Sunday, November 30, 2008


I am thankful for so many things...even when faced with "challenges" along the way.

As part of my contest, I will award points for anyone who names one person they are thankful for this year and why.

I'm going to name a few that top my list with a brief story about each one...

1. "Papa Bear" (obviously not his real name) - because he has always been supportive of me personally and professionally (and treats my family as part of his own)

2. Jill - because she gave an unknown knitter a chance to knit outside her comfort zone (and I found that I liked it)

3. Alyssa - because it's so much fun to have a fellow knitter so close at hand Monday through Friday (and I constantly realize how much we have in common despite the difference in our ages)

4. Erin - because she is just as sarcastic as me...which makes her a perfect match for me at work

Obviously, I am thankful for my family (especially my daughter Casey who continues to grow up quickly even when I tell her not to!)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New York City has a case of the Crazies!

Each and every day I am forced to "double take" something in New York City. It's less a case of shock or distaste as it is a statement of "wow, that's crazy!"

Two days ago I was on the E platform and saw a guy, probably in his 20s, who looked (NO JOKE) like a male version of Grace Jones from the 80s! The haircut was spot on. He even had some kind of white/gray stripe up the front right "edge". His outfit was somewhat MC Hammer-ish too. Classic 80s! It was both interesting/appalling/and funny to me (having been a product/victim of the 80s myself).

This morning I was on my way out of the subway at the 53rd and Madison station when I saw a delivery guy walking down the stairs carrying two plant/flower arrangements. Not one to stare in NYC, I glimpsed something near his mouth and had to look again. Was it lip piercings with some sort of bone shards? Was it a white mustache? was, of course, a tissue shoved into his nose because he had a nose bleed. Gross! Then I spotted his fur hoodie jacket. What?!?! I'm telling can see the most bizarre things in this city if you disregard "city etiquette" and look around.

In the spirit of taking you by surprise, I am awarding everyone currently in the contest 1 bonus point as an early Thanksgiving treat!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stuff Stuff and More Stuff

Well we're almost into the final 10 posts before I hit the 100 mark - there are 147 contest entries and more and more folks sign upevery day! It's quite exciting! And I appreciate everyone spreading the good word of Choo Choo Knits around the world (yes...the world!)

So what's been happening lately with me? Honestly, I feel kind of scatter brained - and unorganized - which is totally NOT like me! I've got lists for presents and groceries and knitting and work. Then there are sub-lists: daily things, weekly things, monthly things. How and when did it get so confusing and hard to keep track of?

Here's a list of knitting I need to work on this week/weekend:
- Tweed Cape
- Japel's Wings Sweater (and ordering more yarn...darn it!!!)
- Ye Ol' Wives Tale (scarf for my mom)
- Tangled Yoke Sweater (at the part to begin sleeves - but want to use 2 circs instead of dpns - need second set of US5 tips to arrive - or do I already have them? again, confusion!)

Christmas shopping that needs to be done:
- Mom
- Secret Santa
- Chuck
- Papa
- Ken!!!

Other things to decide/do:
- Buy more Claritin-D (asap)

- Continue getting package together for winner of contest
- Cake design/theme for Casey’s birthday party
- Get cards for upcoming events: birthdays/babies/anniversaries
- Whether to go to Vermont on Friday (and if not, when?)
- What to do for New Yarn’s Eve (if anything)
- Do I stay on the Soccer Board for a few more years…or take a couple years off and rejoin?
- Realign bill paying with new payroll dates (from bi-weekly to bi-monthly – URGH!)

Things to resist:
- Eating too much at upcoming holiday/birthday parties

- Drinking too much at the company party (which shouldn't be too difficult since I'm fairly disciplined these days)
- Buying yarn that I’m not going to use right away
- “Gifts” for myself while buying for others

Things I want to do in 2009:
- Make a list of my favorite books and movies
- Write up the pattern for my sweater design (because I know it won’t get done this year)
- Paint the stairwell, living room and dining room of our house
- Be better at sharing photos in a more timely fashion
- Keep on top of my allergies and NOT get bronchitis (for once in my life!)

If your life needs help like mine, here are a few holiday shopping links (in no particular order):
Kaleidoscope Yarns - for everything else yarny/knitty/needly
Stefanie's new book - for wonderful new patterns!
(The Other)
Karen's shop - jewelry, etc.
Alyssa's shop - Beautiful hand dyed yarns

Well, there’s more on my brain – like why can’t they paint pedestrian “lanes” in the subway – but I think I’ve bored you enough for one day :o)

Besides – the more I blog, the closer we get to a winner!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good and Bad Things to Know (and Bonus Points)

Let's start with what prompted this post in the first place...a REALLY BAD thing to know!!!

