Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Plague

In addition to some lovely Christmas gifts, Sean and I brought home the plague from Boston. On Sunday, we took turns refilling our glasses of orange juice and other beverages. We were ready to put one of those biohazard signs on our door. Monday morning I felt better and made the trek to work. Sean was too sick so he stayed home. In tag team style, it was me who was sicker this morning, so I'm home while Sean's at work. We've both got to make it through tomorrow before our 4-day weekend. We'll need it, for sure.

But like I said, Christmas was wonderful! On Christmas Eve, I got to bake pies with Grandma. It was soooo much fun! I made my first ever crust-from-scratch and my first ever lemon meriangue pie. All were delicious. Here's a close up of the apple pie - you can even see the steam rising out of it.

Apple Pie

One of the gag gifts I got my future sister-in-law (another knitter), was one of those pooping sheep from Joann's. No worries - the sheep "poops" brown jelly beans when you push down on his back. It's actually quite funny when it happens but I didn't know just what a hit this little guy would turn out to be. Her fiance couldn't get enough of him. Now I know what to get him for his birthday.

Sheep Jellybeans

Santa was also very good to me. I got some new books, a couple of bottles of wine, and some travel stuff for Ireland - which is less than 3 weeks away!!! How time does fly. I've got to get KMP's knitted baby blanket done before then because I want a new project to bring with me on the trip. I haven't picked it out yet but I'm guessing I'll get started on the green baby blanket.

I talked a bit about it in this post, but to recap: The baby is due in May and Mom and Dad, who love their Irish roots, have requested a green blanket. They won't know the gender of the baby until the big day so green will be a neutral, fun color for either boy or girl. I thought about getting 4 different greens of Vanna's Choice yarn but I only found 3 greens I liked - Olive, Kelly and Fern. I also bought some in Linen for a contrast.

All this yarn is on it's way in an order from Joann's, along with a little gift for myself. I finally bought myself a ball winder. And girls, I'm hoping to have a swift by MS&W. That should make our after-festival time a bit more productive (and a lot less knotted).

Another reason I need to get KMP's knitted baby blanket done sooner rather than later is that little Edward arrived on the evening of December 23rd. I'm happy to report that Mom, Baby and Dad are all doing very well.

I must be off to drink some more fluids and down some more medicine. I should also get to the store to buy some sparkling wine for New Year's. Cold and flu be damned, I need my bubbly for the New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all the best this holiday season, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate. May your travels be safe and your eggnog extra strong! Cheers!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Work in Progress

Just like the baby, KMP's blanket #2 is still a work in progress. ::sigh:: I had hoped to have finished the blanket by now so I could take a different and new project with me on the train ride to Boston tomorrow. Alas and alack, the knitted Homespun blanket will be with me. Unlike KMP's situation, carrying this project around is a lot less of a hassle as an overdue 8 lb baby boy.

Knit Homespun Baby Blanket 3

Currently, the blanket is 37" wide by 19 1/2" long. I'm 2 skeins in and I bought the third one today at Joann's. I had hoped to only use two skeins but that just didn't happen. As a consolation gift, I bought myself an Artbin yarn caddy/organizer. I got it at Joann's for $8 and it's a lovely burgundy color. I didn't have time to put stuff in it today, so it will have to wait until New Year's weekend.

I'll be knitting away on the train for the 7 hour trip up to New England - so there's still a chance this blanket will wind up in the "completed in 2008" pile. But it won't be done in time for the baby's arrival because if KMP hasn't had him already, she's scheduled to be induced tomorrow! (Tuesday Dec 23rd)

Girls - if I hear anything, I'll text message you and vice versa, okay?

Crafty Christmas

I wanted to share a couple of non-crochet/non-knit crafts I made this year. First is a traditional one (traditional meaning I make them each year).

Reindeer Candy Canes - 2008 Version
2008 Candy Cane Reindeer 2

Aren't reindeer candy canes just the cutest thing? Here is the 2008 version next to the 2007 version on the tree.

2007 and 2008 Candy Cane Reindeer

Last year, I made them for both my office and Sean's office. This year, I wasn't even going to bother with them. Then on Thursday, someone in Sean's office noticed the 2007 version on Sean's desk and she asked Sean if I was making them again this year. I was so happy to know someone was looking forward to them that I just had to make a herd. They were delivered on Friday and even more people were delighted to see them again this year.

