Friday, May 30, 2008

Something Like a T-Shirt

I've made good progress on my Nothing But A T-Shirt. I'm working on this as a KAL with the Lumpy Sweater and The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts.


This is the back, and I've actually made a little more progress since the picture was taken. I have finished the bust increases and I'm confident I'll be able to finish the back this weekend and get started on the front.

In other happy knitting news, I finally got around to calling Knitpicks yesterday about my broken needle. The whole phone call took about three minutes. No being on hold and no hassles. Just friendly customer service. A new needle is already on the way!

I'm still working on the Gloria cowl, but haven't worked on it much the last couple of days. Perhaps that will get finished up over the weekend as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer and Beyond Travel Queue

I haven’t posted much the last few days (okay, so it's only been one day) because all my spare computer time has been spent searching for hotels in opposite corners of the United States and finding information on Costa Rica for a vacation presentation coming up this weekend! Oh boy, do I have travel plans! I’ve already talked about my Summer Knitting Queue. Behold, my Summer and Beyond Travel Queue!

First up, a trip to New Ulm, MN to enjoy all things German and tour the Schell Brewery. This may be only a day trip, but we may camp overnight at Flandreau State Park. The plans are still brewing…hahahaha! Get it?

Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to visit Wisconsin Rapids to visit my 96-year old grandpa. My dad and step-mom were there recently. He lives in a retirement trailer-home community, and when bad weather struck, they all sought shelter in the rec center. Grandpa was not worried…he just wished he had brought some beer.

I know what you are thinking now. New Ulm and Wisconsin Rapids? What the heck kind of summer travel plans are those? Well, it gets better. Lots better.

In August, we are heading to the northwest, Seattle and Vancouver to be exact! Squueeee! I'm so excited. I've never been to that part of the country. D’s sister is getting married at Deception State Park, so we are making a long weekend of it. Why Vancouver? Why, to use my newly acquired passport!

Then, a mere six weeks later, I am being sent to Disney World…for work! I kid you not…I’ll be attending the Disney Institute with two co-workers. Even better, I'll be sticking around after the work is over to spend the weekend at Disney World. Saving the best for last, this means I will be at DisneyWorld on my birthday!

As if that weren’t enough, there is a good possibility I’ll be going to Costa Rica or Ireland in the Fall. Back in March, D and I had dinner with some friends and the conversation turned to travel. The end result is that I am putting together a presentation on Costa Rica, and another friend is doing a presentation on Ireland. This weekend we will do our presentations and then vote on the trip of choice. I'll let you know the results on Monday.

So, those are just a few of the things I have to look forward to this summer and in to the fall. How about all of you? What are you looking forward to this summer?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Knitting Queue

About two weeks ago, I had a summer knitting queue all set to go. I was excited about the projects I had planned and couldn't’t wait to get started. Then, I actually started to try and get going, and well…reality set in.

Let’s review: the queue consisted of Synesthesia socks; One Skein Wonder; Nothing But a T-Shirt; Josephine Top; Sockapalooza socks TBD. Overall, a pretty realistic plan for summer knitting (Edit: Actually, it seems a bit much). Some stuff for me, stuff for family, stuff for strangers. In addition to that, I’m planning to knit some socks for my step-mom from the Cinnamon's Dye Pot yarn I received. The yarn just seemed to say “Kathy” to me.

Now, let’s see where things are at with these projects.
One Skein Wonder: Completed!
Nothing But a T-Shirt: Woo-hoo! It's going well!

Synesthesia Socks: on hiatus until new needle arrives
Sockapalooza Socks: just waiting for the Sockapalooza 5 Sign up!
Kathy’s Socks: Still in the imagination stage
Josephine Top: this is perhaps the most disappointing. I ordered this lovely yarn from KnitPicks and started on a gauge swatch…and then another gauge swatch…and then another gauge swatch. Only two are pictured here.

I just can’t seem to get gauge. I’m down to size three needles. Do I really knit that loosely? Tightly? Which is it if I have to go down in needle size? I think I may have to try a different yarn.

