Monday, December 29, 2008

100th Blogiversary!

Happy 100th Blogiversary to me! I knew I needed to draw the winner of the contest before New Years so here are the stats: 400 entries, 75 contestants, and tons of fun! I tallied the final points today and went to my random number generator . Here are the winners...

Grand Prize Winner: Monique B
Second prize: SJ
Third prize: Elaine

Please send me your addresses ( so I can send out your prizes!

In the meantime I've been busy trying to get Nana's sweater done and am confident I'll have it finished in the next day or so. The only modification I made was to the sleeves...she only wanted them a certain length (fine by me...less knitting!).

Here's a shot from last Tuesday (1 week in)...

therapi sweater for nana december 2008 002

Now I didn't knit on Christmas day or Friday afternoon/evening (story below) or most of Saturday morning which is why the second week wasn't as productive. Here's where the sweater stands at the moment (almost 2 weeks in)...

therapi sweater for nana december 2008 010

therapi sweater for nana december 2008 009

Christmas was busy for us. We opened presents with the kids at 8:00am. Went to my in-laws around 10:30. Opened more presents and played with new toys (including Papa's new computer - so nice). Drove to my parents at 12:00. Opened more presents, played with more toys, ate lots of hors d'oeuvres. My in-laws came over to my parents around 3:15. We ate around 4:00. After dessert we rolled ourselves into the car and drove home with sleeping children. What a long day.

The awesome gifts I received from my hubby (and kids) included: knitting software, k-yarns gift cards, the sweater design book I wanted, interchangeable needle set, "nite-lite" needles, and a new "gems" short needle set. Unfortunately, I already have my interchangeable needle set from knitpicks, I didn't think I would really use the nite-lite needles, and I didn't need the gems short needles. The thought, however, was tremendous. My parents gave me a stitch pattern book - love it! My sister, who lives in Kansas, sent me a k-yarns gift card as well - which I was very touched by! It was just such a swell Christmas for me - I am truly blessed!

Friday morning we left the house around 11:00am to return the above mentioned (yet well thought out) items to Michaels and to stop at Home Depot to look at insulation for our attic. Our house was built in the late 1920s. When we moved in back in June 2005 we had to redo the roof, ripping three layers off, the bottom of which was probably original. Our house has its original plaster walls and ceilings with the exception of the kitchen, half bath, full bath and finished part of the basement. There were no ceiling lights in any of the bedrooms until we installed them and upgraded more of the electricity. Last summer we undertook residing the house and insulating the outer walls - which are still plaster and lathe with cedar shakes underneath (it was best to leave it all on). The windows had been replaced sometime in the past 15 - 20 years so that will be the last big project on our "cosmetic" list in the next 5 years. However, in order to help save on heating costs, we needed to insulate the attic once and for all. Apparently, when we went to Home Depot on Friday - that was the day and that was the time! So much for a relaxing day of recovery and knitting! We bought 35 bails of eco-friendly, blow in, insulation and rented a truck to get it all home along with the blower machine. At 3:00pm we were back home with the rental truck returned to Home Depot and my husband betting me he could finish the whole job in 4 hours. I said "you'll be completely done in 4 hours, or you'll be done for the day in 4 hours?" Yeah, I'm a smartass kind of wife. Luckily, my mother-in-law stopped by (thankfully unexpected) and rolled up her sleeves to help out. I sat inside watching Casey for the first hour as Matthew and Nana worked out the kinks of the machine operating and Ken yelled ON/OFF from the attic. Did I mention he had to rip up old planks every 4 - 5 feet to blow in the insulation? Yeah, it was all sorts of fun. I finally gave Matthew the option of watching Casey or standing out in the cold as the sun went down. He gladly chose to babysit his sister. Nana and I finally got a rhythm down for how to "mulch" the insulation into the blower so that it didn't jam. We also learned the sounds of the machine when Ken was nearing the end of a beam section. At 7:00pm I went inside and ordered the kids a pizza. At 7:15 it started to sleet. At 7:30 Ken wanted to call it a day and Nana and I told him to keep going. At 8:30 we were finished. The driveway was a mess from all the dust. Our face masks were gross, Ken had inhaled almost 100 years of dust and eco-fiber, and my right hand was sore from "raking" the insulation. Not to mention my toes were frozen - although I was SO happy to be wearing a pair of socks I had made so they were cozy if nothing else. Here's a photo of the beginning of the process...

insulation for the attic december 26 2008 003

Tomorrow morning we leave for New Years in Vermont as has been our custom for a number of years (in fact, it's about my 7th - out of 9 - NYE in VT excluding the year Ken and I went to Boston and the year Casey was born). The old tradition included going into Burlington to the Brewpub. The new tradition includes dinner out, beers at "home", and sledding in the backyard. The evening also includes knitting, toddlers and lots of snow.

