Monday, November 26, 2007

Hop Deux

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I'm back from a wonderful week at Walt Disney World, but there are far fewer pictures to sort through from the last bit of the shop hop, so let's start there. I had grand and crazy plans for the week before leaving on vacation. Since I wouldn't be here for the final Saturday of the shop hop, I was going to try and hit the remaining 6 stores during the week. My plan was to hit the two in Roswell and Alpharetta during lunch breaks, hit the one in Woodstock on Tuesday night on the way to stitch group, and hit the remaining three on Thursday. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate my coworker being out of town that week on a business trip. Lunchtime jaunts were out. Then, there was apocalyptic traffic on Tuesday for some strange reason, so no shop visit before group. This left me with 6 shops to visit in two days, not to mention packing and running errands!!

Thursday morning I drove DH to work and then on to the shop in Roswell, Cast-on Cottage. This is one of the shops that made me very glad there was a hop. I'd never been, and it's just lovely...and it's only a few miles from where I work!! I think that if I take back roads, it's doable for a lunch break run. It's also set in the cutest little area; there's a book store/coffee shop just down the street, as well as several restaurants that look interesting. All the shops are in charming little clapboard houses, some even complete with white picket fences. With the colorful leaves on the ground, it was a pretty picture. I tried very hard to stick to my plan of only getting yarns on my list, but I was blindsided by this beautiful Jasper from Berocco:

I mean, really, what could I do? I had no idea what I'd do with it. When I got home, though, I realized I had already downloaded a freebie pattern that called for this exact yarn! (Perfect for me 'cause my arms are always cold.) I made a mental note that this shop had a lot of Rowan yarns, also much Debbie Bliss, lots for felting, and just a great variety. There's also needlepoint stuff there, in case I need something in a pinch. I couldn't make it back to that room, seemed like there was always someone in the doorway.

From Cast-on Cottage, I headed to Only Ewe and Cotton Too (great store; unwieldy name). This shop seemed to have a lot of alpaca and cashmere yarns. They also had a large amount of Tofutsies that were calling to me, and I got to fondle some ShibuiKnits yarn in person (I've been ogling it on The Loopy Ewe for a while). I managed to find some yarn on my list that I've been hunting forever: Rowan Cashsoft DK, for Odessa. The most dangerous thing about this place is the accompanying bead shop. It's not in the proximity of, not next to, but right inside. You merely have to tear your glance away from the seriously beautiful yarns (I got to see Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool in person, too!) and they are instantly assaulted by all manner of sparkly. I showed the most amazing restraint in only purchasing two strands of beads, which accidentally managed to be perfect for Odessa (I didn't even remember the pattern called for beads!) w00t!

Oh, yeah, and I had another "slight" falling-off-the-list moment when that pesky skein of hand-painted alpaca leaped out of a basket and wrapped itself around my ankles and wouldn't let go 'til I promised it I'd take it home and had the nice man wind it. He suggested a scarf with a pattern of yo, k1, k2tog. Or was it k1, yo, k2tog?? Yikes, I can't remember. Has anyone ever done that? I may have to try both.

The only thing that kept me from browsing beads longer was my steely constitution the desire to make it to one more store!! I managed to find my way to The Whole Nine Yarns in Woodstock. It was actually a beautiful drive with the leaves changing (well, except when I was behind the dump truck). This is a very dangerous store. Lots and lots of lovely, lovely yarn...and lots of sock yarn. As I was walking into the store, I was thinking to myself, I wonder if I should call Jean? She lives so close, but I have no idea what she's doing today... I walked in the store, and lo and behold, there was Jean!!! What a fabulous surprise! After going 'round the store twice, and seeing many, many yummy yarns, I stuck to my guns and virtuously only purchased one skein of Koigu to make some sachets for my nieces for Christmas (since the cuffs didn't work out).
I am seriously in love with this yarn. If it wouldn't cause some kind of sick fiber-based adultery, I might marry it. After Jean gave me a tutorial on using a ball winder (even though her DH won't let her touch the swift at home, nay, nor even look at it), she took me to lunch, which was just great. Yarn and a good friend, what more could you ask for?? A fabulous day indeed!

