Sunday, March 25

And the hits just keep on comin'...

My entire last week has been an exercise in futility from a photography standpoint. As I had posted last weekend, I was building myself a light box to improve the quality of my photographs. My KP-IDP socks were finished, so I could get my pics taken, and have them shipped off before the kids started spring break... or so I thought!

If there was a mistake that could be made, I made it! My first testing of the light box was with light yellow yarn with a white background. My camera over-compensated, and I ended up with too-dark pictures. My camera is far from the easiest to adjust, but I managed to figure out how to get it to work a bit better. Then I decided to start working on the socks. No matter what I did, they looked HORRIBLE!! Even though my LCD display on my camera seemed okay, when I would get the images loaded on my computer, craptastic would have been an improvement! I spent TWO FULL DAYS playing around with every single setting on my camera for colour, as well as colour correction software on the computer and online. I was crabbing because even my phone got the colour closer than my camera did, or so I thought. I even had a picture of my computer that I sent to my BFF that showed the colour differences... the yarn balls perched on the laptop, with one of the pictures I had taken loaded on the monitor... and even in a tiny picture viewed on a phone, the difference was blatantly apparent.

It wasn't until Friday that I discovered the real culprit, and no, it wasn't (entirely) operator error. It was my monitor of all things! Like I said, I had been using the leftover balls beside my monitor to try and correct the colour on my images... much easier to try and colour match when you have the actual yarn right beside it! I had heard on Rav that the pictures in the KP catalogue, and the web site weren't all that bad. I went to the site and grabbed a large thumbnail of the yarn I was sent. I loaded it up beside the picture I had taken of my socks, and still had the yarn sitting there in front. Imagine my surprise when I discover that the colour from the KP site nearly matched my photo perfectly, which of course meant that it was nowhere near the actual yarn I had in front of me!

So that all started the weekend's exercise in futility... trying to fix the colour on my monitor. Many, MANY posts on Ravelry to various forums, plenty of Googling, and tons of playing around with my display settings was my main task this past weekend. All of this to discover that it appears I can not fix my laptop's colour. There is nothing in the control panel that lets me actually adjust it... just some other settings that are either okay (brightness), or I can't fix the way they say (gamma). I am going to have to come up with a series of workarounds for this since a new computer, new second monitor, new imaging software, and the like, simply are not in the budget right now, or for the foreseeable future!!!

Sunday, March 18

No good deed goes unpunished

Truer words have never been spoken, and that was the theme of the day today. It turns out that our last few days of winter are more like what you'd expect from the last days of spring in June. The temps have been in the high teens for a couple days now at least. This means that we're all outside enjoying the beautiful weather and getting a head start on the yard work.

One of the many spring tasks around here is giving the truck a good interior cleaning. Winter tends to accumulate a fair amount of flotsam and jetsam in the various nooks and crannies, as well as a healthy layer of dirt over everything. The way the weather has been (mostly) for the last month or so means that I have been putting this off as long as I possibly could. Today was the day where it was finally getting done.

4 pails worth of cleaning water, a scrub brush, a toothbrush, 2 shopping bags of trash, $3.48 in change, and 3 hours of the doors open and radio playing later, it was nearly complete. I was done in even though the job wasn't completely finished, and as it turns out, so was the truck! About an hour later I tried to start it and the battery was dead. I let the truck sit for several hours before trying it again, to no avail. We ended up borrowing a battery charger from a neighbour, and it's hooked up to the truck now.

Serves me right for giving the truck a detailing!!

Nicole =o)

Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

Saturday, March 17

Light box -- before, and *almost* after

I apologize for the phone camera pics, but I think you will get the idea. I wasn't able to get the *exact* supplies I wanted, but what I *did* get should serve my purposes. The finished frame gets a backdrop attached to the cup-hooks, and a translucent sheet draped over the top. Lighting is aimed through the sheet, over and beside the frame to light the "stage" inside.
I gave it a quick test drive shortly after the frame was finished. I will definitely need to work on tweaking my camera. It turns out that I can't change the settings I need to the most, but I should be able to do macro with little difficulty. I also found that using 2 Ott-lites doesn't provide enough light, at least not with the sheet as it is. I will do another test run with wax paper as the "filter" to see how it works.
Once I get it working how I need to, I'll post pics of how everything turned out.

