Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Market Bags version 2

This post is for my friends who are not on Ravelry. Here are the market bags that I enjoy making when I need a break from either a long, drawn-out project or from the helmet liners that I was asked to make for someone's platoon in Afghanistan. (Shout out here to Toni and Edie for helping me with this project. Love you and your knitting skills!) Here's the picture:
The purple one is for Jenny. The blue one is for Elijah's Hebrew school teacher and the yellow one is a "just-in-case-I-need-a-gift".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Me, Spinning? Hilltop Hanover Farm

On Saturday, November 15th, I went to a knitting retreat at Hilltop Hanover Farm. The invitation which was issued through my knitting guild invited seasoned knitters to an afternoon of knitting in rural Westchester. This farm is in my town. I don't consider our area rural but when I got there and looked around, it was rural. The county bought the farm to prevent it from being developed. There's lots of educational courses and activities going on all year round. (Click on the title which is linked to the farm's website)

It was a very miserable day. We were warned to wear warm socks because the building we were suppose to be in was going to be cold. The retreat was moved to the house. I walked inside and saw women spinning on their journey wheels. (I learned that word at the farm). There was our Edie using a drop spindle. Our Toni, Carol and Karen were knitting away. Toni, Carol and I were a bit curious about spinning. I brought the drop spindle we bought Ben about 6 years ago. I thought I would try to spin with it. Lucinda, who was the major spinner there, was showing Edie some basics. We decided we would ask her when she was done. She sat down at her wheel so we decided to let her spin. Edie then asked her to teach us. She gladly did. It had to be one of the most awkward and spastic moments of my life. I had a hard time getting it. Lucinda was so patient! It's been 4 days since the retreat and I haven't tried it again. Maybe next month. Shelley could spin.

Now for some pictures.

Here's Edie spinning happily.

Here's Karen working on the Harry Potter scarf. She is a new knitter.

Check out these spinning wheels.

Here are three lovely newbies to spinning: from left to right-Me, Toni and Carol

Lucinda is giving some words of encouragement. On the inside, I'm cursing that spindle! I was trying to convince her that some people are meant to spin and others are meant to just knit. Guess which category I fall into?

Even though the skies were gray, the atmosphere inside the room was very sunny. The retreat was considered a success by the turnout. This room was one with a view. When you looked outside the windows, you saw beautiful fields that seem to go on forever. Our group left @ 2:00. Carol and I parked near each other and as we were approaching our cars, a flock of hens starting coming toward us rather quickly. I told Carol that they probably think we have food. They were very comical so of course, I had to take pictures of them. I'm certainly looking forward to next month's retreat.

The attacking chickens.

One happy camper going home!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Special Olympics Scarf!

I answered Coats & Clark's call to make a scarf for a participant in the Special Olympics. I was very motivated to make this scarf because I kept picturing a little child wearing it! I can't wait to send it out but I may make one more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Handsome Devil Socks

For those of you who are not on Ravelry:
Here they are! The pattern is from Six Sox Knit-a-Long. These were a lot of fun to make. The Koigu was from socks I made for my sister years ago. How did I know? Because the price on the skein was $8.50. Now I believe a skein of painted Koigu goes for $14.50. The solid color was yarn I bought when We went to visit the boys at camp. A nice souvenir; better than a refrigerator magnet or a t-shirt!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New York State Sheep & Wool Festival 2008

I ran into Karin at the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival today. I know her from KnitTalk (a Yahoo group for knitters) and she asked me if I have blogged lately. So Karin, thank you for getting me back to this blog.

It has been a very stressful 5 weeks with good and bad things happening. First on September 11th, DH was rushed to the hospital with what we thought was a heart attack happening. It turned out that he had a strep infection in his blood and was very, very sick. However, after spending eight days in the hospital, DH came out 20 pounds lighter and with a new attitude towards his health (which at this writing is being forgotten). Then on September 24th, my father passed away. He has been ill with pulmonary fibrosis and a bad heart but to speak to him, you would never think he was as sick as he really was. I am tearing up as I am writing this but I knew he loved us and he knew that we loved him. We spoke everyday and every conversation ended with an "I love you." I miss hearing his voice.

