Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Riding into Paris Now...


I might be ending the Tour de France knit-a-long late but at least I'm rolling into Paris without a bad crash. The Mon Cheri Baby Sweater is finished (and almost completely dry)! I finished the second sleeve this morning at 9:30 AM. I'm pretty much loving it!! It came out great. I already wrote the note to go in the package. I have some pink tissue paper in a box - once it is dry, everything will be packed and shipped off to that gorgeous little baby. YAY!

I also cut out the pattern for the dress. I'm planning on making style B first - the bottom right one on the envelope. I have some brown and pink fabric I'm going to use for the main part of the dress and brown linen for the panels and waistband. I also placed an order for some pink and green fabrics today for another version of this dress. I need to iron the fabric and then I can being cutting everything out. Sewing will be done over the weekend probably!

And in my crafting frenzy, I finished one sleeve for the revised version of my Minimalist Cardigan. I couldn't quite inspire myself to cast on the second sleeve. (Am I going to start dreaming of sleeves? It's entirely possible...) The cast on will definitely be part of my day tomorrow.

For now, I'm off to rest, play with the pup and partake in Law and Order....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sometimes Nothing to Look at is Truly Something


I have this dress pattern calling my name. The hurdle I need to get over is cutting out the pattern pieces. Playing with that thin paper while sweating in the kitchen sans ceiling fan is just not my idea of fun. (Shocking I know!) Now, this pattern doesn't look like much I know. Kind of dated. Not particularly attractive. It certainly didn't call my name. BUT.... if you look at this and this, you see it can be something cute. Erin's success is totally my reasoning for buying this pattern. So, I'm hoping to cut out the pieces soon... like maybe tomorrow night. Then I can make this over the weekend for sure!

Tonight is reserved for that darn little sleeve on the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater. I have about 1/4 of it done currently and am determined now. It's.so.close I can taste it. (But then I'd definitely have cotton mouth. Yuck!)
I embroidered the flower on during Army Wives on Sunday. Of course I gotta multi-task like that... story of my life! I'm pretty happy with the flower... you know, anything I do could always be better but overall it came out great. So, I just need to finish that cute baby sleeve and do a little blocking. Then off to Ellie it goes!

All of these things are a great diversion from the project I'm totally itching to begin. My Ravelympics project is just calling my name. I'm making a version of this scarf and I really wanna play with the yarn. I hope 8-8-08 gets here soon!

Ahh, you know life is good when the juggling you are doing is which project should be on your plate now!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I so get sucked into these things....

Free time + sitting in front of the computer + reading someone else's thoughts on these questions = meme for Stacy

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
I think dreaming about my future is an apt description. I was in graduate school, applying for assistantships and hoping against hope to get something to help me pay for the education that ensured I could find a poorly paying job in my field. I got said assistantship and even managed to work with friends.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
1.) Cast on the final sleeve of the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater.
2.) Go buy fruit from the lovely produce stand man a block away.
3.) Hold an efficient meeting this afternoon. It is supposed to last 30 minutes and by dog gone, I'd like it to only be that long!
4.) Cook the gorgeous ears of corn that are in my fridge for dinner! Yum!
5.) Cut out the pattern for my next sewing project.

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Chocolate is divine! I've been having a hankering for yogurt lately. Strawberries can be a lovely treat. Oh, and I do like Laffy Taffy.... there has been some in the office lately and it is evil.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Secure my future through my TIAA-CREF account, follow my passion out of my current job and perhaps into writing or crafting or maybe even academic advising, support (more) my favorite charities, endow a scholarship, buy a cottage-y home and decorate it accordingly (including paint the walls - apartment living with white walls means I long for more color), adopt a wee one and buy tons of squeaky toys for Rosy.

5) Places I have lived:
Buffalo and Fredonia, NY; Kirksville, MO; Erie, PA; Silver Spring and Bethesda, MD; Danbury, CT; Philadelphia, PA

6) Jobs I have had:
Desk attendant at a fitness center, Academic Advisor, Residence Hall Director, Fraternity/Sorority Advisor, Sorority HQ staff member

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Closer to Fine....


