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'Cause sometimes I even surprise the knit out of myself.

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007- A Year in Retrospect

Where to start? Where to start? Go get your coffee warmed up, folks. This will be a long one.
Go on...I'll wait....
Back? Ok then...
So let's start of with the knits, shall we? It wasn't as productive of a year in number of FOs perhaps, but I learned some new techniques, did little pattern improvisation, and even a personal design (the simple knit hat). I would say I had a bit on my plate this year personally and professionally, and in a way, a bit jaded that it bit into my knitting time. More on that topic further down.

1. Tilted Duster, 2. One Skein Wonder, 3. Sandra Waistcoat in Lime, 4. "Because he only allows me to knit hats" HAT, 5. Baby Crossover Jacket, 6. Phildar Cropped Cardie, 7. Knitting 2006 010, 8. Doctor's Bag - true color, 9. Puff-sleeved Feminine Cardie from Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel, 10. Fetching II, 11. Tammy's Simple Knitted Bodice, 12. Argosy, 13. Garnstudio alpaca bolero14. Not available15. Not available16. Not available

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.
In January of 2007, I joined my first SnB group, the Skein Mavens. That brought the fun of knitting to new heights for me. What a fabulous, talented, bunch of ladies and inspiring at that.

So we started April 19th with a string of water-related incidents that seem to plague us. We had a nor'easter in April that brought us about 9 inches of rain in less than 48 hours. Let's just say that those of us that never had water in our basements before did. The sump pump quit because it couldn't handle the volume of water. Our newly finished basement room, styled with a Moroccan/Indian flare....destroyed. My husband would lose interest in the house for months because much of his beautiful work was damaged. This is after the carpet was ripped away and that is a rather large puddle of water there. Insurance covered it, thankfully.

There is crap strewn everywhere and all my stuff pulled off the walls except the flat screen. It was the most back-breaking experience of my life to use two wet/dry vacs every 30 minutes and empty two full containers. I would stay up for hours of the night to continue to suck up water so it would reach any further than it did.
I am happy to say the basement room is re-carpeted and back to new as of September.
I had the opportunity to visit Germany twice on business this year, once in February by myself and then again in May with a slew of US co-workers. The second time we took advantage of high airfare to stay until Sunday and catch some sites and shopping. This is Castle Neushwanstein on the border of Austria. It was built by the Bavarian King Ludwig II.
It is magnificent on the mountain top overlooking the Alps. It was also Walt Disney's inspiration for Cinderella Castle in Disney World.
I was very lucky to catch some scenery before a very stressful business trip was over.
In August, my godmother, pictured left, celebrated her 60th birthday. It was incredible to get the whole family together again. (Liz, me, Roland "the pants", and grandpop). Hi Liz! Waves furiously. I hope you don't mind you made it to the blog if you are reading this. *ducks for cover*

I met an aunt of mine for the first time who was originally from Stuttgart, Germany and met my uncle during WWII. She's a prolific knitter too. She said to me, I knew you were a knitter the second you walked in with that top. ( I happen to be wearing my Lotus Blossom tank here).

This is Dad and I hanging at the party.
I was blessed with the ability to take my parents on a cruise of a lifetime for their 40th wedding anniversary and 60th birthdays. I promised them when I was 18 and in college, that someday I would like to take them on a nice cruise since we never had a family vacation together growing up. They were a little emotional when Roland and I presented it to them for their anniversary in April. Once we got to the restaurant, it hit them and they both started to cry. I suppose it was overwhelming having been married since they were 19 and struggled to make a mark in the world. My parents are the most hard-working people I know. I couldn't think of any two people who deserved a nice trip to the Mediterranean more than them.
The highlight of this trip for me was docking in North Africa, a dream of mine. We ported in Tunis, Tunisia. My friend and I, pictured left, were gushing when we got our passports stamped and stepped foot on African soil. It was a surreal moment for me.
Here I am pictured with my four girlfriends on top of a building in Tunisia overlooking the grand mosque in town.

