Have Ewe Any Wool?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Threadbear and "Wicked"

Yesterday, DD accompanied me to Threadbear for another yarn expedition! She (fortunately) brought her computer with her and sat at one of the tables to work on her Chemistry papers...leaving me lots of shopping time!

This place is absolutely huge! It takes so long to look through everything that it's almost overwhelming! The first shot shows most of the 3+ rows of sock yarn (back and front of each row)...every kind you can imagine! Talk about sock heaven! The second shot attempts to show the depth of the store - nearly impossible as there are so many twists and turns and displays! Trust me when I say it's HUGE!

I managed to catch several fabulous deals and picked up some interesting hand turned drop spindles while I was there. I also bought some Lorna's Laces roving...yummy!!!! The colorway won't surprise anyone who knows me...LOL!

I "stepped out of the box" and bought some relatively bright coral Malabrigo lace weight yarn as well as more Jojoland....I'm just addicted to the stuff. I do have an excuse though. Threadbear had some patterns I hadn't seen before for the Jojoland "Harmony", so I HAD to pick up some just for those patterns. I noticed that their supply of Jojoland was relatively low as it's a VERY popular yarn!

Of course, the resident "yarn" dogs, Tate and Busby (the beagle), were absolutely adorable. I managed to catch a few shots of them wandering about the store.

Tate initially hid under a table...just as he did last summer. Busby was much more interested in the camera!

Both dogs are VERY friendly and an absolute delight to play with! (Tate loves to give kisses...and both love attention!)

Once Tate warmed up, though, he definitely liked to pose! This shot was just too cute for words!

Busby was constantly flitting from toy-to-toy...and is a very animated beagle!

Once we left Threadbear, we went to the city market. I caught this shot of the state capital on the way there - I LOVE how the flag is "showing it's colors"!


I ended the evening with a fabulous dinner and a show with my DD and her boyfriend, Troy. We had a very filling meal at "Bravos!" followed by the Broadway musical, Wicked. My DD treated us to the show - and it was fabulous! I can't say enough good things about the show - it was simply FANTASTIC! If you haven't seen it yet, it's definitely a "must see". The music and acting were superb. The show was held at the Wharton Center on the MSU campus and my DD had selected PERFECT seats - right in the middle and far enough back that you could take it all in! Thanks Nicki!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Knitting Night at Rae's Yarn Boutique

I was ready to head on over to Rae's Yarn Boutique, but DD told me they'd moved. Thankfully, it's still very close to her house...and VERY easy to get to! There was plenty of parking too - both on the street as well as behind the shop. I asked why she moved and it turns out that she's bought the building her store is in - Congratulations Rae!

The new shop gave her more than twice the amount of space! You can enter either from the back or the back and become immediately surrounded by a treasure trove of wonderful fiber goodies - including spinning wheels and spinning fibers. Believe it or not, the store is even MORE welcoming than the old store! There's more room - classes can be held a a table near the back of the store, while others are busy shopping, and still others can sit up front in one of the many inviting chairs/couches and simply knit or peruse the numerous books and patterns. You're cozy without being crowded!

I managed to catch a picture of Rae with her doggies before she had to leave. You can see her store in the background - it's chock full of all kinds of knitting goodies. as far as the eye can see! I had to take two photos as the dogs were quite lively and it was impossible to get Rae and both of her companions facing forward at the same time! (All of us who have pets know how hard it is to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time!)

There are tons of sample garments on display to tempt your palette. I "had" to purchase a Louisa Harding pattern booklet so I could make one of the display sweaters - "Alvise". It's gorgeous! I also picked up some yarn for more bedsocks for mom - this time, I bought a turquoise-blue silk-alpaca blend. At 80% alpaca and 20% silk, they should keep her feet nice and toasty!

I found some wonderful Rowan Cashcotton to make a summer top as well. It's 35% cotton, 25% polyamide, 18% angora, 13% viscose, and 9% cashmere and so divine to touch! Of course, I had to buy a Rowan pattern book to go with it! I even managed to catch a great deal on two colors of Araucania Natural Wool.

