Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Let's Talk About Wool"

Has a knitter ever heard such lovely words? Yesterday was the first full day of my fiber workshop, and I learned a lot about wool, cotton, silk, linen, and more. Yesterday was more of a lecture day, so I do not have many pictures to share, but today we will get more hands on.

A few highlights of the day:
The instructor had a softball size bunch of Qiviut. Holly and I migrated toward this immediately.

We learned about why linen is so much cooler than cotton, and held swatches of each up to our faces. The linen did feel cooler! Something about teh cellulose structure of cotton having more holes so it traps more air closer to your body. Cotton has to be this way so the cotton can be light and fluffy and float away to spread the seeds around.

Ever heard of heirloom tomatoes? Apparently, there is heirloom cotton as well. She had some samples of this.

We know that wool has crimps, but the more crimps, the finer the wool will be. Merino is very crimpy.

Superwash wool has been sent through a process that strips the scales off the wool. This means the scales cannot catch against one another and cause shrinking.

"Silk is pretty universally considered yummy."

Silk is so shiny due to the trianular shape of the fiber. There is always a flat surface for the light to hit and bounce back.

The only picture I took yesterday was of my wool swatches. We also got a bunch of silk swatches, but I forgot to take a picture of those. Not surprisingly, we did not get a qiviut swatch.

Our homework last night was to do some burn tests of some mystery swatches. A little scary, but fun. I think both samples I took were cotton, although one was mercerized.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Favorite Kind of Morning

David and I are having a lazy Sunday, something we haven't been able to enjoy for the last few weeks. We wandered over to the Egg and I for breakfast, and as we stepped outside I thought, "Brrr....it's a little chilly," a thought that has not crossed my mind in quite awhile.

I had the Kamikaze Yogurt...the tang of plain yogurt nicely complemented by blueberries, bananas, and walnuts. I felt it balanced the carbs and sugar in the caramel roll quite well.

We've been lazing around with the paper ever since. Windows open, breeze coming in, I actually curled up in a blanket earlier! I just came back up from getting coffee downstairs, and as I walked in, the apartment has that fresh air smell, a surprise since judging by the dust bunny I just found, it's been a while since David has cleaned. Which is FINE because he has a broken arm!

Needless to say, I feel in my element. Cool breeze, coffee, paper, and fibery goodness on deck for this afternoon.

I begin my Split Rock Arts Program workshop today. I am taking Fiber and Fabric Structures: An Intensive. I'll be sure to post each day about what we have learned and what I am making. I've been looking through my stash to see what fibers I could take to play around with...the corn yarn is a must, the bamboo as well. I also have some undyed wool I will take as well...we'll be playing around with more than just Kool-Aid.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cupcakes Make It All Better

I headed to my sister's place in Plymouth last night, partly to enjoy the AC and mostly to enjoy spending time with her and the Little Guy. I spent the night and this morning we enjoyed pancakes and blueberries, played with cars and trucks and trains, and watched a cartoon with a cat that talks to his refrigerator.

We told the Little Guy we were going to go to the cupcake store for a special treat. Of course, he was very excited about this, but as we drove back to St. Paul, he mentioned several times that his tummy hurt. I turned back to ask him if he still wanted a cupcake, to which he replied:

"When I eat that cupcake, my tummy will feel all better."

He did seem perkier afterward.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My New Toy

Most of you know this because you live in Minnesota, but it has been hot, hot, hot here the last few days. I think today the high is supposed to be in the 80s, so it will be a little bit better.

Surprisingly, I've been doing just fine without my AC in. I have a window unit and have not yet had the help I need to install it, so I've been making do. It hasn't been bad. Were I doing aerobics in my apartment, I think it would be a different story. I don't think the guy downstairs would appreciate that though.

For a little relief last night I headed to the theatre down the street to see "Up" and have popcorn for dinner. It was a wonderful movie...funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming, exciting. It's got everything, including talking dogs, which is hilarious. It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud and to tear up in a movie, and I did both.

On to the topic of this post! I bought a bicycle on Sunday. David and I have several friends that bike and they've brought up several times that we should go out for a ride together. Only problem is I didn't have a bike. Now I do! Isn't she a beauty?

