Monday, May 29, 2006

I love my garden in the Summer time!

For the last few days I've been out in the sun/shade trying really hard not to give myself a stroke, but also trying to get some plants in the ground before the heat really hits.

I went out Friday afternoon and nearly did give myself a stroke, so I had to come back in and take a nice coool nap in the A/C (thank goodness for central air, I never had it growing up and I LOVE it) :)

Saturday morning I woke up and went to the Garden center with DH and we got enough almost enough flowers to fill the planters outside and the border around the front bed of the house. When we got back it was already getting warm but I wanted to get everything in the ground asap.

I spent a good several minutes digging a BIG hole to put this beautiful lime green hosta in. It's H. Sum and Substance and right now it's about 3' across and 2' high. At full maturity, it can reach 7' across. I love its bright yellow-green leaves in my shady garden. Behind it to the left is H. Blue Angel, another giant Hosta and another favorite. In fact, it's such a fav that we have about 4 of them. Beneath the leaves of S&S are some plants that look like lettuce (or so says DH. What's that stuff that looks like lettuce?). They're actually FoxGlove 'Giant Shirley' mix. The flower spike on those when they come up will be about 3' high.
I'm hoping they start coming up in time for my mom's visit at the end of the month. Also, you can see the Impatiens that I planted yesterday running along the border of the hosta bed. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Impatiens in the world, but they bloom in nearly full shade and that's what I've got. When I bought them on Saturday morning, I thought that I might not have enough for the whole border, but then I started planting..... yeah. 36 little pain in the a$$ plants later, I'm finally finished and I'm sure they'll be lovely all summer long.

Finally for today, my Peonies are blooming for the first time since I put them in three years ago!!! I have a part shade /shade garden and I read (after watching them not get enough sun to create buds for two years) that you can get peonies to bloom in part sun but you need to feed them like crazy. So, this spring way back in March when they first started sticking their pretty little red shoots out of the frozen ground, I waited for the first warmish day and went and fed them like they've never been fed before. Then, once the weather started getting warmer, but super rainy, I spread 3-month fertilizer pellets on the ground around them.

I'm sorry, my mom won't be here to see these beauties bloom but I'm so exited they're blooming at all. I thought I was going to have to move them to the sunny (buit less frequented) side of the house and wait another year for blossoms.

I have a deep magenta one next to this lovely pale pink, spicy scented one that should be in full glory by the end of the day today.

Ahhh, I love summer gardening ....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

They Say Third Try's the Charm

I'm waiting for my shipment from Webs. I got an amazing deal on the yarn for my Inishmore but now I have to wait for it to arrive so I can continue.

That being said, here's my progress from one ball of yarn:

This is the whole back bottom panel.Detail from back left.
Detail from back center. This yarn is so beautiful and sooo soft. It's Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK (right, you knew that already). I'm so happy with how this is coming out. I can't wait to wash and block and see it bloom. So yummy.

SO, while I'm waiting, I'm working on the following:

That blasted top-down "Somewhat Cowl" from Wendy Bernard. At 6.5 sts to the inch, and increasing 8 sts every RS row, I still have about 36 rows to go to make it long enough and wide enough to go around my widest parts. Sigh, this project will be so beautiful when I'm finished and so hot (Alpaca Silk). It's even getting to hot just to knit with, so it's in the "Yarn Closet" as my husband now calls my closet.

As an aside, he was telling some friends of ours about the "Yarn Closet" and I quote, "I'm afraid to go near that place, man. I'm afraid that if I open the door there will be an explosion and I won't get out alive!"

Nice. Thanks, Dear. But at least he has a sense of humor about my obsession.

I'm still working on the Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style. It's really beautiful, but kind of a boring knit. Soooooo, I started something new.

I blame it on the Lovely Jo from my knitting class (Hi Jo!! [waves]). She decided to do the Lotus Blossom Tank from the cover of Interweave knits Summer and she picked some Beeyyooouuuutyful yarn from Tahki Staci Charles Cotton Classic in this lovely color of pale lilac. True to form, I couldn't resist. I got the medium lilac color, #3935

I also partially blame my Mum. She started knitting a cotton top for summer about a week before I saw what Jo was going to make. I got cotton summer tops in my head. Now, I wish I hadn't.

Why? You might ask, do I now wish cotton tops were never an interest? Because this lovely top is knit in the round on 24" needles. 280 stitches for the size that will fit me.

Note to self: be careful not to twist the stitches when joining the round on the first row.

