Final Secret Pal Gift!

My Secret Pal spoiled me one last time – and it was a great surprise to come yesterday to this box of goodies!
That would be four skeins of Berroco’s Pure Merino. I think they should call this yarn pure heaven. When I posted on the blog a while back about wanting some to make my first cabled scarf, my pal remembered and got me a cable needle as well!

There’s also a copy of Vogue Knitting – some super cute stuff in there. The cover piece is made with Pure Merino, although I’m not that ambitious…yet. I also got a cute mini card pack, some Eucalan wool soap – which I LOVE and use on my Noro projects, and some DOVE DARK CHOCOLATE. Secret Pal, my waistline is a little upset over that, but I think it will get over it pretty quickly.

Let me know who you are so I can properly thank you – I lost your e-mail address when I was cleaning files the other day! Thank you so much for all the fun you’ve given me this round!


Quote of the day

"By sharing the pie, you get a bigger piece of the pie." -overheard in a teleconference I was participating in today.

Project Spectrum starts tomorrow!! Eeek - I need more colors to work with for the first two months!!

February/March- Blue, White, Gray
April/May- Green, Yellow, Pink
June/July- Red, Black, Metallics
August/September- Brown, Orange, Purple


I am a knitting machine!

I made three hats this weekend! I actually made two on Friday night, one on Saturday, and then I tore out the top of one on Sunday and reknit it. Of course, big needles, big yarn, and small hats, but they're so cute! The blue ones remind me of little gnome hats. Even though it's still January, I consider these my official start to Project Spectrum!!
Pattern: Bulky Baby Hat by Blue Sky Alpacas
Yarn: Bulky Hand Dyes in Dark Blue (large hat,) Duotones in Blue on Blue (small hat,) and Tahki Yarn Baby Print in Color 41 for the medium sized hat.
Pattern mods: In the blue hats, I stuck to the pattern and the decreases at the top got me a pointy gnome-like hat. I modified the decreases in the medium sized hat for a flatter crown, and later ripped out the smaller hat's top to flatten it out.
Comments: Very quick knit - big yarn, big needles. The pattern calls for Size 15 to get gauge (1" for 2 stitches) and I ran out of yarn on the blue hats at that needles size while getting gauge. I re-knit them with a size 13 on the dark blue and size 11 on the duotone blue and they're just fine. It's a very, very basic and easily memorable pattern that can be translated to many different yarns!
I'm using photoshop to "save photos for Web" but the second one still seems grainy...any tips out there??


Oh, deer!

That deer was expensive. Almost $3,000 expensive. Luckily, I have insurance or I'd be in big trouble. Either way, I won't be getting my car back until at least Feb. 5th. No fun!!

I did knit last night - Blue Sky Alpaca's Bulky Baby Hat. I went down two needles sizes, knit the middle size, and still ran out of yarn. So I ripped it back out! I'll re-knit it tonight on the same size needles, but the smaller size, and I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed!


Damn Deer!

I killed Bambi last night when it ran into my car. My car is not driveable. The radiator is toast. It didn't look too damaged last night, but when I went this morning, I'm saw that it's the grill, front bumper, side panel and radiator damaged, among other things. It is getting towed to the dealer as we speak. Luckily, I have insurance, but I'm still so mad! This is the second time since I've lived in Iowa that I have hit a deer (actually, I maintain the deer hit me.) Ever heard of the campaign, "don't veer for deer." I can tell you from experience they tell you that because if you veer, you're going to get hurt far worse than if you just plow straight into Bambi. I hate deer right now.


Stash Organization

I've been spending some time fondling all of the yarn I have aquired during my knitting life. Last night, I bagged it all up, organized it, and discovered a few things:
  • I have enough "good" yarn to make 7 adult size sweaters.
  • I have enough sock yarn (even though I've never made socks before) to make at least seven pairs.
  • I have enough dishcloth cotton to make at least six dish rags.
  • I have enough miscellaneous yarn that doesn't go with anything else to make at least 100 scarves.

So, is that good or bad? And what's with the sevens?? Is that my lucky knitting number? Luckily enough, it all fits into three containers - the rubbermaid container I posted about before, one under the bed container, and this three level thing that is holding all of my odds and ends.

Tonight is going to be for accessory organization. And, in the interst of full disclosure, I bought yarn this weekend. I bought some things to gift my secret pal, but I also bought some Adrienne Vitadini yarn to make a sweater for me. I don't think it breaks the rules because the yarn was about 40% off (buy 8, get six free...)

I try...I really do. Now I just have to KNIT! I think I might abandon all of my current scarf projects and start on a sweater...


100 things

Look at me hopping on the long-gone bandwagon. This might provide a little insight about me!