I always find wonderful stuff here - this time, I found some very unique gadgets - one for spinning and one for knitting. Rae had just received some tubes that are great for slipping your spun singles onto after making them into a center pull ball with a ball winder. It keeps the ball neat for plying as the center does not collapse on itself - a definite bonus when trying to keep singles neat for plying!

The second gadget is a needle gauge that attaches to your keychain so you ALWAYS have it handy! Note that I managed to find one in a nice lavender color! It measures needle sizes from 0 through 15 - how cool is that! And its size is quite small - only 1 3/8" x 1 3/4"!

It was knitting night at the shop as well, so after I shopped, I settled into one of the seats and knitted for a few hours with a couple of other knitters. It was a lot of fun and everyone was so nice! I felt very welcomed and made some new friends. I also started my Galaxy socks while I was there, but I didn't get very far as I was too busy chatting to concentrate on knitting!

Oh...and that's not all! I found out that Lynn, who works at the shop, is also a yarn designer and has her own yarns that they also carry in the shop. I'd been oggling some of her yarns, and had no idea that she was the Lynn on the "Lynn H" label! Her colors are scrumptious! (Above her, along the top of the wall, you can see a sampling of the knitted "inspirations" that are on display throughout Rae's shop.)

Although I've missed getting together with my friends back in VA for knitting, the evening spent at Rae's made up for it! I had a wonderful time and hated that evening had to come to an end. Sigh.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Michigan Here I Come!

Yesterday morning I left for Lansing, Michigan to visit my DD. I managed to catch a nice cloud shot on I-94 and a farm scene just outside Lansing on Rt. 69. It was a pretty drive with very little traffic once again.

I was a bit tired after the drive, so we just lazed around. I worked on my skully tote bag - one of the Knitty.com patterns. Just as I thought, the stitch markers that I got from my Ravelry secret pal for the Kool-aid exchange were the perfect size for the large needles I'm using for this project!

I also checked out DD's garden - she's got a great tomato plant and peppers....as well as a small herb garden.

DD harvested some of her tomatoes and checked on her green peppers. Look at all the tomatoes she has! She picked 8 ripe ones and has many more soon to be ripe on the vine. (We had some of the tomatoes and her fresh basil in our eggs this morning...yum!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Sockotta Socks are Done!

Wahoo! Yesterday, I finished the Sockotta socks just as I'd planned. I'm a bit disturbed though....one sock is knit much tighter than the other, so there's about 1/4-1/2" difference in the foot circumference. This photo makes the difference look much greater, but it's just the angle. I suppose I could solve this problem by knitting "two socks at a time on circs", but I really don't do well on the circs as they make me knit very slowly!

The rest of the day was spent visiting with my aunt. I got to feed the farm kitties - it was quite a feeding frenzy as you can see! Out in the country, you need MANY cats to keep the mice under control - else, you end up with a house full of rodents! The kitties "storm" the door of the house the minute they see you coming out with the food and become your "best friend". Once the food is in the bowls, however, you no longer "exist" - LOL!

Here's a view of the farmland on my way back to mom and dad's. You can definitely see how flat this whole area is. It's quite pretty, but I do dearly miss the mountains and big hills when I'm out this way! Later that evening, I caught a nice sunset shot on the bridge over the Illinois River.

I ended my visit with mom and dad with Margaritas and quesidillas at "Mr. Salsas" in Oglesby. Mom claimed that their Margaritas were the best she's ever had. They were really good! They were very refreshing and we all enjoyed them!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That "Darn" Sock!

Whew...last night, I darned all 4 of mom's bed socks to fix the gaping holes in them. I've never darned a sock before, but I had some fabulous instructions from a Danish woman I met at the American Folklife Festival 2 years ago. Although neither of us had a sock or knitting with us, she gave me a fabulous description of "how to darn a sock" as well as a wonderful story about how she learned to darn. It worked!

