The best part of 2009

As most years go, 2009 was no different than others with all the highs and lows that come during a year.  However, one major event happened that outshines the rest.

Say hello to my 3rd grandson!

Although we received early test results that he may not make it full term and if he did would probably not live very long, the test result was wrong!  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to find out he was normal until he was born and this is the photo of my step-daughter with her new son when she received the news that he was perfect in every way.  If you look closely, you’ll see a tear running down her cheek.

I’ve never experienced full-term childbirth for myself, so I felt lucky & honored to be present during my grandsons birth.  It was an indescribable experience & one that I won’t ever forget.  It was also amazing to watch my other 2 grandsons see their baby brother for the first time.  I love those boys like they were my own flesh and blood.

It’s been fun & interesting to watch him change & grow over the last few months.

They grow up so fast!


I think over a year of blog silence is quite enough, so surprise surprise …. I’m back.

I’ve decided to begin my first post back with my list of New Years Resolutions.  I haven’t done this in about 10 years I think, so this is a big deal.  I plan on revisiting this list every quarter to check my progress in hopes that it will keep me on track.  I should check it monthly, but I know myself.  It will never happen.

2010 Resolutions:

  1. Lose 25 pounds
  2. Exercise 5 times a week
  3. Walk the dogs 5 times a week
  4. Quit smoking (again)
  5. Save $5,000.00 and don’t spend it
  6. Blog once a week

Weight Loss & Exercise: In essence the exercise & walking of dogs will help me lose the 25 pounds I gained after going off the Nutri-System program.  When I stopped eating their food, the weight quickly crept back on.  My current plan along with exercise is to use the Volumetrics Eating Plan.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but it seems like I’ll be decreasing my protein a bit, incorporating a small amount of healthy carbs & concentrating on adding a lot more fruits & vegetables to the foods I already eat.

Smoking: I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m currently smoking, but I feel I need to make it public in order to acknowledge it & stop it.  I picked it up again during a very stressful vacation with the family in June and just didn’t stop when the vacation ended.  I’m concerned that if I stop smoking I’ll eat to replace the cigarettes, so for now it’s not going to be on the back burner a bit until I get going with my new eating plan.

Savings: My savings plan is a bit more aggressive than I’m comfortable with, but I need to have a larger emergency fund & so I’m going to set up an automatic transfer each month from my checking account to my emergency savings account.

Blogging: I am really looking forward to this resolution because knowing that I can look back on past blog posts for a type of record of things I’ve done is gratifying.

For those of you who’ve hung on & waited for my return, I’d like to offer my deepest gratitude of thanks.

Still Quiet

We interrupt this blog silence for .. more of the same.  Although I have no excuse for lack of blogging the last half of October, my mother-in-laws unexpected hospital visit and subsequent death has had us wishing November would just end already.  It’s been a very trying month and we are ready for it to be over.  However, she’s not having her burial or memorial service until December 12th, so maybe we’ll be wanting to skip December as well.

I hope that my desire to blog and read blogs will return again soon, but for now, I’m just trying to help myself and my husband get over the grief.  He says he feels a little bit like an orphan since now both of his parents are gone, but thankfully we’ve got a great support network of people here.

Any knitting I’ve worked on or completed is on my Ravelry projects page, and although I’ve got a huge stack of FO’s that just need to be blocked, even my desire to knit much has slipped a bit lately. Hopefully all mojo will return soon and this quiet blog will see some action again.

Pattern: Friendship by Laura Patterson
Source: Fiber Dreams or Ravelry
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Lace in Aegean; 2 skeins
Needles: 3.75 mm / US 5 Knit Picks Harmony Options
Finished Size: 76″ x 32″

Raveled Here

I’ve heard from many people that they don’t knit triangle shawls because they don’t want the point of the shawl landing on or pointing to their gluteus maximus. I agree.  This is why when I wear a triangular shawl, I twist it so that the top center of the shawl rests on my shoulder and the center line runs down my arm until the triangle point rests on my wrist.

I will admit I prefer the rectangle shawl shape as more practical for me to wear, but one of the things I truly love about triangle shawls is the interesting design construction that can’t always be accomplished with a rectangle shawl.  This particular shawl design has several different motifs so that just when you get one motif memorized and are starting thinking you may get bored, it switches to a new motif.  I just love a design that is simple but interesting.  In my book, it’s the perfect combination.

