Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm Feeling Blue

Looky, looky - a finished sweater! On a whim, because that's how all my projects start, I picked up a pattern for a cap sleeve top from Dovetail Designs at Babetta's Yarn and Gifts. Maya introduced me to a terrific new yarn - GGH Tara - and it is now my new fabulous favorite cotton. You *must* check it out. It's super light with an amazing elasticity. Knitting with it was so comfortable.

Pattern: Cap Sleeve Sweater from Dovetail Designs

Yarn: GGH Tara, 72% cotton 28% nylon, 4 skeins in turquoise

Needles: US size 8 Addi's

Gauge: 4 sts/in, 6 rows/in

Notes: This pattern knits up very fast. It only took me 4 days and that's with a hectic mom's schedule. However, let me warn you - this pattern isn't well written/edited and I had to translate a few things as I went. At one point I emailed the designer, Val Love, because I couldn't figure out some of the math.

Modifications: The sweater was a little short even for my truncated torso so I added extra length at the bottom with the crochet trim (1 row sc, 1 row hdc, 1 row sc). Next time I will only pick up and crochet every other stitch for the first row of single crochet. Other changes for next time: start the armholes a little earlier by about 3 rows. Even for me, the armholes are snug. Also, I'd probably change the kind of decreases and increases used for the darts and side shaping.

It's going to be a busy few weeks as we pack and prepare for the move. Hottest time of the year, too. I think we must be a little loco.

Blog ya later!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Moving My Stash, Part 1

With the move to the new house looming, I've reluctantly started to pack my yarn stash. "Reluctantly" because it's a daunting task. And because I really don't want to know exactly how much I have.

It's an embarrassment of riches.

Pictured above are 4 66-qt Rubbermaid bins of yarn. Not lightly, gently packed yarn mind you. I've stuffed the bins to the gills and can barely snap the lids on. The yarn is organized by color, which meant that some "lots" had to be separated. However, in the process I discovered I could make really pretty shawls by combining similar-colored but differently textured yarn.

Another interesting discovery or perhaps enlightenment...I thought I had more pink/magenta/fuschia than any other color range but in truth, I have more lavender/purple *and* teal/turquoise. If you look in my closet you'd see that the dominant colors are white, pink/red and black. I'm not sure what this means but I think it's important somehow. Like my subconscious talking to me.
Would you believe this is only half of my entire stash? The nicer half, but still only half. The other gigantic bins are in the study. They were the ones not quite worthy of being displayed in the cabinets, at least at the time I had purchased the shelves.

You probably know by now that the Destash site on Blogger has been turned off, and thank goodness. That was my nemesis and yet I couldn't stay away. That and the Yahoo group Knitswap.

But, going through my stash has brought me to my senses straightaway. I don't want to buy any more yarn! I can't believe how much I have, and it's so beautiful! I love looking at my yarn and almost regret having to knit any of it. Yet...it is also embarrassing and somewhat bewildering. What was I thinking? 19 skeins of Noro Iro? 28 skeins (yes, 28!!) of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk? I haven't even swatched the DB Alpaca Silk yet. I had a notion of knitting Lara, but never got around to it.

In addition to 8 66-qt bins of yarn, I have 2 full garbage bags full of "Yarn To Go". There's still some nice stuff in these To Go bags but most of them are just twosies or threesies of skeins. It's funny. When I was sorting the yarn in these bags, I had a hard time deciding if they should stay or go. Then I began pawing through my Glamorous Yarn and it became very obvious what had to stay.

Here's the latest news on the house. We won't be moving in August after all. The renters, aka Sellers, need another month before their new home is finished. So being the nice people that we are, of course we will let them stay where they are. At this point it would be kind of silly to kick them out, but it does mean that my parents will probably live with us for a month before we move.

The good news...well, I can go on an Alaska cruise in August now if I can get my act together and plan it. Yay!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Getting Back on Track

At work we used to do these things called mid-year performance reviews, or just "midyears". We'd go through a formal process of assessing how we'd done at our jobs for the past six or seven months, compare them to the goals we documented in January and see if we had progressed. Or not. Some people complained that it was busy work but I thought it was a worthwhile process. It made us think about where we were heading and how we were going to get there.

Without further ado, I'm providing my own personal midyear.

From a career perspective I've really changed. I started the year stumbling around, confused, because my old job had been transitioned to someone else and I didn't want to do what the rest of my group was doing (IT, database stuff). We had just finished a round of layoffs and I survived but didn't know what I was going to do next. So I told my boss I wanted to "do communications". He understood what I was talking about. Now I am the designated comm person for my team and recently, like last week, completed two major deliverables for the quarter for a very visible project in IT. Not bad, but more layoffs are looming and I'm still not a shoe-in to stay.

