Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yet another proud mum moment!

It was Madison's turn to make me cry and feel like the proud mum. It was her Preschool Graduation on Friday. We spent a lovely warm day on the top of Rib Mt. playing, grilling and watching the ceremony.

The orange cap in the pics doesn't match her dress, but they were their official graduation hats that they made in class. She did such a nice job and made us so proud. I'll admit I'm not sure that I want her to start school this fall, but she is determined to. I know better than to mess with a strong-willed woman.

On the knitting front - I did cast on for the Tudor KAL on Eliz I. Unfortunately I haven't gotten very far with it, as we have been so busy with activities the past few days. I have also whipped out the bag part of the
Noni Bobbles Everywhere bag and am planning on whipping out the 192 bobbles .... yes, I did say 192 ... and will felt it this week.

Seeing as we don't have family within 1,300+ miles we decided we would go and stay at a Waterpark/Hotel so that the kids could have some fun. Personally, as usual, I wanted to go to Chicago, but the kids won the vote. The Dells would seem like the obvious choice, but seeing as half of the MidWest was heading there, we thought we'd stay a little closer to home. We stayed
here. Not my usual class of hotel, so I tried not to complain about the room. Despite my reservations we had a blast. Steve and I took turns playing with the younger two in the kiddie play pools and racing down the slides with the older boys. We went out to eat and had fun being a family.

I really needed the good time with the family as I had some very sad news on Wednesday. My Uncle Peter (well, not really my uncle, but I still called him that) died of Bone Cancer. We knew it was coming, but was still a shock. The bigger shock for me was that his ex-wife (who he still desperately loved) was trying to get back to visit with him before he died from California. On Monday he told my dad, his best friend, that he was ready to go, but wanted to see "his" Pauline one last time. She quickly tried to change tickets to get there sooner and was in the air, 4 hours from landing, when he passed. This was so upsetting to me, as my family lives in England and my dad is not in the best of health, and I am afraid that I wouldn't get back in time if something were to happen to him or Mum. I almost flew home on Friday, but decided to wait until July or later this summer for a better planned visit. I loved Uncle Peter. He was an amazing man and will be deeply missed.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Proud Mum Moment

Yesterday was Piano Recital Day for the boys and so not alot of knitting was accomplished. Don't they look so handsome. It's interesting to see the different personalities in these boys. Declan (#2 child) was very nervous beforehand, but played beautifully, not missing one note, everything perfect. Which is exactly how Declan likes things - he's our perfectionist. Caleb sauntered up to the stage, no fear at all. He was very confident and did a lovely job. Although he doesn't enjoy practicing piano, he has such a beautiful sound and doesn't hit but squeezes the piano keys. I'm done bragging for the moment.

(Left to right, Caleb, Mrs. Dix - piano teacher, and Declan)

Now, to the knitting. Today is the official launch of Tudor Rose KAL. I'm very excited to start Eliz I today in deep red Silky Wool. Unfortunately there is some (5+) loads of laundry to be done. Which is beyond me, because as of Friday afternoon the laundry was completely up to date. I guess that's what you get for having 4 kids. Not to worry, I'm still in proud mum stage so I don't mind.

Last night, as I was trying to behave and not start Eliz a day early, I had a serious case of Cast-on-itis. I did dig into the stash and start a Mason Dixon Knitting Log Cabin with some GGH Bali yarn. It will be a fun mindless project to have on the side.

It's a beautiful day for a Cast-On!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Secret Pal 8 - The Real Photos

Here are the real pics of the goodies my Secret Pal 8 sent to me. I hooked up the printer dock and it appears that Best Buy managed to fix it (they did however manage to break something on the camera, but who's keeping score).

Don't the pics look lovely! Now you can see the lovely colors of the yarn. As you can see, I had to taste the chocolate before taking the picture. It was delicious! I have absolutely no will power.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm really not shallow

Steve came home early from work this afternoon and gave me a belated birthday card, it was lovely and I instantly forgave him for the delay. Then he and Madison dashed off to Appleton to pick up his Hummer from the dealer (it has practically a new engine although only 5 months old - don't ask - long story). He just returned and had stopped off at the specialty store. He handed me a huge bag of yummy english sweets (candy) and biscuits (cookies). As a dentist he can obviously easily identify a sweet tooth and soft spot.