Friday, March 16

Gonna build me a light box!

Well the hands aren't co-operating with knitting like I need them to be, so I have to find other productive things to do with all the deadlines I have coming up soon. A lot of the extras, as I call them, that need working on have been put off for waaaaay too long now. Unfortunately, a good portion of these tasks require me to be able to concentrate fully, and that simply isn't possible when the kids (or Derek for that matter) are home.

My photography skills need quite a bit of improvement, although I have been doing better with them recently than I had in previous years. I spent nearly a full day last week doing all kinds of research on what I can do to make my pictures better. I simply am not in a place financially where I can justify any kind of professional photographer. I discovered that even with my cheap ~$100 camera, it is possible to take much better photographs than I have been. I downloaded a copy of the full user manual to teach myself how to play with some different settings, but I'll save that for another post.

What I will be doing today is making myself a light box to take pictures in. What is a light box? Basically it's a box with translucent sides that allows filtered light in to improve the quality of the pictures of the item inside, particularly with macro-type images. One easy DIY version that you can likely make with items you already have is here. Another cool version that uses screen frames can be found here. The one that I plan on making is here. It uses PVC pipe for the framing, and I plan on purchasing extra piping to be able to adjust the size of the "box". I'm also going to be purchasing a few colours of large poster paper so that I can change the background to best suit the item I'm photographing. I have 2 Ott-lites, a floor and desk version, so I'm basically set for lighting, along with our large dining room window for natural light. I have a tiny, table-top tripod for my camera, but I'm going to look into a floor version as well.

Wish me luck! I'm heading off into town in the truck with 3 kids, on a Friday with no school... what was I thinking???

Tuesday, March 13

The tape measure LIES!!!

Yes everyone, it's no longer just the bathroom scale that is a lying, cheating you-know-what. The previously trustworthy tape measure has now been delegated to "the boy who cried wolf" status.

Now before you all go commenting about how tape measures can stretch over time, and should be replaced periodically... this is a FOUR INCH DIFFERENCE!!! In less than an hour! Here is what I wrote on the project notes for my While Shrug earlier today:
Well I’ve discovered that my measuring tape LIES!!! I’ve mainly been working on this when I can’t work on socks… Knit Night, travelling back and forth to the airport, things like that. I had measured it a few days ago and had placed a marker at the 40” mark, since I wasn’t quite a 50” yet, and I knew I had to get to 57” before doing the ribbing for the cuff. Yesterday evening, we drove into the city since Derek had a very early flight this morning. I took advantage of the time and got quite a bit done on the shrug… or so I thought! Measuring on my lap, in the truck, my work was 17” from the marker. When we got to the hotel, one of the first things I did was roll it all out to get a proper measurement. Derek and I checked it, and it was only 53”!!! I have no idea how it shrank that much, since I was knitting away for well over an hour of our drive in on it! I placed new markers at 50”, and hopefully the last bit will be done over the next few days or so! 
See what I mean? It lies... it totally, and completely lied to me! At least it won't take all that long to finish it up. I've got my fingers crossed that this will be done before Derek gets back home again in 2 weeks. I like having FOs to show him, so that he knows I'm actually finishing things, not just starting them! Besides, I'm enjoying watching my knitmeters increase over there on the sidebar.

Nicole =o)

Monday, March 12

The best part of slow shipping...

... is that you forget what you ordered, so when it arrives it's all a surprise!!!

That happened to me today. I placed an order with Herrschners back on the 29th. I had been waiting for a free shipping offer to place my order for the yarn to finish Derek's Popcorn MAM. That morning I got an email from them announcing a 29% off sale for that day only to celebrate the leap year. I knew that the discount would more than take care of the shipping costs, so off to their web site I went to place my order.

One item was a given... the yarn I needed for Derek's afghan. Pretty much everything else was optional, so I began the process of putting things in and taking things out of my cart while I made my final decisions for my purchase. I chose two different crocheted sock monkey kits; one was a pair of mint candy-striped regular-sized dolls; the other was a set of 6 ornament-sized dolls. I also ordered an embroidered pillowcase and thread kit to make for Derek's room out at the mines. These had been in my wish list/ shopping cart for some time, and I had planned on adding these to the next order I placed. The rest of what I wanted to order went in and out of my cart so frequently, that I couldn't remember what all there was.

