Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Holidays to All!

O Mod Tannenbaum Christmas
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Productivity and Knitting

A couple weeks ago I bought a small, passport sized, journal to keep my to-do list in order. No matter how many fancy electronics or apps I have at my disposal, I'm still a very orderly paper-list keeper. There's something about manually crossing an item off a list that is quite satisfying. Plus, I find that writing EVERYTHING in one place keeps me "in line" and productive...for the most part.

With that said, "blog" has been toward the top of the list but hasn't quite been accomplished. Of course it's a never ending item...but the constant reminder (and guilt of not having done it in a while) has finally gotten me here...hooray!

Knitting updates...there are PLENTY!

Hallett's Ledge:

My goal for Rhinebeck was to knit Elinor Brown's Hallett's Ledge cardigan in two weeks. Yep, two. When all was said and done you can look at it two ways - I either finished it in 12 days...OR it's still not finished. Let me explain. Picture this: the sweater body and sleeves are complete and sewed together. The sweater has been blocked. All I need to do, in two days is the button band. Simple, right? Ribbing and sewing on of buttons. Apparently, not so easy. The band knit up right quick. But the buttons I had, well, they were WAY too heavy. So on Friday night, with our trip to Rhinebeck looming, I was off to our local JoAnn Fabrics, sweater in hand, purchasing ribbon (for finishing and supporting) and buttons. Back home in front of the sewing machine, things took a turn for the worse. Frustrated. Deflated. Aggravated. Yep, I felt those emotions. But what to do? It was nearly 9:00pm and the next minutes would make or break me. Should I abandon the sweater and finish it AFTER Rhinebeck? Um, I didn't come this far for nothin! Do I seam rip the ribbon, frog the button band and start from scratch? Well, it seemed like a good idea. So there I was, trying to seam rip the ribbon OFF the button band. Do you know how difficult that can be? Seriously, what a pain in the butt. After 5 minutes of torture I had a moment of brilliance. Why not just CUT the button band off? I had plenty of yarn left over. Out came the sharpy-sharp scissors and chop chop chop - the button band was gone! Whoot whoot. But now what? It's now 9:45 and getting later by the minute. Would I really be one of those people who finish their sweater on the drive to Rhinebeck? Would I be pulling an all nighter? Now imagine you're me, sitting there with this beautiful sweater in front of you. A beautiful deep purple sweater full of cables. What do you do? Well, why not just seam the fronts and make it a pullover - if only temporarily? Why not, right? So that's just what i did. I seamed the fronts. I know, I know, it sounds SO insane! But it worked out ok - I promise. I also sorta promised myself that I would UNDO the seam and properly finish the sweater. Well, that hasn't been done and I've worn it a dozen times since. Maybe my Hallett's Ledge is just meant to be a pullover...just maybe.

Here are some Rhinebeck can decide for yourself :o)

with Andrea and Kirsten...
Andrea and Kirsten!!!

with Yvonne, Misa and Kim...
Yvonne, Misa and Kim!

with Ann and Andrea...

Unfortunately, I also didn't see all my knitter friends/acquaintances - somehow I missed Stephen A (boo hiss), Caro, Mary Heather, and name a few. Next year my friends, next year!

Post Rhinebeck knitting...
- SEVERAL revised versions of my Falling Leaves Bulky Hat pattern (so far I've knit 5 hats and a matching cowl)
- A new hat pattern, inspired by Ken and Darth Vader (coming soon)
- A slouch hat (test knit for throughtheloops)
- Socktober socks (designed by throughtheloops, modified by me...since I'm SO out of sock mode these days)
- A hat for Ramona
- A new shawl pattern (test knitting)
- And tech editing my first "for money" pattern

More pics and more exciting news coming VERY soon (and I'm not just saying that, for reals this time - ha ha)

Until then - Happy Friday and Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All that's missing is Alice in the Rabbit hole!

Well, tomorrow is 10/20/10 - just had to get that random tidbit out of the way...whew!

So things have FINALLY started to settle down around here - and I thought you might a like a wee update, eh?

The wedding cake was a huge success (after a long tale of trials and tribulations...but I won't bore you with the details). Here are some photos for your pleasure...

In progress...
Hamming it up with wedding cake in progress

and Finished!
The cake! Oh...and me...all fancy!

One of the bride and me...
Alyssa and Me

And the cutting of the cake...
alyssa and carl cutting cake 2010

Before and after the wedding we were driving back and forth across the tri-state area to Martha's Vineyard for the annual fishing are some of my favorite shots...

Me in the car nice and cozy and knitting...Him on the beach, freezing and fishing
Me (warm and knitting); Him (cold and fishing)

The Punk...
The Punk

Ramona the Brave...
Ramona and Daddy on boat

Up next - RHINEBECK!!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Zoinks! It's October already?!?!

Yep, so the big four oh has come and gone (thank goodness!) and we're already into October. For those who may not be aware, these couple of weeks have been THE craziest I've had for a while. I've tried to keep everything nice and laid back (as works best for me) but we're now at the pinnacle of everything - and it's TOO TOO much for me. Yep, I surrender. This weekend is Alyssa's wedding and I'm the cake maker/baker. There's a LOT more about the logistics of this cake and our plans - but I'll tell you all about that next Tuesday (or when the chaos is behind me/us). Trust me, you'll also wonder how I managed it all.

So, for the times when I can't possibly bake or make LOADS of buttercream icing, I've been knitting - to keep my sanity in check! And the train ride to/from work is about the only time I've been getting - bah humbug! At least I'm knitting a couple things that I love.

1. Hallett's Ledge by Elinor Brown. I started this without telling anyone. It was sort of an impulse and I'm using yarn from my stash - hooray! Basically, I REALLY wanted to make a new sweater for Rhinebeck and I'm hoping this is done in time. With a bunch of roadtrips in my future, this seemed like just the thing!