Okay, so I was seriously thinking of not going to the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival. I wasn't in a festive mood; I was concerned with the money situation (did I really need to spend money on more yarn?); my car was acting up. I had excuse after excuse not to go. My dear friend and neighbor Chris told DH that she was looking forward to going and that I had to go. I could just buy our traditional baked potato and hang out. Well, DH told me that this year, more than any other, I needed to go. He was right.

Chris drove up the Taconic which was a bit past peak compared to where we live. We got there around 10:30 and just got lost in all the colors and types of yarns and whatever else was on sale. Chris is great to go to the festival with. We walk around and make mental notes on which booths we would like to visit again. Then we question ourselves whether we really like the item. We would visit the same place two or three times!

We ran into people from our knit-out. First there was Edie. We ran into Edie by the food area where people were lined up to get their chicken pot pies. She was there with her husband and her friend from Boston. Her first question to Chris and me was, "What did you buy?" Well, we didn't buy anything! Edie had a bag full of sock yarn and buttons. Okay, I felt a little pressure to help the economy. Edie was doing her part.

(Edie is the one in the very colorful sweater!)

Chris and I kept walking around. Last year we loved seeing the pumpkins that were needle felted. There they were again. I personally liked the Indian corn kit. We agreed that if we don't buy anything, we'll buy the kits. We had a plan. Then we went to one of my favorite booths A Touch of Twist. Last year I bought some beautiful laceweight merino and silk yarn. I made Karen's Water Turtles Shawl from Wrapped in Comfort by Alison Hyde. (I still didn't block it yet so that's why you haven't seen it yet). This yarn was wonderful to knit with and I thought that I would get some more. There was a beautiful teal color but you know what? I didn't feel the love. I didn't want to make another shawl. Chris and I both passed on this yarn but knew that we may return.

Then Chris and I discovered a booth that sold yak-a-boo yarn, cashllama yarn and yarn with some camel in it. The colors were beautiful natural colors. We considered buying the cashllama to make a lacy scarf. I wanted the brown, Chris wanted the black. We decided that we'll come back for it because that was the second part of our plan. If we didn't buy anything, then we'd buy either the pumpkin kit or the cashllama. We were unusually happy that we had this plan going on. That's when we saw Karin at the Silver Moon booth. She was so sweet. (See the intro). We thought about eating but the line was way too long. So Chris and I walked on. I decided to give Shelley a call. Shelley is also in our knit-out and she has discovered spinning. It turned out that we are at opposite ends of a building. We met up and with her was Nancy. What was their first question to us? "What did you buy?" There we were again, empty-handed. (Chris did buy some fudge for her DH and a stuffed bison for DD but no yarn).

(Shelley and Nancy are the 1st and 2nd from the left respectively)

After we said goodbye to two more people helping the economy, we decided to seek out the Ravelry people because honestly, I wanted a button. After asking a few people, we found the gathering. The Ravelry's owners' mother and brother were there. They were very sweet. I know I was secretly thrilled to meet the woman who gave birth to the woman who developed Ravelry. We both walked away happy. Later, I ran into the designer of the pirate hat which I made Elijah last year. I recognized her name from her Ravelry button.

Chris and I decided to have our annual baked potato. We didn't realize how hungry and tired we were until we sat down and ate. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm. That tater was tasty! We sat next to some women who had Socks That Rock yarn and she told us that they were mill ends and a bit cheaper. We decided to make our second trip to that booth. Maybe we'll find something to buy. We both like to make socks and I was already working on a pair. I had a sock pattern on my list of things to do. Maybe I would find something I could use for this pattern. We walked over and saw that the line that normally had over 50 people on it was now down to about 7. Hmmm. Maybe this was a sign that we should buy something. After inspecting the mill ends and the regular yarn, we looked at each other and said that we really didn't love what was left. Then we crossed the aisle over to Brook Farms Yarn.

