Wednesday, November 30

Finishing... and a lesson learned!

Well, today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and I DID IT!!! A few of the days I was pretty close to not making it, but I did, and I'm very proud of myself.

There's also other things that I did, and did not get done. In the "I did" category, I got a ton of stuff done on Ravelry (so much more to do however), and I also got my blog template updated. My sidebars are now current with extra links and such. In the "I did not" category, I didn't get much of a new routine established, and as of this writing, I didn't finish off the Monsterghan... I do plan on working at it as soon as I sign off though.

One other thing I did today is learn a new life lesson! Do not take the extra-long way to the post office without planning ahead!
This may seem strange to most of you, so I will explain! My post office is nearly next door to me. My daily trip to check our mail is often the only real exercise I get in a day, especially if I'm not doing any laundry which requires me using the stairs! Before we got snow a few weeks ago, I would slip on my crocs and dash through our back yard to get there. That would take a minute at the very most. Now I take what I call "the long way", which is walking on the street. This about triples the distance I walk, and makes it a bit more than a 5 minute return trip, including stopping at the trash bins with whatever I've grabbed on the way out the door. Our dog, who is outside for 99% of the summer, is now 99% inside so he usually joins me for the walk. I desperately need more exercise, but can only do it in tiny amounts due to back troubles. It has been my plan to walk around the entire block on days where there is no mail, or I have no trash to dispose of, but that hasn't occurred... before today that is!
This is where the lesson comes in: First of all, my usual slip-on shoes had been knocked down the stairs so I decided to wear my ballet flats which were right there. That was my first mistake! I'm obviously retaining fluid because I had to jam my feet into them, and they were really tight. Now the ballet flats offer absolutely no protection to the bottoms of my feet, so I could feel every tiny pebble in the road, plus I had no traction whatsoever on the icy patches. I get as far as the trash bins, and realize I had forgotten the empty orange box I was going to throw out. For once I didn't stop to gossip at the post office (probably my only smart move in this entire adventure), just checked my mail and left. There was only a single envelope, so I decided that since the wind wasn't bad today, or so I thought, that I would take the "extra-long way home" around the block. As soon as I rounded the first corner I realized that the reason I didn't notice the wind before was because it was either to my back, or blocked by buildings on my way. I didn't have a hat or mittens on, so it was chilly! Next came the dog... I am trying to be careful in my footing since I'm wearing shoes that have no place being outdoors in Manitoba in November! Well, the dog loves to go for walks, but he's always afraid that you're going to take off on him. He walks exactly 18 inches directly in front of you, and stops suddenly every 3.8 seconds (approximately) to make sure you're still right behind him. He's a Shih Tsu (sp?), so it's very easy to stumble and trip over him, and it's not like he's big enough that you could fall on him without doing serious damage. So here I am... walking in simply horrific shoes... feet aching with every step... trying not to step on or fall on the dog... cursing the north wind... and wishing I hadn't chosen to do this today. By the time I was halfway home, it was clearly evident that any further excursions like this required much more sensible shoes... not only were my feet screaming from being jammed into these too-tight crazy-carpet-like nothings, but my back was screaming too from the lack of arch support.
At long last... well it sure seemed long... it was probably less than 10 minutes start to finish... I arrived home, put away my coat, quickly fixed myself a hot coffee, texted my best friend about my lesson learned, and sat down to rest.

Nicole =o)

Tuesday, November 29

How easily we can be distracted!

I have two very good excuses why the Monsterghan isn't done yet... well a third one too, but that's minor!

Excuse #1: My hands have been unbearably cold for most of the day. Even with doing dishes and the like, they never warmed up long enough for me to be able to do anything close to knitting. My hot water bottle does wonders for my cold feet, and my sore back, but nothing at all for my hands. I am still waiting for my crafting gloves to arrive. The company I ordered them from I haven't ordered from before, so I don't know if I'll be getting email confirmation of shipping, etc. It has been over 2 weeks already, but it is the holiday season, and all shipping is slower.
Excuse #2: I have to create a new at-home routine for myself. I no longer have to depend on my phone as my only source of internet at home, and no longer need to seek out high-speed wireless in-town for most tasks. This means that my typical at-home day, and my typical in-town day need to be merged somewhat in a way that is both enjoyable and productive. I expect this to take a few days to a few weeks at best, while I re-train myself! The learning curve on this will be steep. Derek is home on both Thursday and Friday this week, then leaves on the weekend for at least two weeks away. I am hoping to have myself straightened out somewhat by that time... it will be interesting, to say the least... Christmas decorating and cleaning need to be done by then as well!
Semi-excuse #3: I need to spread out the Monsterghan to get a more accurate measurement before I get too far into the border. I do have 2 (or is it 3?) more balls of Homespun left, so it's not like I'm running short of yarn (just short of motivation!}. I've only done 1 or 2 rows of the garter border, so it won't be hard to fix stitches as I go to make another "repeat" of squares. I'll get Derek's help once I'm done this post... Johnny isn't here playing CoD with him tonight.