I especially love the addition of the seed beads on the lower half of the shawl.  I must advise that you don’t do as I did and use a crochet hook that is one to two sizes too large. It makes beading a pain in the gluteus maximus.  I’ve never added so many beads to one project before, but I love the effect they give.  I think this shawl will be the perfect compliment to my little (medium) black dress.  Thank you so much Laura for allowing me to test knit this shawl.  It’s a definite favorite.

This is the first time I used the Knit Picks Gloss Lace yarn and overall I liked it.  Notice I said “liked”.  For the value, it’s wonderful, but it’s a bit thicker than true laceweight yarn and so it didn’t give the overall delicate feel I was looking for.  It does look beautiful, but when I saw it side by side with Laura’s shawl that was knit with the Jaeger Zephyr Wool-Silk, I realized that although mine was pretty, I wanted to sneak hers out of her bag and slip it into mine.  I obviously didn’t do that, but it was sure tempting.

I loved every moment of knitting this shawl, but as with all triangle shawls, I despise blocking them.  You’d think I wouldn’t mind since I’ve got blocking wires and t-pins and a great foam pad and such, but still I find pinning it out and getting everything even on both sides a huge pain. Maybe there’s a shortcut or a trick I don’t know about. Am I the only one spending an hour or more pinning out a triangle shawl?  Please give me your tips.  I have 2 other triangle shawls completed and waiting to be blocked.

For those of you who didn’t know, which is probably most of you, I’ve been in the Caribbean for the last 2 weeks on vacation with hubby to celebrate our anniversary.  We got very lucky and had mostly great weather the entire time we cruised around visiting places like Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and the Bahamas.  The photo was taken somewhere in the Caribbean during sunset from our balcony.  Could anything be more perfect?

I’m still trying to get adjusted, so blog reading and such will be hopefully caught up on by the end of this week.  I can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to.

Ravelympics Gold!

Yes, I know Ravleympics was over quite some time ago, but you know me, I’m a day late a dollar short. However, this still doesn’t mean I didn’t get the gold. When I saw there was a WIP Wrestling event in Ravelympics 2008, I knew this event would be my cure for all my UFO’s. There always seems to be so many of them.

Although I started with DROPS Design 95-25, (Ravelry) a fitted tank top, about halfway through I tried it on and disliked the overall look of it. At each point where the rib-like pattern changes, it looked like small “rolls” going around my body, kind of like the Michelin Man. I knew that if I finished it, I would never wear it and that would be a waste of yarn and my knitting time. Since this was to be Ravelympics project, I was unsure what to do. I decided to start over and used the same yarn for this:

Pattern: Picovili (Ravelry), by Grumperina
Yarn: Valley Yarns Longmeadow in Periwinkle; 500 yards
Needles: US 4 / 3.5 mm; Knit Picks Circular Options
Finished Size: 32″
Raveled Here

This is the first top down sweater I’ve knit and honestly, it was so simple that I’ll definitely knit more in the future. It was wonderful to be able to try it on as I knit it and this was especially true since I was tempting fate by not knitting a gauge swatch and knitting a size smaller than I thought might fit.

I followed the straight neck edge of the instructions, but honestly it should be called rolled edge since that’s exactly what it does on the neckline and armhole openings. When I got to the bottom of the sweater where I was to cast off, I added a purl ridge and then knit a few more rows of stockinette and cast off loosely. I turned the edge under at the purl row and seamed it with one of the yarn plies.

I debated about what to do regarding the rolled edges and they were okay, but I felt like the sweater looked unfinished. With crochet hook in hand I worked a single crochet along the armhole and neckline edges.

The yarn was purchased in February in the WEBS booth at Stitches West. I believe it was $3.49 per skein, but I purchased so much yarn that day, that I also got a 25% discount. With tax and everything, this cost under $12.00 to make. I have socks that cost more. In fact, I have socks that cost double! Overall I’m pleased with the yarn and would probably purchase it again. For the price, it really can’t be beat!

It was a quick simple knit and if you haven’t made it, it’s a pretty great item to add to your wardrobe.

