Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

The view from my front door.
That my friends is snow. In Texas. On Christmas Eve.
All is right in my world and I am totally at peace. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Birthday Gift

The boy was unsure of what to get me for my birthday, so he got me a gift card from Jo Ann Fabrics.
You see I quickly learned when I started knitting (wow, 2 years ago) that knitting was not going to be a cheap little hobby.
So I devised a strategy. Yarn from LYS's and online, books and needles from Jo Anns and Michaels. I tend to lean more towards Jo Ann's because you can use your coupons on books and magazines. And anyone on Jo Ann's mailing list knows that those 40% off coupons come on almost a weekly basis and every 2-3 weeks the 50% off coupon!!
Well, you combine a $30.00 gift card, one 50% off coupon and four 40% off coupons and what do you get?

Happiness that's what you get. And you also get one skein of yarn so that at the last minute you can make your mother a Christmas gift.

This is the Little Bit of Oomph scarf from "The Yarn Girls Guide to Beyond the Basics".

If you're without a gift and you are pressed for time let me recommend this scarf. Chunky yarn, size 11 needles and a few hours later you have a gift!
All hail the yarn gods.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yarn Cakes, Cupcakes and Snow in Texas

Happy first week of December!!!
This morning I wrapped myself in my hand knitted scarf and popped my handknit beret on top of my head and opened the door to find that it was snowing in Texas!
It was amazing and beautiful and I was wrapped in all of my yarny goodness and I was absolutely happy.
So happy that I couldn't wait to get home and knit some more. Yes I am a big ole knitting geek and I am not ashamed.
The sad thing about being a Texas knitter is that winter only lasts about 3 weeks a year and those weeks aren't always at the same time, so you have to wear your wool when you can. Tomorrow it might be 90 degrees and I'll be hunting out my t-shirts.
I had a great Thanksgiving weekend. The boy and I drove to Austin for the weekend where I got to finally visit what to me will be the "holy grail" of yarn shops... "Hill Country Weavers".
This is me absolutely giddy upon entering the store.

I literally turned in awestruck circles and then I was on the hunt. And then it was on to The Knitting Nest and we wrapped up our weekend with a visit to the fine ladies of Gauge Knits.

I love Austin and Austin loves knitters. You know how I know that? All of their yarn stores are open on Sunday. Squee! I forsee a lot of weekend jaunts to Austin in my future.

I came home with so much yarn, malabrigo, sock yarn, worsted and cottons. Each one more yummier than the last.

The snow ended this morning after an hour, and though I was all eager to come home and knit me up some winter goodies and then I remembered that I had to rehearse the kids tonight for the Christmas show on Saturday.

Oh well, the yarn had to wait it was off to the studio. And hey, almost all of the kids showed up tonight and most on time. Rehearsal went well and in fact we finished 15 minutes early! But wait I can't rush home to watch Glee and knit just yet, I had to stop at the grocery store and buy a birthday cake to celebrate the December birthdays at work tomorrow.
So here comes my rant.
First of all don't get me wrong, mine is one of the birthdays that we are celebrating tomorrow, but one of the things that I hate the most is transporting cake. It's filled with the possibility of to much error. One trip or a speed bump and there goes everyone's festive extra 15 minutes.

And secondly who are we kidding, mine like all of the other offices in the world is filled with women b.s. ing about their diets. Everyone gathers around, half of the office will request a small piece, a few will want to split a piece with each other while others won't eat any at all claiming that they don't like cake. Blah blah blah, and I would have missed the first 15 minutes of my favorite show for this.

"F" that noise I bought cupcakes. If I haven't mentioned I work in an office that has a serious morale problem, so I know that half of them will end up in the trash anyway.