Also, after knitting all these gauge swatches I came to the most disappointing realization of all. I do not want to wear a top made out of this color. What was I thinking? Green? And let’s be honest…it is Mint Green. I don’t wear green. Come over and look in my closet. You will find lots of pink, yellow, white, blue, and black. No green. I think was trying to branch out or something.
So, this yarn is destined to be stashed (so much for trying to use up my stash) and someday will probably become a baby blanket. I've realized that the Josephine top will probably not happen this summer.

I've also added the Gloria cowl to the mix. I'm over half-way done with that. I pulled it off the needles last night to try on, and it is very floppy. I'm not sure if my chosen yarn was the best choice. Maybe once it is the desired length it will be better, otherwise I may need to do some rethinking on that project as well.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Yarn Happy Hour

Earlier last week, I e-mailed the gang I knit with over lunch to see if anyone was interested in going to the Stitch-n-Pitch with me on June 21st. I like to watch baseball, so I'm not sure how much knitting I'll get done, but it seems a good excuse to wear my new Ravelry T-shirt in public.

Holly wrote back and informed me that Borealis Yarns was having a sale, 20% off everything in the store. Would I like to go after work on Friday? Would I! I told myself I would only buy one skein of yarn, and it would have to be sock yarn, because then I'd know exactly what to do with it.: Socks or a Gloria cowl.

But when I got there, I was confronted with this:

And this:
And this:


With all that yarn at 20% off, how could I only take home one lonely skein?

I bought this lovely Louisa Harding Grace, silk and wool. I'm making Gloria out of this. It is so soft. The minute I touched it I knew it would be perfect to wrap around my neck on a chilly day.


Then I saw this Manos silk and wool blend. Tell me that you would have been able to leave it behind!

I have never been to Borealis and I can't believe it's taken me so long to get there. It's a wonderful shop...lots of beautiful yarn, friendly staff, and a coffee shop right next door. I'll be back...especially considered I saw some of the Sublime Organic Cotton DK in the lovely soft pink that Genuine is using to knit her Nothing But A T-Shirt. I might have to pick some of that up. It's gorgeous! Speaking of which, I have FINALLY begun my T and will post progress tomorrow.

It was a wonderful yarn happy hour! That being said, I need to stay away from the yarn stores for awhile. I don't need anymore yarn. I have plenty of projects to keep me busy over the summer. I need to save my money for summer travel.

So, no yarn happy hours for a while. After all, I cannot buy what I cannot see.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes, I Do Still Knit

I am finally posting about my yarn adventures while I was on vacation last week. It’s been a struggle to not post about this sooner! My time is limited, and I wanted to post about my adventures in Denver while they were fresh in my mind. Without any further ado, KNITTING CONTENT!

Before I went to Denver, I was around town for three days. Cleaning, spending time with my dad and step-mom, and spending time with my nephew. I did not get as much knitting done as one would think, but I did manage to finish up my sister’s One Skein Wonder.
I love it! The sizing is perfect. Seeing how well it fits, I am tempted to rip back my One Skein Wonder and resize it. Hmmm….we’ll see.

I think Gigi will be very pleased with it. I know her husband will say, “what the heck is that?” but I don’t really care. The yarn I used was Classic Elite Bazic Wool in Thistle. It’s a superwash wool, so she’ll be able to toss it in the washing machine. She’s a busy mom, so that is a good thing.
I only took one knitting project with me on vacay – The Synesthesia sock. I cast on and completed the short-row toe the night before I left and immediately began knitting the foot when I got on the bus to the airport. I’ll post my progress at the end of the post.

Speaking of airports and socks, I saw this while I was waiting for my flight.
They aren’t handknit, but I loved the way her socks were the same colors but didn’t match.

While in Denver, Angie and I visited a couple yarn shops. What a good friend Angie is! She told me she had no interest in going to a yarn shop, but if I wanted to do that, she was okay with it. Yay!