2nd note to self: Once you've ripped it out after having completed 17 rows of 280 stitches and you start again, be careful when you start knitting on row two in the car in traffic, that you haven't twisted one of the needles around the knitting, thus causing the stitches to be twisted for a second time, only to be discovered after knitting another 7 rows of 280 stitches.

3rd note to self: when starting this stupid, frigging, ratty-a$$ project for the third time, USE A LONGER FLIPPIN' NEEDLE SO YOU CAN SEE THAT THE STITCHES ARE ALL HANGING BELOW THE NEEDLE WHEN YOU JOIN THE FIRST ROW.

There, I've said it. And now for the "Third Try Cast On Row +2 rows of Garter Stitch".

Finally, tonight is GROUP NIGHT.

We'll be meeting at the Border's at Lake and Skokie Blvd.

Wilmette, IL

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in the Cafe.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fresh Start

I started the last bit on my Innishmore on size US 2 needles when it called for US1 (one size down from main gauge). I thought it was no biggie, but then I didn't like the way it was coming out so into the Frog Pond it went.

Here's my second attempt.

The color isn't faboo, but it's nice and cozy. I'm still waiting to hear back about my Crack Order.

Monday, May 15, 2006

So Inspirational & So Sore!

Yesterday I did the Y-Me 5K Walk for Breast Cancer in Grant Park in beautiful downtown Chicago. The day started out painfully enough with a Sunday morning alarm at 5:45. Ugh.... I was walking with several friends and scheduled to meet at lovely Rosana's house at 7:00.
Problem 1.) it's been about 50 degrees here lately.
Problem 2.) It's been raining for about a week and was still raining when I got up with no chance of sunshine in sight.

That being said, while contemplating calling my friend and claiming sick, I had a good breakfast of a yummy fresh sesame bagel with chive cream cheese and Nova Lox from this fabulous and ancient Jewish deli. I pack up my bag, donned my weighted shoes (they're ergonomically designed so that I won't have back problems from walking so much [at the time I thought it was a good idea, I swear]), and dragged DH out of bed (he was scheduled for a long bike ride with Rosana's hubby).

We drove over to their house where I met up with 3 other ladies and we headed down to the CTA (public transport). There were 5 of us that travelled together; Rosana, Judith, Teri, me and Kiki. (We picked up Kiki on the way to the train)

Between the above ground trip from O'Hare and the subway ride downtown, the rain stopped (whew!). When we arrived downtown the trip up the stairs was enough to start us all grousing but even in the subway there were easily 150 people dressed for the race/walk.

We walked over to Columbus and Balbo where we met up with the rest of our group Hemanas y Amigas.

Though we complained and moaned the whole way down about being awake so early and we all fessed up to calling Rosana and claiming sick, once we got there the feeling was amazing. The event organizers said 20,000 people registered to walk or run and they were expecting 30,000 on race day. There were so many people there! Young, old, families, couples, dogs and more.

As I looked around at all the people, I knew I was glad I brought some tissue with me.
While we were waiting to start there was an African American family near us. They had a big parade type banner that said "In loving memory of Althea A-something(one of their family members). 1965 -2000". She was 35. The WHOLE family was there. There were young men with corn rows, do-rags and big gold jewelry walking right next to their grandmas, the whole family wearing bright pink Y-Me Race for the Cure t-shirts.

There was an elderly couple right behind us, he was in a wheel chair and she was going to push him the whole way. Their t-shirts said "In Loving Memory of our Daughter".

There were women there with "Survivor" T-shirts where they'd written in the number of years they'd been alive since their diagnosis. Those families often pulled little red wagons with small children whose t-shirts said "Reason for Living"

Let's just say I was glad I brought kleenex.

The runners went before the walkers. The first loop of the run/walk brought the runners back past the walking crowd where we were perfectly sationed to see them go by. As is expected, there were a few of those really skinny "Running Men" who went by in first and second place, then the pack started to come through. The beginning of the pack was mostly men (hooray, woot!, Go Runners! we all screamed)... and then there was a woman: the crowd went wild!

While we waited for the walking crowd to catch up to where we stood we watched the runners go by some more. And then a 9 year old boy ran by near the head of the pack. A few seconds later... an even younger boy (7 or 8). So fast!! I was amazed and touched and then thought about why they might be running. Just to run? or maybe... Mom? Grandma? Auntie? (Oh Lord, grab the kleenex) Did I mention I'm a big sap? They were so fast!! It was wonderful.

So, we walked. And laughed. And talked. And laughed some more. Everyone was smiling and greeting eachother. There were so many teams with custominzed team t-shirts with a picture of some woman or man on their shirts. "In Loving Memory of..." "Beauty and the Breast" "Team Betsy's Boobies" and more.