My theory for living is and always will be to experience a culture through the music, dance, food, language, and textiles. I like seeing the historical tapestry being woven before me and actually experience rather than reading about it.
Malta was also a surreal place with so much history. I could easily return there just to experience the megalithic temples again.
We made friends on the ship. My friend, Wendy and I, are pictured here with our friend, Ariel, who worked in the Dublino Bar on the ship. His first encounter with me was me harassing him for not having one Irish thing to drink in the bar. LOL. We've been friends ever since speaking or emailing weekly.
Annie the doxie turned 12 this year and Cartman turned 6. We had a true scare when Cartman, the bulldog, was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor. He's good as new now, but this was a traumatic experience for such a dog-loving family. The dogs are family first and canine second in our eyes. This is like taking your child for cancer treatments to us. I am happy to report the tumor was removed and healing nicely. His coat has filled out and looked healthier than ever. I'll tell you, the prayers extended to me from my online friends will always be near and dear to my heart.
My friend in Iowa was finally blessed with pregnancy. Andrew, the soon-to-be kidling, is due on January 10th. I went to the shower in December and we had a blast. I hung with the old friends.......
And made friends with new ones from Belize and Michigan.
For the first time in 31 years and living in NJ all my life, I experienced NYC at Christmas. I made my friend Kelley pose for a picture so we could prove she was actually here!
See how jazzed she is?

I got to experience a little bit of history.....75th anniversary of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.

I learned a lot of things this year. I think I discovered more things about myself than I bargained for. The reality of my over-achiever personality mixed with a little work-a-holic were driving me to an early grave sadly. I am blessed with extremely supportive and nurturing superiors at my job so I appreciate the promotion this summer. I learned something though. I would sooner being a paper shredder than a higher paid corporate business person if it made me happier. I think I was doing myself a tremendous disservice, and for my company, that I am not doing something I am passionate about. With the support of family and friends, I stepped down to my former title about 2 weeks ago. It was instant liberation. I am no longer living to work. I have too many things to knit, too many places to explore, years to grow old with my husband and parents, and far too many things to experience to let work rule me. If this is inspiring to anyone else, than so be it, this is why I have shared this story. It was the hardest decision of my life.
I learned that nothing beats the power of knitters and crocheters. I was invited to Ravelry just after I returned from my trip in September. I made so many new friends through that site and my blog. I couldn't be thankful enough for all of the wonderful people I've met this year and how each of you has enriched my knitting world. If you are reading this....consider yourself part of this group. :-)
The support of a knitting community is amazing.
So what's in store for 2008?
Oh here's just a few inspiring designs I'm looking at right now.

1. Alice Staremore's Aran Knitting, 2. Anise, 3. autumn cardigan, 4. AutumnRose by Eunny Jang, 5. DROPS Cabled Cardigan, 6. DROPs icelandi sweater, 7. Fulmar from Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting, 8. glenalbyn by jade starmore, 9., 10. Made by myself, 11. Mod Coat, 12. Phildar Best of Irlandis, 13. Silver Belle by Debbie Bliss14. Not available15. Not available16. Not available

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.
I will be going back home to Ireland this year. I say "home" because it was the closest thing to home other than NJ that I ever experienced. I think I am planning to go to another enchanting place this year, but the cards have not unfolded yet. We shall see. I would love to somewhere like Iceland. (Yes, I never said it wouldn't be knitting-related).

I will have a fairy godchild in about 2 weeks to oogle over.

This year I want to experience some more intricate cabling, hence the Alice Starmore obsession. I might attempt my first steak and do some really detailed colorwork.

I think there are so many wonderful things to look forward to in my immediate life. As for the rest of the world, all I can pray for is peace. I think that would be the greatest gift we could receive right now.

So I send my abundant wishes for peace, happiness and health to all of you. Get out your Bayberry candles and repeat after me...

"A bayberry candle

Burnt to the sprocket

Brings warmth to the heart

And wealth to the pocket."

Happy New Year Everyone from your friends at Chez Knitballs!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yarn Pr0n and a little post-Christmas stuff to show

Firstly, let me just say damn Starbucks and their Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha 5 meeeelllion calorie crack in a cup. *sigh* Because of them, I bought this....
Meet my highly-caffeinated friend here. I was toying with the idea of getting one for about a month...yes, she who never drank coffee. Well I succumbed and moved over to the dark side. This is a Krups dual-function pump espresso and 10 cup carafe coffee machine. Why dual? Well I could more or less justify this with "the pants" as he likes just regular brewed Kona coffee. Also, "the 'rents" aren't too big into espresso so the hot tea function or regular coffee function works well. Let's just say I look at the world through a whole new set of well-caffeinated eyes.

This is the Christmas present from my patient husband who doesn't say boo about me knitting all the time. This is the infamous Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting. He's a good man isn't he? This was removed the Hennepin County Library at some point in time and my husband bought it off of Amazon. It still has a sign out card in it. It seems to make the book more special like a library book I can never part with and incur a ginormous fine. It has a little stamp on it for when it was officially removed from the library. It was like their unwanted, unloved trash, but now my precious knitting treasure.
Being the smart man he is, he knows I've been wanting to knit this for a long time, sans the fringe. This would be the infamous, St. Brigid, who by the way, is my favorite Celtic goddess of all time also along with Morrigan and Rhiannon (welsh actually).

