt. Thank you so much! Will post about it sooooon (I hope)

Friday, February 15, 2008

YPF: Knitting Notions

You see that little stinker with his pile-o-loot from last weekend? I told you!

We’ll get to all of it eventually. The photos are all sitting in the hopper waiting their turn in line.

So last weekend, while I was working my little fingers to the bone in the Bloomin Yarns booth at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, Roaming Tigger was causing trouble.

That little bugger stole my wallet!

Today, we’ll discuss what he brought home from the Knitting Notions booth.

I had never heard of Knitting Notions before set-up on Friday afternoon. Catherine and her daughter (I do believe she said she had seven kids, all home schooled!!) drove up to the ‘Burgh from Tennessee and were back-to-back with our booth for the festival.

RT found the sale section and picked out a nifty sock yarn

It’s a handpaint. And it was on the sale rack because it was either an orphan or, in this case, she wasn’t wild about how the length of the colors in the finished product. It’s probably going to become plain vanilla socks that I’ll work on during my next few trips. Something I don’t have to think about that’s small enough to bring with me is huge.

Knitting Notions Classic Merino Supersock. Hand dyed. 100% superwash merino. 100 g/approx. 420 yards. Fruit Basket colorway. LinkyLinky

RT picked up one more little item while he was in that particular booth. Their nifty new Sock Keeper (LOOK!)

It would be better to have a sock-in-progress in there to show you how it works (so check that link!), but it’s a DPN keeper for any size DPNs smaller than 7”. The cord that wraps around can lock in pretty much any size DPNs. I’m a sucker for a gadget and thought this one would be particularly fun.

Since Murphy’s Law is alive and well, I was climbing around in the Knitting Notions booth when we were all breaking down on Sunday and found two of her semisolid colorways I really like. Once the ‘ole finances recover, there may be an internet order in my future.

I’m working at Bloomin Yarns tomorrow (Saturday), all day, and I will be blissfully softball-free for roughly 36 hours before I have to do some stuff on Sunday in order to properly tackle my week. I’m quite excited about that break. I really need it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Yesterday was positively awful. I had been under the gun with work and I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, around 2 pm, I found out that the light was actually an oncoming train. Not. Good.

I should have worked longer, but at about 8:30 last night, I had had Enough. E-Nough. I came downstairs and needed to knit. So I picked up the needles on my sock … Oh yeah, I skipped WiP Wednesday. So here’s my sock

It’s going to be a fraternal twin. This is my Ocean Toes sock at the point where the heel turn is going to happen. I missed some pattern stitches while I was working on it at the show on Sunday and I’ll probably go ahead and do it correctly next time. That’s OK. Not a big deal.

I’m doing the shorter version of Ocean Toes, because I’m not convinced that my hunk of Zen Yarn Garden, as awesome as it is, is long enough to do the tall versions. And that’s OK.

And as long as I’m WiP-ing, here’s the Hubster’s Cobblestone

It’s going well.

So anyhow, I picked up my sock and the pattern last night, took one look at the heel turn and said “Nope. Not tonight.” So I switched to Cobblestone.

Mere moments later, this happened

Yep. I’m an Options victim. Lots of swearing ensued. Some stitches got dropped and picked up again multiple times. I got a new cable through and finished a round or two. I stayed up too late, but that was OK. I needed it.

I woke up this morning, hoofed it over to the office and got started writing. The sun was out and the roof started melting. I spent the bulk of the day listening to the snow/ice slide off the slate roof. Kinda cool, actually.

So today was much better. the light at the end of the tunnel is well in sight, and this time it is most certainly NOT an oncoming train. I’m finishing this blog post then it’s back to Cobblestone for an hour or so before bed. I’m still not ready to tackle the sock.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Water Torture

Remember the great soggy mess from last week? Well, Houston, we still have a problem.

And then, it continues to drip

A mailbox popsicle!

Work sucks. I never managed to take WiP Wednesday photos and I didn’t even think of it until right now. Three straight 12+ hour days and I still have a crapload of writing to do. And want to slit my wrists. But, I quit at 8 pm tonight because my brain turned off. I have to knit now, or I won’t be sane tomorrow.

Oh, and for those of you who were admiring my Ultimate Shovel? It's a 3'x4' piece of plywood. Check the scrap pile at your local lumber supply place. Highly recommended. Buh-bye!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Coming Up for Air

I have been neglecting Ye Olde Bloggity Blog, and for that I apologize.

The real job kicked my ass last week, and after a brief respite it took a huge swipe at my sanity in the first two days of this week. I felt like I was spending every day catching fly balls, but had no idea where they were coming from. One would come from right in front of me, but the next would be behind me, the one after that was from the left, you get the picture. Like trying to follow a “Simon” pattern without seeing the pattern first!

