Friday, March 31, 2006

The House

HI!!! Sorry, yesterday was ridiculously busy, didn't get a chance to post.

Okay, The House! I loved it! It wasn't the perfect house but it was darn near close enough.

Day 1

DH came home at 6:20 and our appointment was at 6:30. We walked over (it only takes about 45 seconds) and the Realtor wasn't there. {insert panicked husband here}. I called the Realtor's office and got his cell phone. I left him a message and waited for a call back. Meanwhile, all the lights were on in the house but we couldn't see anyone. Realtor finally calls back and thinks that we're supposed to be seeing the place on Friday!! {cut to freaking out husband saying "Reschedule, reschedule." and wife giving him the abrupt "hold on" signal while she talks to confused Realtor on her cell standing on the sidewalk outside The House}.

Realtor says something about the email I sent him. "I never sent you an email". Because husband is so freaked, I'm doing my best to stay as calm as possible. Realtor agrees to call owners and ask if we can come in and see The House. "They're really flexible" he says.

Okay, so 30 seconds later, the front door opens and Realtor calls back and says "Go ahead on in, they're just finishing dinner but they're really nice and say it's fine to come in." We walk to front door and I am holding Husband's hand so he doesn't run away. (No idea why he's being such a spaz, we already own a town home for Heaven's Sake! It's not like this is his first home or I'm dragging him to the altar!)

The couple that lives there is an Indian couple and their two beautiful daughters have grown and moved away so they are down-sizing.

Inside Layout: enter into a mid-sized foyer with the formal living room to the left and a big ornate mirror in the alcove on the right. The Dining room is a shared space into the living room about 20 feet further forward on the left. (It's laid out much like every other home that is being built right now, which is good because that's the layout DH likes) Pass through an archway and into the kitchen on the left and the HUGE family room on the right. The colors are beautiful (not exactly what we would have chosen, but close enough that Husband, who doesn't visualize very well, can get the idea). 1/2 bath on the main floor. There is a stair to the second floor just before the entrance to the kitchen/ family room. The kitchen is plenty big with granite counter tops and an island in the middle. Brand new appliances which are staying with the house (awesome! a silent dishwasher!) The cabinets are not as tall as ours, but they're not painted either, which would have turned off DH. Cool.

There is a good sized office and a laundry room right on the main floor.

Next we headed down to the fully finished basement with two crawl spaces! The basement was very nice. They'd surrounded the support beams with beautiful wood columns that added to the atmosphere rather than detracted from the overall space. There is a Pool Table and a Wet Bar that stay with the property (this speaks to the wanna be party animal in DH-- he's always wanted a pool table).

Next, we proceed to the second floor. There is a loft space right off the stair which could actually be reasonably converted to another bedroom, but there are aleady 3 bedrooms on the second floor. There is a large bathroom with a double vanity that is shared by the 2 smaller bedrooms. The Master bedroom was plenty large and they had a huge screen TV which diminished the space to begin with. There were his and her's closets a double vanity, whilpool tub, separate toilet and shower room and a skylight.

Overall a lovely house. I want it.

Day Two
DH told me before we went over to see The House that he is "not ready" to buy a hosue right now. Huh? We've been looking at houses for nearly a year and half. What the heck does that mean??!!

So, I waited 24 hours and went home and had a very reasonable discussion with my Sweet Wonderful Husband trying to determine what the heck he was Not Ready about.

The long and short of it is that he is concerned about how much we need to do to sell our existing townhome. The answer is: we don't know yet. I convinced him to let me be the primary on this because he is so busy with work. I was VERY proud of myself. I did not get upset, yell, get emotional or play the tears card. I was very logical, calm and patient. Go me!!

After about a 30 minute conversation, DH said "I'd don't want you to get your hopes up about this house."

In my most, patient and calm voice I replied, "Dear, my hopes are already up. But I'm being realistic about this, too. If it was meant to be, then the house will still be there when we're ready for it. It's also possible that the chick that the Realtor told me was coming to see it on Friday could come in and buy it right out from under us. I know that this may not be the house we end up in, but I would be very upset if we missed it because we didn't even try. This is very important to me.