Remember those weighted shoes? Yeah, my back doesn't hurt but, OY my legs! After running to catch the train, the mile to the race from the train, the 5K walk and the 3 mile walk to lunch afterwards... I'm movin' a little slow today.

I'll be there next year all the same.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Crack a la Mode

I know I have about a thousand projects on the needles. But I went to class last night and I just HAD to cast on for my new love.

Innishmore from the Alice Starmore book Fishermen Sweaters. It's a saddle shoulder, not a drop shoulder. The first one I was looking at doing (Innishman) is a drop shoulder, but not this one.

I was a little concerned about the whole "convert the pattern to a raglan" thing (okay, white knuckled) but then Lovely Instructor Josie brought one of her sweaters that's a saddle shoulder and let me try it on. Everyone in class was so gracious and said "Oooh!! that fits perfectly! Ooh!! It's lovely!" and such. And they were right. Saddle is significantly better than drop shoulder.

So, I had to choose between Oatmeal and Natural. Oatmeal was very pretty, but too close to my hair color I would have looked like I was all one color (except for my pink face).

I chose (at the behest of my classmates) the Natural color which looked more flattering.

Here's how much I've done so far....

I also thought you should know that Webs (that amazing place) does, in fact, take special orders and you still get the 25% off. The limitations are you must order complete bags (e.g. 10 balls) and there are no returns, which is pretty standard for an LYS, anyway. I traded emails with them and they told me to call it in.

So, first thing this morning, sitting at my desk in my Corporate Job I made the call. I felt like I was doing a drug deal at work. Here's the image:

Jen hunched over her phone with her back turned to the wall where the next cube connects.

ring ring

"Good morning, Webs!?" says the bright and chipper voice at the other end.

"Hi, my name is Jennifer X, I'd like to make a Special Order. I've been trading emails with umm... I can't remember his name."(says I, all soto voce)

"Oh yes, I saw that. What would you like?"

"Jaeger Extra Fine Merino in "Natural"" like I'm ordering raw crack cocaine.

"Okay, let me see, would you like the Industrial Strength or the Minor League?" (this, Kind Readers, was actually, "Aran weight or DK "?)

"Domestic Krack weight, please." so softly my voice cracks.

"Alright and how much would you like?"

"Two bags. That's 20 kilos (balls). I'll get the volume discount right?"


Cool, the shipping details are worked out and the total is significantly cheaper than it would have been to purchase it at my LYS. Don't get me wrong, I heart my LYS, but $8.95 a ball was silly when I could get it for $6.90 US shipping included. $194 with tax vs. $138 = $56 dollars I can spend on a lovely dinner with my DH this weekend instead of supporting my crack habit.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Swatch, swatch, swatch

So, you all might be wondering what I've been doing lately seeing as how I'm totally delinquent in my blogging. You may remember that Lovely Knitting Instructor Josie asked me what I was going to do that would be Hard. For. Me.

Yeah, that's what I said. Hard.... um, Dunno. I mean I can do cables, I can follow a pattern, make lace, entrelac and what have you. But, to date, I have never finished a "grownup" sweater. (The Somewhat Cowl is still OTN, I'm doing about 2 rows a night and they just. won't. end.)

I thought I would do an Aran, but then there was the drop shoulder thing which Alyssa graciously reminded me that that might not work. Drop shoulders are Not So Good when combined with b00bs. So, I had a long chat with Madame Josie about that Aran sweater and the whole drop shoulder thing. While we talked, Josie convinced me to turn the drop shoulder into a raglan (yeah, right). She said we would need to make the cables meet at the shoulder at the same point as the body cables and such. I allowed as how that would definitely qualify as "Hard for Me".

So now, I'm swatching. I need 51/2 sts and 7 rows to the inch in Moss Stitch (aka Seed stitch)

Let's talk a little about my knitting style and yarn, shall we?

I am a "Loose Knitter" (this may actually have something to do with that whole Knitting Monogamy issue we discussed earlier, but the jury is still out). Being a loose knitter means that when a ball band says use US8 needles, I get to use US3 to get gauge. I was just in the Keweenaw Shepherd yesterday afternoon and the LOVELY shop owner said "The only knitter I've ever known who had to go down 2-3 needle sizes to get gauge was left handed."

"Um, well, I'm left handed but I don't knit backwards", says I. "Doesn't matter", says she. So, friends and compatriots if you're left handed, do you have to drop down several needle sizes to get gauge, too?