Photo courtesy of Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting

And this one....Fulmar.

Photo courtesy of Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting

Next on the agenda? The yarn of course! I wouldn't let you down, would I?
So my friend, the blogless, Kelley and I ordered some Peruvian Highland Chunky in Harvest Heather from Elann to make this....
Photo courtesy of Patons Street Smart

We've been coveting this one for awhile now. This is our new KAL together. This is the first new project of 2008.

Next on the agenda. Some Cascade 128 I never blogged about. Yeah, I know. I've been holding out on you, haven't I?

I bought about 6 hanks to make this.....

Photo courtesy of

I loved this quick knit since the moment I saw it a few years ago and never found the right chocolate brown to make it. I'm not a fan of the garnstudio Eskimo.

Lastly, some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed that I bought on sale at The Woolly Lamb. It's a nice robin's egg blue color.

I have about 11 skeins that I bought to make the Sunrise Circle Jacket.

Last on the list, let me share a little knitterly gift from my SIL. Check this out. It's a s'mores and it's knitting.

Last FO for the year

Well I hope you all had a really nice Christmas holiday. I was knitting away on my friend's christening gown for the very soon-to-be kidling, Andrew and I've been too lazy to post honestly. I do have some fun stuff to show you and my favorite Christmas present of the knitterly variety. More to come later. For right now, I need to unload a little monkey off my back.

Behold, my longest running WIP below. The Knit2tog Doctor's bag has a handle and we are calling this done and dusted for 2007.
Pattern: Doctor's Bag by Tracy Ullman and Mel Clark
Source: Knit2Tog
Yarn: Colorado Yarns Durango in chocolate brown
Needles: Size 11 circs
Started: December 2006
Finished: December 2007
Recipient: Me
Mods: My bag is 4 stitches shorter. I did this by accident but kept going with it. I really didn't like this project. The yarns held double with the thick needles really hurt my wrists. I didn't like to work on it much so it languished around for a long time.
Overall, I am very meh on this project, but the sucker is done and I can pull it out of purgatory from my blog.
See Monday when we do the 2007 A Year in Knits Re-Cap over here at Chez Knitballs and the goals for 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

So here's one last Christmas FO, the husbo's ski hat because gosh forbid I knit him a sweater or socks. This is what I am reduced to as a gift knitter for the husband.
Hello. I am hardcore
Pattern: My own
Yarn: 1 skein Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in Dark Blue
Needles: Size 5 DPNs
Started: December 21, 2007
Finished: December 23, 2007
Recipient: He who does not wear sweaters and therefore excludes me to knit him hats only. Bah hum bug.
aka: "The Pants".

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This pattern ROCKS!

This pattern is so quick and easy. I mean just about everyone's mother's, sister's, husband's, brother's, wife twice removed has done this pattern right? I still don't tire of a quick gift such as this. This is Fetching Part Deux. The first pair I made last year for my SIL.
Hello we are wicked hardcore.

Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
Source: Knitty Summer 2006 (free pattern)
Yarn: 1 ball of Elsabeth Lavold Baby Llama in Lipstick Red
Needles: Size 6 DPNs
Started: 12/14/07
Finished: 12/19/07
Mods: None. I could have done these in one day if I wasn't milking the project between working late and holiday stuff.
Recepient: My dear MIL to match her new coat.
I must say I dig this Baby Llama yarn. I am sure I will find something else to make with it. Hell, look at the size of my Ravelry queue. *Hangs head in shame*

And I was kind of a naughty blogger about something else too. See this cutie in the blue Simple Knitted Bodice below? This is my dear, previously non-sweater-wearing, SIL. Um this was kind of sort of finished in February. Ummm yeah. *ducks under desk*
Hello. I am "sawcey".

And she dutifully did the "bell arms" shot for me. Heck, she's allowing me to plaster her on my blog. She's a good sport, no?

Pattern: Simple Knitted Bodice by Stephanie Japel of Glampyre Knits
Yarn: 9 hanks of Wool yarn from Ludhiana, Punjab, India
Started: January 2007
Finished: February 2007
Recipient: my rockin' sister-in-law, Tammy


Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'm baaaaack!!! Did ya miss me?