At the beginning of the year I still hadn't lost all the weight from the pregnancy so I enlisted the help of a "health coach" through the Mayo Clinic health program at work. Basically someone kept tabs on me every other week or so to make sure I was meeting my goals. What I learned was that a coach couldn't help me if I couldn't help myself. It was a half-hearted attempt at staying on a diet and exercise program. I'm ashamed to admit that I squandered this opportunity with excuses like, "I'm sick again because of my daughter and daycare". I disappointed myself because even though I managed to lose a few pounds, I still didn't make the most of the healthy advice and coaching I was given. The rest of the year has to be better in terms of a healthy diet and consistent exercise.

I give myself mixed reviews on time management. I wish I could write a schedule, like making up a budget, and stick with it. The problem is the schedule varies from day to day as minute decisions get made. Even dinner choice can throw off a schedule so time management has to be tempered with a dose of flexibility. Some activities prioritize themselves. For example, knitting and blogging know their place because they are non-pressuring. They're happy to have me whenever I can get around to them. But other activities, like exercise, constantly remind me that I'm lagging behind. So time management is a major concern and I need to, ha ha, spend some time to figure this out.

From a family perspective, things are fantastic! Everyone in the house is doing well. If we can survive moving then we're golden for the rest of the year.

So, what's to conclude from this midyear? I'd say to keep doing what I'm good at, workwise. Writing and communications is good for me and good for my team so as long as I keep my head down I'll be OK. But what about exercise, diet and having enough time to do it all? I think I need to make some short term goals about each one; otherwise I'll flounder. Some people can just go with the flow but I'm more focused with a goal or objective in mind.

I can't end my post without a picture so here's one from a few weeks ago. We hiked Echo Summit with some friends who brought along their dog, Doug. Echo Summit is about halfway to Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. Even though it was the end of June we were pleasantly surprised to find some snow along the trail. It made for an interesting detour but you can see that Doug enjoyed the refreshment.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Summer in Full Swing

You readers who are still commenting on my blog are troopers, I tell ya! I am happy to see that I still have a few friends in blogland despite my poor showing.

Summer is here and this one is another doozy. We bought a house. We own 2 houses. Oh My God. I never thought I would see the day. And in the midst of a big real estate slump, too. It's all because of Karalyn. I wouldn't have been able to convince Karl to buy a bigger home. He wanted vacation property up in Tahoe, a dream we still have. Right now, though, we bought a bigger home just 1.5 miles away from our current house. It's 1000 sq. ft larger with a much bigger yard and a pool. Wait till you see.

Yes, we decided on the house with the amazing yard. How could we not? The beautiful bank repo home was practically brand new, larger and actually fit our budget and storage needs better...but it had zero yard. I have always wanted a pool and Karalyn already loves the water. It was very difficult to decide. At one point, our offers on both homes were accepted at the same time!! Eeek!

In the long run, though, we decided on the slightly smaller and older home. Although the floor plan isn't as good as the other house's, it had everything else going for it. It is gorgeous too with custom paint, tile floors, plantation shutters, granite countertops, a double oven, loft, 3-car garage with epoxy floors and custom cabinets, a walk-in pantry...and did I mention the amazing backyard?

I wish I could show you the whole yard because it's beautiful, but the pool view will have to do. I can't wait to sit on the back porch after work, sipping a glass of wine and looking at this.

The bummer is we can't move until August but in the scheme of things, that works out just fine. The sellers are building a new house in a very hoity-toity, exclusive neighborhood and they need until August to rent back from us. However, my parents are moving out to California and they are going to rent my current house. Talk about perfect timing. They just sold their house in North Carolina so they will spend the next month and a half packing up and moving, very much like Karl and I are doing.

It's been a terrific year so far, knock on wood. Despite some stressful times many things have worked out for us and those we care about. Knock on wood. I am so amazed at our good fortune.

My knitting has fallen off in the past few weeks. Right now I'm working on 2 projects, the Hedera Socks by CookieA in Knitty and the 2-color Brioche Scarf from Weeking Knitting by Melanie Falick.

Lace socks consume a bit of concentration so, um, these haven't progressed much past the cuff and about 3 inches of the leg. But the lace is pretty. The scarf is my mindless knitting. Brioche stitch is really easy but brioche is not one of those instantly gratifying stitches. I'm using Lamb's Pride worsted in a light pink and dark chocolate brown. Nice but slow.

Hey, I tried emailing all of you who responded to my last post but perhaps I have old addresses? because some of the emails bounced back. Just so you know (Jen, Lucy, Joan and AJ) I tried! Of course, I should just comment on your blogs, huh? I'm thinking about you guys too, OK?

Welcome to summer, everyone, hope you're having a good one!