And here's crafty project #2...Now this was a brand new concept to me. For friends of mine, this was a yearly tradition growing up. The kids would sprinkle the reindeer food out on the lawn on Christmas Eve. Here's mine:

Reindeer Food
Reindeer Food 1

Reindeer food consists of oatmeal (uncooked and not the instant kind) and red and green sugar crystals. The reindeer food is in a baggie and wrapped up in some shiny red wrapping paper. That is wrapped up in a sheer white fabric that I hastily cut into a circle and sewed over the edges with green thread. I tied it up with some gold curling ribbon and attached the tag. You can't see it in the photo, but on the other side it reads:
Sprinkle on the lawn at night.
The moon will make it sparkle bright.
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
This will guide them to your home.

Isn't that cute? I only made 2 bags of reindeer food. One was given to a co-worker to share with her grandchildren and the other one was sent up to Buffalo to Brodie. I hope the kids have fun with it. I wish I had know about reindeer food when I was growing up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last Minute Gift Idea

I saw this in the Joann's December project newsletter:

Yes, it's a wreath made to look like balls of yarn. The project idea can be found here.

If I had my yarn store, I would totally make one of these for the front door of the store. But I must say that the construction of the wreath appears to be a waste of perfectly good yarn. Gluing yarn to styrofoam balls is good for the weight of the finished wreath, but my heart would be heavy when I looked at that unusable yarn.

Instead, I think you could make this a wonderful gift presentation. Find a fabulous pattern, buy the yarn and ball it into 10 same-size balls of yarn. Using some heavy duty wire (that will hold its shape but not damage the yarn) thread it through the balls to make a ring. Insert two knitting or one crochet hook into the wreath and add a bow in a complimenting color. Add any embellishments, if needed (like stitch markers or fringe or beads - anything the pattern requires. Include the pattern in the box and voila! It's a full knit or crochet kit in the shape of wreath - and no yarn was wasted in the making. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Funny Because It's True

Thanks to my fabulous cousin, Cassandra, for sending me a copy of the article from the December issue of Sasee, A Sheep On My Back. She said the article reminded her of me. It reminded me of me, too. Seriously - I could have written it myself. The photo even includes a little skein of Cotsoy - just like the little skein I just had to purchase because it was so darn cute.

See any of yourself in the article? ;)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2008 Crafty Resolutions: A Review

As the holidays rapidly approach and a New Year is right around the corner, it's time to take a look at my 2008 Crafty Resolutions and see how I did (and what I can cram into the last couple of weeks).

Last time I checked on it, it was October.

1) Finish the following UFOs:

Update: The infamous shawl. It's still in pieces and I can't figure out how to put it all together with some kind of edging that makes sense. Does someone want to adopt this project?

2) Make, block and stiffen 25 snowflakes (and yes, the two I've already made count toward the 25)

Update: Not gonna happen in 2008. Is it worth keeping on the list for 2009?

3) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and circular needles.

Update: So freakin' close to getting this resolution done. While I didn't learn to knit socks, I did learn to knit which in itself is a pretty great thing. Socks next year for sure - I've got oodles of sock yarn just waiting to be used!

4) Organize my yarn, books and other crafty supplies in the new craft room

Update on this one - A couple weeks ago, I reorganized all my yarn and all the other crafty stuff stored in the craft room. It's so much easier to find things now. I also created a three-ring binder with all the patterns I've printed out. It's a much better system than cramming everything into a file folder (the previous system).

5) Make a shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book

Update: If I can finish KMP's second baby blanket before Christmas, I'll try to start the shawl on the train ride up to New England. But really - it's not looking good that this will happen.

6) Go to MS&W 2008 (this is a no-brainer)

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD)
  • Baby blanket for Mindy Jr.
  • Crochet a rug from the yarn bought at the 2006 MS&W
  • Complete A-Z pillows for baby Brodie
  • Crochet Christmas stockings (but this one is a bit iffy)

  • I'm going to mail the hat I made for charity in place of the blanket. I did order some yarn for a charity blanket - which will probably be made in 2009.
  • The A-Z pillows have been taken off the list. The A pillow I started has been frogged. The bright acrylic yarn will be used for some other project.
  • A rug and Christmas stockings? Seriously? It's not gonna happen.

Just because a lot of my resolutions went uncompleted, I did accomplish quite a bit in 2008. The aforementioned learning to knit is a big one as well as designing and selling my first crochet patterns. Given the number of unexpected pregnancies, I was also uber busy with baby blankets (especially the knitted one that I should have crocheted). I also managed to visit a bunch of local yarn stores across the country. All in all, a productive year with 21 completed projects and even more yarn added to my stash.