We went to Erik's in Roseville on Sunday and Mark helped us out. Go buy a bike from him. Even when I did my "well, I need to think about it", he didn't get pushy. My sister called while I was thinking about it and encouraged me to "Go for it!", so the thinking didn't last too long.

I recently paid off my credit card debt, so after two years of scrimping and saving, I think I deserve a little splurge. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "What do you call that trip to Ireland?" You have a point there.

I'm considering also riding to work. I can travel along a bike trail almost the entire way, right along the river, so it's a nice ride. I tried it this morning for practice (I don't work on Wednesdays). It took me about 45 minutes each way. I did not have to walk my bike up the hills (I was worried about this), and no giant dogs came out to attack me like the time I rollerbladed the same route. It was way more fun than I thought it would be. I'm looking forward to doing this a couple times a week.

My only problem was shifting gears. It's been probably close to a decade since I had a bike, so...I had some problems. Close to the end of my ride, I really had problems figuring out what gear I needed to be in and got a little overzealous trying to shift too many times, too fast and the chain came off. Oops! I was able to fix it though. Yay me!

Now I am escaping the heat with a cold press and free Wifi at White Rock Coffee Roasters. Have a good day everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2009

More Yarn! And a baby!

My mom is cleaning out her stash, so I headed over there this weekend to see what she had. I picked up a few things. Free yarn!

The first is this Plymouth Yarn Wildflower DK. I loved the dark pink color. It's also made in Holland, where my family is from, so that is an added bonus. It's 51% cotton and 49% acrylic. There are 404 projects on Ravelry using this yarn...hopefully there are a couple two skein projects. It will always make a nice baby hat.

Next up is some Aussi Sock from Oasis Yarns (192 projects on Ravelry). No surprise here - it is made in Australia. The color is Atlantic Weaves. 90% Aussi Merino, 10% nylon. I'll be able to safely throw whatever socks come from this in the washing machine.

This Cascade 128 Tweed caught my eye. 90% Peruvian Highland Wool, 10% Donegal Tweed. The pink was just too much fun to pass up. 842 projects on Ravelry, including a bowl which looks really cool, but I'm not sure I want a pink bowl.
I also took the last of my mom's Wool Bam Boo from Classic Elite Yarns (617 projects). She made me a Koolhaas (grabbed my magnet from the Seattle Public Library to check the spelling on that!) hat from this yarn. I think I'll try a scarf to go with the hat. This yarn is so soft. It is 50% bamboo and 50% wool.

And last but not least, some Dreambaby DK from Plymouth Yarns. No natural fibers in this and I don't care. It's 50% acrylic and 50% nylon. I've got a variety of colors, and if I ever finish the baby blanket I am working on, I'll make a nice rainbow blanket out of this. At 1,330 projects on Ravelry, there should be no problem finding something to knit with this.

I also have another hat to show off. It's a Marley hat, my favorite hat to make!

Here's a picture of the proud recipient, Eddie. He won't be able to wear the hat for a few more months, but that's okay. It's supposed to be 95 degrees today, so I don't think he really needs a hat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Voice Mail from the Little Guy

Gigi, her hubby, and the Little Guy have been in Florida for the past week and a half. Yes, while I enjoyed the rainy weather in Chicago, they were at the beach.

Yesterday, the Little Guy called and left me the cutest voice mail. I love the voice mails he leaves me. Far too many of them have been deleted from my voice mail box before I was ready - in a particular the one where he tells me to have a "NICE FLIGHT!" It was so cute...I miss that voice mail.

To counteract this problem, I will not be recording all my voice mails from him. And as you can see below, I used my camera with the visual aid of Johnny Depp (doesn't he look a little weird with his chin missing?)

So, it's not that exciting. I am mostly posting this for my mom. Here is a translation of the conversation.

Little Guy: HI MIMI!
Gigi: Tell Mimi where you went yesterday.
LG: I go to Disney World.
G: What did we do there?
LG: Uhhhhh...I don't know.
G: We rode the train...who did you meet?
LG: I don't know.
G: Donald Duck!
LG: Duck!
G: Silly, okay, talk to ya later.

Voice Mail from the Little Guy from Michelle on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chicago, cont.

We woke up to a miserable, rainy day in Chicago. Good thing we went to the baseball game yesterday. Today we were off to Elmhurst to visit with some of my extended family - Grandma, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. We had a nice lunch at a place called Eggstasy, which had huge plates and huge portions. They also had an overwhelming selection of French Toast.