I also don't want to wait another 12 weeks for your schedule to calm down and start from ground zero only to find out that you have to get on a plane and fly to Tennessee or some other far away place for the next 6 months. Do you think you can let me at least start this process without too much discomfort?"

Big sigh; says he, "Okay, you can start figuring out what it would take to sell this place."

WOO HOO!!!!! So, this morning on the way to work, I called my girlfriend who's a Realtor and asked her what I needed to do. I'm going to start tonight! (Am I nuts or what?!)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hi, My name is Jennifer....

Hi, my name is Jennifer. I am a Cast-On Addict. (Hi, Jennifer!)

I got home from wonderful GROUP last night and couldn't wait anymore. I cast on for a swatch for Chesterton from the newest Jaeger book for their Extra-Fine Merino.

The pattern in the book is for Cream and Cocoa but I picked Rose Petal and Cocoa. At this point I'm swatching because I have only one ball of each color left over from my Catherine Lowe Workshop.

Well, Harriet, let me tell you, this purling continental is a pain in the .... neck. I just can't get my tension right and it's driving me nuts! But it's going to be soooo pretty....

The House
I finally talked Hubzind into going to see The House tonight at 6:30! I'm so excited. I'm a little concerned that I'm going to be disappointed by the inside, but if I am, then it wasn't meant to be. I'm also worried that with the way properties a.)don't go on the market in our neighborhood and b.) when they do they're only there for a week, that we're going to miss out on this potentially fabulous opportunity. You see, Hubzind is enormously, hugely somewhat risk averse so making a quick decision on a house, even if it's a great house, is going to be a new test of our relationship.

That being said, we're going to see it tonight and I'm such a stalker that I sat outside and took pics of it from my car before I turned up my own street last night. Sorry for the window glare and the A-pillar.

BTW, don't you just LOVE grey Chicago Springs? Course, I'm happy that it's after 5:00 in these pics and there's still light in the sky...

Monday, March 27, 2006


Serendipity Part I

Alright, so I haven't spent much time talking about my job lately. Let's just say I've been happier.

It's not the work itself that I don't enjoy, it's the environment. You see, part of me is a Social Worker and part of me is a Technology Project Manager. So, I like to get to the point, but it's important to be respectful of your people while doing so. Which brings me to my current sitch... I like the people I work with, but currently my boss could use an HR intervention.

She is condescending and abrupt. Direct is one thing, insulting me in front of a client is a totally different ballgame. The stories of petty slights are myriad and unnecessary. Suffice to say that my husband has notified me that my attitude has taken a significant turn for the worse since I took this job. While I felt it was a real problem when I started, I believed that I'd become accustomed to the daily unconscious insults on the part of the Boss. Apparently, that was an incorrect assessment on my part.

Do you remember your favorite job? The one where people respected you and you got along with your co-workers and while everything wasn't "perfect", it was good enough to want it to go on forever?

Yeah, I used to have that job. I worked for and with a great group of people. I know a lot has changed in the two years since I've worked there, they've outsourced all their Operations IT people (same people, different paycheck provider) and some of the folks I really liked aren't there anymore. BUT, the woman that I used to work for is still there.

Since my contract ran out in December of 2003, they've tried to get me back in some capacity about half a dozen times but the opportunity just wasn't right. I don't want to work for another consulting company that will send me out of town at the next lull in local business and I was in school for a while thinking my life would be in Social Work (I was wrong).

I was talking with Hubzind about two weeks ago and said, "I would work for L-- again in a heartbeat given the right opportunity. I miss working for someone I respect and who respects me."

Friday evening, while in Galena (which was lovely - but cold, btw) my phone rang and it was L-- calling to offer me a Full-time Management position with the Company (you could have knocked me over with a feather). She said she'd been lying awake thinking about her position and how she couldn't do it alone anymore and she really needed someone with Project Management and Management skills and she wanted me but wanted to ask if I was interested before she went and did all the paperwork to create a Job Desc and a Req (yes, she said it nearly all in one breath, too).

