Sunday, November 30, 2008

We got home from visiting my parents for Thanksgiving late last night.

For the trip I packed 3 projects, the Lady Eleanor stole, My So Called Scarf and the yarn for a clapotis. I brought the clapotis just in case I finished the stole while at my parents. I did not touch the stole whatsoever. When you add DD and all the breakable collectibles my mom has in every room of the house you literally get a bull in a fine china shop. Add to that we forgot her portable crib and I spent two evening sitting and laying beside her on a floor I had to limit my knitting to something small and easily put down. The scarf is now half way complete.

I showed my mom what I'm working on and she thought they were nice. She mentioned knitting is something she never learned to do but I think she could pick it up because she crochets. She still has a blanket she made for me over 30 years ago. She sews, too. She made window treatments for her house that look professional. I think she might like getting back into crocheting (and maybe even start knitting). She can sit in front of the TV and do it. Plus, with her volunteer work at the shelter, she could make blankets to give away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last night, as part of my big clean out, I organized my yarn stash bin. I grouped my yarn by projects, placed them in a zip lock bag, then labeled the bag with the yarn stats and intended project. I also printed the projects and placed it into the bin. I have room in the bin for 2 or 3 more projects. There is one more project I'm going to put in my bin but it can wait for now.

We had some network problems at work. My boss told me to go out for lunch because it wasn't going to be fixed any time soon. I took the Lady Eleanor stole to my local Starbucks and had a gingerbread latte while I did a some knitting. The stole received attention from a couple of ladies sitting beside me. I think they were sincere when they called it lovely and gorgeous. One of the ladies commented that the knitting must keep me calm. It does. Whenever I knit I am in my happy place.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, I was able to get to the Janome dealer and take a look and "test drive" of the Janome Jem 760 Platinum. I am pleased with what I saw. First, because it is designed to be so, it is lightweight and portable. It comes standard with a start/stop button where it is optional on the Bernina 230 and, I believe, not available on the Bernette 82c. While having one isn't required, after using one during the test drive, I see where it enhances the sewing experience. It comes with a needle up/down option and, what I think is cool, a push button bind-off feature. The sales rep who assisted me (who was very nice) put together several strips of fabric to show me the machine will handle thickness without missing a beat, it is a powerful machine. The Janome isn't as quiet or smooth as the Bernina, but, for now, that is not important. My one complaint is it is a little convoluted to make a stitch selection, however, since my main stitch will be straight stitch and the machine defaults to that when turned on that too is not a real issue. I think the Janome is the machine for me. I may want a Bernina next year but I would rather buy this machine and find out I'm not too keen on sewing instead of making an investment on the Bernina and coming to the conclusion sewing is not for me. The Janome is at the right price point where I wouldn't feel I was throwing money away if I upgraded to a Bernina, plus, because it is made as a portable machine, I can take it with me on trips and to classes.

Now we come to why I will not be buying it from the dealer where I did the test drive. This can be summed up to poor customer service. There was another sales assistant who acted like she just couldn't be bothered with me. When I walked in, she was on the phone. I understand that she was in a conversation and probably could not end the call but there was no acknowledgement whatsoever. She didn't look at me, she looked through me, turned around and walked out of the room. But, I wasn't quite ready to give up on it mainly because of the sales assistant who came to show me all the features. I got fed up today when I called the shop to inquire about the price and availability of the machine. The woman I spoke to, and I think it was the same one because I would hate to think they had two rude people working at the shop, treated me like it was a waste of her time to speak to me on the phone. Now I am considering either purchasing the machine from another Janome dealer that is about 45 minutes away or buying the Bernina which is twice as much as the Janome but the SA was nice.

To any yarn or sewing or crafting shop I would say this:
Forty to fifty years ago, sewing and knitting was a necessity. Women had to know how to do these things to clothe their families and decorate their homes. Now, women -- and some men -- do it as a way to relax and express themselves. In other words, it is not a necessity. We are in the middle of a recession and the first things to go will be what is not necessary. If we decide to spend money on our pasttimes we take a long hard look at who we give that money to. So, the next time I walk into your shop, I'm not saying you have to bow at my feet, look at me and act like you want me to spend my money at your establishment. A little customer service and respect goes a long way.
I got more knitting done than I expected. DD is sick, so I didn't think I would get any done. But, she went down for a short nap which allowed me to finish one row on the stole. My distraction then was DS wanting to play with my yarn and using my knitting needles as swords.