Nicole =o)

P.S.: Only one more day to the end of NaBloPoMo!! I did it!!

Monday, November 28

Feeling a little sheepish...

Do you collect something? I collect lots of (too many?) things.

My favourite thing to collect is cute sheep. Not just any sheep will do, it has to be absolutely adorable! My dear husband, in all his wisdom, has chosen to indulge these whims of mine with a knowing smile and a sympathetic nod. I have things like a pair of Winnie-the-Pooh pyjamas, where Winnie is wearing a sheep costume. I have a sheep tape measure where you pull the tail to pull out the measuring tape. I purchased a pattern from another IDP designer on Knit Picks that's an adorable little toy (Sheepish pattern), along with 4 different colours of boucle yarn to make a herd with. I have a coffee cup with a sheep that says "Knit Happy" on the side. I swear I'm a sucker for any cute sheep anytime anywhere!

Today, my online adventures brought me to a relatively new-to-me website, Connecting Threads. I've nosed over there a time or three, but hadn't ever really taken a thorough look-see. This company is a sister company to Knit Picks.  Well, what did I find there? A wonderful cutie in the freebie pattern section, a lamb pin cushion!!! WAY too cute for words. I promptly downloaded the pattern, and am looking forward to making a herd of them as well.

Am I obsessed? You better believe it, and I'm proud of it too!

Nicole =o)

P.S.: The Monsterghan is now officially less than a border away from being done!! YAY ME!!

Sunday, November 27

The ends never end!

I've decided to go back to my old routine of "Sundays are for ends". I can't recall exactly when I stopped doing that, but it was probably back when I stopped being "heavy" into my knitting and crocheting about 3-4 years ago. When I picked up my hooks and needles again a year and a half ago, I just never got back into that habit. Since I avoid doing ends as much as possible, as shown by my finding socks that were knit 2 years before that *only* needed 4 ends woven in to become usable, this forces me to work them. Even Derek knew that Sunday was my "end-weaving day"!
It felt really good to get some of the ends done on the Monsterghan. I was helping one of my daughters with untangling and rewinding some yarn from another UFO afghan, which provided me with an opportunity to take a break from the ends. I didn't get them *all* done, but I *did* make a good dent in them. I was even able to get a few rows knitted up. I'll have to measure it again a little later, or tomorrow. I want this to be over already!
Nicole =o)

Saturday, November 26

This is how we slog!

Slog, slog, slog... that's what this afghan is... a huge slog! It's a chore, it's a drudge, it's a royal PITA!!! But it's also nearly done!

I'm forcing myself to continue on with this. I want so much to work on other projects. Not necessarily something freshly cast on... one of the UFO crocheted afghans would suit me fine. Anything, please ANYTHING but this heavy, monster, tarp of Homespun afghan!

All joking aside, this is the *itch* I get when nearing the end of any relatively large project. I'm so close to finishing that I begin chomping at the bit to get going on the next item. Unfortunately that leaves me with a plethora of "almost-done's" and a distinct famine of FOs.

I never have been, and never could be, a monogamous knitter or crocheter. I *have* gone through binges where I've been "good" and finished at least as many if not more than what I've started. History shows that after one of these periods of being "good", I more than make up for it by starting so many projects that my head spins!

So that is why I'm slogging through finishing this project. It *has* to be done, but at the same time, I want a clear conscience to be able to work on what I want... AFTER this is done!

Nicole =o)

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Friday, November 25

Going backwards to go forward.

Sometimes to make progress, you have to go backwards to go forward. That was the theme for today. I spent a great deal of time finishing up the basic reorganizing of my craft room.

Now there is no way I could completely "fix" my room at one shot. That would require at least a week (or three), and a great deal of bins and other organizational items. I have neither the time, nor the money for that. Truth be told, I'd rather not buy a whole bunch of new bins anyway. I'd much rather clean, declutter, and organize what I have better so that I don't need additional bins. So far, I can only see me wanting a large bin for worsted wools... and if I can clear one of my other non-yarn large bins, even that won't be needed. The only other category I need a bin for is lace yarns. I can easily *find* one in my collection, again by clearing and reorganizing.

I was able to get part of the walls washed, and a good portion of the floor. With a lot of shuffling and such, my craft room is now entirely accessible, if not usable yet. Nearly all the bins from this week's cataloguing were returned to the room, including the extra stacks of non-yarn bins that had been in the hallway for some time.

Even with all of these things being returned to the room, my daughter's will still be able to go in there to use my old computer. I can still go in there and get to anything I need to without having to tear half the room apart, or attaching myself to mountain-climbing gear.