Today Derek made the trip to our post office at lunch time and came back with a notice card. He asked me if I had ordered anything. I told him, "yes, I told you I ordered the yarn to finish your afghan, remember?" After the lunch break, he went back to pick up my parcel. When he came through the door, he teased that he nearly needed a fork lift to bring it home (referring to a joke I made with my daughters about a very heavy Knit Picks order I had placed with many books). When I saw the size of the box, even I was astonished at how large it was. He asked me what I ordered again... your yarn, and a few other things... He accused me, rightly so, of forgetting what I ordered. I had to agree, but I really didn't think I had ordered THAT much!! At least not enough to fill that box.

Well, after taking the required photos with my phone to send off to my bff, I opened the box and dived in. It turns out that the box wasn't completely outrageous in size after all. Derek giggled at my reactions as I pulled item after item out of the carton. Of course there was the items I had remembered (or at least half remembered), but the fun part was the items I had completely forgotten about! There was a latch hook kit of a breast cancer ribbon (no explanation necessary to him on that at all!). There was a huge project bag filled with yarn, that I remembered was a crocheted afghan kit. The final item that had both of us puzzled was a plain white box. It wasn't until I began opening that I remembered... it was a crochet thread ball holder! Derek just shook his head and laughed at me.

In all honesty, the only thing I really needed to justify in any way, shape or form, was the afghan kit. It was the only thing in the order that was completely extravagant as far as I was concerned. The 4 balls of yarn were to be able to finish his afghan in the colours he wanted. The pillowcases were meant to be a surprise for him, as a piece of home in his room at the mine. The sock monkey kits were cute, he knows I can get them finished fast, and were mostly intended for one of the teenagers. The latch hook was simply because it was a pink ribbon item, and even if it's never made, he would never complain about my buying it. The thread holder is to make using my large balls of crochet thread easier, something that I have in vast abundance after cataloguing my stash previously. That leaves us with the afghan kit... I purchased it because I really liked it, knew it would be a relatively fast and easy project, and came with a pattern booklet with 3 other patterns. I justified the cost by showing him the savings on the invoice, and how it nearly covered the cost of the kit.

All that being said, I really am blessed. I don't need to justify any of it to him at all. He just likes seeing me happy, and knows how my crafting makes me happy. As long as our bills are paid, there's food in the fridge and cupboard, the kids have clothes, there's gas in the truck; it doesn't matter all that much to him where I spend the rest. I guess my biggest obstacle is me! It just kills me that I'm trying to knit and crochet through more than what I buy this year, and that afghan kit alone is just shy of 6000 (yes, SIX THOUSAND) yards!!!

Thursday, March 8

I wonder if my rocket stick is ready??

My main internet access is using a mobile rocket stick for my laptop. About two weeks ago, it died on me and I'd only had it for around three months at that point. Now I know I'm an internet addict, but that's just ridiculous for "wearing it out". I spent a good hour or more on the phone with the customer service/ help department before it was finally decided that I needed to go into town to have my stick sent in on warranty repair.

Now first of all, this all happened the same day as last time I dropped off Derek at the airport. The (normally) three hour drive was extended by less-than-ideal highway driving conditions due to the weather. Plus, I had spent an extra hour or two in town doing some shopping to try and find him a unique luggage tag. I arrived home and was playing along happily when suddenly pages stopped loading. This happens occasionally, and all I do is just disconnect and then reconnect the stick. Even this didn't work, so I tried rebooting, and that didn't fix it either. My next step is to contact the guy that sold it to me, who tells me to call 1-888-ROGERS1 for the customer care department. My next message to him is, "What is that in numbers?" I have a BlackBerry, and there's no letters on the numbers! LOL!! While on the phone with them, I go through my rebooting process again, changing settings in the connection, uninstalling and reinstalling the software... no luck. After finding out that this software is supposed to be compatible with my snail-driven dinosaur in the craft room, I head over there, and once again try hooking up... still no luck. That's when I'm told that I have to take it to the Rogers dealer and have them send it in. I contact my dealer again, and find out that he can't deal with it, that I have to take it to the corporate kiosk... which of course I have no idea where it's located! So after already being stuck in the truck driving for about 8 hours that day, I hop in and dash off to town. Of course it takes forever and three days to get all the paperwork done to send my little stick off, and issue me a temporary loaner. But all is now good in the world again because I "haz interwebs agin".