After both children were down for the night, I was able to complete another row on the stole. After I finished the row I knit 5 or 6 rows on My So-Called Scarf.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Between DD's cold and my pounding headache I didn't think I was going to do any knitting, but, the siren song of the Lady Eleanor called to me. I must knit. I got about half way through a row when I decided to call it quits and come to bed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tonight, I went over to JL's house for wine, pizza and knitting. I brought Little Bear with me while DH stayed at home and had quality time with Punkywunks. For the most part, the kids kept themselves busy eating, playing and watching movies. JL and I were actually able to get some knitting done. I almost did a full row on the stole before LB hit the wall and it was time to go. He does this weird hyperactive thing when he gets really tired. I completed the row after DH got him down for the night. I don't think I'm going to have the knitting complete by Thanksgiving, I'll be close but this is probably going to be knit on during Thanksgiving dinner.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Updated Lady Eleanor Progress Photos

Following all the advice I've read and heard, I bought Zip-Loc bags for my yarn stash. I wrote the name of the yarn on the bag and plan to print out the pattern for which the yarn is slated and place that in the bag.

On my sticks
Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole
I finally took some updated photos of the Lady Eleanor stole. I don't think the photos quite capture how beautiful this is. I love it.

Lady Eleanor Entrelac Flat

Lady Eleanor Flat
Lady Eleanor Entrelac Folded
Lady Eleanor Folded

My So Called Scarf
The rosella is knitting up nicely. I am pleased with how this is turning. What I like most is this is an instant gratification project. After knitting for an hour I can see definite progress. This is the result of knitting on it for two lunches. It will take me a week or two to complete. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to block it.

My So Called Scarf Rosella

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm going to wait on posting. I'm charging the camera battery and tomorrow I'm going to take lots of pictures of my new yarn, progress so far on the Lady Eleanor stole and how the scarf in rosella.

There was a package waiting for me when I got home. It was the yarn needed to make the Kusha Kusha scarf.
Not much knitting related happened today. The biggest thing was I forgot my knitting bag at home and had something close to withdrawal symptoms because I couldn't knit at lunch.

The Lady Eleanor stole has outgrown the haiku bag. I moved it to the larger knitting bag. I lost the battle and cast-on My So Called Scarf with the rosella. This is now in the haiku and will be my portable project for taking to work.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am finding hard to stop myself from casting on with the merino I had skeined Saturday. I want to cast on the rosella to see how it knits up and I would like to do an instant satisfaction project like My So Called Scarf.

Last night, DH and the kids came with me to knit night. JL brought A and Miss Monkeypants with her. We had a nice turnout of eight people. I got very little knitting done. Maybe two rectangles.

Later, as I sat on the couch and knit, DH came down and asked me how much yarn costs? That's a hard question to answer. One could spend as little as $2.00 and as much as $150 (probably more) per skein. I told him how much it cost for the Noro Silk Garden I bought for the Lady Eleanor which was a little over $8.00 for a skein. In my opinion, much of the cost of knitting isn't the materials but the time I put into knitting. He then said I could probably go to a department store and buy something like what I'm knitting; why would I knit? From Macy's to Neiman Marcus, I have never seen anything that looks like an entrelac stole. Yes, I could buy a scarf from a store, that is not the point to knitting. I knit mainly because I like it. Second, because I have connected with a group of other knitters, and because of that, find myself getting out more for social gatherings. And, third, I know what I like and want, many times when I want something I may find a style but not a color and or material to my liking; now, I can just knit it up.

On my sticks
Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole (Noro Silk Garden)
I am half way through with the stole. It is gorgeous. I am very happy with it. Usually, I start to doubt myself and question my choices but not with this. I can't wait for it to be complete.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My day started with yarn. First, I went to the post office to pick up a package. It contained 6 skeins of 100 pure wool worsted merino in 2 colorways Ravena and Rosella. They are very similar to the pictures on the website. Maybe the Ravena is a little brighter than I was expecting but I am still satisfied. It is going to make a beautiful clapotis. Like the Malabrigo worsted it is single ply and oh so soft. DH asked me how getting more yarn helps me towards my goal of not adding to the stash. But this yarn had already been factored into the goal when I made it. And, except for the Habu Textiles yarn I ordered last week, I've stuck to it.

We then went to the library where I returned books then picked up a few more on eco friendly living and quilts. As an aside, I didn't know this, quilters have stash, too.

