What’s on My Needles This Weekend

Well, I think I’ve finally found the perfect travel project!!  And, it just happens to be what’s on my needles this weekend.  I have two weddings to attend in May.  Both couples are in their mid-20’s and both started dating when they met in youth group, the youth group I’ve volunteered with since all four of them were just freshman in high school.  I’m touched that they’ve invited to celebrate their special days and am looking forward to both weddings.  Being me, I wanted to knit something but weddings don’t scream hand-knit gifts quite the way babies do.  That’s when I remembered I have favorited a cool dishcloth pattern and decided to knit those up and tie them together with a gift card to include something handmade and something they could really use – cash to spend setting up their new homes.  Now, I started planning all this in January because I needed to knit 8 dishcloths before May – that came out to two a month.  I’ve done really with the schedule.  Last month I had a plane ride to El Salvador and that’s when I found out just how perfect of a travel project these are.  The pattern is super easy to memorize so it doesn’t need to be out.  The yarn doesn’t take up much space and there’s no counting involved.  And, if you’re flight is long enough you can finish one – like I did last week!  Here’s the info:

  • Pattern: Sinkmates
  • Yarn: Sugar’n Cream (main colors Denim and Ecru)

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It’s a fun pattern – you start by knitting an i-cord and then you pick up and knit the stitches so it’s being knit on a diagonal using a center double decrease and in the end you have a square!  Another bonus – the designer is donating proceeds to the Special Olympics.  On Ravelry she shows them in groups of four so that’s what I’m doing.  Denim for one couple and ecru for the other.  For travel purposes, I’ve been knitting the two i-cords and then bringing along only the main colors and the one set of needles which cuts down on what I need to bring along.  I’m down to the final two dishcloths so I’m confident they will be ready for the weddings.  I’ll be sure to post final pictures!

Quick Trip, Take 2 – Hockey, Yarn

Okay, in January I managed to combine football and yarn so I’m rather excited this month to combine hockey and yarn!  How many other blogs out there can say that???

Last year for work I made two trips down to Delray Beach, Florida and I’m back this year for the same reason except the location moved a bit further south to Boca Raton.  I flew in the day before and find that, even with a non-stop flight, flying, renting a car and finding your hotel always takes longer than you might hope.  I was starving and my hotel is on the grounds of an outdoor shopping area so I found a taco joint.  Unfortunately, there was not quite enough time to hit the beach so I did the next best thing – I found a yarn store and a hockey game!

A quick check of Ravelry led me to the Raging Wool shop in Pembroke Pines, FL. I have to say when the banner on your website says “Planning a Trip to South?  Put Raging Wool on your to-do list” I”m sold!  Also, it has a picture of a bunny wearing a knit hat talking about the cold.  I’m from the north where a bunny might actually need a hat so this made me laugh.  I found the shopping plaza but had to call the store – turns out they just moved to this location last week so there was no sign out front yet.  But the store was wonderfully organized and I would have never guessed it was their first week in a new location.  The woman working was very friendly and the store had some fun decor!

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They had yarn displayed in a giant wine glass!  And the huge alpaca statute wearing a brightly colored crochet blanket was super fun!  There was a group of ladies knitting at one of the tables.  I found this fun yarn and was drawn by both the colorway and the packaging.  The yarn is from Done Roving and I did some research after I got home to find they are a family operation out of Maine.  They try to source as much of their materials as they can here in the US which is really cool! All the colorways were beautiful and I would say I hard time deciding but I knew which one I was going to bring home.  I bought the Gradient DK Weight in Pot ‘O Gold.  Confession – I’m totally addicted to rainbow yarns and will continue to buy them anytime I see them.  I have a small section in my stash of just rainbow yarn so you’ll see why I could not pass this up!

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And, to show how knitters are – the phone rang and when the lady working hung up she explained it was a knitter from Louisiana who was coming on Saturday with five of her friends and they had a few hours between when their plane landed and when they had to be on their cruise ship so they wanted to know if they could come by the store and whether there was anywhere to eat nearby.  They were going to get a taxi to do some yarn shopping pre-cruise.  We’re a dedicated bunch!