On Monday my alarm clock went off at 5:21am. As per my routine, I hit the snooze alarm. At 5:29 I apparently hit the snooze again - instead of getting out of bed. At 5:37 the alarm sounded once again and I was out of bed like a lightning bolt! Believe it or not, I showered, dressed, dried my hair and was downstairs putting my coat on to leave for the train station 2 minutes earlier than usual. I couldn't believe it.

I told myself - well, that's a bad thing to know.

On Tuesday my alarm clock went off at 5:21am. I hit the snooze. I got up at 5:29.

This morning the alarm went off, I hit snooze, it went off again, and I accidentally hit snooze.

Finding out I could sleep until 5:37 is a REALLY BAD thing to know!

Good things to know (in no particular order):
- When the mortgage and car payments are due
- The birthday's of your friends and family
- When you get paid (and how much money you have in the bank)
- How much time you have to knit each day :o)
- How much time it takes to walk from home to the bagel shop to the train station each morning
- Inevitably, Knit Picks Interchangeable Harmony tips WILL come out of their the middle of a row...causing you to drop stitches...(keep some Krazy Glue on hand - the gel tube fits nicely in your notions bag)

Bad things to know (again, no particular order):
- The last possible moment you have get out of bed in the morning
- How much you've lost in the market/401K/investments this year
- How much yarn is actually in your stash - yikes!

There are, of course (!!!) millions of other good and bad things to know. If you post one of your "things" I'll give you 2 extra bonus chances in the contest (maybe I should add that to the list of "good" things to know).


p.s. bonus points are also being awarded for the following: first person to sign up (I'm keeping it a secret); person with the most referrals; "Friend"ing me on Ravelry; anyone who signs up as a blog "follower"...I'm sure I'll think up a couple more ways over the next few weeks...stay tuned!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So much for a "little" contest!

I am blown away at all your entries for my contest and all your nice comments about my blog - (blushing)...thank you all!

I have to admit, I only anticipated 20 entries or so...but it looks like I'll have SO many more - whoo hoo! Everyone loves a contest!

Well Friday night and yesterday were quite rainy here in the state of N.J. and seeing as I wasn't feeling any more motivated, I sat on the couch and knit most of the time - I love rainy weekends! I was able to get the cabled cape off the needles and am blocking it - next up will be putting in the collar and button band (I think there's a button band - I have to go and re-read the pattern now). Since I started blocking it last night it's still quite damp and I'll work on my designing or the green sweater today - or both! I'll try and post some photos later this week...everything is turning out so wonderfully!

Thanks again for all your support - I can't wait to see where we end up for the 100th!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cute Cousins

I totally forgot about these pictures from September - but they're so cute I had to share! (Besides, for all you contest means one post closer to announcing a winner!)

kansas city visit september 2008 024

kansas city visit september 2008 011

Holiday Shopping

I can barely believe it myself, but I've actually started buying holiday gifts and have been able to cross a few people off my list as "done"!!! Miracle of miracles...and it's all been done online at! Handmade gifts are awesome...but supporting independent crafters and artists is even AWESOMER (I know, not a word, but perfect for the sentiment) :o)

TGIF! Long week that went fast? Kinda. I'm looking forward to an evening at home, knitting the cable cape (I'm close to finishing the second set of initial cables at the 13" mark at which point I divide and decrease - whoo hoo!), eating some sushi, watching a movie and just plain ol' relaxing. We may venture out to catch a matinee of the new James Bond movie tomorrow - but no plans are good plans in my book!

Enjoy all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pouncing...and a Contest!

Everyone knows the first step for addicts is admitting to themselves that they have a "problem".

The second step is to stand up, state your name and what your addiction is.

Here goes nothing...

Hi, my name is Karen and I'm addicted to Pouncing!

Pouncing, my friends, is an option on whereby you skip through recently purchased stores and see what's selling. It makes the searching somewhat easier for me...and it's SO much fun!!!

And seeing as it's so much fun...and I'm in a fun mood...I'm going to have a contest to celebrate my upcoming 100th blog post (it's getting closer every day).

Here's how to enter...

Simply send an email to choochooknits at hotmail dot com - or post your message in the comments section of this post. Include your name and email address (so I know how to contact you) as well as one "secret" thing you're addicted to (blogging, pouncing, plurking, buying yarn, etc). I will assign a number to each entry and randomly select a winner for my 100th post! NOTE: If you refer a friend (or put a link to this contest on your blog/website) be sure to let me know...I'll give you an extra 1pt/chance for the 1st, 2pts/chance for the second and so on (i.e. if you enter, blog and refer 3 friends thats 1+1+2+3+4 = 11 chances; crazy system, but i'm sticking to it!).

