Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Should be Saving Money....

But instead I'm buying yarn. (and shoes)

I really want to make the Lion Neck Cardigan from Custom Knits. This book rocks! I would give it 6 stars if that was possible. The patterns are nice, some of them are outstanding in their simple but elegant design. But the true value of the book is the clean articulation of how to customize top-down seamless sweaters, including how to knit different types of sleeves from the top down.

I've read Knitting Without Tears and Knitting From the Top. Both are good (I especially like Barbara Walker) but Custom Knits summarizes the important concepts from both books and others in such an easy to understand and straightforward way that you wonder why you weren't able to figure it out yourself. (It's OK...Wendy Bernard has done it for you now so don't beat yourself up over it).

What does this have to do with not saving money?

The Lion Neck Cardigan pattern calls for Rowan RYC Soft Tweed, which is discontinued. I looked through my considerable stash for possible substitutions, checked Ravelry for other yarns that people used with that pattern and decided it was best to find some Soft Tweed.

After a little Googling, I found an amazing deal at Bargain Yarns which I immediately snapped up - 8 skeins of Soft Tweed in Bark. Then I looked around the site and found Cherry Tree Hill Silk and Merino Bulky. Bulky, people. 372 yards in each hank. I could not pass this up. I bought 2.

So you see, I'm not saving money because I'm buying yarn. (and shoes)

Do not tell my husband.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Unidentified Blue Blob

If I told you this is supposed to be the Two-Toned Shrug from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel, would you believe me?

Really, it is. Except that it's only one-toned. And it's got 3/4 sleeves. I've always a pattern still the same pattern if you make a few minor changes like that? I think it is but some people have argued that it's different.

I started this a few weeks ago but haven't had much time to devote to it. The yarn is Dream in Color Classy in Blue Lagoon, which has been in my stash for about a year or so. This yarn is a must-have! It goes on and on forever (250 yds), is comfortable in your hands and the color is beautiful. My photos don't do it justice. Two skeins will be more than enough for the shrug in the 16" shoulder-to-shoulder width, even with the longer sleeves. I think, however, that this will be just a tad too big for me. The pattern says to size down if you're in between sizes. My husband took the measurement and he said he had been "generous."

Also, I should've tapered the sleeve. My arms are skinny-ish already. After seaming the first sleeve and trying it on, I noticed a slight puffing. So the sleeves won't be so fitted but that's probably OK. More than likely I'll wear this over a long-sleeved top anyway. If it really doesn't fit, I know who I can give it to.

In other news...well, there's no other news. My in-laws are here and we're going to San Francisco tomorrow to visit the California Academy of Sciences museum. I'm really excited because I want to see this place. It will be fun! My family (the Mailman side, that is) is geeky that way. I haven't been to a planetarium in ages. Hope to post lots of good photos soon.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Twinkle Shopping Tunic

Back to the knitting!

Twinkle's Big City Knits has been on my shelf for a while. Against my better judgment, I managed to convince myself that I could channel the models in the book: be tall, willowy and boobless (TWB).

My first attempt at TWB was the Skating Sweater. Have I blogged about this already? I can't remember. Anyway I shopped from my stash and used Muench Big Baby (and in the process I denied Karalyn a new crib blanket). The result was less than stunning. Instead of being TWB I was short, stumpy and stacked (SSS). The fuzzy focus doesn't help either. I was also 10 lbs heavier in this photo. I knit this sweater last fall. Afterwards I came to my senses and said No to any more Twinkle sweaters.

Since then I've lost 10 lbs and gotten back down to pre-baby weight. The weight loss has clouded my thinking. Again I pulled out Big City Knits, looked at the models and said, "Tall, willowy, boobless! That's me!"

Earlier this week I finished the Shopping Tunic. During the knitting I started to get anxious. The yarn is so thick! The gauge is so huge! The measurements are so tiny! I held up the finished piece to my person to provide perspective on how small the sweater turned out to be right off the needles. Remember, I'm a size 1 or 2 petite. In the photo the sweater is "inside-out" since the purl side is actually the right side. What's that big wonky blob of yarn? I don't know.