I've got my list of 2009 Crafty Resolutions started and while it does include a number of uncompleted 2008 resolutions, it also has some fun, new ones. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Completed Project: Afghan of the Sandman - Blue Edition

Last thing I knew, it was November. Then all of a sudden - ::Doppler effect sound:: - it's December. How the heck did that happen??? I still haven't painted the advent calendar (though Sean is enjoying the candy) but I did finally finish the Afghan of the Sandman blanket for KMP's soon-to-arrive baby boy. I finished it the Sunday after Thanksgiving and sent it, a surprise baby shower presentation, and some cute little onesies a few days later. According to USPS, the package arrived yesterday but I haven't heard anything from KMP or her DH.

Here's the Afghan. The final size was approximately 32.5" square. All details can be found on Ravelry. Click on the photos for close-ups.

Sandman Afghan Blue 08Sandman Afghan Blue 06Sandman Afghan Blue 07

Just like the last afghan, this blanket didn't really come together until the border was added. I do so love this pattern and I hope to make a version of this one for all the babies, plus one that Mom and Dad choose.

Here are the onesies I sent, too. They are just Gerber onesies (size 0-3 months) with iron decals I got at Joann's. Aren't they funny?

Kaui Baby Onesies

Sadly, the knitted baby blanket still isn't done and I honestly can't see it being done until after Christmas. It's now a bit too big to take with me on my commute and since I'm not allowed to start a new project until this one is done, I'm reading instead of knitting on the train. I'm not even sure if I'll need a third skein to finish it or not. What I do know is that I'm not knitting a baby blanket again anytime soon. Crocheting is just sooooo much faster and I like the results more, too. I have half a mind to frog the blanket I started and just crochet one in like a week.

The next baby I know of is due in May. Mom and Dad are Irish and have requested a green blanket. They won't know the gender of the baby until the big day so green will be a neutral, fun color for either boy or girl. I'm thinking of getting 4 different greens of Vanna's Choice yarn and perhaps doing some crocheted cable work on the blanket. If anyone has a good pattern book for crocheted cables, please let me know.

For now, back to the knitted blanket I must go before anything else is started.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Holiday Spirit is in the Air

I'm supposed to have both blankets for KMP done by next Saturday. Egads! Good news is that I'm working on the border of the Afghan of the Sandman (round 4 of 10) so that may even get done today or tomorrow. Bad news is that I'm only one or two rows into skein 2 of the knitted baby blanket. Worse news is that the blanket looks way too long and may require a third skein. This means I've got to get it done and check the length and if necessary, buy another skein and keep knitting. So I'm suspecting I won't have it done in time to mail out on Saturday. I am hedging my bets by including some cute little onesies with funny iron on decals (details to follow in a future post - including photos).

I'm also feeling extra crafty and the holiday spirit is definitely in the air. I've got Christmas music playing as I type. I made applesauce and cranberry sauce today for Thanksgiving. The house smelled wonderful with cranberry, apple and cinnamon wafting through the air. (Note - if you don't have orange zest to add to simmering cranberry sauce, a shot of Triple Sec will do the trick nicely.) I've got the menu planned out for Thanksgiving, too. I'm not hosting this year, but I have plenty to prepare to bring down to dinner. Spinach dip, veggies, pumpkin squares, a crab ball with crackers....::drooling::

I'm also putting together the Christmas gift lists - what to buy and for whom - so I can keep an eye on the sale ads and online deals. It will be a leaner Christmas this year so I want to buy just the right things at the best prices. Speaking of a lean Christmas, the hopes of buying a new fake tree to replace my old, little tree have been put on hold. Instead, I found a more affordable holiday project. I bought a wooden advent calendar from Joann's which I'm going to repaint and include candy and/or little gifts for Sean to open each day until Christmas. I'm hoping this creative project will make up for not getting a new tree, ornaments and decorations. It is definitely cheaper ($30 for the whole project). I'll work on it next weekend so photos to follow.

Thank goodness I'm only working Monday and Tuesday and will have 5 days to work on all this craftiness. So much to do and so little time.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yarn Shops in Columbus, Ohio

A fabulous wedding was preceded by a trip to 2 of the 3 yarn shops in Columbus, Ohio.

First stop was at Knitters Mercantile located at 214 Graceland Blvd.

"Yarn store" yarn Columbus Ohio "Knitters Mercan

Located in a strip mall, I was a bit hesitant to enter but it was a hidden gem to discover. A well-sized store with some of the most friendly yarn shop staff I've ever encountered. The whole store exuded zen. The rows of shelves of yarn drew you in to explore all the colors and textures. Now - to point out yet again - I am by no means an expert when it comes to all brands, blends or types of yarn. I just know what I like. And let me tell you - I liked waaaaay too much in this store. One of the friendly staff members asked if I needed any help and she pointed me to some locally created yarn by Tuscan Grove. I just couldn't resist it! The colors were so gorgeous that I could have bought many skeins - instead I settled on this one.