Unfortunately, when I got home, I was very tired. I had skipped choir practice the night before to get some rest, but my lack of energy continued, so no packing got done Thursday afternoon. That night, it was time for a reality check. For reference, here's the shop hop map I created:

OK, so do you see the martini glass? I'm fairly close to that. See that cluster of shops? And then a few to the North? You know, Atlanta area. OK, now see that one WAY OVER AT THE RIGHT EDGE??? It's SEVENTY MILES from Atlanta. It should NOT, in my opinion, be part of an ATLANTA shop hop. But, alas, it was. When I realized that it would be about a three-hour round trip (it takes about an hour and twenty minutes to get there; nevermind stopping at the one in Snellville (an hour from the one in West Bumble to Snellville, then 45 minutes to the last shop, then 20 minutes home)), I decided to act like a grownup and give up my pipe dream of winning the $1000 worth of yarn grand prize.

I headed out to Nease's because I needed to turn in my passport, and also because I thought I remembered seeing in their newsletter that they had some locally hand-dyed yarn called Toasty. Well, it turns out I boogered that one; it was actually Needle Nook's newsletter where I read that. Nease's is kind of small, and it looked like their stock was seriously wiped out from the shop hop, so it took me a while to find something I liked. I was really looking for a sport weight yarn in a Christmas-y color, because I just got Cat Bordhi's fabulous sock book and wanted to knit her teeny practice socks in colors that would look good on my sisters' Christmas trees. I ended up buying this really beautiful Mountain Colors yarn, but I left feeling a little unhappy because it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, the shop hop was over, I hadn't filled my passport, and the staff was slightly...unsympathetic. Plus, I was feeling really ticked about that Watkinsville shop being in the hop. I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely shop, but it is by no stretch of the imagination in Atlanta. *sigh* Let's look at some wool...

Ah. That is better. All in all, though, I had a lot of fun hopping, and it could only have been improved by getting to hop with friends and getting to hop least without packing a lunch.

Stinkin' Watkinsville. But oh, the consolation of beautiful yarn....

Friday, November 16, 2007

All hopped out

I'd like to post about yesterday's (and to a vastly lesser extent, today's) shop hopping, but I have about 45 minutes to pack to go to The House of Mouse for a week. It's been a somewhat rough week: the other programmer at work was gone to a client site, DH was sick, and I am fighting off whatever he has. I'll feel OK in the morning, but by evening...ugh. Add to that general tiredness compounded by my usual quota of slack, and there you have it. I'm in a pickle. But I'm going to concentrate on the fact that I'll be on vacation for a week rather than stressing about all I didn't get done. Yeah, that's it.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hop 'til you Drop

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The first ever Atlanta yarn shop hop started last Saturday (the 10th), and runs until next Sunday. I had planned to do some hopping this weekend, since we're going to be gone next weekend to visit The Mouse. I was even going to get to hop with Jean. Then life intervened, in the form of a worship team practice from 11:00-1:00. As Jean said, "That really borks your day, doesn't it?" Since Jean had a date with a mechanic at 3 way up in the wilds of Marietta, it didn't look good for joint hopping. I was much bummed, but when I got home from practice, unfed, DH whisked me off to lunch and a mini-hop from 3-6. I was thinking we'd go to a couple of stores. We started out at the lovely but elusive Why Knot Knit in Buckhead. I say "elusive" because, although I have been there before--twice, even--we drove right past it the first time. In my defense, I thought we were coming at it from "the other way", so I was looking at the opposite side of the street. OK, maybe that's not a very good defense.

I found the most glorious color of peacock blue Misti Alpaca for a freebie scarf pattern I had. When I bought my "passport", the owner, who is a very cheerful person, told us that she had had people coming in that day who had been to six shops already before getting to her!! Yikes!! After grabbing their free pattern for a luscious wrap, we headed to Strings & Strands. This is a nice shop with lots of specialty yarn, and, once again, a very cheerful and helpful owner. There, I found another color of Misti Alpaca to make the same scarf for one of my nieces...a fun pink/orange/rose/brown color, which sounds awful but isn't.

