Knitting, Heroes, restaurants, and relaxation.

Arisaig and Heroes

I spent the majority of this past weekend knitting one of the front panels of the Arisaig cardigan and watching Season 1 of Heroes, which I borrowed from a friend months ago. (Yes, Josh, I'm finally watching the series. Finally.) We didn't do much this weekend, but we enjoyed ourselves and I felt pretty productive.

I've been working on Arisaig now for over a year. I started back in January 2007 after I bought soft purple yarn from WEBS when I visited my parents for Christmas. I love the pattern; I love the lace and I love the stretchiness of the fabric I've made. What I don't love is knitting lots and lots of ribbing on size 1 US needles. Thankfully, finally, I finished all the ribbing on the last part that needs it last night, so hopefully the last panel and the two sleeves will go quickly. I want to finish this cardigan before spring is over.

Tangled Arisaig

 Let me tell you a story. Last week, somehow, one of my cats managed to tangle my yarn around my computer chair arm. Not on it, or under it; around it. I still don't understand. It took me all day to untangle, wind, and rewind the ball to look halfway useable, and now I've learned my lesson. No leaving knitting projects on my desk.

Speaking of computers, I went ahead and bought a laptop this past weekend. I've been talking about it for the past few months, and we set aside some money and took the plunge. I'll be able to finish my novel, surf the internet in other rooms besides this one, and bring it with me wherever I go. I can't wait for it to come in.

. . . . .

On Sunday, Scott and I went to a new restaurant a few miles from our house. We've passed it on the street many times; a nice, new looking, green and red stripey building with tinted windows, outdoor deck area surrounded by a black wrought iron fence, and plenty of parking illuminated by decorative lights around the perimeter. As we sat down, we looked at our paper menus with football themed titles for the sections ('first down' was appetizers, etc) and glanced at the shiny new flat screen TVs broadcasting the Florida - Kentucky basketball game, musing that this place must be a sports bar.

Until we heard the first few strains of "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon over the loudspeakers and glanced at the 'Live - Laugh - Love' and 'Home is where the journey begins' framed pictures on the rust colored walls which would have looked more in place at my mother's house. We couldn't stifle our laughter. We were so confused as to how this place wanted to present itself as a restaurant. A mid-end family eatery? A down home, local sports bar? We couldn't tell, but we enjoyed ourselves. I ordered chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce and topped it off with a raspberry cheesecake, and didn't end up eating dinner that night, I was so full. We definitely enjoyed ourselves.

. . . . .

This morning, I woke up groggy and devoid of sleep, wishing I could go back to bed. Today, at 7:30, watching the setting sun, I decided I didn't mind the coming of Daylight Saving Time.

Michigan Fiber Fest!

Michigan Fiber Fest stash

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m two WEEKS late in posting about Michigan Fiber Fest, but hey, I’m getting around to it, at least! I’ve been too busy playing Everquest II with Scott, knitting and spinning up a storm, and spending more time off the computer to sit down and write a post about buying lots of yarn and fiber. I’d rather play with my new stuff than write about it!

Anyway. My mother came to visit me the weekend of the Fest; we had a great time going to wineries, driving around town, and just in general having a good time. I miss my family and I’m glad she came out, and she helped me a ton in answering questions about Scott’s surgery and healing process (my mother is a nurse, so she endured tons of calls from me immediately after the surgery!) She also stayed an extra day due to some issue with the South Bend - Detroit part of my mom’s flight; she was delayed the entire day so she just decided to fly out the next day instead. I felt bad, but was also glad to see her another day.

I hadn’t ever been to Allegan, the home of the Michigan Fiber Fest, so I looked up directions the night before. It seemed easy enough; drive up I-94 to I-196 and cut across. Piece of cake. What we didn’t bank on was tons and tons of construction all along I-196! Thankfully it didn’t slow us down too much, but still, what a pain. We arrived at about 11ish and ran into some of my friends almost right away, who had arrived just before we did. Success!

Much like Sandy, I go through the same sort of steps when at a fiber festival such as this; I never like to buy anything right away and tend to look at nearly every booth before I go back and buy what I want. My only exception was at a booth selling worsted weight yarn at 50% off; I found three skeins of a beautiful brown/pink/melon colorway, and bought them up right away as I knew they’d be gone later on. We drooled at yarns from The Fold and we each bought a few skeins of sock yarn; I bought two skeins of Gypsy Creations yarn in the Raspberry Ripple colorway and can’t wait to knit them up!