I had to leave and head up the road to take in Florida Panthers/Detroit Red Wings game.  I love hockey and love to catch an NHL game whenever I get a chance.  The fact that the home team was playing one of the teams I like the least made it easy to cheer on the home team.  Hockey in Florida is a funny thing.  In the parking lot, there were people tailgating and getting out of their cars and putting on winter gear.  The plaza outside of the arena was full of activities and palm trees.  It was quite beautiful!

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Once inside, it was sparsely attended – I’ve seen more people at minor league games in Cleveland.

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I would guess more than half of the fans there were actually Red Wings fans (which was completely annoying).  The people two rows in front of me had winter hats on and were sitting under a blanket.  I would say it was normal ice rink temperature and I was a little chilly with my t-shirt and hockey jersey on but found the blanket and fur hat to be a bit excessive.  The arena was really nice but no one that worked there really knew what was going on.  I received a number of bad directions.  Also, Dan Gilbert has spoiled us all in Cleveland – how was I supposed to see that tiny jumbotron???  There were a number of patios (smoking areas?) I’m not sure but everyone runs outside in between periods to defrost.  I found the whole thing quite amusing!  Overall, it was fun – got to see a lot of great players and the home team won!  But, it was a very boring game and I thought the whole game experience really was lacking.  Hats off to all at the Cavs organization that make the Monsters game so much fun!

I did have quite a long work day the next day but we finally wrapped up in the early evening.  It was unusually warm and it was still 85 degrees at 6:00 so I headed for the beach.  I ended up at Deerfield Beach where there were plenty of dining options on the beach and a fishing pier that for $1 you could walk out on and get a great view of the ocean and the city.

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There’s nothing like some ocean air and a beautiful sunset to wipe away all the stress of a long day at work.  So, it was a quick two days but as I always say, if I have to travel for work I’m going to take full advantage of that opportunity!

I Heart Knitters!

This month’s finished object is a quick and easy project that literally only takes a couple of hours to knit up!  I feel like I’m cheating but I did knit it this month and it is finished (let’s ignore all the other projects hanging about needles all over the house right now…)  I was invited to a surprise 60th birthday party for one of my knitting friends, we’ll call her AH.  The theme was 60 Shades of Gray (ha ha!).  AH had very kindly made made us paper woven hearts for Christmas and they reminded me of the Dansk Hjerte pattern that was published in the Interweave Knits, Holiday Gifts 2012 issue.  I had made one for a co-worker for Christmas in 2013.  We talked about the knitting version and I never got around to digging out my copy of the magazine.  So, her birthday was a great excuse to make her one!  I bought two shades of gray Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift and set off to work.  I was super excited!

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I still had yarn left so I made another heart for the Fluffy Fibers tea swap.  If you’ve never listened to the Fluffy Fibers podcast highly recommend it!  Of course, I’m a huge lover of France so I love listening to Isabelle talk about the beautiful south of France.  A few months ago one of her listeners suggested a tea swap as Isabelle almost always talks about what tea she is drinking.  It was super fun and it was the first time I’ve participated in a swap on Ravelry.  We were to include a few bags of tea, a note explaining our tea choices and a small crafted or tea related item.  My original plan was to knit up a small drawstring bag but that was going super slow and I was time crunched and that’s when it hit me – another heart!  I sent the heart, loose tea from the Tea Lab which is a cool, local tea shop, a couple of sugar stirs and some tea bags to use with the loose tea off to England.  So, there’s Cleveland tea over in jolly old England!

I received a package from a different person in England.  It included several bags of tea including English Breakfast and English Afternoon tea – gotta love they distinguish between morning and afternoon tea!  A small, I believe tea bag placing plate and then you can see in the picture the pink (which matches my kitchen excactly!) tea cloth I received.  I did not exactly know what it was but I’ve noticed in pictures from British knitters on Instagram that it appears they use these as pads for their tea set up.  Excellent idea!