Kind of a tangenty post, so I am now going to go knit. OH but first I must share my Austin yarn.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I have new yarn...and probably so do you

All is right in my world. The hacking and coughing and general nastiness is gone. My job is going great, and then there is this.
That's right friends and neighbors that would be the look of new yarn in my life. Yesterday was payday, and after the usual bill paying was done Miss Carmen had some leftover coin so I stopped at my LYS and bought me some WOOL!
From left to right you are looking at 2 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca light and 1 skein of Boomerang in White Zinfandel. And it's all for me.
And part of the fun of it was having it wound for me. Now I know that in one of my earlier posts I extolled the virtues of making your own center pull ball. But that was the broke me talking. The employed me could actually walk into said yarn establishment, leisurly pick out the yarn that I wanted and say "Why yes, I would like it wound. "
I have a few left over hanks in my stash for future knitting that I will probably wind on my own, but for now I am basking in the cuteness that is the professionally wound yarn cake.
And then...when I got home from work today, what was in my mailbox but this.
That's right. More YARN! And this package came with needles. Some of you are already familiar with the packaging, but this being my first package from Knit Picks I just had to share. That is 3 skeins of Dougherty Shamrock and 2 sets of DPN's size 7 and 9. I am making the boy a pair of fliptop mittens for Xmas and all of the fixins' came today.
I have another package coming in a few days with a different color yarn that I might use instead. The boy likes green and this yarn didn't photograph very well on the website, it looks so much better in person, so to be on the safe side I ordered another color.... and it's on it's way.
So with all of this yarny goodness I guess you can say that I have definitly got my knitting mojo back because I have finished my Coraline Scarf.

And I have been working on this Corrugator scarf for my dad.
But alas, I have run out, so tomorrow I must visit another yarn store and get
more YARN!
Oh and did I forget to mention that I started working on these.
That's right more yarn. This I purchased as a "you made it through the storm" gift for myself a couple of weeks ago. My first foray back into the land of retail after the big "U" this summer. And what's a fine upstanding yarn geek gonna do but buy herself some yarn.
And since I had been out of sock yarn since July and it was already October, it seemed only fitting.
Currently I am knitting the Peaks N Valleys Sock pattern in the new Kristin Nicholas yarn Best Foot Forward. I just love me some Kristin Nicholas. I can't wait to buy more Julia so that I can do more projects from "Kristin Knits". But I will.
So what are you knitting?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hacking, Booster Shots, and a Poop Song

I guess that you can tell from the title that I have had quite a week and it's not quite over yet. So without any further ado I'm going to jump in.

1) Hacking - Halloween night the Boy and I are at the movies when I start to feel this tingle in my nostril cavities. I didn't think anything of it at the time since the man sitting behind us had on some pretty noxious cologne. But low and behold the next day I start to sniffle and sneez and realize that it is indeed a sinus cold. No biggie, been there, done that before. I took my usual remedies of Alka Seltzer, some Sudafed and the occasional shot of Nyquil on the nights that I can't get to sleep.

A week later I think that I am completely over this thing until Monday afternoon when the tingling returns and by that night I am in full sneezing fit mode that even Alka Seltzer won't knock out. It got so bad that when I was still awake at 2 AM I thought about driving myself to the Urgent Care at the hospital where I work.

But I decided to go to work and tough it out and as soon as 4:30 hit, head on over to the Urgent Care then.

About 10 that morning all plans changed when I let out a sneeze so violent that I thought that my chest had cracked open. That was when I emailed my supervisor for permission to take a long lunch and go over to the UC.

While wheezing my way across the street I again thanked God, not only for the great job with benefits that I now had, but for the fact that it was at a medical facility. Can you say convenient?

As I am checking into the UC window I make sure that my employee badge is facing out, I know that it won't help me get in any faster but I figure that it can't hurt either.

Then the registration lady asks me,

"Are you really having chest pains?"

"Yes," I answer.

"Okay, but just so you know if you have chest pains they usually admit you to the ER."

"I can't do that I only have 30 minutes for lunch"

She gives me a strange look and hands me a surgical mask to put on and tells me to wait until the nurse calls my name.

And there I sit in the UC waiting room like Swine Flu Sue as the minutes tick away on my lunch half hour.

45 minutes later I am in the exam room waiting for the doctor to come in and medicate me out of my misery when the panic sets in. You see being new to the job I haven't accumulated any PTO time, not that I'm worried about losing my job or anything like that, my boss is fantastic. It's just that time of work means very low funds, and I'm not ready to go there again. So when the nurse comes in to take my paperwork I scratch off "chest pains" and tell her that I think that it's just a pulled muscle from moving chairs around in the conference room yesterday and that my chief complaint is the long term cold symptoms.

