Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Finished auction package

I finished the one-skein throw for the silent auction for scholarships for Kansas Professional Communicators. I added a book that I had two copies of and a nice mug for a cup of tea, or coffee, or chocolate, whatever the reader prefers. I think this little package will make for some 'comfortable reading.'

The book is one of the Thursday next series by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next is a literary detective and enters the world of fiction to take of crime. It's so fun and the references to jillions of other books and characters is great.

The mug is from Barnes and Noble, and says, "Shh . . . I'm reading" all over it, in different sizes. I thought it was a perfect choice.

I do really love the throw pattern and am looking forward to making another. I used one one-pound skein plus a little more (my gauge was a little bigger than the pattern called for) of Red Heart acrylic. I started with a size K Boye hook, but it didn't feel great in my hand. I don't have a Clover comfort K, and when I tried my Crystal Palace bamboo size K, it was too big. So I ended up (after all that) using a Crystal Palace bamboo size J. Still waiting for Shelly to get a Laurel Hill Forest Palmwood size K in at the store again. When I went in to get one for this project, she was out.

I also used a double-crochet edging instead of single crochet, which was what the pattern called for. I like the extra texture and finish of the double crochet.

I hope someone pays a good amount of money for it since it goes to a good cause!

The dog on the trampoline

Yes, this is Milo on the trampoline. It is one of his favorite places. When he and Sparky are playing and running and Milo wants a break, he jumps right up on the trampoline.

Believe it or not, he also gets on the trampoline and jumps when the boys are out there. He can clear it so easily I sometimes wonder why he doesn't jump the fence. It's really not much higher than the trampoline is. So there you go. One more dog weirdness.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some stuff, yarn and crochet

I started a new Boteh scarf. I wanted one to wear in the summer. One that I can throw on with jeans or a skirt, and is a nice lightweight, cottony yarn.
For this one I am using Sockotta, a 45% cotton, 40% superwash wool, 15% nylon sock-weight yarn. I love the feel of it. It feels more like cotton than wool, and yet the wool gives it an extra soft touch. Plus those colors just rock. Purple, green, turquoise. Just cool.

And of course, a trip to the yarn store to crochet is never complete without a purchase or two.
I am so enjoying how the Sockotta is working up, that I thought I'd like a Boteh in some summery warm colors as well. This Tofutsies in a lovely coral/pink/tangerine absolutely fit the bill. Again, a cotton, wool, soysilk blend. Mmmmmmm.
Then I was thinking about another one-skein scarf. I've been going to my closet and wanting a summer-weight scarf to wear, and coming up short. Aran-weight wool just doesn't cut it in 80-degree temperatures (not that we've had so many of those yet). So, off to the DK section of the LYS, and lo and behold, gorgeous silk in a DK weight. Lighter, breathable, and oh, so touchable. Perfect green with a little yellow and white flecking action.
Of course, I told you about the Marble I bought to make a smaller throw, but here it is so you can see the great colorway. This photo is pretty true to life. I think it will be marvelous when it's made up.
Yeah, I know it's crooked. Tilt your head. I tried to order this stitch guide off Amazon months ago, and it's been out of stock. I think Harmony is replacing it with another book. I found it on half.com. If you love books and haven't tried them out yet, I highly recommend it. It's part of Ebay, and works like Amazon marketplace. New/used books are available, sometimes old library copies. Thus far, I have not been disappointed. I even found Evan the feature-length G.I. Joe animated movie he watched 90 bajillion times from about age 8 to 10. In perfect condition. $20. Other places wanted $90. Apparently it's a big collectors item.

Love my doggies!

We were out in the back yard one day last week when it was pretty warm and the dogs were just tearing into each other and all over the yard. They get relatively wild at times and I have to kick them out of the house (kind of like the kids!). Milo can fit Sparky's whole head in his mouth. He grabs Sparky by the neck and throws him around and Sparky bites him on the legs and grabs his ears. They really are hilarious. One will grab a stick and the other will chase.

Sparky loves to sprawl out when he's chewing on toys or sticks. We call him the turkey butt dog because he looks like a Thanksgiving turkey when he's laying out like that (as you can see).


And the two of them just make such a cute matched pair. Look at those faces. How can you resist? Needless to say, they are very spoiled dogs. We love them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To raise scholarship money

I belong to the local and state chapters of the National Federation of Press Women, Kansas Professional Communicators and Wichita Professional Communicators. Every spring the state organization holds its conference, and in conjunction with the conference is a silent auction to raise money for the organization's scholarship fund.

As I was driving from Wichita to Lincoln, Neb., a couple of weeks ago, I was tired and stopped at a Wal-Mart to walk around a little and wake up. It was a store that still has a sewing/crafts section and I found a nice (free) pattern for a throw from a one-pound skein of yarn. So I picked up the pattern and a skein of yarn and decided to make the throw for the silent auction. The pattern calls for a 'K' hook, but I am using a Crystal Palace bamboo size 'J'. I started with a Boye K, don't care so much for the aluminum, went to a bamboo K and it was too big (no narrowing on the neck of the hook like on a Boye). Hence the bamboo J.

