Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday happenings

Hope you all had a happy holiday. I know I did. We finally woke my son up at around 11:00 am to open presents. This is not a teenage thing. We've had to wake this kid up EVERY Christmas morning for the past 16 years! (what can I say, the kid likes to sleep) I got a brand new digital camera! (Sony Cybershot DSC-T20 8.1MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom and Super Steady Shot) It's the same one Jen has. Now I have no excuse for not blogging just because I can't add pictures, because NOW I can! My son has a Sony camera too, so I'm sure I'll be needing his expertise in the next few days while figuring out how to use it. I also got an Ott-Lite. I got to try one of these babies out at The Mountain last year, and they really shed a nice bright clear light.

We had a very nice Christmas dinner; rib roast, roasted carrots and parsnips, asparagus, cauliflower gratin, and cranberry upside-down cake. Beth and I made cookies on Christmas eve; snickerdoodles and molasses ginger cookies, with fresh ginger (awesome!) I need to get out of this house while I can still fit through the door! I think we're going to see a movie this afternoon, either I Am Legend, The Golden Compass, or National Treasure. We haven't decided which one yet.

I've done very little knitting these past couple of days. I still need to finish up the long pointy stocking cap that I am knitting for a co-worker of mine. I started a baby blanket for my niece who is expecting her second child in less than a year! (I see lots of baby knitting in my future!) I promise pictures in the next day or two. I know I have a cupboard full of UFOs, which I am choosing to ignore at the moment. All I really want to do is go knit and felt a cozy for my new camera!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Alive and well, and living in Lawrenceville.

WOW, Where did the last two months go?! I've been busy, busy, busy, and still not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I haven't blogged in over TWO months!

(yeah? you noticed?)

So for those of you who don't know me, and see me on a regular basis, it went something like this;

work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, go to SAFF, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, Thanksgiving day off, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, get my eyes checked, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, attend Christmas parties, work, work, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, dream about work, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, knit, knit, knit with my friends, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, buy more yarn, knit, knit, knit, knit, eat, eat, eat, eat, drink, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat.

........pretty much in that order.

Things I didn't do;

-blog, (obviously)
-read my friend's blogs
-finish all my Christmas knitting
-send Christmas cards
-GO Christmas shopping, (thanks go to my wife and the internet)
-put up the tree or any decorations, (thanks go to my wife and son)
-holiday baking

Still, it has been one of the best holiday seasons I can remember in a long time, thanks to the love and support of my family and friends, my good health, good fortune, (and, of course, modern pharmacology).

Now I have several days stretching out before me with hours and hours of unscheduled time. (what a luxury!) I plan on sleeping late, catching a few movies, spending time with my family, knitting with my friends, and in general, just relaxing.

Oh yeah, I might blog a little too.

Hope you all have a happy, healthy holiday, filled with peace and joy and laughter, surrounded by the folks who love you most!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oh what a beautiful day!

It's one of those rare occasions when I have the house all to myself. (No, I'm not knitting in my underwear, but I could if I wanted to!) The temp is in the mid 70's and all the windows are wide open. I have a pork roast in the crock pot, and a fresh apple caramel cake * in the oven. (I'll bring it to Knitch tomorrow.) There's a chill in the air at night, and I've pulled out the flannel sheets. It's one week 'til SAFF, and I finished my sweater last night. YAY!

The neck opening is a bit larger than I would have liked, but all in all, I like the way it fits. Now I have to find something else to work on. I have several UFO's lying around, but none of them are calling to me right now. I'm thinking I may knit an entrelac vest, or knit and felt a backpack. I've sort of been mulling some pattern ideas around in my head, but nothing on paper yet. Gotta start something soon so I'll have a project to work on at SAFF.

I joined the Alice Starmore group on Ravelry, and immediately zipped on over to Amazon and bought two of her books. (Fishermen's Sweaters, and The Celtic Collection; I think they're the only two that are still in print!) I REALLY want her Aran Knitting book. I've seen some of the sweaters that were knit from patterns in that book, and they are freakin' BEAUTIFUL!!!! I think I may be able to get my hands on a copy to borrow, and I'll just memorize all the things I want to knit for future reference. (yeah, right)

Well, the cake's out of the oven, and I have to go put the caramel glaze on it while it's still warm. Then I'm gonna go enjoy the few hours of quiet I have left, and catch up on some TV shows I missed this past week. (Anyone see Pushing Daisies last week on ABC? There was male knitting content!) For all those folks knitting at Knitch tomorrow, I'll see you there!

*The cake was good, but next time I think I will try 1/2 cup oil, and 1 cup applesauce to cut the fat content.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

FINALLY, something to blog about!