She also said she went to talk to the Sr. Dir. we worked for way back when, with whom she still works regularly (she told me this part about 3 times, she was so excited). Before she even mentioned me to him, he said "So what's Our Girl doin' these days? Is she available?" (He's an older African American man, with whom I get along famously, so I don't bristle at the Diminutive he used).

I was so flattered that they have been looking so hard for an opportunity to get me back. Even if nothing ever comes of it. I am touched as heck that they think so fondly of me. I've been skating since Friday.

We came home early from Galena. The shoping was a bunch of little junk shops. The countryside was beautiful but still cold and Winter Grey. DH and I usually love to go on Nature Hikes and see "Natural-Type-Stuff" but we have been working so hard lately that all we could do was sleep and browse not-so-exciting shops.

The new local yarn shop is quaint with a lot of spinning materials (yes, I was tempted, but not so much that I purchased any of the beautiful handmade spinning wheels or drop spindles or extra large looms). The yarn selection was good for a small town and inexpensive (as the shop keeper stated, Dubuque-ians have a tight grip on their dollars and the tourist season is only a few months a year, but I love it here). She has alovely collection of Alpaca with a Twist and some beautiful silks but nothing spectacular. I picked up three skeins of the Classic Elite Imagine that I'm using for the Mom Jacket since I don't know when I'll see it again. [BTW, the grey stone house to the right is the oldest house in Galena, just in case you were wondering.]

So, About 1/2 way through Saturday, Hubzind turns to me and says, "Maybe we should just go home...", we'd been valiantly dragging our exhausted derrieres around Galena in the cold and grey for about 4 1/2 hours at that point.

20 minutes later, I said, "So, uh, why are we still here?" And back to the hotel we went to check out!

I'm sure it's lovely in summer during tourist season, but it was pretty dull in March.

Serendipity Part II
I told you all of that to tell you this.

Sunday night (after we went to the last day of the Pompeii exhibit at the Field Museum), we drove home to find that one of the three houses in my sub-division that I really like has gone on the market!!!

I immediately called the Realtor and left a message inquiring about the property. I ran downstairs to my computer and checked on-line, not even posted yet!!

Woo Hoo! The price is right, the location is right, it's one of the builder's "Premium" homes in the subdivision and it's about 500 sq ft smaller than Hubzind would like, but it's still 3 br with a full finished basement and a beautiful big lot (big for our neighborhood anyway (1/3 acre on a corner lot). I talked to the Realtor today and sent all the info to Hubzind for review and he says we can go look at it this week!

Wow, a Maybe-Job and Maybe-Home all in one weekend! Whew, I think I need to have a little lie down. (Course, you know that now that I've blogged about it none of it will happen, right?) Keep your fingers crossed for me. :)

GROUP NIGHT has been moved!!
Tonight is GROUP night as usual.
Where: The Cafe' in Border's at Edens Plaza is underconstruction so we've moved 500 ft to the right and we're meeting at the Starbuck's in Edens Plaza
When: 6:30 to 8:00 pm
Hope to see you there!
(as added incentive to attend I'll be bringing the Lion Scarf kit for petting and examination....)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pictures Pictures Pictures!!!

Finally pictures!!

Here is the AS Lion Scarf (aka Still Life with Yarn and Pattern Artfully Arranged). The colors are pretty true on my monitor, but if you're wondering the bedspread is a wedgewood blue for comparison purposes.

Here is Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style: (Noro Silk garden #225, size 7 needles)

I'll be in Galena, IL for the next 4 days checking out the local yarn shop and the Resort spa (yep, face down on a massage table). So, I'll be back on Monday. Enjoy the pics until then!

Lights! Camera! Action! not....

I have camera, sync cable, pictures loaded to pc, and post all ready to go. The problem? Blogger won't let me load pictures. It keeps blowing up.

I'll try again later at home....

Monday, March 20, 2006

Pride & Prejudice

Sorry folks, but I've left my sync cable for my camera at home this morning so, no photos. I've started Lady Eleanor from Scarf style in Noro Silk Garden no. 228 on size US 7 needles. I would rather have made her wider, but I'm half-way into ball three of ten so there's no turning back now. I'm definitely going to work her up for a couple of friends, she's soooo beautiful.

