Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Scarf Projects

I'm currently working on two different scarves, mostly for practice. My Pink Lady scarf had originally been intended for a silent auction at the Relay for Life. Then Phinn got ahold of it and I decided not to go that route. I actually gave up on knitting it for awhile, but decided to finish it, or at least try to finish it for the Miss Relay 2009 contest at the walk (fyi, a guy from our team has to dress up as a girl. We have a candidate in our guest walker, Jon's younger brother).

At any rate, I'm glad I started it back up. The stitch is simple as it's just knitting a garter stitch scarf. The challenge is in knitting the black and frou frou pink at the same time. It's hard to be precise in my knits, so it's full of mistakes, but because of the thickness of the joined yarns, there's only one place I can really see the dropped stitches, and that's where the puppy got to it.
Talk about soft though. I've never been a pink girl, but I'm definitely tempted to keep this one for myself.

The second one is more of a practice scarf, but I like the colors alot. I'm using a pattern from Stitch 'N Bitch Nation for a drop stitch scarf. It's helping me practice the yarn over, which is insanely easy, and the "on purpose drop" to get a nifty looking pattern.

The pattern is called "Yo! Drop It" but because of my modifications I gave it my own name. Not going to lie..."Drops of Jupiter" was based on a knitting night conversation that was less than elegant, but the name seems fitting for the way this one looks. It won't keep anyone warm in the winter. I used stashed thrift yarn that seems to be lighter weight and gives the scarf almost a lacy look (my opinion, not knitter expertise). And unfortunately, my edges are extremely ragged. However, I know a few people who might appreciate this as a gift.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alien Illusion Scarf

I finally finished my Alien Illusion Scarf, and of course now realize I've periodically called it an Alien Invasion Scarf. But whatever, it's still cool. This is the first time I've 1) finished a project with both knitting and purling; 2) did illusion knitting; and 3) used fringe. And even though I know fringe isn't difficult, I'm glad I finally stopped being lazy and just did it.
I made Jon model for me, which works well since it's his scarf. I have to say, he knows how to pose to make an Alien scarf get an extra dose of eerie. Not sure if he does it on purpose, but it cracks me up.

The pattern came from the Stitch N Bitch handbook and I must give thanks to my friend Angela for teaching me to purl so I could actually do this. I'd like to try this one again, but in different colors, or at least in a different contrast color (what green is in this one).

This weekend....between in-law visiting of course...I will try my hand at the currently elusive increase.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Punishment by Glue and Glitter

I thought that over the past few years I’d learned the fine art of saying ‘no.’ And while I don’t employ that word as often as I should, I was doing well with not taking on too much. The Relay for Life was about as much as I could handle and even that was overwhelming me.

However, I have now volunteered to decorate the Relay for Life luminaria that our team sells. Not only did I volunteer, I did so without consulting my team, which means I obviously can’t hold them to something they didn’t agree to. I’m having visions of being covered in glitter and hot glue in a sea of paper bags.

Luckily, one of my team members has already offered to help, so that’s a big plus. Another one hasn’t volunteered, but he gets to do it by default since he’s going to marry me. I’m trying to look on the bright side. It could definitely be fun, and I have a bunch of crafting stuff I’ve picked up recently at garage sales and freebie Craigslist offerings. It could also just be a pain in the butt, especially because we’ll be doing it the two or three days before the actual walk.

Let me tell you, though…if I’m decorating them, I’ll make sure they’re pretty snazzy to honor who they’re for. That’s a guarantee.


Besides my previous dabble in fan fiction (which I may or may not do again in the near future), I hadn’t really shared my writing with anyone since college. Sure, I posted my NaNoWriMo for people to read, but there’s a difference between entertaining the internet and getting actual feedback for something.