Our first stop was My Sister Knits in Fort Collins, Colorado. What a great shop! It’s located in the carriage house of someone’s residence, and on the way back to the shop you can say hello to their chickens!
The shop was two stories and so cozy. If I lived in Fort Collins, this is where I would shop. Such friendly people!
With all that yarn around me, I needed to buy some “souvenir yarn”. My first choice was this Corntastic by Kollage Yarn. Yup…it is made of 100% corn, and it is some of the softest yarn I have ever felt. I think I may make some short socks with this…something kind of like a bootie. It would feel so nice on my feet.

I also got this beautiful red sock yarn from Pagewood Farm. I need a pair of red socks. Doesn’t everyone?
After we left My Sister Knits, we headed over to Lambspun. I had read about this shop online and wanted to visit since they dye and spin their own yarns (in addition to all the other fiber goodness there). I decided to purchase something they had dyed, this Prism and Mohair blend. I think it will make a nice scarf! Of course, when I got home D asked me, “Mohair? Isn’t that the stuff you hated knitting with?” Uh, yeah.

I was able to get a lot of work done on the sock while I was in Colorado. Most of the places Angie and I went were about an hour away, so while we chatted in the car, I was able to get all of the foot done and was ready to begin on the heel. I’d be able to do that while I waited for the plane and get some of the leg done as well.

Here is my progress. Notice anything wrong here?

Yup. My needle broke. My Knitpicks Harmony Size 0. One of the points just broke right off. I discovered this Sunday morning while I was packing. Big bummer. Since I planned to knit at the airport, I didn’t really have anything else to do.

Well, I did have the book the Friday Night Knitting Club with me. I finished that in the first 10 minutes of the flight. Then it was just me and the in-flight magazine.

Fortunately, it was a short flight and before I knew it I was back in the Twin Cities. Home sweet home!

BBB: The Biology Part of the Trip

Beer, Baseball, Buddha and Biology: Part Three

Biology Day, AKA Sunday

Sunday we woke up bright and early (no sleeping in this day) to leave by 9 a.m. for the Denver Zoo. The boys were very excited about this, and why not? As I was soon to discover, the Denver Zoo is a very nice zoo.

The day was gorgeous…sunny and in the 70s. This time I remembered my sunscreen.

We saw mongoose…
Monkeys….
Elephants…
Lorikeets (hmmm....looks like there may be a little somethin-somethin going on there)

and Dall Sheep! No, they are not mountain goats. They are sheep.

Wonder what their wool is like?

Then my camera battery died. So, no pictures of the hippos and rhinos.

I could have spent more time there. It’s a good sized zoo, and we didn’t even get over to the side with the lions, tigers, and bears. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back some day. Then again, I have an irrational fear of being mauled by a lion or tiger, so maybe it is best to stay away.

We were there most of the morning, and then it was time to take me back to the airport. Sigh. As you’ll discover in my post tomorrow, my airport waiting time and flight time were significantly marred by a lack of knitting. Yes, I did bring knitting with me. No, I could not work on it on the way home. Why?

Find out tomorrow in my account of my woolly and corny Colorado adventures!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beer, Buddha, and Baseball, Part Two

Beer, Buddha, and Baseball: Day Two

Buddha Day, AKA Saturday

It was another beautiful day in Colorado. After a morning at Target with Angie, Jack, and Alex and a quick lunch at Chick-Fil-A, Angie and I headed to the Shambala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, CO. Shambala is a Buddhist retreat center focusing on meditation, yoga, and other contemplative practices. Angie and I were headed there to see the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.

The day was absolutely gorgeous. As we joined the other folks waiting for the Stupa tour, I realized I'd made a big mistake. No sunscreen. Everyone else was slathering themselves with the stuff, and all I had was some lip gloss with an SPF of 20. Not only was it very sunny, but we were also much closer to the sun, being up in the mountains and all. I'd just have to take my chances.

We began the trek up to the Stupa past fields and trees. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be when summer arrives.
We stopped to pick up our guide in front of this "shrine". Various visitors have left different offerings here for the Buddha. According to the guide, it just sort of happened. It isn't a formal shrine. There were all sorts of interesting things left there.

Chapstick. Dolls.
Watches.
From there we could see the Stupa.