I recieved my Virtual Yarns order on Friday!! Hooray! and oh my goodness the yarn is really soft. So this morning, I took a bunch of pictures in the morning light of "Still life with box of yarn and pattern artfully arranged" and when I got to work, no sync cable. Bah! So, sorry. You'll be getting pics tomorrow. :(
In other news this morning, I saw about 5 minutes of the Today Show before I left for work. They did this really interesting piece with a security expert on Protecting Your Children. They got a Mother and her 7 year old daughter to cooperate. There was a security truck with cameras right nearby from which the mother sat and watched the procedings. The question they were asking was "Stranger Danger: Who will help your child?"

The Security Expert was a gentlman who was a child saftey expert who looked like a strongly-built Latin American man. The little girl was Caucasian. She was standing on the sidwalk on a lightly trafficked street, playing her Game Boy (or whatever the electro-thing-y of the moment is) when he would march up to her and loudly proclaim "You should never get away from me like that again! Stay with me!" while grabing her arm and marching her off. The little girl meanwhile would start screaming "Help!! Somebody help me!! You're not my Dad!!" over and over while trying to pull away.

There were 4 sets of people they showed just walking by: one middle aged caucasian couple, one 30 something man with a ~9 yr old boy - non-caucasian, a younger caucasian couple and a 30 something single woman. None of them stopped. They all looked back over their shoulders, but none of them stopped or got involved.

You know who did?.... Three, early-twenties, casually dressed African American young men. They walked by, looked back, stopped, watched for a moment, then fanned out and closed in on the guy. Think on that for a moment and think about your prejudices.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Catherine Lowe: Amazing, mind blowing, really cool stuff!

This weekend I went to the really awesome Catherine Lowe workshop that my Wonderful Mum helped me to attend.

First: Catherine herself. She is a gracious, educated and kind woman with a wonderful sense of humor! She had delightful annecdotes, excellent clear instructions and an elegance that one does not see very often any more with our high-speed society that does not put much stock in the niceties of manners.

Here's the Cliff's notes version of what I learned.

  • The difference between hand knitting yarn and comercial manufactured yarn and why your stitches sometimes end up looking wonky no matter what you do.
  • The value of swatching and swatching BIG (10x10 or 12x12).
  • The value of creating a selvage for finishing
  • Measuring gauge properly
  • Invisible front-side seaming
  • Finishing: the difference between buying Ready to Wear and Couture finishing in knitted garments and how to create such
  • Decorative edging
  • Creating prefect Mitred Corners
  • Tubular Ribbed cast-on (which is way cool)
  • Taking Rib Gauge
  • Creating a double Welt finish on the edge of a garment (this is too cool...)

It was fantastic and by the end of the second day, when Catherine showed us some really cool technique, I broke down and said in a small voice "I think I love you..." which prompted the entire class to burst into laughter (there were only 8 of us so everyone got some personal attention). Then a few hours later, I was getting ahead of myself and Catherine gently asked me to wait for the instruction, to which I replied "Sorry, I'm just a little over-eager." One of my classmates chimed in "Sometimes that happens when you're in love...." Which sent us off into further gales of laughter.

The complete Catherine Lowe workshop was 4 days long, broken into two parts. Part 1: the Basics of Couture Knitting & Part 2: Couture Design Elements. I was able to sign up for only the first two days, for which I am eternally greateful as I learned things that will help me for the rest of forever and answered some of my early questions about garment construction.
The first two days were amazing and by the end of Day 2, I was exhausted and I'd taken pages and pages of notes. I was so glad to be home. Then in the evening one of the women who is in my regular Thursday night Advanced Knitting class and was also in the Workshop called.

She said "Jen, I can't take in any more, my brain is fried and I can't go to the next two days. You would be doing me a huge favor if you would go in my place. I will feel terrible if I just don't go. I know you have to go to work on Monday, I wouldn't even care if you couldn't go on Monday. Please will you go for me and then someday I'll come to your Knitting Group and you can teach me all the stuff you learned in the 2nd part." {gasp! my heart was pounding in my chest}

"What? Well, I, um..."