Last night was our Writers Meeting and I was armed with one of my current writing projects, a fun fluff story/novel called “Highest Bidder.” Romance is one of my favorite things to write, not only because I’ve read so much of it in my life, but because the actual act of writing it is fun for me. I love all that cutesy mushy gushy type stuff, and this is the genre my past few writing projects have centered around.
The only thing that makes this one different is the importance of dialogue, and I was a little worried about conversation overkill between my characters. I’m proud to say though that my work was met with positive feedback, some great constructive criticism, and some good laughs. While the humor played out in my head as I was writing it, I was highly pleased to see that it translated to other people.

Once I get this done, I may take on a few beta readers for feedback. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even try to get this one published.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yarn, Yarn, and Did I mention Yarn?

I got a huge haul of yarn last night, a fact of which I’m pretty proud of, especially because considering what I got, I basically spent pennies. The thing that sent me to the store was the need to start a new project from the Stitch N’ Bitch Handbook I borrowed from my friend (I am on the hunt for my own copy though…must have it!). Because I needed specific colors I didn’t already have in my stash, we made a trip to Hobby Lobby armed with two coupons printed from the internet and the list of needed things.

Luckily, I didn’t have to buy the needles since I already have not one but two sets of size 7 needles. The yarn I chose was pretty cheap, second only to Red Heart and chosen because I liked the texture better. This was the “I Love This Yarn” brand from HL and I’m not sure if I got a bad skein or just part of it was messed up, but I found later that there was a big section where the yarn was separating. I got around it…luckily I found it while I was making my gauge swatch and I had no problems after that…but it’s probably not the best quality of yarn I’ve ever used.

Besides the project skeins (more on that project later once I get it into my Ravelry account), Hobby Lobby also had a clearance sale on frou frou yarns, so I picked up three small skeins of those for $1.19 each (originally marked at 6.89 a skein). I already have an idea for a scarf using one of these.

If that weren’t enough, a day or so ago I posted on Craigslist that I was looking for knitting items. I got a hit last night from a girl who hooked me up with five skeins of Baby Coordinates yarn, a random skein and a random ball of yarn, a tape measure, and a small pair of scissors…all for free…and she was nice enough to bring them to my front door. I love Craigslist.

This weekend is definitely going to be one dedicated to knitting because nothing gets me in the mood like new yarn.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Good-Bye to the Citrus Scarf

On Monday, I started knitting lessons. They’re very informal as a friend of mine is teaching me things beyond the knit stitch (the only thing I could do really). I’ve managed to catch on to purling pretty well, and I’ve started combining my colors a little bit. My first little project was going to be what I had named the Citrus Scarf due to the colors. It was a K1 P2 rib stitch in green, yellow, and orange and it was coming along swimmingly.

And then I messed up. And guess what I don’t know how to do yet? Fix things. My friend showed me how to do it, but I learn by doing things repetitively. Not only could I not figure out exactly where I messed up, but when I tried to fix it, I messed it up even more. Then, because I was tired and a little out of it (I really shouldn’t try to knit new things after giving plasma), instead of waiting to take it to her for help, I just frogged the whole thing. Then I was depressed.

Not wanting to deal with it, I tried another project. Had to frog that too. It was not a good knitting night for me at all. However, I’m feeling better today and ready to tackle it again tonight. Unfortunately, I’m also having issues with my camera, so I’m not sure if I’ll have pics up on the blog for a few days. I think I’m getting a newish one off Craigslist this coming weekend, but it depends on a lot of things…money, whether the person sells it to someone else before I can get the money, and whether they even get back to me about it. So we’ll see.

I’m going to tackle that citrus scarf again. It will not get the best of me!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wedding Planning Commenced

While sitting at work the other day (working hard of course), it suddenly hit me that I’m getting married in less than a year. While I can’t wait to be married, I’m not a fan of the wedding planning. Unlike other brides, I’d just as soon elope or have a quick ceremony with no fan fair. However, that’s not going to be the case. Jon wants to have some sort of ceremony and though I don’t like the stress of planning a wedding or having an ultra huge soiree, I do like the thought of sharing a special day with loved ones.

So we’re doing it simply and frugally with the help of two of my co-workers who’ve offered to help with the wedding planning.

