Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A New Yarn, A New Contest

I have a bin of new yarn-
So I thought I'd have a new contest! This one will be a little easier than the Summer Goals Contest... Just leave a comment on this post letting me know at what age you learned to knit! Sometime on July 16th, I'll select a number (using a random number generator) and if that number was the number of your comment, you win! If you leave the name of the person (or blog) that you heard about this contest through, that person may win a little something too! (If you came here all on your own, just throw in the name of a blogging friend...) Post about the contest on your blog and you'll increase your chances of at least coming in runner-up! (More people will list you as their referrer.)


The lucky winner will receive one hank of Blue Sky Alpacas' oh-so-soft-and-scrumptious new yarn - Suri Merino, just introduced earlier this month at the latest TNNA Trade Show, in either Harvest or Earth. This lovely new yarn is 60% baby suri and 40% merino in a soft single ply that knits up to a suggested gauge of 5-6 sts per inch on US size 5-7 ndls. I am currently swatching on some different needle sizes to play with it and see what the differing fabric results will be... I'll keep you posted about that as time allows...

I'm also working up a quick and easy cabled hat pattern that you can make with just one skein, so you'll have something to do with your yarn - we don't want to see this lovely new yarn just sitting in a stash somewhere...

So far, 2 new patterns have been released using the Suri Merino- the High Neck Cable sweater-

and the Hat & Wristlets set- (which also uses Blue Sky Worsted Hand Dyes)
I haven't knit a sample of either of these yet, but I have had them in my hands to work on the technical editing- they are cute pieces and this yarn just feels good knit up. It really is so soft! (gotta love that suri alpaca!)
So there ya go- new yarn, new patterns to try, a new contest to enter, and it's not even your birthday! Unless it is, in that case, well, happy birthday!

Happy knitting-

ps- I think it was either 4 or 5 summers ago that I learned to knit, I truly can't remember for sure, and since I didn't write it down... well, I know it was in this house, so it can't be more than 6 years... we'll go with 5, which would have made me 28 years old when I held my first knitting needles... though I had crocheted on and off since a young girl.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It was a Tough Choice

Week 2 of my Socks on Circular Needles class, or free outdoor concert featuring my favorite local bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing, at one of my favorite places, the Oliver H. Kelley Farm. I hate choosing between two things that I really want to do- why do they have to overlap? Why couldn't they schedule the concert tomorrow night? Didn't they know I would be busy?!!

Well, I thought I had come up with a solution. I would go to my sock class, and leave early... it would probably take me 30 minutes to get to the farm... but then there was potential weather on the way- I hate potential weather... especially when considering outdoor events... so off I went to my sock class, figuring I'd wing it, like I usually do.

I was hoping my heel would go faster. But my baby kept squirming and I had to keep picking her up, which meant setting my knitting down. And before I knew it, 7:00 had rolled around- there just really wasn't a convenient stopping place before then... I knew with packing up the baby and the knitting I wouldn't get out of there until at least 10 after, and then the drive, I'd be about 45 minutes late to the concert, which mean missing almost half of the show- and with my luck, I'd probably miss all of my favorite songs... so I headed home, sulking just a little bit.

The bright side? Not going to a concert would mean that I wouldn't have to stay up nearly as long to cast on another sock. Another sock? Yep, another sock. Here's where it gets kinda funny, to me anyway. A little while back, I caught the sock bug. There have been so many sock events going on and I just haven't gotten on board- but I've been watching. As the fever began to rage (sock fever, that is- the one that doesn't fade with tylenol...) I began to feel like joining in... and whenever I would come across another sockalong type of event, it was closed, as in no new players, try again next year. Oh well, move along, get over it, it's not like I don't have anything else to knit... and it's not like I can't knit socks by myself...

Anyway- yesterday I received a comment on my last post- a comment from my assigned blog reader- for the Summer of Socks 2007... I thought that was odd- because I couldn't remember signing up for the Summer of Socks 2007! And to make it a little bit funnier (again, funnier to me at least) just the evening before I had come across the Summer of Socks 2007 site and thought it sounded like a great event- and, of course, sign-ups were closed. I was bummed. I had a vague recollection of reading about it before... and thought too bad I didn't sign up right away. So, when I got that comment yesterday, intrigued, I headed over to the site, and there I was, on the long list on the sidebar. Huh. Odd. I honestly don't remember signing up (sleep blogging maybe?) but I'm glad I did.

I thought , yay, I'm taking this sock class, and I have that Anniversary Sock started... and then I reread the rules, the event runs from June 21st through September 21st... and I can't even be underhanded and sneaky- I've already blogged about those socks- so they don't count in my summer total. Well, for this event anyway, I mean, let's not get carried away- those socks will count for something, even if it's only the satisfaction of a job well done...

