Sunday, January 27, 2008

Were you a girl scout?

So I found those little badges that are on the sidebar at the Cast On podcast. They are Knitting Scouts badges and you can read more about them (and maybe find one for yourself) here or read on here:

This one is the Proselytize Knitting Badge. It's earned by presenting knitting in a positive light without referring to ""hipness", grandmothers, and yoga". I think I've earned this badge... and I've got a group of 20 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders knitting after they finish their assignments to prove it!

This is the MacGyver Badge I, and it's earned by using non-knitting tools in a knitting-related way. Sure, I've used paperclips as stitch markers (and once, though not entirely successfully, as a yarn needle). I've also used chopsticks to teach my friends daughter to cast on and knit while we were out to eat (this is the benefit of living in Japan--no matter what kind of restaurant you go to, there are always knitting needles, er, chopsticks on the table!)But I think the instance that truly earns me this badge is when I used 5 sharpie markers as double-pointed-needles when I realized that I didn't have any DPNs over size 4 or 5 and needed something much, much larger.

This is the MacGyver Badge II, and it's kind of the opposite of the level I badge... this is using a knitting tool in a non-knitting way. So that would be like the time that I used a #7 to reach under a bookshelf to try to slide out something that had fallen back there. Or the time I used a stitch marker to hold earrings and necklace slides in my travel bag when going on a trip (the only catch is, you have to choose only earrings that have some kind of hole in the design so you can fit the end of the stitch marker through... so no studs). Even David earns this bag (much to my chagrin) by using my knitting needles as back-scratchers. I hate that, so I only allow it in an absolute emergency...but who knows how many times he's done it when I've been out of the house or out of the room!

This is the "I've Knit Objects with No Conceivable Practical Application" Badge. The description on the Cast On site states that "recipients of this badge are those "special" campers which somehow missed the mark of their intended application". Now how on earth could that not be me? Most of the "experimental" things that I've made have since been frogged (and with much effort) forgotten. But it's nice to know that if (when) it happens again, I can look at that sock that has no opening (that was an attempt at cuff-down magic loop last weekend)

I wish there were more badges, like "I've Frogged an FO" or "I Knit in Public".
Oh, and I wish there was a sash!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guess what I wore today!?!?!

My Minimalist Cardigan! Isn't it fab? I love it. It was so warm and cozy today. Even though I thought it would be heavy because it felt heavy when I picked it up, it doesn't feel heavy on. I used wonderful Andean Silk yarn from KnitPicks and the total cost was only $38.61.
I started on Nov. 12 and finished on Jan. 12 (Pacific time!) Really I finished Jan 13, but all knitting, blocking, and more than half the seaming was done by Jan. 12 my time. Also, I think it must be noted that by the first day of winter break (Dec. 21?) I had only finished about 4 inches of the back of this sweater. So although I listed my official start date as Nov. 12, almost all of this was completed between Dec. 21 and Jan. 12!
This is the first sweater that I've made, finished, and would actually wear in public, so I'm thrilled! I'll try to get David to take some more pictures later so you can better see the Moss stitch. It was slow-going knitting --although it motivated me to teach myself to be a picking knitter instead of a throwing knitter!-- but I like that my finishing skills (or lack thereof) don't show!

And, guess what else? Today at the post office, I received a birthday package from my Aunt Margie and it was the book "Yarn Harlot: Secret Life of a Knitter". How serendipitous! I was hoping for some new knitting needles I ordered so I could start a new project, but the book can keep me occupied until the needles come in, for sure! Hooray! Thanks Aunt Margie!! Love you! (I know she's one of my loyal readers!)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

12 of 12

My 12 of 12... let's see if Susan can remember to remind me every month. Then maybe I'll actually make 12 12 of 12s this year instead of 4.
I don't have times for all of them...forgive me. I'm lucky enough that I managed to take the pictures!

1. Morning run. Started at 6:45, so I know this must have been 2 hours and 6 minutes later. 8:51.

2. Wentworth Miller greeting me on the way into the "hobby room". Hmm...this had been on the front door. Seems as though David moved him to somewhere where he'd have to see him less. This calendar was a late Christmas present and I love it. I've already been choosing which photos I'll stand next to, tape a shirt to the wall & pretend I'm actually having my photo with him. Prison Break new episodes come back on on Monday I think!

3. I spent much of my birthday working on my Minimalist Cardigan. That's why my photos were few and far between, because my little fingers were so busy stitching this thing up! This was early in the day, when I repaired the grafted collar I messed up last night.

4. My first gift was a box of Thin Mints, and although I do love Thin Mints, I began to worry about what the rest of my presents would be. This new computer chair was the second gift I "opened". Opening this gift consisted of David opening the front door and wheeling it in the house. Then he had to fix it because he had assembled part of it backwards. It spins. I love it.

5. Back to work on the sweater...managed to sew the sleeve in place on one side. I'm not fully confident in my finishing skills, but it doesn't look too bad.

6. At about 5:30, we left for dinner. I had already told David that one thing I really really wanted for my birthday was a full tank of gas. I hate pumping gas and my empty light was on, so my birthday came just in time!