  1. My birthday is June 27, 1979.
  2. I was born, raised and lived in St. Louis until I was 22.
  3. I moved to Iowa in 2002, to be with my boyfriend.
  4. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that I set the women's movement back 50 years by moving for a man, but I don't care!
  5. My guy and I have been together since 1999.
  6. I like living in Iowa better than I liked living in St. Louis.
  7. I can tolerate St. Louis for three days when I go back and visit (which is often.) Then I have to come back to Iowa.
  8. I like to gossip.
  9. I love celebrity gossip, and I check gossip sites often.
  10. I am ususally the first person in my office to know about the latest celeb break-ups, babies, etc.
  11. I know a lot of deep dark secrets about my friends that I would never repeat, but I would never tell a lot of those same friends my deep dark secrets because I'm a very private person.
  12. I don't often say something behind a person's back that I wouldn't say to their face.
  13. I am very sarcastic...sometimes I take it too far.
  14. I want people to be brutally honest with me - many people have told me that I'm the only person they could be completely honest with because I don't get mad when people are telling me the truth.
  15. I can't stand liars, and I can't stand it when people don't tell you the truth because they "didn't want to hurt you."
  16. I find it very hard to pretend to like someone that I don't really like.
  17. I don't like it when people pretend to not be mad at me when they are mad at me.
  18. I also find it hard to not share my opinion.
  19. I believe in God, but I am not into organized religion.
  20. I went to Lutheran School (LCMS) for 12 years - how that ruined it for me is a long, long story.
  21. I dislike politics - I think most politicians are liars.
  22. I love celebrities - and I think all of them are liars.
  23. I am a tall girl - 5'9" and I often wear heels, so I'm usually over 6 feet tall.
  24. I used to be a human barbie - super skinny, huge (real) boobs, blue eyes and blonde hair.
  25. Then I graduated college, got a desk job and stopped taking care of myself.
  26. I consider myself to be about 60 pounds overweight.
  27. I want to lose that 60 pounds in 2007.
  28. I have lost 14 of those pounds so far.
  29. I feel good when I exercise, but I feel like I never have the time to set aside.
  30. I work in public relations.
  31. I love my co-workers, am still tolerating my job, and I hate sitting at a desk all day.
  32. Sometimes I seriously consider a career change.
  33. I wanted to be many things growing up - an occupational therapist, a veterinarian, a photographer.
  34. The vet thing didn't work out because I was a secretary at an animal hospital and cried everytime someone brought a pet in to be euthanized.
  35. The occupational therapy things didn't work out because I was never good at math and decided that since I wasn't required to take math in college, I needed to find a major that didn't require math to graduate.
  36. I have a Bachelor's degree, but the highest level math class I have ever taken is high school geometry (10th grade at my school.)
  37. Sometimes I'm embarassed by that, but most of the time I don't care.
  38. The job I most wish I could go into now is photography, but I don't think I could make a lot of money at it because I'm not terribly good at it.
  39. I was never really in the "in"crowd - I've always been able to be friends with people in every crowd.
  40. Sometimes that was a good thing, but a lot of times it made me feel like I didn't belong anywhere.
  41. My family thinks I'm crazy, but I fit right in with them!
  42. My parents are still married after 29 years.
  43. I have a 19 year-old sister and a 25 year-old brother.
  44. My brother married my best friend after I moved to Iowa.
  45. I was grossed out at first - but I think they're great, and I couldn't have a more awesome sister-in-law.
  46. I now also have a three-year-old niece.
  47. She calls me Aunt Toni.
  48. She is the only one allowed to call me Toni - besides my boyfriend.
  49. I make everyone else call me by my full name, Antoinette.
  50. When I was born, my name was Michelle.
  51. My dad changed the naming papers while my mom was still in the hospital.
  52. I used to hate having a "different" name.
  53. Now, I love it, and couldn't image being named Michelle.
  54. My middle name is Marie, and yes, I know who Marie Antoinette was.
  55. I live on a pretend farm outside of Des Moines.
  56. I say pretend because really it's a house with a barn, and a fair amount of land, but nobody really farms it because it's mostly woods.
  57. We have about 5 acres that a neighbor farms for us. We use the corn to heat our house.
  58. Our house used to be a catfish farm, so we have lots of ponds.
  59. Until I moved to Iowa, I hated eating fish.
  60. Now I love eating fish.
  61. But I won't eat fish out of our ponds at home.
  62. We mow our lawn with a tractor.
  63. We have a huge garden.
  64. Every summer we can tomatoes and green beans.
    I really like canning stuff.
  65. But I usually complain while I'm doing it - it seems like once the time is right, we end up canning for several weeks!
  66. Last year, we planted more than 20 tomato plants.
  67. We used to raise turkeys.
  68. I hated the turkeys - they would perch on my car!
  69. But they were kind of fun because we would put them in a pen every night and then during the day they were "free range."
  70. We haven't had turkeys for two years.
  71. I love to cook.
  72. I'm a much better cook now than I was 5 years ago.
  73. I try to plan a menu every week and try one new recipe each week.
  74. I get recipe ideas from the Food Network.
  75. I want to be a more creative knitter, but I feel like I never have time to knit.
  76. I do other crafts as well - scrapbooking, jewelry making, and sometimes I sew.
  77. I'm o.k. at most of those things, but I usually need to follow a pattern.
  78. I want to be good enough at all of those things so I can create my own designs.
  79. I collect crafting supplies.
  80. I envy people who buy just enough for a certain project.
  81. I always buy anything that I like because I'm sure I'll use it one day.
  82. My crafting supplies have their own room, and it's running out of space.
  83. I learned to crochet when I was about 6, but never did anything more than chain stitches.
  84. I've tried to re-learn crochet since learning to knit, and my hands really do not work that way anymore!
  85. I learned to knit a few years ago - and I love it.
  86. I've since discovered that my grandma (who died when my dad was 10) was a knitter. My dad has given me some of her afgans.
  87. I wish I knew my grandma. I think she and I are a lot alike.
  88. I've only been to one foreign country - Italy!
  89. My grandpa was born in Italy.
  90. When we went there, we tried to go to the island he was born on, but missed the train to the port.
  91. I want to go back to Italy, but I would also like to go to England, Scotland, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey.
  92. I can't wait to have babies.
  93. My biggest fear is that I will never be a mother.
  94. I don't know why I'm so afraid of that. I think it's because I know a lot of couples whose only wish was to have kids, and for some reason, it just didn't work out.
  95. I have aways been around kids - there are tons in my family, and my friends are popping out babies like crazy these days.
  96. I love taking care of kids - even when they are really, really bad, I can't help but smile.
  97. My favorite all time movie is Reality Bites, and 10 things I hate about you.
  98. I love playing team sports if they are for fun, and not always for the win. Volleyball is my all-time favorite!
  99. I love hosting parties at my house, but I hate cleaning up to prepare for the party, and cleaning up the mess after the party.
  100. I also love having company over to stay with us for a weekend.