Sorry gang. Today was my 21st straight freakin' day in a row of WORK, and I still don't have a single day off 'til next Saturday October 13th. (yeah, I know, excuses, excuses....) The truth be told, There really has not been much to blog about until the last day or two.

And THEN......

I got my RAVELRY invite!!!!!!!
(guess where I've been the last two hours? where did the time go?)

I can see this is gonna be a whole lot of fun, and I may have to take a week off of work just to log in my yarn stash! I've just been poking around the site and done only the minimum on my profile, and added several books to my shelves. If you would like to add me as your friend, my ID is famoussteve. (of course)

Speaking of books, I picked up two brand new ones yesterday. The first one is "The Knitting Man(ual) 20+ Projects For Guys" It has some good patterns, and some not so good ones, and some that might look better with a little tweaking. There is a nice vest pattern, and a couple of nice sock patterns. It's an OK book, but pales in comparison to the second book I purchased. It's a Rowan book called "Knitting for Him, 27 Classic Projects to Keep Him Warm" OMG this is an awesome book! I want to knit almost everything in it! I don't even know where to begin. I would consider this book a "must have" for guys patterns, and at last glance, there were still a few copies left at Knitch, (shameless plug), but I expect them to go FAST, so check it out.

I received a wonderful surprise this week from a fellow knitter I met at Knitch one evening. We got to talking, and it turns out that she's from the Denver area, works in a yarn shop part time, and had come to Atlanta to see a band at Smith's Old Bar. Or course, being a knitter, she had to check out Knitch too. She sat and knit with us, and had just begun a shawl with a beautiful 100% wool, multi-colored, self striping yarn called Kauni from Denmark. And when I say self striping, I'm talking loooooooooooong gradual color changes. Beautiful stuff. The evening ended, we exchanged email addresses, and I gave her a ride back to her hotel. Then, as a thank you, I received, (you guessed it), a ball of Kauni! (170g, 680m) I'm going to have to find the perfect pattern for this yarn. In the mean time, check out Joanne's blog, and see the incredible shawl that she knit with her yarn. Thank you Joanne, for the unexpected, and very much appreciated gift!

We had our AKG meeting on Thursday night, and found out that we WON the scarecrow contest at the Atlanta Botanical Garden! Isn't he awesome!

I knit the black and orange striped pant legs. (3 strands of Red Heart acrylic on size 13's..... talk about painful!) I have a couple of guest passes, and do plan on going by the garden to see him. I may borrow Andrew's camera and get some pics of him myself.

I spite of all the hours I've been working, I have managed to get some knitting done. I finished the Noro Striped Scarf, pattern compliments of b r o o k l y n t w e e d. I used Kureyon instead of Silk Garden. (colors 40 and 195) One was a very dark/black blend, and the other was a purple/cobalt/turquoise/chartreuse blend. Very nice.
(thanks Jared)

I have only two sleeves to knit, and my sweater for SAFF will be done, (YAY!), and since the stitches are picked up, and the sleeves knitted on in the round, NO finishing!!! I've got 'til Saturday, October 27th to get it finished. (no problem) I've been looking forward to going to SAFF for quite some time now. I could really use the break!

(ok, now I've gotta go back to RAVELRY)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yes, I'm still here.

OK, I've been a bad blogger. No posts for over two weeks! My bad.
I've come to the conclusion that I don't have to have photos with every post.
Until I get a new camera, or my teenage son is home for more than 10 minutes, I won't be able to take any photos. So there...

I HAVE been knitting however.

I finished the pant legs for the scarecrow that The Atlanta Knitting Guild is putting together for the "Scarecrows in the Garden" show at The Atlanta Botanical Garden. (now I just need to get them to the person in charge!)

I've also finished my French Market Bag that I knitted with Louet linen yarn, but I have not yet felted my entrelac bag.

I finished a BEAUTIFUL spiral scarf! (a shop sample for Knitch) It's made with Prism Indulgence. (
68 % silk, 15 % wool, 12 % kid mohair, 5 % nylon - heavenly to knit with!) Swing by the shop and check it out. LOTS of short rows, all garter stitch, fun and easy to knit.

I have been working on my SAFF sweater, but need to step up production if I want it to be finished before the end of October. I sort of got sidetracked by one of Jared's patterns at b r o o k l y n t w e e d. (thanks Jared) The Noro Striped Scarf. Super fun to knit! I can hardly put it down. Can't wait to see the next color combo. I used two different colorways of Kureyon. I will try to post photos of this, and all my finished projects as soon as I am able.