At this point, even if every bit of my crafting "stuff" was removed from the living room and dumped in there -- a real possibility as the beginning of December approaches -- I could still get to everything I need to, and so can the girls.

So while some of my work has been "undone", and there's so much more to do, PROGRESS *is* being made!!!

Nicole =o)

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Thursday, November 24

A day in support of SADD, and being thankful

One of my daughters was "dead" at school today. Her school had put on a demonstration about the dangers of teenaged drinking, and drinking and driving. She wasn't allowed to talk to anyone all day, and of course her appearance startled more than one person.

Even though our Thanksgiving was last month, in honour of US thanksgiving, I'd like it if all my readers took a moment to think about this. Drinking and driving is something that affects us all. Let's all be thankful for the gift of life, and remember that it can be taken away at any time.

Nicole (no smiley face today)

Wednesday, November 23

Sucker for punishment?

That's what I feel like when I'm trying to do my Ravelry updates using my phone. BOLT is the recommended viewing browser for Blackberry users, but the way it reloads a page after each form field is filled out drives me completely up a wall. After a lot of trial and error, I've discovered which browser (default or BOLT) is best for which task. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of using mobile internet, there is no way to speed up "data entry" any more than that. Even the simplest tasks become aggravating time sinks.

Today is my last day of "concerted effort" in getting Ravelry updates done. Any more major additions will require huge amounts of digging in my craft room and elsewhere. I've completely trashed nearly the entire main floor of our house with bins and bags and boxes of yarn and projects, all in varying degrees of progression. I am feeling suffocated by it all, so I have to get it more under control before I go any further. I don't want my craft room to turn into a dumping ground for *everything* this Christmas like it has every other year. It takes me months to be able to even move in there again!

I have most of my "found" UFOs listed as projects now; at least three-quarters of my indexable stash entered; and queued my commissioned projects as well as the kits I have on hand. The more I use the databases that Ravelry has available, the more efficient I can become considering the overwhelming amount of "stuff" I have to use and make.

At least today wasn't stitch-less. I was able to do *nearly* my daily quota on the Monsterghan, before the knuckles of my right hand demanded I stop. I *was* hoping to get two more rows done to finish the repeat I was on. I was going to measure where I was at so that I could motivate myself more towards finishing.

Nicole =o)

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Tuesday, November 22

It's a good thing I'm not a politician...

... because I'm *horrible* with names!

Tonight was my first knit night since July. I'm really glad that I went, even though the dark and cold (possible ice) scares me on the highway. I met 3 new people tonight, but I couldn't tell ya what their names were!

Regardless of my social ineptitude when it comes to remembering the names of people I've just met, I still had a blast. I was able to gift one woman with some yarn for her charity work; I wasn't able to help the one girl trying loom knitting for the first time; I was able to see and feel Knit Picks Chroma; I was able to admire the simple elegance of another lady's (sc, dc) afghan; I was able to demonstrate how to hand-wind a centre-pull ball; and let everyone feel the soft squishy-ness of my Knit Picks Felici.

It was a last-minute decision to go, so I only had a few moments to grab what I was taking. That was actually a good thing, only taking what I realistically needed. Even with all the socializing going on, I was still able to get more than a stripe's worth of my sock done. It was the first knitting I've done since Sunday!

My work on my "old stash" continued today. The progress has slowed a bit, but that's mainly because the "easy" stuff has already been dealt with. Today entailed a *lot* of rewinding, as well as entering UFO afghans into my projects page. My goal is to have this 99% done by the weekend. This way I'll know what, if anything, I require to get and keep everything organized.

As overwhelming as this is, I *really* feel this will help me get a handle on what I have, what I want to do, and what I need to get done!

Nicole =o)

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Monday, November 21

The productivity of avoidance...

Another day of great progress... unfortunately it wasn't on my highest priority project, the Monsterghan! I have found that on the days I am avoiding something I *really* need to be doing, I manage to accomplish miracles... in other areas!!!

Today's avoidance project was the start of reorganizing my "old stash". By loose definition, I consider most of what was bought prior to our move to fit this category. With the exception of sock yarn, a huge proportion of this yarn was intended for crocheting. While it *is* interchangeable, I typically have different qualities in mind when looking for yarn for a crocheting project than a knitting project.

My large collection of plastic tubs contain the majority of my vast expanse of stash. Many of these have been sorted through to a certain extent, and some had even been labelled over the last 10+ years. I've gone through binges where I've sorted, frogged, washed, reskeined, rewound yarns but never a concerted effort to catalogue everything like today's.

I separated yarns by brand name, then colour, then dye lot. Each yarn was entered into my Ravelry stash database, including the name of the specific bin it was going to be stored in. It worked out to over 150 separate yarn entries added today, with anywhere from 0.5 skeins to 22 skeins per entry. A few of these needed to be rewound, but not as many as I had to do in previous "stash dives".