2. Surprise shawl. All I can say about this is that I'm taking my time and using softer than soft yarn. I think I probably started Hallett's Ledge to take mini-breaks from this because I need to concentrate on the little stitches :o)

3. Socktober Socks by Kirsten Kapur. So many people have raved about past Socktober KALs that I finally decided to join in. The first clue was posted on October 1st and one clue per week will be released for the rest of the month. I have not cast on - BUT I do have my yarn wound (thanks to Whitney sending it to me that way!) and am putting needles in my bag in case I get an opportunity to start in the coming days.

Well, that's all I can share for now. Look for pictures of the wedding cake and some knitting next week. Until then, say a prayer that I get everything accomplished! Boo-yah!

Peace and Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I'm working on some sketches for the Shirley Paden workshop and most of my designs are pullovers. "Am I anti-cardi?" you ask. "Well, sort of", I say. "Why is that?" you reply. Plain and simple...I have bewbs. Yep, two of them. And they're THERE - no mistaking them. Ever.

I try to avoid button down shirts because I find if I buy them to "cover" (as it is), then the body portion seems overflowing with material. And while I'm tall and admit my size is ample, I'm not in the "tent" category (nor is that flattering on anyone).

When I see ladies with gaping button-bands, and know people are getting a peak of their undergarments, well, that isn't something I want to share with the world. So I avoid oxford shirts and cardigans - pullovers are safer for me.

But I LOVE some of the cardigans I've seen lately. And, to be honest, I adore my Tangled Yoke sweater - mostly because I customized the fit.

And yet, to design a cardigan? Tougher than tough for me. Would I actually wear it? Ugh, what to do?

Tell me, fellow knitters, do you have any issues with a certain type of design?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Allergies, Aging and Memories

Last week was pretty difficult on me, physically speaking that is. Ever since having pneumonia in June, I've been meaning to get to a new allergist to proactively manage my allergies/bronchitis/etc. Lucky for me, there's a local doctor who has Saturday hours and I was able to get in this past weekend. The bad thing is that I wasn't allowed to take any antihistamines for 5 days prior to the appointment. And hey, I TOTALLY understand why - it just made me a miserable Karen for those 5 days! My eyes were gunky, my throat was itchy, my head ached, and I sneezed a gazillion times. Ah, yes, allergy season was in full force!

If you've been fortunate to never having visited an allergist, and I hope you haven't had to, you may not be familiar with the testing process. Essentially, your arms (sometimes shoulders) become a mine field of welts and, if you're allergic to what they test for, you'll wind up wanting to scratch your skin off for the 20 minutes it takes to wait for proper results.

Allergy test - #21 is DUST!!!

All in all, I received 31 shots and found that yes, indeed, i'm SEVERELY allergic to dust (#21), grasses, summer pollens, and a variation of ragweed. My new regiment includes a higher dose antihistamine that Zyrtec, a nasal spray and an inhaler. Boy, I'm the life of the party now, eh? ha ha

On Saturday afternoon we helped my folks downsize my grandmother's apartment. Yes, of course there was dust...that I'm allergic to...doesn't that make sense? Anyway, sorting through some of her things brought back many memories of my childhood and I kind of wish my sister could have shared the day with us. My grandmother has traveled around the world and visited so many amazing places (i.e., China...during the first year they began allowing outsiders to visit) and her belongings reminded us of just how much she's done.

We went back to visit with her on Sunday and she was SO thrilled to see Ramona and equally excited that Ken was able to fix her cable/t.v. It's the little things that really make it all worth while sometimes.

In knitting news...I've been knitting like a fiend, as you can imagine. I'm finishing a sample sweater this week and prepping (doing "homework") for the Shirley Paden workshop next Sunday. Last night I made two different red velvet cake recipes as testers for Alyssa's wedding cake (Oct 9th). I have to sew in the ends of her super secret shawl and then have to start up a secret project and find time to (possibly) make my much talked about Rhinebeck sweater (Oct 16th). Where on earth does all the time go? I'm hoping that things get back to a more "normal" pace after Rhinebeck...but I doubt they will :o)

Happy knitting everyone!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There's NO way that 40 is the new 30, is there?

So in a few short weeks I'll be (*gasp*) 40. Forty. The Big Four-O. Two score. Four decades. Old.

Alright, alright...some of you *might* be scratching your head saying "come on, you, forty? no way" - but yes, me, forty, way

Twenty was a blur. Thirty was FANTASTIC. But I'm a wee bit wary of 40...for no other reason but it seems like a big milestone. Instead of partying, I'm going out for a nice dinner with some friends and family. Instead of waking up with a hangover, I'm likely to wake up and do laundry. Is forty too responsible? Am I still young at heart? Is there anything "young" about me?

For those of you who read this blog and know me...yes, I'm a goofball and I AM indeed forever young in mind and spirit.

In other, non-age related happenings, we went to the NJ Sheep and Wool festival on Sunday. It was tons of fun (as you can see below)...and I was even able to meet Kirsten Kapur and her lovely daughters.

As far as knitting goes, I just finished a couple of samples for Kaleidoscope and have one more sweater to do this week. After that I have a couple of other test/sample projects lined up...and somewhere in between all that I have a wedding cake to make for Alyssa and a Rhinebeck sweater to start/finish! Whew...where does the time go.

Oh, right, and I'm FINALLY taking Shannon Okey's Tech Editing class - which I'm jumping out of my skin THRILLED about. Hooray for higher learning and knitting!

Me and Him

Unicorn Girl

Momma and Baby Sheep

I see ewe

Friday, September 10, 2010


Well, summer vacation is officially over and its back to the grind for everyone in my family. The Punk is thoroughly NOT enjoying school; Ramona is happy to be in the oldest group...excited for kindergarten next year (boo hoo hoo); and Hubby is back to answering emails at all times of the day.

In the knitting world...well...I'm KNITTING more than I can keep up with! I'm still sample making for Kaleidoscope Yarns and test knitting for a variety of designers. Makes me *almost* wish I could make it all a full time job. Alas, I'll continue to dream.