Of course, I bought fiber as well; I didn’t buy anything on impulse, but I still loved everything I picked up. I bought 4 oz of beautiful blue alpaca fiber, a big ball of peach and red wool, and my favorite, a purply green pile of fluffy merino/silk goodness that I cannot wait to spin. I’m very excited about my purchases and happy I spent just about as much as I wanted and came home with plenty of things to keep me busy for a long time. I had a great time with my mother and friends, and will hopefully be coming back next year!

Ravelry!

So, while at work today, I received an invitation to try out Ravelry, a social network/organizer for people who knit and crochet. I’d been waiting for my request for about a month; I requested an invitation a few days behind (as always, I’m fashionably late), so I didn’t expect an invitation until it opened to the public! I’ve played with the site a little bit since coming home from work; I’ve added a few of my completed projects and details about the ones I’m doing, but I let it get too dark to take pictures of what I’m working on now. Tomorrow! I also want to take pictures of my stash (the yarn I’ve hoarded, for those who aren’t into the knitting thing and for some reason are reading this post), which won’t take me long because compared to a lot of knitters, mine is very, very small.

I’m amazed so far at what’s been implemented so far in the systems. Being a coder myself, I’ve noticed a few nice touches throughout the site that make the product pretty sweet for the end user. I think the owners have done a great job with it so far :). I’ve been spending time poking around at new patterns, looking at other peoples’ finished items, and updating my own profile and pictures here and there. I’m having fun.

So, if you have a Ravelry account, my username is (surprise) starshaped. Feel free to add me; I love new friends!

An entry about yarn.

Look what I finally finished!

Pumpkin Candy yarn

I’ve decided to call this bundle of yarn love Pumpkin Candy, because it reminds me of candy corn and those little pumpkin candies that seem to never disappear around Halloween. (Unless, of course, I’m eating them.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have many details about this yarn. I got the ball from Michelle when I bought my wheel; Michelle, do you happen to know what kind of fiber is in this and how much there was? I’m guessing about 6 ounces. I also don’t know the yardage due to the fact that I still don’t own a niddy noddy and I didn’t feel like counting all the loops I made wrapping it off the bobbin onto my kitchen table, but I’m guessing I have about 600 yards total.

I also experimented with plying techniques with this yarn. You can’t see it in this picture, but in another picture I’ve taken, you will see that I have two skeins of this stuff. That’s from me greatly underestimating how much singles to put on each bobbin so I could ply from two seperate bobbins. The bigger skein is from the two bobbin plying I’ve done in the past. The smaller skein, however, I wound into a ball with my winder and plied by taking the center pull and the outside and plying those together. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hairy as I thought it would be. I’m happy with how both turned out.

Currently I’m spinning some purple Shetland lambswool. I think the wool felted a bit when it was dyed and it smells of the dye, but I still like the colors. I figure any experience I get is good experience!

Safari for Windows

Yesterday, when I returned home from work, I discovered something I had hoped would happen for the longest time; Apple released a version of Safari for Windows. I’ve used Safari on the Mac a few times a few years ago when I worked for IU in the computer labs; I liked the interface, and I liked being able to check any websites I developed in the browser to be sure they displayed correctly. Since moving to northern Indiana, however, I’ve been Macless and have had to find online screenshot tools to test items in Safari.

Until yesterday. I shouted “Awesome!” to no one in particular when I pulled up apple.com and saw the news on the bottom of the page, and proceeded to download and test it. I like it, so far; it won’t replace Firefox as my main browser because of the lack of addons, but I like the small size and how quickly it seems to load. I like the resizeable textarea boxes and the look of the fonts as well, so it will be a great alternative browser to use when I feel like using something other than Firefox. Plus, I’ll be able to finally check my sites in a browser on my PC (that is, if the Mac and PC versions of Safari are pretty much identical). I’m pretty excited.

The iPhone? I could care less. I’m definitely more excited about Safari for Windows than that overpriced bit of technology (though it does look pretty).

Our BRMC trip. Or, how I can now die happy.

(Note: Some of this entry may not make sense to people who haven’t heard of or listened to a lot of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. But, I am still damn pumped and excited from seeing them live twice that I don’t really care. Important parts will be in bold if you are just skimming the entry.)

