Monday, August 28, 2006

Secret Pal 8 & Wrap Sweater Redux

I'm home from school today because I had a dentist appointment, so I was home to receive my final "reveal" box from my Secret Pal!! Wow seems to be the understatement of the century!
I opened the box and saw this:
The inside of the notecard ended with "As for my identity..." and when I turned it over it said:

The box held all kinds of phenomenal goodies!! Gummies, Smarties and mints:

Some really pretty stitch markers:

a knitting tote bag - perfect for socks:

and inside, a skein of Trekking XXL!!! I love this yarn!! The best part, though, was this: 2 (count 'em, 2!!) braids of Blue-Faced Leicester roving from Sweet Georgia Yarns!! Isn't it gorgeous? I've never spun BFL before - it's incredibly soft!

At the very bottom of the box was a piece of paper And inside, the identity of my secret pal, finally revealed! She was Kelly, (aka "Patty Melt" in the comments) from The Pajama Monologues! Thank you so much, Kelly! You've been absolutely awesome throughout Secret Pal 8!

After conferring with Joanne Seiff, the designer of the wrap sweater, I removed the double-crochet edging and redid it...but I only picked up every other stitch. (The dark spots are dampness from the steamer)I think that it made all of the difference in the world - no more drooping in the front, and the front stays nice and flat! :-) The pattern for this sweater should be available for sale at KnitPicks within the next few months...and my name will be on the pattern as the test knitter! Woohoo!!! I think it looks much better with the new edging, don't you? (and yes, Nancy, this money is going into my Knitting Camp fund!) Here are the buttons Kyle picked out:My own Secret Pal received her box over the weekend, so she now knows who I spoilee was Sarah at It Happened Just Like This. I hope she enjoyed the packages I sent as much as I enjoyed putting them together!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's a Wrap...

I finished seaming the sweater. After I washed and blocked it, Kyle and I went to Joanne Fabrics so that he could pick out the buttons - I think that he did well once again! Since no adult that I know is a size small, I drove the sweater out to my sister's house, and my 14 year old niece Sarah modeled for me.
The sweater turned out fairly well, I think, although I'm really not thrilled with the way the double crochet edging lays on the front. The edging seems to be causing the bottom front to droop pretty badly, but maybe on an adult it will hang differently. I'm not a fan of crochet edgings anyway, so I'm just a tad biased - I much prefer I-Cord as an edging. Maybe they can block it to hang correctly...I'm not exactly known for my blocking skills. :-)

Monday, August 21, 2006


I got yet another box from Peacock, my SP7 Angel! Wow!!! She sent a skein of 55% mohair, 45% wool yarn that she dyed herself: Super, super soft - I think it wants to be a scarf or a hat. She sent animal crackers (I absolutely adore animal crackers!!!!!) a pretty heart for a necklace, a tin of mints, and a roll of "police tape" that says "Danger Men Cooking" some yummy-looking fruit bars and some bath soaks a really, really cool hand-held fan. Turn it on, and the lights change to make a different design every 3 seconds. I'm going to have to hide it from the kids... And a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle!! Peacock just had knee surgery last Thursday, but she still managed to get a box out to me before she left for the hospital! Thank you very much, Peacock!!

I'm working on the right front of the wrap cardigan - the pieces don't photograph very well without somebody holding them down, so you'll have to wait until I have an extra set of hands available. :-) I should have it finished by the weekend, though, and I *hope* to have it seamed and ready to go by Monday.

I spent today making salsa and spiced apples Teachers have to report tomorrow - I DON'T WANNA GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!! It's been such a nice summer without the Juvenile Delinquents (aka "JDs"), and I'm going on my 4th year in this #$^%&*$#@ job. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jiggedy Jig!

Well, I know it's been a week since I posted, but I've been really busy! We left for Nashville on Thursday morning - the day that the TSA decided that toothpaste is extremely dangerous. The lines at the airport were really long in Cleveland, but we made it to our gate with time to spare.