Then, I jumped in to the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, where RT and I worked at the Bloomin’ Yarns booth all weekend. The bestest part of a very busy Saturday was that SJ and Jenn kept stopping by to say hi. Then they'd go do a lap, come back and I'd hear "pssst!" over my shoulder and they'd be back! Very fun :)

When we were unpacking to set up, I fell in love with three projects (yes, I said projects) worth of yarn. First was the new Noro yarn that is cotton/silk/wool/nylon blend. Hell if I can remember the name of it, but it’s soft and hug-able. Next?

Some amazing Karen’s Kolorways yarns. Karen lives in Bethel Park (a south hills suburb of the ‘Burgh) and just found a silk/wool blend that she really likes. So she went a little bonkers, but they’re very pretty and soft. And then,

Farmhouse Yarns. I’m pretty sure it’s the Mary’s Little Lamb yarn, but good gravy is this stuff awesome. I think the mint colorway wants to be Arwen.

That little stinker RT did hijack my wallet and do some shopping while I was busy working my little fingers to the bone. He did a very good job, though. I’ll get to the goodies that RT picked out for me. Honestly? I’m gonna need to stockpile some stuff for while I’m out of town for three weeks. Holy crap, I leave a week from today!

Anyhow, this was today’s story

It snowed. A lot. Our first real storm of the year.

My California patio furniture doesn’t know what hit it. The answer? About 4-6” of snow! I had my first experience with our new snowblower earlier today. We had a little “getting to know you” experience where I got covered in snow. Here was my sweatshirt post-driveway:

No, I didn’t wear a coat to plow the driveway. It was exercise, and I didn’t want to get too overheated. I’ve certainly determined the best possible footwear for driveway clearing

Thank you, Bruin softball! My Turfs are perfect. Check out the treads on these suckers! I don’t slip an inch no matter what!

Normally, my best buddy in the winter is this engineering marvel that SuperNeighbor hooked me up with

Yep. It’s just a piece of plywood. But it functions like a gigantic shovel and makes driveway clearing a breeze. Unless we get a lot of snow like today. I wasn’t the only thing covered in snow once the driveway was clear

It did good, and now it’s drying off in the garage.

After two 14-hour workdays, I actually think tomorrow is going to be better (Thank God!) The Hubster got sent home early from work because of the weather and may be told to stay home tomorrow as well. I’m just glad that the deluge is going to taper off, even if it’s just for a few days. The relief on the work front means I can pick up my needles again, and hopefully get in some quilting time so I’m ready to roll for my M&Ms meeting. WiP Wednesday tomorrow. Hooray!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Soggy Saga

I’ve mentioned it before. I’m a damn lucky kid to have found the friends that I did in Los Angeles. At the top of that list are my "Melrose Mondays" peeps. Anne is the only one who blogs, but they’re all fantastic people, very different, but extremely close to my heart.

[As a side note, I’ve been damn lucky to find a similar group in my Hurricane Knitters here in Pittsburgh. But I digress …]

So the M&Ms picked a project for 2008. One big quilt, started by Person A, and rotated through the whole group of eight to finish at the end of the year. You saw the row for my quilt in progress

I’ll talk a little more about that on a different day.

So Carol is the person who volunteered to mail the project to me at each change. And when we started chatting via email and through other group members, it came to light that I was going to be in a bit of a bind. The first meeting was supposed to be on Monday (Feb. 11). Add in a couple of days for our friends at the USPS and I probably wouldn’t be able to get my hot little hands on my next row until Feb. 14. If I’m lucky.

The problem with that plan is that I leave town on Feb. 19. To go to LA, actually. And I essentially won’t be home until March 10. Which is the day of Meeting #2.

Since that Carol character is wonderful, she sent the fabrics and instructions for her quilt to me via Express Mail so I could get down to brass tacks as quickly as possible. Great!

Let’s back up a little bit. It was scheduled for Wednesday arrival. That’s yesterday. Yesterday’s weather in the ‘Burgh was intermittent torrential rain with brief pauses for a 60-second ray of sunshine every few hours. Then more torrential rain.

At about 2 pm yesterday (Wed), I was downstairs and figured the mail might have arrived, so I checked my mailbox. And found this

Ruh-Roh Shaggy! I didn’t take a pic of the envelope in the mailbox because I was in “Oh Shit!” mode. But perhaps this will give you an idea.

Apparently, we have a drip in the gutter immediately above the mailbox. It drips down the front porch light and onto the lid of the mailbox as it slopes down. Drip. Drip. Drip.

This is not a huge problem unless Mail Dude jams a 9x12 cardboard envelope into the box so almost half of it is sticking out. This makes the lid tilt BACKWARDS towards the seam and creates this problem

It's a little difficult to see, but Yep. That’s a good inch of standing water in the bottom of my mailbox. And the cardboard envelope was happily slurping up that water. Into the cardboard. And the fabric inside.

So forgive me for not taking a blog photo of “fabric squishy in water” but I panicked a little bit. And the envelope fell apart in my hands as I took it out.

Here’s the inside of the envelope after I removed the fabric. I didn’t tear it this way, it just kind of disintegrated like that.

And here’s the background fabric chillin’ on the sock drying rack in my basement

And the coordinates

At the end of the day, it’s all OK because the fabrics didn’t bleed or get cardboard-ey or otherwise ruined. And no, I can’t really toss them into the wash because I belong to a “don’t pre-wash” group of quilters (don’t be hatin’ it’s a personal choice and I don’t know that any of us have had serious issues. We use quilt-store quality fabric and it works for us.).

So let this be a message to all of us. Zippy bags are our friends. If you’re mailing anything that could be adversely affected by water, find an appropriately sized zippy bag of your choice and seal it up before you put it in the mail! This episode could have been Much worse, and I was lucky. I’m just glad it wasn’t my Yarn Nerd that arrived today! ::shudder:: And let’s not even mention that the “put envelope between storm door and real door” was less than two feet away from the mailbox. It’s not worth it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WiP Wednesday: Hurricane Edition

NOTE: Holy crap! The blog poll is what turned my header brown! Remove the poll, the brown vanishes! Yay for back to normal! :)

I went to Hurricane Knitters tonight. I needed it. It was great to see everyone. So thanks!

In other news, Yeah, I’ve been knitting. Here’s my progress at this point

I started Ocean Toes on Sunday. Yep, it’s another Cat Bordhi. Gotta get all of those architectures knit since I’m teaching from the book at Bloomin Yarns at the end of March.

It’s the Zen Yarn Garden that I got from SJ at our Hurricane Yankee Swap in December, and it’s knitting up nicely. Yeah, it feels like I’m working on way too many stitches (64 sts at 7/inch for an 8.5” midfoot) but I’m trusting the Master. I’m also knitting the shorter leg version since I’m a little concerned about running out of yarn.

In other news, I’m cranking right along on the Hubster’s Cobblestone.

Here’s the second sleeve
And here are all the pieces so far

So that’s about it for now. I have photos ready for tomorrow, I just wanted to warn someone before I posted. Don’t want to surprise anyone, ya know. For now, off to bed.

Please wish me luck, ‘cause I’m really dreading tomorrow. It’s gonna be one long-ass day.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Spiral of Socks

NOTE: Fabric voting will end lunch-ish on Monday. I really appreciate everybody's input!

I officially had five finished objects in January. Hooray!

I’m late in posting this, but I swear -- the second sock was bound off with the ends woven in on January 31. Meet my Spiraling Coriolis socks!

This is a pattern that almost exclusively relies on the Master Numbers. I had some issues getting to the “correct” numbers for my socks, but I’m pretty happy with the final result.

The first sock was worked over 64 sts and was snug enough to make me ponder a little bit. Taking a peek at my yarn cake after Sock #1, I figured I had plenty of yarn, but didn’t want to mess with it too much.

So I worked the second sock over 66 sts. I’m hoping that a wash will eliminate the “anti-ladders” on the sides (what do you call it when you are tighter at your needle joins than the rest of the round? Ladders = too loose, so I think I’m making up a new fake term here.) and loosen them up just a tiny bit.

Pattern: Spiraling Coriolis from New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, Deep Seaflower. 100% Superwash Merino. As you can see, I had LOTS left over. Purchased at The Loopy Ewe (before I had local sources available)
Needles: KnitPicks US2/2.75mm 16” circulars
Started: 2 January 2008
Finished: 31 January 2008
Mods: First sock (left sock) worked over 64 sts, seemed a little tight. Second sock (right sock) worked over 66 sts.

I loved working with the DIC Smooshy, but it turned my "throwing" finger and pinky "tension" finger blue. Normally, I’m quite happy to throw my handknit socks onto my feet prior to a dip in the “pool” (sink w/Soak), but I didn’t really feel like taking the chance on blue feet, so I haven’t worn them yet.

I have two more hanks of Smooshy sitting in the stash and I AM going to acquire the next hank of Blue Lagoon I can get my sweaty little paws on. I just hope it doesn’t lose its special color in the wash. We shall see!