7. We went to dinner at this pizza/pasta place called Marino's. We ordered "La Marino" which is a dinner set for 2, the house specialty, and so delicious. First you get a Caesar salad, then they bring out the pasta, a tasty carbonara. But the best part is that before they give you the pasta, the waiter mixes it around in this big bowl of parmesan cheese. And the bowl is actually made of parmesan cheese!

8. After the pasta comes the pizza, which is also tasty. Then it's time for dessert! You get to pick 3 things from the dessert station. I had blueberry tea too.

9. Marino's is located just past this furniture store called Yellow Box. It looks just like a Yellow Box. I always think that's a funny name/shape/color for a furniture store, but I hear people have gotten some nice things in spite of it!

10. We came home and David disappeared for a little while behind the couch. Secretly, I knew what he was doing (because a decorated-by-David birthday cake is somewhat of a tradition around here) but I was so focused on sewing the side of my sweater, I didn't even have to pretend not to notice. He brought out my cake, complete with 27 candles- one was a singing candle! I blew them all out on one breath!

11. One last birthday present...finally one I got to unwrap! Same wrapping as last year. I knew right away what it was...and it was just what I wanted! I had made a point to mention it a few times during the past week. (Sorry for the sideways photo!)

12. The Harry Potter movies! I couldn't believe we didn't have them yet. I just began re-reading the 1st book and since I joined a special Harry Potter themed sock knitting swap, I've been even more obsessed with all things Potter.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Okinawa on Foot

Too bad I didn't take my camera with me to running group for 12 of 12. I could've taken a picture every mile and been finished with 12 of 12 by 9 a.m.! It ended up being me and one other girl this morning, our group keeps shrinking. She only ran the first 3.5 miles and then turned around, leaving me to finish the last 8.5 alone. I wasn't too thrilled originally, but then I decided I could do some exploring since I didn't have to worry about explaining the route to the group, knowing mileage, or losing anybody.
I ran on a path right by the ocean (sea, really)and saw lots of...interesting things.
-grassy bleachers and a small stage
-a stained glass canopy
-an old school bus that has been painted and decorated and is now selling beer.
-a goat--seriously, I thought it was a dog at first, but it was definitely a goat.
-a dead mouse in a pool of blood
-a now defunct double-decker bus (what is it with all the antiquated vehicles?)
-a group of kids on bicycles with arrows strapped to their backs

I'm sure there were other notable things to see, but mostly I was thinking about yarn-- I wanted to get home and repair/finish my minimalist cardigan (it's been repaired, now the sleeves and sides just need to be seamed in) and besides, I received the name of my partner for a secret swap I'm participating in. I spent lots of those miles thinking about what I'll get for the person I have...and what I'll get from the person who has me! Exciting!
Off to finish the sweater, and take some more 12 of 12 pics!

Friday, January 11, 2008


A few hours ago I mentioned that I hate finishing a knitting project. I stink at it and need to go to finishing school. I finished stitching the shoulder seams on my minimalist cardigan (I stink at that, but luckily the moss stitch seems to be forgiving of my errors) and decided to move on to grafting the collar. I'm good at grafting/kitchener. I enjoy kitchener. Sure, I sound a little loony sitting on the couch repeating "Front: knit, slip, purl, leave. Back: purl, slip, knit, leave. Front: knit, slip, purl, leave..." but I love the way it looks and I love that it's fairly straight forward (no figuring out which loop or bump or V to go into or under or through next!) I finished my kitchener and was admiring my skills when I noticed this:

I did what anyone who had worked on a sweater diligently for 2 months (well, diligently for the last 3 weeks, sporadically for the 5 weeks before that) would do. I ran to my bedroom, threw myself down on the bed and had a good cry. It's been a long week what with returning to my students and getting that disappointing e-mail from Rochelle at New York & Company. The twisted collar just nudged me over the edge. After my little meltdown, I decided to inspect the sweater further to see if somehow something was just turned inside out or wrong way 'round. Nope, anyway you twist it, it's...twisted. I really still don't know how that could have happened... but here I am, faced with un-grafting my collar. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Just bound off...

Now all I have to do is sew my Minimalist Cardigan together! I'm so excited... I fully intend for this to be the first "I'd-actually-wear-that-in-public" non-scarf/non-hat I've ever finished!
When I saw "all I have to do is sew" I probably don't sound as nervous as I really am. Sewing the sweater together is not at all like whipping up a tote bag on my sewing machine. I've always hated hand-sewing, and hand-sewing knitted pieces together is no exception. But, my goal was to finish this sweater by my birthday...and my birthday is TOMORROW! So if I'm up til 11:59 p.m. tomorrow night, I'm going to finish this sweater by (the end of) my birthday!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Add another store to my naughty list