We checked into the Opryland Hotel with no particular plans, but we still managed to find plenty of things to keep us busy! We went to Opry Mills Mall in the afternoon, where Dad found a pirate Pooh: Thursday evening we went to The Cock of the Walk for dinner, and we managed to get caught in the heaviest rain to hit Nashville in quite a while! The food was really good, and they had a giant rocking chair where you could channel Edith Ann to your heart's content:
On Friday, Mom and Michelle went back to the mall, and Dad, Rick, Kevin and I went out looking for historical things. We started off at The Parthenon

and it was extremely impressive! When somebody tells you that there's a 42 foot tall statue inside, it doesn't really hit how HUGE that is - until you see it! The gilding work on Athena was just astounding. From there, we went to Belle Meade Plantation. This was a 5400 acre horse farm in the 1800's, and the house and outbuildings were very interesting to tour. I forgot to take any pictures of the grounds (no pictures allowed in the house), but I did capture this in the parking lot:

On Saturday, the six of us went to The Hermitage. Again, no pictures in the house, but I did remember to use my camera on the grounds this time. Andrew Jackson himself was sitting on the back porch, and reminded me to please vote for him

The tomb of Andrew and Rachel Jackson was surrounded by beautiful flower gardens

Opryland had different "events" going on during our stay. You could see an aerialist

"Divine" was dressed as a giant vine, and wandered around slowly on her stilts throughout part of the day

And there were Chinese Acrobats (she's doing this on a stack of 9 chairs, which are balance on 4 wine bottles...)

The flowers and waterfalls were gorgeous

and I gained a few pounds from all of the rich food. :-) We came home Sunday - we were tired, but we had a great time!

When I came home, I discovered that my garden had exploded in the 4 days that I was gone (it must have been the toothpaste). I have beans and tomatoes everywhere, and I dug up my Yukon Gold potatoes and planted more for fall

I made zucchini muffins (within 10 minutes of taking them out of the oven, the plate was reduced from a dozen to 9...and by this morning, they're gone)

And I also picked these yesterday:

Please note - I live in Northeast Ohio. Okra isn't supposed to do very well here because it needs a longer growing season. I bought the shorter season seeds, but I'm not supposed to have anything ready until at least the middle of next month. Tell that to my 4' tall plants, though - it's been a really hot summer! In very short order, they became part of last night's dinner:

I've been plugging away on the wrap sweater - the sleeves are almost done. Pictures later. :-) I also finished the first skein (approx 150 yards) of the fleece that Jinny gave me, and I'm finished with one bobbin of the second - I should be able to get at least 3 skeins from the fleece

Right now I'm making a giant pot of bean and bacon soup to put up in quarts for the winter, and tonight I'm going to can more beans. School starts next week (UGH!), so I need to put up everything I can while I have the time!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Remember these? Here's the page from the new KnitPicks catalog:


I'm about halfway up the left front of the cardigan - once I get a little bit past the ribbing, I'll have something interesting to show you. Otherwise, imagine the back, but with fewer stitches. :-)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Beans and more sweater progress

Mom and Dad came up today, and we went to Great Northern Mall for a few hours. We're going to Opryland this weekend with Mom, Dad, my sister Michelle and her husband Rick (Thursday - Sunday) and Kevin needed new shorts and shirts. After a few hours of shopping and lunch at Famous Dave's, we came home and I started snapping and canning beans. 9 pints done and 4 more in the canner right now... The tomatoes are just starting to come on; I probably won't have enough to can for a week or two. My 4 rows of okra are blooming, and I dug around the Yukon Gold potatoes this morning, and from the looks of things, I'm going to have a bunch! The peppers are almost big enough to pick, but we seem to have lost our cucumber plants again. :-(

Gracie, who is completely unfazed by thunderstorms and fireworks, goes ballistic when she hears the "pop" of the jars sealing. Go figure.

I made some progress on the wrap cardigan

3 more inches on the armholes, and the back will be done. :-) I'm going to have to try to find a small person to try this on when it's done - I haven't worn a size small since 6th grade!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

wrap cardigan progress & Angel!

I'm past the center ribbing - the sweater that I started yesterday morning is now 13" long...

This is the sweater that I'm test-knitting for Joanne Seiff - KnitPicks will be selling the pattern this fall. The yarn is Wool of the Andes in the new color "Arctic Pool Heather." I would have more done, but I discovered an un-fixable boo-boo last night (I accidentally put in a short row on one side - probably while I was walking around with Kyle at the fair) and I had to tear back about 3" of work...otherwise I'd be to the armholes by now. :-) Today is Kelson's baseball team picnic, so I should have plenty of knitting time while a bunch of 13 & 14 year old boys eat, run around, and eat.