Tuscan Grove Fresco 2

It's 100% superwash merino wool in what is termed the Venice style (more info on their web site). The colorway is called Fresco and I absolutely love how the purple compliments the autumn oranges and yellows.

Knitters Mercantile also had a great selection of notions, hooks and needles and a good selection of books and patterns. I happened by the sale rack of books and picked up a fun box of crocheted bag patterns. At 50% off, this was a great find.

Knitters Mercantile Purchase

You'll also see a advertisement card for Knitters Connection 2009 which will be held in Columbus June 17-20, 2009. Though I'm not sure that I'll actually be able to go, I did join the group on Ravelry.

The store also has a table in the back for classes. While I was there, a knitting class was going on. The teacher was so patient and was explaining things in a way that all the students seemed to understand. Seriously - if I lived in Columbus, I would take classes and be at this store all the time. It had such a homey, relaxed and inviting feeling. I felt as though I could have hunkered down in one of the chairs and crocheted or knitted away for hours. It even had a "Crochet Friendly" decal from Interweave Press near the front door. It's a definite must see if you're living in or just visiting the area.

The second stop was at The Yarn Shop located at 1125 Kenny Centre.

Columbus OH The Yarn Shop

Located in another strip mall-type location, this store was much bigger than the last. It included tatting materials and lots of embroidery. It was also a bit brighter (more windows) with higher ceilings. It definitely lacked the homey feeling I so enjoyed at Knitters Mercantile. The selection was wide but I can't say that I was wowed by it. There was a lot of synthetics and yarn that I've seen at other stores. There were a few gems here and there but I wasn't as drawn in as I was at the previous store - but that is not to say their selection was lacking. The hook, needle and notions selection was amazing - everything you could possibly need was there. There were oodles of patterns and books plus a huge selection of speciality buttons. They also have a play area for kids to occupy themselves while parents are shopping.

I was a bit turned off by the staff at the store. They weren't nearly as friendly as at the other store. The one person giving some instructions to a new knitter was actually quite aggressive and rude to her student. Had she been trying to teach me, I would have called her on it and/or got up and left. Perhaps this was the student's fifth time trying to learn and the instructor was just frustrated. Then again, the instructor struck me as being more of a knitting snob rather than a frustrated teacher. Do you know the type I mean? The women who seem to love knitting but they use it as a way to show how they are superior to others. For example, if you asked what a 2x2 rib pattern is, they would look down their nose at you as if you were not worthy of speaking with them. That's the kind of vibe I got from her.

Those somewhat negative impressions aside, this was still a really great store. I just know that I personally wouldn't make it my regular LYS if I lived in Columbus. I did end up making a purchase of some fun Harry Potter themed sock yarn. It's not like JK Rowling needs more money but I couldn't resist the commercial tie-in to sock yarn.

The Yarn Shop OH Purchase

It's by Opal, a German company, and they have a whole series of the Harry Potter sock yarns. The one I bought is the colorway for Dumbledore. I giggle when I look at the label because it's in German and looks like "Halibut Prince" (in German - Half Blood Prince is Halbblut Prinz).

Though I didn't make it to Heavenly Creations, the two LYS stops were really great. I'd highly recommend a trip to both if you're in the area.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Off to the Great State of Ohio

Sean and I are headed off to Ohio for a wedding on Saturday. We're driving there so I should be able to check out one, if not all three, of the yarn stores in Columbus.

Heavenly Creations
1188 W. 5th Ave.

Knitters Mercantile
214 Graceland Blvd.

The Yarn Shop
1125 Kenny Centre

I should also have quite a bit of time to work on the two blankets for KMP during the drive up there. Both blankets have got to be done this month because she's due in December. Plus, ANOTHER friend is prego. I think she's due in April.

Will I ever finish the BUBBLES bubbles wrap??? Not if the rate at which my friends are breeding continues. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Sigh of Relief


Dear America,

Thank you for not f-ing up the election this time. I really appreciate it. Good job.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Early Christmas List

Seriously - these are too freakin' cute.

End communication.

Completed Project: Knitted Meg Griffin Hat

Hope all had a wonderful Halloween! Here's the hat I made for my costume - the title says it all.

Meg Griffin Hat 01 Meg Griffin Hat 03

See any resemblance?

Say it with me now -- "Shut up, Meg!"

Details on my Ravelry page.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Project: Knitted (::gasp!::) Homespun Baby Blanket

Here's blanket #2 for KMP's bun in the oven. Detail on blanket #1 can be found here.