Algernon, how I love thee

Laura has has released her latest and greatest sock pattern and get ready to add this one to your queue. It’s named Algernon after Oscar Wilder’s character in The Importance of Being Earnest, and I must confess, I’m in love with Algernon.

Pattern: Algernon by Laura Patterson
Source: Fiber Dreams and Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Cranberry (2 skeins)
Needles: Knit Picks Circular 2.5 mm / US 1.5
Raveled Here

When I originally saw the chart for this sock, I kept rechecking to make sure this was a Laura Patterson design and not a Cookie A design. Anyone who has knit a Cookie pattern knows that some of her charts can make your eyes pop out of your head. However, I say that with the greatest of respect for her designs. Then, I started knitting it and realized that although the chart looked daunting, it wasn’t. It’s absolutely brilliant and I think one of the most beautiful cable motifs I’ve knit in a long time. Can’t you just picture this on a beautiful sweater or pair of mitts?

The main cable motif runs down just the front of the leg and top of the foot.

The other cable motif is repeated in three sections around the sides and back of the leg. There’s also a little tiny 1×1 twisted cable that separates each cable motif section. It’s so cute and oh so easy to do without a cable needle.

I personally was able to work all the cables without a cable needle which is a wonderful thing and I really only had to pay semi close attention to the main cable on the top of the leg and foot. The other cable was easily memorized and the socks were a complete joy to knit. I’m going to give Laura a big Bravo on this pattern.

Although the Posh Yarn Laura used on the original is heavenly to the touch, I really liked The Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn because I thought it showed the stitch detail beautifully. In fact, it worked out so well, that I went to The Loopy Ewe and used my birthday gift card from Laura to purchase more, along with some Noro Silk Garden Sock.

I also may have added some fiber to my order. After all, I needed to spend enough to get the free shipping.

From Left to Right:

  • The Sanguine Gryphon Handpainted Merino Silk; 4 ounces; Madame Riviere
  • Gale’s Art Black BFL; 4 ounces; Stormy Sea
  • Scarlett O’Hara Merino Bamboo; 4 ounces; Sweet Sheri

I have so much other FO knitting and spinning to share with you, but this post is already too long, so you’ll just have to wait. 🙂

Testing is Grand

I know, I know.  Don’t pass out because I’m posting so soon already.  It’s just that I have quite a few FO’s to share with you and the projects are all so great, that I felt I had to share.

I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful friend like Laura who is also a talented designer that lets me test knit her patterns. I’ve recently completed 3 of them but I won’t try to overwhelm anyone with all three in one post. First up:

Pattern: Grandiflora by Laura Patterson (Ravelry)
Yarn: Chameleon Colorworks Bambino in Briar Rose
Needles: Knit Picks Circulars size 2.5 mm / US 1 1/2
Raveled here

If you have beautiful hand painted yarn in your stash that has short color repeats, it can be tricky finding a pattern that will show off the beautiful yarn while not obscuring the pattern. Look no further than this Grandiflora pattern. It reminds me in some ways of Grumperina’s Jaywalker pattern that is so very popular, except this pattern will stretch on your foot whereas the Jaywalker pattern seems to have people commenting on how snug and tight the socks are.

I know Laura spent countless weeks (possibly months) trying to get this pattern perfect, and she really did succeed beautifully. I know I’m a bit prejudiced, but I also have knit quite a few socks in the last 2 years (36 pairs) and so I look at patterns with a bit of a critical eye. Besides, who wants to wear ugly socks? I’ve frogged one too many pairs of socks where the pattern and yarn did not work well together and I realized I need to be more critical of patterns I choose to knit, so that the disappointing half finished socks stop staring at me from the corner of the knitting room with an accusatory eye like I’ve abandoned them. Although usually I have.

Besides having a beautiful pattern, the yarn is quite amazing also. Chameleon Colorworks has some beautiful colorways, but also their base yarn is divine. The Bambino yarn is 30% bamboo and 70% superwash merino. The combination of these two fibers makes a sock that is incredibly soft, but also breathes a bit better than 100% wool yarns. Perfect for my southern California climate.

Also, if you’re an official member of Summer of Socks 2008, you can get a free copy of this pattern until August 15th.

