Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, December 31, 2007

Godt Nyttår! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Wishing everyone the best for a fabulous 2008!

It's time to list my resolutions......all of them are aimed at making my life happier and healthier.

  1. Yarn Diet - no new yarn purchases in January.
  2. Fiber Diet - no new fiber purchases in January.
  3. Organize at least ONE area of my house each week - starting with the yarn/fiber stash in the family room.
  4. Food Diet - eat sensibly....REALLY! I mean it!!!!!
  5. Do at least 10 minutes of yoga EVERY day (in addition to my 2 classes per week)
  6. Learn to let go....REALLY let go of the people and situations that cause unnecessary stress.
Why am I making these resolutions? My yarn/fiber stash is a bit out of hand....thus, items 1, 2, and 3. "No new yarn purchases" will force me to "knit from my stash" - something that I should have been doing all along. The process of organizing will have an added benefit - I'll be able to shop for "new" yarn and fiber.....from my OWN stash! (The majority of the organizing is directly or indirectly related to my stash - yarn, fiber, and the tools for manipulating the yarn or fibers.)

Thank goodness for "secret pals" and "swaps"! I can "satisfy" any urge to buy yarn or fiber by purchasing it for my "secret pals" or swap partners. Perhaps I won't feel deprived if I'm still able to make yarn purchases at the local yarn shops....I just can't purchase anything for me!

The food diet and yoga resolutions are mainly for my physical well being. The diet is definitely needed....but it will be sensible. For example, I will not be eating special diet foods or avoiding specific things....just eating sensibly with right sized portions. Also, I'll try to eliminate snacking - with the exception of fruit/popcorn. I'm definitely going to be firm on the junk food - no chips/cookies between meals. Of course, I'll have an occasional dessert.....I'm a realist, not a masochist! LOL! I am also making an allowance for a small bit of chocolate daily - after all, dark chocolate is good for the heart!

Yoga is definitely a must. In addition to the multiple physical benefits of yoga, it's beneficial for my emotional and spiritual health. It also provides a time for reflection and centering - something we have a tendency to neglect in the "hurry up and go" world we live in.

The final resolution is a very important one for me. When a person or situation causes undue stress, I need to realize that there are situations where there is nothing I can do to change the situation or the personality involved....and I just need to let it go.

What are your resolutions?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

God Jul! Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season! I LOVE this time of year - the lights, the cards, the decorations! Everything is so beautiful....and everyone is full of such joy!

I decided that since the girls weren't coming for Christmas, we wouldn't really bother with a tree....BUT when I ran to the bookstore to check and see if they had the December issues of "Simply Knitting" and "Knitting", I ran across "The Christmas Tree in a Box".
It was so "odd" that I just HAD to get it. All the components are "stored" in the box. You assemble the tree out of various flat decorated pieces of cardboard and cardboard tubing into a basic tree, add the star to the top, punch out the hole in the middle of the box, and insert the trunk of the tree. Finally, you add the flat ornaments with hangers to the assembled tree. Inside the included booklet there are instructions on how to make additional ornaments using origami....and they even included several sheets of origami paper!

So...I had a tree after all! I think it's rather cute too....and definitely not the "usual" Christmas Tree! Much less fuss....and to "clean up", I can just disassemble it, pop all the parts in the box, stick it on the bookshelf, and save it for another year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Scandinavian Wheel

Here's my newest "baby" - the much awaited Scandinavian stenciled spinning wheel. This one happens to be a Finnish wheel...thus, I'm naming her "Finnie". I finally got it unpacked from its shipping box and put together! It's gorgeous! DH even commented that it was a very attractive wheel. That's high praise coming from a non-spinner that is "forced" to share his home with the numerous "toys" of a fiber addict!
The wheel spins very nicely and it treadles like a dream even though it's a single treadle. It's double drive and I do have to fiddle with the tension to get it right now that I have everything connected - there's a bit of a drag once I connected the drive band. I also have to give her a good "oiling" so she'll spin just as well with the bobbin attached. Looks like I may need to consult my friend "Amos" and see what he recommends for double drive wheels. ("Amos" refers to the book, "The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning" - a great reference book!)