When the nurse practioner comes in he asks me the general questions about whats been going on and during the exam he asks about the chest pains. I reluctantly tell him about them and he says that its because of all of the coughing that I have been doing. Hallelujah! No ER for me.

Which brings me to #2 - I bet this is where you thought the poop song was but it's not.

2) Booster Shots -I was so happy to not having a new strain of the Swine Flu I completely glossed over him telling me that he was going to prescribe me a couple of shots that would make me instantly feel better in addition to the medication that he was prescribing me.

And then the nurse came back in with these two big needles and asked me what side do I usually sleep on because this was going to hurt.

Hold on Nurse Ratchet, I haven't had a booster shot since I was 3 years old and my mom is mad at me right now so I'm pretty sure that she's not going to come over here and hold my hand like she did then.

But since I had already been off the clock for almost 2 hours at this point there was nothing that I could do but drop trou, get my prescriptions and go back to work.

However, I have to say that at least she was right the shots did hurt a lot but they did make me feel a whole lot better pretty quickly.

3) So I am sitting here tonight in with my constantly clearing head, thanking God for Flonase, Amoxicillan and Allegra and I decide to pop in my newest Netflix DVD.

OMG, where have I been the last couple of years that I hadn't discovered the genius that is "The Sarah Silverman Show".

Let's just say that after the year that I have had, I really needed this 5th grade brand of humour. I have been unashamedly rewinding and (nasaly) singing along with this song at the top of my lungs for the last 45 minutes. I am going to download this song so that I can play it in my car and on my MP3.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you The Poop Song. Enjoy!

Seriously I think my favorite part is the gusto that the little girl in the bathtub puts into this song.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time is not on my side

So here I am knee deep into week three of new corporate job and it is 4:26 and I am counting down the minutes until I can clock out, go home and nurse my cold. When suddenly an email appears in my entitled "My time", and my next thought is SH&T!
You see one of my many duties is time and attendance, and it is the duty that makes my skin crawl. Because to put it bluntly, I am the time police or as my boyfriend calls me "time narc". I am the person that has to look in the electronic time keeper and notate who's late, on time, taking PTO, sick time, bereavement time, OT....time, time, time! And it's not on my side.
But by far the worst part is at the end of the payperiod wherein I have to go over everysingle persons time card and make sure that everything is documented and added up before sending to payroll so that all God's children in my department get paid.
Well this past Monday was my first day to fly solo before sending it all off to my supervisor for final sign off. And I was having a lot of trouble with one of my coworkers time detail. Some how I was adding days to the week and nothing was saving correctly so in a fit of frustration I went to my supervisor to help me correct it, and she did in a flash. Except that I had forgotten to add in 6 1/2 hours of sick time and of course it wasn't caught until today at 4:26!
So that's it folks. One of my biggest nightmares about this job has now come true. I screwed up someone's paycheck!
As soon as I realized what I had done I immediately went to my supervisor, told her what I did and asked her how to fix it. Then I went to my coworker and confessed my mess and told her that I would rectify the situation tomorrow. Which will happen first thing!
Now all I have to do is tell my manager, who will either be really understanding or rip me a new one. I can't quite get a read on how she will react to situations as yet. So we shall see.
On the knitting front, I haven't been in the mood. I treated myself to new sock yarn last Friday, but so far it's just sat on my coffee table. It's probably just this killer cold and new job anxiety. I don't know. I haven't been in much of a dancing mood either.
Oh well. On the bright side 2 episodes of Glee are coming on tonight!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where have you been ?