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I don’t know how other swaps on Ravelry work but it was a great first experience.  I especially loved the global element involved with this one.   Another perk of the swap – I got a random message from one of the participants, she had noticed I specified a particular type of French tea I enjoy but have a hard time finding in the States and she sent me a link to a tea shop in Dallas that carries a nice variety!  I love knitters!

So, my friend loved her two shades of gray heart and was super surprised at her party!  And, my other heart made it’s way across the pond!  They were quick knits but well appreciated by fellow knitters and it really is a great gift idea and can be made in any other color combination with any stash you have around the house!

Ides of March

It’s the Ides of March so I figure it’s a good day to share March’s yarn because, of course, it’s green!

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And, I just had it photograph it on my St. Patrick’s Day table runner!  I knew as soon as we got the hint for March which what color it would be because I figured out the neighborhood.  This month’s neighborhood is Kamm’s Corners.  The is the western most area of the City of Cleveland and has strong Irish-Catholic roots.  It is home to many of the city’s police and fire force and is where the Cleveland Police and Firefighters’ Memorial is located.  Some of the old homes are beautiful and I always wonder what they look like inside.  The MetroParks runs through the area, including Little Met, one of the golf courses run by the park system.  It is also home to a couple of fine Irish pubs, including the Public House.

One last thing before I close this post – I was excited to see on Twitter the announcement of the 6th Annual Knitting & Crocheting Blog week which is organized by Eskimimi Makes.  This will be my third year to participate and it’s always a fun and challenging week.  Each year I find new bloggers to follow and new bloggers follow me.  More details to come!

And now, I have not had any knitting time in the past two days so I’m going to pull out a project and get to work.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

What a Difference a Weekend Makes!

So, last week I shared my February finished object but it need some blocking.  I took it into knit night and talked it over with the group.  It was decided I definitely needed blocking wires, lucky for me they had some in stock!  I looked up some tutorials on the internet.  I found this post on Craftsy.com which went step by step of using blocking wires.  My plan was to lay it out on my mostly unused futon in the craft room.  My first step was to soak it.

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This step is a little scary – putting all that wool into water, even cold water made me nervous.  It does not soothe the nerves when you pull it out and it smells like wet wool.  It had been suggested to me that I wrap the wet shawl in a towel and then ring it out (helps avoid any accidental felting) so I carefully wrapped and wrung it out.  And then I headed upstairs and spread it out, it was already bigger!

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That top edge was completely rolled over and as you can see the bottom “points” were all sorts of different shapes!  The thing I did not count on was how hard it was to stick pins through the futon mattress.  I thought it would be a perfect spot and the pins would go right through but not so much so I was not able to use the pins as well as I might have liked.

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But what a difference those wires made – look actual points!!!  It took about 24 hours for it to dry completely and I was nervous that it would shrink back up once I removed the wires but it held the shape and even the curled over top edging is now nice and straight and you can see all the different stitch patterns that were used in completing it.

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I can’t wait for it to warm up so I can wear it!!

A Study of Contradictions

After our wonderful first day at COAR, it was down to work for the next two days.  I found myself thinking after this trip that El Salvador is really a country full of contradictions.  On one hand it is a beautiful country full of lovely people which on the surface seems like a perfect place for some fun in the sun, but lurking just under the surface is political unrest, gang violence and third world infrastructure.

The property that COAR is on used to be a coffee plantation and the plantation house is still standing.  Until 2009, the nuns who ran the village lived in the house.  It is now used as a guesthouse for visitors.  It’s not quite the plantation house that one can find in the southern United States but still beautiful.  My first example of the contradictions, the beauty of these window (my morning view each day) is tempered by the barbed wire just outside which is on top of the cement wall that encircles the village.