To have a sleeker silhouette I decided to forego the pockets and the cowl neck. The pocket instructions were confusing anyway, and the cowl would've been itchy. Who needs it on a short-sleeve tunic? When I put the sweater on this morning, Karl had to laugh when he saw me roll it down my body. "Every father's nightmare," he commented. "You're not passing that down to Karalyn." However he said it looked nice on me.

It's not that great. In fact, I look SSS! Karl said, "Yeah, the thick yarn adds another inch or two." Sheesh! I need another inch or two but not around my waist or chest. Do you see how the armholes are weirdly stretched out? And this yarn, since it's roving, will pill and fuzz and break down very quickly. Which will make me even more SSS.

Oh well. Live and learn. I have 4 more skeins of Soft Chunky. I might...might...try the Evening Shell with it. If I do, some adjustments will need to be made.

In the meantime I thought I would wear this expensive designer sweater at least once. The weather is perfect for it today.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who Am I and What Do I Do?

I rarely talk about work or the company I work for here. It doesn't seem appropriate for a personal blog. However, I have to admit that who I work for and what I do there is part of my identity. Probably a bigger part of my identity than I'm comfortable acknowledging.

Right now I'm in the midst of a career stall.

My company went through a big layoff last September and I truly, truly thought I would be let go. In fact, only two people survived my immediate team of 11, myself and a new hire who was not allowed to be fired since he had been there less than a year. Even my manager was laid off. The reason I was spared was that I had taken a risk in early 2007 to do something completely different from the rest of the team. Isn't that ironic?

Since then, I've plodded along as best I could in my newly chosen career path - internal employee communications. What I've discovered, however, is that communications is not what it seems.

Communications is different to different people. To me, initially, it meant writing articles for newsletters and imparting information to people who needed to know. I was happy to do this. I love learning about new stuff and talking to people about it. I'm generally a nosy person anyway so this fit right in with my personality. But I started to get requests for weird stuff, like "what's our marcomm plan for this project?" and "are you going to create the policy for documentation?" I would get the former from management and the latter from my co-workers. Then people started asking me, "Where are we going to put our information? On SharePoint or on the [enterprise] wiki?" Eeek! What happened to the writing? I'll tell you - everyone began asking me to write all of their mass communications: "Hey, I need you to write an announcement about the product X release and send it to everybody in IT."

David Byrne would say, "And you may ask yourself, well how did I get here?"

It was a bit of an epiphany: communications is no longer just writing and telling. It's marketing. It's content management. It's technology a la Web 2.0. When I tried to explain the situation to my manager, he said, "Well yeah." (My manager, who is a few years younger than me, is attitudinally Gen Y. I on the other hand, flit between an older Gen X and a very young Baby Boomer when the mood suits me.)

When people ask me who I am and what I do, I hesitate. To say I'm in communications seems inadequate and misleading. Yet what else do I call it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Clapotis a Finis

My name is LynetteM and I am the 7,641st person on Ravelry to knit Clapotis.

This a beautiful, ingeniously simple pattern, one that I will never knit again. For too long this all-purpose scarf/wrap/makeshift throw/table runner lived in my dark and lonely WIP closet stuck in a "Section 3: Straight Rows" time warp.

The yarn came from Full Thread Ahead's booth in the Market at Stitches West a couple of years ago. Cherry Tree Hill Silk & Merino DK in "Foxy Lady." Three skeins were on sale for $45, a deal I couldn't pass up. I knew immediately what the yarn was meant to be. What I didn't anticipate was how long it would take to evolve.

Now that it's done I'm feeling spent, and somewhat at a loss. Clapotis is casually folded up on an end table not even blocked. It's coming with me to Vegas next month (along with my wicked platform sandals) but other than that I don't have plans for it.