I know that it's been awhile since I have blogged in. Funny how you start a project and then life decides to throw you a bit of a curve ball. A little something that I shall call "downtime". Unexpected, unhappy, un-financial downtime. And that's all I shall say about it. Because it is over.
And I am happy to say that I have come out of it all a bit humbler, a lot more grateful, a bit fatter and a whole lot smarter about my finances.
I have a new real job now, fulltime not temp, and so far so good. I started it 3 weeks ago and today marks my first day of being insured! Yes world for the first time in four years since I left big corporate insurance company to strike out on my own again as a self supporting artist, I have insurance.
The first order of business will be to get my eyes checked. I can't wait to get new glasses!
Also this week I signed up for my 403B. As I said before I have come out of this whole mess a whole lot wiser about my finances. In the past I have read and reread just about every book and article about how to manage your money. I have even set up Roth IRA's and opened CD's that I have cashed in and used for various emergencies. A couple of them I could have put off, but this summer saw the last of my emergency money, and then I was broke.
So I decided that before I received my second paycheck, I would immediately think in terms of retirement and savings. That way before I even think about buying new and fabulous yarns and planning a much needed vacay, and of course finally finishing paying off all of my credit card bills, I would have money taken out pretax for the future.
See I told you I learned something.
So now that I am back, it's back to knitting and tap dancing. And of course losing the 20 or so pounds of stress weight that I gained during this whole ordeal. I shall write more about that later.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sweet Honey Beret goes Sour!

Yesterday I finished my faux dotty scarf. Yeah! Happiness! Applause!

There is a bit of history with this scarf. One of the main reasons that I wanted to learn to knit is that I loooove scarves. Sad I know for a girl from North Texas, but alas there it is.
Ever since I was a kid I have loved scarves, especially winter scarves, long and luscious and bursting with color.
So while trolling the wonderfulness that is Ravelry I happened upon this scarf pattern. The only thing is that it's not so much a scarf pattern, but a stitch pattern. And a kinda confusing one at that.
Only about 4 other knitters had done it at the time and the color choices that they had each come up with were spectacular. I HAD to make this scarf. So I followed the link the the first knitters post on Craftster, printed out the instructions, went to my LYS, bought the yarn, came home and cast on!
And that was when the first of many frustrations began. To look at it, it's a fairly simple pattern. But to knit it is to know the meaning of confusion. And not just for me. This began on a Thursday night, by Saturday I had knit, ripped out, started again, emailed the original knitter alon with the 3 other girls all with no help.
So by Saturday morning I was beyond through with this scarf and it's f'ed up pattern. I teach dance classes all day on Saturdays from 10:00am until 2:30pm, and all day during my classes the only thing that I could think about was that damned scarf. What made it really frustrating was that usually after classes I would go and sit and knit at my LYS where I could get help with any knitting problems that I might be having, *they were always so great about that Yarns Ewenique. You are so missed* however that Saturday I had scheduled a hair appointment, and you know for a black woman that is just as important and sometimes more important than your Well Woman exam. So, there I was with this knitting dilemma and no time to fix it, what was I going to do?
I'll tell you what I did. While my 8 year olds were changing shoes, luckily none of them need my help, I called my hairdresser, got my appointment pushed back 2 hours and after my last class of the day I flew out the door to my LYS.
There to the frustration of 4 other advanced knitters including one of the stores owners, none of us could figure out the pattern either. Finally, before I left it was suggested that I forget about that pattern and learn how to cable...which I did consider.
Fast forward to the next Saturday and I am back at LYS after classes and someone mentions "pattern from hell" as we are now affectionately calling it and I say that I haven't even looked at the yarn in a week. That was when Annemieke, the other store owner said let me see it, so I showed it to her and proceeded to talk with the other ladies and knit something less frustrating, I think it was a washcloth.
The next thing I know Annemieke says " I don't know what the problem is." And holds up a perfect swatch of the pattern. Copious gasps from around the table as we all gaze in wide eyed wonderment at what she has done. Then we all start to cuss and demand that she show us how she did it.
Turns out we were just thinking to hard. You see in the directions your supposed to drop a stitch four rows down, pick it up, transfer it to your other needle and continue to knit as usual???? I kid you not! I had 3 different directions for this pattern, one from the stitch dictionary where it came from, one from craftster and one from the knitter who did it originally. The previous Saturday we had tried all of them one at a time and in every combination of all three that we could think of and nothing.
So yes when Annemieke smiled down on us and just said we were thinking to hard and you just do this and I did....low and behold 10 months later I have a scarf.
10 MONTHS! Yes 10 months, not because it was hard but because Texas girl likes her scarves loooong, not quite Dr. Who long but long enough to wrap and hang and boy does this one.
Well after finishing my Faux Dotty Scarf, I was in a finishing mood. I have been working on this Sweet Honey Beret for a couple of weeks now and I was loving it. Emphasis on the was.
This one unlike the faux dotty wasn't a hard pattern to follow, just a tedious pattern to follow. Which means that I had to pay attention, no taking it to my knitting circle, or to my boyfriends house and I even had to be careful what I was watching on tv. It is constant counting and yarn overs, purl 2 tog, brioche purl, brioche purl2tog....made my head hurt. And as always it's not a Tapgurl knitted project unless you cast on at least twice and rip back and start again about 3 times. But hey, after that third time I was off and knitting. That is until I got to the decrease rounds and then I was just off!
For about a week now I have been making myself decrease this damn hat, as I started to think of it. I never said it outloud, but I thought it. I would do a decrease round, then knit something else or do the dishes or even call my mother. Anything to keep from finishing this hat, which was not so much looking like a honey come but a series of drunken knots. And I couldn't even drink while knitting it either. And that my friends is when after 2 decrease rounds I looked at it yesterday and said "F" it and ripped it out.