It was eye-opening to have to handle each ball of yarn. I *know* I have an obnoxiously huge stash, but there is something to be said for having to touch, look at, and account for each and every skein. On the plus side, I have a better knowledge of what I already have. I know from my Ravelry library listings, that I can shop better and use it to my advantage when searching Rav. Since many of these bins will be stored somewhere other than the easy access of my craft room, the additional step of listing the bin names will allow me to search Ravelry for where my yarn is before I start tearing apart piles of bins all over!

This small start in getting my stash properly catalogued took over 10 hours today with my phone. Many more hours will be spent on this task, especially until I get my craft room in complete order. However, I know from previous experience that this time has been an investment in the future, and that investment will eventually pay off in saved time, as well as money.

Nicole =o)

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Sunday, November 20

The light gets brighter...

The end of the tunnel is continuing to get closer and closer. I spent a good portion of today (off and on) working on the Monsterghan.

I'm now on the last ball of one of the dye lots. It must have been 4 of one lot, and 6 of the other for the initial purchase. It also must have been the "6 ball lot" that I purchased an additional ball of yarn from. I say this because the 3 remaining balls of yarn in the tote are all the same lot. This will make life a bit easier for me for the rest of the project, since ball changes will now be at the end of a ball, rather than at the end of a repeat as well. For most people this isn't a big deal, but with my *extreme* aversion to end-weaving, this is fantabulous news!

I got my "half-a-repeat" quota done for the day, as well as quite a few ends woven in. I took advantage of my hands not being in knitting condition in the mornings while I was motivated to make progress. I'm still looking at having it finished before the end of the week, and if I keep myself motivated, I *will* make that quota!

Besides, I have a monster list of projects I want to make after this is done!!! *snicker*

Nicole =o)

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Saturday, November 19

The light at the end of the tunnel...

at least when referring to the Monsterghan, *is* a light, and not a train coming towards me.

Well after my harrowing day yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day today just resting and watching DVDs. Once I started feel remotely, slightly human again, I could start working on the Monsterghan again.

Well I'm very happy to announce that the end *is* now in sight! I had Derek help me measure it. It is approximately 6 feet wide. I couldn't believe it, as it was *supposed* to be only 4 feet wide! The overall length is about 5 feet now. I'm guesstimating that I'll need to do 2-3 more squares and then I can declare it done.

What I'm wondering now is, how long after this is done, will I have the courage to make another afghan??

Nicole =o)

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Friday, November 18

The balance of the universe...

requires that everything in life is proportional. The days that prove that fact drive me insane!

Yesterday I wrote about everything I needed to do today. Of course, that means that something has to happen to make all those errands as difficult to do as possible. This time around it was Mother Nature. I'm not sure who pissed her off that badly, but I'd sure like to tear them a new one!

The winter storm started yesterday afternoon, and would let up just long enough at times to make sure that every idiot with (and probably some without) licences would go out and try to drive! Our truck, while a *very* dependable vehicle, is relatively light as it's only a 2 wheel drive. It's definitely sturdy, as evidenced by my trip into the ditch last year, but still doesn't have much traction on sheer ice.

My day was spent slipping and sliding from one place to another. Brandon is built straddling a river valley, so there's lots of hills. This translates into *lots* of places to slip, slide, and go sideways! There's a reason why winter driving was a huge factor in my decision to leave my job... I DON'T LIKE DRIVING IN THIS STUFF!!!

I *did* survive... I *didn't* get in any accidents... I *am* going to bed!!!

Nicole =o)

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Thursday, November 17

Another boring post...

Well as of the time of this writing, I haven't knit a single stitch today! I've been busy like crazy it seems though.

Tomorrow is my last planned day in town for this month. Derek, myself, and one of the girls have physicals at the doctor's tomorrow. Derek and I are getting a ton of blood work and such done, so we're both on 12 hour fasting. I normally refuse to do any kind of fasting due to my hypoglycaemia, but this time Derek will be with me to drive me to get something to eat afterwards.

I have to run what seems like a million errands. I have to deposit my first "paycheque" from Knit Picks. I have to pay for my driver's licence renewal. I have to go to the bookstore in the mall to use my 15% off coupon, for some Christmas gifts. I have to go to the office supply store for some copies and file folders. I have to go to the craft store for another Christmas present. I have to take my daughter to get her glasses adjusted and repaired. I also have from 1 to 3 online orders to place, and am not quite decided on what I'm getting.

Part of being busy today was the prep work for all of this. I have to make sure I've got all of my paperwork, coupons, and memberships in order. I had to make all of the various shopping lists (tomorrow is grocery shopping too!), which required an inventory of specific things so I could compile the list. Then there was also a long to-do list of emailing, phone calls and other types of correspondence to deal with. I had list after list of to-do, to-bring, to-buy and other whatnot on the go! Sometimes living so far out of town is a real chore!