We visited for a bit afterwards and I showed my Grandma some of the baby hats I've been knitting. She also laughed at the Nathan/I'm pooped story so that made me happy. We had a nice visit and then headed back downtown.

Our next stop was the Sears Tower. Chicago looks different from 103 floors up.

We took the Water taxi back to our hotel.

By this time, it was a beautiful sunny day in Chicago.

I was pretty hungry, so we decided to check out the world famous Billy Goat Tavern and Grill.

I'd heard of this place and it was nothing like what I expected. It was about fifty different kinds of cool though. I'll be back. As we were leaving, the place was slowly being taken over by confused looking Twins fans.

Yes, there are a lot of Twins fans in town this weekend. The Twins won again today! Woo-hoo!

Just for my mom, here is a picture of me and a stainless steel moose.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Twins Win!

David and I hopped the Red Line this morning to Wrigley Field to watch the Twins take on the Cubs. It was a beautiful sunny day, a little breezy, cool in the shade, warm in the sun. Wonderful for an outdoor baseball game.

There were nearly as many Twins fans as Cubs fans there. When Joe Mauer hit a homerun in the third inning, the woman next to David asked, "Wait...Are we in Minnesota?" We were pretty happy that the Twins won, although it seemed like they went through just about the entire pitching rotation to do it.

Wrigley Field was a great place to see a baseball game. There is just something more satisfying about seeing a baseball sail through actual air, rather than the recycled stuff inside the Metrodome.

Yeah, we really out-hit the Cubs - 14 hits to 6. Kevin Slowey pitched 5 great innings and one not-so-great inning. Joe Nathan got the save.

David and I walked down after the game to get a closer look at the field. Oh, it would have been so cool to have sat down there! David got lots of comments on the PBR shirt.

Afterwards, we had some deep dish pizza for dinner and then wandered around the Art Institute of Chicago for bit. Admission is free Thursday and Friday nights during the summer. We headed over to the new Modern Building as well. If you'll be in Chicago this summer, check it out.

Our Forced Trip to Chicago

A few months ago, David and I planned a trip to Chicago. On the agenda was a Twins/Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a taping of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and a trip to visit some family in the burbs.

That trip is now upon us, and David and I were both of the mind that if not for the plane tickets, we would just as well have stayed home. He is in pain from his broken arm. I'm still sniffling, coughing, and tired. Neither one of us much felt like getting on a plane and heading away from the comfort of our own homes for the weekend.

But, we did buy plane tickets, so we headed to Chicago and here is what greeted us.

Rain and cold.

The firs thing we had to do when we got off the train downtown was find a Walgreens or CVS so we could buy a couple cheap umbrellas. This was extra annoying because we KNEW it was going to be raining, but I forgot my umbrella.

Fortunately, we picked a nice hotel, so many pillows, a comfy bed, and a well-stocked mini-bar awaited us. After a little nap and some $4 peanuts, we decided to head out into the rain for some lunch.

This is when I realized how chilly it was. After lunch we walked over to Navy Pier and I bought a long-sleeved t-shirt. In a few hours we'd be just sitting for the taping of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and I knew it would be cold.

Boy, was I ever right. People were wearing scarves and hats. We met my friend Jenn there and she had brought blankets, gloves, hats, and scarves, so we managed to stay nice and warm. She also worked on a scarf with these ginormous needles!

The show was great! Very funny, as always, and despite the cold, we had a lot of fun. You can hear the show this weekend on your local public radio station. As they say, check your local listings.

Then we headed over to Russian Tea Time for dinner. Jenn and I split the Beef Strogonoff and it was excellent.

This morning, it is bright and sunny and the high is supposed to be 75. Perfect for a baseball game I think!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I Love My Mom

I really hate to be a whiner, but I am STILL sick. I went to work Thursday and quite a few people actually told me to go home. So I left early and then stayed home again today. The doctor said I have not been sick long enough and I'm missing a couple symptoms for her to say it was a sinus infection, but I should go back Monday if I don't feel any better. In other words, suffer through the weekend! Yay!