Fine tuning my "new" wheel is also an excuse to call up Esther, the woman I purchased it from, to see what she recommends for achieving the optimum tension for spinning. I had spoken with her last month when I finalized the purchase the wheel. She was an absolute delight to chat with, so perhaps I will go the "lazy way" and instead of researching, go directly to the experienced user!

Once I've got tension right, I'll give her a whirl. Perhaps I'll spin up the 50/50 Camel/Tussah Silk Top that my friend Catherine gave me. It's a very lustrous caramel colored roving - I can't wait to see how it spins up! I've never spun a camel/silk blend, so this will be a new adventure for me. Thanks Catherine! You're so sweet!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Yarny" Christmas Celebrations!

Friday night was the holiday party for all of us at Nature's Yarns. It was a lot of fun! Amy, the owner, graciously hosted that party. We each brought something to share - fruit, cheese, wine, mead, shrimp, chips, etc. - as well as Margarita Pie (boy was THAT good!!!!). We all had a fabulous time!

Amy coordinated a gift exchange....but she also took care of purchasing and wrapping all the gifts! What a sweetheart! Next year, the rest of us need to help out with the gifts for the exchange. It was very sweet of Amy to handle it all this year, but we definitely want her to actively participate in the actual exchange next year!

The gift exchange was definitely a lot of fun. First off, we each drew numbers. The person that drew "1" had to select a package and unwrap it. The person that drew "2" had the choice of selecting the open package, or selecting one of the unopened packages. The person that drew the "3" selected from any opened package, or selected a package to unwrap....and so on. I think you get the picture. This process continued until all the packages have been unwrapped/claimed.

All the prizes were great - there wasn't a single one that I didn't like, which made it really tough for me as number "8" - so many choices! There had been only 1 "steal" prior to my turn - Lynn stole the candle from Katie who then simply selected another package. I decided that I really liked the metal pig watering can that Tiffany had...so I "stole" it from Tiffany....who then "stole" the candle from Lynn. So much for Lynn's plans for the candle - though she did "find" the box of chocolates that Maggie had originally been craving!

I think the pig is absolutely darling...and I think my "sheep" statuette that resides on my hearth might enjoy a companion! (My DH is less than thrilled with the prospect of yet another farm animal invading the family room!!!)

The final surprise of the evening was when Amy gave each of us a present.
We had to open them simultaneously - we all received an absolutely beautiful name tag to wear in the store - they're gorgeous! She had them custom designed by Personal Touch Jewelers in Fairfax. I just love it! It's so elegant! The leaf was the perfect choice for Nature's Yarns! (This photo definitely doesn't do it justice! I'll try to take a better picture later. Perhaps it will look better without the flash - in the natural light.) Thanks so much Amy!

We were having so much fun chatting, eating, and unwrapping gifts that we didn't get much knitting in at all! That's definitely NOT the norm with this group! Lynn did manage to get some work done on her PI shawl out of Louet Kidlin Pixie - it's going to be gorgeous! I brought my knitting, but I decided to let it "lounge" in my tote bag while I enjoyed the party!!! With the spouses and kids there, we had to mingle and include them, so we couldn't really "bury ourselves" in our knitting as we're prone to do!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Knitting Progress - The Good and the Bad

Mom LOVES her pink bedsocks! I sent them to her for her birthday as I actually DID get them done in a timely manner. They may be a bit long though - her feet are longer than mine, but I can't remember by how much, so I just had to wing it. (Last year, I had measured her feet against mine and had noted the difference in length....but I can't seem to find where I'd recorded that information - DUH!!!!) She claims it won't matter if they're too long, but I'm not so sure.