Umm, so what's next? Clapotis took a lot out of me - I was so intent on finishing it. Time for Arwen? That's another Kate Gilbert pattern, maybe it's too soon. Cinnamon from Rowan Tweed? I can't decide. Perhaps I'll spend part of the evening swatching.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Random Things About Me and a Sea of Clapotis

Allison tagged me for a few tidbits about myself so I thought I've give it a go:

  • My first name was Maria. It's a Filipino thing for daughters be named after saints. If that doesn't happen, the girls are given "Maria" as their first name but called by their second name.

  • I became a naturalized citizen at age 22 and promptly dropped "Maria." As a side note, I've changed my name 4 times.

  • I'm a left-handed golfer and my favorite club is my 7 wood.

  • I drive a stick shift. So sporty, eh?

  • Black and white film photography was my first love. After discovering the mysteries of the darkroom I was hooked.

  • I used to read Tiger Beat! I had crushes on Leif Garrett and the Bay City Rollers.

OK, there are rules for these random things. First rule is share the rules! Link to the person who tagged you. Then right your six random bits of tid. Let the tagger know when you've responded. Tag 6 more people. Let them know you've tagged them by commenting on their blogs.

I don't read a whole bunch of blogs anymore so I'll only tag a few more people: Lori, Jen and Ruth. And of course anyone who wants to join in the fun, please do so. Just let me know, OK?

So I didn't finish sewing my tote bag. It's been a couple of weeks since I started it and my interest has waned considerably. I was in the middle of sewing the handles when the sewing machine needle broke! Karl fixed it but I really just need a heavier duty needle. I'm procrastinating.

This afternoon, after cursing my last skein of Cherry Tree Hill which was giving me a little trouble, I managed to spit-splice it to my Clapotis working yarn.

I must be one of the last knitters on earth who has not made this thing. I've got seven more repeats to go and then I'll be done. This yarn is CTH Silk & Merino DK that I picked up at Stitches West a few years ago. I love the color but do you notice where the dye didn't take and shows up as white? Nothing I can do about it now but it really stands out. It kinda bugs me.

This coming week is my birthday week. Not that I'm celebrating. I keep forgetting it. 41 is not exactly a milestone birthday that I want to remember, you know? But it's good excuse for cake and shoe-shopping. I picked up a pair of Michael Kors peep toe black patent leather platform sandals at Nordstrom's. Very Las Vegas. Wicked.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Living in the Moment

I can't beat myself up anymore that I don't blog as often as I'd like. That's just the way it is right now. I'm chalking it up to living in the moment. I am doing whatever I'm doing at this very minute, does that make sense? Hehe. Probably not but I swear I haven't had anything alcoholic to drink this morning.

On the knitting front, Clapotis is still on the needles. However, I'm determined to get this done by the end of September! It's close - just a few more repeats in the last section. Until it's complete, I vowed not to start on anything else.

Well At least, not knitting-wise.

I started sewing this tote bag last weekend. Sewing has always been an interest but the process is very intimidating to me. All that pressing and pinning and marking and cutting. I've sewn hems and small things like that before but I've never used a pattern. Patterns scare me. I found the tutorial for the tote bag and it didn't seem so hard. And I didn't have to worry about a pattern.

I started by not selecting the proper fabric. Instead of a stiffer canvas-type fabric I chose something flimsy. The saleswoman at Beverly's talked me into using a fusible interfacing that is literally as stiff as cardboard. I was afraid my sewing machine needle was going to break when I seamed the little gusset corners. The handles are all that are left to do this weekend. I promise to post a picture regardless of how the bag turns out.

Speaking of photos, here's one my aunt took in my parents' backyard in April. Karalyn can look quite different depending on who she's with. In this picture she favors Karl more than me.

Here's my little devil looking positively angelic.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Little Bit of Summer

The dog days of summer are here. I love this photo of Karalyn and her "boy friends" because it makes me think of simple summer pleasures that only kids can truly have. How I wish it could be like this forever for her.