Last year, this was the last booth we visited. We saw a shawl which was very simple but the yarn was gorgeous. I remember standing holding the yarn in my hand saying, "Chris, should I buy it or not?" She told me that it will be there next year and that I should put the skein down and go. I listened to her. One year later, here we are again at the same spot. I found the skein the sample was made in but Chris looked for other colors. My dear friend always picks the same colors over and over. Blue with different shades of purple. This time she found a beautiful skein of blues and greens. They were so soothing to look at. I was hoping there would be another skein but she had the last one. She picked up a skein for me that was so beautiful. It had a blue mixed in with browns. I loved it. Chris did good! We finally made a purchase and guess who we ran into right after buying our skeins? Edie. We held up our bags and said, "Edie, we just bought something. Look!" Edie had a look in her eye of a woman on a mission. She wanted to go back to Socks That Rock and when we told her that there wasn't any line, she left us after congratulating us. Chris and I decided to call it a day and off we went, southbound on the Taconic Parkway towards home.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Back from the Grange Fair

We just got home from the Grange Fair. I only wanted to go to pick up my Clapotis but once the boys got wind of my plans, it became a family affair. We got there pretty late and since this was the last day, many exhibits with livestock cleared out already. I went into the exhibition building and there was my baby with a 2nd place ribbon on it. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed because I thought the first prize went to a fuzzy scarf. Then I saw that the first prize went to a black lace shawl which was folded up. It had a more complex pattern than mine but it looked as if it had cat hair all over it. Anyway, I took a picture of my item and some stranger took a picture of me since my boys refused. There's always next year!

The one surprise that I did have was running into a student from the high school I work in. She graduated about 4 years ago and her sister lives in the area. She's working as an aide in a classroom, going to college and will be getting married next year. I was touched that she recognized me. I just wish I wasn't wearing my crocs! Here is the picture of me standing in front of the exhibit and of my Clapotis with the ribbon attached. The last picture reminded me of my boys eating!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Butterflies n Bees Socks Are Finished! (and a story behind it)

DH and I went on our first cruise to Canada this past summer. We had a blast and promised each other that we must do this again. We didn't go to the most exciting ports but it was fun nonetheless. We were in St. John, New Brunswick which was a very sedate place. It was a bit depressing but we saw the Bay of Fundy which was pretty amazing. Then we headed up to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we felt it had more character. Poor Halifax. The Titanic sunk nearby. We saw the graves of the victims and I found it very interesting. In the late 1800's or early 1900's (I can't remember) there was a horrible explosion when a ship hit another one carrying explosives. Then when 9/11 happened and all airplanes were grounded in the United States, the planes coming from Europe landed in Halifax but there weren't enough hotels to handle all of these people. The citizens of Halifax put up strangers in there houses. We must have a warm and fuzzy feeling for Halifax.

I told DH that if I had to do one thing, it was to visit the yarn store, The Loop. We rushed to the store because we had to be back on the ship by 5 and it was 3:45. I walked ahead because DH walks a bit too slow for me. I asked someone on the street and she pointed me in the right direction. I was so excited. This would be a great souvenir from Halifax instead of those refrigerator magnets I got from St. John. I walked into the store and honestly, I was a bit disappointed. A lot of space and not a lot of yarn. The store carried some nice upscale stuff but I didn't feel compelled to touch anything. So I asked for solid sock yarn. (This has been difficult to find lately since everyone wants a self-patterning yarn). Lo and behold, there it was. The sage green sock yarn that I decided I had to have. And it was on sale. DH was so funny. He asked if I needed more. Wasn't that sweet? He doesn't know how much yarn is needed for socks and this pattern makes socks that come up to the ankles. I bought it and we rushed back to the ship. I was a happy camper.