Later in the day, DH and Little Bear (DS) were sitting on the couch playing video games. I had just put Punkywunks down for a nap and went downstairs to be with them and get some knitting done. DH suggested we go for a drive around 3:30 hoping DS would fall asleep in the car. Since he had no place particular in mind, I suggested a yarn shop (of course). DS made it clear he had no interest in going to a yarn shop and, "I should just go by [myself]." I would not be put off so easily. Eventually DH decided he was going to take a nap, too. I then resorted to bribing DS with apple juice and peppermint patties as well as a promise to stop by Starbucks and get him vanilla milk. That did the trick. We were at the yarn shop 15 minutes later.

We went to Capital Yarns which has the friendliest staff. What I like most about this shop is the knowledgeable sales staff. When I told the sales associate who was helping me the problems I was having working with alpaca she showed me some Berroco and Alpaca with a Twist that would work much better. My next alpaca project will definitely be the Berroco. They wound up 4 skeins of yarn that I did not purchase from them for a small fee. The sitting area is child friendly. It was enough to keep DS occupied while the yarn was wound. I spoke to the owner about carrying Malabrigo and she said she is considering it. In the end, I bought only some darning needles and a row counter to round out my knitting accessories; again, they cost slightly more than on-line or a big box store but is worth it because I want them to stay around as long as possible.

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is going to be quick because I had a rather long day starting with a flat tire on the way to work. I was fortunate that a couple in the car next to me pointed it out and were nice enough to follow me to a gas station to make sure I got there okay. I'm sorry I won't be able to thank them. And, DH was wonderful. He left work to pick me up and drive me in to the office. It probably took 45 minutes to an hour out of his day. Through it all, I had my knitting with me. It did keep me calm, just having it near.

I did some more searching for a namaste knitting bag. I found one for a good price. I don't remember where now. I had it in my cart and was about to get it when I did a quick calculation; $60 is enough Malabrigo to make a decent size wrap or vest. That would be taking away from my stash money, I would rather have the yummy yarn. Now, if someone would like to get me either a Laguna or Malibu bag by Namaste in charcoal or saddle for Hannukah or Christmas, that would be the sweetest thing.

On my sticks
Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole in Noro Silk Garden
I joined in the fourth skein of yarn. It is now up to either 16 or 17 rows and too big for me to attempt standing while knitting. I hope to have this finished, at least cast-off with ends woven, before Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today was a gray, cold, rainy day. But, my day was brightened by having pho with JL. Of course, we brought our knitting. She's working on a beautiful Christmas gift made of Malabrigo lace. I'm still working on the Lady Eleanor, I am almost halfway there and about to join in the fourth ball of yarn. For me, this is going fairly fast. I told her she's a better person than I am because there is no way I would give something made of Malabrigo lace to anyone. Unless, it was another knitter who could appreciate he quality material and time. Then again, I wouldn't knit something for another knitter I would give her yarn. I couldn't imagine what I would do to someone if he (or she) threw the gift knitted from Malabrigo into the washing machine. I know it would involve some rather unpleasantness involving a circular needle.

I have finally chosen a sewing machine. Don't worry DH, I will not be getting it until I get rid of a lot of stuff and finish 3 or 4 knitting projects. At this rate, I won't be getting a machine until Spring of 2009. Then I'll have to change my blog name. Any suggestions? Email me at honeybearknits [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Last night I said I was going to practice continental before working on the stole but what really happened was I was really, really sleepy and decided to jump into bed and go unconscious instead.

Tonight, I was good. Punkywunks went down earlier than usual and I took that time to knit. I put on the Sticks 'n String podcast by David Reidy and sat down to finish a row of entrelac on Lady Eleanor. I have recently started listening to this podcast. I'm catching up on his previous episodes; I am now up to Season 3: Local Knitting. What I like about his site is two to three years ago, like me, he took up knitting after not doing it for a long time.

Today I did a search for naturally dyed and/or organic yarns (I don't know if they are considered the same). A couple of my hits have already been profiled as a Lime 'n Violet Etsy Store of the Day so there is no need to mention them here. Go over to the Daily Chum and look around.

For knitters looking for a variety of wool and silk free knitting products I found Knit For Brains
From their website...
Knit for Brains is a shop dedicated to yarn fiends who steer clear of wool, but crave fibers that feel delicious.
Our goal here is to make the growing variety of wool alternatives available to needleworkers far and wide. At Knit for Brains you will find yarns made from organic cotton, bamboo, soy, and more: all renewable fibers that are a dream to work with. Whether you're vegan, allergic, or just antsy to try something different, you will find plenty of wool alternatives and project ideas here.