Knit Homespun Baby Blanket 1

Can you believe I'm knitting this blanket??? Me neither. I've never knitted a blanket before and given the time crunch I'm under, I'll be lucky if my slow knitting skills get the job done.

I'm using size 11 circular needles and Lion Brand Homespun yarn in Corinthian. The color isn't your typical choice for a baby blanket but it was the request of the Mom-to-be. I, myself, love it as it is colorful, soft and warm. Plus it's washer/dryer safe so Mom can throw it in the wash without worry. I've gotten a number of compliments from people during my commute and trips about how lovely the color is.

I'm knitting and purling good vibes into every stitch and row. Can't wait to meet the little guy in person!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Post #201

Wow. Over 200 posts on this little crafty blog of mine. I started it with the hopes that it would foster my creativity and get me to focus more on (and enjoy more of) my crochet projects. I think it's done just that - as well as helped me branch out into knitting and increase my knowledge of different fibers and yarn brands. It's been a fun almost 2 years of blogging and almost 14,000 visitors. Thanks for reading my ramblings and for your continued support!

A quick check on my 2008 crafty resolutions...as compared to my half-year check back in July...

1) Finish the following UFOs:

Update: The infamous shawl. Will it ever be completed???

2) Make, block and stiffen 25 snowflakes (and yes, the two I've already made count toward the 25)

Update: While I really want to make them, perhaps have them adorn Christmas presents and our Christmas tree, I'm not too hopeful right now that I'll actually get them done considering it's only a couple months to Christmas.

3) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and circular needles.

Update: I ordered some DPNs in the normal sock sizes and my purchases from Portland are some great sock yarn to try to learn. This is still a resolution I can attempt.

4) Organize my yarn, books and other crafty supplies in the new craft room

5) Make a shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book

Update: I still have the yarn for this; but I don't think I'll have the time to start and finish it.

6) Go to MS&W 2008 (this is a no-brainer)

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD)
  • Baby blanket for Mindy Jr.
  • Crochet a rug from the yarn bought at the 2006 MS&W
  • Complete A-Z pillows for baby Brodie
  • Crochet Christmas stockings (but this one is a bit iffy)

  • I still need to mail the hat I made for charity in place of the blanket. I did order some yarn for a charity blanket - which will probably be made in 2009.
  • The A-Z pillows have been taken off the list. The A pillow I started has been frogged. The bright acrylic yarn will be used for some other project.
  • A rug and Christmas stockings? Seriously? It's not gonna happen.

Two months to go and two definite-must-finish projects (the blankets for KMP's baby). As for the other resolutions, they may be pushed off to 2009. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yarn Shops in Portland, Oregon

Portland 3

Portland 2Portland 1

I had a wonderful time in Portland last week - for business and for yarn. The photos above were taken from the top of the tram at the university. It's a free ride down and you get great views of the skyline. But now onto the important part - YARN!

There are a number of yarn shops in Portland but (as usual) I was limited to which ones I could see as I was sans car. I took the free shuttle downtown to Powell's bookstore as it was midpoint between two stores.

My first stop was The Knit Knot Studio.

Portland Knit Knot Studio

The Knit Knot Studio
1238 NW Gilsan
Portland, OR 97209

This was a tiny, little yarn shop. I'd say it the store space was no bigger than my bedroom, but with higher ceilings. It was well lighted, had nice displays and had a decent selection of yarns given its size. As I walked around, I found two yarns I really liked - one was some kind of cashmere blend and was uber expensive while another beautiful hank (also very expensive) was from Blue Heron Yarns in Easton, Maryland. Even if I loved it enough for the price, I refuse to buy yarn from my home state when I'm all the way out in Portland.

I kept searching around the store for something from the Northwest, or at least the West coast. I was going to ask the store owner if there was anything specific to Portland but she was busy with an enthusiastic customer. I listened in to their conversation (not that I could avoid it since the store is that small). The owner was very nice as she explained some kind of yarn to the customer (she also said hello when I walked in) but when talk turned to payment, my ears perked up. It seems she doesn't take any credit cards that give the customer points or miles or have some kind of rewards/points associated with purchases. The credit card companies charge a higher percentage for those cards so she doesn't accept them. This is the first time I've ever heard of a retailer not accepting such cards. I was shocked. I understand that the economy is shaky and owning your own business requires you to find cost-cuts where you can, but this was ridiculous. If times are tough, you should either lower your prices to increase the volume of sales, move to a cheaper lease/rent location, or work on marketing to increase sales. Limiting your customer's choice of payment? Not a good idea to inconvenience your customers. The only credit card I use has reward points so when I heard her say she wouldn't accept it, I left. I had found nothing in the store that was worth the price let alone the hassle of not being able to use my credit card. So in summary - it was an okay store but I can't honestly recommend you stop by there if you're visiting Portland.