We shall now fast forward in this story to Monday afternoon. I get a phone call from the dealer to let me know that my stick is back and ready for pick-up. I politely say "thank you", and hang up. I wasn't worried about going to pick it up right away since I already had plans to run some errands in town the next morning. About an hour later, I'm sitting on the couch happily knitting away on my KP-IDP sock and watching LOTR: The Two Towers on Blu-Ray. My laptop is in its usual spot on the coffee table, screen black from being in sleep mode. I hear a bird chirping noise come from it, and am slightly puzzled since I am off-line. I start checking the various open web pages to see if one of them has an ad on it with sound... still skeptical because I've been off-line for at least an hour, and hadn't heard anything, and there was no way a new ad could have loaded. I finally realize that I had received a text message on my connection manager. I am paraphrasing here, but it basically said that my stick had been repaired and was now ready for pick-up. I shrug it off, since it was an automated message, but still a touch annoyed since I had already been phoned. Around an hour after that, I'm in the kitchen doing something with supper. I hear my phone's ringtone for an incoming email. I check my email folder to find that I had now received an email from Customer Care, telling me that my stick had been repaired and was ready to be picked up. REALLY?!!?? YA THINK?!!? Of course this starts a sarcastic conversation between my BFF and I, which is completely typical in this kind of situation.

The next day, I prepare all of my shopping lists, and head off into town fairly early so that I would still have the afternoon to do things around the house. I had to leave the house quite early Wednesday morning to pick up Derek, so I wanted to be able to go to bed early without a lot of housework and such on my mind. I mentally planned my route... start at Walmart, go across town to the mall where the Rogers dealer is, Giant Tiger, and finally Sobeys on my way out of town. I wasn't sure if the mall opened at 9:30 or 10:00, so that's why I went to Walmart first. I get to the mall around 10:30 to get my stick back to find out (after standing there for close to half an hour), that they couldn't do the exchange because their computer system was down entirely! I explained that I lived out of town, and it would be at least Thursday or Friday before I could return... and how their automated system was giving me fits about picking up my equipment already. I was also counting on getting my deposit back for planned purchases in the city the next day. Since there was nothing that could be done, I simply resumed my errands with plans to call them before I left town and inquire if their computers were back up or not. It turns out that they were, but again I was stuck driving across the city to get back to the mall once again... and to add insult to injury, I received my $50 deposit back in $5 bills because they hadn't done any business yet for the day and only had their float for change! I finally arrived home much later than I had intended... totally exhausted!

Nicole =o)

P.S.: I have come to the conclusion that Derek being home not only throws my housekeeping routines off, but my blogging routines as well!

Monday, March 5

Works in progress...

Just like all of my socks right now, this blog is another work in progress! It's definitely going to take me a bit of time to get all the settings just how I want them. The advantage is that a lot of the content will be dynamic... which means less time needed when I'm doing updates down the road. The source coding is a lot more than what I'm used to, so I will have to decipher it all before I can start fixing it! I'm still encouraging comments and feedback for all of it.

Back to the socks...

I am trucking along on my KD-IDP sample. I was sort-of hoping that I would have it finished today, but no luck there. I have gotten it past the heel turn, and only have a couple gusset decreases left. Fingers are crossed for completion tomorrow, and casting on of the second sock. I really want to have these done by the weekend so that I can get them washed, blocked, photographed, and sent off next week. That will be very satisfying personally, and as an added bonus, another 422 metres on the knitmeter!

I was able to knit a stripe's worth on my Felici sock yesterday too. I want to get at least the first sock done before Derek leaves next Monday. Wednesday I head off to Winnipeg to pick him up from the airport, but he's only home 4½ days this time around. It's looking like my trips into town will only be once a month from now on instead of every two weeks. That means I have a ton of running around to do before the airport. I just hope that Winnipeg Trading Post is open at 9 or 9:30. I want to check out their bead selection. I wasn't able to find them online, and I do recall that they used to do mail order. I'm hoping to find some glass beads larger than the 6/0 I can get here. I also need to run into Ram Wools. I am hunting for some inspirational sock yarns, specifically some Durasport; a yarn swift; and hopefully some circulars for socks. If I still have time, I will be hopping over to Wolseley Wool as well. I haven't gotten an email from them yet, but my fingers are crossed that my crochet hook set is in.