"You wouldn't owe me a penny. Please, think about it and you know, see if your husband is okay with being abandoned for the whole weekend and let me know."

Dear Reader, this Gracious Woman has just offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean how often is Catherine Lowe teaching such a small class only 15 minutes from my house!!??! I was blown away by her generosity.

"Oh, are you sure?? I would love to, but let me think about it, talk to my husband and I'll call you back okay?"

I hung up the phone and my husband who was sitting on the sofa half-listening to this exchange looked at me with an exhausted wary eye. I gave him my biggest, cheesiest, smile.

"What?" says Wary Eye.

"PLEEEAAASSEEE?" said the Mile-wide Grin


Now, Dear Reader, normally this wouldn't be a big deal but we've both been really busy lately and haven't seen much of each other at all and we were planning on spending the day together on Sunday to make up for some lost time.

I explained the proposal and Wary Eye said "Do whatever you want." Well, as we all know, that kind of response can mean more than just "Do what ever you want." Ultimately, I was such a mass of ecstatic wiggles that even Dear Exhausted Wary Eye had to smile and say "Yes! Alright! Go! Have fun!"

I called back my Magnificent Classmate and when she picked up the phone I nearly screamed YES!!! YES!! YESSSSS!!! (I'm glad she had caller ID or she might have called the cops for phone harassment!)

THEN she offered to drive over her swatch homework and her directions so that I wouldn't be unprepared for class the next morning and wouldn't let me come and get them from her. Sheesh. Her husband and her lovely daughter found my house late Saturday night in the pouring rain and delivered unto me her beautiful pale pink swatches and her class instructions which I dutifully reviewed before going to bed that night.

Since she didn't want any money from me, I did the next best thing I could: I gave her one of the nicest bottles of wine we had in the house. A fabulous bottle of CigarZin from M. Consentino vineyard that we picked up on our Honeymoon. It's a delicious, full bodied, fruity Zinfandel. I don't know if they like fruity wines but if they do, they'll love this one. (At least I hope so.)

I couldn't go to Day 4 as I had to go back to work, but I've got the class handouts and I'm thinking I might be able to figure out the techniques she's talking about. I'm also hoping that my Thursday night class instructor will bring her swatches to class this week.. (Hint, hint!)
The long and short of it is, if you ever have a chance and are interested in Couture Construction and Finishing Techniques, take a Catherine Lowe workshop. It's worth every penny!

Monday, March 06, 2006

I took the plunge

You know that whole stash knitting ideal?? Yeah, well, I just crumpled like the bumper of a Yugo.

I have been oogling the beautiful works of art on Alice Starmore's site for the last year. (Yes, one of the first books I bought was an AS stranded knitting book before I knew you couldn't get any of the Rowan colors anymore). Then recently, I saw a REAL LIVE Alice Starmore pattern and got to touch it.... mmm.... beautiful.... so I crumpled. Crumpled like the bumper of a Ford Pinto exploding into flames at the first sign of impact with beautiful yarn & pattern. There will be no Red Heart acrylics for this addicted knitter, no siree bob!

Now, in the grand scheme of crumpling like yesterday's tin foil, I didn't do so badly. I'm really more like a gently folded piece that some spend-thrifty knitter will reuse just to save money to buy more yarn. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

I loaded up my basket with three sweaters. The Flora Jacket in the blue colorway, the Glen Albyn cardigan, and the Leo Scarf.

Then I did the math and figured out that just one sweater and the scarf would cost me OVER $500!! Yeah. Not so much. So, I unloaded the two sweaters and decided to start much smaller. Here's what I got:

I'M SO EXCITED!!!! If you look closely, the brown stripe is the Lion feet and as you work your way up, you'll see the lions are actually lionesses and they are sitting with their heads turned back over their shoulders. I figure DH is a Leo, he LOVES lions and my little lionesses can protect him from the clutches of raven haired, Latin, Penelope Cruz-type-beauties (mwah-hah-hah-haaaaaa)!!!

