In Search for Needles

There are no yarn stores in Pottstown. So, when I have a needle crisis, I have to hope that Michael’s or Walmart or JoAnn’s stores carry the size I need. You might think that I would never have a needle crisis. When I first learned how to knit, both my mother-in-law and my aunt gifted to me almost their entire needle collections. I have double pointed needles in sizes 0 to 6 plus a few more in larger sizes. I have a slew of stright needles ranging in sizes from 0 to 15 in both 10 and 14 inch lengths. Then, there is the assortment of circular needles in my favorite sizes. Of course, I have duplicates. I even bought myself an interchangable circular needle kit from Michael’s a few years ago so I would never have to buy needles again. So, yes, I have needles.

I started my AWFH shawl on straight 10-inch needles in size 1. During the Cooperstown trip, I graduated to stright 14-inch needles. By the end of the trip, it was getting difficult to crowd all the stitches onto the needles. So, when we got back home, I went searching for a cirular needle in size 1. I checked my interchangeable kit first only to realize that the smallest needle in the kit is a 2. I dug through the rest of my stash. I have circular needles in size 0 and size 2, but no 1. Surely, I missed it. I dug through my stash again only to come up empty. I went to the three stores listed above. Despite the sock knitting craze, none of the stores carried circular needles below a size 3. Thankfully, Ewe and I came to the rescue!

Not only did Ewe and I have circular needles in size 1, but they had them in 4 different sizes. What a great selection! I picked up the longest size they had, 40 inches. Here is my shawl on the new needles with much room to grow upon.

And because I am human and have no will power when confronted with skeins and skeins of beautiful yarn, I came home with a little something extra.

Hand Painted Yarns by Claudia & Co.
Boucle in 78% Mohair, 13% Wool, and 9% Nylon
Color is Red Wagon
200 grams = 432 yards

I plan to pair this yarn with the yellow and orange yarn I have in my stash. Though truth be told, I have no idea what the end product is going to be. I’ll whip up some swatches and see if the yarn can’t talk.

The Thank You Note

Knitter’s kept my design for a month before sending it back with a Thank You note.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was a little disappointed. On the other hand, I am proud to have submitted my 1st design.

The design submitted will be resubmitted to another magazine next month, so I still can’t show you pictures. I’m sorry to be such a tease! If my design is rejected a 2nd time, I will simply self-publish it and make it available via my Etsy store. Win or lose, pictures will be available by year-end.

Round Purse for KAL-CAL

I joined the KAL-CAL (Purse Round Up) on June 12th. I am just now getting around to knitting my first bag. Most people are already on their 2nd bag. Some are on their 4th bag! Well, I suppose somebody has to bring up the rear, right?

I was all excited about this design when I thought it up a few weeks ago. My excitement faded once I cast on. My first attempt had the bottom of a bag looking like a cone. It was then I realized that I had no idea how to knit a circle. Upon consulting my “Knitting Without Tears” book, I located the basics of making a circular shawl. Obviously, my little bag did not need to be so big, but I would just stop knitting the circle once I got to the size I liked. Gosh, it seemed so simple. For some reason, I was determined to make it easier. Yarn overs are easier to make than M1s. Common sense should have told me that yarn overs wouldn’t look good in the bottom of a purse. Sometimes you have to snub your nose at common sense in order to realize how right it is. Three tries later, I finally have a circular bottom for my round purse.

Now, I am working on the body (height) of the purse. Can you tell what it is yet?

I haven’t completed many repeats of the cabling, so it is a bit deceiving. As a hint, the bag will be called “Luck Runs Out”. Due to the name, it is not the best purse to take on an outing to the gambling hall, but it is a great purse for your favorite Texan.

Knitting on the way to Cooperstown

Yesterday, I was giddy to tell you about my vacation to Cooperstown. What I failed to mention is all the knitting I got done in the car.

The AWHF Shawl is approximately 25% completed!

The pattern is easy to memorize, making it a great portable project. The only trouble is every 4-6 rows you have to stop and slide the beads further down the cone. If it hadn’t been for this mind-numbing yet necessary step, I would have completed twice as much. C’est la vie.