I've been injured!!!

Yuppers... I have a spring cleaning-related injury of all things! It's bad enough how I jab the nerves of my finger with my dpns, and have built up a fairly thick knitting callous, but now I've been damaged by my cleaning rags! I guess I use a lot of strength when wringing it out, since I now have two very tender, and very raw spots on my right hand, exactly where the cloth rubs! I forced myself to finish off the back hallway despite my "disability". That was the goal I had for the day, and I was damned and determined to finish it. However, until my fingers heal up, 90% of the cleaning is up to the kids. Lord, help me with that!!! Dishes and wiping the counters, etc. will be about the extent of my efforts until a healing layer is present. This really derails my momentum, and I certainly hope that I will be able to continue on with my plans by Thursday. That would mean I would only be losing one real day of scrubbing, and since I already had a lot of errands to run, and last minute things to do around here, I am unsure if I would have been able to get much done tomorrow anyway. Wednesday, of course, I will be travelling back and forth to Winnipeg, so nothing can get done around here then.

No worries!

Just a fast note to let you all know that I'm in the process of updating my overall template here on Blogger. This overhaul will have everything moving all over the place today as I convert from my own template to one of the Blogger ones. One of the biggest changes will allow me to use "gadgets", something I've wanted for a while now, but was resisting because I knew it meant I would "lose" my layout (and I really liked it).

The majority of it will be done today, but I fully expect to be tweaking and nudging it for several weeks until I get it exactly like I want. Thanks for your patience, and feedback on these changes is *definitely* welcomed!

Nicole =o)

Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

Sunday, March 4

Running around in circles...

That's exactly what I feel like when I have too many different things on the go. I get overwhelmed and then don't manage to accomplish much of anything. It's very frustrating as well since I feel that I should be able to get more done now that I don't work outside of the home, and rarely go out.

Well that is the situation I am finding myself in right now. Within reach of me here at the couch I have three socks-in-progress, my shrug-in-progress, Lissa's cardi swatch, and a crocheted place mat-in-progress. There are also several hanks/ balls of yarn in varying states -- some in the process of being wound into hanks, washed, weighed, and catalogued before being stored; some recent purchases that need to be photographed and put away (or cast on since they're interesting); a balled up hank of Tanis fingering that's in the "time out corner" for not behaving when I tried to design with it. Add to that, my usual flotsam and jetsam of design reference books, yarn/ craft catalogues, various knit/ crochet tools and gadgets, and my pencils, notepads, and notebooks for my endless lists and notes. Can we say, "recipe for disaster? I knew you could!"

Bright Idea #825

I am also in the midst of spring cleaning. As I put it when I talked to my DH the other day, "I had one of my bright ideas!" Any of you that have been following me since the beginning know that those are the words of doom when they escape my lips! I'm certain that Derek was quite thrilled that he is/ was a full three provinces away when I made this announcement.

Like all of my Bright Ideas (tm), it started off innocently enough. Wednesday morning I went into town to purchase Derek a new Keurig coffee machine, and get some groceries. While at the grocery store, which wasn't my usual place to shop, I picked up some new-to-me spice blends. This is something I've been doing quite regularly since starting my diet. When I got home, I dutifully put away all of the refrigerated and frozen items before taking a rest. This is quite the norm for me since my back and feet are usually done in by the time I'm finished the shopping. Besides, there is a very good reason I don't normally shop at that store... it's simply way too exhausting. After having my coffee, I went back into the kitchen to finish putting away the dry goods. I grabbed the two spice bottles and was about to put them away in the cupboard above the stove where they belong. There was really only room for one bottle without shoving and knocking everything over, and that was when I decided that that cupboard was too dirty and too disorganized. That's where it all began. I removed everything from the cupboard and started scrubbing. Being right above the stove, it doesn't take long for a thin layer of oil and grime to coat every surface. Our cupboards are mainly oak, and that seems to soak it in even more. Some more scrubbing, some more spraying of my bleach spray, and I even removed the cupboard handles so that I could get it all super clean. Then came the cleaning and culling of the items that were in there. I have quite a bit of Tupperware (I was a dealer many, many moons ago), so there was a lot of shuffling between containers and soaking in hot soapy water. My garbage can runneth over with all of the items I chose to toss... especially spices that were older than some of my children, and were never likely to be used anyway even if they had been fresh. Scrub, toss, and then scrub some more. My handy, dandy label maker was put to work making new labels for some of the containers that either lost their labels or never had them to begin with. A list was added to my phone of the items I had tossed that would need to be replaced. All totalled it took me the better part of the afternoon and part of the evening to complete to my satisfaction. Granted I don't do it all at once, I simply can't, but I was definitely focused, as evidenced by my lack of procrastination.

