Sunday, December 28, 2008

Simplest Things

Like most of you I'm sure, the holiday weekend didn't afford much time for knitting. Only a few rounds on the long-forgotten Gayle sleeves that will...ahem...someday be completed. Plenty of time for visiting with family and friends though, and I was reminded that you're never too old to put your two cents into building a snowman.

Last night I had the privilege of spending a few hours with my three year old nephew. At first I was taken aback at just how much chaos ensued from the addition of a toddler to my mom's house--usually a quiet, exceptionally ordered and well decorated home that wouldn't be out of place in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. Last night however, it seemed as if the living room was transformed into a playroom with puzzles and crayons strewn about the floor, and a surprisingly large rev-up car track in front of the entertainment center. And on this first visit to Gram's, an endless supply of adults to play with him, tickle him, and watch his every move for the he-just-did-the-cutest-darn-thing-ever photographs.

I have to admit, he's a lucky kid--the holiday weekend lasted him four solid days--two with his mom's family and two with his dad's (my family). Of course at three the presents are the most exciting part--that and Gram's gingerbread men. But what struck me as interesting was that the toy he seemed most engrossed in was the Viewmaster--yes, the same simple technology from the 90s, 80s, 70s....and so forth, sure it's dressed up in a snazzier plastic shell, but it's the same little slide viewer. He kept pressing the little lever and his mouth would open wide with a 'woooooah' followed by a quick run to me or my brother and say 'whas this?' Disney scene after Disney scene and (disturbingly close-up) insect after insect (how do they photograph those things?!) his awe was just as great.

For me the experience was almost majestic, watching his enthusiasm and enjoyment (and that something that held his attention that long) over something so classic, that to me had previously seemed so mundane. For a moment it was as if I was seeing it all for the first time through his eyes.

On the way home I couldn't help but notice, in all of his energy and toddler babble, how successful he had been at making me slow down for a moment to appreciate one of the simplest joys of life.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tubas and knitting, do have something in common

What do Tubas and knitting have in common you might be asking? Well, the Tubas relate to my 16 year old son and his high school band (he plays the Tuba, but I bet you already guessed that?) they will be marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Years day. Only 12 high schools are invited to participate and McQueen High School got the nod! So naturally we are making the trek down to Pasadena and there will time to knit on the way down, YEAH! Naturally as any good knitter might, I have a few (maybe 8, blush) things on needles right now in various states of completion, so what to take is the question. I will be of course taking my Artyarns beaded mohair and silk project to finish up (so close :) and reveal it to you when I come back.

This project has been sidelined a couple of times; most recently by Laura's need for a quick design for some the Grayson E beaded handles that will be featured in a couple of magazines in the Spring/Summer. This was a fun one and we should have some pictures soon. I really am in love with all of these handles and am thinking of doing another bag as soon as I get the Artyarns project done.

We will be gone about 6 days and I think the Artyarns project should be cast off about the 3rd day, so I will need another project for the balance of the trip. I need something simple and cute! I think I am going to work up the Blue Sky Alpacas Kitty Hat and leave my other WIP's at home; what's one more cast on??

I wish you all the holiday of your dreams, with lots of fiber in your diet!

See you in the New Year! Jeanne

Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't Panic!

So late Thursday night, I (finally) picked up my grandma's socks (see previous blog!) to finish them up and send them out today...and realized I just couldn't stand the pattern. It was one of my own design, and really, the back was fine. The front however, ended up with these haphazard eyelets that just looked terrible.

After feverishly frogging the things, I began flipping through every magazine and pattern book in my library trying to find a pattern in the approprate gauge, that called for needles I already had--since I'd be knitting well into the wee hours of the morning. I settled on the Brick-Stitch Tea Cozy in the 2008 Interweave Holiday Gifts magazine. It doesn't call for sock yarn, of course...but it sure was a quick knit. Only about 7 hours total.

I used the 1824 Wool the pattern calls for, but in Earth and Russet instead of the pinks or natural (um yeah, my grandma hates pink!). I also switched the MC for the CC in a few places--the ribbing on the bottom, for example, because I didn't want it to scream RED in her mostly terra-cotta tiled kitchen.

Anyway, that and a porcelain teapot I found at a local thrift store for a few dollars turned into a nice little gift in relatively little time.

