Thursday, November 29, 2007

89 and counting

I have enough deadlines in my work life that I try to limit the number of them I create for myself in my personal life. That's why I don't make a long list of things to knit for holiday gifts or make myself crazy about a birthday or a christening. Instead, I just make things when I want to and give them for no particular reason.

That said, I'm about to make an exception to my rule. My mom is turning ninety in mid January and I want to make something for her. Ninety! Can you imagine?

She's been living in a retirement community in Virginia for the past 7+ years. This fall we found ourselves in the unfortunate position where it was time to transition her into assisted living. Her memory has become problematic and it had reached a point where we worried about her safety. It hasn't been easy, we're talking about a fiercely independent woman here.

I made her a beautiful red sweater a couple of years ago that she mentions all the time. And there's an Aslan sweater that my sister in law and I teamed up on that she just loves. (I dyed the yarn and she did the knitting.)

There was a time where she hinted around about a scarf but she hasn't mentioned that in awhile. I like the idea of a pair of warm cuddly socks. After all, she doesn't get out as much as she used to and there's something really comforting about nice thick socks.

I'm going to spend a few days with her over the weekend. I guess the best thing to do is talk with her about it. That's not as easy as it used to be. Her answers often change from minute to minute these days. At the very least I'll look around and see what I think would make her happiest. After all, this is all about her.

Birthday, round two

A month or so ago,I made an offhand remark that I was disappointed that we'd missed Steppenwolf's production of a play called August: Osage County. It won all the theatre awards here in Chicago and was on its way to Broadway.

Lo and behold, when my birthday rolled around, my husband presented me with tickets to the show in New York! Mind you, he'd purchased the tickets three days before the stagehands struck. (Striked?) So, he's been a little worried that we wouldn't be able to see the show. Lucky for us, they were able to settle last night. Yahoo!

So, we're off to NY in the morning for a long "birthday" weekend. I can't wait! I know I was there just a few weeks ago, but that was for work. This is all play. We're going to put our tourist hats on and see two plays, visit the Met, see the Christmas tree in Lincoln Center, try and get squeezed in at Balthazar.

We're also planning to visit this little art gallery called the Art Studio Showcase down on Lafayette in Soho that we haven't been to in awhile. It carries paintings by students from the local art school and we've found some wonderful things there over the years. There are lots of still lifes because it's much cheaper to buy a bowl full of fruit than to pay a live model, but there's also plenty of other things.

In knitting news, I've finished the knitting on the Camo Crew kid's sweater. Now it just needs to be finished. Like so many of us, I'm not a big fan of the finishing so it's going to spend some time in the UFO basket. But since it needs to be ready to go to TNNA in January, its visit there will be relatively short.

I've just barely started on a shawl that we'll be displaying at TNNA too. It's Fiber Trends "Landscape Shawl". I'm a little farther along than this photo shows and it's a very fun pattern! There's a little bit of garter, a little bit of seed, a little bit of stockinette with picot edging just to keep things interesting. I think it will be the weekend's airplane project.

Here's another project on needles around here. This is Simplest Sweater for Baby that Amanda is working on. It's the easiest garter stitch thing imaginable. There's also a crochet version that just quick and easy. I think we're all in the market for quick this time of year. As I mentioned, most of mine are for work but most of us are lucky enough to be making things for loved ones. Next year for sure!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Long Time No Write

Goodness, it seems like it's been eons since I sat down in front of this particular computer screen! And in computerland, I guess 10 days=an eon.

I've been quite the busy little bee since we last chatted. Last Wednesday, my dear husband packed up the car, dog and myself and we embarked on a twelve hour drive to visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving.

Having traveled with Miss Pearl on other occasions, we were smart enough to procure some meds for the trip. Girl hopped in the car, spun around once and we heard nary a peep from her for the duration. After having endured a four hour drive a couple of months back where the poor thing cried non-stop, this was pure heaven. (Please understand that I don't really like the prospect of medicating her, but seeing her in distress is far worse.)

As always, my in-laws were a delight. The Thanksgiving sideboard positively groaned with the bounty of the fall harvest. There was turkey, two kinds of potatoes, stuffing, dressing, four vegetables, four kinds of pie, pralines...all amazing. Did I mention the eggplant parmesan and gnocchi with vodka sauce? You can't have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner without eggplant parmesan, can you?

I was able to justify a "second" slice of pie because I got up at the crack of dawn and ran a 10K with Mercedes from Knit Nouveau. I am a master of justification and that run provided me with justification for about ten times more calories than it actually burned off.

One of the fun things about spending time in a different part of the country is that their seasons are different from ours. Here in Chicago, the fall colors came and went a long time ago. In Birmingham, they were still going full tilt. And this was a spectacular year to boot! I can't remember the last time I saw such a beautiful display. As so often happens, I was once again humbled by Mother Nature.

Friday was a nice quiet day. We met an old friend for breakfast and then just hung out with the family. Then we had round two of gorge-fest. After a big turkey dinner on Thursday, what would you have besides prime rib on Friday? It's a family tradition. Good thing I left my skinny jeans at home!

Saturday was another long day on the road. We stopped in Michigan and had dinner with friends. It was a nice way to break up the drive.