I still have to take my bath and get off to bed, morning is extra-early tomorrow... we have to leave 45 minutes earlier than normal to make our appointments... I'm tired already! LOL!

Nicole =o)

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Wednesday, November 16

Being organized can be time consuming!

Well the promised Knit Picks order post is being postponed. I spent the better part of the day simply entering all the yarn into my Ravelry stash listing.

It's at times like these where only having phone internet is a real PITA! To make matters worse, the BlackBerry default browser is the fastest way to enter stash, but it doesn't let me enter books or magazines into my library. I have to use BOLT for that, and it has got to be the slowest possible way on the planet for filling out online forms *ever*. After each little box is filled out, the page reloads. After each check box is selected, the page reloads. After each selection from a drop-down menu, the page reloads. You get the idea! Needless to say I *didn't* get the books done today!

While it did take a lot of time, and would have been faster on the laptop using wi-fi, it will still save me time *and* money in the long run. I reference my stash when yarn shopping at the LYSs in Winnipeg, I reference my magazine library when doing our grocery shopping, and I reference my book library when shopping for books and patterns online or in-store. I do my best to keep up with what my leftover are from projects, using my scale. This helps when planning a new project, so I can tell at a glance if I have enough. The more I use the Ravelry databases, the more I get out of them.

I *did* get a little more than the yarn entries done today however! I knit a stripe's-worth of my Felici socks... they are so nice and soft! My walk to the post office today was assisted by a *very* unwelcome North wind, so I came up with a scarf idea to design up. I finished a few rows on the Monsterghan. Last, but not least, I had fun staring at my first commission cheque from the Knit Picks IDP. Sure felt good getting my first *real* paycheque as a designer!!

Nicole =o)

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Tuesday, November 15

I'm so spoiled, the proof!!

I was so overwhelmed with Liz's generosity, that I forgot to attach the pic! It *is* a craptastic phone picture, but I'm sure you get the idea!

Nicole =o)

I'm soooo spoiled!

Well I knew I had the bestest best friend in the world, but today was one of proof of that. Firstly, she made me cry... She blogged about me and I got all weepy! Of course I texted her to give her what-for for making me cry!! LOL! Next, I came home to both of the parcels I was expecting; my KP order (see tomorrow's post), and a gifty one from her. Now, I *was* expecting it, and I knew a *few* of the things that were going into it, but she out-did even herself!!!! As I got to the bottom of the box, I got all weepy again!

In August, she had gone to the Mary Maxim tent sale. I had asked her to look for some specific items for me. A cute, golfing Santa felt stocking kit was one. I had been kicking myself for months for not ordering it last year when I first saw it, as it had disappeared from the catalogue *and* website. It was the perfect item for Derek, and I had already purchased several similar kits a few years ago (one of which I mentioned back in October that I was working on it). Another was some Starlette yarn in a few colours so I could swatch with it for an afghan design I'm working on. Starlette is the only line of reasonably-priced machine-washable worsted yarn that has all 11 colours I need for this design. There were also 2 Harmony crochet books (the old ones!) which were the main reason she sent this when she did... I had whined about how in my now vast library of reference books, I had nothing to assist me in designing a crochet lace shawl!!! That's what I knew about!

Next there were several items I vaguely remember her mentioning at one point or another. There's some plain and purply-pink roving for thrums. The purply-pink should work perfectly with the rose and lavender Briggs & Little Regal I bought in the spring for thrummed mitts, and of course, natural goes with everything. There was the Creative Knitting special issue, Techniques, Tips & Tricks. CK is one of the (very) few knitting magazines that I consistently enjoy the projects from, so this was a must-have issue for me... and of course locating it here was impossible (until *after* she bought me a copy!). I dug out a ball of Mary Maxim Bamboo sock yarn... I forgot about that one! I have been purchasing samples of the various wool sock yarns from there, and due to the fibre content, hadn't tried this one yet. The colour she chose is like a rose garden of pink, purple, peach, and green... too nice for *just* socks IMO!!! One other item rang a bell... very soft ring mind you, but a ring nonetheless... a hank of a blue sherbet-like semi-solid hand painted sock yarn, packaged in a parfait cup (more like a slurpee, but that's splitting hairs!). It was for a cancer fund raiser a couple years back. Very cute and very smooshy!

Then came the complete surprises... A blue-grey-black ball of Mary Maxim Bounce, another sock yarn I hadn't tried yet, a *huge* stack of mostly colour-work patterns (I'm *really* needing a KP Palette sampler after looking through them!), a 101 stitch book of crochet stitches for afghans, and 2 *nearly* identical balls of deep blue jacquard sock yarn. Those 2 made me step back for a moment. The yardage on them is huge!!! 440m/ 481yds each! One ball should make even Derek a pair of socks *nearly* to the height he prefers! I later found out that it was in a bin for $2 each!!! I remembered seeing the *really* cheap sock yarn emails from Mary Maxim in the late summer, but this was still surprising... $2 for sock yarn that doesn't feel like it by any means! Usually you get what you pay for, but even Walmart charges more than that for a single pair of socks!!!