I was excited to have visited two shops, and it was 4:30 (we made a short stop at Pearl to look for movie poster frames), so I thought we were done. Most shops close at 5, but DH said that we could make it to Needle Nook (a shop with a disturbing--as far as the budget goes--amount of lace, cashmere and sock yarn), and I'd have 9 minutes to shop. I actually had 14!! Plenty of time for me to grab the skein of Bali I needed to complete Aline. Hmmm, but that's only $7 and I need to spend $10...I immediately picked up a skein of Jitterbug I'd been eyeing for some time.

Then, I saw it.

A while ago, someone had mentioned she was knitting a Noni bag. I didn't know what that meant, so I immediately searched, and fell instantly in love. However, I hadn't yet seen the pattern I decided was my favorite in any shop I had visited. On my way to the register, lo and behold, there it was! I grabbed the pattern and by sheer force of will let go of the skein of Jitterbug, even though it physically hurt just a little. (Gotta keep the per-store cost down when you may be visiting 10!) Someone at the cash register was asking if all the shops closed at 5. When we got outside, DH asked, "Didn't you tell me Knitch was open 'til 6?" Ummm...not sure...let me check the master list. Oh, yeah! Off we headed to Knitch, which is a Truly Lovely Shop Indeed and has a room upstairs which not only contains about every color of Cascade 220 there is, but also a felting station (i.e., non-front-loading washers) and an area for classes.

I was feeling pretty smug at this point, by the way. After all, I had managed to visit three shops, and only spend about $15 per shop. AND, I had only purchased things that were 1) on my list, 2) for gifts, or 3) to finish existing projects. Pretty swanky. Then I got to Knitch, and purchased this:

Really, it's DH's fault. While I was plowing through Cascade trying to find my colors, I was divulging my brilliant plan to him. "I want to see all the colors together to make sure I like them, but I won't buy all of them here. I'll spread it out at the other shops I'm going to visit so as to keep my total down." I expected the praise every wife does when she is doing something vaguely frugal (I say, "vaguely", because I am, after all, still buying yarn). However, as I often do, I momentarily forgot who my husband was. "Nah," he said, "just get it all here." I'm not going to argue with that!!

Only one small bump in the road...once I pulled the main green and blue, I didn't like them. I'd fallen in love with the way the photo looked, but we all know how inaccurate colors can be in photos. I wasn't digging the real colors, so I started playing around with alternates. At some point someone asked me if I needed help, and when I admitted I was trying to change colors, the response came: "Well, the designer just happens to be here today. I'm sure she'd help!" I dimly recalled getting an email that Nora Bellows was going to teach a class at Knitch about designing your own bag. Since I had never knit one of her bags--yea verily, nor any felted bag at all--I figured that was over my head and immediately forgot about it. Oh, so that was this weekend. My face flaming, I apologized for saying I didn't like the colors!! I've known some designers, at least in the needlework world, to throw hissie fits if someone dared suggest changing one thread color. But Nora was extremely gracious about it. So now, imagine that bag in the first these colors:

We played with turquoise/green variations (and she even liked a combination I proposed that DH had deemed "seaweed"), and then she went outside the box (God bless designers!) and grabbed the most gorgeous shade of royal blue. Really, it's almost cobalt. That and turquoise, I thought, might not look great with the original deep pink flowers (and we couldn't find one of the colors, anyway). At that point, Nora said she has been playing with green flowers lately. She even gave me a bit of Cascade Fizz from her stash to use for the bobbles (flower centers)!! She also showed me some unfelted flowers and explained that it would seem I was doing something wrong, but I should Trust the Pattern. Believe me, I don't have enough confidence in my knitting skills to NOT Trust the Pattern, despite my experience with the cuff. She kind of threw me for a loop by picking three greens when the pattern calls for two colors, but she told me to "play"...and if there's one thing I can do, besides Trust the Pattern, it's Follow Directions, Especially if They're from the Designer Herself.

So as if all this personal attention wasn't enough, when I got downstairs with my fabulous armload of Cascadey goodness, the staff asked me, "Do you want us to wind this for you?" !!!! Are you serious?? Really?? YES, PLEASE!!!

Shop hop=lots of lovely yarn. Nora Bellows=one swell chick.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I love Halloween because...

When it's over, you can get this...

...for under 8 bucks.