I published my Dora shawl pattern, although my test knitters are still working on it. I felt, after making another one myself, that I had the kinks worked out and could safely publish it, knowing errata can be posted as needed. I've listed it on Ravelry...please support a newbie designer if you have an extra $1.99 to spare :o)

I'm still trying to decide what to knit for Rhinebeck and have narrowed it down to a couple choices...stashed yarn playing a HUGE part of the process...since we all know I'm trying my darndest to bust it up!

And since I've been busy and lacking in the photo are some recent uploads for you. Have a great weekend y'all!

Mr Crabitz and Ramona

Crab kisses

Ramona and The Punk

Ramona on the porch

Me and Ramona

Friday, August 27, 2010

*guilty* I visited a new yarn shop

Ordinarily I buy my yarn from Jill at Kaleidoscope (i DO consider her my LYS even though she's 300 miles away!) or online, direct from yarn companies.

However, I'm working with a few fabulous ladies who are test knitting my Dora shawlette pattern and thought it might be worthwhile for me to do a KAL with them. Well, of course the stashed yarn I wanted to use has become discontinued (WHY do I buy yarn on sale all the time?!?!). So I did some research on newer yarns and was going to go with some Classic Elite in one of their sport weights. I looked up local yarn shops on Ravelry and found one open until 6:00pm - perfect for me!

During the years I've lived in the area, friends have had mixed reviews about Accent on Knits, in Morristown...and have called them, on occasion, to see if they carry emergency yarn (they didn't). The owners are a husband and wife team...and Barry was at the register when I entered the shop. I was honest "hi, I'm new to your shop, can you help point me in the right direction?" And he was very helpful, telling me how the store is organized (by color...first time I've seen that) and that they offer first time customers a 10% off discount (how very nice!).

It was, quite frankly, a little hard to orient myself with this "by color" business. I found a yarn I liked in the mauve section, but then couldn't find it in the green section. I kind of like the idea of "here's the type of yarn AND the colors we carry" all in one place.

In the end I bought a bunch of Cascade 220, some sportweight yarn for the shawl and an alpaca lace. While checking out I got to chatting with Barry about my knitting, my test knitting for designers, and how I wanted to tech edit more often, etc. He seemed interested in what I was telling him...more so than some other shops I've popped my head into from time to time. I learned that their dog, a boxer, often came to the shop and that, because of their small jaws, they had a hard time playing with tennis balls (and often bust them open quickly). Barry and his wife also welcome bringing your children along while you shop (he must have spied my family waiting out in the car!). A perfectly nice way to spend some time after work, wouldn't you say?

While I may not always shop at AOK, it's nice to know there's a good shop, just around the corner, in cases of emergency or instant gratification.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Knitting it Old School

While I've not yet gotten my petoushy (as the kids say) to the book store to purchase Knitting It Old School, I've perused the patterns on Ravelry and drool more and more with each click.

I read what Caro had to say about naming one of the sweaters (WileyWahine), I then came across this article and understand why the gals love him so. Hooray for people who see value in the "little guys".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Back when I was wee youngster, I used to listen to underground college radio and longed to be a punk rock girl. Alas, being "different" was not easy in my high school, nor was the punk wardrobe something practical for my parents who handed down the majority of my clothes to my sister.

So I TAPED songs on my cassettes and listening to them on my Walkman the next day. I still have those tapes. They may be dust covered and inaudible, but they are a part of my history and i refuse to get rid of them.

On one of the tapes is a full comedy routine by the ever awesome Emo Philips. Periodically, my memory plays back this routine and makes me smile. He's not particularly funny, as he is odd and freakish, but that's what I still love about him.

In talking with my friend Erin about emo hipsters, I, obviously, wondered: What ever happened to Emo Phillips? Is he still alive? Is he still performing? Well, a quick google search later and I was watching a video clip from 1987, reciting, verbatim, the routine as he spoke. And I found myself smiling. Those glimmers of happiness from our youth...those sometimes awkward teen years...those bits of time when we felt a connection to something greater than ourselves and felt, momentarily, "understood"...that's what Emo Phillips does for me. And I'm smiling.

Yep, he's an odd duck...but here's the clip (check out: Golden Gate Bridge)if you've got a few moments to spare for a walk down memory lane.


Monday, August 23, 2010

New Patterns

Test knitting for so many folks has reminded me that I have a few patterns I'd like to self-publish...and so I'm working on them this month come hell or high water!

The first is a basic shawl/wrap pattern - available for free, and originally designed for kaleidoscope yarns to be included in their Tilli Tomas shawl packs earlier this year - named "Passion Flower". This is a quick knit...perfect for holiday gifting. Check out my Ravelry page to download the pattern

The second pattern is one that I'm half way through writing up - and gosh am i glad i took SO many notes when I designed it last year! Dora is a shawlette...although I'm sure it can be made into a full-size shawl if you used a larger needle (perhaps I'll test it that way before publication!). I've gotten such a positive response since I posted the shell page on can I put off writing it up any longer!?! Here's a photo/teaser...

So what's everyone else up to?

Happy knitting!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

no yarn, i said NO yarn (how about notions?)

Gosh, I think I've mentioned it before...but Office Space is one of my favorite movies ever [slowly mouthing 'miiiiicheal bollllllton'] ha ha

So I'm on this yarn diet. But you know, you're knitting and you ONLY need this "one thing" at the LYS which turns into "well the yarn was SUCH a low price, how could I pass it up?" Yeah, I'm SO there right now!

But I figure, I've got yarn, plenty of yarn. And I've got patterns too, of course. However, if I can get SUPER inspired by a new pattern, or part of a pattern, that will HELP me use up some of the yarn, it's ok to "invest" in new patterns, right? [gosh, i hope you're nodding with me right now]

And despite my moment of weakness when I purchased yarn to make test least those purchases had PURPOSE and were used up right away (for the most part). Who knows, those test knits could end up as gifts - BONUS! My latest "investments" have been a couple new Addi Turbo Lace needles from Kaleidoscope (hey Jill!) and some brass stitch markers from knitpicks. Useful things. Things that will spend years helping me with my craft.