I've saved the very best for last... the item that made me cry, and truth be told, has me welling up as I write this. I could not believe my eyes when I pulled out a hank of "Cashmara" sock yarn in Petrol out of the mix. I remembered looking over the website that sold it (sorry, no linky) when Liz was ordering parts for her sock machine. She was doing to me what I do to her CONSTANTLY... making **me** look at yummy yarny goodness to help **her** pick out colours! Sock yarn wasn't the purpose of her order, the parts were, but she wanted some sock yarn too. I totally understood, as my KP orders have been mostly tools and reference, with yarn as an afterthought. I remember looking at the various yarn lines and colours, and how this one colourway grabbed me immediately. Even though the pics she sent me of her stash had a lot of these colours already, this combination was just too good to pass up.

All I remember clearly about that day is the two of us emailing back and forth (as always) and discussing the pros and cons of various colours. I also remember being so happy for her for having her machine finally, and looking forward to when she was practised enough with it to trust *good* yarn such as this to it. I've always lived vicariously through many of the things she does and can do that I can't. As jealous as I am of her being able to "crank out a sock" now, I also know that, for me, making nothing but stockinette, short row heel socks, is not what I want to do with my stash. Derek prefers his ribbed worsted weight Tuffy socks, and I like making patterns with nearly any yarn I have. Plus, heel flap socks are what work best for both of us! Regardless, I can't wait to see her socks once she gets off the current quilting marathon she's on! I love ya Liz!!!

Nicole =o)

PS: The Cashmara feels as good as it looks... it's not "too good" for socks, and not "too rough" for a wearable accessory... the perfect combination in any sock weight yarn!!!

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Monday, November 14

Still recovering...

Well I'm still recovering from this weekend's "migraine from hell". At least when I was younger, I had usually had some fun to deserve this kind of recovery pain! Not much got done around the house, but I *did* get some knitting done in between naps. The daily quota on the Monsterghan has been exceeded, and the ribbing is done on the Nearly Instant Gratification socks. I'm really enjoying knitting with Felici as much as I enjoyed squishing it in the ball when it arrived. I'm expecting a *very* comfortable pair of socks!

Nicole =o)

Sunday, November 13

Recovering from a migraine...

Yesterday was *not* a good day for me... I had one of my crippling migraines. I've only been getting them the last few years, but they have been increasing in both frequency and severity. Unfortunately I haven't found out what all my triggers are, but the worst one is barometric pressure changes. Well the weather has been *very* variable lately, with snow off and on for about a week now. I had it when I first woke up, but I popped a few Tylenol, thinking that it was simply one of the headaches I frequently wake up with. This was not the case, but I didn't discover this until we were already in town for the day, and I didn't have any meds with me. Of course, to make matters worse, Derek had to work late, so I was stuck waiting (and suffering) for over an hour. By the time we finally did get home, I wasn't able to function on even the slightest level. Meds and a 4 hour nap later, I could at least move, albeit slowly, without feeling like I was about to die!

When I woke up this morning, the ache was down to a dull roar, so I could start working, at least a little bit. I managed to get a few rows of the monsterghan done, as well as starting a pair of socks out of some of my Felici. Add in some major Rav updates and catching up on the forums, and you have my day!

Nicole =o)

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Saturday, November 12

Have you seen this bag?

I recently was made aware of several thefts of designer's samples at some trade shows. It's shocking how much nerve it takes to do something like this, especially considering how unique and recognizable these items are.

This particular bag ( is an especially intricate work of art. Many of the designers on Ravelry are doing whatever they can to get the word out. This bag was stolen from the yarn company's booth at Rhinebeck. If you have seen this bag, please contact the designer, or contact me and I can put you in touch with her. Thank you!

Nicole =o)

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Friday, November 11

The productivity of avoiding work!

It's amazing how much I get done when I'm avoiding doing something that I know *has* to get done! That was the name of the game today! I did all kinds of things to avoid working on the monsterghan! About 4 complete loads of laundry, my bedroom cleaned, several rounds of "Age of Mythology", plus other assorted tidying-up jobs! I even organized the leftover balls of yarn from Melissa's afghan, and got that project properly set up in its own shopping tote.

I didn't *completely* avoid my knitting, however. From the time yesterday's picture was taken, I've gotten another 20 rows done. That's another square's worth of rows. I had already done more than my daily quota of 10 rows when the picture was taken, so I'm progressing quite nicely.

Tomorrow is an "in town" day, and I'm *really* hoping to get some major updating done on various things. The shortcomings of this phone can really be annoying at times!

Nicole =o)

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Thursday, November 10

You ought to be in pictures... I hope!