I wish you all the happiest of new years and want to take a moment (yes, another one) to thank you for your "friendship" and laughter over the past few months! Cheers to another great knitting year ahead!!! Big hugs all around until next time!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Down to the wire

Contestants at the ready! There's just one more post until the big One Hundred and I'm scratching my head about how far I've come! I hope that y'all keep in touch and visit my blog even when the contest is over. It's been so much hearing your stories and "meeting" everyone...although the big work of compiling numbers for the drawing still lies ahead...yikes! For informational purposes, the biggest "entry" accumulators are (in no particular order): Jersey, Tom, Turtle, Elaine, Homely Heroine, MoniqueB., EJ and SJ.

We're also down to the wire on Christmas. All of my knitted gifts have been finished except for Nana's Therapi - which is about 35 - 40% complete. I definitely won't finish in time for Thursday (unless I suddenly become some sort of crazy 24/7 knitting machine) but I'll be able to finish over the next week or so and that's close enough for me. But then the "What next?" question comes into play - and I've got several yarns and patterns...I just need to decide which one I heart the most (and remind myself that 2009 will truly be the "Year of the Stash" - but, Jill, if you're reading this, don't hold me to it, ok?)

This weekend was a bit crazy as every weekend before Christmas turns out to be. I tried to knit, honest I did. But with Ken out plowing the entire neighborhood (or so it seemed) most of Friday night and Sunday, I barely had time for anything outside of watching Casey...and boy does she need to be watching, my goodness!

As of last night, here's where Nana's sweater stood...
therapy for nana 5
I have this on a 24" circular at the the bottom looks gathered but really isn't. I tried to flatten it out as best I could without losing stitches. The body pattern is a 3x3 rib which alternates every 4 rows for a basketweave stitch. It takes approx 7 minutes per row.

We celebrated my mom's birthday on Saturday afternoon - which turned into a belated birthday for Casey with my parents since they were in S.C. on the actual day. Let me tell you, 3 year olds do not understand birthday's as one date in time. If you say becomes THEIR birthday. So even though we celebrated my mom's birthday was Casey's birthday ALL...WEEKEND...LONG. Try explaining that!

Also difficult to explain was why there were presents under the tree from Santa and why she couldn't open them yet. They're not from Santa...they're from my sister and I put them under the tree so they were out of my dining room/wrapping headquarters and didn't get confused with everything else going on. I didn't explain that they were from Aunt Jenny because she, again, doesn't understand. She also doesn't understand that, in the grand scheme of things, 3 more days is NOT far away - to her 3-year old brain it's an eternity. Another "as yet to comprehend" idea is that not all "child" presents are for her. I've had to hide Abby's and Charlie's and Alexa's presents from her completely - knowing she would try to play with them otherwise. Seasoned parents, please tell me it gets easier by age 4!!!

NEWS FLASH: The best way to start the I was writing this post I got an email from my sister saying she was on her way to the airport to pick up my bro-in-law who has gotten a 2 week R&R from his tour in Iraq!!! I can't imagine not seeing my husband for almost 5 months...but this means Chuck is halfway through his stay...and what a wonderful holiday blessing for our family to have him home! Hooray!

Anywho...I'm sure I won't have time to blog again before this will be your last chance to get bonus points (so I can start coordinating entry numbers, etc). Points awarded for each answer...

1. funniest blog comment I've made during the contest (that is, if you think I've made any funny comments)
2. your favorite color
3. your favorite city in the world (visited and/or on your wish list)
4. your favorite yarn to use for yourself
5. your favorite garmet that you've knit for yourself

Happy holidays to all! And thanks for sharing my journey to's been so much fun!


Friday, December 19, 2008


It's...FINALLY...Friday!!! Hooray! You have no idea what a long week it's been! Monday was probably the quickest of all the days as far as work goes. Of course big projects always fall in my lap before holidays or vacation - so why would this year be any different? I worked an average of 9 hours every day and am completely wiped out - whew! But, seeing as I have a job and will be on vacation starting next Tuesday, I am thankful for all the blessings!

I'm getting the goodies ready for the contest prize...only 2 more posts...can you believe it? I'm wondering what gauge yarn people use most...sock, worsted, bulky? Bonus points if you tell me your favorite. Perhaps I'll give you a teaser photo of some prizes next time...hmmm.