Our guide explained how it was built and we watched a short movie. Then Angie and I parted from the group to experience it on our own. We started by circumambulating the Stupa, which means to walk clockwise around it.

The gates were beautiful. The bright colors really appealed to me. Perhaps the inspiration for a sock project?
Inside, the Stupa was cool and peaceful. A large Buddha statue looks over the room.

Perhaps these hands are suited for knitting?

Another standing Buddha watches over the entrance to the Stupa.


You can read more about the Stupa at the link above. I'm sure it explains the architecture and symbolism better than I could. Angie and I visited the gift shop and then headed home. We had a nice dinner in her backyard while we watched the boys play on the new playset Greg had assembled that day. After the little ones headed to bed, us adults stayed up and enjoyed some wine and adult conversation. Then it was off to bed to prepare for another exciting day...at the Denver Zoo! Coming Tomorrow: Biology Day

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beer, Buddha, and Baseball

I'm back! My vacation is over and the trip to Denver completed. I'll be writing about my "Beer, Baseball, Biology, and Buddha" trip over the next few days. I wouldn't want to overwhelm everyone (okay, actually just myself) with an extraordinarily long blog post after so many days of silence. I will also be devoting a separate blog post to the woolly and corny (you'll get it in a few days) aspects of my trip.
So, here goes!

Beer, Baseball, Biology, and Buddha: Day 1

Day One is the Beer and Baseball portion of the trip. Also known as Friday. I actually arrived in Denver on Thursday about 3:00, but there isn't much to tell about that day. Certainly nothing that begins with a "B", so we'll just pretend it didn't happen.

After a nice, snuggly nights sleep at Angie's house, I awoke and we headed to Fort Collins to visit the New Belgium Brewery, home of Fat Tire! When Fat Tire became available in MN again, it was a HUGE deal. I was excited to visit this brewery that uses sustainable methods, encourages conservation, and just makes damn good beer!

Angie and I looked forward to the tour, and of course, the free samples. Well, fate had other plans in store. Actually, the academic calendar at CSU had other plans and we found we had arrived too late to get tour tix, beat out by parents and relatives there to see their children graduate. Instead, we did the brief self-guided tour.

Here is the lab. Who knows what happens in there...the self-guided tour didn't really include too many explanatory signs.

We couldn't go this way...Hasselhoff photo shoot in progress.

We were able to worship at the Shrine-O-Beer.

Then we just waited around for a table to open up so we could get some free beer. FREE BEER!

And lovely beer it was.

I had (clockwise staring at upper-right hand corner): Loose Lips (a darker beer concocted by Jessica, who works at New Belgium); Old Cherry (ale brewed with real cherry juice); Mothership Wit (an organic wheat beer); and Blue Paddle (a Pilsner Lager).

After enjoying our brews and the company of two groups that visit the brewery every day, we headed in to Fort Collins for a little shopping and a stop at the O'Dell Brewing Company. Angie and I shared a tasting tray. MMMM...More beer!


By this time, we needed to head to Denver for the Minnesota Twins/Colorado Rockies game.

I was shocked when we arrived at Coors Field about 5:00 p.m. and I saw more Twins jerseys and hats than Rockies! By the time the game started, this had corrected itself, but I still felt right at home. We were surrounded by Twins fans and lots of "Circle Me Bert" signs. I felt right at home.


Even better, the Twins won Friday night, 4-2. My favorite Twin, Carlos Gomez injured his wrist making the game ending play though. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

The evening ended with a successful search for a street burrito, and then arriving back at Angie's house to curl back up in that comfy bed.

Coming tomorrow: Day Two, the Buddha portion of the trip.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Vacation Continues...

Today I am spending with the little guy out in the burbs. He's napping right now, but earlier today we went up to his new daycare for a visit. While there, I was MOBBED by children, in particular little girls. I don't know if it was the dandelion in my hair or that they were so excited to see someone new. The two I chatted with the most, Scarlett and Emma, let me in on various news, such as: their mommies are coming to pick them up; one of them had a princess bike; one wants a pink flower, the other purple; and of course they wanted me to watch them go down the slide.