What you'll win...yarn and knitting goodies (I haven't quite worked out all the details but I promise it will be super duper!!!). However, I know some of you are non-knitters (please tell me why?) so I will have a back-up plan for you - and it will also be super duper!

The 100th post will be here before you know sign up today - and tell your friends!

Now...back to pouncing...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Large coffee, extra milk, one sugar

Every weekday I go to the bagel shop for a large coffee, extra milk, one sugar before crossing the street to the train station. And yet, every day I get a different coffee. Each person that prepares the coffee interprets my order slightly different. The owners interpret "extra milk, one sugar" as "less milk, less sugar" because that cuts into their bottom line...and makes me pretty miserable drinking a stronger coffee...blech! My view is that there are plenty of customers who don't order milk OR sugar...doesn't it all even out in the long run? I guess, if I wanted to be more technical, I could say "2/3 full with coffee, fill rest with milk (regular, not half and half) and one heaping spoon of sugar". But shouldn't "large coffee, extra milk, one sugar" say all that?

Before I launch into knitting updates I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their emails about my grandmother. My mom called yesterday and let us know that her condition was slightly better than they anticipated during their visit last week. However, everything that could go wrong...did. Their outbound flight was delayed, the hospital "misplaced" my grandmother's belongings between the hospital and her "home" - which mysteriously showed up hours later without explanation...and their flight home was delayed (and those are just the larger "errors"). The downside is that Hospice will be in with my grandmother on a daily basis - which is good for my parents because they can get more up-to-date reports on her daily condition. We're all preparing for the days/weeks ahead the best we can. Perhaps she will recover to some extent. We'll keep praying for her comfort as best we can.

As for our friend who passed away unexpectedly last week, there is a Celebration of Life for him this afternoon - unfortunately I am unable to attend. Last week seems so long ago at this point - we've all just been managing the best we can. I actually did some "normal" things yesterday - laundry, grocery shopping and, believe it or not, I started my holiday shopping! It was good to relax with Ken and Casey - we kind of let the other "things" sit on the back burner for a couple hours.

As for knitting - I was able to knit while we were out running the above mentioned errands and am well into the second cable on the cape. It will be nice to start some of the decreases and see how it will come together. Each row takes quite some time - since it's a gazillion stitches knit in the round and I had to go down 2 needle sizes to make the same gauge as the previous knitter. It's kept me concentrating on something else so I guess that's helped in some small way.

The tangled yoke cardigan is also moving along now that I'm in the st st section and only have to do increases ever 8 rows - it's more mindless, and easier to do on the train (and lighter/softer on my hands than the cape).

Well, that's it for now - hope this week's adventures are a little less "heavy" than last week - talk to you again soon!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rewind a few weeks...Fast Forward on the Photos

Yes, I've been lazy with photos let's rewind and fast forward...

Rhinebeck - October 19, 2008

Of course you have to hang out with a cute sheep...

rhinebeck october 2008 001

...and eat chocolate ice cream in your chariot (aka Radio Flyer wagon)

rhinebeck october 2008 004 rhinebeck october 2008 002

And then there was the chaotic last week of October when my dining room was taken over by Soccer league photos and Fundraiser knitting...

the mess oct 2008 002

the mess oct 2008 001

Finally, after all was time to go to the workshop with Stefanie Japel.

Here's our group of fantastic ladies!

stefanie japel sweater workshop november 1 2008 004

Here's a shot of Stefanie and me (please note that I DO know how terrible I look...but after fighting a migraine all morning, I was happy to just be up and about)...

stefanie japel sweater workshop november 1 2008 005

And here's the stairwell of the artist studios in the converted torpedo factory...

stefanie japel sweater workshop november 1 2008 002

This is the sweater I've started designing - I'm still trying to work out the overall pattern before I proceed any further (I'm thinking plain on the top, maybe a loose turtle/cowlneck, bell sleeves with a cable pattern 3/4 of the way down across entire body/sleeves)...

stefanies wings 002

Ta ta for now (as Tigger would say)...until next time, keep your needles knitting and enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I've never knit without a purpose...until now!

Last night I spent about 2 hours looking at pattern books and knitting up ideas from them using a ball of worsted weight and a pair of US 8s.

Can I tell you - I've NEVER really done that before? I have hardly ever knit WITHOUT a purpose or a pattern. Sure, I've knit scarves or hats using a stitch pattern from a book. I've "winged" it.

But last night I was figuring things out! I was PLANNING for MY pattern! It was kind of cool!

Thanks Stefanie...for the motivation and thrill of designing!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One thing after another

Since it seems like so much has been happening lately (and I don't have a lot of time to post), I'm going to give a quick day-by-day recap since last week...