The Mon Cheri Baby Sweater is coming along.... I just bound off the one sleeve. I put the buttons on as a break from the stupid DPNs. I thought about letting little Ellie start a new baby fashion craze of one sleeved sweaters but I'm pretty sure my friend Julie wouldn't buy into that. So, another sleeve is in my immediate future, followed by some embroidery and blocking. I'm looking forward to getting this little thing completed and mailed to the darling wee one!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Now We Are Cooking!

Today was an absolutely lovely day! I was able to wake up a little later than normal, knit a bit, and then run some errands. I went to the farmer's market in my neighborhood. I bought some locally grown sweet corn, a cantaloupe and a cucumber. The cantaloupe is already balled and ready to eat, as is the cucumber. I feel so lucky to have such a close farmers market to buy stuff at. I always prefer to support local growers and love getting fresher items.

I also stopped by the new location of my LYS, The Tangled Web. The new location is so beautiful.... bamboo floors, two floors and plenty of great knitting space. I definitely need to start going to the Friday knitting nights. I bought a skein of red yarn to start on a Christmas gift and some DPNs in yet another size. The yarn is a pure red, even if it doesn't look like it here. I'm itching to start knitting something else....

Speaking of which, the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater and I spent some quality time together today. After frogging back a little yesterday when I realized my knitting gauge was tighter than my knit/purl gauge, I made up for it today. The first sleeve in almost done and tomorrow I'm hoping to (at least) get 50% of the second sleeve done. So, it might not be completely done before the Tour ends but it should be darn close.

I also went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for my pasta sauce: onion, garlic, sauce base and mushrooms. I already had ground turkey, tomatoes and oregano. It is such a wonderful way to use the home grown tomatoes from my colleague and yields enough sauce to freeze some for later times. I also put a few shredded baby carrots in. They are an ingredient you can't taste but help sneak in additional nutrients. My recipe is so hodge podge... I throw things in, taste, and then repeat. I'm pretty much always happy with the outcome luckily. The afternoon was spent simmering this delish sauce.

I was talking to my mom this afternoon and was marveling at how pleased my father, who made a wonderful pasta sauce, would be that I am experimenting with my own recipe. He may no longer be with us but so much of him is with me, including my little cooking concoction.

My friend Katie came over in the mid-afternoon for our sewing lesson. We made a wrap skirt for her out of some cute maroon and cream fabric. For her first sewing project, I think she did amazing! The only thing I really did was the button hole. She had on a black top that she tried with the skirt and I thik it will be a cute and stylish outfit. I don't think she has completely caught the sewing bug yet but it might happen soon!

Katie stayed for spaghetti dinner. She had brought a salad and bread with her so we really had a delicious and filling spread. Luckily, she also brought dessert! Strawberries with chocolate was the perfect compliment to our dinner.

My knitting became coffee "table art" this evening (along with part of the basket my mother made). I enjoy this little burst of color calling me back to my knitting. Even though it is late, I might still go back to it for a little bit.....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Am I "In Style?"


So, I was flipping through my August In Style on the plane to Long Beach last week and came across this page. I immediately gravitated to the sweater I have circled. I thought it looked comfortable and warm yet fashionable enough. (I also really like the one next to it.) And as I thought about it and looked at it more, I realized I already own this sweater. It's essentially the Minimalist Cardigan from Interweave Knits Fall 2007. Of course mine is light blue and made from a cotton blend, not wool. Mine has no pockets. Mine also cost less and was made with my own two hands. That very moment I realized I'm truly a knitter. And, fashionable to boot.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Triumph!


Woohoo!! I feel so good right now. I was able to bind off the body of the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater tonight!! I need to do the sleeves, embroidery and put the buttons on still but I am so glad to have finished the body. Here's thinking it is entirely possible to finish the sleeves before the end of the Tour.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I've been busy....