A little project update: Ocean Granny's scarf was finished in just enough time to send it with some of the family heading over the hill for her big birthday bash on Sunday:

With that, I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday! (Happy knitting to all, and to all a good....night?)


Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcoming Winter with a New Scarf

Well, i guess it's officially winter here in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area. It's been snowing on and off at our house for days... that coupled with 100+ mph winds and single digit temperatures just makes me want to crawl into the bathtub and soak for hours. The cold just goes right to my bones! (and here i thought this was california... don't we pay taxes to avoid weather like this??!). To make matters worse, we're off to madison, wisconsin on wednesday - doug grew up in nearby middleton - and the weather there is even colder. I had these lofty dreams of going for multiple long runs on the middleton streets... nice and flat, low elevation... sounds like heaven! Well, my dreams didn't include shivering in my running shoes, so i guess i'll stick the treadmill (or to the couch, most likely).

Speaking of freezing, Ann Norling came to visit me at the shop the other day... i had on 2 shirts and my jacket, but was still shivering in the shop (the thermostat is set to 73, but i'm always really cold). So Ann let me borrow a gorgeous scarf that she had on: knit with Rowan Kidsilk Haze, the scarf had 5 inch stripes of 6-7 colors ... and it was knit in a tube, so was doubly thick. I loved it! I tried to sneak it away from her, but she was too astute! I resolved to knit a similar scarf myself. Well.... i didn't end up leaving work that night until about 8 - and had already turned off the lights in the shop before i realized that i would need to pick out some kidsilk colors if i was going to embark on this new project. So, as amber stood by the front door waiting to lock up, i rifled through the Kidsilk cube and picked out 6 colors that i thought would look nice together. Picking out yarn is hard enough sometimes, but try doing it with virtually no light!

Anyway, i've included a few photos of the colors i chose.... as usual, i've started knitting with the brown - and will change to a lighter brown in a few inches. I wrote about the project here, but will tell you that i chose these colors: 584, 626, 641, 589, 592, 640. I'm using a US 6 16" needle and cast on 100 stitches (per Ann's instructions). After joining into a circle, i'm simply knitting... my brain hasn't been working too well lately, so simple knitting seems to be perfect for me. I'm not sure if i'll just do 5" stripes of each color - or if i'll mix it up and do some random striping. If this weather continues, i'll likely have lots of time to knit in the various airports... who knows, maybe i'll be done by 2009! (ok, probably not).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Addendum with knitting, hmmm, imagine knitting?

I didn't quite have all the pictures needed when I blogged about our spectacular night out, so I thought I would get those up too! We are all still on an elegant night out twitter right now and work is so much fun!
The adorable couple to the left is our own Ashley and her handsome boyfriend Cory! During the evening I ran around and tried to get pictures of everyone at the table, but Cory took a walk and I didn't get the two of them. Thanks Sandy for your picture of them as they came into the dinner.

Now here is yours truly below with my honey, Geoff, but I think Geoff was caught off guard and he does have a nice smile, really. I just wanted to make sure everyone one was represented.

Thanks again to the Zander's for all you do for us.

So on to other matters that may be more important to you all, KNITTING! I just can't understand why knitting would be more important, but alas, I will touch on it a bit here.

I live, eat, breath and work fiber, knitting, crocheting, well you get the idea...My family has finally accepted that if I am not knitting while watching TV, riding in the car, walking, of even listening to a book (that's right listening, an amazing discovery that allows me to do two of my favorite passions together at once) that I am NOT a happy knitter! Of course we are all doing the mad Commando knitting to get that last scarf, hat, mittens, socks, or even a sweater cast off, blocked and in the box for that lucky recipient of our hand made passion. So I thought I would feature a couple of really quick projects here (just in case you are scrambling for a last minute knit) that won't take you 2 years to finish.

I actually knit these adorable Bulky Slippers for my 2 guys; Geoff my honey and Chris my 16 year old son.

I worked them up in about 4-5 ? hours for a pair and my 2 guys have huge feet! I even went so far as to put leather soles on them, because they will inevitably walk outside with them on.

Now, don't panic if you don't have a leather shop that you can get scraps from; use old Levi's for the soles, doubled and just sew them right on with some heavy duty yarn, thread, or leather shoe laces. I used some stash Berroco Naturlin, which will be sturdy and the color blended well with the slippers.