Since I am out here at my sister's place, that means I will measure her later and then be able to begin on the Nothing But a T-Shirt. I'll be using this Rowan Calmer in a blue-ish shade with white for the trim.

I also have started a One Skein Wonder for Gretchen. I've made a lot more progress since I took this photo. It's made out of Classic Elite Bazic Wool in Thistle.


While I was home Monday, the Knitpicks CotLin arrived for the Josephine Top I am planning to make. The color is Kohlrabi.


And last but not least, here is one finished Synesthesia sock. This will be the only project going with me to Denver...well, maybe the OSW since it is so close to being finished.

That with whatever I come up with for Sockapalooza 5 pretty much sums up my summer knitting queue. Oooooh...the excitement!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sushi!

Remember how there were camels on Northrup Mall last Thursday, and then on Friday there were those cute plastic bottle flowers, and how I wondered what Monday would hold in store? Turns out nothing, because I am not there! I am on vacation!

So far, my vacation has been spent at home, doing exciting thing like cleaning my apartment and washing my couch cushion covers. Jealous, aren't you?

For fun, last night D and I took a Sushi making class. It was offered through community ed at one of the local high schools. It felt like going back in time as we passed rows of lockers and entered the home ec kitchen. Ah...memories.

The first couple hours of the class were spent preparing the ingredients for the sushi while the rice cooked and seasoned. Sushi means "seasoned rice", not raw fish as many people think. There was no raw fish in the sushi we prepared last night. We did have: avocado, cucumber, carrot, daikon radish, grated spicy ginger, roe, sesame seeds, asparagus, mushrooms, eel, spinach, imitation crab, shrimp, chicken, egg, some kind of spicy gourd....and SPAM.


Yup! Spam. Apparently, in Guam, Spam Sushi is the best selling sushi roll. Of course, I was not surprised having visited the Spam Museum last summer and learning all about the amazing canned meat. The instructor asked for someone "brave" to cut up the spam and brown it. I was more than happy to volunteer. I was actually a bit surprised at how leery many of the people in class were on the Spam. It's quite popular in Hawaii.

Personally, I wanted to avoid the shrimp at all costs. I do not like shrimp. I do not like the taste and I really don't like the texture. Yet, 45 minutes later I found myself cutting shrimp in half and passing them to D to "de-vein". If you know what de-veining is, you'll know why it gave me the heebie-jeebies. Actually, just TOUCHING the shrimp gave me the heebie-jeebies. You should all be quite proud of me for going out of my comfort-zone to slice up the little critters. I know I am.

There were over 20 people in the class and once the ingredients were set we had 8 trays like this of ingredients.

As our instructor said, sushi is to the Japanese what a sandwich is to us. We have bread...they have rice and seaweed. You can put whatever you want in it.

Finally, we were ready to get to work and make some sushi rolls!

D lays the rice across his seaweed...

After selecting some fine ingredients, the sushi is ready to be rolled.

The rolling was the tricky part.


Here is my first roll...ready to be sliced. Check out that cucumber!

I headed over to the cutting station, and voila! Our first sushi rolls!

We could make as many rolls as we wanted and take some home with us. I made a special "breakfast" sushi roll with egg, spam, and mushroom. I actually had it for lunch today with another roll with asparagus, eel, roe, and I don't remember what else.

I was surprised how EASY it was. Sushi rolls have always looked intimidating to me when I've ordered them out, but it isn't difficult at all. The prep is a lot of work, but having a sushi party would be a great idea. Get a bunch of friends together to help prep and have at it.

What does the rest of my vacation hold in store? At the moment, I am hanging out with my step-mom. We had a nice chat over coffee and pie this afternoon. Tomorrow I hang out with the little guy all day...I'm sure a trip to the park will be in order as well as some Thomas the Tank Engine. Then it's off to Denver for a few days to visit my friend Angie and see the Minnesota Twins play the Colorado Rockies.

I'll try to post from vacation if possible. Check back later tomorrow or tonight for a knitting related post!