I was slightly disheartened after my first stop. It's rare to find a yarn store that disappoints. Though it was now 3:00 pm PST, it was 6:00 pm EST and I was starving. I stopped by one of Portland's many microbreweries, Deschutes. Sadly, another disappointment. Of the 6 beers I sampled, only 2 were good. My burger was extra well done instead of medium and the heaping pile of fries was unappetizing.

I left the pub and headed toward the second yarn store on my list. I must say that I was not expecting much given the first two stops that left me unfulfilled. Plus it was quite chilly and I was the genius who didn't bring a jacket as it had been 80 degrees in DC the day before. Cold and disappointed, I walked to KnitPurl.

My third stop was a charm.

Portland Knit Purl Store 2

1101 SW Alder
Portland, Oregon 97205
503 227-2999
866 656-KNIT (Toll Free)

What a wonderful store! Not too big, not too small, wonderful layout and an amazing selection. This next photo, which they so graciously allowed me to take, is for the Queen.

Portland Knit Purl Koigu Heaven

Have you ever seen such a selection of Koigu in your life? They seemed to have every color! Click on the photo and see the larger version. The selection made me drool. I wanted to buy it all though I had no idea what I would use it for. I also found some beautiful silk blend yarn but it was expensive and from a New York state producer. Luckily I had come to the source of some fabulous sock yarn from Shi Bui Knits. Here's my purchase which came in this cute little bag:

Knit Purl Bag 1

Shi Bui Sock Yarn 1

I got one skein in Earth (left) and one skein in Tweed (right). They were about $10 per skein and should make a pair of socks per skein. I'm hoping this yarn will be the motivator for me to get out the DPNs and learn to make a pair of socks, regardless of the simplicity of the pattern.

Needless to say, I highly recommend a stop at KnitPurl when you're in Portland. And if you're looking at the Shi Bui Knits sock yarn online or at your LYS, it's worth buying.

After the great experience at KnitPurl, I went back to Powell's bookstore to wait for the shuttle. I popped into the gigantic store which stretches more than a city block. I perused the craft book section but didn't find anything I needed. I also checked for a new release, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures by Bill Schutt. Dr. Schutt was one of my favorite professors in college and since I loved his classes so much, I'm anticipating his book to be just as entertaining and informative. Sadly, I didn't find it at Powell's (but I did order my copy from Amazon when I got home). And yes, this is a shameless plug for his book. But I really do think it will be a great read! :)

I'm trying to convince Sean that we should use our frequent flyer miles to make a trip out to Portland. Not only are there more yarn stores to visit, but there are also numerous vineyards around the Portland area that I'd like to visit. I also think he'd enjoy the vibe of the city and the other things to see and do - just so you know the suggestion isn't a completely selfish one.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from my trip. This has to be one of the funniest street signs I've ever encountered. Enjoy!

Portland Street Sign

Friday, October 10, 2008

Traveling Again

Last week I was in Birmingham, Alabama. Yes, this Yankee girl ventured into the deep South for a work trip. I'm not going to lie to you - I was a little scared. There's just a little too much Nascar, NRA and neoconseratives for this chica to handle. Expect for the general lack of urgency (why do they talk soooo slow and move so slow??? Or maybe I just need to learn to slow down...) it was an enjoyable trip. I kept my inner NY-girl in check and didn't make an ass of myself. Score one for me. While there are a couple of yarn stores in Birmingham, they were both far from my hotel so I couldn't check them out. I have heard, thanks to first hand reports, that both are fabulous.

Next week I'm off to Portland, Oregon - land of tasty pinot noir, a huge used and rare bookstore chain, and oodles of fabulous fiber. I have to double check how many LYS's are close to my hotel. I'm hoping to be able to check at least 2 (if not more) during my short stay.

Then in November, Sean and I are off to the wedding of a future Congressman or Senator in Columbus, Ohio. From what I've seen, there isn't much to do in Columbus. Luckily, we're driving up there and I'm going to map out stores to see on the way and while in Ohio.

As you can imagine, I'm racking up tons of frequent flyer miles and points. Too bad I can't turn them in for more yarn.

New Project: Afghan for the Sandman - Blue Edition

KMP's bun in the oven is due mid-December. I'm happy to report that both blankets have been started. Here's the first one...

Sandman Afghan Blue 02
Sandman Afghan Blue 01

I'm using the Afghan of the Sandman pattern from Crochet Garden again. The first time I made this blanket in pink for little Brodie. As I loved they way the blanket turned out, I thought it would be a great blanket to make for all the new nieces and nephews.