The funniest part about me making her another pair of bedsocks was that she had thought about asking me to make her a pair, but every time we chatted on the phone, she forgot to mention it. She'd basically "worn out" the ones I made her last year. She wore them to bed every night as she loved the thick, loose knit - they were comfortable and kept her feet very warm. She said she's worn a hole in them....and was definitely needing a new pair, but just never got around to asking.

I've almost finished the fingerless gloves I'm making from my friend Jayme's pattern. I've found that I'm really bad at the thumb increases...and the second one isn't turning out nearly as well as the first one. In addition to my inferior increases, and I have a couple of blatant stitch errors that I need to go back and fix before I do the final bind off on the second glove. I guess I had beginner's luck with the first one!

The fingerless gloves are the first cable project I've ever attempted, and I'm thrilled with how the cabling turned out. I'll just have to work on the thumb increases by doing another pair - perhaps then I'll master it!

With another recently "finished" project, I've learned a valuable lesson. Remember the "Half Cable" bedsocks I was making for my daughter? Well, I'm going to rip them out. First off, I don't like the toe finish at all - the rather "spiral" looking twist just isn't pleasing to the eye or to the foot. But that's not the "cause" of my desire to rip them out - after all, I could just rip back the toe finish and re-do that part. No, it's worse than just the toe finish....

I had finished the first sock way back in February or March. When I finished the second sock (last week), the diameter of the foot was about 3/4 to 1 inch SMALLER in circumference than the first sock and the length was about 1/2 inch shorter....for the SAME number of rows! ARGH!!!! Lesson learned - finish BOTH socks within a short time time of each other - otherwise, you risk having vastly different tensions resulting in very different socks!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sons of Norway Juletrefest

Friday Dec. 14 was the Sons of Norway Holiday celebration - Juletrefest. We danced around the Christmas tree singing English and Norwegian Christmas songs, shared in a fabulous meal (smørgåsbord), and purchased some lefse for our Christmas dinners. Santa (Julenisse)even came for a visit bringing gifts for all the kids! I loved all the Nordic sweaters, outfits, and dresses that everyone was wearing. We were even bless by live music from 3 of our own very talented members!

Santa and the kids seemed to really have a good time. He had quite a crowd of "groupies"!

In addition to the festivities, there were also a number of fabulous Norwegian wares and sweaters available for purchase as well - just in case we missed something at the Norwegian Bazaar last week! I picked up the lefse baker I ordered. Last time I made lefse, I used an electric frying pan and it took forever! Hopefully, having the right tools will make the process of making home made lefse a bit easier - and hopefully faster.

I'm definitely lusting after the Norwegian festival dresses and clan dresses - they're gorgeous! One of our members is a descendent from Stavanger (as I am) and was wearing the traditional Stavanger outfit. The embroidered apron belonged to her grandmother. I think it's absolutely beautiful! Perhaps I need to add embroidery to my fiber obsessions as well! Of course, all the little girls look absolutely darling in their Hardanger outfits!

Friday, December 14, 2007

SP11 - It Ain't Over 'til It's Over!

This is a very busy time of the season....and my mailbox is generally overflowing with the gifts that were ordered for someone else or the nasty bills associated with such purchases....as well as the routine monthly bills. Bottom line, there's usually not anything fun.....with the exception of the surprises that come from the likes of the Ravelry holiday exchange and Secret Pal exchanges, like SP11.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, there was a package waiting that DID NOT come from some far away mail order company addressed to me nor was it addressed to DH. Instead, it was a package with a hand-written label....from my Secret Pal for SP11 - addressed to me. Yippee!

Packed inside the box was a wonderful assortment of goodies. First off....the chocolates. Last time, she said she forgot to add any chocolates....LOL....this time, she certainly did not neglect the chocolate department! There are quite a few missing as I already gorged on several! They're all "holiday" flavored - Cinnamon Almond, Egg Nog, and the very satisfying Peppermint Bark. Mmmmmm!