All is forgiven!

I'm not really shallow - I'm multi-layered. Funnily enough, so is the candy bar.

Who needs a birthday card?

Yesterday was my birthday. Steve was nice enough to buy me a beautiful new phone/pda that I wanted/needed and planned (well, I arranged the sitter) to take me to a movie and dinner this weekend. He also had helped the kids pick out 4 bouquets of flowers and cards for Mother's Day. Yet, he couldn't understand that although I appreciate the gifts etc. - that I wanted a birthday card (or handwritten note would be fine). He didn't believe me when I said that the card was more important to me than the gift. In fact, he may have chuckled at this point and made some "yeah right" comment.

It's amazing - how when he rolls his eyes or makes smartass comments, how I want to beat the snot out of him, but I'm not an abusive wife or prone to outbursts of violence. In other words, I called him an arse and walked away.

A few minutes later he asked me if I would please let him know (writing down would be preferable) what my expectations were for birthdays/mothers day etc. Apparently, 14+ years of marriage haven't taught him anything. I, of course, told him that I shouldn't have to tell him what I want. His immediate response was "Dr. Phil says that you're supposed to ask for what you want and not assume the other person can read your mind." What??? Now this is a man who laughs at people who watch Dr. Phil, so I was a little thrown off base. After a moment of stunned silence I saw the mischievous twinkle in his eye and we both started laughing. Steve then shared with me that his patients all like to watch Dr. Phil while they have their teeth worked on, so he can't help but pick up tidbits of wisdom every now and then.

I love how me makes me smile. There's hope for him yet.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

One-Skein Secret Pal Questionnaire

1. Which yarn is most like your personality (you can be specific or general with your answer- brand, type, color, fiber, whatever)?
Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool in #24 a claret. Because its colors is warm and fiesty, yet appealing. It has the coolness and luxury of silk and the down to earth side of wool.

2. What is your favorite color yarn to knit/crochet with?
I love Red, or greys or creams.

3. Have you ever used variegated, or magic, yarns?
Yes, I have mixed results with it. I prefer subtle variations, but did knit a jacket in Manos Lava 105 and loved it.

4. Do you tend to favor certain fibers when choosing yarns?
Natural fibers. I am not a superwash fan unless on occasion in sock yarn.

5. Do you prefer to work with center-pull or traditionally wound balls of yarn?

6. Have you ever worked with organic yarns or are you interested in trying them?
Manos Del Uruguay is an organic yarn. I have had mixed success. I had purchased some Araucania nature cotton and was very disappointed with it. I'm up for trying anything.

7. How many and what projects have you made in the last year?
Too many to list, but here's the tip of the iceberg. Lace Elizabeth I scarf from Knit picks in Douceur et Soie, Merino Angora capelet for sample for Tess yarns, top sample for tess yarns, 5+ pairs of socks in everything from socks that rock to koigu, charlotte's web shawl in koigu, dale agave, philosophers wool color your own, baby sweaters, scarfs, dale in sisik, there are at least 20+ other projects.

8. Will you be knitting any gifts this year?
Yes. I usually end up giving my lace away. I always knit a gift for my mother-in-law and often my children's teachers, gifts for babies and children.

9. What is your favorite one skein project?
Labyrinth Rug or Petal Bib. I love the rug because it could use up a lot of stash and who can resist a cute baby bib, there is always a baby being born to someone you know and a great way to whip up a finished project fast and use the stash.

10. How much yarn do you have in your stash and how do you store it?
5+ large storage boxes. I have it sorted by project and then loose skeins by color and type. I also have skeins of yarn in a bronze vase as decoration in my living and tons of yarn and projects stashed throughout the house.

11. Do you have a yarn in your stash that you love so much you can never use it or part with it?
No. There is a project for everything and you can always buy more.

12. Do you knit less or differently in the summer?
No. I knit year round with whatever strikes me or is in reach. I like to knit sweaters during the summer so that I have something new for fall. Living in the northwoods, our summer is very short, and winter/fall weather most of the year so I have to knit year round to keep up.