Back and Knitting...sort of

Thank you for the kind e-mails/comments about my uncle - he will certainly be missed! I survived the ice storm in St. Louis this weekend while I was down there for the funeral. It actually wasn't too bad. The roads were fine, it was more of an issue with trees causing power lines to go down. Luckily, my parents had power the whole time. During the last ice storm, they lost power for five days.

Knitting progress - I guess you could say I've been making plans. I stocked up on Noro Kureyon in four different colorways when a LYS was going out of business, so I now have more than 1,100 yards of Kureyon in four different colorways. - Numbers 115 (reds), 138 (brights/pinks/ purples), 156 (blues/browns) and 164 (green/blue/brown). You can see a shade card here. I want to make a cardigan for myself out of color 115. I think I'm going to make this cardigan out of that colorway. with maybe 3/4 length sleeves instead of full. For the other colors, who knows. I have two friends with three baby boys under the age of 1, so I think I might end up with three baby sweaters in time for their first birthdays! I also have about 15 random colors of Kureyon in my home collection that I bought just because I LOVE that yarn, but now I feel like they need a purpose!

I am knitting a little bit. I am making two scarves. Both of them are boring garter stitch knit the long way - they're going fast, but are not yet done. The yarn I'm using (picured above) is Schaefer that I was using to make a scarf with a chinese waves pattern, but I didn't like the way the yarn felt knit up - it was too tight. The other yarn (below) is just weird. It's snippets of all different kinds of yarns - and it's too loose right now, so I might rip it out and re-do it. I call the yarn "fur ball." It really does look like a dead, mangled muppet. I would like to finish both of these scarves before I start any other projects because having multiple projects makes me accomplish less!
And, I have kept my Knit From Your Stash promise...even during a trip to St. Louis, where I had the opportunity to purchase yarn, I didn't! But I have a question...I was to make a fake-isle hat - it will be my first two-color work. Now, I have plenty of Noro to work with, but no solid yarn to match...do I dare buy a skein to make the hat, or just wait??? What's a yarn lover to do?


Gone for a bit...

My uncle died yesterday, so I'm heading down to St. Louis for the funeral, etc. I'll be gone until Monday.



Look - I finished something! Calorimetry, by Knitty. Please notice that even though I have a large head, it is a tiny bit too big (look at the crown of my head!!) I did stick to the pattern, but never measured for gage. Here it is folded in half with a postcard for size comparison;Gratuitous close-up of the yarn I used. It's hand-dyed wool that my secret pal from Round 7 got me. If I remember correctly, she bought it from and E-bay seller. It's got great color...looks just like a sunset to me. Unfortunately, it was not my first finished object of 2007 - it was actually my last finished object of 2006! My first object for 2007 is a sideways knit scarf!
Can anyone give me a heads up if my photos are looking a little too grainy? I try to size down the files so I can upload them to flickr from home on dial-up, but it seems like I'm making them too small.