A closer pic:

Baseball Hall of Fame & Brewery Ommegang

About an hour into our roap trip to Cooperstown, I announced that I forgot our digital camera at home. Nobody was willing to turn back. Thankfully, there were tons of people at the fest taking pictures. I have already found 2 great collections on Flickr.

Upon arriving in Cooperstown, we visited the Baseball Hall of Fame. As instructed, we started our tour on the 2nd floor and got to see the beginnings of baseball history. Goodness, the original bats must have weighed a ton! Once we stepped into the 1900s – 1930s history section, we got to see 2 of our Phillies boys featured prominently: Connie Mack (Connie Mack stadium) and Baker (Baker Bowl). It was about this time that I started to feel ill. I think they recently cleaned their carpets with a powerful smelling chemical. So, Hubby and I swung by the No-Hitters section (no way was I missing that) before making a mad dash to the exit door and fresh air. After clearing my head, we came back in to read all the plaques in the Hall. We found all of the Hall-of-Fame Phillies along with the infamous players (Cobb, Young, Ruth, Mayes, etc). I tried to venture back into the other sections of the Baseball museum, but I immediately started to feel ill again. So, I grabbed 2 postcards (one of Lefty and one of Schmidty) and ran back out. The postcards went into my photo album. The rest of the collection (broshures & plastic bags) went into my scrapbook.

The next day was The Day Belgium Beer came to Cooperstown.

Brewery Ommegang
Originally uploaded by michaeljames.

Ommegang Brewery hosted the Belgium Beerfest in Cooperstown.

Both local breweries (Victory, Dog Fish Head, Ommegang, etc.) and international breweries (Chimay, The Lost Abbey, etc) attended.

Inside the Pouring Tent
Beerfest 052
Originally uploaded by

I ventured to try every Belguim Dubbel beer that was on draft. Due to my hard work, I came away with some new favorites.

New favorite Dubbels (in order of preference):

  1. St. Vincent’s Dubbel by Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
  2. Lost and Found by The Lost Abbey
  3. Abbey Dubbel by The Shed

Hubby was less particular and ended up trying a wider variety.

More pictures of the Beerfest:

Michael James Photo Album

kschlot1 Photo Album

Sunday we found the only good food in town at a local bakery and drove home. I came home to a sick but happy pup.

Vase Cozy to Hide the Lack of Flowers

It took 2 tries, but I finally got it right.

A Vase Cozy
when flowers just aren’t enough

The trick is to make the cozy a little bit longer than you actually want it. The extra length will be used up in the curves of the vase.

Right now, I am working on writing up the accompanying pattern. I have the pattern completed if you wanted to knit it the way I did: on straight needles. But, I’m a rare one and prefer to seam rather than knit on double pointed needles. Most people would sell their pets or significant others or whatever else is nearby and handy before volunteering to seam anything. So, I want to include instructions to knit in the round so they can keep their husbands/wives and pets nearby. The goal is to finish it tonight and post it tomorrow morning. Otherwise, it won’t get posted until Monday because I am going on vacation!

I haven’t taken a vacation since … well … I’m not sure. I just checked my pda. Last year, June 18th through the 24th, my sister and her 2 kids visited. We haven’t been on vacation since. This will be my first time away from Jake (4-year-old golden retriever). Thankfully, we found a wonderful pet sitter in the area. She is going to spoil him rotten; I just know it!

So, where are we going? Cooperstown, NY! Upon arriving, we will stop by the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s a must-see! On Saturday, we are attending a brewfest. And not just any brewfest, but the premier Belgium-style brewfest hosted by Ommegang. It is the best Belgium-style brewfest in the States. Last year, the ladies were not invited, since the gents attended in honor of a Bachelor party. This year, we’re coming. There will be no running around the campfire with the shirts off this year. Poor boys. I don’t know how they are going to make it through.

I will be away from Friday, July 20th through Sunday, July 22nd. I will return with pictures galore!