13. Do you belong to any knitting groups (online or offline)?
Tudor Rose Knitalong, WIP Wipeout, local knitting group at LYS

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dye-O-Rama Questionnaire

Specific to this swap:
Your favorite colors?
Red, green, gold, browns, generally deeper autumnal colors/tones. Although I do like sage green and blues.

Preferred yarn weight (Fingering, Sport, DK, maybe even Worsted)?
No real preference here as it depends on the project.

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn?
I do like solid yarn the best, but like tonal solids and multicolored also.

If your buddy is able to do so, would you like a variegated, self-striping, or self-patterning yarn?
I'm up for anything.

Would you be interested in a wool blend sock yarn (nylon, tencel, silk, acrylic, alpaca, etc.)?
Certain blends are more appealing than others. I'm not a fan of acrylic this generally feels plasticy. I love silk (who doesn't) and alpaca.

Imagine the perfect colorway. What would you name it?
Autumn's Glory

What was the biggest appeal to you for joining this dye-along?
The opportunity to try something new and get to know other fiber addicts.

General yarn/fiber questions:
Have you dyed yarn/fiber before?
Once. I used kool-aid dye for a hat for the kids.

If so, whatÂ’s your favorite dye and method?
Seeing as that is the only type of dying I have done, I can't really state a preference.

Do you spin?
No. Would like to, but haven't dared to yet.

Have you knit socks before?
Yes. I love knitting socks, and always have a pair on the needles and in the purse.

Do you use sock yarn for just socks or in other patterns too?
I have used sock yarn for baby sweaters in self-patterning yarn. In fact, my youngest son was a model for a sample I knit for Black Purl Designs in self-patterning sock yarn. It was one of the hits of Stitches Midwest 2005

What are some of your favorite yarns?
Cascade 220 is a classic and always good to have on hand. I do like Dale and absolutely love Debbie Bliss' Baby Cashmerino. Silky Wool is anotherfavoritee. There really are too many to mention.

What yarn do you totally covet?
Silk blends. Although I'm never entirely sure what to do with them.

Favorite patterns?
I have to say Dale and Baby Dale, Black Purl Designs (I'm biased), Alice Starmore.

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object?
A collection of the Alice Starmore patterns.

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)?
Lantern Moon straights and Bamboo Addi circulars.

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be?
Cultivated Silk by Tess Designer Yarns. It sounds good, but to be honest it would probably be a karabella yarn.

Nothing to do with knitting/yarn/fiber in any way but seemed kinda fun:
Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack?
European chocolate. Lindt, pure milk with hazelnuts. Blacklicoricee also racks up at the top of the list.

WhatÂ’s your favorite animal?
My kids. Oh, you meant a real animal. I'm not sure I have a favorite animal, but I am fascinated by sharks.

Do you have pets? What are their species/names/ages?
We have a house full of allergies, so only goldfish and to be honest I don't know their names.

If you were a color what color would you be?
Red. It's warm and appealing, yet fiesty.

Describe your favorite shirt (yours or someone elseÂ’s)..
Classic black t-shirts, and I have one Kenzie t-shirt that has some cool applique on it and funky ties.

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature?
An iris. I have always loved the intense colors and interesting shape.

Tell me the best quote youÂ’ve ever heard or read.
I love quotes, here are a few of my favorites -
Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish. - Albert Einstein
It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required - Winston Churchill
It matters not what someone was born, but what they grow to be - J. K. Rowling

Do you have a wishlist?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love the classics - Wool, wool blends, merino, cotton, silk, silky wool and most other natural fibers. I also have enjoyed some novelty/acrylic yarns such as Louisa Hardings Fauve or suede, but generally prefer natural. I am not a big fan of superwash and acrylic yarns. No matter how expensive they always seem plasticy to me. The exception being suerpwash merino sock yarn.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Needle Rolls that match my knitting bag by Betz Designs.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I have been knitting since I was 5 years old and would definitely consider myself advanced, but there is always more to learn in knitting (unless you Elizabeth Zimmerman or Meg Swansen) so I enjoy taking classes to learn or improve on skills.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
No. But I may try to get to that later this weekend.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Warm smells, like Fig or brown sugar vanilla.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I didn't know there was any other kind of tooth. I LOVE chocolate, but hate Hershey's. I grew up in England and so have never become accustomed to the waxy US brands. I also love licquorice (black).