Here's the interesting bit. Neither my mom nor I had any idea where the darning egg was hiding. We know there's one somewhere in the house, but since neither of us had ever darned a sock, we had no conscious memory of where it could be. Necessity truly IS the mother of invention. I found the perfect tool for the project - a soup ladle! The handle went up through the leg of the sock and the bowl of the ladle fit snuggly in the heel. It was the perfect tool for the project!

All 4 of mom's socks are fixed and and she's thrilled to death! She would only let me purchase one color of yarn. As a result, the darning is VERY visible on the pink socks but blends in well on the second one. When she puts the socks on, you can't even see where they're darned. The first of the pink socks didn't darn as neatly as the second - I had the cross-threads a bit too loose and it looks a bit "sloppy". On all 4 bed socks, I went back and wove a bit of a second layer as well to give it more density. Mom was absolutely thrilled! She "tried out" each sock as soon as I was finished and by the end of the evening, she was jumping with joy! She's now got three pairs of bed socks!

I did some fun stuff yesterday as well (darning is NOT fun...just a "necessary evil"). One of the best parts about coming to Illinois is going to a Drive-in Root beer stand. There's nothing better on a hot day than a root beer float in a frosty mug!

Check out the menu board and the button to call the server for ordering. When you're done, you just flip the switch to let them know that you're done. It's so much fun! Mom and dad said they haven't done this for a long time, so they really enjoyed it. Mom even reminisced about the high school days and double dates to the drive-in.

Mmmm! Root beer floats!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Favorite Traveling Project

Hmmm....the SP12 Question this time is:

What is your favorite type of project to take along on holiday/vacation?

That's a toughy. I over pack the knitting just like I do everything else. However, for travel, I ALWAYS make sure I have at least one sock project and one "sock project to be". They have lots of "straight work" on both the cuff and the foot which makes it nice for traveling. They also fit very nicely into even the smallest of bags....especially with the "Work in Progress" tubes - like the one shown below. The tubes are great! They keep your project compact and serve double duty to protect your DPNs and to keep your stitches on the needles without slipping off - a definite bonus when traveling!

Another good project for travel is a felted bag. It usually has a lot of straight knitting on large needles. It's a nice relaxing project to work on while on vacation. I think that's the key for vacation and travel projects - they either have to be compact or easy.....or both!

I always try to make sure that I have more than one project with me - after all, I never know what I'll feel like working on at any given moment, so it's best to have a variety to choose from. Also, I live in fear of being "stranded without knitting" - another reason for bringing more than one project with you.

Needless to say, I've brought several different projects with me on my trip - socks (1 WIP, 1 project-in-waiting), wash cloths (1 project-in-waiting), scarves (2 projects in waiting), and a felted bag (WIP). I am currently more than half done with the second Sockotta sock - hopefully I'll have it done by the end of the day and I can start on the next sock project in "Galaxy". Or....perhaps I'll work on the Skully felted bag that I brought along. Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Family Reunion Time

I brought several of my projects (finished and WIPs) to the family reunion on Saturday, but I never got a chance to work on anything. My cousin Carla did such a fabulous job putting the reunion together that there was no time to actually knit!

It was great catching up with all my Aunts, Uncles, and cousins....and reconnecting with many that I haven't seen for a while. My cousin Pam came all the way from California! I had a blast! There was enough food for an army too! I now have to track down the recipes for a couple of fabulous dishes - a cherry dessert made by my cousin Carla and a bean medley made by my cousin Sharon. There were lots of fabulous desserts and other side dishes as well. No one went hungry and we all took "doggie bags" home!

My DD even managed to work in a trip to Illinois for the party! She even played her first game of Euchre! I wish that more of my cousins had been able to make it - there were several that were missing for various reasons.

Thanks Carla for putting together such a fabulous party! You ROCK!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hobby Lobby!

Wow! I've heard so many folks chatting about going to the "Hobby Lobby" - I've NEVER been to one.....until today! It was FABULOUS! A "Hobby Lobby" opened in Mom and Dad's town this May...and it's REAL close to their house.
The store is fabulous! It has some of the same yarns as AC Moore and Michaels, but also some additional brands that I haven't seen before. I did buy some nice acrylics for making charity afghans.....and perhaps one for myself (I really liked the colors!)