I received a letter this week from the sweet little girl I adopted. Here is her photo.

Her name is Chloe, and she lives at the Schacht Fleece Farm in Indiana. Apparently she's had a rough summer. It's been hotter and dryer than usual. (can you imagine! with all that wool!) The flock was given supplemental minerals, which are supposed to be beneficial during stressful weather. Unfortunately, Chloe ingested too much of the minerals, and had to be treated for copper toxicity! This can sometimes be fatal, but thankfully, they caught it early, and she's made a full recovery. Her fleece is now about 5 inches long, and there is still a month or two before she will be shorn. I'm having her fleece spun into yarn, as I'm not much of a spinner myself. Hopefully there will be enought to do a nice cabled vest or sweater.

Well, that's all for now. I'll try and be a little better about keeping y'all posted with what's going on. Have fun tomorrow, for all of those going to see The Yarn Harlot!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Home, home again....

In the immortal words of Dorothy, "There's no place like home!". (although, I've been to Kansas. Oz didn't look so bad.... I'm just sayin') Just glad to be back home, and outta the car! Ten hours of actual driving time today, (eleven on the road), is way too much. Even though there were not nearly as many tractor trailers on the road today as the day we left, traffic was extremely heavy with Labor Day travellers.

So, did I let anyone else drive?

Am I complaining?

Did I knit?

In front of Dad?
NO. (although it probably would have been okay)

Every morning when I woke up, and every night before I turned in, I knitted a little bit. (enough to keep my sanity) I started a scarf before I left, using a black tweedy yarn, and learned the brioche stitch! What a FUN stitch! If you don't know it, learn it. I think it's in Barbara Walker's first treasury, and EZ's Knitting Without Tears. I found the later a bit more helpful, as there were pictures to guide me through the weird yarn wrap. She uses it to knit a hat, (knitted flat, and stitched up later), but I cast on less stitches
and did a scarf. It makes a very thick, soft, cushy, deeply ribbed fabric. Unfortunately, this stitch really uses up the yarn, and I may need to buy more if I want my scarf to be more than three feet long. (which I do)

So anyway, I ate way too much potato salad, watched football, (WVU won!), grilled steaks, (new grill!), did lots of visiting, and in general, had a pretty good time. Got to see the whole family. My grand niece is adorable! My niece found out that the next baby is going to be a boy! YAY! I was getting kind of sick of pink. Now I get to knit some baby boy stuff. (pattern suggestions? anyone?) Daddy wants to know if I can knit a blankie with a large WV in the customary school colors.

Not sure how I'm gonna knit that, but what can I say? Mountaineer fans through and through.

I've got a busy week ahead of me, (yarn shop staff meeting, guild meeting, co-workers on vacation this week, etc...), so I hope to see y'all sometime this week.

Now I'm off to sleep in my OWN bed!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Country Roads, take me home......

My family reunion. We've done this every Labor Day weekend for the past 15 years. We load up the car and drive 10 hours back to the town where I was born. We eat potato salad, (Mom's is the best). I grill steaks. Somebody pisses somebody else off. We talk about the people who didn't show up. Photos are taken to mark the event, then we load the car back up, and drive home. (can you tell how excited I am about this?) I will get to see my new grand neice, (my neice's daughter, grand neice, right?), for the first time. Her name is Gracie, and she was born last February. Isn't she cute!

Gracie has a brother or sister due this coming February! (that's right folks, 1 year apart) I also have a new nephew I haven't seen yet. My step-brother and sister-in-law didn't make it to the reunion last year. (we talked about them) I see lots of baby knitting in my future. (YAY!)

This year, due to financial restraints, we're staying with my Dad. (divorced when I was 3, not invited to reunion) In previous years we've stayed at a motel, where we retire each evening and try to regain some sanity. (basically I sit around in my underwear and knit) My Dad doesn't know I knit. Don't get me wrong, I love my Dad. I'm just not sure I would feel comfortable knitting in his presence. His career went pretty much like this; Marine Corps, carpenter, police officer, fireman. (I'm not kidding.) I'm seriously considering leaving my knitting at home! But wait! "What about that 10-hour car ride?", you ask. It's a ride for Beth and Andrew, it's a drive for me. Yes, I could turn the wheel over to Beth. She has offered, but her driving makes me nervous. I just can't relax. My gauge starts getting tighter and tighter, and then I end up having to rip everything I've knitted. Andrew has also offered, but he still has his learner's permit, and has never driven on the interstate before. (yeah, don't think that's gonna happen) Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy driving, especially when everyone else in the car is asleep. I just can't imagine going 6 days without knitting! Maybe I'll just bring a scarf with me, and knit after everyone's gone to bed.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Projects under construction

Just wanted to show y'all some of the things I've been working on. I have other UFOs, but they were much deeper down in the great pile o' knitting projects. I'm sure they will be unearthed and finished some day.