My brother posted on my Facebook page, "Suck it up! At least you don't have a broken arm!" Such sympathy. But he has a point, because David DOES have a broken arm. He broke it Wednesday night. So he's miserable, I'm miserable...and neither one of us can really help the other out. I'd like to be over there cleaning his house and cooking for him, but I just don't have the energy. And I'm sure he'd like to bring me chicken noodle soup, but he broke his right arm and he drives a stick, so that's pretty much out of the question.

In lieu of that, my good, kind mother drove out to St. Paul and took me back to her place so she can take care of me. She's making me tea right now. She is so sweet. Aren't moms the best?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baby Hats!

I finished two other baby hats while I was home convalescing. I'm still under the weather, but I have progressed to the severe congestion phase. The phase where nothing helps. I've tried it all.

So, I did a lot of knitting. The green hat I wrote about earlier.

Monday night I started the Candy Cane hate from Itty Bitty Hats. I used Crystal Palace Yarns Merino 5 in Red and White. This is leftover from the Cherry-O hat I knit about a year ago.

Totally cute hate! I love the way my pom-pom turned out too! I was a little skeptical while I was knitting, but it turned out great.

So, I finished that up Tuesday and since I had nothing better to do, I started another Marley Hat. This is done with Tahki Cotton Classic, a yarn I have way too much of in my stash from the 4 other Marley hats I have knit.

By the time I got done, I just didn't have the energy to make the topper, so I left it off. I think it looks cute this way too. The Marley topper is really cute, but more work than I wanted to put in.

So, I'm still home, feeling miserable. On the plus side, I found a diamond earring that went missing about 6 months ago. This will sound crazy, but I've never been too terribly worried about it. I figured it would turn up eventually.

Well, this morning I was dragging my Kleenex around and used the last piece. I could hear something rattling around in there and my first thought was, "I wonder if that is my diamond earring?" I didn't think that because I'm psychic or anything. It's pretty much my first thought these days whenever it sounds like something small is rattling around in anything.

So, I look in the box, and sure enough, there it is! I'm not really sure how it got there, but I'm glad to have it back.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ouch!

Being goofy, when I felt better.

Well, here I sit at home snuggled up on the couch with Lulu and some tea. Last night my throat began to feel a little dry and scratchy. Woke up about 2 a.m. with a burning, angry throat that did not want me to go back to sleep. My throat feels like someone rubbed sandpaper against it and then just to be funny dripped Tabasco on top. It doesn't look any worse for the wear, but as my mom would say (most likely just to appease her little girl), "Your tonsils do look a little swollen".

Leading up to all this was a fun weekend of beautiful weather, music, friends, family, and a completed knitting project.

My friend Angie visited from Colorado this weekend, and Thursday night we drove to Anoka High School to see Staff Infection (a band made up of staff members) perform symphonic rock with the concert orchestra and the concert choir. They were raising money for their Random Acts of Kindness fund. The concert was amazing! I'm sure most of the kids didn't really know the songs, but I loved the music from Styx, the Eagles, Elton John, the Doobie Brothers. I was born in the early 70s, so it's not like I ever went to see any of these bands live, but I do remember hearing them on the radio.

Speaking of Styx - when I was a kid, my brothers loved Styx and when we would take road trips to Wisconsin and Chicago to visit our grandparents, guess what we listened to? Does the song "Come Sail Away" strike anyone else as strange? At the beginning, it seems to be about dreams and being free, but turns out, it's really about aliens.

After Angie left Friday afternoon, I finished up this little hat, made from the best yarn of all...STASH YARN!

I spent most of Saturday and Sunday with the Little Guy. The two of us went to the park Saturday night and raced each other all over. At one point I told him, "Oh! I am pooped!" He looked up at me, "You pooped Mimi? Why you poop?" and then he walked around behind me, patted my butt, and said, "I don't feel any poop". Ha ha ha.

David came over Sunday afternoon and we did some geocaching around the neighborhood.
We found a great multi-cache that took us down along the bluffs of the Mississippi River, near St. Thomas. There is a trail that leads down to Shadow Falls,

past a little spring,

then back up along the bluffs. Beautiful view of the river.

We had a great time, got rained on on the way home.

That was about when I noticed my throat was starting to hurt. I know this is only the beginning of a cold, so I'm hoping to takes lots of Zinc and Vitamin C to nip it in the bud. Otherwise, I should get a lot of knitting done!