Blog Much?

I know some of you may have noticed my absence both from my blog and from commenting on your blogs. The truth of the matter is, my health hasn’t been so good and I just haven’t felt much like participating in blog-land. Yes, it’s the fibromyalgia. I’m unsure what has caused this resurgence of pain, and the worst part about it is I’ve had to cancel my trip to Portland this week because of it. I was so excited to meet up with my friends Abby and Judy, but for whatever reason, it was not meant to be.

I have been fairly active on Ravelry, and if you look at my Flickr page, there are quite a few photos I’ve been uploading there in the last few weeks. I’ve even considered stopping blogging all together, but it truly is what links me to some very good friends, so I’ve decided to continue for now.

There has been a great deal of knitting happening here at GuiltyPleasures, but I’m not quite finished with those posts, so I thought I’d pass along some information I read and a photo of recently acquired yarn. According to the Blue Moon Fiber Arts blog, they are not only discontinuing some colors in preparation of fall, but they are also raising their prices on August 18th. Normally this news would send me into a panic mode and I’d be buying more fiber that I don’t have storage room for, except that I found this wonderful thing on Ravelry where people are actually selling their yarn for less than they paid for it.

This is BMFA Silike Socks That Rock in the colorway Walking on the Wild Tide. At the BMFA store it’s $24 plus s&h, but I got it off Ravelry for $19 including s&h. Score! I mainly purchased it because I saw this scarf and instantly fell in love.

After I queued my latest find, I took a look at my Raverly projects page, and realized that I’m great at putting up new projects, but horrible about finishing them. I believe this is because I’m more of a process knitter. Most of the projects have been completed and are either waiting to be blocked, or waiting to be blogged. Thankfully the Ravelympics has come along and I’ve joined Team Ho (Hopelessly Overcommitted) and have entered three projects in the WIP Wrestling event. Thankfully I’ve just cast-off two test knits I was working on and now I can fully commit to my other unfinished knitting. So many projects … so little time.

Birthday Hill Climbing

On Thursday, July 10th, I took another step on the birthday hill and I can see the top so clearly, that I’m ready to start walking backwards. No really, I must admit I’m a bit sad to hit 39 years old, but that’s only because my 30’s have been my best years ever!

Since my father’s retirement party was in southern Idaho the day after my birthday, we left on July 8th for our drive from Southern California to Southern Idaho. The drive through southern Utah is so beautiful and I just love this red rock that is everywhere.

Originally I was very worried about the 14 hour drive to my parents home and since fuel costs are so high, we really couldn’t afford to stop and stay at a hotel. I was especially concerned because with my fibromyalgia, you just never know how a lengthy car ride is going to be. Thankfully, my most amazing friend Laura came to the rescue and allowed us use of her timeshare points to stay at the Cedar Breaks Lodge in Brian Head, Utah.

Miraculously the lodge was exactly the midpoint in our trip, so we stayed there the night of the 8th and woke the following day to this beautiful view.

The lodge sits at the base of the Brian Head Ski Resort and I can just picture this all covered in snow. It must be beautiful.

The following day, July 10th, had an auspicious start (that’s a whole other story), but at noon I was surprised by getting to visit the local fiber farm, Hartwell’s Lazy PJ Ranch.

Hubby gave me a card with a bunch of money in it to spend at the fiber farm, and so I got some superwash merino and soysilk fiber, a latern moon spinning basket, some back issues of Spin-Off magazine and a beautiful Gita Marie orifice hook.

Of course the batteries on my camera died. So, I was at the mercy of my mother’s picture taking skills. I won’t humiliate myself with showing the photos of my eyes closed and my tongue sticking out, but I do have this photo of me with a suri alpaca.

After the fiber farm, we had lunch at the local Mexican restaurant and later that day I received a few gifts. My favorite one was this “cake” my sister made me.

It’s a pile of the most delicious chocolate frosting ever with 3 balls of marzipan yarn in the center. I know she was disappointed that she didn’t have time to make me a “real” cake, but she was so busy making the retirement cake for my dad, that I asked her not to make one for me. After that candle was blown out, I asked for a package of graham crackers and scooped up piles of frosting on them. Mmmm …. my favorite.