Sooooo, to make a long story even longer- I bought some new yarn to start a new pair of socks- my first official pair for the Summer of Socks 2007! Yay! I'm off to cast on...

I'll leave you with this proof of my heel turning (at sock class)-

Happy knitting-


ps- That favorite bluegrass and gospel band? Turns out they'll be playing at the very park at the very lake that my family was already planning to be at on the 4th of July!!! I came home and checked out their schedule, and, yippee! I'm so pumped- really, grinning from ear to ear right now!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Windy Knitting

Last night was wonderful- a brisk cool breeze swept though this part of Minnesota and brought with it a break from that ghastly hot and humid weather- the kind when they issue air pollution advisaries for people with respiratory illnesses (like asthma...) That muggy haze blew right outta here- for a couple days anyway. I'll take it where I can get it...

See the little pine trees bend?! It was windy, I tell ya!
Well, after supper my husband and all the kids headed out back to play some catch (the kids got dad a baseball glove for Father's Day) and I headed out to snap a few pictures of the fun times. It was so refreshing! But cool, and I, being a cold wimp, or maybe just glad for an off-season chance to don a comfy sweater, grabbed a hat and some stripey cotton knit warmth, bundled the baby, grabbed a knitting project and headed out back.

Breeze or no breeze, I was gonna get another couple rows done...

One of my sweeties brought a wee kitty to share in the joy of many balls of yarn...

And then momma cat decided to get in on the action... I had to put a stop to it before some damage was done. Cat teeth can tear through that soft 2-ply cotton like nobody's business- ask me how I know... on second thought, don't ask!

It was one of those nights when we stayed outside later than we usually even let the kids stay up- it was just that nice out (and the breeze kept away the Minnesota state birds- the mosquitos!) I just had to squeeze in another row before heading in and shooing everyone off to bed, so I could settle down on the couch and do "just one more row..."

Gratuitous baby shot- because how could I not?!

In other knitting news, my 'sock class sock' is done to the heel and patiently waiting for Thursday to come... I, however, am not so patient, and couldn't not work on a sock all week, so I switched needles- I slipped my new addis out and slid my old dpns in... and am now using my addis to get a few more rows of my Anniversary Sock (which is just the name of the sock- it will not be done in time for any anniversary that I can think of... but now that I've started thinking... I may be able to come up with something... hmmm...) and as I suspected, that pesky LC2 is so much easier with these lace needles, yay! I need, no, really, really, want another couple sets!

I might even be able to make some real progress on this one before Thursday rolls around. But then again, I might not- I have so many projects vying for my attention. I did finish the second front to my Eyelet Cardigan and am procrastinating instead of casting on the sleeves... I've been distracted with so many new things! Not the least of which has been playing with the drop spindle I bought a couple years ago but never learned how to use until a couple weeks ago after I bought some roving at the little sheep shearing festival I went to... more on that at a later date...

Happy knitting-


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sock Class Fun, week 1

I am a mostly self-taught knitter. As with many things I've wanted to learn, I got a book and dove right in. I'm not a huge fan of public education, but somehow I did manage to come away with the useful ability to read and follow directions... I'm not sure if they're still teaching that... but I digress...
Last Thursday night was a first for me- my first knitting class!
I signed up for a class on knitting socks on 2 circulars, mostly for the fun of it- the social aspect, meeting an experienced knitter/teacher/ playing with a new yarn and a new technique, buying new needles...!!!
Like with so many other things- I bought the book, "Socks Soar on Two Circulars", and started reading. I got the basic idea, but hadn't started any new socks yet- there are so many projects on the needles these days... Anyway, I didn't feel a real need for this class, but I did feel a real desire for it!
I'm so glad I went! It was just such a fun time. Having 6 kids, I don't get out much, at least not for anything that's just for me... (field trips and violin lessons abound, but that's just not the same...) I had to bring my nursing baby with, of course, and to make the babysitting easier I also brought with my 6 year old. Since she knits and has a scarf to work on I figured she would enjoy it. She ended up being a rather restless stinker who preferred twirling the ball-winder and snacking on the Pringles, but I did strongly encorage her to knit at least one row of her scarf (or else!)

my reluctant knitter...

Baby was fairly content, though distracted enough to want to 'snack', which meant shorter nursing, which would be great if it didn't also mean more frequent nursing... she's 7 months now and is turning into quite the busy-body, she wiggles and squirms almost non-stop! And since she pretty much grabs anything she can reach, it's getting nearly impossible to knit with her on my lap (though easier when she's busy nursing...) so I only managed 1 more row while holding her that night...