The project that's bringing me the most joy to work on right now, is Jeff's Mosaic Sweater, (it's really my sweater, I have never actually met Jeff), from Morehouse Farm Merino Knits. I'm using Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, color #412 "Thorny", and Noro Kureyon, color #178. The variegated yarn barely peeks through on every other stitch of every third row. The striping is subtle, but I really like it. The main color is sort of a dark brown/olive green. I would like to have this one done by the end of October so I can wear it to SAFF.

My next project also has a deadline, and a much sooner one at that. The Atlanta Knitting Guild has decided to enter a scarecrow in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's "Scarecrows in the Garden" competition. We are going to try to knit as much of him as possible. He will be wearing a big patchwork sweater, and I have volunteered to knit his pant legs. I have to admit, my hands are killing me. It's extremely difficult to knit with three strands of Red Hear
t ACK-rylic on size 15 needles. He's gotta be weatherproof, and I'm pretty sure Red Heart will hold up through 104 degree heat, rain, snow, hail, and nuclear fallout. I'll try and make it to the garden to get a photo of the completed scarecrow.

This is my first, (and quite possibly my last), attempt at lace. I'm sure many of you will recognize it as the Branching Out scarf from Knitty. I'm using a Karabella yarn called Breeze, (color #37, 40% cashmere, 60% silk). It's a really luscious yarn, and I thought that would be enough to get me through this seemingly simple project. If it had not been for the use of a lifeline, (which I have used many times), I would have ripped this project long ago. I have since found out from other knitters, that this pattern was not so easy, and that there are much easier lace patterns out there. Maybe I will give lace another try, but I am bound and determined to get this project finished.

This bag, based on the Everlasting Bagstopper, (another Knitty pattern), is made from Louet linen instead of hemp. I decided I wanted to knit the handles on, instead of going out and buying and sewing handles on. (and, of course, that's where it stopped) I just need to do several more inches of ga
rter stitch, and then either graft, or three-needle bind off, and I'm done. Now THIS is the kind of lace I like. First row knit, second row, YO, k2tog, repeat. Ok, I admit, it was a bit repetitive, but I didn't have to sequester myself away from all civilization to knit each repeat either. (are you sort of getting the idea of how I feel about lace?)

Many thanks to my son Andrew, for taking the photos today. I really appreciate him helping me out. Before we finished, he snapped a quick shot of some of my stash. I really need to pull it all out and get an inventory so I'll have it ready for when I'm invited to join Ravelry! (only 12,965 people ahead of me ..... any day now!)

Wow, that's a lot of yarn. (yes, it goes all the way to the ceiling) Ain't it purdy? (I'm also thinking of all the stash you can't see in this photo) OK, I'll admit I have a problem. (that's the first step, right?) But I'm really trying to not buy any new yarn, (unless there's a really good sale, and it's something I really need), and I'm really trying to knit from my stash.

I just need to learn to knit faster.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.
I was asked to post the recipie for this extremely yummy dip we had last night at the knitting group meeting. I think we agreed to call it:

Beth's Knitch Dip

4 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 - 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 - 2.5 oz. can chopped black olives
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

Drain off and set aside some of the liquid from the Rotel tomatoes.
(you may add it back in if the dip is too thick)
Mix everything together and refrigerate at least two hours.
(unless you're really hungry, then just go for it!)
Serve with chips, or veggies, or just a really big spoon.
(yes, it's that good!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Entrelac? ......mais oui!

I remember it was either my first or second knitting lesson, my instructor was working on a beautiful shawl that seemed to be somehow woven. She tried to explain the technique, but as my mind was still trying to grasp the finer points of "knit" and "purl", her explanation was mostly lost on me. I just remember gazing upon it longingly, but knowing full well I would never be able to create something so complicated or so lovely as that.

Fast forward one year. I'm at an Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting, when from across the room I spy THE most beautiful piece of knitted fabric I've ever seen. I literally drop everything I'm doing to go over and see what it is. I find out the technique is called "entrelac", (that's French
for "looks impossibly difficult"), and the pattern is called "Lady Eleanor" from Scarf Style, by Pam Allen. It is knitted with Noro Silk Garden, color #47. (for those of you who don't have all the Noro colorways memorized, envision rich warm browns, deep umbers and rusts, intermingled with charcoal grey and dark steel blue) And to top it all off, this gal has the audacity to tell me it's easy! Needless to say I rushed right out and bought a copy of Pam Allen's book, and dove right in. She was right! It was easy! If you can knit, purl, K2tog, p2tog, cast on, bind off, and read a pattern, you can do it too. I didn't have Noro Silk Garden, but I DID have 8 skeins of Noro Transitions in my stash that I had purchased on sale, in a discontinued colorway. Here are the results:

Not a great picture, I know, but it really is beautiful. My wife loves it, and gets compliments on it every time she wears it.