The pattern comes from the Six Sox Knit-a-long. I like most of their patterns and this was a bit lacy. I was hoping to have them done to enter them into our local Grange Fair. (See my last entry) I worked on the first one without a problem but you know how it is with the second sock. It's as if you were starving and eat something but there's some more leftover and you don't have that same hungry feeling because it was sated by what you just ate. That's my second sock. However, I had a deadline. September 2nd, 6:00 PM! I started it the Thursday before. I was moving quite quickly on it until I compared it to the first sock. I made a giant mistake! On the foot, I knitted the pattern all around instead of just on the top. If I wanted to enter these, I had to rip it out and I did. Since these were made toe up, I ripped it back to the toe. On Sunday, I did the foot, the heel and made it up to one repeat before the next lace pattern. On Monday evening, I tried to finish the last repeat but kept making one mistake after another. I decided to go to the Grange Fair to enter my Clapotis. (another entry). There my scarf was greeted with oohs and aahs and I told them that I would be back the following day to enter my socks...if I finish them.

I went to work confident that I could find time during the day to work on the sock. It wasn't happening. I kept making mistakes and had to unknit the row or rows. Then I was hoping that I would finish the sock during DS#2's piano lesson. That didn't happen either. I asked DS#2 to sit in the car with me so I can finish up the picot edging and then run over to the fair to drop off the socks. I had my entry cards all ready. When I saw that I had only 20 minutes to the 6:00 deadline, I just took a deep breath and said to DS#2, "We're going home!" He asked about going to enter the socks but I told him that I wouldn't make it.

What did I learn from this experience? First, I can knit damn fast when I want to! I was shocked at how fast I knitted up this sock! Second, I sometimes can't multi-task, like talking and doing a lace pattern. It doesn't go very smoothly for this knitter. Finally, those last minute habits that I had in school which I thought I changed, came back as if they never left! But you know what? I have a new pair of socks ready for the cold weather!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Got Lemons

Just when you think it's safe to go back into the water, something hits you and you lose your footing and swallow a lot of water. You make it back to the shore, coughing, spitting, and a little shook up by the whole experience. You know the next time you step foot in the water, you'll have a few seconds of doubt but you'll overcome that. Something like that happened to me at work.

I'm not going to go into details because it's not worth the space but this little incident woke me up. I have my same position but I am now on a late session. I've always been on the earliest session so I can get home early for the kids. I think I amazed myself that I was able to put a positive spin on this. I got lemons but I'm making some lemonade.

First, DS#1 is going to high school this year. He has to be up very early. I'll now be there to make sure he is ready. We can actually leave at the same time. That took a lot of pressure off of DH.

Second, I can cover an extra class in the morning if the situation arises. I calculated that if I do this three times a week, I paid for 2 weeks worth of gasoline. Unfortunately, these times require that I think like this since I do have a long commute to work and not the most fuel-efficient car.

Third, I'll be in the administrator's face in a good way to show her that I am a valued member of the faculty. This was the wake-up call. I already wrote two issues of a parent newsletter for my students that she needs to see and approve. I think she'll like it.

Fourth, I may be able to fit walking into my day if I can wake up at my usual time. Plus the fact that the parking around my school sucks this will be part of the routine as well.