Last Sunday we went on a short hike somewhere between Placerville and Mosquito. This was Karalyn's first time when she hiked on her own rather than being carried in a pack. Don't you love our hiking clothes?? REI catalog here we come.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pool and Pigtails

Do I really need to explain why I haven't been knitting much lately?

Monday, June 09, 2008

It's Hot! But I'll Wear My New Cardigan Anyway

Debbie Bliss' Scoop Neck Cardigan. Size: small (32). Yarn: Noro Silk Garden #34, 7 skeins. Knitty things: size 8 Addi Turbo, 2.5mm crochet hook, 9 buttons.

Pretty, isn't it? A little scratchy and warm (it's 90 degrees outside) but it fits well and I like it! The sleeves caused me some issue - they are still too long despite taking 1 inch off. And I was very careful about seaming this one: all the pieces were blocked and I attempted to sew the sleeves to the armholes a couple of times each before I was satisfied. I used embroidery floss to seam because the Noro was simply too fragile for that. Sounds disturbing, huh? We'll see how it holds up when the weather cools down again and I wear it more often. It's actually seen some action already - I wore it in Seattle (got compliments at So Much Yarn) and a few days here at home when the temps were still in the 70s.

Next up is the "Dress Me Up" pattern for Karalyn from Yarn Girls Guide to Kids Knits. Wait till you see the colorway.

Oh, gotta a new haircut. I love the convenience of short hair but I'm not sure it suits everyone else, ha!

Gotta run, it's late again....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Have I Finally Grown Up?

When I turned 30 my expectation was that I would reach full maturity and sophistication. You know, like a piece of fruit that you bought a little green that suddenly becomes ripe overnight sitting on the counter.

Turns out that never happened. I mean, it didn't feel like it happened. Although friends would say I'm really quite mature, what do they know because most of them are younger than me anyway.

All through my 30's I kept waiting for some sign that indicated I was grown up. I bought a house. I bought a car. I invested in stocks, mutual funds and 401k's. I took trips overseas and stayed in fancy hotels. I was promoted a few times at work. I had a long, stable relationship with a guy and we eventually married. We had a baby. Was I mature yet?

If I had asked myself that at 39 my answer would've been, "Almost." Now I'm 40 and sliding towards 41. The answer at this very moment is, "Yes, I'm really grown up."

You're probably thinking I'm either going through menopause or my birthday is coming up. Neither is true! What prompted this is I'm planning my daughter's 2nd birthday next month. Two whole years of baby goodness have gone by really fast. And in those two years I've finally felt like, well, a grown up woman. It hit me the other day - I'm planning a huge birthday party for my child. How mature that sounds. Wow. Being a mom does weird things like that to you.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones sums it up the best, "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage." And my odometer has seen a lot of miles racked up lately.

BTW. That's the Skating Sweater in size medium from Twinkle's Big City Knits. I used Muench Big Baby and the whole sweater took less than a week, even with my hectic schedule. When I was knitting the thing, it looked like it would never fit - the piece was like large tube - but the yarn stretches and is form-fitting. I chose Big Baby because it was in my stash, but poor Karalyn was gipped out of a baby blanket.

Trumpets please! After a couple of years sitting in my WIP basket, Wiggles and Waves is finally finished. This pattern is from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and uses 2 different Sock Candy yarns. This project has been around so long, I don't have the yarn ball bands anymore. I knit with needles one size larger than called for. I paid for that mistake because I ran out of the blue variegate to make long sleeves. And I couldn't find the yarn anymore. But it's done and Karalyn will wear it either this summer or next. Woohoo!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ode to Stripes

For those who feared I had abandoned knitting altogether, think again! Aside from various socks and mittens for the wee one, I raced through a sweater for the Lil Babe. I give you - the Striped Sweater from Yarn Girls' Guide to Kids Knits. Ta-dah!

I finished this, what...a week ago. I don't even remember all the pattern details now. The yarn came from my stash: RYC Cashsoft Aran (a washable, cashmere and merino blend) in colors Foxglove, Haze and Bud. I had just enough plus a couple of skeins leftover for fingerless gloves later (hmm, Fetching comes to mind).

