Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary Marly!

Marly of the Yarn Thing podcast has been podcasting for 1 year now. If you don't currently listen to Yarn Thing I recommend it.

Marly is bubbly, energetic, vivacious and funny. It is not possible to listen to her podcast and not smile.

Marly is both a knitter and and crocheter, though I think she is a crocheter who knits and I am a knitter who crochets.

Her podcast has lots of interesting happenings, yarn information, book reviews and laughs. She gives tips that may be small in application but huge in effect. Example: her suggestion to take all pattern books to Kinko's and have them all spiral bound. Totally brilliant!!!

Marly, keep rocking the yarn world with your marvelous energy!

Hugs and Prayers
Serene Knitter

This Old Dog Learns A New Trick

Ever hear the old saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"? I admit that always made me go "huh?!?!" until 2 weeks ago.

I decided that the process of knitting 2 socks at the same time on circular needles seemed like a really great idea. When I knit socks I always change the pattern in some way, shape or form. If I fail to document that change in detail I inevitably get to the second sock and go, "what the heck did I do?"

To knit 2 socks on circs is easier if you knit Continental Style. I have been knitting Scottish Style for 49 years. I am a thrower. I got Nenah Galati's instructional DvDs for Continental Knitting, Sock I and Sock II. I was determined to learn.

My struggles to re-learn everything I know about knitting is not in any way the fault of Nenah Galati. Her DvDs are clear, her instructions are very clear, her presentation is perfectly clear and she is very pleasant to learning to knit with a friend. I totally recommend these DvDs.

My struggles are entirely my own. I absolutely understood the technique. I picked up the needles. I will even admit that the long tail cast on is easier Continental Style. The knit stitch is easier Continental Style...the purl a royal pain Continental Style...but, again, that is not Nenah's fault.

I started to knit. I practiced the long tail cast on and picked it up fast. "Wow, this is cool, the rest should be a breeze!" WRONG!!! I tried to knit and my hands did not want to do it. My brain and my muscle memory wanted to throw not pick. Every single stitch required that I focus on that stitch and only that stitch. It was torture. I tried knitting a dishcloth. A dishcloth that I could normally knit in under 2 hours took me 4 DAYS. FOUR, count them, FOUR days to knit one dishcloth, garter stitch. I wanted to chuck it all in the trash and go back to my comfort zone and hide, but, I am an intelligent adult...not to mention of Scottish heritage, I come from a long line of very stubborn women (sorry Mom, Grandma and Granny, but its true, we could all teach stones to be stubborn). I was determined that I would not be defeated by something that small children can learn. So, I pulled together every scrap of stubborn perseverance I could manage and I stayed with it. My learning curve took nearly a full week. The first dishcloth took 4 days, the second one a day, the third one just 4 hours....I am on the fourth. I can knit almost as fast as Scottish style and I no longer have to focus on every singe stitch, although I still have to look at my knitting. I also noticed that I knit a lot tighter Continental Style. Scottish style I have to go down at least 2 needle sizes to get gauge. Continental Style I have to fight to get the stitches off the needle. I'll work on that.

I did it!! I learned a new trick. I can knit Continental Style! BUT, I still say that purling Continental Style is a pain...a real pain. I am going to have to work on that some more, too.

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks, but the dog has got to have some very powerful motivation.

DvD Review: I really like the instructional DvD's by Nenah Galati. I do recommend them. Her instructions and demonstrations are straight forward, clear and well presented. Her demeanor is very pleasant. What really impressed me was the out-takes from the first video where she was laughing at her own flubbs. She is the kind of lady I think would be my friend if I knew her in real life. Thank you Nenah.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thank You Angelika

Ever get tired of hearing people complain about petty little things? Me, too. This is not a complaint.

My son asked me to make him the "Jayne Cobb Hat" from the TV series 'Firefly'. Since my son never asks for anything knit or crocheted I responded by immediately searching for the pattern on-line. Then I googled the yarn, Cascade 220, and checked out the on-line stores that carry it. One of the shops that carry it is Yarn-Store, on the Southern Oregon Coast I chose this store because they have every conceivable color of Cascade 220, in fact, every Cascade yarn I have ever heard of and some I hadn't. And the prices were midway in the range I expected.

I ordered the yarn in the colors I was going to need, and I ordered enough to make more than one hat. Twenty minutes later I had an email from Angelika that my order had been received and that I would be sent a sales receipt when the order shipped. I was expecting that email in a day or two. An HOUR later I received a sales receipt that my order had shipped and I would have it in 3 to 5 business days. I received it in 3! Holy Cow! That was fast.

I emailed Angelika when I got the sales receipt thanking her for the fast service and received an immediate email telling me I was welcome.

My package arrived in perfect condition. They included, at no additional charge, a card style calendar with 2008 on one side and 2009 on the other. A Color Packett with 10 inch long samples of all kinds and colors of Cascade yarns on the front and pages upon pages of color photos of the same Cascade yarns in hundreds of colorways. I also received a hat pattern attached to pages upon pages of the new spring patterns available through their shop.

Enablers!!! Addiction Pushers!!! I am in love! Ok, I have three grandchildren so there are several patterns that I want to make and the yarns and colors I have to choose from is mind boggling!