All the details are available on Ravelry. Details about the second blanket coming soon!

Completed Project: Knitted Dish Cloths

While camping back in August, I was being crafty near the campfire. My friend's Mom, Grandma and Aunt immediately wanted to know if I made dish cloths. I said I hadn't before, but I was sure I could figure it out. While they may have wanted round ones, they'll have to do with these...

King Charles Brocade Dish Cloth

Brocade Dish Cloth 1

Brocade Dish Cloth 3
(The color in this photo is truer to life. The yarn is called "Blueberry" but it really is a bright teal color.)

I made this by taking the King Charles Brocade pattern from one of my instructional kniitting books, added enough repeats so it was long enough and knitted the first three of every row to make the border. Uber simple.

Aunt Ann's Dish Cloth

Simple Dish Cloth 1

This is a super easy dish cloth to make. I got the pattern from my cousin whose Mom (my Aunt Ann) had given it to her. I must admit it was really cool to make this pattern knowing that she had used the pattern and my cousin had usedthe pattern and now I had used the pattern. It's nice to know there are still traditions passed down generation to generation.

These two dish cloths accompanied the lace dish cloth and a photo book of pictures from camping that were sent up to my friend's parents as a thank you for having us all up for the weekend. From the email I got, they loved the book and the kitchen additions.

Completed Project: Sean's Blanket

What do you get when you have 18 skeins of yarn and a husband who needs a big blanket? Voila!

Sean's Blanket 6

Yes, 18 skeins of Lion Brand Colorwaves in Carribean created this 50" x 81" blanket. It's HUGE.

Sean's Blanket 3

Finished it the last day of September and full details on Ravelry. And of course, Sean loves it. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Lamb Shoppe in Denver, Colorado

The trip out to Denver was a great one for both work and for fiber-goodness. Lucky for me, the hotel in which I stayed had a free shuttle which conveniently took me to see one of the best LYS's I've been to so far - The Lamb Shoppe.

Denver Lamb Shoppe Exterior

Located in a more residential than commercial area, the Lamp Shoppe is a wonderful store that is worth the visit when in Denver. The set up of the store is great, with high ceilings, warm paint colors, tables and chairs, and oodles of yarn. I was instantly smitten when I first walked in the door.

Denver Lamb Shoppe Interior

They have a great selection of yarns, from local and regional companies to a great selection of Debbie Bliss and Noro. There are plenty of books and patterns for purchase and the store is definitely crochet-friendly. The staff is also super-friendly. When I asked about regional producers of yarn, they led me to a beautiful hank of lightweight yarn, dyed pale blues and greens, and perfect for a shawl or scarf. The price tag was appropriate - $48. But my wallet was not up to that task.

Instead I opted to get 3 balls of Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool (which was on sale) and some skull buttons I could not do without.

Denver Lamb Shoppe Purchase 2

The other part of the store that I absolutely loved? See the fine print on the business card? The store is a "Yarn and Coffee Bar". Yep - they have a cappuccino machine. Talk about my idea of heaven! Fiber goodness with a latte. Absolutely perfect! Though this picture is blurry, you can see the coffee bar next to the register. (And it saved me the need to blur out their faces, right? Putting my less-than-consistent picture taking ability to good use.)

Denver Lamb Shoppe Interior 2

So I must say that if you are in the Denver area, this is a yarn store you must find time to visit. My thanks to the owners who let me take the photos, too. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Random Updates

Sean is off umpiring while I'm enjoying the afternoon at home. I'm looking forward to going to see some of his games once the temperatures cool down. It's fun to sit outside on a cool afternoon, crocheting away while watching Sean's baseball game. It's not fun to sit in the glaring sun, sweating and overheating, with bugs buzzing around and biting. Hence, I'm home today catching up on mundane things such as laundry, bills, and blogging.

So just a few random updates in the life of Crocheting Commuter...

The print of "Happiness" that I bought at MS&W has been framed and is up on the wall in my craft room. I've also selected the perfect color to paint the craft room but I have to wait for the dry wall inspection before I paint anything. I should have it painted before MS&W, girls. :)

Happiness 3

Stitches East is in Baltimore again this year. Sadly, I won't be able to go because Sean and I will be driving up to Ohio for a wedding. No worries though. I've already found a few yarn stores to visit on the way.

I've got a ton of travel for work starting this week and through October. When making my travel arrangements, I tried to arrive in enough time to check out any LYS stores around town. This week, I'm off to Denver. While there aren't any stores within walking distance of my hotel, there are a few within walking distance of each other. I'll take a cab downtown and walk to a few. If anyone has suggestions of which ones to see, let me know. I use Sweater Babe's Yarn Shop Directory to find LYS's in each city. On the side bar of the blog,you can see a list of all the LYS I've visited so far.

