Friday, February 24, 2006

Am I Blooooooo?

Just feeling a little blue today. Perhaps it's because of the emotional roller coaster DH and I are putting ourselves through the demise of my company. Perhaps its the weather.

M turned 4 yesterday. I love how magical birthdays were at that age. We have her party scheduled on Sunday at the local Pump It Up. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Another Finished Bear

I just love the way these bears knit up so quickly. I've received a couple of comments that the colors remind them of Piglet. M initially called her "Lu Lu Bear" which I really loved, but now she calls her "Teddy Margaret".

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympic Glory Is Mine!

Well, I finished my Knitting Olympic items: a pair of alligator mittens. They're awfully cute and, once I finally got into the ribbing groove, found they knitted up fairly quickly.

I also finished knitting the robot. M has named it "Magenta" and insisted on giving her a bow.
I'm now knitting a bear (the other one was sent away) for her and am using the same yarn/colors as Magenta (she once had called the robot Magentle, which was pretty cute - but it's gone back to being Magenta).

I have started to swatch the Pin-up Queen. I like the way the ribbing is setting up, but I think I'm going to have to look at redoing the pattern. I don't like fuzzy stuff as I'm already a "big" girl. Fuzz just makes you look bigger, if you ask me. :)

Anyway, I cast on enough to make the sweater be 6-inches, according to the gauge. It's coming up 3-inches - crap. I'll try knitting on larger needles (I do tend to knit tightly - especially on aluminum needles). If that doesn't work, I'll have to go to my handy-dandy super knitting neighbor who can help me figure it out.

Sad week

I had the hardest decision to make this past week. My business has been slowing down and it's very dependent upon the real estate market. I see this huge real estate bubble popping soon and know that it'll be very difficult for me to continue working independently.

So, I was faced with a choice. Continue on the pace we were working at and end up in the hole money-wise, or give everyone a bonus and allow them to get a job while jobs are still available.

I chose to punt. I let my tech go this week and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I care a great deal about what happens to him and his family. I felt like I let everyone down by making this decision - but deep down I feel like it was the right one. J & I cried when A left - and writing this blog entry isn't easy for me either. It's been a very emotional week. I know you're supposed to keep business business but it's hard when you impact people's livelihoods - especially the ones you care a great deal for.

So, I'm floating my resume around and have an interview set up this coming Wednesday. Wish me luck as I'm going to try to go work for someone else for the first time in six and a half years. Half of me is excited while the other half is very disappointed.

I guess the upside is that I'll actually get some sort of health care that doesn't cost $1000 a month. Then there's the chance of working for someplace and actually work up to a retirement. I still have time to do that, but (ugh) I hate even thinking that I'd be the type of person who counted down the years till retirement. After paying for my own health insurance though, it just may be worth selling out if the trade off is having retirement health insurance benefits.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Steam Blocking

I never have steam blocked, so I did a search and found that it was really rather simple.

The glove definitely doesn't look as small anymore. The top photo is from the top, the middle is the bottom, and the last is with the mouth open. Now I have to embroider the teeth in the mouth, attach googly eyes, and mattress stitch the piece together. Getting closer - but I have to make a second one, too!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Small alligator

Well, I have the top and bottom of the first mitten done. I slipped it onto M's hand this morning and found that she has a HUGE hand! I'm even following the pattern for the middle sized mitten!

I'll go ahead and finish this up and see if it works any better when I have the middle part done. If not, I'll just donate this as a puppet to a worthy cause. I should have it done by the end of tonight.

Oh, and I am not a big fan of Win IE 7.0. It's still not playing well with others - that's what I get for upgrading to a beta! :(

Friday, February 10, 2006

Half a Robot

I have finished the front of a robot. It’s PINK! I didn’t like knitting it from the bottom up. I’m going to try to knit the back from the top down. I think it’ll be easier to knit the legs at the same time.

Intarsia was really not so bad – I don’t know why I was so afraid to try it. I will, however, make the butterfly balls the next time. I just needed to get a project under my belt so I could understand where to do it.