I'm not 100% happy. There will be issues like getting DS#1 and DS#2 to their after school activities but I'll have to ask people to help. We'll adjust, I hope. If not, you'll hear it here first!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting Ready for the Grange Fair

Yesterday at our local knit out, we had a discussion about whether we should enter some of our knitting into the Grange Fair. Yes, I am talking about the local agricultural event that happens around here every September. Look, I'm a kid from the Bronx. When we first moved up here I had to get over the shock that I had to drive EVERYWHERE! Once I got over that and after we had our first son, we decided to go to the Grange Fair. I swear to God if I didn't think I was in some farming community in Iowa (or any other place that has farms). There were kids who belonged to a 4-H club, baking competitions, pie-eating contests, floral arrangements, animals (cows, horses, pigs, sheep) and those gross carny people who manned the rides. (There's obviously no dental plan for these folks and if there was, they would put their money into adding more tattoos to their bodies...Okay, this is mean but it's my blog and I can state an opinion every now and then! Please, no flaming!) I asked DH where the hell did we move to? He's from Long Island. We're only an hour away from NYC and here we are in Hooterville! (Petticoat Junction/Green Acres reference for those of you who are younger than me)

We would go every so often. One year I actually entered a baby blanket into the needlework competition and won a blue ribbon. Should I mention that I was the only entry in that category so it was a no-brainer blue ribbon. But still I was very proud! When I gave that blanket to the person it was intended for (washed of course, but now we don't even speak...don't ask why), I proudly showed her the blue ribbon it won. Now that I think about it, do you think she threw out that blanket since we're not friends anymore? Oh well. It's not mine anymore.

Back to our Thursday night knit-out. I thought it would be a hoot (yes, I used that word) if a bunch of us from the group would enter things into the Grange Fair. What publicity! What a rush! What a cheap thrill! I can see us winning because we have some great knitters who have produced some wonderful things. The question is what should we enter? First we thought about all entering in separate categories so that we won't compete against each other. Then we decided what the hell. Just enter. I may be entering my clapotis. I would love to enter my Karen's Water Turtles Shawl but I haven't blocked it yet and there may be a little error that I fudged over. I'm also working on the Butterflies n Bees socks from Six Sox KAL. These are my first toe up socks and I am loving this pattern. I think I'll need to get those sock blocks to make them look a little better. I think they look better on a foot than without.

When my boys found out that I may be entering stuff into the Grange Fair, what do you think their first response was? "Gee, Mom. That's so great. We're so proud of you!" NO! It was, "Does that mean we get to go to the Grange Fair?" What do you expect from a 14 year old and a 10 year old?

The title is a direct link to the fair. You should check this out. This Bronx girl can't make this stuff up!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Boys Are Back In Town!

My boys came home from sleep away camp on Sunday. They were away for 7 weeks. We saw them once on visiting day in July and there were weekly phone calls from my younger one, occasional letters from the older one (actually, we were questioning whether he went to that camp at all because he hardly appeared in the pictures on the internet and barely called. The very rare letter that appeared in our mailbox from him assured us that he was there.)

When you have a 14 year old boy, you have to worry about the "embarrassment factor". Do you hug and kiss him in public? Do you wait for him to come to you? How do you suppress the urge to squeeze him to death even though he's 4" taller than you? These questions ran through my mind as I walked towards him with DS#2. They were on separate buses and this kid yelled out "Mom" and ran into my arms. Thank God. Well, the problem was solved. DS#1 came over and we hugged tightly. I even got a kiss on the cheek! The bottom line was that I think he wanted a mom hug.

Since the buses let the kids off near one of our favorite restaurants, we decided to have a quick lunch there. I have 2 boys; they're always hungry. It was a good neutral place for them to start to decompress. What more did we need at that moment than good food, good company and good conversation (done totally by the boys!) We then headed home and all I knew was that I had to start doing some laundry before their duffel bags arrived. They were expected by Wednesday.

While they were gone, their bedrooms were cleaned, their bathroom was spotless, everything was in its place. We told the boys that they would be expected to keep it that way. Please, why did we bother? In less than 2 hours, DS#1, the place I have referred to as hell, was not as pristine as I had left it that morning. I should have taken a picture. But, I will give him until the end of this week to start getting it together. He had to make up for loss computer and cell phone time.