So Tuesday night I started Stefanie Japel's new pattern, Therapi, as a last minute Christmas gift. Nana, the recipient, does not like wool. She believes that all wool is scratchy. She believes ALL blends of wool with silk, nylon, cashmere, etc., are scratchy. Nana does not know what she's missing. Nana gets acrylic instead (mainly because she didn't like the yellow cotton's that were offered to her). So I'm knitting Therapi in Lion Brand's "Pound of Love" in a light yellow. It's ok so far. It's a standard top down Stefanie design, it's a free Knitty pattern, and it's easy to knit from memory - which is why I love it. The only problem, so far, is that I tried to follow the chart and it's not exactly right - parts of it are right, and you can follow the main gist of things, but it's not 100% and that frustrates me. And while I love me some Knitty, the "printer friendly" version did not print the charts in their you're left reading the opposite "front/back" chart for increases, etc. They listed it as Tangy (isn't that their version of a step-up from Easy?) but I would list it as more of a challenge because you need to wrap your head around it a little more (unless they rewrite the charts and then it will be Tangy).

Here are 3 progress shots...

After a few hours...
therapy for nana 1

After 1 full day...
therapy for nana 2

After 2 full days...
therapy for nana 3

Here's a quickie of the Santa pillow I mentioned in the last post - since I'm not happy with the way the stitches pulled when I stuffed it, I'm not sure if I will gift it or just use it as a lesson...

santa pillow 1 december 2008

Lastly, here are photos of the scarf and hat set that I gifted...I'm still in love with the maybe I'll whip up another one for myself :o)

climbing vines hat december 2008 001

climbing vines scarf december 2008 002

Lastly, it's FINALLY snowing here in the Big Apple...yippie?? It seriously looks like a snow globe outside - the snow is swirling all around - glad to be inside for the time being. The town schools are closed at home - waiting to see about daycare - I think hubby is "working from home" (lucky duck).

And, just because you guys are all so awesome - more points (2 in one post!!!)...for letting me know one of your happiest holiday memories (everyone remembers childhood an extra point will be awarded for ADULT memories!).

Stay warm and knit!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today I'm "that guy"

Yeah, I'm back, sorry about being M.I.A.

Thursday morning - Princess' annual check-up = 3'3" (90th percentile), 30 lbs (60th percentile) and Pink Eye - whoo hoo for mom and dad!

Thursday evening - Husband complains of back-ache/spasm (there have been a number of people laid off at his company - can we say "s-t-r-e-s-s"?).

Friday - Stayed home with Pinky and Husband went to work - it was my turn to stay home with a sick child anyway. Husband claimed that he would come home by mid-day - ha ha ha ha ha. Stuck at home with no car and Pinky watching Sponge Bob and various other cartoons. Husband did not get home until after 5:00pm and declared that he battled a stomach virus all day and couldn't leave work because "I had a project that no one else could handle". Um, yeah.

Friday thru Sunday - Husband insists on being a martyr. He lays on the living room couch huddled under blankets complaining about how bad he feels. Husband does not realize that 3 year old Pinky is a better patient than him. I run errands and keep her out of his hair as best as is possible. He sleeps in son's room. Pinky, somehow, ends up with me. I just keep trying not to touch my

On Saturday afternoon I catch a break - they are both napping at the same time! I run to Michael's, Barnes & Noble and Kohl's. I get home and drag out all the holiday gifts...dividing them into recipient piles - noting the ones that need to be mailed...and soon.

Sunday is more of the same from Saturday - except I finally look at my mom's pile of presents. My mom whose birthday is December 21st. My mom who needs 2x everyone else (in theory - give or take). And all I have is an Totes umbrella and a scarf I knit. That's all! I do this EVERY year - I could kick myself! I also realize that I accidentally purchased - weeks ago - the wrong size frames for two gifts. So I scramble to find the receipts to return the original frames, grab some coupons for Ann Taylor Loft and head out to replace and purchase presents for my mom. Surprisingly, everything went well. The frames were slightly more expensive - didn't break the bank though. And I used my coupons to the max - so my mom gets something nice - and I spent a bit less. All is well that ends well.

But today is Monday - and today I'm "that guy" (though no one bothered to copy me on the memo!!!).

I had to be at work for an 8:00am meeting. No biggie. One earlier train than usual. Get up, blindly go through my routine, stop at the bagel shop for coffee, walk to the train station. But the cup, in hand, does not feel right. Did the new guy give me a full cup? Is it my imagination? Whatever. I take a couple sips before the train arrives and its all good.