The shop has a great fabric section. I found lots of incredible bargains on many cotton prints - perfect for lining felted bags! Some of the fabric was 30-40% off! I picked up a "coffee" themed print and an Indian basket themed print (in mainly browns). They also had a fabulous deal ($2.00/yard) on many floral prints. I found some gorgeous ones in deep purples, reds, and teals. Of course I had to get a few yards of each - what a great price for lining material!

The entire store is just jam packed full of every possible item I'd need for crafting - a great complement to the specialty stores that carry the yarns, spinning supplies, and weaving supplies that I need! I didn't purchase much, but I took a quick stroll through the entire store....just to get the "flavor" of what they carry. I've come to the conclusion that between my favorite local yarn shops and the Hobby Lobby store, I'd be all set! I wonder if they'll ever open a store on the east coast???

In addition to the wonderful assortment of craft supplies, they carry a wide variety of home decor items - baskets, candle stands, pillows, and even some furniture! My mind was on overload thinking of all the ways I could redecorate my home! But first, I need to organize my collection of yarns and rovings.....or pare it down to a manageable amount - there's no room to decorate when your entire home is a "display" of rovings, yarns, and works in progress!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On the Road Again.....

It's off to the Midwest - also known as "God's Country" to some folks - to visit mom and dad, attend a family reunion AND hand deliver mom's new bed socks! She's going to be so happy!

Anyhow, I managed to snap a few photos along the way and thought I'd share them with you.

Leaving Pennsylvania and entering Ohio, I captured this beautiful riverview. I just love the calm serenity.

Usually, there's much more traffic on the interstates in the summer, but I believe that the gas prices are keeping many folks closer to home this year. The roads were pretty lonely - even in the middle of the day!

Shortly after merging onto Rt. 80 in Ohio and entering the midwest, you come to a town called, "Lordstown". Really makes you think you're entering "God's Country" doesn't it? I guess the town elders decided to capitalize on that idea when naming the town, eh?

Now for my personal favorite. I LOVE this overpass - I think it's so picturesque! I always look for it whenever I travel to Illinois. It's at approximately the halfway point of my drive. FINALLY, I've captured a good picture of it!

Once you're halfway through Ohio, things pretty much flatten out for the rest of the journey. Western Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are all pretty much "as flat as a pancake"! I love the mountains, but there's something special about the flat farmland as well. The barns, the green fields, the silos.....

On arrival in central Illinois, I checked out the corn crops. The basic rule of thumb for corn is "knee high by the 4th of July". As you can see, this corn is WELL above the knee high mark! Lucky for us, the corn here is doing well and not affected by all the flooding in the western part of the state.

At mom's, I assessed the "state" of her bed socks - it was SHOCKING! These socks were OBVIOUSLY well liked and VERY well used! I don't think I've even seen larger holes in sock! Unbelievable! I can't believe she wore holes this big into her socks!

I gave mom 2 wrapped presents when I arrived in Illinois - a book and a box that I'd hoped camouflaged the socks "hidden" inside. She was too smart for that! She tossed the book aside and tore into the box containing the socks. She was jumping for joy and immediately "modeled" them for us - both with the cuffs up and folded down. Needless to say, she was absolutely thrilled with the socks.

My big question now is what can I do to the socks to make them just as soft and pliable on her feet, but more durable? I'm thinking I can paint the "anti-slip" stuff that you can dip tools in to make it both non-slip AND durable (one brand is "Plasti Dip"). Or perhaps I should put leather pads on the heels....and possibly the ball of the foot. It appears that the heels are the only real problem though. The big challenge is to make the socks more durable but just as comfortable to wear in bed. I may try each method - a leather pad (just on the heel) on one pair of socks and painting the "tool dip" on the heel and ball of the foot on another pair of socks. I LOVE experiments....and I'm sure mom will love the fact that she's getting two more pairs of socks!