Well wish me luck! I'm using this post to test my ability to add pictures to a post via email, and to see what happens to them!

I've been slogging away on the monsterghan all day, finishing almost one complete square's worth of rows. I desperately want to work on some designing, so this *has* to get finished quickly. I'm also waiting for 2 parcels to arrive. Hopefully Monday since tomorrow is a holiday, and I'm in town on Tuesday.

*If* the pictures work, please forgive the poor quality, as they were taken with my phone. One is of me hiding behind it to hold it up and show how big it is so far. The other is meant to show the colour and pattern better, along with a peek at our kitten, Spooky.

Nicole =o)

Wednesday, November 9

The monster rears its ugly head...

Well this monster isn't ugly, but would "The monster rears its soft and squishy head" been as dramatic?

After a couple days' break, I'm back working on the monsterghan again. It's nice seeing the tote bag I'm using for this project being filled more with "afghan blob" than "there's *HOW* many more balls of Homespun left"! I'm still not halfway through the yarn I purchased but I do think that I can say that I *am* more than halfway done.

This afghan is getting heavier and heavier all the time. Each ball of yarn is 170g/ 6 oz. That means that it currently weighs over 850g/ 30 oz. Its gonna feel like a quilt by the time its done! I do have to say that it sure is great for keeping the chill off of me while I'm working on it. We have snow now, and even though the furnace is on, the house still feels cold.

I *really* need to get this afghan finished soon. The design muse is shouting at me and I *really* need to be able to listen better. I've gotten more than my *quota* of 10 rows done today, so I think I'm gonna call it a night.

Nicole =o)

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Tuesday, November 8

Be afraid... be *very* afraid...

Sorry folks, but this is yet *another* video game themed post! If you are completely against war/ violence video games, please read no further. There are no spoilers or graphic descriptions, as this is an editorial comment rather than an actual review.

Today was the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Derek has been looking forward to this ever since August or so when we first found out about it and put the deposit down on our copy. I *have* tried to play previous versions but I suck worse at "first-person shooter" games than I do at golf!!! (Trust me... that's saying a LOT!) However, Derek is really into this series, and is fairly decent at it too.

I was a "good wife" and picked up our copy of the game and the strategy guide while I was in town today. I know we could have picked it up after work as EB Games is just down the hill from his work, but that would have made him lose at least 30 minutes of potential playing time tonight! That's just not acceptable with a brand new game! LOL!

Well I saw something when he was loading the game for the first time that gave me a double-take. Keep in mind that this is a very violent game. The creators take pride in producing life-like graphics, and the 17+ rating is more than deserved. There was a warning for "Inappropriate or possibly offensive content". The game doesn't reveal any details of what type of content, but it does give you the option of skipping over it with no losses in achievements and the like.

If a game of this type offers this kind of warning, and the ability to skip it without penalization... just *how* offensive *is* this content?

I'm afraid... I'm *very* afraid!!!

Nicole =o)

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Monday, November 7

It's a four letter word ya know!

Snow... Four letters and just as nasty as the ones your mother used to wash your mouth out with soap for!

We got our first real snow of the year yesterday, and it's still here today! A bit of it melted on the road but it's still covering our lawn and everything else. Only a couple of centimetres (if that), but that's all it takes!

Unfortunately, these drastic weather changes trigger massive migraines for me. So today has been declared an "on the couch" day with the curtains closed. I'll be the one over there --> whimpering under the blanket... Our DVD player has decided to act up too, so I don't even have any TV to veg out to!

Nicole =o)

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Sunday, November 6

Did you change your clock?

For most people in North America, this morning saw the end of Daylight Savings Time for this year. At our house, that means a *lot* of clocks need to be reset! My phone, and our laptops do it automatically. Derek's and the girls' phones have to be rebooted to recognize the change. The digital clocks on the microwave, coffee maker, and alarm clocks are relatively easy to do. Then there's the two wall clocks in the living room, and the one in the kitchen. I like to clean them whenever I take them down, so that's an additional step in the process.

I *thought* I had slept in until about 9:30 this morning until I checked my phone instead of the wall! The "extra" hour is pretty much taken care of with checking every clock!!! I spent most of the rest of the day playing "Age of Mythology", so I didn't accomplish anything at all on my knitting today!! However, I'm getting better at AOM, so it's time to add more opponents or increase the difficulty, or both! It's a nice diversion from my work, and a nice change from either my novel or DS.

Nicole =o)

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Saturday, November 5

So much to do!

It seems like the more I try to concentrate on one project, the more things that come up that require immediate attention!

If you have been following my writing lately, you know that my shawl design-in-progress (DIP) is what I want to work on the most. I am about 4 repeats into it, and I'm still liking it, although I *am* wondering a bit about it. That's the main reason I have been able to focus on the monsterghan.