Sorry, I have been so absent! Between my trip to Long Beach and having a bad headache yesterday, life has been busy! I'm now back on my feet and catching up.

Long Beach was amazing! It was great to see my friend and meet her kiddos for the first time. The program I facilitated on Saturday went great. I received some good feedback and plan to tweak the agenda a bit from there. Saturday night, I got to go to Downtown Disney and see the fireworks, eat fudge and experience the madness that is Libby Lu. Really, does life get better? Actually it does because for dinner that night I got In and Out. (I can't believe I almost forgot!) Their burgers and fries are so delish and always on my "to do list" in Southern California.

I did get some knitting done on the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater on the plane ride out. Funny, that work was almost for naught. I stayed in my friend's daughter's room, Hannah Montana bed and all. (Miley was very well behaved, thank you very much.) The two girls were in there playing when Cassie went to check on them. Well, the youngest, who is 3, found my knitting and must have thought it looked like fun (smart girl, I know!). Nothing got unraveled but there was a brief moment of panic (more on Cassie's part than mine as I figure everything can be re-knit). The same girl also discovered my make-up - I just know this child is going to be crafty and beautiful! I have about 2 inches of sweater left. Then sleeves, embroidery and buttons and it will be ready to mail out.

I finished my linen pants. They came out pretty good, although a little big. I guess the joy of drawstrings is that you can make them fit. I also put one buttons on both pockets as an additional touch.... it also helps close up the gapping on the right pocket. (My right pocket always gapes....I should just sew them all shut.) Right now, they are sitting in my laundry basket because it seemed like the easiest method of getting the stray threads and fluff off them. So, hopefully they will debut some time later this week. Now, I have to figure out what dress pattern I'm tackling next....

Yesterday, I received the yarn I ordered from Webs. I bought this amazingly beautiful Malabrigo Geranio (I love Malabrigo!) to make a copy of the scarf Carrie wears in the SATC movie. It's wide, cabled and seed stitched and should offer me a good challenge for Ravelympics. I'm so looking forward to casting on. Actually, even rolling the hanks into balls is exciting right now because I want to play with that yarn....

I think I'm teaching a sewing "class" for my friend this Saturday. She wants to learn to sew and I guess I'm the best free teacher around. (Smirk) We are starting with an A-line skirt, both for its simpleness and her desire for more skirts in her wardrobe. I sent her a list of things to buy and hopefully all will come out okay. Wish me (or perhaps her?) luck!

Oh, and guess what my co-worker brought in today??? Beautiful, ripe, and tasty tomatoes! I had one for dinner. Delicious! I think I will probably make a small batch of pasta sauce this weekend with these. I can't wait... if only it was Friday.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

That Delicious Waldorf Salad


So, I finished that wonderful Waldolf Salad yesterday. It was so darn good I'm thinking I need to buy more apples soon. I probably eat two servings in one serving BUT it's delish and mostly made of things that are good for me. For those interested, the recipe is rather easy.

The ingredients for my mom's Waldorf Salad:
Two and three apples, depending on size
About 1/3 cup raisins
About 1/3 cup walnuts
Shredded carrots (I typically shred about 5 to 6 baby carrots)
Grapes (optional)
About 1/3 cup of light mayonnaise

Combine raisins, walnuts and shredded carrot in a bowl. Add grapes if you are using them. Cut apple into small pieces. Add mayo and mix until all apples are covered. You might need to add more or less mayo, depending on how much apple is in your salad. Let it sit in your refrigerator for at least two hours so that the raisins plumb slightly. This should make about 5 to 6 servings. The salad is normally good for about three days.

Enjoy!


Tomorrow I get my whole plane ride to CA to knit! Granted, I'll probably watch some stuff on the iPod and read too. But quality knitting time is in my future (and a day off from work!) and I can't wait. I hope to have a lot of progress on the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater to report on come Monday.

Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Order of Motivation. Yes, I'll have the fries with that.


My motivation over the past couple of days has not been high. I haven't even really been into my sewing really (GASP!). I started cutting out the pattern for my brown linen drawstring pants and kind of fizzled after the first piece. So, everything is spread out on the kitchen table giving me a little bit of a guilt complex. It not really that messy but I had to eat in the living room tonight. Sewing Central should really involve sewing if it is going to displace me from my eating spot. I remind myself that sewing is supposed to be stress relieving and not doing it shouldn't be a cause of stress.

This has just been a rough week. I haven't been sleeping well - not sure why. Rosy was under the weather (she's doing better now... greeting me at the door and playing again. Woohoo for that!!). I know I'm going away this weekend and I had to prepare for my workshop. I'm one of the few people at work so it's quiet, which was nice at first but got boring fast.

This weekend's trip will be fun. I'm going to California to facilitate a program. But I'm staying with a friend, meeting her kids for the first time and seeing a couple of other friends. And I have the entire cross country flights to knit! The program is all planned and should be pretty low maintenance. And, perhaps In and Out is in my future....I can only hope! So really it should be a wonderful trip.

Anywho, I have made a little more progress on the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater (as I type that, I always say it out loud with an incredibly poor French accent. The French would so kick me out of their country!). The little thing is coming along - Ellie might even have it before her first birthday! (Yes, the kiddo is only 1 1/2 months old. I just feel like I'm moving rather slowly.) I am hoping to jump (pedal perhaps?) forward this weekend.

And maybe next week I'll have my mojo back too....

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hello to Arms!

Finally we are passed where we put the arm stitches on scrap yarn. I'm fully aware this shouldn't have taken so long.... I'm not really sure why it did. After all, it's a freaking baby sweater - they aren't that big. I'm just grateful to be there. I haven't had time to work on it today (Note to self: really must take a knitting lunch!) but anticipate moving along a little more tonight.

I've also turned my kitchen table back into sewing central. I cut out the pattern for the pants I'm making. The fabric I bought for a dress is in the dryer as I type. I plan to again set up the sewing machine tomorrow night! I've been missing that sucker - we've been separated since before June 23rd. I promise not to sing "Reunited and it feels so good...." After all, I like my dog and don't feel the need to torture her. Well, and my neighbors might report me for cruelty....

I've been pretty obsessed with my mom's Waldorf Salad lately.... really, five great ingredients all put together in a yummy bowl. I just made more tonight with the Macintosh apples that were sitting in my fridge. I can't wait to eat it! I'm pretty certain it might be one of the most perfect salads around with the healthiness of the carrots, apples, raisins and walnuts canceling out the negative points of the light mayo.

And lastly, here's a picture of the wine bottle smushed into a cheese tray. I think it will be perfect for my stepsister Karen for Christmas. I couldn't convince myself somehow that I needed one too but I think they are super cool.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pure (Weekend) Happiness

What a wonderful weekend! Yesterday, I baked these lovely scones. I got the recipe from Emily's blog. They are so delicious and just the thing to start my weekend with. I put a little less of a glaze on them but they are still wonderfully yummy. I do think next time, I would make a half recipe because it made a few too many for just me.

Then, I spent a bunch of time knitting. The Mon Cheri Baby Sweater is plugging away. I don't have recent photo for some reason... tomorrow, I promise! In the afternoon, I headed out to meet up with my friend Katie and make a little journey to JoAnn's. I've been missing the sewing machine like mad and needed to get some fabric to feed my habit. (Hey, it's cheaper than crack and better for me too, right?) I got a couple of patterns as well. I have loads of brown linen so my plan is to make some drawstring pants and a little short sleeve jacket out of it. I also got some brown and pink fabric to make a dress. I've found my closet this year is overflowing with summer dresses, both ready and hand made. I would like another dress option for the week....plus, I have brown shoes I love that haven't gotten enough mileage this summer. And, I decided on yellow buttons for the Mon Cheri... They were the cutest baby-like ones on the buttons section. We also made a number of other little side trips.... Target, Wendy's for lunch and Blue Tulip. Good times!