I also went to the North Texas Bluebonnet Knitting Guild meeting last night. It was really great fun as I’m amazed at the talent of some of the ladies. I went ahead and joined. It’s much more organized than SnB. I like the informal-ness of SnB, but I also like the formalness of NTBKG.

Today is the first day of the Knitting Olympics. I don’t think I can make the mittens circularly with intarsia (circular knitting is essentially a spiral so there would be no way for me to ), so I’ll go ahead and follow the pattern in SnB-Nation. The robot will have to be put on temporary hold (although, the back would go really fast – I would definitely have time to finish it up).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bad Ju-ju

Thought I'd pass on a neat little craft:

Your very own knitted voo-doo doll.

Too silly!


Whoa! Intarsia is a way to knit with different colors. I'm attempting it with a robot I'm trying to knit up.

I did a very lazy thing: I didn't put yarn on bobbins, I just pulled yarn from the other side of the skein. (Bad me! Bad, bad, me). It wasn't so bad at first, but now I'm knitting a row with three different colors and it's just become a bloody mess. I'm pushing through it right now, but the next time I attempt this, I'll definitely do bobbins or butterflies.

The IT Crowd

J has found a very cute show that's being produced by the same guys who did Father Ted (a personal favorite show of mine). Over the years I've noticed that I really don't watch sit-coms anymore. Current exceptions: My Name is Earl (possibly the funniest show on television right now) and The Office (I like the UK version, but the American one has grown on me).

Now I am a huge fan of The IT Crowd. The first episode had one of the guys in a "RTFM" shirt (inside joke here at the house as J is constantly telling me to RTFM*) and there was a flying spaghetti monster posted on the wall behind him. To a nerd, this was really wonderful to see! J said that the set folks actually had a group of Open Source guys help them to decorate the set. If you don't know what Open Source is, don't worry. It's computer-ese and I just know enough buzz words to make myself dangerous.

*Read The Fucking Manual

Monday, February 06, 2006

From peanut to a cute teddy bear!

Okay, all together now. . . .

Awwwwww !!

As you can see, I finished my bear. I'm pretty happy with how she turned out. I hope the cousin who's going to get her gets much comfort from receiving her (she's going in for some pretty major surgery).

I tried to match the bear from Jess Hutchinson's pattern book as much as possible with the colors for my first try. I did, however, add my own embellishment - a two stitch I-cord bow at the top. It turned out much cuter than I thought.

This time I followed the pattern and did Kfb's whenever she called for them. Like I mentioned before, it definitely is part of the charm of these toys.

M wants one of these SO MUCH! She's told me that she want's a pink bear with stripes and a bow. We'll see. I have the Knitting Olympics starting on Friday where I'm going to attempt to knit the alligator mittens using the intarsia method - I haven't quite wrapped my head around how I'm going to be able to do that as I also want to do it in the round.

In the mean time, I think I'm going to use the arm/leg patterns for finger puppets and make a Flying Spaghetti Monster. I still haven't worked out how I'm going to do it, but I think I'll incorporate the 2 stitch I-cord as seen in the bow above for the noodley appendages. I could knit a pipe cleaner into the center of the I-cord so the noodles can be adjustable. I could also shrink the sphere pattern from Spherey to make the meatballs. I still need googly eyes. I've found some on-line here, but they have a $10 minimum order, so I'll have to see if there's another resource. I also need the googly eyes for the alligator mittens.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's a peanut!

I finished the main body for the teddy bear I'm knitting.

I really suck at the embroidery part (that's an "A" on the chest if you can't figure it out) so I opted for a safety nose for the face and went the Miffy/Hello Kitty route and omitted the mouth. I knitted this on circular needles because I really dislike DPN's. I have the Denise System and I love them. The joins on the needles are smooth and I don't spend all my time pushing the stitches around - I actually knit! The Clover's were just not smooth and I was much slower on them. I knit pretty tightly and the Denise System needles just won't let me knit tight. Perhaps its because the needles are plastic and have some give to them.