After Lady Eleanor, I just had to do some more entrelac, so last February, I grabbed a pile of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, and a copy of Bags: A Knitters Dozen, and headed to The Mountain for a weekend of knitting at our knitting guild's annual retreat. Due to a combination of high altitude, and circumstances beyond my control,* not much of the bag was knitted that weekend, but I have managed to finish the knitting part this summer.

I still need to finish knitting the handle, (boring!), and felt the big old thing, unless, of
course, you know anyone that needs a cosy for their Volkswagen Beetle.

But even this was not enough entrelac. I took the Lady Eleanor pattern, 5 balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite, (color #2011), and some US6 needles, cast on only 4 triangles for the first row, instead of the 8 the pattern called for, and knit a nice long scarf for myself.

In honor of Lady Eleanor, I'm calling it the "Lord Elsinore" scarf. I'm letting the LYS
, where I work part time, display it as a shop sample until we have cooler weather. Needless to say, August is not really scarf weather here in Altanta. I just can't wait for that first crisp cold day of winter to wear it! I still have a few more entrelac projects rolling around in my head. Possibly a vest, or maybe even a sweater. I do have some Kureyon in my stash that is just screaming to be knitted. So pick up a pattern, or take a class if you must, but knit some entrelac! It's fun, it's easy, and it impresses the hell out of anyone that sees you doing it!

*Remember, what happens at The Mountain, STAYS at The Mountain!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The blog you've all been waiting for!

Well here it is. I've had so much fun, over the past couple of years, reading everyone else's blogs, hopefully it will be just as much fun to write one.

But first I thought I'd tell you a few things about me that you may or may not know.... I live in the suburbs north of Atlanta with Beth, my wife of 18 years, my 16 year old son, Andrew, and two British Shorthair cats, Monty and Fergus.

I had my first knitting lesson exactly three years ago. I knit EVERY day. Even if I just have time for a few stitches, I knit. I get up an hour early every morning just so I can knit before work. I knit in the car at red lights. (I'm the guy approaching the i
ntersection chanting, "turn red, turn red, turn red....") I knit out in public with my friends, and I try to get a few stitches in before I go to bed. Knitting is my peace, it is my meditation, it is my calm. It's what I love to do.

I have a yarn stash so big it sometimes scares me. (I try not to think about it.) I cannot resist a yarn sale. I love natural fibers; alpaca, mohair, cashmere, cotton, linen, silk, but especially wool. I am an absolute nut for wool tweed. I have a part time job in a LYS, just to support my habit. I buy yarn because I must buy yarn. I mean, if I don't do it, somebody else will!

What sort of things do I like to knit?

- Not so much, but I'm still not giving up on it.

- I made a pair. (OK, I confess, I'm still one Kitchnered toe away from a complete pair, and I made two different heels, but who's going to know, they're down inside my shoes!) I will give socks another try.

- I love to make hats. Simple ribbed Kureyon hats are my favorite.

- I'm still making them. What a great way to try out a new stitch pattern or technique.

Baby Stuff
- There never seems to be a shortage of folks having babies! Love doing little blankets and sweaters.

- I love to knit sweaters! I've finished 3 so far, and have a 4th one on needles. My first was a simple top-down raglan . The pattern was from Knitting Fool, and I used black and red Rowanspun Chunky. I had a little gauge problem, so I'm considering taking it in a bit, steeking the front, and turning it into a cardigan. My second sweater, I used the same pattern, same yarn, different color, correct gauge, and threw in some cables just for fun. Here's a close up of the front panel.

My third sweater was the Classic Ribbed Pullover, from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch. In this sweater I used dark green Rowanspun Chunky, and traded some of my stash yarn, (silver Rowanspun Chunky) to have it professionally finished.
(If you haven't figured out by now, I got a great deal on some discontinued Rowanspun Chunky!)
Sweater #4 you ask? NOT Rowanspun Chunky. (It's Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, and Kureyon, but more on that sweater later)

So that's all for now. I'm going to try and be a good blogger and keep you updated as much as I can. Thanks for reading, and come back real soon!