Well the first cupboard turned out so nice that the next morning I started work on the next one. It was the same type of process all over, since this was the cupboard beside the stove that is the catch-all for the odd-ball baking supplies mostly. This process continued through the next few days, and I would estimate that I have about a quarter to one third of my kitchen cupboards now detail-cleaned. I have a lot of cupboards when you include the "side board" with glass front cupboards above, and extra-deep cupboards below. We don't have a pantry, since we have more than enough cupboards to require one. I'm trying to get one or two cupboards done per day, and that's a pretty realistic goal I think. It's not too much, and it keeps me off the computer in the mornings when I can't knit anyway. As a side benefit, I've been able to knit as early as 10 am these past few days. I'm guessing it's all the hot water that my hands are in that "get them moving" earlier than usual! I just find it funny, and that's why it's classified as a "bright idea", that this all started by buying one rather than two new spices at the grocery store!

Saturday, March 3

Picture, picture... who wants a picture?

Finally... for your viewing pleasure... or not, as the case may be, is a selection of FO shots!!!

First we have Derek's denim work socks. After I gave them to him, he then told me that he had enough at the mine site! These will keep his sock drawer at home warm in the meantime!!! I used Denim Tuffy and some scraps of Smoke.

Next we have Denise's slippers. I used the leftovers from the comfort shawl I knit her about a year and a half ago... she matches now!

Third, we have Raith's slippers. These were made with a ball of yarn that was a mystery until the end (RHSS Soft Navy)... I learned how to hand-wind my own centre-pull balls well over 6 years ago, and this ball wasn't wound that way. I had wrapped it around the yarn label, which was the norm for me before learning the other method. That actually came in handy as I had run out of yarn half-way through the second "tongue". Thanks to having so much of my stash catalogued on Ravelry (including bin location) I was able to not only locate another ball of the same yarn, but one of the two listed was even the same dye lot from 2002!

Last but not least are Raith's "Wild" socks. He is the most-wool sensitive person I have ever met! He picked this yarn out of my stash for me to make him a pair of socks with. Since this yarn is Bernat Sox, a 75% acrylic/ 25% nylon blend, I gave them to him with the warning that his feet will sweat and these won't be nearly as comfortable as my other socks.

There are links to all of these projects in yesterday's post since I'm too lazy to grab the links to make my life a little easier. I'll have a longer post tomorrow... I'm pretty well done in with all the spring cleaning I've been doing this past week!

Friday, March 2

I had February goals???

Yes, apparently I did! Although you'd never know it by looking at what I planned to work on and what I actually did work on!

What did I do in February?

Note: As of this writing, a lot/ most of the updated pictures I have, haven't been uploaded to Ravelry yet. I will be working on that over the weekend for many of them. I didn't want to delay this post any longer.
Checking my Rav project page, I have only two FOs to report: my Little Bit Irish Cardigan; and Derek's At-Home Slippers. I worked on my Felici socks while Derek and I were out together, but haven't made much overall progress on them. They are in my purse at all times, so I can always grab my sock and do a round or three when I have an idle moment. I am reconsidering the name I gave them however, "Nearly Instant Gratification" seems to be turning into "Slog Until You Die"!! I started my While Shrug just over a week ago, shortly after finishing my Little Bit Irish cardigan. I had done the swatching for Lissa's ruffled cardigan, but put it aside after getting gauge. I need to follow the pattern for that sweater, and a project like that just doesn't fit in right now. The shrug does because most of it is just stockinette, and it's perfect for something other than a sock when I need no-brain knitting. I started a new design for Ram Wools' Footwork Design contest prior to recieving my KP-IDP yarn Wednesday. I'm really liking how it's turning out, but there won't be project pages (or at least ones with pics other than just the yarn) until much later on this year.