Since I needed some needles (the smallest circular I owned prior to this was a 3, and only one at that) I decided to go with some new Addi Turbo Lace Needles- and oooh, are they nice, pointy and sharp, but nice. They'll make getting that back loop on the second stitch so much easier than my plastic Bry-Flex and/or bamboo double points. I started an "Anniversary Sock" (Favorite Socks) and that LC2 is a pain with the more blunt-ended needles...
For sock yarn, I went with a pretty skein of Austermann STEP, (color- 01) 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, and am really liking it.
We got started, and in true "there is no one right way to knit" fashion, I think we had 3 or 4 different favorite cast-on methods for the 5 of us! Thora Lee was so great about it, she just looked around and watched the different ways we each preferred, and smiled. The right way is the way that works for you, the way that is the most comfortable for you, and the way you most enjoy! I love that about knitting. She noticed I do 'an English style'... I said "Of course, I learned from a Debbie Bliss book!"

The fun getting under way-

My blogless mom (right) and Traci- the Blonde Knitter (center) and Thora Lee- our instructor (left).

Well, I'm in love with the technique (who isn't?) as I knew I would be. And I knit a few more rows after getting home Thursday night, and a few more rows throughout the day Friday... which brings us here-I don't think I'll have a problem getting to my heel in time for next Thursday's class. Of course, now that I've said that...

Happy knitting-


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Center-Pull Face-Off

If it's "a day late and a dollar short", does that make me $8 short...?
June's 'First Friday Knit Night' fell on the 1st (last Friday) and due to general summer busy-ness and a wedding shower, it was pretty small-scale and mellow (just 3 of us...) But after a couple crazy days of counting a bazillion contest entries and writing names on tiny slips of paper, that was quite alright with me.
There was one newbie knitter (she's a serious crocheter) to teach, but other than that, not much knitting got done. Actually, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to sit and wind my 550 yd skein of Fearless Fibers hand dyed superwash wool so I could get started on a pair of socks- if I could ever decide which pair to make...
Well, the blonde knitter was here with her not-yet-wound skeins as well. Actually, I must back up to properly set this scene. She's working up some trunk show samples and pulled out her ziploc to proudly show me her center-pull balls, 2 of them, one skein of worsted and one skein of the new suri merino. I was a little, well, um, not quite sure how to respond. I'd never actually seen such, well, frumpy balls of yarn. I sat and looked, actually a little puzzled- I thought surely they must be half used and thus collapsing a bit, as center-pull balls are prone to do... but no, she hadn't started her project yet- these were freshly wound, full skeins.
You know how sometimes at the end of a long day even the simplest puzzle can boggle the mind just a little too much? That's where I was at- I'm not kidding, I just didn't get it. They don't look like MY center-pull balls... and yet there she sat, obviously proud of her balls, but starting to sense that I was a little less than super impressed... she was beginning to get the did I do something wrong? look of concern... and all I could mutter was something like "What have you done?!"
The discussion began... that's how I was taught... that's NOT how I was taught... well how do you do it? not like that... And it was time for the Center-Pull Face-Off! I started winding, she started winding, and I could see an obvious difference from the start- she began by winding around her hand and then hooking the beginning 'chunk' around her thumb, I began by simply winding around my thumb...

She continued to wind, and I continued to wind... and the balls were shaping up to be, well, different...

I didn't quite get the little 'blob' of yarn that she was holding in her palm- she explained to me that was the 'guts'- oh, so much clearer now... my ball has no protruding guts, all entrails are kept snugly inside...

more winding... and...

you decide...In all fairness, our newbie knitter did point out that blondie finished first (though she did have a helper- a teen yarn holder...) But I just don't know if I'm ready to give up my pretty ball and go with the gutsy ball just to save a minute...

What do you think?

Happy knitting,


edited 6/10 to add: both balls function fine, they do just what they're supposed to do- pull from the center... this is merely a matter of aesthetics, which is more pleasing to the eye? Why does it matter? It doesn't really, the ball is only a temporary state wound to make the yarn usable (you can't knit from the twisted hank... it would be bad, very, very bad...) which is why the ball is temporary- it's about to be knit up! (or crocheted, if that's your thing...)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Contest Wrap-up

Congrats again to our lucky winners! And a hearty "Way-to-go!" to the rest of you for posting your summer knitting goals.