And you know what? All is at peace in my world.

Sweet Honey Beret - The Beginning

Sweet Honey Beret - The END

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Post- How original

Just finished watching Whitney Houston on Oprah while making centerpull yarn balls for my Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole.
I can't believe that she described how you smoke cocaine to Oprah.
What I love about knitting is learning new things. Sometimes it's stitch, or a new cast on, or the fact that I have now knit 6 pairs of socks..... how awesome is that!
As I said earlier I am working on the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole from Scarf Style. With this project alone I have learned a new cast on (the backwards loop), how to knit entrelac (not so easy when the pattern leaves out 2 important turns) and how to make a center pull ball.
The backwards loop was kinda tricky. I went to the index and couldn't quite figure it out, but thanks to I was able to view a video tutorial and voila!
Then the whole entrelac knitting thing seemed pretty easy, knit a little, turn your work, knit back over what you just worked. Well halfway through the first tier I realized that something just wasn't looking right. If I followed the directions then I would be purling on the right side of my scarf and that just didn't look right to me. I consulted the pics in the book, ravelry and even checked for errata on the publishers website....nothing. But something told me that I needed to turn my work and purl on the wrong after ripping out and starting over for the third time I decided to go for it, not as a friend and knitting guru once told me " trust in the process" because trusting seemed like I was going to end up with a "fugly" stole. I went out on a limb and turned my knitting and damned if it wasn't the right thing to do.
That was the moment when I discovered that I was a good knitter. Sometimes part of the process is trusting yourself.
Days later when I was again perusing ravelry I finally found 1 person who posted that the pattern had left out 2 turns!!
One of my favorite knitting books on the planet is Stitch N Bitch: The Knitters Handbook. When I first started knitting I checked it out from the library over and over again until my boyfriend finally bought it for me. I'll tell that story later ( he is also responsible for finding Stitch N Bitch Nation for me as well).
So before I started the Lady Eleanor I wanted to wind the hanks of yarn prior to knitting it. I was planning on buying a ball winder, but funds are tight right now and I decided to just wind by hand. Not exactly the most exciting activity but when in a recession a girl needs to save her extra money for actual yarn. That was when I remembered reading somewhere about making your own center pull yarn balls? So off to my knitting bookshelf (shutup, so I'm yarn obsessed) I found my go to yarn bible and there in the first few chapters I found it. So I propped myself on the couch, wrapped the hank around my feet and proceeded to wind my yarn. And the coolest works!
I have been knitting from the first ball for about a week now and it has held up beautifully. I just keep pulling and knitting from the center and it hasn't collapsed. If you haven't done it you should try it.
Here's a picture of the four that I wound while watching Oprah.