And it should last on my desk at my office at least a month.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Death by Whiffle Ball

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Once upon a time, corporate teambuilding meant one thing: Laser Tag. This was all well and good, but it got to be a little stale after a while. Then came Paintball. In a word: ouch. I am happy to report that I avoided both of these sports (sic); the only work reward I can recall that involved any game playing was when I got an XBox as a bonus. And, of course, there were no unfortunate physical side-effects of that, except for lack of sleep induced by a deep, lingering addiction to all things Halo.

Fortunately for all we chicks who don't wish to be pegged with paint traveling at a pain-inducing velocity, there's a new teambuilding exercise in town...Whirlyball. This may sound like it involves toilets, or pinwheels of some kind, but it actually involves bumper cars, dunking-booth-esque goals, a whiffle ball, and a jai alai-like scoop:

Here's our referee explaining the rules of the game. (Check out the aw3some graphic of the wife-beater-wearing Whirlyball player on the wall.)

I think the rules can be summed up thusly:
  • No slashing (whacking other people or their scoops with your own)

  • No touching the whiffle ball with your hands (unless it's been so badly mangled that you need to turn it back into a sphere).

  • If you manage to hit the target with the ball, but it doesn't trigger the buzzer, tough noogies.

  • You should not ram people from behind.

  • Keeping one hand on the steering mechanism, which is a giant metal rod bent into a 90 degree angle located at about navel level, may help you avoid unfortunate bruising when someone rams you from behind.

  • Flirting with/bribing the referee will cause judgment calls to go your way.

  • You are more likely to win on penalties the other team commits than on goals your team makes.

I am hampered by the fact that I forgot my camera, or I'd be able to show you exciting things like said giant metal rod, or the inspiring stained glass sculpture of a Whirlyball game in the "foyer". Alas, I only have blurred action to show you:

I was thinking, "Geez, we're just going to be riding around in bumper cars (or "Whirlybugs", as they are called) for a couple hours. No big deal." Here's a catalog of my injuries from the afternoon:
  • Bruise on left thigh close to hip (cause: seatbelt)

  • Bruise about three inches below right clavicle (cause: also seatbelt)

  • Bruise on back of right arm (cause: ?? whiffle ball at high velocity? seat while being rammed from behind?)

  • Bruise on inside of right knee (cause: giant metal rod)

  • Sore left hand (cause: steering with giant metal rod)

  • Sore thighs (cause: reaching up to try and block all those over-six-foot behemoths on the other team)

  • Sore back (cause: being me. Seriously, it's usually a little sore, and being rammed from behind doesn't help.)

  • Sore...umm...let's just call it "saddle sore" (cause: being rammed from behind at such high speed it caused me to lift out of my seat several inches, despite seat belt, and re-initiate contact with the seat quite suddenly)

Whirlyball is the new Paintball. The pain is just different.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


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Obligation October was supposed to be about getting Christmas presents done early. I "only" had to bead a necklace for my youngest sister. (She doesn't want anything really fancy, so you wouldn't think it'd take long. Of course, since it's me, it will take longer because it requires me to "create" a pattern. It'd be much faster if I was just following one.) I thought I'd also make some bracelets for my nieces. I've given them bracelets the past few years. A bracelet is a good, non-committal fashion accessory. They aren't integral to an outfit, so you can give a cool one to someone with a greater-than-normal chance it might actually be worn. This year, I thought, I'll knit bracelets. One had come up in my Knitting Page a Day Calendar that looked like a good candiate. I went to an LYS to get the sparkly yarn for it, but they didn't have the yarn the pattern called for (R2 by Rowan). So, I bought pretty much the only sparkly yarn they did have (it was my first visit there, so I felt like I needed to get something). It wasn't silver and copper, like the pattern called for, but gold and pewter should still look cool, right?? Forget about the fact that one was a chainette and the other a tubular; I mean, really, what could go wrong?

Honestly, the random yarn was the least of my problems. I'm going to list the "corrections" I made to the pattern here, just because, even with my limited knitting experience, I'm pretty sure there's no way you're going to end up with what's in the picture if you follow the instructions. I mean, logically, the bracelet is supposed to have picots on both sides. If the instructions tell you to make picots at the beginning of every fourth row, is it going to have picots on both sides? Why, no. No, it's not. It's only going to picots on one side. That was once I had to frog. And forget about the instructions given for the picots. I did what made sense to me. Frog deux! Also, if you count the beads you're supposed to put on each yarn (12 each = 24 beads), and then count the number of times you use a bead in the pattern (4 x 3.5 repeats = 14 beads), they are disturbingly dissimilar.