Quilt Progress and Vase Cozie backwards progress

Saturday, I spent the afternoon finishing up the Vase Cozie I am making for the EtsyFAST’s July Challenge. Then, not only did I manage to seam the cozie together inside out, but I also realized that I made it several inches too short. So, I’m back to the halfway point. It seems as if I didn’t accomplish anything. Although, I have learned another valuable lesson: it takes more yardage to cover curved areas when making a snug cozie. So, don’t look for the cozie in my Etsy store today. It’s not there. It’s still on the needles.

Saturday night, I went with my husband to see a live MMA show by BoDog fight in Trenton, New Jersey. No, he didn’t drag me to see it. I really like to watch the shows with him (so long as there isn’t any blood involved). We watch, UFC, BoDog, and IFC at home all the time. This was our first time watching a live show. The fight card listed 9 fights. There ended up being 10 fights. Some were amazing, such as the Women’s Title and the Lightweight fight of Masvidal vs. Edwards. Masvidal ended up spraining/breaking (?) his ankle in an amazing kick to Edward’s head – dropping Edward’s to the ground. Which leads me to my 1st of 2 complaints: no instant replay. The 2nd complaint: it was way too long of a show. We got there at 7:30 pm and didn’t leave until 1:30 am.

I woke up normal time on Sunday, since Jake won’t let me sleep in. He has tags on his collar that jingle. So, the trick is to walk heavily on his feet, jingling his tags, until somebody gets up – normally me. He’s lucky he’s so cute!

Sunday I spent the afternoon quilting. Here is what I accomplished:

Lots of ironing! Plus, the 28 blocks are halfway completed. The squares are just as they look – awfully small at only 1 inch. It has made piecing them together a bit of a pain, but the sewing goes quicker. Once the blocks are completely done, I’ll move onto the triangles. I’m only slightly nervous about that step.

More knitting news: I cast on for the mystery project and for the AWHF Shawl. I am nervous about my measurements for the mystery project. I measured the gauge several times before ripping it out to get the estimate yardage needed for the whole project. I am now having a anxiety attack about the gauge. I think I am going to knit the gauge back up, wash it, and block it just so I can double check my measurements. The last thing I want to do is knit the whole project only to realize that my measurements were off ever so slightly. The shawl is going much better. I’ll post a picture later this week of my progress.

Happy Knitting, All!

Stringing Beads and EtsyFAST July Challenge

I don’t know how many beads I strung last night, but here’s hoping I strung enough. I don’t think I realized how tedious a simple, little task could be. I even tried to bribe my husband into it. He just laughed at my pain. Although in his defense, he did bring me a glass of port.

The good news: I am ready to cast on and begin the Alpacas at White Horse Farm shawl. I suppose it was worth it. Well, two hours of stringing beads does seem a steep toll, but the memory is already fading as I write this. Why I might even trick myself and become excited the next time I have to string beads, assuming that I don’t try it for another year.

Once I had all the beading I could take, which in fact ended sooner than it ought to have with the alpaca wool objecting & snapping to the strain of so many beads being yanked onto it, I started the EtsyFAST’s July Challenge. This month the challenge allows much more artistic freedom than last month’s challenge (Create an ACEO). The only guildelines are for EtsyFAST members to submit merchandise with a Flower & Garden theme. I decided to make a vase cozie.

It is halfway completed. I will be submitting both the finished product and the knitting pattern via my Etsy store. Although I haven’t finished writing up the pattern (much is being written as I knit – my favorite way to design), I am fairly confident that the pattern’s recommended skill level will be at Easy. The technique used to knit the cozie, woven ribbing, and the shaping required for it to fit the vase snugly will keep it from being at the beginner’s level. I hope to have everything completed by Monday of next week.

Sweater Blanket completed

I finished it last night while watching the Home Run Derby! I was rooting for Philly’s Own, Ryan Howard. Alas, he was eliminated in the first round.

It is a nice length. For reference, I am 5 feet tall when I’m not holding my hands over my head.

It’s been brutal to work on these past few days. It is so warm, which will be nice come winter, but is unbearable now with the temperature not dipping to the mid-seventies at night. I can’t wait for the rains this afternoon to break the heat. Plus, I am feeling lazy and don’t want to water my garden. The rains will do my job for me.