When I measured the monsterghan yesterday, it was approximately 40 inches long. The overall width is 60+ inches as my circular needle is that length, and the afghan is wider than that. I declared to my best friend that I was about half done at that point. I've gotten nearly another square done on it today.

Now I also have orders for a pair of men's socks, and two pairs of slippers to be done. I have no choice but to get the monsterghan done before anything else, as this project was commissioned at the end of May. My designs are a big priority for me too, as I'd like to have my knitting and crocheting to be self-supporting at the minimum.

Well tonight I was commissioned to get a tree skirt done as well! I only have one pattern written up for that, and I'm not certain if it will serve the purposes I need. *sigh* So I have yet *another* design to work on!!

When it rains it pours!!!

Nicole =o)

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Friday, November 4

And we're off!!! err... on... Casting on that is!

Now it's time for the next step in this design... choosing the yarn and casting on.

My Ott light is invaluable when it comes time to pick and choose colours. Especially at this time of year, natural light is difficult to come by. I pulled out the two colours of yarn, Doe and Kenai in Knit Picks Gloss fingering, and held them side by side. I called up a close-up of the prayer shawl and decided that the jade colour of the Kenai would be the best fit for my design.

Now that my yarn is chosen, I *still* don't get to cast on yet! The yarn comes in hanks so I have to ball it up. I don't have a ball winder or swift so that process is done by hand. In my limited experience with Knit Picks yarns, this has been an extremely painless experience. The yarn doesn't seem to know how to tangle!

After the yarn has been transformed into a ball, I decided on a needle size, and assembled one. I had a few ideas on the set-up and fiddled around a bit until I found something that worked, and looked how I wanted. I worked it up until one full repeat was completed.

This is where I left it at so that I can "think on it" for a little while and decide if I like how it's turning out.

Nicole =o)

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Thursday, November 3

Still in the planning stages...

The next step for this design is the graphing. Since I already have a stitch pattern picked out, I don't have to make sample swatches of various stitches to help me in the decision making process.

Call it "Old School" if you like, but I like using pencil, eraser, and graph paper for creating my draft charts. My laptop is often one of the final tools I use in the pattern writing process.

I made a rough draft of the stitch repeat. The book this pattern comes from doesn't provide charts, and does decreases different from my preferred method. I make these initial alterations while doing the written to charted conversions.

My research has found a generic guide for shawl shapes and designing. Since my intended finished shape isn't a typical triangle, this gives me a starting point to work from. I charted out the formula for my desired shape, but it wasn't working out like I had hoped. I modified/ combined the formulas and charted them until I got one I like.

The final part of the pre-cast-on stages is to choose a yarn. I've already decided I'm using some of the non-superwash Knit Picks fingering yarn I received in some sock yarn samplers. Checking my stash, I find 2 candidates: Kenai, a rich teal colour; and Doe, a light, warm brown.

Stay tuned for the cast on!!

Nicole =o)

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Wednesday, November 2

The start of a design...

This is going to be the first in a series of posts about the design process for me. Each project starts out differently, and therefore is designed differently, but this is meant to be an example of one.

About a year ago, a very dear friend of mine became quite ill. She had a liver transplant about 20 years ago, and it was beginning to fail. Derek and I attended the fund-raising social for her, but I felt I still needed to do something. I'd heard of the "Comfort Shawl Ministry" and was compelled to make her one. I went through my stitch books and found one that inspired me. Long story short, I gave it to her and she got better. I really enjoyed the pattern, and kept it in the back of my mind.

This spring I started getting into a real "shawl mood". All I seemed to be able to think of was lace, and shawls, and scarves, and creating that magic that occurs when blocking knitted lace.

I wanted to create a different version of the prayer shawl... different shape, different construction, different yarn weight... basically everything different except for the base stitch. I had remembered an article on shawl design out of one of my magazines, plus did some research online on different shawl shapes and methods.

So after several months of "brain bouncing", and some research, a new design idea starts to take shape. I have some Knit Picks sock yarn that I've ear-marked for shawls, so the next step is choosing which one, and playing with graph paper!

Nicole =o)

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Tuesday, November 1

Waiting and slogging; slogging and waiting...

That's what I'm going through right now!

I was able to place a Knit Picks order Saturday before the book sale was over. I have some more references on the way now, along with a shawl kit and lace samplers. Of course there's other goodies too. I'll share (brag) about it all when it arrives later this month.

All this lace weight yarn has got me chomping at the bit to start on some shawl designs. I'm sure I'll be taking a day this week to play around with my stitch books and graph paper! I'm itching to start swatching!

The slogging is on the monsterghan. Now that my pullover is completed, the monsterghan *has* to be my focus. I am committed to having it finished by the end of the month. I measured it on the weekend, and I would guesstimate that I'm around half-done. I would like to do at least 10 rows a day when at home, which is half a "square" in the pattern repeat.

Wish me luck in my goals!!!

Nicole =o)

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