My Experience in New Orleans

A lot of people questioned me about going to New Orleans for a vacation. They said things like, "Why would you go there, there's nothing left of it," and "That city is a dump now - there is nothing worth seeing." J's two nieces moved down there to live and work in August of 2006 - and you wouldn't believe the grief that they got - and are still getting - for moving there.

I wanted to see for myself. I went to Mardi Gras down there in 2005, and I didn't get to see the city like a tourist, I only saw the city as a wild partier. So this time, the trip was going to be a little different.

The good news is that the city is very much alive! The touristy areas - The French Quarter, Garden District, CBD/Warehouse District, etc. - are very much alive and kicking. Lots of people. Lots of partying. Lots of great food. The bad part in the touristy areas is that not all of the workers are back - they fled when their homes were destroyed, and haven't been able to come back, so there is a desperate need for workers in New Orleans right now.

Then there were the areas that were flooded. You can see in the photo below, the waterline on the house. That's where the water sat in some areas for days and days - and it was probably a few feet higher when the flooding happened. I almost cried to see that Lisa and Donnie had to spray paint their house that they were o.k. because there was really no other way to be able to tell people how they were. These people lost everything!!

The 9th Ward looked like a war zone. Here and there patches of re-furbished and/or re-built homes appeared, and they looked strange amidst the mess, but it was hope. It was very sad to look at. We actually paid for a "Katrina Devastation Tour." The tour guide, a native, told us all he was initially opposed to having the company he works for make money off of the trip. Then he told us that it's an important story to tell, and part of our money was going to be designated to the charity of our choice (I had checked into this prior to the tour...)

Not all houses looked like the one above - but our tour guide told us that immediately after the flooding, almost every house did look like that. I would estimate that about 25% of the houses we saw looked like the one above. Most of the rest were just gutted and abandoned - some for sale, some with 'tear down' notices on the doors. Our tour guide asked us to not take photos of the people cleaning out their houses out of respect for them. So we didn't, and honestly, I don't think I could have. The people I saw cleaning out house had on masks and were sweating, some still crying over the devastation.

There are some glimmers of the "new" New Orleans. In the 9th ward, a new neighborhood is being built called Musician's Village (completed house above, back of village pictured below.) You can read more about it with the link. These are photos of the houses, and volunteers building them. Some people have already moved into their new homes.

The last photo here is of the ampitheatre area, where the musicians can come play one the entire neighborhood is built. For some perspective - this area is about 80 acres. All of those cars were filled with volunteers helping build the houses. You can't see all of them, and the other photos I took didn't turn out, but there were a lot of people helping!

There is a lot of sadness and anger there about the government not stepping it up and getting these people out, and now, its lack of help to the victims. From what I have seen - it is warranted. New Orleans was - and is - a great city. It can be re-built better and stronger than it was. It's going to take time and money, and lots of volunteers. Everything helps - if you can only visit the city and put a little money into their economy, do it - if you can volunteer down there, go for it! If you prefer to donate money, find your local Red Cross or charity of your choice and pass it on!


That New Year

I joined Project Spectrum today, hoping that it will help me get through my stash this year, since I'm not buying any yarn for a while. I really like the way that Lolly organized the colors. And, a few months ago, I bought a bunch of blue bamboo yarn (enough to make a sweater) so I think I'm going to start with MY FIRST SWEATER PROJECT!! Well, it would be my first sweater for me. I've made baby sweaters before. Ooh, and I just realized that the second set of months is green, so I get to work for four months on the sock yarn my Secret Pal got me!!

I spent New Year's Eve with J and my parents in St. Louis. Pretty low key. We drove back to Des Moines on Monday morning, and I've been dragging myself into work every day since.

I want to write about my New Year's Resolutions, but I'm still trying to figure out what they all are. I guess I know these for sure:
  • Knit more!
  • Write down every piece of food that goes into my mouth.
  • Write down every single cent of money I spend.
  • Eat out for lunch only once per work week.
  • Eat breakfast every day.

Those sound so boring, but I'm just doing those in January. In February, I am going to start cutting down on my calories a little based on how much I'm already eating and I'm going to set up a budget. I'll probably also add some working out guidlines at that point. I want to take baby steps. Very little baby steps because I want to make sure that with everything I do, I make a positive change that becomes a HABIT instead of a fleeting project.

As far as knitting goes, I finished a Calorimetry scarf/hat while driving down to St. Louis over break. I just need to sew on a button and take some photos. I also started a scarf with this crazy yarn I bought - it's totally novelty crap, but it's kind of cool, so I'll have to post something about that as well.

Photos to be saved for my next post. Tomorrow, I get TIVO!!! Yay!!!