I’m happy to say that our venue has been chosen. One of said co-workers is offering up her property for both the wedding and the reception. I realize this means we’re going to have to a) pray for good weather and b) keep it small so as not to have to cram a whole guest list into her house like sardines if it rains. The area is pretty and out of the way. Her husband is going to set us up a sound system and the reception is going to be a potluck/BBQ. While I know many people look down on this sort of thing, to me it signifies good, laid back times and a low drama get-together.

I’ve also found a dress. The trick is to find someone to make it cheaply, to my size, and with a few tweaks to make it suit me more. Until I get it made, I’m going to hold off on posting pictures, but hopefully soon I’ll have an idea of what’s happening with it.

Jon’s doing invitations and a guest list in progress is being worked on. Keeping it small will be the trick here. I don’t want people to feel slighted, but our budget is very low and the “venue” is relatively small.

My goal? Keep this whole thing as stress free as possible.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Let's Try this Hot Pot Thing

After several weeks of not being able to make it to the writer's group meeting I was invited to in the spring, Jon and I finally made it to our first one this past Wednesday. Jon just got dragged along, but we ended up having a really really great time and plan on going back.

Our first meeting experience also gave us our first hot pot experience. While I'd heard of the concept, I'd never actually done it. I'm going to say here that I am a finicky eater. I don't like most vegetables and I hate seafood. Ethnic dishes take a lot of courage for me to try. So when I was told it was a Chinese Hot Pot, I was...cautious.

For anyone not familiar with hot pot, you basically start with a base then throw all kinds of things in. For example, they started with a chicken broth base and added spices, seaweed, noodles, pork, dumplings, zucchini, and tofu. After letting it all cook together, everyone picks out what they want and adds their choice of sauces and dressings.

It was actually really really good! I enjoyed it immensely once I got past the scorching mouth from all the spices, soothed a great deal by a spoonful of peanut sauce.

Not only is this tasty and fun, but it's pretty cost effective too. We were informed that it's fifteen dollars per person at the local restaurant that does it, which for us wouldn't be cost effective because "all-you-can-eat" isn't that much anymore. But when you're feeding several people in a gathering, it's pretty cheap depending on what everyone brings.

Talk was that we're doing it again before the next meeting, and I've already got an idea of what to take for it (chicken and sausage). Of course the meeting was great too...definitely not a bad way to spend two Wednesday nights out of the month.

Saying Good-Bye and Moving On

My grandmother passed away a week ago. It was sudden, but almost not surprising. Not that she was sick. When it happened, it was a huge shock. But the truth was that she was lonely and really missed my grandfather. She died of a heart attack about a month before my grandpa would have been gone a year.

Naturally, I didn't handle it well. Once the shock wore off, there was the numbness, and then it hit and it hit hard. When I grieve, I think of little things, like how I won't have her to call anymore on Sundays and how she won't be at my wedding. I repeated conversations with her in my head, especially in the past few months when I said "I'll talk to you next week" and "I'll see you next time in Michigan." Just a reminder from the man above that you can say that, but there are no guarantees.

On Tuesday I woke up feeling better, realizing that my grandma was in a better place with my grandpa. There will always be moments I tear up, but there's nothing else to do but move on. I have to admit that being in Kansas and not going home for the funeral probably helped. The sadness in Michigan was most definitely much worse.

Now I'm working to get back in the groove. This past week I went to a writer's group meeting and made plans to meet up with one of my friends for knitting lessons. Tomorrow we're going to a co-worker's for a party. I'm trying to be more social and I'm trying to get back into my normal routine. I'm not doing too bad on that either. I've been writing some, reading some, getting addicted to Luxor, and trying to get back to blogging.

The day my mom broke the news to me, I couldn't believe the world was still going. I wanted it to stop. But it's a good think it didn't, because I still have some life to live, and since I don't know when my time is, not staying in limbo is probably the best thing to do. But I'll always miss and love my grandmother. Always.