What? Oh yeah, sorry, right. ... and he loves jewel tones but ones that aren't too bright. Based on what I've seen, AS's colors aren't too bright. So, if he likes it, it's his. Why don't I keep it for myself? Well, cause if I make something for him, then I can buy a sweater kit for me, of course!! Yeah, that's assuming I can bear to part with it.

I'll let you know when it gets here!

Tonight, swatches and patterns for the Mom Jacket!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What's next on the Needles?

I've been having some conversations lately with friends and such about what's next on the needles. One friend suggested that maybe I should finish some of what I've started and abandoned. That really stuck in my head. Let's see, if I go back and count the items I've begun and nothated, but just abandoned for various reasons I have a pretty interesting list.
  1. Brother's socks for last Christmas -- the plies on the yarn were too loose and they laid next to eachother on the needles. It was so bad I couldn't read my stitch count. Then my class instructor said the yarn was too fine for socks (e.g. fine like delicate, not fine like small).
  2. Dad's scarf & hat combo for Christmas -- Hat was GI-normous. Had to rip out and restart. Never got any further. Not so sure that they Plymouth baby alpaca will make very good cables (the intended pattern for the scarf).
  3. My beautiful Manos self-designed jacket with seed-stitch border -- to create the fabric that I want, I had to use size 7 needles. Extremely tight knitting and while it's mindless, because of the single-ply nature of Manos and the tightness on the needles, it's just not comfortable to knit. Contemplating the "two-rows-per-night-method"
  4. I also have "the Other Mitten" on the needles. It's a severe case of 2nd sock syndrome. I know how to do it now, so I want to move on to other funnfer things. But then I also bought a whole mess of yarn to make a pair of those fabulous mittens for my Aunt, so I guess I'm stuck... I'm going to have to finish the partner for the pair I've already made.
  5. Finally, I have the Mom Jacket. It's going to be beautiful. I probably started it last June. Yeah, I was an ambitious new knitter. Ooh! I just checked through the Archives and sure enough, it's a PBO (pre-blog object, as opposed to Peanut butter and Olvie sandwich, ack!)

I semi-designed it from a pattern I'd seen for a Colinette Point-5 jacket and using my Handy Book of Patterns (not sweater, just regular) I custom wrote a pattern for Mumsie. I had to increase the sizing a little and there wasn't a collar that I liked or a cardigan pattern either, so I hodge-podged a design and wrote it all out and everything. I even made a gauge swatch and washed it. I liked the material and it was turning out beautifully. Then I finished the first front side and held it up and it started to GrrrooooowwwwwwwWWW. You see, the Mom jacket is made from Colinette Giotto ribbon and a strand of Classic Elite Imagine held together on size 13 needles.

I thought the Classic Elite would prevent growing a little, but um, yeah it's cotton. What do we know about cotton kiddies? It grows! Right.

So, knowing I would have to rip out, redesign, re-estimate my yardage and re-knit, into the stash pile it went all in a bag and sat ther until just- last- night.

Last night I ripped and re-started a new swatch on size 7's. I think 7's are too tight. I'll probably go with 8's but right now my 8's are in Clapotis (oh yeah, there's another UFO) and my Manos jacket. I'll probably get more 8's tomorrow night at my LYS. I'm also hoping to get some designing tips from Catherine Lowe that i can take back and apply to The Mom Jacket to give it some extra flair [Mom's an Extra Flair kinda gal...]

Anyway, here's the new beginning of The Mom Jacket. While the pic is dark, the colors are pretty true. It's the Giotto colorway called Morocco and Classic Elite Imagine in Spice Bazzar.

Here it is just waiting to be The New & Improved Mom Jacket!!

Now don't misunderstand, I want to finish all these things but the Siren Song of casting on a new project is so full of Possibility that everything else (finishing projects included) seems to pale in comparison. Course, now with my new Handy Book of Sweater patterns and my soon to be new understanding of Couture Knitting, making the Mom Jacket seems like a while new enterprise and a fabbo way to unload my stash a little!


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