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!