I figured out who my Secret Pal 7 Angel is!!! It took many, many hints (as in "hit me over the head with the hints, please!") and a bunch of searching, but my Angel is Peacock from Another Hobby Blog!! She was an absolute gem throughout, and seemed to know exactly what I liked/needed/wanted. Thank you soooo much, Peacock!! You were truly an Angel!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Lotsa stuff

I went out to the Medina County Fair and checked on my entries. I managed to get a shot of all four in one picture. The baby sweater didn't place, and I'm not surprised in the slightest - I made it in 2 days! My Harrisville vest took a third; the first and second place sweaters were beautiful aran cardigans...the one that took first also took best in show. My mystery shawl took a first in the scarves category (hooray!) and the biggest surprise was the socks. They took first in the children's category!! Woohoo!!! I won a prize at Knitting Camp for entering the movie prop contest: a knitting bag from Green Mountain Spinnery, with a skein of purple mohair, a skein of green variagated worsted, and a hat pattern. It was sitting there, taunting me, so yesterday I made the hat (in the leaves pattern). It isn't blocked yet, but the yarn knit up very nicely! I had never played with anything from Green Mountain Spinnery before; it's very nice yarn. I still have enough left over to make another one, but I'll have to reverse the color pattern. I think it's going to go into the "future Christmas present" pile.

I just started my first-ever test knitting project! Joanne Seiff has designed a gorgeous wrap-around cardigan for KnitPicks, and not only do I get to knit the sample for the catalog, but I get to test the pattern! There's not much to show yet; I've done the bottom ribbing and about 1" of the back so far. I'm knitting it in the new Wool of the Andes heather, and the yarn is gorgeous!! I'll post pictures when there's actually something to see...

Speaking of KnitPicks, the Hoodie Sweater is in the new catalog! The catalog picture is here. They're going to fix the yarn requirements on the website; right now they're double what you actually need.

On Friday, while I was at camp, I picked up several skein of Regal in a neutral color. I started a basic raglan for Kevin...he doesn't wear sweaters, but he wants something to wear under his camo when he's hunting. Right now I've knit about 9" We wear the same size, so I'll probably get more use out of it than he will. If he continues to act like the Supreme Weenie, though, I may just "accidentally" put some waist shaping into it...

Speaking of which....this was in my driveway when I got home from Camp Huh. We have a boat. A guy that he works with occasionally is going through a divorce, and wanted it out of his driveway. He sold it to Kevin for $500, pay when we can. (If he doesn't get back to work soon, that may be a while!) It needs cleaned up (it had trees growing in it, and the bases of the seats were rotted out) but everything else is solid and functional. The inboard motor is bigger than the one in the van! It's an 18' Wellcraft 180 Elite, and from the research I've done, it's from about 1985. Kevin has spent the last week cleaning, scrubbing and polishing...we don't have the keys yet, so he can't do very much more. I have to admit that it's a nice boat, and worth a lot more than we're going to pay for it, but WHERE in the heck are we going to keep a boat?


Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Wow!! I'm home and (mostly) recovered from Knitting Camp, and I have to say - Meg & Co. did it again! I went to Camp 3 - the Oft-Timers camp - and I am so happy that I did! (Warning - this is a VERY photo-heavy post!)

I arrived Thursday afternoon. After the "Welcome to Camp" buffet, we settled into our seats in the classroom. Many of these people have been together for years, and I knew absolutely nobody - but you would never know it from the way that these wonderful people treated me!

This is the view from my seat

Diane is on the right (more on her later!) and on the left is Emily Ocker! Yes, THE Emily Ocker. Emily is a wonderful, funny lady, and she tells the most interesting stories!

Camp 3 is structured quite differently from Camp 1 in that there isn't as much direct instruction, but there are a LOT of ideas thrown around, disected and discussed. The emphasis is on design and creation rather than individual techniques. As a result, Show and Tell was an entirely different experience! Some examples:

this is Edy in her stunning Fair Isle cardigan

Dale Long showed off his new design-in-progress

Dale is a really neat, fascinating person - we had quite a lengthy discussion about places that I would like to visit...he's been to Holyrood Castle, and knows who David Riccio was!

The pictures don't do justice to Susan Nadel's Forest Path stole

Friday night was Fish Fry night at Sceeter & Otis' in Hooterville Hewitt. I went with Diane, Glynnis, Kim D. and Susan. We had a great time, and lots of cholesterol. For emphasis, Glynnis added an onion ring and the fried cheese curds are Diane's.