Oh, and Yay, Giants! Three cheers for the decision to go with the red hobo hoody look instead of the traditional gray. Sorry Jenn!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Friday Potpourri

We woke up to a Winter Wonderland this morning … if you like ice.

It’s a damn good thing that Duquesne Light fixed that transformer yesterday. It never would have made it through the extra weight of the ice.

Everything was melted and rainy by about 10 am. Ho-Hum.

So I have enough stuff sitting around that I should be posting both days this weekend. I have a FO that deserves its moment in the sun, and Julie asked me to show and tell on my M&Ms blocks. So I will! Later. Now? On to today's stuff.

First and foremost, I was extremely surprised and truly honored to receive an award! Turtlegirl76 picked little ‘ol me for a “You Make My Day Excellent Award!

While presenting this award to me, she said “Through blogging and e-mailing alone, someone I can refer to as a friend and mean it.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Turtlegirl's blog is one of the first blogs I started reading about 18 months ago. From that first day when I was using Safari bookmarks and had never heard of “bloglines” or "google reader," she has been one of my favorite reads. In fact, after my Day of Darkness yesterday, I didn’t read the post with the award because I was tired and wanted to save Cristi’s post until I was awake and could enjoy her snark wit properly.

And so, I pass along the spirit of Bill and Ted and would like to share this award with 10 of my favorite reads

I’ll start with the people who I met online and who felt like family the minute I met them. They were so critical to my transition away from my amazing quilting buddies in Los Angeles and it has been great to get to know them in person. Although I’ve only known them for about six months, I’d have a gaping hole in my new life without them.

1. One Small Stitch for Mankind. Jen’s was the first Pittsburgh blog I found and started to read. She had some wonderful encouraging words for an aspiring sock knitter and is just as wonderful in person as she is to read.
2. Knit/Wit. The Yarn Harlot introduced me to SJ’s blog and I’m glad she did! A prolific sock knitter, I’m always impressed by her spot-on observations and blatantly honest yarn and pattern reviews
3. WierdyPants. We can talk football, disagree on our favorite teams and kibbitz over the pathetic prospects of the Buccos. Now I just want to meet Rufus!
4. Knit’nat. My Hurricane Knitter dinner buddy, Yvonne reminds me of my roommate from my senior year of college. That’s a good thing ☺

And now, for a few newer discoveries and WebFriends!

5. Baseball Knitter. Her life is very different from mine, but I have really enjoyed getting to know her through her blog
6. Kim’s Big Quilting Adventure. I miss my quilting buddies terribly, but Kim’s fantastic sense of humor reminds me almost daily that I love working with all that fabric in the basement.
7. Laurie’s Random Musings. She hasn’t been posting very often lately, but she is a very profound writer. She’s not afraid to tackle any topic and always has thought-provoking posts
8. Mehitabel’s Musings. She’s my link to those LA quilting buddies that I miss so much. Marie knits and quilts, so I get to see glimpses of my yarny haunts and the quilters that I love so much.
9. Cabin Cove. He lives in a city that I enjoy and has a fantastic eye for photography and color. Although I’m immune to the spinning virus, he spins stuff that makes me drool. He also sews, so he’s a source of so much inspiration, and I hope he'd be willing to show me a fiber stop or two the next time I make it to Boston.
10. The Tucci Family. Misty is a dear friend from my old life at UCLA. She became a mom in August and decided not to go back to work. I smile every single time I see that she has posted, and I’m very very happy that we’ve maintained our friendship despite our very different “real lives” and the 2500 miles between her home and mine. Mwah!

Please feel free to download Cristi's button and pass the award along to your favorite 10, or just enjoy the shout-out. This is a small sampling of the blogs that I read, but they are all people that make my day every time they post!

Although I’m sure I should wrap up this post here, I have a serious problem! I have talked to Zonda about making a custom needle case for my KnitPicks Options needles (Go! See her stuff! Order one for yourself!) Since I have a ginormous fabric stash, she has agreed to use my fabric. I just have to pick!!!


Here are the four fabrics I’ve narrowed down to. Top left is a Laurel Burch animal print. Top right is a batik print that I just found the other day. Bottom left is a yellow star print. Bottom right is a rainbow batik leftover from a quilt top. Please vote! Please! Please!

This is my first attempt at a poll. Cross your fingers that the thing I chucked in the sidebar over there --->> works. If not PLEEEEEASE leave a comment! Please! :) Oh, and I have No Freaking Clue how I turned the background of my blog title brown. I'll try to figure it out when I'm not quite so tired.

That is all. Have a great weekend!