Now DS#2 had a more difficult time switching from camp mode to home mode. That first night all he did was ask what time it was and upon finding out, he would announce what he would be doing if he was in camp. I offered to play games with him but it wasn't what he wanted. I then asked if he wanted to ride his scooter while I went for a walk. That he agreed to do. I figured I would walk towards one of his friends house and hopefully they would be out and he could hook up. It worked! Except I didn't finish my walk and he came back in 20 minutes because he was tired.

Well, it is so nice to hear their voices, whether they are fooling around or arguing with each other, around the house. The evenings were difficult for me because of the quietness of the house. Their duffel bags arrived on Tuesday, to my dismay, (I thought I would have one more day of no laundry) so after countless loads, the laundry is done. I plan on packing all the linens and towels away in a big plastic container to make my life easier for next year. My food bill has doubled in one week! (God bless their hungry little bellies and damn those growth spurts!)

I just want you all to know that the song by Thin Lizzie, "The Boys are Back in Town" was playing in my head while I wrote this.

What does this have to do with my knitting? Well, I haven't had much time to knit! My boys are back!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Clapotis!

For those of you who have not joined Ravelry, here is a picture of my Clapotis in Noro Sakura. Yes, it's draped over my mailbox.

I never thought that I would make this scarf/shawl but I am so happy with the way it came out. I can't wait to wear it to work and any other place I feel the need to wear it to. The pattern is from www.knitty.com. If you are a member of Ravelry, you can look for it in pattern search and you'll be directed to the pattern there as well. That way you can see all the different yarns other knitters have used.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Know. It's Been a While!

I've gotten some flak about how I'm not posting my blogs. I find it amazing how I have done anything since December but I did find 2 drafts from April which I don't feel very comfortable posting right now. Maybe some day.

On the knitting front, I've finished my Karen's Water Turtles Shawl which needs to be blocked. Once that was out of the way, I made a Clapotis from Noro Sakura which I bought in a store in Mont Clair, NJ when DS#1 went to a bar mitzvah there. I had to occupy myself for over 4 hours and that town happened to have 3 knitting stores within 2 blocks of each other. It was a wonderful day for me. I remember the first time I heard about the Clapotis. I thought it was pronounced Clap-o-tis and thought it referred to a STD but someone on KnitTalk made a point of correcting me. Some people on that list don't have a sense of humor. I usually stay away from items that everyone knits and I guess it took me a while to realize that this yarn would be great for that pattern. No, let me correct myself. When I was in that store in NJ, I was first introduced to Ravelry and that's where I saw Sakura being used for a Clapotis. That's also where my mouth hung open and realized what a wonderful thing Ravelry is which led me to neglect my hipknitta blog. But I'm a woman and I can multitask.

On the home front, DS#1 & DS#2 are away at sleepaway camp. It was very weird at first because DS#2 went to day camp and was home with me but he felt ready to go. So, a year-at-college-tuition later, we said goodbye to them as they drove off into the sunset 6 weeks ago. I truly felt lost without my little guy but everytime we spoke to him, he sounded so happy. When we went to the camp for visiting day, he was thrilled. I was thrilled because he kept putting my arm around him and actually holding my hand. There were tons of pictures of him and a few of DS#1 on the camp's website. (which made up wonder if DS#1 actually went there but he's 14 and probably felt too cool to pose. The few of him are great shots!)

DH and I went on our first cruise to Canada and we had a wonderful time. It was a 5 day trip and we loved every minute of it. We would definitely go on a cruise again, without kids! I, of course, felt the need to buy a skein of sock yarn in Halifax, which I felt made a great souvenir. We met the nicest people and just heard from one of the couples.

Now my boys are coming back next Sunday and I have to clean DS#1's room. It is so disgusting. I actually felt sorry for him even though he did it to himself. We nicknamed the room "Hell". So, I'm going to hell now and in my house it's upstairs. Even though I truly missed the boys, I loved the time to myself and the time DH and I had alone. I rediscovered what a funny guy he is!