All in all, I think I'm doing pretty good. I haven't gone cold turkey...and I haven't gone on a binge...just laying low somewhere in between. Keeping the status quo. How about you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Insomnia, Busy and Knitting (of course)

Last night, at 11:00pm, I was sucked into watching some random Housewives show which was taking place in NYC during Fashion Week. At least I think it was a Housewives show. But they kept talking about LA...and there was very little wife to wife drama/conflict. So who knows, it could have been something else. In any case, I stayed up WAY too late watching something with no added value. Shame on me. Especially because I had gotten up at 4:45am to be at the office by 7:00 and had worked ten hours. I guess I was past the point of exhausted and had caught my second wind. Once I turned the tv off I laid there, listening to the fan and crickets, petting Peanut letting my brain wander. That's the worst part...really. The mental to-do list starts to take shape and it leads into anxiety and panic. Seeing as I thought yesterday was Wednesday probably didn't help either.

Today I was back up at 6am and the routine of the weekday...but desperately looking forward to the weekend and, possibly, a nap! Gosh, I do love naps....they're the bees knees.

On the knitting front I'm cranking along with the wedding shawl and am now praying that I don't run out of yarn! That'll teach me, right? I kept going with the body reps to make it bigger - and I thought I would have PLENTY left to do the edging. Hmmm, keep your fingers crossed - I'll know by tonight whether or not Knit Picks will be getting another order from choochooknits tomorrow morning - ha ha

Also, have you seen this hat yet? ZOMG...cute and comfy! I'll let you know when Kirsten releases the pattern. Oh, and just a tip - you MUST try the new Quince Osprey yarn - nommy nom nom!


Happy knitting until next time!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th WINNER!!!

In the spirit of making things right on a day where superstitious folks seem to think things go wrong, I drew the winner of my "for no other reason but to randomly have a contest" at 13:00 and the lucky knitter is...[insert cliche drum roll here]...WHITNEY!!!

Funny story: *just* after I used the random number generator to pick a winner, I received an email from her about a comment I made on her blog! Must be fate, right? ha ha

Congrats Whit!

And thanks to everyone who has commented/participated over the last few weeks. I'll probably have another September and/or Rhinebeck give-away - so stay tuned for things to come!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today is my work anniversary - FOURTEEN YEARS - say wha?!?!

In honor of this accomplishment, they've inundated me with work and I'll probably be here late making OT.

Go team!

Keeping it simple, for an extra entry in my surprise give-away (which ends tomorrow at 1:oopm), what's the next "anniversary" in your life? Can be, marriage, work, knitting!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mods and Routines

Well, I have a secret to share. I changed patterns for the mystery wedding shawl. I also changed yarn. I also, started from scratch and put the original project in a time out :o)

Why? Well, I was never quite sure I would have enough of the original yarn to finish the project. Since its a discontinued KP yarn and I couldn't convince anyone on Ravelry to part with theirs, I had to make some tough decisions. To be fair, the yarn was bare and I can understand why dye-hard knitters (get it, DYE, ha ha) would have a hard time selling/trading it. The yarn is quite nice - some combination of alpaca, wool and *maybe* silk?

So the new project is SUPER TOP SECRET - well, besides that I just told you - oops

In other news, my routine is OFF this week. My "other half" (at work) is away for two weeks in Ireland and the sad. So my hours are off. My bosses are throwing me curve balls. Her bosses are asking questions I need to research. Worst of all...I'm forgetting to take my vitamin every day! I know, I know, it's a little thing, but it's "our" thing that we do after lunch. Centrum. Women's. She even made me put the bottle on my desk so I would remember. And I'm not. Ugh. How will I survive the next week and a half if this is what it's like on the third day? ha ha. I love and miss her - that's why she's a friend and co-worker, in that order. Hope she's having the best. time. ever!

So, today, in honor of routines, tell me one thing that throws you off if you don't have/do it every day? Coffee? Vitamins? Showering (ewww)?

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Overlapping Laces and Art History

I've been knitting a bunch of lace/shawl projects these last few months. A LOT of lace/shawl projects actually. I'm almost considering joining the 10 in 10 shawl group on Ravelry. But since it wasn't really my intention...for it to be a challenge...and just sort of became my calling, well, I'm not sure that would be fair (esp since it would be more along the lines of 10 in 10 in 6 months). Geez.

The problem I've run into recently is that with all these laces, my brain sometimes wanders off and I start working the LAST lace pattern, instead of the current one...whoops! I've done it a couple times, and while I only ever mis-knit a dozen stitches or so, it's funny that the patterns have stuck in my mind like that.

My friend Sue said that I have a "good hand" for lace knitting - and I'm thankful for her insight since she's been knitting for a long time. However, I never KNEW I was a lace knitter until I started doing it more and more. I suppose I resisted it. I suppose I thought it tedious (which it can sometimes be). Or maybe it was the practice makes perfect factor - I never "practiced" until now.

In the end, I really believe it's all part of the process of become a better knitter, just like when I took studio classes for my art history degree. As one of two art history majors at my college, my school frowned upon my enrollment in studio classes until I explained to a panel of professors that my degree and expertise RELIED upon the knowledge gained in painting, scuplture, printmaking, etc. Why, they asked. Simply put: The better I understand the process, the more appreciation I have for the art and the more in depth I can explain the complexities and importance of the piece. Take away the process and you're left with a very diminished of text and pictures...not something you've rolled up your sleeves and dug into! Needless to say, the Professors gave me a free pass to enroll in any and all college classes I wanted from studios to histories. They fought other departments to get me into specialized classes. They supported my thesis AND showed my paintings in the student shows. I was a better student because I embraced two worlds before others. Just as I continue to learn in my knitting.