But the train arrives. And I get on. And as I'm turning to sit down, the cup, that felt weird, slips from my hand and smacks the explodes every-EVERY-where. And I've got nothin. No napkins. No tissues. Nada. The train starts to move and I think..."hey, I'll put the mouth of the cup on the floor and get some of the java river back into the cup". But, duh, the cup is Styrofoam and is about 1/4" think - it's acts like a wall instead of a basin. Darn it! We pull into the next station and I panic. I pick up my stuff from the seat and say "I'm so sorry, I accidentally spilled my coffee and am going to see if I can find something to help clean it up". Two men grumble at me. Honestly, I did give it a half-hearted try. I looked for a bathroom - but they only have air paper towels. Urgh. I slunk away into another car and sat downstairs. I took my red coat off and hid it between my knees in case the Coffee Police came looking for "the girl with the red coat". What a start to the morning.

Then the caterers were late for the breakfast set-up and we never got hard copies of a presentation and it just spiraled from there.

By the way - the moon was full on December 12th - so I'm placing the blame on it!

Knitting highlights for the weekend:

1. Finished the "Climbing Vines" bulky scarf and made a matching hat - gifted to recipient today
2. Started (from stash) a raglan sweater from Casey - it's turning out super cute (photos to come)
3. Made a replica Santa pillow from a crochet pattern my mom used to use. It's FAR from perfect, but it looks ok for a first try (photos to come). Will probably make a second one using two strands each

** Bonus points for sharing a story from when you unknowingly received the "That Guy" Award **

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Choo Choo Knits, M.D.? and other musings

So I've been knitting a cabled cape on and off for some time now. Last week I sewed in the "shoulder saddles" and started working on the collar. It was a basic 3x3 rib - no problemo. I cranked out the collar, got the front bands on, sewed the buttons in - abracadabra. Tried it on my dress form. Not so magical. The saddles made the "shoulders" seem like they're from the 80s - very square and possibly needing shoulder pads underneath (goodness I hope they don't make shoulder pads any more!) - and the left shoulder was a bit better than the right. See...

december 2008 001

I consulted Ken...of course no help except to say "it doesn't look right". So...I sat down at the dining room table and took out my trusty seam ripper and carefully disected and extracted the right saddle from the front/back seams down to the point where they all got separated in the first place (and saving the top stitches where I picked up for the neck).

Open Saddle Surgery...(kids, don't try this at home!)...

december 2008 005

december 2008 003

december 2008 004

I reknit the saddle, carefully measuring it to the pattern specifications (again). I sewed it back in - working some voodoo magic in the process. End result - it looks better by far. Maybe I'm not used to it's structure because the "shoulders" stick out past the arms. I'm torn about it and will await your feedback/thoughts. Obviously this is what you encounter with one photo of a pattern and don't know the "behind the scenes" of the photoshoot styling.


december 2008 014

december 2008 017

After the challenge of the cape...I got back to my sweater design and finished it last night! I admit, I almost cried when I put it on and was modeling it for hubby. While it's by no means perfect, it was a great learning experience and I can't wait to work on the next one!

december 2008 022

Close up of the neck - right side out...

december 2008 023

Close up of the neck - wrong side showing (doesn't it look just as nice!)...

december 2008 024

I had a whole bunch of nonsense to blog about too...instead, here's one more photo (cause this posting clearly doesn't have too many already) of the princess on her birthday!

december 2008 009

Monday, December 08, 2008


Well the weekend sure was a ton of fun.

Little Miss Sunshine had a great birthday and received some fabulous gifts including a dollhouse, a "broomstick" Unicorn, a shopping cart, a doodle board, and a Princess dress-up set.

The guys had an awesome weekend because they got to ride the surf machine at Great Escape Lodge - and their body aches match their enthusiasm (and remind them that they're not as young as they once were).

I had a heavenly weekend because Liz brought me my order from K-Yarns which had the Geode yarn and pattern book included! There simply is not enough time to knit in a lifetime! On Saturday night, when everyone went off to the arcade, I stole some "me time" - I watched the pop-up version of High School Musical 2 (I'm a closet HSM junkie) and finished the chunky blue scarf. I'll sew in the ends and block it this evening and should be able to gift it on Wednesday.

Spoke to my mom yesterday and it seems like the service for my grandmother went fine on Saturday. They have wrapped up all of the paperwork and misc "to-do's" and should be home sometime mid-week.

Now the rest of December starts rolling itself parties, TONS of friends birthday's (one of which turns 40 this week - no names of course), knitting presents, finishing shopping, sending out cards, baking, wrapping, keeping head from spinning...