The yarn I used for the bear is super cheap, but he's soft. These are Caron brand yarns and cost $1.25 for a 3 oz. ball at my local Hobby Lobby. What are the colors in this bear?

Head: Buttercup #2713 (Simply Soft)
Shirt: Rubine Red #2718 (Simply Soft)
Pants: Mango #9605 (Simply Soft Brights)

I don't think the Buttercup is made anymore as I can't find it on their site.

Next I have to make two arms, two legs, and two ears to finish this one up.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Robot Factory

Originally uploaded by Jess Hutch.
Found this little hidden jewel of a photo - a robot in the middle of being made! It certainly helps me think about how to make one now. It's going to have to wait until I'm done with the teddy bear I'm knitting.

Finished Object

J found Jess Hutchinson's patterns for unusual toys on the internet and became enamored with her robots. So I went ahead and ordered her book and showed all the pictures of the toys to M. She really wanted a “Spherey”. After my success with the devil hat, I felt like I could do it. And I did. I’m amazed at how quickly it knitted up.

It’s not perfect as I’ve learned so much while knitting it. Instead of doing the Kfb increase, I did the M1. It leaves a better seam, but part of the charm of the toy is having the bar in the increase. The eyes are closer together than what the pattern shows, but it’s because I had a hole right where I put the left eye. I have also learned that I suck at embroidery. I just don’t have the patience for it, plus the yarn I was using was really a different contrast, so all the imperfections showed through. The body of Spherey is a cheap acrylic (Red Heart) yarn that I had lying around from an unfinished crochet afghan. I hated working on the afghan. It was just dull to do – how many potholders can you make, then string together? Bleh. Knitting these little toys and hats are infinitely more satisfying.

Oh, and I love They have free videos on how to knit the stitches and give a great explanation of what the finished stitch looks like. I’ve watched them and knitted the stitch side by side (I love having a laptop with a wireless network card next to my chair).

M has named it “Mr. Handster”. It is very weird name, but if you turn him over, you can see where she got the name:

I have to figure out how to knit a bow or something like it so I can change Mr. to Miss. It has to be a Strawberry Shortcake bow according to M.

I really dislike Verizon

We had all of our phone stuff with Verizon - wireless, home, fax lines, and internet. They started a new program called One-bill where we'd only get one bill to cover all the services above (we used to get a separate invoice from the wireless guys and the home phone guys).

Back in August, we decided that spending over $300 a month on phone stuff was just too much so we simplified.

One of our cell phones on the family plan was costing us $30 per month, and we just weren't getting the value for our money out of it, so we killed the contract a year in advanced - to the tune of a contract breaking fee around $175. We were still money ahead in the long term by changing to a pay as you go phone. So we paid that bill on time.

At the same time, we changed our main home phone number to Vonage (a Voice Over the Internet Program - VOIP) and dropped Verizon for our home number - we kept the fax because we wanted to make sure the Vonage would work.

Well, the Verizon One-bill department had paid the Wireless department the $260 we owed that month, but after the main number was cancelled, we were no longer able to be enrolled in the One-bill program. So, the geniuses in the One-bill department reversed the payment - thus, making our account delinquent. That was back in October. I still don't have this resolved with them. I actually had to pay the bill with my credit card because they were going to cut off my wireless service - bastards.

Yesterday was the coup de grĂ¢ce. I woke up to find my phone is dead and I have no internet. Turns out that when we cancelled the fax line account, the Verizon monkeys thought that we wouldn't need our FIOS anymore. It took all day yesterday to get them to reinstate our internet and I must admit, I am addicted to it.

The nice thing, though, is Vonage is smart enough to know when the land line isn't working and automatically forwards to a number you've set up previously, so we didn't miss any of our phone calls as it forwarded to my cell (good thing I paid that bill a second time, huh).

So the only thing we have with Verizon now is my cell and our FIOS account - which, BTW, rocks. I've also been very please with Vonage - we've got our fax set up on it now as well. It's certainly cut down on the original monthly phone bill as we don't have to pay long distance whenever we fax.