Today's contest entry question (only a few days left - make your comments now!): what, about your craft, would you like to learn/conquer next?

Happy knitting!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Weekend knitting, reading and more

On Friday night I was able to finish knitting another test shawl for the lovely Kirsten Kapur. After some blocking, it was ready for a photoshoot on Saturday afternoon - don't you just love it?!

Roma Detail

and here's me...modeling it as a scarf...

Roma 1

In between projects I've been working on the lace shawl for Alyssa...again, it's super top secret so I can't share more info/photos right now...sorry

I also (finally) started reading the Wally Lamb book, "The Hour I First Believed" on Saturday. He's been one of my favorite author's since "She's Come Undone" was published in 1996. I'm still in the early chapters, but the book is beautifully written, as always.

We also went to the Children's Day evening parade and concert in Mt Tabor with Yarny Old Kim and some friends of ours. The kids got more candy than we know what to do with - and Ramona showed off her mad dancing skills at the concert (the band played 60s/70s Dead-style music). I'll post some photos/video once I get them off the camera - too funny!

Yesterday was more mellow (at last!) and ended with a solo visit with my parents and grandma.

The Punk comes back from his fishing vacation tomorrow (at last!) and will be home with us for the rest of the summer (i think). It's so weird to have him away for so long - he's probably grown another inch!

Well, that's it for now - happy knitting everyone!

Today's contest entry question (easy peesy): What are you crafting/knitting these days?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Importance of Being Rhinebeck


Once more I say...Rhinebeck.


To SO many folks in the NorthEast Rhinebeck is MUCH more than a place where famous political families have weddings. It's more than a quaint town in the mountains. It's the weekend of all Fall weekends - it's THE SHEEP AND WOOL FESTIVAL!!!

And it's TWO short months away. Actually, 10 weeks...but who's counting? EVERYONE in the knitting/fiber community...that's who!!!

What will we wear? Something old? Something new? What's in our stash? What's on our wish list to buy!? Who will we see? What will we eat? The list goes on and on.

This year, I'm determined, time permitting, to knit the piece de resistance of my collection. But there are SO many options out there - as well as designs that are lingering in my mind! I'm reminded of wearing my Owls sweater with Yarny Old Kim last year. I recall Emily's beautiful brown cabled sweater. And running into Elspeth and Ann with their plethura of knitwear.

And then I came across this photo, taken at last year's festival...How gorgeous!

I scoured Ravelry...not to make it...but to learn more about. I spent countless hours searching endless options...Noro, Sweater, Cardigan. Rhinebeck, Cables. Nada! Who makes such a beautiful sweater and doesn't post it all over Ravelry? Goodness.

Regardless, I'm trying to figure out what I'll make, and when I'll have time to knit it. Decisions, decisions!

For a bonus entry in my mini-contest, tell me what you're wearing to Rhinebeck (or what you would wear, in case you're not going).

Happy decision making!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fated Yarn and a Mini Contest of sorts!

In July 2009 I purchased some yarn at Sticks and Strings in Scarsdale, NY on my way to a company outing. One was a green with yellow and turquoise tweed; the other was a golden yellow. They were fingering weight. But they were SUPER on sale and I "had to" have them. So, ever since that fateful day a year ago, they've enhanced my stash, nothing more, nothing less.

Until yesterday. A friend of mine sent me a test pattern and said "use fingering weight"...and use two colors. When I got home I paid my old friend, "Stash", a visit and said "ok, let's see what you've got for me today". Sure enough, I opened a bin and spotted the above mentioned yarns. I pulled out a couple other skeins to lay them out and compare color combos. But, as fate would have it, the green tweed and yellow gold were MEANT for this project - believe me, when I show you pictures in a week or so, you're TOTALLY going to agree with me. Even The Punk agreed that the colors were good for the pattern - guess my knitting is really rubbing off on him after all this time!

How about y'all? Any fated yarn use of late? And why not...let's make it a yarn contest...just because! Tell me your best fated yarn story and I'll pick a winner on/about August 13th - we'll MAKE it a lucky day! Winner will let me know their fave color du jour and I'll send them something nommy!

Happy knitting my friends!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yes, I was a beginner knitter once upon a time

I'm knitting a dress for Ramona with some old Caron yarn that's, seriously, been in my stash since, oh, I dunno, 2004. Granted, 6 years in my yarn stash is NOT the "oldest" yarn, but I've certainly learned a lot about texture, drape, content, ply, etc since then. And, for the record, it's NOT a bad yarn at all - I just prefer different fibers for my own garments these days.

With all that said, back in 2006 I had started making a cardigan/coat for Ramona with Simply Soft. And when I say "started" I mean I knit up the back, fronts and one sleeve...and even sewed them together and started the front button band on one side. These days, I would have just finished that sucker up in a heartbeat. Back then, well, that's another story. I'm not sure I even put it up on Ravelry - that's how long it's sat in the UFO bin.

So when I went to work on the current dress, I pulled a partially used skein of S.S. out of the bin and started knitting. When that ran out, I started a new skein (after all, I apparently needed SEVERAL skeins of Mint Blue - ha ha). But when I got to the armhole split (as I've been working in the round), I didn't want to start another new skein to make the sleeve caps so I said "reuse and recycle" and grabbed the old cardi and started taking it apart (since it would now be way too small for Ramona if I finished it). This gave me a chance to see how I used to seam and finish - and was B-A-D! Yikes! It was nice to see that I've learned new and "right" ways to finish garments (mostly thanks to Jill at Kaleidoscope Yarns).

I certainly won't regret not finishing that old cardi, but I will remember where I've been and where I'm going...and that's always important on this journey we call life. We DO live and learn (or knit and learn as the case may be).

Have a great day!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "What Is/Are..." Stage and Curatio

It's official. Ramona has entered the "what is/are..." stage of childhood. After a recent visit with my niece who is in the "Why" stage...I wondered when Ramona would start. Sure enough...only a week later!