We're expecting to make the annual trek up to Burlington for New Year's Eve - need to figure out dog logistics and then let the rest fall into place. I can't wait really - it's one of those annual things that just makes sense to me - I can't imagine being anywhere else to ring in the new year (yarn from Kaleidoscope on the needles of course!).

My resolution for next year (as it probably should have been this year) is to knit from my stash as much as possible - which should, in theory, be easy seeing as though I've tried to only make project-specific purchases and have sold off some of the less appealing/functional yarn in my stash.

** Bonus points for your knitting/yarn resolutions **

** First reply to this post receives a bonus point for the 300th entry - hooray!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wagging Tails

Oh alright...I couldn't help but to blog something cheery after my last post...

Contest bonus points awarded for answers to:

What holiday gift would cause you to wag your tail this year?

I would lick my owners face if I received:
- The Knitter's Guide to Sweater Design
- Yarn
- Massage gift certificate

** Apologies for the dog-references - but we're "dog people" **

What astute readers you are!'s been a looooooooooong week for me and I apologize for not blogging about what's been going on. I've actually had a lot of great blog ideas too - so I'll post about those next week when I have a chance.

Some of you already know my news - and I am SO SO SO grateful for "friends" like you. Your support has been incredible and your words of advice have helped me more than you'll ever know! For those unaware, my paternal grandmother passed away on Monday. She was 92 (I finally did the math). She had been battling Alzheimer's for the past 5 - 7 years but her body never gave up on her. She led a long and wonderful life: she and my grandfather traveled all over the US in a Winnebago, she collected Hummel's (at it's peak it was the largest collection I've ever seen), and she was very involved in the Presbyterian ministry. My father is an only child and my grandmother was his last living immediate family (besides my mom, sister and I, of course). Please keep my father, and my family, in your thoughts. We have made a donation to my grandmother's favorite charity, Thornwell's Home for Children. They assist children and teens that have been abused and/or orphaned. Please consider them if you are looking for a worthwhile charity this holiday season.

As with any family-involved event there comes some drama. As a precaution, I won't go into any specifics, but from conversations with many of you all I can say is this: we're not alone, everyone has "crazy" in their bloodline, and we can't choose our relatives.

And seeing as my brain is completely fried (seriously, I misplaced a gift card I bought last night - I have NO idea where it is and that is SO uncharacteristic of me!!!) I'm looking forward to: making Casey's birthday cake and knitting tonight; decorating our Christmas tree tomorrow morning; meeting our friends at the Great Escape Lodge tomorrow afternoon; slipping and sliding at the waterpark tomorrow night; and celebrating Casey's 3rd birthday ALL weekend! My brain needs some recovery time - knitting and cocktails required! :o)

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, December 01, 2008

P.S., Design Preview and Turkey Day

After I posted yesterday I realized I forgot to say I was thankful for someone who has been a great friend this year - since May to be exact!

My S.W.3. buddy - DORA!!! (her blog is linked on the side panel)

I find, as I grow older, that it's harder to make "new" friends - especially women friends. But Dora and I were thrown into the craziness of sock making and instantly bonded! As time progressed, and bad S.W.3. socks were wielded, we eventually made "friendship" socks for one another (I think I mentioned them a few months back). Dora is just such a great and funny lady - AND she likes NASCAR too! So I am thankful for Dora!!!

Now, what some of you have been waiting for - design previews! I've been working on this sweater on and off for the past few weeks - but really got into it last week, right before Thanksgiving. Trouble was, I only had 5 skeins of the yarn in my possession (4 more are on their way to me and should arrive today!). The body used 4 balls, the first arm used 1. The flared turtleneck will probably use 1 - 1.5 because it will be all stitch pattern repeats. Here's a preview...PLEASE (*pretty please with sugar on top*) tell me what you think of it so far...and be honest!!!

stefanies wings november 29 2008 006

Here's a closeup of the stitch pattern...

stefanies wings november 29 2008 004

I'm not 100% about what I will call it - although the drafts have always included something about Stefanie Japel, whose class I designed it in. I've also made a worsted weight scarf and have started a bulky weight scarf using the same stitch pattern...

ye ol wives tale scarf november 30 2008 006

ye ol wives tale scarf chunky november 30 2008 001

Both of them will have to be blocked - obviously - but don't they look fabulous?!?! And such an easy pattern repeat too!

Lastly, here are some photos from the Thanksgiving feast at Casey's daycare (which was so much fun!!!) and of Ken's first dyeing "board"...

casey ken karen matt november 2008 002

casey ken karen matt november 2008 003

warping board october 2008 006

warping board october 2008 002

warping board october 2008 007