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I do scrapbook, a little. I do not spin.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
James Blunt, Josh Grobin, INXS, Toby Keith, I not the biggest fan of R&B, but otherwise have pretty mixed tastes (if you can't tell yet).

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Red. I prefer deeper and warmer colors, autumnal tones, browns, greens, golds, reds. I'm not really a big pastel lover, but do like sage green.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am married with four children, 3 boys - 10, 7, 16 mo's and 1 girl - 4. We only have goldfish and have family members in the home who are allergic to cats, and dogs.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
In the winter I do wear scarves, hats and mittens as we live in the Northwoods and it gets cold as heck here. I don't really wear ponchos.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Cabled sweaters. My first sweater was an aran when 5, and have enjoyed them ever since. I do also enjoy knitting lacey items, but enjoy the process much more than the finished garment as I'm not a real frilly chick. I tend to gift out these projects. I also enjoy knitting socks.

13. What are you knitting right now?
The question should be, what are you not knitting right now. Let's see, a lace shawl in meg swansens unspun icelandic yarn, 2 pairs of socks, 2 dale sweaters, 1 Philosopher wool sweater. I am preparing to knit a sweater from Alice Starmore's Tudor Rose with a KAL. This is all I am willing to 'fess up to publicly.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
It depends on the type of knitting, but never plastic needles. I am rather keen on the rosewood and other exoctic needles offered by Lantern Moon.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
No, but it's on the list of items to get. I really do need to get one.

17. How did you learn to knit?
My Nanny Taylor (grandmother) taught me. She and my mum knit constantly, so it was second nature to me.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?
5 years old, a hat for my daughter to felt. It would probably only take me an hour or so to finish knitting it, but at this point I think I'm over it. Otherwise, everything else is just a WIP, as I intend on picking it up again when the moment is right. There is a difference.

19. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving (although Christmas runs a close second). Although I didn't grow up in the US I have thoroughly embraced this holiday. I love it and plan for weeks before what I'll make and love to organize big dinner parties for that day. It's always the start to the holiday season and I feel like a kid at Christmas eve.

20. Is there anything that you collect?
Duh? Yarn! Oh, you mean anything non-obvious. Boots. I love boots. They are a complete weakness of mine. Plus knitting books.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Early rowan magazines. I have #20+. Vogue knitting stitch references or any stitch reference for that matter, you can never have too many. Some Alice Starmore. I have subscriptions to Knitters.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Brioche, better design techniques. I need to think on this one.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes. Size 9 1/2.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
May 17.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Catchin' Up

For those of you wondering, I did not drop off the face of the earth. I have, in fact, been busy knitting, playing constant taxi driver to kids activities and sick. But let's not talk about anything but the knitting, because that is much more interesting.

Last Saturday, I met .... Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen at Midwest Masters. Meg and Amy taught the class I attended on Unspun Icelandic Wool. It was f.a.n.t.a.s.t.i.c.!!! Not only was their class very educational, but extremely entertaining. I'm not really awed by celebrities, but I'll admit, I wanted to be their friend. All attending the class felt that way. We all selected a wheel of the unspun Icelandic (mine was a denim blue) and began knitting a shawl that Amy designed. We sat, we knit, we learnt, we laughed and we had so much fun. I was very surprised to enjoy working with the wheel of yarn and it was so cheap that most of us ended up buying more yarn to make a sweater. I'd recommend taking a look at the schoolhouse press website and grabbing some of this yarn. It's only $7 a wheel (around 300yds).

I've also been busy finishing the cape and tank samples for Tess Designer Yarns. (pics to follow later). I am very surprised with how much I like the cape. It's one of the designs from the last issue of Knitters in Merino and Angora. The color used in the book does not do it any favors. I knit it for Tess in a baby pink and it looks beautiful. Just the right thing for a prom or wedding to keep your shoulders warm on a breezy day. The tank... didn't turn out as well as I'd of liked. So, I stalled a day and will overnight it later after making some changes.

Good news! The camera arrived home from Best Buy hospital so I will hook it up later and post pictures of all the completed and WIP's. Let's be honest, that's the first thing you look at on a blog. Scan the pics and then read the text.