So, Scott and I just got back from seeing BRMC in concert in Columbus on Monday and Indianapolis last night. We saw them on their last tour last year, in Columbus, and they rocked so hard that I knew we’d have to see them again after they released their next album. We bought tickets sometime in April and planned to make the trips as sort of a post anniversary vacation. It fit us perfectly, and we had such an awesome time.

We left South Bend on Monday morning after running a few errands around town, and arrived in Columbus at about 4ish. We hung out around the hotel for a little bit before deciding to go to the general concert area to grab a bite to eat before the show. I hadn’t realized that the venue was RIGHT on the border of where the Ohio State campus was, so we ran into a lot of little food areas and stores on the street near the venue. It reminded me a lot of Kirkwood Ave in Bloomington with all the bars and restaurants. It rocked.

We ate at a nice bar and grill for dinner and we decided to order some drinks to pass the time. We found out that the place didn’t serve pitchers of any kind of beer at all on Mondays, which struck me as odd. We ended up drinking a few glasses of Bud Light to pass the time, and we enjoyed our meals.

After we ate, we went to stand in line, and we noticed the line wasn’t as long as we remembered it last year. While we waited, I talked to a girl standing in front of us who follows the band around the country and goes to nearly all their shows! She and her friends reminded me of the Band Aids from Almost Famous, discussing how far on the tour they were going to go and what buses they were going to catch. I think it would be neat to follow a band around the country like that, but unfortunately, I can’t take the time off work to do it. If I could, I probably would, in a heartbeat.

The Columbus show was pretty good; I didn’t think it was as good as last year’s Columbus show, but either way, we enjoyed ourselves. We stood near the back of the venue, behind the railing for the pit, so we could get a good view of the bands. The openers were good; The Dead Combo went up first, and they were entertaining, but I really liked the second opening act, the Cobbs. And, of course, I dug BRMC. We left at about midnight, our ears ringing, enjoying the show, and returned to our hotel.

We woke up too late to get breakfast at the hotel the next morning, so we watched a bit of TV and headed out to Indianapolis. We underestimated the distance between Columbus and Indianapolis and arrived in town close to 2, stopping to eat at a Steak and Shake on the Indiana border. We continued our way up to the northern side of Indianapolis and stopped at what we thought was our hotel, but, in reality, was not. We had wondered why we had issues with our reservations up to the day we left; it turns out that we had been calling the WRONG hotel! Thankfully the one we had booked was only a few miles away and a bit closer to the venue, so we took off and checked in. We relaxed for a few hours; I went into the Jacuzzi in our room and watched TV on the Science Channel, knitted a bit and did some crossword puzzles. I am the epitome of cool.

Scott’s friend Beau came to the show with us yesterday night; he lives in Indianapolis and I think he wanted to go to a show, so we met up with us after he got off work. He had a gift certificate for a bar and grill on the north side of Indy, so we headed there for dinner. We sat outside, drinking Blue Moon and talking, and I felt so happy and peaceful. The weather was great, we were going to see a band I loved, and I just felt awesome. I had a great time at dinner.

After we had a bit to drink and gasped at the pitcher costs ($13.50 for a pitcher of Blue Moon???), we headed to the venue, just down the street from the restaurant, and found that the doors had opened 45 minutes before we got there. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to get close to the stage, but to my surprise, I ended up being in the second row! The opening acts, the same as the night before, came, and rocked as much as they did the day before yesterday. We were happy.

Then, BRMC came on and blew me away. Some of the setlist stayed the same from the night before, but they added a few more songs (they played ‘US Government’ and ended the show with ‘Heart + Soul, which is an awesome closer) and said they were playing closer to a double set because they had to cancel in Indianapolis last year. I rocked out with the people around me, singing along to all the songs, and I took a few pictures with my cell phone before I saw Robert put his hood up over his head and I wasn’t sure if that meant he didn’t want any more pictures taken! (There was a guy next to me taking a lot of pics with his camera; compared to my three pics, he took a ton!)

Near the end, they asked for requests. I’ve wanted to hear them play ‘Salvation’ every time I’ve seen them live; it’s probably one of my very favorite songs by them and I just wanted to hear it live, just once. I shouted it out, Scott followed, and I think one other girl shouted it on the other side of the stage, AND THEY PLAYED IT. They played it after not playing it for a long time live, according to them. They played ‘Salvation’ and as nerdy as I am, I teared up and sang along and felt so completely happy and pumped and awesome. I am so so damn happy they played it, so I could hear it, just once. My other favorites; “Love Burns”, “Red Eyes and Tears”, most of the stuff from the new album, and Robert’s acoustic cover of a Bob Dylan song (I just wish I remembered the title!).