I guess the worst thing about my February progress is that not a single stitch was done on a single afghan or shawl. I do have good afghan news though... The Monsterghan was finally delivered to the recipient, and I placed an order for the Popcorn MAM yarn. Gotta love a 29% off sale, it took care of the outrageous shipping and then some! Of course there's other goodies in there as well!

What will I do in March?

I can sum up that question in one word: SOCKS!! Socks are my biggest priority from now until the contest closing in mid-May. Anything else will simply be as a diversion, or to give my hands a rest from tiny needles. I have my first Footwork design started, and it seems to be going well. That pattern is going to need a lot of editing and clarification for sure... I'm using some new-to-me techniques, and loving every minute of it, but that makes for a few headaches when trying to explain what I'm doing! I have 3 or 4 more in the planning stages written into my notebook, and will be stopping in at Ram's when I'm in Winnipeg next week to source out a few more yarns. I also finally received my KP-IDP yarn support for another design, and while that project is also coming along, I'm having a lot of misgivings on how the colour is pooling. I'm going to get another full repeat or two done before I make my final evaluation on it though. My knitting callous is going to be taking a real beating from tiny needles!!!

Nicole =o)

Thursday, March 1

Shall we try this again? ;o)

Here we go... the start of a new month, and the start of a new try at regular blogging! I will do my month-end round-up/ new-month goals in my next post or two. I also have a picture post of January FOs in my drafts folder too that I need to post! I will now apologize in advance for the extreme random-ness of this post. I seem to have a little bit of everything on my mind today!

So what have I been doing for the last 3 weeks?? Knitting like a mad-woman, that's what!! Little Bit Irish cardigan was finished about a week ago, and I've mainly been concentrating on socks, socks, and more socks! Almost everything else has been put by the way-side due to a new KP-IDP pattern I'm working on the sample for, as well as this year's Footwork contest at Ram Wools. I won first place last year, and I have my fingers crossed for placing in the top 3 again this year. I did start a simple shrug out of Homespun I bought on sale recently, so that I would have a completely brainless knitting project for when my hands can't deal with the fineness of sock needles.

On one of my trips into Winnipeg this past month I picked up 2 different orange sock-weight yarns to shut up my best friend... she insisted that I had to buy myself some orange yarn or she would explode! I found two at Wolseley Wool that inspired me. One is going to be turned into a scarf or shawl with a leafy lace pattern. The other is going to be a simple pair of socks. I'm not sure if I will be doing them generic or designing a pattern for them, but they have already been named... Shut Up Liz Socks!!

Derek continues to rave about his worsted wool work socks out west, and the guys at the mine site with him still think he's nuts for spending that kind of money on a single pair of socks... probably along with me too for knitting them!! Funny thing is that his socks (well his work socks anyway!) are the cheap ones! I can only imagine what they'd think about his $45-ish silk-blend socks! What gets me is that even when Derek proves to them how great his socks are -- the guys can wring out their socks at the end of the day, and Derek (who has very sweaty feet) shows them how his socks don't even feel damp -- they still think his socks aren't all that great. We shall see if they still have that attitude in the summer and can't stay cool!

I have come to the conclusion that I really need to get a voice-activated digital recorder. Now before you tell me that my Crackberry/ speed bump-wannabe has a built-in recorder, I will tell you that I know this, but it's not very user-friendly... at least not me-friendly anyway! I have a tendency to come up with my best design ideas and inspirations while driving. The biggest problem with this is obvious... I can't write down any notes while driving. However, it seems that the worse the driving conditions, the better and faster the ideas are. That's why I need something voice-activated!! If I wait until I get to my destination (or even next stop) to record my ideas, I inevitably will forget something (which of course I remember as soon as I get back on the road!). I found a nice Sony one for under $60 that should suit my purposes perfectly. With three hours of solitary driving time every two weeks, I can see it getting a lot of use!

Nicole =o)