And it's one of my favorite stores, too. I have bought SO MANY clothes from New York & Company and now I'm going to have to add them to my naughty list. So frustrating!
NY & Co. was having a great sale on their website and I picked out some good deals on good work clothes-- a few pairs of dress pants, a pair of jeans, a cute argyle sweater, and a few button-down shirts. Of course it took me forever to decide, narrow down (I think my original selections totaled about $400+ and I needed to get it down to $100-)and finally place the order. I checked first to be sure that Armed Forces addresses were a shipping option and they were. At least it said they were...
Almost done placing the order and a little error message comes up. Turns out, my address can't be "verified". Um? Why not? My address has recently been found "verifiable" by 30-something Christmas cards, birthday cards, packages from various stores and people I know. I'm pretty darn sure it's a real address, seen as how I go there everyday and pick up something or other.
So, I called customer service and worked extra hard at being pleasant with the girl on the phone. It's not her fault. It's not her fault. It's not her fault. Just have to remember that sometimes when I'm feeling snippy with customer service. The girl was very pleasant and said she would give my order to her supervisor so it could be placed manually. She also had me give an e-mail address and said I'd get e-mail confirmation and communication once it had shipped.
When 8 days went by without a confirmation e-mail, I called back. Turns out, my order is nowhere to be found. But I can place it again if I want to. Turns out, all but 2 of the items I want are no longer available in my size. But I really liked that argyle sweater so I decided to just go for it.
Then I check my e-mail today and Rochelle has e-mailed me to tell me that "some" APO addresses just don't work with their system and mine happens to be one of them. Wha??
Of course, being the wise problem-solver that she is, she suggested that I have it delivered to another address. You know, one of those other homes that I own and stop by each day to check the mail?
Well, ever since the incident with Phil C. (and his sidekick Paul, of course)I've been dying to respond to that suggestion and prove that as wise and problem-solving as those customer service reps are, I am--in fact--wiser and problem-solvinger. When Rochelle asked me for another address, I suggested that she input the address of customer service or the corporate office and have whoever receives it there take it on over to the post office and mail it out. I don't think that's too unreasonable, as the flaw is obviously with NY & Co.'s system and not MY problem. And before you start typing your response, Paul-who-secretly-works-for-The-Container-Store-yet-pretends-to-just-happen-upon-my-blog, remember what happened to you last time you tried to stick up for the bad guy.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Knit Year's Resolutions

As I get closer and closer to finishing my Minimalist Cardigan (just half a sleeve and seaming to go!) my mind has been wandering to some other knitting projects I want to try my hand at. (The prospect of having a finished sweater that just might be cute and accurate enough to wear has my confidence soaring!)

So, this year I'd like to give the following projects or techniques a try:

socks using the Magic Loop method (I think this will be a good antidote to my symptoms of Single Sock Syndrome). I've already made a pair of socks using Magic Loop, but I didn't use sock yarn, and it was just a basic sock. So I want to branch out and make some cuter socks.

color work. That's brave isn't it?


I think that's quite enough to add to the list for now...if I add too much, I will put my Queen-of-Unfinished-Projects crown on and not a single resolution will be met! I have lots of projects in my Ravelry queue and I'll be able to start tackling those after the sweater as well. Some of them even align with my resolutions!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Back to the grindstone

Tomorrow I have to go back to work. Waaaaaaaahhhhh! I don't want to go. I've thoroughly enjoyed my 2 weeks off. Two weeks without hearing anyone tattle on anyone else. Two weeks without tying anyone's shoes but mine. Two weeks without having to tell someone with bright green snot running dangerously close to their mouth that it's time to get a tissue. Two weeks without hearing our class princess cry because someone took her pencil when, in fact, it is under her paper. Two weeks of not having to sharpen a pencil. Two weeks without uttering the words "mark your tally chart" (our class behavior plan). Two weeks of not having to wake up before 9, change out of my pajamas before...well...bedtime, pack my lunch, drive to school, or shower (although I did shower almost every day over the past 2 weeks...well, at least 10 times anyway).
Don't get me wrong (I know it's hard not to) I don't absolutely hate my job. There are some perks... the daily hugs and love notes from my students (first graders are definitely not afraid to say "I love you"!), the excitement on a kid's face when he reads a "really hard" word, working for a fun and easygoing group of administrators, the occasional parent who tells you "thank you" or "my child hated school last year and this year he's totally into it...I give you a lot of credit". But with the class I have this year, I really enjoyed/needed/cherished/... that fabulous little perk we call "Winter Break" and I hate to see it go.

All that being said, I'm going to take a minute to reflect on the title of this post... my friend Samantha shared with me a quote that our friend Rhonda shared with her... "Life is a grindstone...whether it wears you down or polishes you up depends on what you're made of."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I am a computer genius!

Okay, I guess I have to admit, I am merely a copy-and-paste genius. But it was hard!

Notice the pictures of my knitting projects at the left? If I haven't sung enough praises for Ravelry, strike up the band because here comes another song! Progress Bars! How fun is that?!?!? Now you can monitor my progress (or lack thereof) on my knitting projects. The only one I'm actively pursuing right now is the Minimalist Cardigan. Those other ones are hibernating somewhere. Maybe the little knitting elves will come in one day and finish them up for me.

Now, as genius as I feel for managing (after about 8 unsuccessful tries) to copy and paste the HTML code (whatever that is) into my blog, just imagine what a computer genius Casey, the guy who puts all the cool stuff on Ravelry--which apparently uses those pesky little codes--, must be!
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