I didn't check gauge (it's a blanket, who cares?!) and didn't get it out of one skein. But that's OK. I'd rather have it a little on the big side. So I am working the last few rows and getting ready to do the edging. I like the pattern enough that I am going to make one for myself out of a nice blue variegated acrylic that I found at Twist. It's called Marble by James C Brett. I think I will go down a hook size to an I or something that will work about the same. But the pattern is a nice quick one. Two rows that repeat. One of treble shells and one of chains and singles. Voila! That's it!

New yarn!

I got my first package from Woolgirl last week. I know; I am remiss in not posting about it until today. However, I wish I would have taken 'before' pictures so you could see how nicely the yarn was wrapped in tissue with ribbon. It was such a nice package to open!
I found this lovely Family Pendragon in the same colorway (Humperdink) as my wavy scarf. The scarf was an aran weight and this is a fingering/light sport weight. I think it will make a lovely hat or pair of mittens.
Then there was this luscious, summery colorway, Minoan Temple. I love the Family Pendragon yarns. The colors are rich and vibrant and the yarn is fabulously soft and easy to work with. I may actually try a pair of socks with this.
I couldn't resist this lovely brown from Gypsy Girl Creations. The color is brindle and I love the gold and rust mixed with the dark chocolate brown. Not sure what this will be, but if a first pair of socks is successful, maybe a second pair. If not, it would make a nice wrap or small shawl.
And one of the things everyone says is nice about Woolgirl is the little extras they put in your package. I got a sample of Soak wool wash and this lovely stitch marker. So, I guess this means there will be more knitting in my future, since this is a closed marker and I can't use it for crochet!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Trip to Lincoln (Nebraska, that is)



I took a little trip to Lincoln last weekend to go to an honors convocation for Alyx. While there, I took an opportunity to go to the capitol and I took a tour. Nebraska has the only unicameral legislature in the United States. That means they have only one legislative arm. No house and senate or anything like that. And it is a nonpartisan legislature. No one runs on a party ticket. Interesting.

And what makes it even more interesting (to me anyway) is that the state legislature actually began as a traditional bicameral one. It had a house and senate. It was in the 1930s that the state changed systems. The capitol even has two chambers. When the state changed systems, it chose to use only the larger chamber for meetings.

I love the architecture of the building. It is so different from others that I've seen. And it's actually the third building on its site. I can't remember what happened to the original. The second was built from native limestone, was porous and began to crumble. So this one was built. It was actually built in stages around the old one, and the office wings were built first, the skyscraper tower in the center was built last.

It took 10 years to build, and the state allotted 1 million dollars a year. When the money for that year ran out, construction was halted until the next year when the next million dollars would kick in. No debt. Cool.

True signs of spring?

Although today's temperature doesn't support my theory ( I think it might be 40 degrees F), I can see evidence in my back yard that spring may have actually arrived. These are blossoms on our peach tree right behind our deck. It looked like this last year early in April, then we had a bout of cold weather (like 20 degrees for a couple of days cold weather) that pretty much killed everything off. I'm daring to hope that we are past the chances of that this year. We are supposed to have temps in the upper 30s overnight, but we didn't get hit by the snow that blanketed northwest Kansas.
Behind the peach tree is the weeping willow we planted a couple of years ago. A pretty spring green on the leaves that are starting to pop up. And more difficult to see is the crazy blooming Bradford pear tree in the neighbor's back yard. I really think spring has actually sprung and might even be here to stay. My tulips are coming up in the front yard, but don't show signs of blooming yet. I hope they do, but this is the first year, so we may miss some. And the thunderstorms we've had overnight for the past couple of nights have soaked everything but good! Soggy lawns and soggy newspapers. Oh well.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Whoa, knitting

Stockinette stitch even! OK, so I have attempted knitting several times, and each time was baffled by the pointy sticks. But this time, I was determined. I was on my way to Lincoln this weekend and stopped at a Wal-Mart for a short walking break. While meandering through the store, I found this cute pocket size "Teach Yourself to Knit" kit with these adorable little needles. Knew I would have a little time while there, so picked it up with a couple of balls of yarn (not what you see here). Realized the yarn was bulky and needed bigger needles, so bought a pair of size 10s as well. Long story short, had some issues with purling. Got knitting down like a charm, and even when I thought I was purling was actually knitting, albeit in an incredibly awkward way. But I could do a great garter stitch! :-)
Anyway, called my lovely sister Chauntel, and she tried to help me through purling. Finally, she sent me to YouTube where I found this video. Lovely! Knowing that I work (and always known I would) in continental style knitting, seeing someone actually do it, made an amazing difference. So, last night after work, I grabbed a ball of scrap yarn and those cute little needles, and went for it. Got a few rows in and realized it was actually a stockinette and not a garter! Hooray! So this morning I added a few more rows, and here it is! Above is the front (obviously) and below is the back. Whoo-hoo! Man am I slow though. Think I'll have to crochet a little to remind myself that I can do something fast. . .