Being a loose knitter has it's advantages and disadvantages. For example, I don't get crampy hands the way some knitters do, BUT I cannot get gauge with Aran weight yarn on anything larger than a US2 and even then, my st gauge is too big and my row gauge is too too too tiny. So, the whole Aran Sweater with Aran yarn idea is Right Out (saw Spamalot this weekend, it was hilarious).

Here are my test swatches just to prove that a) I really have been working on my knitting (even though I have no appreciable progress to show on anything) b.) I have tried EVERY BLOODY YARN I could find that might work for an Aran sweater.

First I swatched with Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Aran and it was WAAYY to big. Back to the pile. So, I picked up some single balls of other stuff to test...

Swatch Set 1 (sorry about the bad lighting)

From bottom to top:
  1. Queensland DK Tweed (US3)- Too big and you can't see the cables. (Scrapped)
  2. Filature di Crosa - Wave (US 2) - Bumpy and bubbly and you can't see the stitch definition. (Scrapped)
  3. Jo Sharp - Silk Road Aran (US2) - OMG!! This yarn is soooo beautiful! You can tell I loved it because the swatch is twice as big as all the others. BUT this is the one where I was getting 8-9 sts and 18 rows per 2 inches. I blocked the bejezuz out of it, but because it's silk, it just bounced right back. Lesson learned: When using silks or silk blend yarns, make sure the gauge you want is the one coming off your needles. (Oh yeah, for this application: Scrapped)

Swatch Set 2

From Bottom to Top

  1. (Actually swatch #4) The Fiber Co. - Babe (US3) too fuzzy, not the kind of stitch definition I want. Beautiful but not right. It's super soft Alpaca and Merino.
  2. (#5) Jamieson - Aran something (US2) - In this really pretty oatmeal color. I like the color, but it's too scratchy and it made my index finger RAW knitting with it.
  3. Jamieson - DK (US2) - this is really a Sport Weight it's Maroon and I get gauge, but again with the flesh falling off my finger thing. (Scrapped)

THEN late last night I'm sitting there and BLAMMO!! It hits me. The lovely lady from Keweenaw Shepherd looked at the original yarn called for in this pattern and said Rowan Magpie in 51/2 sts to the inch!!! Magpie was the same weight as Malabrigo! Look at the sweater in the book, does that look like it was knit with Malabrigo?! No way!" She looked up Magpie and it was 41/2 sts /in, not 51/2.

I get the dummy award for the day. Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK. I have it in my stash left over from the C. lowe workshop. In Stockinette I get 6 sts and 8 ros to the inch. In seed stitch I bet I bet I get 5.5 by 7, just. like. I. need. And... it's soft and yummy.

So, at 10:58 p.m. I rip the finger chewing Jamieson DK off my needles and throw it aside, careless about the kitty chewing opportunities (they didn't touch it either, btw) and march off to the "Yarn Closet" as my husband now fondly refers to it. I dig around for a few minutes and PRESTO! Rose Petal Pink, Kermit Green and Chocolate Brown partial balls of goodness in my hands. I sit down and start swatching.


The lady at Keweenaw was telling me that I wouldn't be happy with an Aran where the cables didn't "pop". Last night, it occurred to me that I'm not all that crazy about Aran's with cables that pop. I like the stitch design, but I don't need extra lumps on my already somewhat lumpy body.

So, now I just have to find someone who carries Jaeger XFM DK in the pretty Oatmeal color I want. I've got to go check and see if Webs takes special orders. I really don't want to buy 19 balls at $8.75 each. Bleh. From Webs I can get them for just over $6.00. I'll keep you posted.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Group night is Moving

By majority vote* GROUP night will be moving to Wednesdays.

SO, here are the details.

The 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month
Border’s at Edens Plaza (Lake and Skokie Blvd)
6:30 to 8:00 pm in the Cafe

Hope to see you there!

*including some email folks who don't read this Blog (horrors!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Poll - Changing GROUP Night

Much to our dismay our lovely GROUP has dwindled to just 3 or 4 regulars. Hence, an Executive Decision has been made to take a quick vote about Wednesday nights instead of Tuesday.

Should we move GROUP Knight to Wednesday?



Not sure, let me check

Free polls from

The other details:
Still the 2nd and 4th week of the month
Still from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Still located at the Border's at Edens Plaza.
Still free but for the price of a beverage from the Cafe (and even that's not required)

(Sorry no recent pics, my camera battery died and I keep forgetting to change them.)


Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma Lawyer Counter