Today was craft show day. I love love love a good craft show. Some of the stuff was really great.... I got a flattened wine bottle cheese tray for my stepsister's Christmas gift (We decided this is a great craft because you HAVE TO drink the alcohol first... really, no downside there), a green glass ring for me and some dried lavender with ribbon weaved in for my mom. I do think a bunch of the stuff was overpriced though. One of the jewelry vendors was selling necklaces for $120 and I think with beads, wire and labor, it was really only worth $50 to 60. I've become so much more a critic of that stuff since I've discovered how to make these things myself. There were also some sweaters that were SO not my style. Of course we mocked those. Since we are both knitters, we were fairly comfortable saying that a sweater vest made from acrylic blend is not worth $125.... Call us horrible people.

On a totally different note, my dog's allergies have been acting up. Yes, of course I have a dog with allergies. She gets super scratchy and ends up with tender skin that I have to clean. So, I've been prying her mouth open and shoving Benadryl down her throat (per vet's orders), gave her a bath and have been giving her more treats than normal. I hate when she doesn't feel good because I can't fix it. Today, we went to visit her cousins, my friend Alissa's dogs. She was totally fine there, not scratching like crazy. Now, she's all tired out. She did manage to con me out of money for a new toy before she passed out though.... it is a sheep so of course I couldn't say no!

Now, I'm just looking forward to watching TV, knitting and relaxing for the rest of the night.... I wish it wasn't the end of day on Sunday already. A longer weekend would offer me more opportunities to work all of these projects. Sometimes, work just gets in the way, you know?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Seeking Foreign Yarn Stores

I took my friend on a little adventure trying to find a yarn store in Venice. If you have ever been to Venice, you know that you do not find places but rather merely stumble upon them. The search seemed futile. So, instead we grabbed lunch (Gotta keep your energy up when searching for yarn, right?). We found this great little place with cheap sandwiches that were absolutely delicious - 5 euros for sandwich and Coke. We found some steps going into a canal that were not utilized.... and made it a great little picnic place. I actually had my friend take a picture of me enjoying the sandwich, it was that darn good. And, we finish and I turn in my seat and.... HALLELUJAH!!!! There, right there in front of me, was the LYS! I swear there were angels singing or something. I was practically orgasmic. The shop is a little place called Lellabella. The owner is a great woman (see her in the doorframe?) - she doesn't speak much English but is quite willing to pull out ALL of her merchandise to help you find what you are looking for. I finally (much to her happiness, I'm sure) settled on some gorgeous green cashmere. It not a lot - 220 yards.
Yarn, like everything else in Venice, is expensive. But it is beautiful and will knit up into some lovely little FO that will remind me of Italy every time I use it. Happiness! I am accepting suggestions of projects if you have something you think would be delicious when knit up in this yarn.

I'm also happy to report a little more progress on the Mon Cheri sweater. I knit yesterday morning before work and a little last night. (The only thing that made me stop was the headache I couldn't get rid of.) I am modifying the pattern and adding buttonholes. I'm thinking perhaps some teal, yellow or green buttons. (Thoughts?) I'm hoping to make serious progress tonight and this weekend. I keep getting more and more excited about this little gift for Ellie. The only thing tempering that excitement is the knowledge I will have to use the DPNs to do the sleeves. I so am not a DPN fan.

Oh, and guess what I came back to my desk to yesterday? I was in a work meeting...and when it was over and I went back to my desk, there was a cardboard box there for me. When I opened it, this was inside:

Now, it truthfully isn't as exciting as it looks. I had a bracelet being fixed by Tiffany for some sort of "defect" in the chain. I asked them to mail it back to me, as I wasn't sure when I would get to the store again. So, they put it in a new pouch and then placed everything in a box with ribbon and mailed it to me for free. Even though it was just my bracelet that I've had for years, the box seriously made my heart sing. What a fabulous little surprise to come back to after a work meeting!