Here is a knitter I wish to emulate. She is dedicating 2008 to busting her stash. Paraphrasing her post on January 1, she will not buy any (none, nada, zip) yarn during 2008. She is only knitting from what she already has on hand. Check her out at A Little Yarn on the Side.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Before I work on the Lady Eleanor stole I am going to practice knitting continental style. I'm hoping it will increase my speed. I'm not sure it's going to work because I have a hard time doing anything with my left hand. At the rate I'm going now it takes me an hour to do a row of rectangles, it would be nice if I could get that down to 30 to 45 minutes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm happy to announce my blog readership has doubled from one to two. Now, along with JL, DH is reading my blog.

Today, my boss was visiting my office. I was in meetings all day. Plus, when she's here for the day she shares my office with me. I like her and even though I know she sometimes knit I don't want to knit in front of her. To give her some privacy for a meeting today I ate lunch away from the office. I went to the local pho restaurant to eat. I took my knitting in with me and got a couple of rectangles knit on the stole after I finished my soup.

When I arrived at home tonight I found my Yarn Market order waiting for me. It wasn't anything big, all I did was finally order Scarf Style and a crochet hook needed for Lady Eleanor. Yes, I've been using a library copy all this time with every intention of buying the book.
DH and I went to a play tonight. I brought my Haiku bag with me just in case I got an opportunity to knit. The play was rather tedious. Nothing against the actors but given the plot of the play without the context of society in which it was written it was hard to empathize with the characters. And, it was a comedy, not in itself a bad thing just the jokes are said as jokes. The point? During a scene change I whispered to my husband I was going to take out my knitting. He gave me what I could only describe as "the look of death". Possibly because we are only two rows from the stage and the actors would see me knitting. He didn't protest when I knit during intermission.

I went to check out sewing machines today. DH agreed to it because if we can strap DS down in the car long enough he'll fall asleep. The first place I went to see Janome sewing machines is closed on Sunday. The Quilt Patch was 5 minutes away so we went there instead. They are a Bernina only dealer. I have to say that although I was overwhelmed with the machines and all the choices (when did this get complicated) the SA was friendly and patient and showed me every feature available. When I expressed interest in the 82c she explained to me why I should get a higher end model even though it cost a little more (maybe a couple hundred dollars); mainly because after a short time I may find the 82c limiting and frustrating. She didn't attempt to do an insane upsell, she kept my novice level and budget in mind and for that I thank her. She suggested one of the Bernina Activa models, possibly the PE (patchwork edition) because I do want to use it for quilting and home decorating projects. She showed me the Aurora 440 QE knowing I wasn't going to buy it; that is how nice she is. The 440 has the BSR which is amazing, it is a sensor which makes the needle only moves while the fabric is moving, great for free hand quilting. If I did quilting as a side job, definitely something I would consider. One thing I can say about all the Berninas she showed me, they sew like buttah. They make me want to find something to sew. I'm going to hold off getting a machine for a couple of months. There's a lot of knitting I want to finish and some other things I want to get rid of before I get a machine and sewing cabinet taking up space in the house.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eat.Sleep.Knit Rocks

I have to give a shout out to the owners of Eat.Sleep.Knit for exchanging the extra Malabrigo for me. I did a miscalculation when I bought the Malabrigo worsted for the second Lady Eleanor stole. I didn't pay attention that a skein of Malabrigo is twice the size of a skein of Noro Silk Garden and ended up with 5 (possibly 6) skeins more than necessary. No, problem. They were nice enough to let me send back the applewood in exchange for blue graphite.

Because of PurlBee and their gorgeous quilts, I started researching sewing machines. I haven't touched a sewing machine since high school. A lot has changed. A basic sewing machine under $200 that doesn't fall apart if it's looked at cross-eyed does not exist. I got in my head somehow that Bernina makes a good sewing machine. Why, yes, they do. At $3,500 I cannot justify buying it unless I'm going to make a second income from it. I did find the Janome 760, it is perfect for my needs. A great price, powerful, small, and portable. Every review I've read about it is mostly positive.

I got a message from JL this evening indicating that perhaps she visited a yarn shop and maybe something came home with her. You know how these things just fall into a shopping basket. My answer to her question is, "No, lace does not count as stash."