Yesterday I bought yarn to start the two baby blankets for KMP's bun in the oven. The due date has been pushed up to mid-December so I've got to get started. While at Joann's (which was a mad house as it was a demonstration day), I checked out their October classes, hoping to take course 2 of cake decorating. Alas, there were no Saturday classes. The only one I could sign up for was a one 2-hour session candy making course. My concern with the course is that the only thing on the list of class materials is the Wilton Candy Making for Beginners Guide. I'm wondering what the 2 hour course is going to add to the instructions in this book. They better make it worth the $15 class registration fee by giving some additional candy making tips or letting us do some hands on work. I'll be sure to let you all know.

Wilton has some fabulous ideas and projects using melted and molded chocolate. I can see myself going a bit crazy with ordering molds and candy melt colors so I can make fun stuff for holidays throughout the year. I'm also hoping to make some fun candies for bridal and baby showers I'll have this year and next.

The pattern writing is going well. I'm really excited about having a few patterns up on Ravelry. Even if I don't sell many, it's really cool to have finally written the patterns. I've got at least two more coaster patterns to write up and publish and I've got about 6 pot holder ideas to work up. But with all the other projects right now, who knows when I'll get them all done. But I'd rather have too many projects and lots of inspiration than be in a creative slump.

Until next update, have a blessed Mabon!

Completed Project: Lace Dish Cloth

My first dish cloth - yay! I finished it last week.

Lace Dish Cloth F3

Lace Dish Cloth 1

During my camping trip last month, I started making Jessie's pot holders. Marian the Librarian's mom, grandma and aunt love to use knitted and crocheted dish towels so when they saw me crocheting, they wanted to know if I could make dish cloths. I said sure, though I hadn't made them before I thought I could figure it out. While they did want round ones, I'm not ready to use the DPNs to make them. So this one, one with a King Charles Brocade, and a plain stockinette stitch are what they will get.

Here are a couple of other photos so you can see the design.

Lace Dish Cloth F2

Lace Dish Cloth B1

As usual, all the details are on Ravelry. I don't see the sense in spending double the time to post here on the blog everything that is so conveniently listed under my projects in Ravelry. If you're not signed up for a free Ravelry account, what are you waiting for??? It's the most amazing database of everything you need to organize all your projects, find cool new projects, see photos of completed projects, and meet great people. Seriously - go sign up.

Because of the pattern, it's given me hope that I can once again pick up the BUBBLES bubbles wrap (that I haven't touched since July) and try again.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Pattern

The Froggie Coaster Pattern is completed and up for sale on Ravelry!

Yarn Order - The Details

Details about that big ol' box of fiber goodness I got last week...

More Colorwaves

This was the precipice of the yarn order. I needed to buy more Colorwaves yarn for Sean's blanket and Smiley's has the best price for it ($1.99 a skein). But - I had to order a minimum of $50. Here's what made up the rest of my order:

Cervinia Sorrento Denim HeatherCervinia Sorrento Charcoal HeatherCervinia Sorrento Beige HeatherCervinia Sorrento Brown Heather

Four skeins each of Cervinia Sorrento in Denim Heather, Charcoal Heather, Beige Heather and Brown Heather. This is 100% acrylic yarn though it looks and feels really nice. I'm planning to make a charity blanket with it.

Bernat Cotton Yarn

One skein each of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in Blueberry and Blue Haze. The names would have you assume the yarn is from the blue family. I beg to differ as I find this yarn to be more of the obnoxious teal family or drab gray family. Oh well. It will be used for dishcloths (that is, if I ever get my first dishcloth made).

Wendy Peter Pan Baby Blue

One skein of Wendy Peter Pan Baby Yarn in Baby Blue. This will hopefully turn into a hat and booties for KMP's bundle of joy due in December. I best get a move on this project because I am no speedy knitter.

Jamie Classic LemonadeJamie Classic PistachioJamie Classic Lilac

Lion Brand Jamie Classic in Lemonade (4 skeins), Pistachio (3 skeins), and Lilac (3 skeins). I bought this to make another charity blanket of daisy squares. The pistachio is not as green as I would have liked, but it will work for the background of the squares.

Circular Needles

Susan Bates 29" circular knitting needles in sizes 7, 8, 9, and 10. I've got a bunch of circulars in smaller sizes for socks so I thought I might as well make the set closer to complete with circulars in the larger sizes.

Where am I going to store all this new yarn? It won't be pretty, but I'll try my best to cram it all into my little yarn cabinet.