It's been a busy week here, hence the quiet blog, but I'm trying to get back on track (it would help immensely if my kids would all stay healthy...) The 1st place winner, Knitting Mama of knit and purl mama, chose the brilliant new Caribbean color for her 4 skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton to make her very own Fitted Tank. The 2nd and 3rd place winners are also receiving a copy of the pattern, but wil have to head to their LYS for some yarn... sorry guys, a girl can only do so much...

I'll be putting the prize packages together over the weekend and will hopefully be getting them sent out on Monday, so hang tight winners, they'll soon be on the way!

Happy knitting,

ps- There is still time to pitch in for a great cause and help Valerie and her family meet (or exceed) their fundraising goal! Check out the sidebar or Val's blog for details.

Friday, June 01, 2007

We Have a Winner, or Two, or Three!

I said I'd try to post by midnight, and, well, I'm cutting it close...
#1) Knitting Mama of knit and purl mama
#2) Bertha of karma kitties
#3) Kaity of if you want to destroy my sweater...
I'm so tired! More news tomorrow...
Happy knitting-

ps- I'll need your snail mail addresses
edited to add: For those of you that worried and sent repeated e-mails thinking you weren't entered because you didn't see yourselves on the list- I reiterate- I'm a busy mom, the list was never intended to be an 'official entrants' list. I seriously did not have time to sit and post every link, there were over 200! I listed what I had time for, adding a few here and there, simply as a fun way to share some links so knitters could stop by and see what other knitters were up to and encourage them along the way. So don't worry, you were all entered, some of you several times, thanks to referrals... look at that pile of little papers...
A big thank you to everyone who participated! It was a lot of fun to see the great response and to see the different types of goals you all set.
I'm off to a sheep shearing festival today and will be gone all day tomorrow, so look for more catching up, and many pictures, on Monday...
Happy knitting-

Contest Overload and Time for a Good Deed

Drumroll please... just kidding- I may need a day to get all the entries tallied! Really you guys, what an overwhelming response- but it's a fun problem to have.
While I'm filling in the spreadsheet, checking linked posts, and writing names on way too many tiny pieces of paper to fill up a giant bowl so my talented children can draw 3 winners tonight... (long sentence, take a breath, make mental note to use a random number generator next time!) this would be a good time to do a good deed.

Many of you know Valerie (of shoeless val) from her blog- for those of you that don't, now's your chance to 'meet' her. Valerie is a knitter, a spinner, a recent award-winning designer (yay Val!), and more importantly- a mother, a wonderful mother. Her little PeeWee, who just turned 2, is a cancer survivor. She was born with a tumor in her abdomen; she received chemo between the precious infant ages of 1 and 5 months to shrink the tumor and treat the metastases in her legs. "The chemo and subsequent tumor removal surgery did the trick and she is now, blessedly, cancer-free." You can read more at her blog, including how PeeWee's illness was the inspiration for her Presto Chango design.

Cancer is an insidious illness- my family has dealt with its fair share- well, it's not really fair, is it? A grandmother and 2 aunts is not fair, but like moms everwhere learn to ask- 'who said life was fair?' It's not, and neither is cancer. 2 friends in the past couple years, both too young for colon cancer, got colon cancer. A dear homeschooling mother of 11, just recently had her sweet little 4 year old (who reminds me so very much of my Gracie) lose a lung due to cancer. And just a week or so ago, a dear friend from church found out her 5 year old nephew was diagnosed with cancer. That's just too much cancer...

A couple weeks ago I saw an interview with Alex's parents in a story about how they are carrying on their little girl's mission to raise money for research for childhood cancer. What a great story! They've kept the lemonade stands going strong and have raised over $10 million for pediatric cancer research.

Valerie's family has joined the lemonade stand brigade, and is hosting their 2nd annual stand on June 9th if you happen to be in their area. If, like me, you happen to live a world away, you can help now by going to their virtual lemonade stand, which is already up and running. Their fundraising goal is $1,000- while that is a fabulous goal, I'd like to see the top blown off of her goal! There is a very large world of knitters out there (as evidenced by the overwhelming contest response!) and I know that most of you can afford a small gift for a good cause- I mean really, you'd drop $21.50 in an instant for your favorite colorway of a single skein of Cherry Tree Hill, right? One skein... how about refraining from buying just one skein of yarn this week and making a donation in that amount for this wonderful cause.

Please, please, please, mention this family's Lemonade Stand on your blog- you can reach readers I can't (I mean, not everyone reads this blog... yet... he he he...) Stop by and make a donation, any amount will help, it all adds up! You will feel good about it! I just did it, now you can do it to!

Okay, back to the contest entries- I'll try to announce by midnight... (this could take me all day...)
Happy knitting-

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