Friday, November 7, 2008

I wish knitting designers did more on-line/pdf publishing. It would be great if the knitting books I use were available on-line because; one, I could easily print out a pattern instead of lugging the book around; two, I could also have the instant gratification of downloading the pattern instead of waiting for it to be delivered by UPS; and three, as my tastes change I would no longer have a book taking up space in my home or a landfill.

Today, I learned my boss knits sometimes. I showed her my set of Knit Picks Harmony interchangeable needles and she was intrigued. Another convert to knitting obsession, perhaps?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I discovered something good about the Haiku bag fitting one large project at a time. It carries all my notions, keys, wallet and water bottle, which is excellent. Yet, because of its size it forces me to finish a project before I start another. I am avoiding the dreaded start-itis. And, I would rather spend the money on yarn instead of a knitting bag.

I have fallen in-love with yet another online yarn shop. The newest object of my affection is Purl SoHo. If such a phrase existed I would call them a home arts/textiles shop. Everything is at the store and not a little bit of everything, everything. They have both yarn (knitting, crochet, felting) and fabric (quilting). The blog seals the deal.

On my sticks
Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole I - Noro Silk Garden
I'm moving faster than I thought I would on the stole. Last night I joined in the third ball of yarn. It is up to about 11 rows now. I'm afraid I might have a bad skein of Noro Silk Garden, the thread feels loose and I've been particularly careful to knit loosely because I'm afraid it is going to pull apart or snap. I showed the stole to DH, he asked how did I decide which colors I would put beside each other on the stole.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For anyone who may have been vacationing on Mars for the past two years, yesterday was an historical Election Day in the U.S. The prediction was voter turnout would be high and lines would be long. I went to the polls prepared. I slung my Haiku bag messenger style and pulled out the Lady Eleanor stole to knit. I was probably the only person in line hoping for a long wait. Lady E received some attention. One volunteer said it was pretty while another called it pretty. There was no long line for me, I was out in about 30 minutes.

Another bag rationalization:
As the Lady E. stole gets bigger I have moved my other projects out of my knitting bag. I really need a Namaste Cali Malibu or Laguna bag in charcoal.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I didn't get the extra hour of sleep I was hoping to get because while the rest of the country observes Daylight Saving my four-year-old does not. At 6:30 this morning someone was ready to start his day. I eventually went downstairs to watch Playhouse Disney. He watched, I knit. I am convinced my yarn has a secret kiddie magnet in it somewhere; whenever I take it out he has to scrunch it. I remind myself that I should not put him into time out for touching my yarn.

At the last minute, I went to the monthly Ravelry meet-up. DH wanted to spend some quality time with our daughter and I volunteered to take our son with me since JL was bringing Monkey with her. They were very well behaved. We distracted them with food and movies.

We had a great time even though there wasn't that big of a turnout. That's to be expected during football season. It was me, JL, and another Raveler. Oops! I forgot her name. I can tell you this about her. She's very nice. She loves the color green. And, she knows how to do magic loop (she demonstrated it for us). She wore her clapotis (I LOVE) and showed me her Kureyon hat (cute and love that too). And, she told me how to block and soften my Lady E once it is ready. I may have been inappropriate with her bamboo yarn, but it was so soft I had to molest it. She has a Namaste Cali Laguna knitting bag which I've been lusting over since the first time I saw it. I am making rationalizations here. I technically do not have a knitting bag. I have a re-purposed diaper bag and the Haiku messenger bag but no "made as a knitting bag" knitting bag. And, the Namaste is great for travel. Where I can only carry what's on the needles I can carry the project and extra skeins in the Namaste.

I have borrowed several books from the library. I borrowed the Vogue Knitting Volume 2 cables stitchionary because I'm looking for the perfect cable pattern to graft onto the Lady Eleanor malabrigo. This is now on my purchase list. I borrowed Vogue Knitting to go: Shawls Two because I love the idea of wrapping myself in yarny goodness. While I was not crazy about the first book, I found 5 patterns in this one I would like to make. And, I borrowed a couple of knitting for children books because I would like a little more variety in my daughter's wardrobe. There is only so much pink I can take.

Gmail Account Ready

I created an email account. You can contact me at honeybearknits [at] gmail [dot] com.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On my sticks
Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole I
Tonight, I was able to get a good bit of knitting done on the stole. I joined in a second skein. I didn't know this about Noro but although my skeins are all from the same dye lot the color each skein begins with can be different. That's kind of cool.