I'm looking forward to a knitting, fabric shopping and craft show weekend. Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Woot woot!! I actually accomplished more of the Mon Cheri Baby Sweater tonight. I have been like a cyclist who fell off their bike before the first turn. I managed to hop back on... it just took a little while. I finished the collar (no hood for E - we don't want to hide that adorable face!) and have moved on to the body. I'm just feeling good to be pedaling... er I mean knitting... again. Jet lag can't keep me down sucker*!

Of course, I dig out the camera and my little love thinks she needs her picture taken. She truly is a sweet little thing and probably what I missed most while in Italy. Look at that face...she has totally spoiled me for other dogs.


* Note that I have obviously had too much sugar tonight...

Monday, July 7, 2008

The City of Lights.....

I could wax on about Italy and the wonders of this country of gelato, Caesar, fashion, aqueducts and pasta. It truly is a wonder… beautiful lands, wonderfully romantic language, relaxed pace, delicious wines and a willingness to fully embrace the world’s people. I feel I was able to see some remarkable sites, meet interesting people and delight in the culture.

However, in continuing to play catch up on my Tour de France knit-a-long, I am going to express my love for the City of Lights first. Paris: a truly remarkable city. I went for the first (and sadly only) time when I was 24 as part of a short two week backpacking trip with my friend Tina. I was the new recipient of a masters degree and was set to embark on my first position in “the real world.” Before that, Paris called. My most memorable moment in all of Paris was our second trip to the Eiffel Tower. We had gone during the day but determined that a night visit was also in order. On the first elevator, we started talking to an American couple riding with us. As it turns out, they had just gotten engaged! (Thank goodness this was before Tom Cruise ruined that romantic spot for me by offering a circus proposal to Katie Holmes there.) They had been together for about 15 years and were totally committed: raising children, living together and supporting each other in every way. Their children wanted them to marry. And so the man picked the Eiffel Tower as the spot where they would make yet another commitment to one another. This couple, with their beaming faces and excitement for a different but equally committed future, are forever linked with Paris in my mind.

As I think of the Tour during this KAL, it strangely does connect back to my Italian adventure. My friend Katy, whom I traveled with, approached the owner of the winery we visited about a possible job. The owner, Luigi, was equally enthusiastic and it looks like this very well might come to fruition. Katy is dating a cyclist, who would love to move to Italy and ride the hills of Tuscany each day. And, so my friend might become an expat and create a whole new reason for me to visit Tuscany. (And, PS, she wrote a funny blog entry on being a cyclist's partner...)

Even though the Tour de France is tied to France, in a small way it will remain connected to my Italian adventure in my mind forever. As much as I lovingly remember my time in France, Italy has changed me. And I am the better for it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tour de France KAL project

For the Tour de France knit a long, I am doing the Easy Baby Sweater for my friend J's new little mon cheri E. This little kiddio is beyond cute. Here's mom and baby....

I'm using Cotton Classic that I had left over from my first sweater.

I cast on this morning and haven't gotten too far...mostly because I'm a slacker and find relaxing and moving stuff around my apartment is more appealing right about now. However, I'm definitely feeling more excited about the project since I began. Ellie will look darling in it! Plus, I love that new project phase. It's kind of like a new love - exciting, new, different, challenging, fun, interesting and full of possibilities. And, I feel like this little sweater for this little darling might just be true love.

Le Tour....and slacker-ness

I'm doing the Tour de France KAL and have been a bit of a slacker in getting things started. Mind you, I did get home late on the 4th of July. Yesterday was dedicated to adjusting my inner clock, doing laundry (gosh, it is nice to have clean clothes again!) and unpacking. I have a lot to share about the trip but all in good time. Off to cast on!