I sent Angelika another email asking if I could mention their shop on my blog and got an answer back very quickly.

I am very impressed with the level of service I have received. I will definitely use this on-line shop again, and again. I highly recommend them.

Now, I am just waiting for my Harmony needles to arrive so I can whip up my son's new hat. I could have gotten needles at the local box store, but if I am going to invest in needles that I can use for many years to come I want the quality of Harmony needles.

Be Blessed
Hugs and Prayers
Serene Knitter

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Proud Family

The Marine stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
'Step forward now, Marine,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?'
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Marine waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
'Step forward now, you Marine,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.'
~Author Unknown~

Thank you to all our service men and women who give up there personal freedoms to ensure mine. I am grateful for the blanket of freedom and safety I live under because of their sacrifice.

Proud Family!!

Hugs & Prayers
Serene Knitter

Monday, April 7, 2008

Success Fuels Our Fires

Yesterday our family celebrated our monthly birthday party. Good hugs+good food+family=Good Times.

I gave my nephew the 3 pairs of Gryffindor socks that I had knit for him. Well, let me back up. Eric has special needs. He is a Downs young adult, high functioning but still Downs. He yearns to be treated like he is normal. He hates being treated as though he is not exactly the same as everyone else in the family. So, we treat him with as much normalcy as possible. That said, I played a trick on him. I used a tall tissue box, packed all 3 pairs of socks inside and covered them carefully with tissues. My grandson inspected it, pointed out one tiny spot of red that showed through, then pronounced it perfect. I wrapped up the tissue box and gave it to Eric as his present. He sat down and carefully unwrapped the box. He looked at it, then without any hesitation at all he pulled the tissues out and went right for the socks, which he loved. He liked the joke, he grinned at me and said, "Good one, Aunt Lee!" I laughed and told him that I would have to come up with a different trick for his birthday next year and his face lit up and he grinned, "Yeah!"

So the game is afoot! I am going to have to come up with a new gag every year for his birthday. Got any suggestions?

What was the success? There were layers of them. Eric loved the joke, he loved the socks, they fit him and he loves me! The best thing in the world are hugs from my beloved nephew. (My sister sent me an email this afternoon. Eric wore his new socks to bed and is wearing them now and refuses to take them off. She said it is a good thing there are 3 pairs because if not his feet would have gotten pretty darn stinky! LOL! Its good to know that he really does like them and was not just being polite while I was there.)

My non-knitting successes were, my daughter's fiance liked the gift I got him. He had been in 4 stores looking for a special step-stool for his work truck, but had no luck finding it. I knew where to acquire one! My other nephew, Adam, needs some new clothes. He was much relieved that I did not give him any of my (LOL) hand me downs and gave him money to shop for himself, instead. And, my Dad liked the books and book stand I got for him. He wanted some how-to pattern books on building bird houses. They have a huge variety of birds up at their cottage and he wanted to know what kind of nesting boxes attract what type of bird. I found a few books that were really detailed and informative and then I promptly took them to Kinko's and had them spiral bound. He really liked that. I also found a beautiful book stand made of American Alder, at Barnes & Noble. When it arrived I liked it so well I ordered one for my Mom and one for myself. It is called a cookbook stand but don't let that limit you. It folds flat like a book so it will fit beautifully on a bookcase when not it active use, but as attractive as it is you may want to have it open for display instead of folded. So the whole day was a success.

Just as a side note: I was listening to the Yarn Thing podcast and heard Marly say that whenever she gets a new pattern or design book, or a new stitchionary, she takes it to Kinko's and has the binding cut off and has it spiral bound. This allows the book to lie open flat without having to weight it down with things to keep it open. Brilliant!! Marly, you ROCK, Girl!!!!
The only 2 hitches are...there has to be enough of a margin in the book so that the holes for the new binding don't punch into the writing. And, if it is a hard cover book, Kinko's said they cannot punch holes in the hard cover. Instead, for and additional charge, they make a color copy of the cover on heavy card stock and use that for the cover. Thus, your hard cover book becomes a paperback spiral. If you are more interested in aesthetics than function you will not be happy with that. If, however, you plan to use that pattern book over and over then you will want to sacrifice that hard cover for the greatly improved function you will have.

What's on my needles?
1. A pair of boot socks for my Dad.
2. A pair of mittens in self-striping yarn, for no one in particular.
3. About 6 more cotton disclothes (not all are cast on yet, I do them in succession).
4. A pair of bright yellow socks for one of my daughter's friends (who asked for yellow socks) one is complete the other one is not yet cast on. I do not have second sock syndrom, I just had to divert to other things that had to be finished on a deadline.
5. A Jayne Cobb Hat (for those Firefly fans out there) my son asked for one.

There are lots of things in queue but I am resisting casting on anything else until at least 2 things are cleared from my needles.

I have a UFO (a sweater) that is going to be frogged and the yarn repurposed, and I have 2 headbands for my granddaughters that are knitted and just need to be grafted (that should be a no-brainer, I mean, we are looking at 10 minutes of finishing, tops).

So, my personal mantra is "STAY ON TARGET!!!"

Be Blessed
Hugs and Prayers
Serene Knitter