The other idea is to knit up our cute Wash Cloths that Laura knit for the Emmy's last year and use just one cloth to wrap up a nice bar of soap and you have a GREAT last minute gift.
I wish everyone a terrific holiday with tons and tons of fiber in your diet!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ocean Granny

My first road trip as an 'adult' was when I was 19 with my best friend Jamie. We drove from Reno to Santa Cruz, CA (only about 5 hours) to visit her Ocean Granny--a kind, spunky, creative, tap-dancing, singing, and remarkably modern grandma living in a retirement community close enough to the ocean to sneeze on it. And I was sure she couldn't be more than 75. An incredibly fit 75, at that.

When we pulled up, I was a little worried that in coming along with Jamie for her annual visit, I would be intruding on something sacred between them. When we walked in however, she opened her arms and scooped us both into a big hug like only a grandma can.

After making sure we were both sufficiently stuffed on a chicken-tomato-bean soup that seems to be entirely her own concoction, we spent the next five days playing a card game called hand and foot, walking along the beach, Boardwalk, and the open air mall (Pacific Arden, I think?). It was a lazy, low-key, relaxing, and simple vacation unlike any other I've ever had.

Recently, Jamie (now living in Sacramento--it's amazing how much distance 120 miles can feel like after spending four solid years seeing someone every day) and I were on the phone and she said "Mom told me the most amazing thing over the weekend, Ocean Granny is turning 90 this month!". Ninety. Neither of us had any idea she was anywhere near ninety. (Mind you, she's still cooking, tap dancing, card playing, and sharp as a tack. She came to our college graduation and kept up with all of us without batting an eye. Whatever she's done to stay that healthy, I want to know).

So--why am I telling you all about her and this milestone birthday? A ninetieth birthday calls for a knitted scarf, appropriately light for the Santa Cruz winter (usually not less than 65 degrees, from what I hear...?).

It's the Lace Spiral Scarf by Gail Owens, from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. I hope the color suits her, it's Kid Merino Print in Painted Iris.

Happy birthday, Ocean Granny!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An elegant evening on the BEST Bosses in the WORLD!!

I think I have mentioned once or twice how much I LOVE my job! Here I am on the day after a night to remember. Laura and Doug thank us every holiday season for just doing our jobs and having tons of fun all year. It is so wonderful to be appreciated and I thought you all might like to see some pictures of us having an amazing time last night, at the Harrah's Steakhouse and boy did we feel like a royal party of knitter's! The food and service was fabulous and the company was great
(but I am partial to my co-workers/friends :) so the bottom line is we were treated to an amazing thank you by the Zanders!!!

I need to go backwards for a bit to explain the culmination of months of work by all the little beans here at the shop to create a thank you to them for all they do for us! We an amazing bag of samples of one of my favorite yarns, Merino Ribbon, by Mountain Colors. It was full of little bits of so many colors that we just couldn't pass up doing something with it. There was even a day when Laura asked me, 'hey what's that?' and I answered, 'get away from that it's for something that you can't know about' (hee, hee) For a second she gave me a look that said, EXCUSE me, but then moved on to something else. In late June we had a knit night to talk about ideas to the yarn and who would do what with the project. Sandy came up with a simple but elegant design and wound the yarn up in a flowing color progression. She began with the first repeat and then we passed it around from bean to bean for months, until this last weekend Sandy and I finished it up with a few beads, blocking and a handmade by: label. Phew, that was a lot of work, but well worth it, hmmmmm will they like it? You know how it is when you make something for someone and of course there is the Laura/brown factor to consider. We all worked on it in some way, even Karla (who hasn't learned to knit, added some of herself to the project) Here is Sandy teaching her to knit using a Nursery Rhyme she knows,
1. Under the Fence
2. Gather the Sheep
3. Down they come
4. Off they leap

This was so neat that I luckily had my camera to get a quick shot. Amber knit a row too, with some trepedation, but I stood over her with size 35 needles, hee hee!

Here are some of us with our guests:

Karla and Emanuel

Below, Kristen and Nick, Right, Victoria and John

Below, Amber and Chris, Right, Amanda and Shane

Below, Heather and Justin, Right, (way down at the end) Amanda and Allison (Happy birthday Allison :), Below right corner, Sandy and Bill! What a good looking group!

Here are the Zanders opening their special thank you from us.

So here's thanking the Zanders for all you do for us! We appreciate you more than you can ever know!