There's a KnitPicker needle roll - something I definitely needed! I've been secretly (and not so secretly) lusting after them....and now I finally have one! Once I get some of my needles in there, I'll take a photo of the needle roll in use. Thanks! It's perfect....and I love the red color!

Yarns - wow - what a lovely assortment. There's some easy care Soft RedHeart - in the perfect hues of red and green for the holidays. I'm definitely more of a Burgundy/blue-red and forest green person than a cherry red and bright green. Somehow, my SP picked up on that and selected the PERFECT hues! This yarn is incredibly soft to the touch...I'm amazed! (If I only had time to knit something up...this would be perfect.....next year! Yes....now I'll have a "head start" on next year!!!)

There's some multi-colored "Soy Woolly Stripes" from Patons. The colors are absolutely fabulous. I'd been wanting to try this yarn out for a while, and now I'll get the chance! I think the colors will be really stunning knitted up....but I need to find the perfect project!

The final gift (not counting the cute Christmas box that several items were "hidden in") was the "Sockittome" sock yarn from Cherry Tree Hill in blues and greens. The overall color way tends to be more of a teal....definitely a color near and dear to me - it was the color I chose for my wedding to DH!!! The color is absolutely perfect and my SP picked up on the fact that I love to knit socks!

Thanks Secret Pal!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jayme and Shane's Fabulous Christmas Gift

My friend Jayme is a fabulous knitter and creates gorgeous sweaters, socks, gauntlets,.....you name it. But all that pales in comparison to her latest creation and "FO" - beautiful baby Laura. Jayme and Shane welcomed Laura's arrival just in time for Christmas.

Laura was born on Dec. 11 at 12:01 PM. She weighed in at 5 lbs. 10 oz. and measured 18 1/2 inches long. She's absolutely adorable!

I stopped by the hospital today to visit both Jayme and Laura and managed to take a few photos of the new mommy and baby. As you can see from the pictures, Jayme is just GLOWING with love for her wonderful bundle of joy. She's definitely a proud mommy!

Laura is absolutely adorable and so tiny! I just marvel at her tiny little hands and feet and the cute little faces she makes as she moves around. Laura looks so angelic and content as she sleeps....definitely a gift from heaven!

Congratulations Jayme and Shane!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Norwegian Bazaar at Union Station

I spent the day today helping sell Norwegian wares at the annual "Sons of Norway" Norwegian Bazaar in Union Station in Washington, DC. I had an absolutely fabulous time! Lots of wonderful stuff was sold - to wear, to eat, and to decorate your home. It was also fabulous to chat with so many others of Norwegian descent....all in one place! All the station decorations and the wonderful Norwegian decorations and treats really put me in the mood for holidays.

The Norwegian Ambassador and the people of Norway typically setup a model train in Union Station for the holidays. I think it's fabulous....a model train in the train station itself! I just love it! Trains and train stations are just so full of great memories. When I was growing up, my Grandma used to take to train to NY to visit us - I really looked forward to that. The excitement of meeting the train and searching for the first glimpse of Grandma.... Another great memory is that of setting up dad's model train around the tree...or at least near the tree...on several of my Christmases. Ah....what wonderful holiday memories! (Sorry for the "glare" in the picture - the model is surrounded by lucite for its protection.)

The giant Christmas tree (32 ft. tall!) in the main hall is a gift from the people of Norway to the people of Washington, DC. The tree is decorated with strings of both the Norwegian flag and the US flag.

I also found something that causes me to spend money even faster than I do at the Sheep and Wool Festivals - Norwegian Sweaters! The temptation was overwhelming - I must purchase one (or more....) Norwegian sweaters....oh, my! They're so gorgeous....and there were so many to choose from....how can a girl pick "just one"???? (I didn't....I picked three!!!) The best part pf these sweaters is that they're already made - and I can wear them in THIS LIFETIME!!!!! I still plan to knit a Dale sweater, eventually. But for now, the pressure is off - I can enjoy my purchases...and take my time knitting my own version!