"Mommy, what is that word?"

"Mommy, what are we buying at the store?"

"Mommy, what are you and daddy spelling?" - which was my favorite because that's what parents of four year olds do - we start to spell EVERYTHING! Inquiring minds want to know!

In fact, hubby and I have even started to go so far as spelling series of words and including the word "space" in between them...ha! It's classic parenthood - and we did it with The Punk...even when he was six or spelling is the name of the game for a few years.

In the knitting realm, I finished Kirsten Kapur's new shawl design, Curatio, over the weekend. It's still in test stages...but look for it to be published in the next couple of weeks. Isn't it lovely?!

gorgeous shawl

On the heels of finishing, the ribbing I took for my sizable stash last week, and wanting a day or so break from lace knitting/reading, I decided to whip up a quick dress for Ramona. The pattern is from Berroco's new booklet, "Berroco Remix". I'm using some *old* Caron yarn that I've had for years. It's a nice turquoise blue and the color always looks nice on her. The pattern, Simo, calls for an attached scarf...which, if I add, I was thinking of making in a tangerine color - and would make the pockets out of the same - a little contrast and pop. Whadda ya think?

Once I finish the dress, which probably won't take more than another day or two, I'll get back to knitting Alyssa's wedding shawl - hooray!

Happy Knitting and Happy Monday!

Friday, July 23, 2010

I'm on a "diet" of sorts

The furnace at Chez ChooChooKnits started to die sometime toward the end of the winter months (thankfully). We had our trusty plumber come over and install our new kitchen sink back in May and had him take a look at the furnace...just in case it could be saved. No such luck. After 30 some-odd years, the old gal was finished. The good thing was that it's now SUMMER - and no one cares about heating their homes. So when hubby spoke to the plumber he said "if there's anything you can do, when you have down time, we're willing to work with you on having the new one installed". Brian, the plumber, finally called us last Friday and said "since it's so hot, why don't we work on your furnace next week?" On Sunday night, Hub and The Punk, moved shelves in the basement so the old furnace was easier to take out. This exercise in organizing required my shelves and bins of yarn to be relocated. It also required Hub and TP to SEE how much yarn I have...YIKES McGIKES! Well, when TP came to me and said "Dad and I got you some new much BLUE yarn do you need?", I knew the gig was up! **To note: the blue yarn in question was a LARGE gift from Dora, gifted to her from Trudie, before the later moved to VA, and the former moved to CA. So, you see, it wasn't PURCHASED yarn - it was gifted - and free yarn is the best kind!

Anyway, i'm determined to start knitting ONLY from my stash. Yes, yes, i've said it before - and i made a really good dent last time - but this time i need to make a couple of sweaters and/or a blanket and that will clean things right up - esp if i use the BLUE yarn for TP sweater - that'll teach him to tease his mom! ha ha

So i'm on a yarn diet. And I've decided to make it an across the board "spending diet". This means I'm IMMEDIATELY deleting any and every "sale" email when it arrives. I have plenty of clothes, thank you Banana, Gap, Old Navy, Talbots, etc. Lord knows I don't need more shoes. And I certainly don't need more yarn - so I'm sorry to my fave yarn shops (for now)! I WILL read more blogs and Knitting Daily because it will remind me of patterns I can knit with my huge stash of yarn :o) And I'll continue to go through my queue on ravelry, and my books and magazines for ideas when I ask 'what's next?'

However, if any of y'all would like to purchase some yarn from my stash, I'm happy to say that I'm likely to part ways with most of it - after all, we now need to PAY for the new furnace - ah, the vicious cycle :o)

Happy Friday and Happy Knitting one and all!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Proud and Crafty and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (???)

I'm so blessed to have friends who are crafty - they are an everyday inspiration!

Go check out my friend Susan's blog - and then her new etsy cute is her stuff (*swoon*)

Next up - my friend Stacey is selling her awesome felt flower pins on Etsy - perfect for everyone!

And while we're at it, I have to mention that Kirsten has been knitting up a storm of new patterns lately - yowza! And Stefanie has been quilting...probably more than she's admitting to us!

But how does Joseph Gordon-Levitt tie in to all of this??? Well, here in the Big Apple they're shooting a movie on 52nd and 53rd Streets...AND in the lobby of our building - running through by the Starbucks (of course, product placement). Anyway, my co-worker, Erin, LUVS her some JGL - for cereals. So when she learned they were in the lobby I said "just go already" - and off she went. It's been quite an exciting day to say the least. With all her drooling over JGL, something I clearly don't understand...he's the KID from 3rd Rock From the Sun for Pete's sake...I told her that I don't ever want to hear another word about my mom-crush on Zac Efron, yes yes, High School Musical and 17 Again...but have you seen the promo picks of Charlie St Cloud....purrrrrrrrrrrr

Have a great day folks - and stay crafty!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


As you know, I've been knitting the secret (pattern) shawl for Alyssa's wedding in October. While I've knit some lace before, it's not my favorite thing - all the counting, all the YOs, all the room for mistakes - ha ha. But through the repetition of the pattern and watching the project become something amazing, I've truly found a new appreciation for both lace, and my level of skill knitting it.

But with all that comes an error (or two). There were times when I un-knit an entire row, more than once. There were times when I meticulously identified each stitch of the prior row to make sure it was, in fact, correct, before even attempting to re-knit the next row. The process is both frustrating AND rewarding (oh, and don't forget time-consuming!).

The best part, aside from making a shawl with love for a friend, is that it prepared me for test-knitting another (smaller) shawl for another friend. I've been using fingering and lace weight yarns for almost a month and they've really made me happy - who knew! Also, the drape of each of these shawls is divine...and neither one has been blocked yet so I can only imagine the fine details they will reveal when they're done.

Hooray for the knitting process. It's so nice to learn with each project and pattern.

Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

360 cups and more

360 Cups

My new year's resolution for 2009 had been to brew and bring my own coffee on the train every morning...instead of buying from the bagel guy and using a styrofoam cup. Well a year and a half later...give or take some vacation days...I figure I've not used 360 cups so far...and that's just for commuting. Of course, on the weekends we also brew our own and use mugs or glasses...depending on hot or iced coffee preference. Occasionally we find ourselves at Dunkin Donuts or the bagel store but for now I'm happy knowing that I've cut my landfill contribution by at least 360 cups and counting. Bottoms up!

The Job

My job is generally not very glamorous. I sit, mostly, behind a computer and manage the business lives of my bosses...herding cats might sometimes be easier...but this is the path I chose and I've been with my company almost 14 years...which counts for something these days, right? Well, occasionally people don't understand the "extra efforts" I put forward...and sometimes I'm married to that "people" who, despite my comments of "overtime pay", can't fathom what I'm about to tell you.

One of my bosses, a Partner at our firm, has been in South Africa for the World Cup (*jealous much?*). Well, we started working on this trip back in October of last year - and everything was easy peasy lemon squeezy. Until a few months ago when there was trouble with his ticket. Then his return plans changed. Then I got a headache (ha ha). Then he flew to Cape Town. Then he had tons of fun. Then he attempted to start home...yesterday. Well the Cape Town to LHR flight was significantly delayed...which meant he would miss his connection to ORD...which meant that I had to scramble BIG time to make executive decisions about spending money vs time vs losing my brain (and, remember, I'm still jacked up on drugs from being ill - SO much fun!). Well, I stayed late yesterday, continued to monitor his flights on the train ride home, and into the evening hours. If he followed my "new" plan, it would all be ok. Problem is, in our business we get inundated with emails at ALL hours of the day. How would I insure that he saw the emails he needed to once he landed in London? I turned to my very understanding husband (*cough*snicker*) and said "I think I may need to call B at 2:30am". The eyebrows crinkled, the mouth moved and said "what?". He followed with "don't you have 'people' for that?" Um, people? Yes, I have people...their names are Me and Me. So at 2:30am I woke in a blur and stumbled downstairs to quietly call my boss. Voicemail. Doh. Try again. A couple of "foreign" rings...and voicemail again. Ugh. Mind now racing. What to do? He is a grown man and can certainly take care of himself...but I needed to know he was headed in the right direction. I stood, bleary, in the kitchen for a few more moments. A new email came through (thank goodness for advanced technology!). He *just* landed...was reading my emails...was still going to try and make his original connection...what about his bag...he would call me from Chicago. But what about my decisions? Were they the right ones? Self doubt kicked in. I started back up to bed...deflated. I replied "Apologies for inconvenience, I made the best decisions I could based on the information we had". Back under the on vibrate in case he called...brain still racing. A few minutes go by...the phone is ringing. Yes, he's trying to get on original flight but line is long. Doesn't have his bag...will have to track it down. I think I said "good luck". By now I've been "awake" for 20 minutes or so...just past the point of falling back to sleep easily. You know that point...where your body is in shock, kind of shaking like it's high on caffeine, and your stomach starts talking to you saying "hey, is it time for breakfast already?". Yeah, that was me. Another few minutes go by and I get another email. Considering the fact that this boss rarely personally acknowledges my hard work, I thought it worth including his actual words...for posterity:

"You ended up making the right call. The UA flight was not held and I missed it. The AA flight is better in terms of getting me in earlier. UA is trying to transfer my bag. Thanks for all your help. I know it was a difficult situation and you made good decisions and went the extra mile - including getting up in the middle of the night to check on me."


There were more emails with more updates - but this is an email for the record books. At the end of it all I barely slept more than 4 hrs last night and woke up late...can't imagine why. I completely forgot to pick up my knitting bag when I was walking out the door, and I think I might have spied some quizzical looks from train regulars when "The Girl Who Always Knits" was not, in fact, knitting. This thought made me smile.

Well, I'm off more more concentrated doses of coffee and to continue tracking down a boss and his belongings.

Not so glamorous...but definitely story-worthy none the less.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Getting better

I like to think that I'm more invincible that I really am...but sometimes I just have to submit to defeat. Since I like to think that I've matured a bit in my 30s (ha ha), I don't like to necessarily tell people when I'm sick - which, as you know, it seems I've been quite a bit this year. Tis true.

Over the past couple weeks, I've had walking pneumonia (which is confirmed to be gone) and now a bad bronchial infection (second round of meds) - all due, I believe, to my worsening allergies. When I'm feeling better (when will that be???) I will march myself off to a new allergist and see what can be done to prevent my bi-annual bronchitis (now more like 3 - 4 times) once and for all. I'm tired of battling this. I'm tired of drugs and doctors and copayments and, quite literally, feeling like a bump on a log.

With the current round of meds I can honestly say that "better" is within sight - hooray! Yes, I'm still working...but taking it easy as best I can. It also helped that we had a long weekend for the 4th - so that I didn't have to use another sick day (yikes!).

The one good thing about being housebound for three days was that I got to knit in between naps (and in an air conditioned house). I started Alyssa's Mystery Wedding Shawl - yippie! Steph (gleek) generously gave me 4 skeins of KP Bare (I think it's Peruvian wool - lace weight) in January - and I chose it because Alyssa will be able to dye it...if she wants...after her October wedding. So far, the pattern I chose is going along nicely...although I know I'm jinxing myself for not yet putting in a lifeline (did I learn nothing from the Lotus Blossom Shawl last year!?!!). On my to-do list for this not pass the starting marker, do not collect $200 (although the extra cash *would* be nice - ha ha).

The bonus to knitting the shawl is that its nice to have blocks of time to work on it. With the current stitch count, I can get about 3 or 4 rows done per train ride. With our NE temps in the 100s yesterday, my train broke down on the way home and I was able to get about 6 rows done - SCORE! So even though it was a bummer to have to sit on a train that kept losing power and a/c, at least I had sunlight and something to do (besides grumble, like the other passengers!). This breakdown also meant that we eventually debarked and were picked up by another train - which happened to be my "old train" with Sue and Patty on board - hooray! I haven't seen them for a couple months (has it been that long, really? wow) and it was nice to catch up on this and that...esp to see what they're knitting too! I love my knitter friends.