Oct 31 - Took Casey to the town Halloween parade and she had a great time (esp the part when she got candy). Matthew took her trick-or-treating around to the neighbors while Ken and I stayed home to greet the kids that stopped by. Matthew started the day as a Ninja (see picture below) and ended it as a hockey player...long story...but it's hard being a kid sometimes!

Nov 1 - Got up at 4:30am and left the house at 5:00am for my drive down to Alexandria, VA for the sweater design workshop with Stefanie Japel (I'll add in hyperlinks later). Had a BEAUTIFUL drive down and enjoyed the road trip by myself (although I'll admit my hands were itching to knit as I'm used to doing with Ken behind the wheel). I got a chance to catch up on my ipod music - and loved listening to it at a normal volume (my desk speakers at the office aren't quite the same). Arrived at the hotel to meet Alyssa and Jess at 8:30 - and we headed over to The Morrison House around 9:00 (and were almost the last ones there). Stefanie was SUCH a joy to work with and learn from - she is just one of the nicest people EVER! When it was time for our lunch break a whole bunch of us headed over to the LYS - what a gorgeous day in Old Town!!! We were really spoiled with the class and weather and wonderful knitters. I have to admit, while some may consider it dorky to sit around and knit with a group of ladies - it was like being in HEAVEN - no explaining terms or wondering if people are looking at you funny. When the class finished for the day, Alyssa, Jess and I wandered around a bit, popping into some antique stores and walking down to the waterfront. If I wasn't so exhausted from getting up so early I would have totally been more energized to do more (sorry Jess). The torpedo factory that is converted into artist studios was a diamond in the rough (think: a mall where the shops are actual studios of artists who work on premises and sell their work). I kept thinking of art school and how much my friends and I would have died for something like this back in the day. Dwight was also in my thoughts - I'll have to touch base with him soon! A, J and I went to Mai Thai for dinner, and I am happy to say I have now tried Thai food and it was delicious! Jessica was all gung-ho to do some touristy things afterward but my body said it wouldn't make it much longer. We walked back the hotel (after lugging our 20 pounds of yarn and books around for a good portion of the day) and collapsed in the room. We stayed up for a while - working on our patterns, doing LOTS AND LOTS of math, tweaking details of our design and laughing at each others stories.

Nov 2 - woke up with a splitting headache which turned into a migraine (similar to what I had the day we went to Rhinebeck). I tried everything to dissolve the pain - ended up drinking lots of water, taking some advil and sleeping an extra hour. It was bad. A & J went off to the class ahead of me and I slowly took a shower and got ready. What a morning! The Sunday portion of class was less "teaching" and more helping/asking/frogging (for me at least). We exchanged contact information with the wonderful ladies we met and headed out. Well, almost headed out. We stopped at a wonderfully quaint antique shop that had so many little treasures. To add to the ambiance they had some music playing - it wasn't Ella Fitzgerald, but similar (so you get the gist). We eventually hit the road and started our treks home. Once again, the drive was relaxing. I got home in time for dinner and received dozens of hugs from Casey (and some kisses from Ken). Whenever I leave Ken alone at the house too long it is inevitable that things get moved/rearranged. This weekend was no exception. He arranged a small table in the corner of our dining room for me to keep my knitting supplies (winder/swift/etc). It was so sweet!

Nov 3 - Got a call from Ken mid-morning that a good friend of ours had a heart attack and died earlier that day. Bette and Wayne had just retired in March, sold their house in NJ and moved to the Outer Banks. Wayne got up and didn't feel "right". By the time Bette figured out what was happening, it was too late. Wayne will be missed. He was such a great guy. Since my parents were heading down to S.C. to see my grandmother on Tuesday afternoon, we went to my parents house on Monday night to celebrate my dad's birthday (Tuesday). My grandmother has Alzheimer's and is in her 90s. About 10 days ago she fell and broke her hip. The care center where she lives took her to the hospital and they replaced the hip joint (ball). The doctor's and nurses have told my parents that she is not doing well...and my family is preparing for the worst. Please keep us, especially my dad, in your prayers.

Nov 4 - election day - enough said. Upside, I started working on the cape from where Knitter K started. It looks like our gauge is pretty close so I'm happy I don't have to rework it - or adjust the needle size. It's definitely a "home" project - although I considered bringing it on the train now that I know how "simple" the cable patterns are to follow. Stay tuned for photos...

Nov 5 - day after election day - again, nothing to add. I ordered additional Dark Horse "Fantasy" yarn to complete my Stefanie inspired sweater (the LYS only had 2 balls in the color I chose).

Maybe the week is looking up?