After the show ended, Beau wanted to buy a copy of their newest cd (which would be autographed by the band) and I wanted to buy a Cobbs CD, so we stuck around for a bit. As Beau waited around for the CDs I went up to the merchandise table and talked to the Cobbs for a bit and bought the CD; they were so nice and seemed genuinely happy when I told them they were awesome and asked them to sign my CD. They were very fun to watch and it made me happier to see that they seemed like nice guys who appreciate their fans.

We stood around for a little bit more after I got my CD signed when I noticed Peter from BRMC walking back into the venue from the back. I decided ‘to hell with it!’ and walked toward him, waiting my turn to say a word. He knew I was waiting for him and he said hello and introduced himself, which I thought was cute because yeah, I definitely knew who he was :). (I just wish I had thought to actually introduce myself too; it didn’t even cross my mind to do so until later on!) I shook his hand and thanked him for playing Salvation, and he smiled and thanked me, and I think I said ‘no, thank YOU’ back to him, but at that point I was tired and excited that I got to meet one of the guys from my favorite band, the guy who sang ‘Salvation’ earlier in the evening, that I can’t really remember how the conversation went. I was excited, to say the least.

The rest of the night was a blur; we drove back to the hotel and Beau went home. We slept, woke up this morning, and drove back home. I’m still in a daze/rush from the show last night; I heard my favorite BRMC song and I met one of the members. Plus, I heard two kickass sets and had a great time with Scott and Beau. It really doesn’t get any better than this, and I couldn’t wish for a better time.

Migraines and fiber!

You know what’s not fun? Driving home from Chicago with an in-between headache and migraine. I can’t decide if these particular aches are migraines or not; I know that a few hours prior to the head pounding fun, my eyesight goes all fuzzy and I have a hard time seeing. I never think it’s a migraine because it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as I imagine migraines hurt, but it still throbs and causes me to not really get a lot done. I think my episode today came from the fact that I hadn’t drank any water all day and I didn’t have anything to eat until 2pm. I’m home now, drinking water and relaxing before my in-laws arrive for the weekend.

Fiber from my friends

In other, much better news, my fiber arts group surprised me with a basket full of spinning fiber, books, and other spinning fun yesterday during our get-together! I’m very excited to spin up my new fiber, and I think they did a great job of picking out colors I love. Vicki even made some of us orifice hooks for our wheels and name tags to go with them; I picked a hook in red.

To Vicki, Jess, Elizabeth, Michelle, Liz, and anyone else who may have contributed to my basket (which I will get great use of this summer, holding drinks!), thank you very much. I feel very lucky to have such fiber enablers as friends!

I’m a wheel owner!

I first learned of spinning my own yarn at the end of 2004, when a few friends of mine purchased drop spindles and roving from a store on ebay. Intrigued, I ordered my own kit, wanting to spin myself my own beautiful yarn. However, I didn’t anticipate it being so difficult, and I struggled for a month or two, not knowing which way to spin my spindle, not knowing how to control the spin or the flow, before I put my spindle and beautiful blue-green roving away. I always talked of properly learning to spin, but I didn’t know anybody in Bloomington who also spun, and I didn’t know who to ask.

Spinning brownish fiber
Some of the first yarn I spun on my favorite drop spindle.

Fast-forward to about a year ago. I’m married, living in South Bend, and slowly but surely getting to know a few fellow knitters and spinners in the area. After attending meetings and watching my new friends spin on their spindles and wheels, I decide to try again. However, after getting advice from a few spinners, I decide to try a different type of spindle to spin my roving. I watch my friends spin, and all of a sudden, it makes sense. I watch them for a bit, then I try my own. My yarn doesn’t look perfect, but it doesn’t look totally bad, either. I finally learned it, and at that point, I knew I wanted to invest in my own wheel someday.

My new wheel!

A year later, I’ve achieved that goal. A woman in the fiber group I belong to put a few of her wheels up for sale, and this past Tuesday, I tested a few of them. I’ve only spun on three wheels now; a Majacraft Millie, a tiny Cabriolet, and my new wheel, an Ashford Traditional. With the Millie, I was able to spin just fine after a little bit of trial and error, and I struggled with the Cabriolet. However, as soon as I sat down in front of the Ashford and began to spin, I knew this wheel was the one for me. I honestly couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to spin on this wheel; I attribute much of it to the fact that I’ve been spindle spinning exclusively for a year, so I’ve had time to perfect my technique. The woman I bought the wheel from told me I must have a lot of patience for spinning on a spindle for so long, and I’m inclined to agree with her.