I can't find my notes on this pattern right now, so I'll update this post later. But here's what I remember. Every row immediately following a row that starts with MP, MP in the same color as the previous P on that same side. After the first time through, MP at the beginning of row 1 as well. There's also a missing row in the instructions, but it should be fairly obvious what it should be to continue the pattern.

Also, I did another two repeats (sans beads), because the bracelet wasn't long enough.

And after all that, I'm not too enthused about it. I'm thinking of trying some other things for the other two nieces--maybe a bookmark and a set of wrist warmers. Of course, one of the nieces is getting married next April...hey, I could knit her a garter!! Anyone know any good patterns???

So much for getting Christmas gifts out of the way quickly.

There's a Wookie in my shower

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DH mentioned he saw something about Star Wars on the Today show, which I'm almost sure has to do with this. No matter. It was enough. A sound arose from the shower...a gurgling, slightly melodic sound. The gargling had begun.

Something about Star Wars makes my husband want to gargle themes in the shower. I suppose I should be glad he's not making up words to them and singing in the shower instead (not that he has a bad voice). To be fair, his rendition of the Force Theme is wonderful. And his Imperial March is inspiring (in a manner of speaking). But today, after the Force Theme, came something unrecognizable.

"What was that?"

"Han and Leia's Theme. Why, what did you think it was?"

"It sounded a little like the deranged warbling of a peacock in heat."

"Well, at least I got the passion component in there!"


Some girls' husbands sing like birds. Mine gargles like one.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Cubie is Dead...Long Live the Cubie!

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ASG was a glorious weekend, marred only by a rude reminder we were practically in the Midwest, and continual attemps to finish The Dreaded Cubie. Do you remember the Dunkin Donuts commercials from the 80s, where the hapless DD manager wakes at the crack of dawn, muttering, "...time to make the donuts..."? We see him shuffling through his morning routine, punctuated by muffled, "...the DOH-nuts...." That's the way ASG started to feel after a little while. It was my own fault; after every meal I'd look pointedly at Teresa and utter, "Cubie." Then we'd tromp up to her room, the designated ironing/assembly station, and realize there were only about five minutes before we had to be somewhere, so it really wasn't worth it, anyway. We had two big pushes; one night there was a lot of ironing and lacing going on, and Saturday night when there was a lot of cursing going on. Honestly, there really wasn't much cursing. We were doing the actual assembly then, and that stitch was so hellacious, and we were so tired, that we were incapable of forming actual words. The closest I got was saying something like, "Schwaaaaabbaneeboe...CURSE WORD!!!!"

Anyway, I finally finished it at about 11:30 on Sunday of ASG, after the farewell brunch was good and over. But I did a brief victory dance in Teresa and Jean's (or was that CJ's?) room and then packed the sucker in my carry-on bag (sans scissors, of course).

If you want to see close-ups of some of the sides, click on "The Dreaded Cubie" link above.

BTW, I'm totally counting this as part of November Fall Finishing Frenzy. Even though I finished it in October. Now go see T's lovely cubie. And T, I agree we should never do this again. Although, I may never finish anything again if we don't.

Whew, I'm glad that's done.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A First

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It's my first ever blog award!! The talented and beautiful Thermalgal has given me the "You Make Me Smile" Award. Thank you so much, Jenni!! I got a giddy little lift when I saw!

Here are some words from the creator of the award (at least from what I can tell):
I wanted to create something special for the top ten people who have inspired me through their blogging; the stories they tell and the lives that they lead with grace and dignity. I visit their blogs for inspiration and encouragement.

Convention seems to have been to give out the award to 10 blog authors when you get it, since that's what the creator did. All these blogs make me smile for different reasons...some for beauty, some for humor, some for sheer joy. So now, in alphabetical are my recipients:

I think all of these are new recipients except for Erin and Jenni. But really, I couldn't leave them off!!

Even virtual awards feel great. And what are you still doing here when you could be reading some (other) super blogs??

Old Geek-outs