Here's some candid shots of the various booths we had at Union Station. It's a fabulous way to kick-start the holidays....and purchase some unique ornaments, table linens, and sweaters. And check out all the gorgeous Norwegian sweaters and dresses that everyone is wearing! You can't HELP but be in a festive mood!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wow! What a Fabulous Kick-Off to the Holidays!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....now that we have snow. I love this time of year - especially the giving and receiving of presents. I received my Ravelry Holiday Swap presents on Wednesday - it's almost as if my "spoiler" knows me! The package was fabulous - it even included several purple items! I just love it! Laurie really seemed to know EXACTLY what I would like as well as what I needed! I only hope that my "spoilee" will be as happy with her package as I am with mine!

All the gifts were packaged in a fabulous shopping bag - with very appropriate image on it! The package came from Salem, Mass. And there was a fabulous card included - with a hand-knit project on the front - I just love it!

Where do I start? Everything was just perfect....One of my favorite things this time of year is chocolate covered cherries. Believe it or not, she included some in the package! Plus some coffee and hot cocoa mixes - very interesting flavors too! I can't wait try them! (She even included a mug!) There was also a regional treat - "Lemon Gibralters" and "Peppermint Gibralters" - which were the first candies commercially made in the USA. And other goodies as well - chocolate wafers and some mini candy canes.

The yarn is splendid...and it's the perfect color - lavender! The pattern she included looks fabulous too - definitely something to knit up and wear when I take the dog on a walk!

She also included some cute "snowflake" sticki-notes. AND a set of "J" hooks (cable needles) - I DEFINITELY needed these - just this past week I started a pair of fingerless gloves and had to BORROW a cable needle in order to start them! I had made a mental note that I needed to go out this weekend and buy some...but now, I don't have to - thanks!

Oh, my...all the pampering goodies - in purple too! I must confess, my feet are a total mess - I LOVE going barefoot, so my feet take a LOT of abuse. My package included several items specifically for pampering my neglected feet - they'll be sooooo grateful! The Facial Mask and the pretty purple scrub brush with definitely be useful during long, luxurious baths! Total pampering!

Thanks so much Laurie!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More Projects....But No Time!

I've added some additional projects to my queue....as if I needed more projects!

My friend Lisa and I had been searching for the Dale of Norway Pattern Booklet #121 since August when we saw the lovely sweater that Yvonne had made. Unfortunately, none of the LYS's had a copy....and we couldn't find any on the web.....except for one place where they ONLY sold it as part of a kit for $130!!! ARGH!!!! I wanted a couple of the new Dale of Norway Pattern booklets as well. Nature's Yarns was able to get not only the new patterns, but the elusive booklet #121 as well! Yippee!!!! Now...to find the yarn....and the time to make it!

The Dale booklets came at the same time that my order for the Otto Merino in the "Wine" color way came in. I'm planning to make the "Tally Ho" vest - it's gorgeous - the lines of the pattern give the garment a very nice shape. (I got to try on the sample during the trunk show at Nature's Yarns - it was very figure flattering!)

There are some darling wash cloth patterns out there (thanks to Kay for reminding me about the Fiber Trends’ "Bathtime Blossoms"!). So, to make a long story short, while I was at the shop picking up my order, I picked up some gorgeous cotton for the washcloths as well.

Finally, I ordered some Fearless Fibers yarn....a total of 4 altogether, but one is a gift, so I can't "reveal" it here! The colors are gorgeous...and I love the names!

Deb Kessler (the dyer and seller of these fabulous yarns) not only produces some gorgeous hand-painted yarn, but provides absolutely fabulous customer service as well. I ordered Monday night and received my package...all the way from the West Coast...on Thursday.

She included a wonderful button that I absolutely love! "Make Gloves Not War" What a great sentiment!