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We spent both mornings in meetings with the local people who run the village and the school.  These were quite long and difficult for me as I speak no Spanish.  But, they were very productive.  One interesting thing that came up was this program that the government is running to try and encourage tourism in El Salvador.  They are investing in programs which train locals to work in hotels and restaurants.  This leads to example number 2.  This is a picture I took from the oceanfront restaurant we had lunch at on Monday.

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This picture could have been taken in any beachfront town is any country.  However, if you crossed the street and walked 1 block this is what you find:

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These are the streets of La Libertad, the main beachfront town.  It’s a busy, crowded town full of market stands and crime.  We were there to visit an American priest from Cleveland who is the pastor of the church of in La Libertad.  He told us of the struggles of the people in his community.

Both nights we were there we had very local dinners.  Monday our lunch at the beachfront was later in the afternoon and quite filling.  On our way back to the guesthouse we decided to stop at the grocery store and pick up something to make at the house.  It was after work and the store was bustling full of locals and we even ran into a few friends.  On Tuesday we had a huge lunch which was prepared for us by four nuns who recently came to COAR to serve the children.  They are Spanish and I believe are worse than any Italian grandmother on Christmas when it comes to pushing food.  I think it was a five course lunch.  Needless to say we did not have much room for dinner that night.  We ended up at the Central American version of KFC which is called Pollo Campero.  It’s just like any fast food place here in States, complete with a play area.  These people love their chicken so much there is always at least one person with a box of chicken on the flight home!  Both of these nights, had you told me where I was I would not have known.  Despite all the normalcy, it was made clear that we should be back to the house by 8:00 and we should only be riding around with drivers that we know.  Just calling up and ordering a taxi is also a no-no down there.  The priest we visited would not let us leave until he found us a driver he trusted.  Both nights it just really made me think about how this all seemed so normal but there was serious danger on the streets.

On Tuesday afternoon we went to visit an American couple who has been living down there for a number of years.  They run a mission called Epilogos.  Mike and Susie have a real commitment to the people of El Salvador.  Mike picked us up and took us back to their home.  They told us about the gang activity that has moved into their community.  There are two gangs at war over territory and after it gets dark things get dangerous.  They live in San Jose Villanueva and it’s a cute little town.  It was hard to tell that at night it turned into a war zone.  As we were driving back we drove by a few groups of young men and Mike let us know those were gang members.  I would have never known – they looked like any other group of young people.  Like I said, contradictions.

It was a busy two days and it brought back many memories of my trip in 2007.  How can anyone forget the stop/go light in customs at the airport?  To create an appearance of completely random selection they have a stop/go light in customs, when you get to the desk you push a button and find out if you have been chosen for screening or you are free to go.  I’m not sure it is as completely random as they want you to think but either way I hold my breath until the green light comes on.  It makes me miss small things like street lights (there are none down there), hot water, and water that runs all day and night.

One last story of contradiction, and we really thought there was some sort of sign with this one.  Sunday evening as everyone was playing games one of the kids noticed that a baby bird had fallen out its nest.  Mary quickly interceded and was holding the bird safely in her hands until we could find a ladder to replace the bird in its nest.  The next afternoon as we were visiting the priest we sitting outside at his table which had a ceiling fan above it.  All of a sudden we heard a thud and then it was raining feathers.  Yes, a bird had flown into the fan.  Lucky for us it only caught it’s tail.  But we both thought of the bird she had saved the night before.  You win some, you lose some down there.

February’s Finished Project

This month’s finished project*!!!

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Pattern: Follow Your Arrow 2 Yarn: Space Cadet Aurora in Colors of Cleveland January colorway Susquehanna Sparkle Sock in Trumpet

*it still needs to be blocked :)

This was my first knit-a-long and it was a mystery one so it was tons of fun!  I learned a lot of new stitches and got to use some fun yarn.  I would definitely partake in another mystery knit-a-long!  Now, to figure out the blocking issue.  I’m not a blocker and this thing needs some serious blocking.  I’ve seen the actual finished ones on Ravelry and they definitely make me want to figure it out!  Any tips or suggestions for blocking?