The first yarn I spun on my new wheel

I’ve been spinning every day since bringing home the wheel on Tuesday night. By Thursday, I finished the fiber I began at the end of May last year on the spindle, and I’m almost done spinning a 1.5 ounce bit of Shetland lambswool in different shades of pink I bought from Vicki earlier in the year. I’m so excited to finally be spinning up all the fiber I’ve purchased within the past year! I’m going to need to buy myself a niddy-noddy and a lazy kate for when I ply and skein up my new yarn, but I can get around just fine without these items for now. If anyone can point me to any places that may sell these items for cheap, I would appreciate it, as I’d much rather keep my bobbins in place while plying them together instead of them rolling all around the floor, and I’d rather not wrap my yarn around the end of my kitchen table. But that’s just me.

In short, I’m very happy with my purchase. Let the spinning commence!

Stoles and scarves

Completed Mystery Stole!

At long last, after two weeks of idling, I’ve taken pictures of my completed Mystery Stole (also known as Scheherazade)! I traveled a long road of blood, sweat, and tears to get this bad boy completed, and finally, I can show it off.

I started this stole back in July when a few of my local knitting friends turned me on to the idea of a mystery knit a long; I’d done mystery cross stitch pieces before, but never one for knitting. I bought my yarn excitedly before I went on vacation (and ended up having to use a substitute bought from Vicki because my order didn’t come in on time!) and eagerly cast on and started the first and second parts while at the beach. (Well, not really.) This will be a piece of cake! I thought to myself. I can get so much done on vacation, and I can catch up and be done when everyone else casts off. Hell, maybe I’ll be the first one done!

Stole close-up

But it was not to be. I forgot about the fact that when I got home from vacation, I actually had to work, and full time at that, which didn’t leave me with much time to knit the stole. Still, I plodded along, slowly but surely, and watched as the other members of the knit a long finished theirs. I’m very happy to say I’ve completed mine, finally.

Pattern: Scheherazade by Pink Lemon Twist
Fiber: Knit Picks Shadow in Jewels
Needles: US Size 5

I enjoyed knitting this, my first stole and my first foray into lace. I learned the usefulness of lifelines, and invested in stitch markers and a magnet board to hold the pattern. I didn’t really make any changes to the pattern, though if you look closely, you can see the place I accidentally repeated a row twice (yes, this was before I got the magnet board). I am excited to knit another shawl sometime in the future; I’m checking out the Icarus Shawl from the Summer 2006 issue of Interweave Knits and the Swallowtail Shawl from the Fall 2006 issue of Interweave Knits.

But, for now, I’ve cast on another project; Arisaig from Knitty, a project I’ve lusted after since I saw the pattern for the first time in late 2005. I’m using a beautiful purple yarn and am on the ribbing now, knitting with size 1s. I am excited.

Latifa scarf

Is it sad that I knit this scarf about three years ago, and I’ve just now gotten around to posting pictures of it? I knit my version of Latifa during the winter of 2004, and I recall it being an interesting project in the sense that knitting ruffles on size 2s is, well, just a little tedious. However, I love the colors I chose as it goes great with my fluffy pink coat and pink hats. It keeps me nice and warm in the winter; I knit it extra long just so I could wrap it around my neck a few times. I love the thing.

I have more recent knitting to show off, but it got too dark before I could take more pictures of it. I’m hoping to post more tomorrow, if 1) I don’t get lazy and 2) if I don’t wait for it to get dark again before taking pictures.

Anastasia socks

Anastasia socks!

At long last, I’ve completed a knitting project; the Anastasia socks by Pepperknit Patterns. I started them roughly sometime in November, and it took me forever to finish the first sock! I flew through the second, knitting most of it while on vacation last week. I’m wearing them right now; they’re very comfortable and I love how they turned out. I used Plymouth Sockotta yarn in colorway #6673; I’ve never knit with blues, yellows, greens, and browns, but I’m glad I took the plunge and experimented!

I’m still knitting away on my stole. I’m halfway through part 5 on the second side, so I don’t have much left! I’m hoping to finish it before the end of the month, and at the pace I’m going, it looks like I may reach that goal!