Karalyn on the back step. Adorable, yes? The sweater is huge on her. I think it's a size 2 toddler which was oversized anyway. Hopefully she can wear this in the fall too.

I've already moved on to other projects. I'm almost finished with the Twinkle Skating Sweater from Twinkle's Big City Knits. Also back on the needles is Karalyn's Wiggles and Waves cardigan which I am determined to finish before her 2nd birthday. This one is done except for the edging. I'll have pix of both next week, but keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How Happy Are You Now?

Lately I've been a grump.

I'm prone to bouts of unhappiness anyway but the weekend before last, I was simply mean. Details are not necessary here since rehashing it would only make me mad again (and a little ashamed). I've been trying to figure out why I've been unhappy. Life is nice: great husband and marriage, wonderful daughter and lovely family, decent job, decent money, terrific house, good health, all the yarn a knitter could ever want! So why the grumps?

This morning I spent some time reading a series of happiness articles on CNN and to try to figure it out. I took a quiz and scored myself - 27. This score is fairly high on the happiness scale actually, but also misleading. The questions in the quiz are very general. For example, if I had to live my life over again I would be OK to do it the same way except for one thing, and unfortunately that one thing is critical. I scored that question only a 5 out of 7.

The articles cite Dr. Robert Holden, an expert in the study of the pursuit of happiness. And he nailed my problem exactly - he calls it the "destination addiction" where you're contstantly looking for the next thing, the "more" that's going to make you happy once you obtain it. By doing so, you cannot be happy in the here and now, you are not satisfied with what you already have or have accomplished.

I've known this about myself for years except I've always labeled it as goal-setting. I can't be happy if I don't have something I'm working towards. I have really bought into the whole idea of happiness being in the journey, in the creative effort. So where and what has this gotten me? Far and a lot. I have achieved most everything that's important to me (see the list in the first paragraph). And now ironically, the question I'm asking myself is, "What's next?"

Well, I've got to figure out how to be content with all my life's riches. I have to look at my actual and metaphorical stash and say, "By golly I don't need to acquire any more, I already have enough wonderful stuff here to last me a very long time." I really have everything I need; now I should start creating beautiful things with it.

I agree with Dr. Holden in some ways. I agree that there can be such a concept as "destination addiction," but I actually believe that this addiction can be a good thing depending on your circumstances. It can get you out of a rut. It can motivate you to achieve your goals. It can help you realize your dream. But we also need to understand that at some point we don't have to keep reaching...we are there. And that life is good where we are and we need to keep it that way.

A little happiness here....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wearing Baby Albert

Many moons ago, in fact exactly 2 months before Karalyn was born, I knit the Baby Albert Jacket for her. Almost 2 years later, Karalyn is still wearing the jacket. How did that happen? It was sized for a 12-month old. If you click on the link, you'll see the yarn particulars for this sweater - SWTC Bamboo. The yarn has grown. In fact, it has grown with Karalyn.

In the normal knitty scheme of things, a sweater that stretches out like this is baaaad, very baaaad. Serendipitously, though, for a toddler who needs to go shopping every 6 months for new clothes, this sweater is perfect! She's been able to wear it for 2 fall/winter seasons now and it just keeps on stretching.

I wonder if there's any way SWTC could market this wonderful feature. Superwash and super stretch! Grows with your child! A knitter's dream.

Monday, January 21, 2008

5 Things I Want Karalyn To Know Before She Grows Up

Got tagged by Tabitha on the Got Poo Poos? blog, so here's my take:

Five Things I Want Karalyn to Know Before She Grows Up

1. Being short is OK, better than being too tall.
2. It never hurts to ask. Nicely.
3. You will want to eat vegetables eventually.
4. There will be more than one love in your life, but trust that you will know which one is the best one.
5. Be a kid for as long as you can. Believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Great Pumpkin.