It's been awhile. I left last week for Iowa for my friend's baby shower. We had a really nice time although a wee bit colder than home. It pretty much snowed the whole time. Ruth's longtime friends from Belize came up as well and we had a blast goofing off in the snow after the shower. We were like girls in their thirties going on five.

Unfortunately, the snow was powdery and not conducive of good snowman construction. We made do. My friend's mother has this older minivan that she just uses to haul things back and forth from the properties they own. Let's just say we left an anatomically correct present on the hood of her car for her. It was pretty darn funny once she saw it. She's got a great sense of humor so it was a good laugh anyway.
Hello. We are snow bunnies. (Joanne and I)
So I was to fly out on Sunday night. I happen to be on the same flight to Detroit for my connection as her other friend. With the ice storms, we weren't able to get out so we schlepped all of our stuff back to my friend's house for another night. Basically, my friend, Kelley from Nashville, was flying in an hour later than I so there was no time to go home due to my delays on Sunday. By the time I landed, got my bags to the car, and walked back over to her terminal, she had landed. So we got our stuff together and headed for my house in NJ. Kelley is a co-worker, fellow knitter, but most importantly a good friend. We talk or instant message practically everyday. We never had the opportunity to really do something fun. She had vacation time to kill, so did I, and I found out she had never been to NYC and always wanted to go. Perfect! What is better than to show someone NYC all decked out for the holidays, right? Since she still travels for work, she had Hilton points to use and we scored a hotel right in Times Square. I had it in my head to go up on Monday night instead of Tuesday morning so I could show her more. So that's exactly what we did. We covered a lot of ground in the 4 hours we walked around the vicinity of our hotel to Bryant Park, Times Square, the NBC building, and Rockefeller Center.
A little surprise I had planned was that I bought tickets to the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. Kelley is an architecture buff so she had almost as much enjoyment looking around this historic building as the show itself. They did some special footage during the show as it is the Hall's 75th anniversary and 75th anniversary of the Rockettes.
This is a view from the third mezzanine looking down at the lobby and massive chandelier. I have been to Radio City many times growing up only a 40 minute NJ Transit train ride from the city, but I had never had the opportunity to experience Radio City at Christmas. Between that and the Rockefeller tree, I was catapulted into the Christmas spirit.

It wasn't until the second night in town that we spotted this. We don't know how we missed it. After the show, we walked back down to Rockefeller Center to get a better picture of the tree than I had the night before. We stumbled upon this. It's called "Common Cents". It's the Penny Harvest Field where there are over 100 million pennies donated by children in support of social change for their communities.
It had a profound impact on Kelley and I. I think to both of us, this may have been one of our favorite parts of the trip. It was nice to see other New Yorkers and tourists alike just emptying their pockets, like us, in support of a good cause.

But then we turned around and look into the Anthropologie window display and look what we see.....I don't know about you, but next snowfall, all of my snowballs will be knitted and cabled too. I think our eyes glazed over when we saw balls of yarn as display especially after the disappointment that was "String". Very snooty, hardly any product, and we weren't even greeted the entire time we were in there (which wasn't very long). Still, do I look like I can't afford cashmere?
It had rained earlier in the evening and a dense fog dropped down. Take a look at huh?
Would you believe all the times I had gone to the city for business or come here for a show, I never saw people skating at the rink in Rockefeller Center.

Or saw this.....aside from seeing it on TV. Sorry for the blurry photos. It was foggy and misting outside.
And the grandeur that is the Rockefeller Tree. It was gorgeous. Kelley and I never realized how large it was that it had to be tethered to the surrounding buildings in the center.
This little snowflake display was on the Barney's Department Store. They had some lovely window displays below and a musical snowflake show every 10 minutes or so. It played to Christmas Eve/Sarajevo. That's St. Patrick's Cathedral off to the left there.
This Christmas ball display was seen in the fountain diagonal from Radio City. There was another one with the old style Christmas lights but I didn't get a photo of that one.
Below is the Chrysler building during the day as seen from across the street at Grand Central Station.
Now I know what you're all thinking. They went to NY and didn't by yarn? Of course, you know I wouldn't disappoint you. After we got over our disappointment of String, we ended up at Purl Soho the next day. It was a small shop, but very friendly and over-stuffed with product. Ahhhh nirvana.
None of the yarn shops at home carry this one, at least not that I've seen. This is Sheep Shop Yarn Company "sheep number three" which is 30% silk and 70% wool. It's in a nice teal-ish aquamarine blue but I don't think the picture does it justice because you can't see variation in color. I bought 3 skeins at 325 yards each.
Then this is Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino. Let me just say YUM!
More pics to post later and some knitting updates.