Sunday was home and some serious couch time. I wish I had one more day before heading back to work. Isn't that always the case?

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Famous Guest

We had the honor of spending the morning yesterday with the charming and delightful Franklin Habit of The Panopticon fame.

He came by in the morning and spent several hours entertaining us with witty banter and curious stories. And, he brought homemade brownies. They were still warm!! I can't remember tasting better. He said the secret was homemade vanilla extract. Note to self: Get that recipe!

Genteel ladies that we are, we each ate a single brownie and judiciously saved the rest for later. I shudder to imagine the scene had we been a less refined lot.

He and I chatted for quite some time. His 1000 Knitters Project is really gaining steam. He even set up another sitting with a shop in Michigan while he was here! Not sure if I'm allowed to share which shop or when, so it'll have to stay a secret for now.

I sent him off with a few things for Dolores and a promise to see each other again very soon. I wonder if he'd like a part-time job? Or if Dolores needs a little something to fill her days?

There are a few new WIP's to show. This is Stefanie's Christmas Stocking. I think it's a gift for one of her parents. It's made from our Bullfrogs and Butterflies. The color reprodution here isn't great, but it's in Cranberry and Cedar.

Next is an update on the child's version of the Camo Crew sweater I started a couple of weeks ago. I had to totally frog it once but here it is in all it's glory. Look how the yarn created diamond patterns! I didn't even notice it until I took the photo. I guess I was just too close to it when I was working on it to notice.
I've been working this as the back of the sweater, but once I had a look at it, I decided to use this as the front since I can't be sure that the next piece I work will turn out to have the same patterning. This is one of those times where the hand-dyed magic really shows its charm.

Well, I'm going to call it a day. My husband is waiting and we're off to celebrate my, ahem, 29th birthday!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'd like to introduce "Pinto Bean"

I get my hair cut at a salon called Robert Jeffrey. I've been going there for years.

Imagine my suprise when I was checking out last weekend and looked over to see a basket full of yarn! I thought it a little bit odd to see yarn for sale in a salon so I started asking questions.

As it turns out, the owners live about 90 minutes or so away in Sawyer, MI and own a Northwind Llama Farm!! What a hoot! They are primarily about showing and breeding the animals, but from time to time they get some of the fiber spun up into yarn.

I poked around the basket and saw names on the yarn like "Pinto Bean" and "Anita". It turns out those are the names of the llamas whose fiber the yarn was spun from. I was enchanted.

There wasn't enough of any one yarn to make a sweater, but there was enough "Pinto Bean" to make a nice scarf with probably enough left over for a pair of fingerless gloves or something like that.

I cruised around their website for awhile yesterday. They will let you come visit their farm. Since we have friends with a weekend place about 10 miles from there, I think a fieldtrip is in order!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

WIP Wednesday

Stefanie has turned her heel:

And gotten quite a start on the Two-Toned Ribbed Shrug from Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits in Lion and Lamb.

Emily just has one sleeve to go on the Knitting Pure and Simple's Children's Neckdown Bolero in Shepherd Worsted.

Sam's hat in Bullfrogs and Butterflies is sure to keep someone warm this winter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lots to do!

Life has been kinda hectic lately. We were short staffed here at Lorna's Laces for awhile. (Thank goodness we found Emily. She's been fantastic!) It's amazing how quickly that kind of thing can put a wrench in the works.

Then TNNA is looming. It's not for another two months, but now is the time when we need to get all our ducks in a row for it. Right. Now. We need new designs, models knit, colors designed, decisions made about the booth display etc, etc. As soon as I scratch one task of the list, two seem to grow in its place. You would think that after almost five years, I would have some of this figured out, wouldn't you? I never claimed to be the brightest crayola in the box.

You would also think that since I know that this is an especially busy time at work, I would be smart enough to keep things on the home front down to a dull roar. That's not the case.

You see, we've been lucky enough to meet a bunch of wonderful new people this year and I wanted to make sure that some of these acquaintances turned into friends. There were too many to invite over for dinner, so we decided that it would be fun to host a cocktail party. Just cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. From 6-8. Folks could come by for a drink and a nosh and then onto dinner. It would be simple. No fuss. No muss.

Then we let the guest take on a life of its own and Friday night 50 people were coming. And even with the short time frame and simple format, it takes a bunch of time to get ready for that kind of a crowd. In the end, it was a fun party, but I'm still recovering. And finding the stray glass behind a houseplant.

Friday, November 2, 2007


We took some pictures yesterday so I thought I'd introduce everyone to you. It's about time isn't it?

My ugly mug is the one up front. Then behind me,from left to right, is Kylie, Sam, Stephanie, Becca, Emily and Amanda. Emily is the newest member of our little family and we're delighted to have her.

It's a real good crew. Over the years we've had our ups and downs. From time to time we've had someone that wasn't as good a fit as I'd like. But for the most part we've been fortunate enough to have great people here. The kind that you're sorry to see go when the time comes. Knock wood.

Funny, it's an all female crew right now. It's been along time since it's been that way. We've had as many as three men working here. Tyler left a couple of months ago and when we advertised for help, no men applied. Maybe next time.