I am supposed to tag 5 people, does anyone still read my blog and want to participate? You don't have to have kids to do this. If you want to do the meme, leave me your blog URL so I can check it out!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Travel Woes Stymie Would-be Safarians

Can't a girl plan a trip these days?

Here's the story. I was supposed to go on one of those trips of a lifetime: an African safari. The plan was to leave January 15th for 9 days of dancing with the "Big 5". Heck. Wouldn't you know, people started killing each other after a suspicious presidential election in Kenya at the end of December. Both parties say the election was rigged and neither side can agree on how to negotiate. Their constituents decided that pillaging, raping and beating people up with machetes was the next logical step to peace and harmony. Sheesh!

Since the beginning of the year, my friends and I have been on pins and needles trying to figure out what to do. Because my trip was supposed to start and end in Nairobi, all this violence has wreaked havoc on my sense of security. My first trip to Africa and there's political unrest?? The nerve of these people.

Like the traveller newbies that we are, we decided to eschew the trip insurance. What for, we asked. Oh, in case we cancel the trip or something, said the travel agent. (Never mind that Africa as a whole is rife with civil and political turmoil). Imagine our relief when the tour operators decided to change the trip itinerary. We would've had to pay additional moola to change our flights and accomodations and therefore they had to offer us the option to cancel for a refund.

We pounced on that refund! I called up the travel agents and gave them a pitiful sad sack story, because, in truth, I am a pitiful sad sack for having gotten myself into this situation in the first place. But now we have a new problem: we can't get a refund on our airfare. Our options are to eat the cost (which would be a huge mouthful and cause an awful stomachache) or use the flights, somehow, by the end of February.

My friends and I are not exactly what you'd call decisive. We don't want to lose our money but we don't really want to go to Kenya. So we're trying our best to do neither one. Our latest plan is to stop in Amsterdam, since that's a stopover. Amsterdam has a lot going for it except, well, the weather sucks this time of year. It's rainy and cold which is the worst combination of conditions. We are currently looking into making Amsterdam simply our European gateway and travel onward to Paris or somewhere in Italy.

Oh, woe is me. Can't a girl just go somewhere on vacation without worrying about machine guns or being hacked via machetes? [sarcasm!]

Monday, January 14, 2008

To Knit, Or to Knit Not, That Is The Question

To knit is to obsess, but to write is to be compelled.

This sums it up for me at the moment. You would not know it by reading this blog since I've gone weeks between posts, but I need to write. More. And often. About anything and everything, not just knitting. This blog has to evolve beyond just my yarn habit and knitting projects.

I've been mulling over my blog malaise for a little while. It isn't that I don't want to blog, but I just don't have much to say about knitting lately. Lack of knitting doesn't define my life although how would you know since I haven't blogged about it?

I'm considering changing my blog altogether, maybe even moving off of Blogger. What's holding me back is selecting a new name. All the witty, pithy ones have been taken. But I feel a little ridiculous that, as a person supposedly creative with words, I can't come up with something meaningful. The irony. Bloggers' block.

Did you make any new year resolutions? I did not. Personally I do not like resolutions, they don't motivate me in the least. In fact they accomplish quite the opposite! Most resolutions seem to focus on the negative - lose weight (because you're fat), stop procastinating (since you're lazy), get fit (because you're a serious couch potato). See what I mean?

Resolutions should be something enjoyable so that we want to actually do them. Let me see...I know I said I didn't make any resolutions but here are some examples of some that appeal to me:

I will read more books, and not just about knitting. I will not feel guilty about reading a trashy summer romance novel.

I will take a bath, using good bubble bath or salts, on Sunday nights before going to bed. Preferably with a book.

I will bake cookies and cakes more often for fun and share with friends.

I will spend more time in the backyard with my daughter and husband - whether we're swimming, barbecuing or pulling weeds. It will feel good just to be outside with my favorite people.

Hmm. That wasn't so hard. Maybe I *will* make a few happy resolutions after all.