Well, that's my update for today - just trying to stay cool in this crazy heat. ConEd has issued statements that office blinds should be closed and HVAC systems should be kept at 76 degrees. Which is all fine by me - as it's a bit cool here and I have my lovely Savannah sweater (knit last month with Miss Babs Yowza) to keep me comfy.

Happy knitting y'all!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I'm Back - ZWOWWY!

Well, yes, it's been a long time...thanks for the reminder :o)

Getting right down to it...I've spent a lot less time online in my "free time" and more time with my family (hooray!). It's not that I don't enjoy spending time with everyone...but things have been busy and some things needed to be put on the back burner. I'm sure you understand my prioritization, right?

Turns out the flu I thought I had in March was really Fifths Disease - and just about everyone in my, my sister's, and our close friend's family got it. Terrible thing, really...glad its behind us.

I've been knitting up a storm from personal items to sample knitting to test knitting - I love being part of this community you thanks for your support!

I'm also *gasp* reading again - say what?! Yes, reading AND knitting. At. The. Same. Time. Crazypants! I started back with "Outlander" because, well, all y'all were reading it (or so it seemed). Now I'm reading "The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud". Yes, it's a super fast read - and yes, it's coming out as a movie in late July. Oh, and, yes, funny you should mention, but my boy Zac Efron is in it. Oh come on, don't judge...I could have a much worse mom-crush in the scheme of things.

In recent knitting news...we went down to Chester a couple weekends ago to meet Joanna Johnson at Why Knot Knit. She was signing copies of her sweet book "Phoebe's Sweater"...which I encourage you all to buy (and knit). Ramona LOVES her Phoebe (which I finished last night) and has a whole wardrobe planned for her (I'll finish the dress tonight). Check out Ramona on Joanna's blog!

Well, friends, I promise to be around a bit more - especially since I love catching up with everyone. Enjoy your 4th of July weekends and happy knitting!


Monday, March 08, 2010

The Good

While I've been fighting some minor bacterial/viral infections (and the flu) these past few weeks there is certainly some good to exclaim!

1. Andrea the Great sent me some girl scout cookies...and they are DELICIOUS! *mwah*
2. My friend Patty and her beau, Joe, are getting married at the Hotel Coronado today - CONGRATS to them!
3. I finished my dress design and am writing it for publication (in some form as yet to be determined)
4. I've slept more than Rip Van Winkle
5. I'm thankful for all my friends and their unwavering support as of late!
6. I have a fantastic husband and family...who have been taking care of me (and letting me sleep)
7. I'm using up lots of old stashed yarn and finishing WIPs - hooray for no new yarn purchases!
8. Life is good no matter what!

So how about y' good news to share? :o)

Friday, February 19, 2010


I'm not ordinarily a sappy person when it comes to chain emails that have been around the world and back and celebrate a "Holiday" which may or may not actually exist. But a co-worker forwarded the below "poem" to some of our crew today. Which is actually quite timely considering some of the difficult decisions I've had to make lately.


Life is too short to wake up with regrets
So love the people who treat you right
Love the ones who don't just because you can
Believe everything happens for a reason
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands
If it changes your life, let it
Kiss slowly
Forgive quickly
God never said life would be easy
He just promised it would be worth it

I find that I maintain friendships in different ways for different reasons. And that a friend isn't just someone who is in your life due to geographic proximity - but someone who you are fundamentally close to.

Thanks to all my readers and girlfriends...some of whom are....Dora, Cathi, Stacey, Kim, Fran, Mai, Ann, Elspeth, Shannon, Laura, Jill, Emily S, Stephanie P, Tina, Patty, Jennifer T, Sally, Stefanie J, Jen, Andrea, Carrie, Mimi, Alyssa, Erin and the list goes on!
Happy Friday y'all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Knit Year!

I've been knitting. A lot. I mean, seriously, A LOT!

Currently, I'm helping a good friend work on some samples which will be revealed later this I can't share that with you just yet.

In the meantime, let's take a look at what I was able to finish in time for the holidays...and beyond!

My mom's LBI Sweater - designed by me! As luck had it, Ramona was sick on Christmas so my mom did NOT have to receive a partially finished sweater...and I say "partially" finished because I was well on my way when I realized I would run out of light blue yarn. I placed an order sometime around Dec. 20th and received the new yarn on Dec 30th. I was able to finish the sweater before we saw my folks on Jan 2nd - hooray!
LBI Barnegat Lighthouse Sweater

I also finished my neighbor's THIRTY (30!!!) year old sweater. I've gotten so many complements from Raveler's - one lady even believes she may have knit this one too! She's looking back through her stuff and will send me photos - pretty awesome.
Ye Old Sweater

Jill was kind enough to include me in her latest kit quest with Tilli Tomas. I was sent a list of "rules", 5 different yarns, and sent on my way. I designed and knit this in three days (approx 20 hours). Whew - talk about a whirlwind weekend of knitting!
Tilli Tomas Shawl Design Project 2010

I also knit this sexy little number for the shop (yes, it's Noro!)...
365:306 Noro vest back detail

I also made this cute little slug for my in-laws. They love it - Karen FTW!
Garden Slug face

Ramona wanted a scarf - which I happily knit - but won't pose for a photo in it - so that's for another day! In the meantime, I made T-Rexes for she and Matt...
T-Rex #1

Lastly, I designed and published patterns for my Chester Mittens and Cowl. The cowl is a free pattern on Ravelry (after some debate). The mittens are for sale at the low price of $1.99! Let me know what you think...
Chester Cowl
Mittens Schmittens

Well, glad to have my first post up for the Knit Year - hope all is well with you until next time!