It was really good, but you could feel your arteries clogging as you ate! :-)

Glynnis and Susan:

Kim and Diane

The next morning Diane, Natalie and I went to the Kitchen Table restaurant, which is run by Meg's sister Lloie I highly recommend The Kitchen Table if you're ever in central Wisconsin. We had Stacey the Wonder-Waitress (they have another wonderful waitress, too, but I never got her name). Stacey wasn't there on Monday morning because she went to ogle at athletes in very tight pants watch the Packer's training camp.

The restaurant had to put horseradish on their shopping list, because I used the rest of what they had for my eggs. :-) Stacey even climbed up on a chair to take a picture of us:

Back at Camp, we had more Show-and-Tell:

Ruby in her stunning jacket

and Pauline in her beautiful Noro coat

M'Lou Baber (who was not at this camp - I think that she went to a different session) has designed and knit some astounding double-knit sweaters and coats. She's going to have a double-knitting book out very soon from Schoolhouse Press, but we got to see them up close. Jaw-dropping doesn't even begin to describe them! The class was tossing around ideas for names for the book, and when somebody suggested "Skip To M'Lou," the entire room began to sing, and the models broke out in square-dancing:

(that's Lizbeth Upitis and Cheryl Oberle doing the do-si-do)

Know what this is?

Those are the hands of Emily Ocker, demonstrating her circular beginning!

In person!! (neener, neener, neener!!)

Kevin Ames brought out his latest creation (still on the needles; he made a blocking board in his motel room to show us)

The tape was catching the flash, but to see this up close was breathtaking! To say Kevin is a lace knitter is like saying that Babe Ruth was just a baseball player...the description just doesn't do him justice.

Cheryl Oberle modeled her new stole

and Lizbeth Upitis brought out her lace shawl. She put it on the floor to show how it was constructed, and within seconds, this happened:

Those of us at our table called this the Knitting Brain Trust - the amount of knowledge that converged on the floor just boggles the mind! From left to right: Joyce Williams, Meg Swansen, Dale Long, Cheryl Oberle and Lizbeth Upitis.

I can't remember who knit this jacket, but Jinny makes a wonderful model! She gave me a fleece - she is an absolute sweetheart! I already have a whole bunch of it washed and I've spun almost half a bobbin of laceweight...I'm going to see what kind of shawl it wants to be when it's done. :-) I think I'm going to knit something with the "Droplets" pattern, since Jinny's last name is Waters.

On Sunday, I had a small accident..and did I ever feel like an idiot! When we broke for lunch, I reached down to grab my knitting bag, lost my balance, and cracked my temple on the metal frame of the chair in front of me. (My dad says that there's a reason that they didn't name me Grace!) Within seconds, I had many, many women making sure that I was okay. I saw stars and had instant nausea - not a good feeling! Diane took care of me for the next few hours - she made sure that I kept the ice on my head, and kept checking on me. Thank you, Diane! Edy and Ann, who are both nurses, kept checking to make sure that I didn't have a concussion, and that I didn't fall asleep. The folks at camp were wonderful!! I felt better by the evening, but it knocked me for a loop! The bump on my temple is gone now, but I had a pretty decent lump for about 2 days!

The movie prop contest was hysterical - unfortunately, I didn't get very many pictures because I was laughing so hard! Diane took a picture of my Killer Rabbit from the Holy Grail:

Carol Sarah Carol Anderson from Cottage Creations made a Cookie Monster:

and Diane, Kim D. and Glynnis collaberated and made Godzilla vs. Mothra (that's one hell of a bug!!) We watched the 2001 version of the movie at about 11:30 at night on Sunday - it was so bad, it was hysterical! They acted out scenes from the movie:

and Susan, in a hat knit by Dale Long, channeled Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly (which caused the entire room to break out in "Moon River")

Here's Susan's adorable Boston Terrier, Claire, trying to avoid the pouring rain during a potty break (it rained a lot while we were there!) : Claire would come visit in the evenings - she's a real sweetheart!

Unfortunately, Monday morning came and it was time to finish camp. :-(

Some parting pictures:

Medrith Glover (Emily's daughter, and a wonderful designer!), Betty Kendrick (Betty is an absolute hoot!) and Emily

Dale is so much fun!

and Miss Emily is hysterical - she has a very quick sense of humor

And of course, Diane - my guardian angel. :-)

Glynnis won the Bent Needle Award for her ever-so-composed "discussion" of lace pattern writing

Then it was 12:00, and I had to rush out of there to catch a 1:30 flight. Last year was fun, but this year was just phenomenal! This was a lovely, funny, talented group of people, and I can't wait until next year!

Just for fun, though - this was parked outside of the Japanese restaurant on Sunday night: