Thursday, January 31, 2008

B is for Borealis

B is for Borealis Yarns (in St. Paul, MN). In my personal opinion, Borealis is simply the best LYS in the world.

How can it not be when the walls look like this, stuffed with every color and fiber I can imagine:

The bookcases look like this-- stuffed with knitting and crochet books.

The staff are the most helpful I can imagine:
And Tuesday night knitting is such great fun!

Borealis is even conveniently located next to a coffee shop (with a connecting archway so one doesn't have to go outside. (I sound like a commercial)

Now Kathleen, I realize I don't have to praise Borealis to you....after all, you brought me to Borealis for the first time (after mutually frustrating experiences at some other LYS). But to others who might not have discovered the wonder...stop by!

P.S. There would be a picture of the store sign, but when I took these pictures, the temp outside was -13 before windchill, and I decided that it wasn't worth risking my health or my camera to try and get a good shot!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Knitting and Storage....

Nice job on the baby blanket, I'm impressed at your speed!

In knitting news, I spent 2 hours (cause I'm dense) grafting, ripping out, and regrafting the top of the hood of my Rogue. That means that all I have left are sleeves and the attached i-cord on the front.

The color is completely inaccurate in this photo, but you can at least sort of see the cables (the flash was a necessity).

I also swatched for my Central Park Hoodie at Knit Night last night....I'm loving the way that the Dream in Color Classy is knitting up, and the color is great (that's Dream in Color Blue Lagoon, the same that I used for Grandpa's socks).
The big excitement in the past few weeks was that I reorganized my stash and desk space. We went to Ikea and I bought one of the Expedit bookshelves, assembled it, and turned it on its side. Then in the As-Is section, I found a conveniently the same height, already assembled kitchen cabinet piece. Put one on each side, put desktop handmade by my Dad on top, and I have a lovely desk for when I work at home, as well as tons of (very decorative) storage space for yarn and knitting books.

The whole thing looks like this (pardon the flash and generally dark picture distorting the view).

The bookcase full of yarn and fiber looks like this:
And closeup of each end of the bookcase (note that these overlap by one set of cubes in the middle)

I love it! Lots of inspiration, and a nice space to work to boot! I think I'm going to get some more low baskets just for containment purposes, but otherwise, it turned out even better than I thought!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

19 Day Victory

Hey Flan,

Sorry it's been awhile since I posted, but I really wanted something exciting to talk about. As of yesterday afternoon, The Sampler Baby Blanket is FINISHED!! 19 Days after beginning (the second time) it is DONE! There was one person out there who openly questioned whether a baby blanket I began in January would be finished in 4 1/2 months and to you I say "HA!".

What to do when finished with one baby blanket? Start another of course. After hours and hours (and hours) on ravelry, I found this:

It's honestly called a "Princess Pram Cover". How could you not love something with that name?! There's a free pattern for it too. I pulled out the formerly rejected DB cotton angora and cast on. You make little squares triangularly starting with the stem and then put them all together. After finishing one I pulled out my handy dandy kitchen scale and weighed the square and the remaining part of the ball. As always, I'm concerned about running out of yarn. Instead of doing two big squares by three big squares I think I'm just going to do a 2x2 square, all finished with an edging from the Nicky Epstein book. I'm so smitten.

High on the completion of the 19 day blanket, I picked up my Kw/oT, a favorite sweater I would like to replicate and swatched my little heart out. I discovered that a US 3 and US4 are only 0.25mm different and no wonder I wasn't getting a different gauge. I love many things about the brilliance of the seamless sweater, but I really really like to do sweaters top down and am thus trying to reverse engineer directions for how to make that happen.

It made my brain hurt. A lot.

I even considered purchasing sweater designing software until I realized it's not in the budget and that people have been making sweaters for centuries without it and it can't really be that difficult. The main problem I'm finding is that none of the "ready made" sweater patterns are in a small enough gauge. Many hours of odd diagrams and scribbling later, I decided to go to bed and rest the brain- though I did put some books on hold at the library and I'm hoping those will give me a hand.

Hope your weekend is going well.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cute Little Bags?

I suddenly understand the love for cute little accessory cases for knitting.... due to a windfall of such bags this Christmas.

First there was the sewing part of your Christmas present to me:

Hooray for containment of circular knitting needles! Also hooray for the very Mac colors, and the amazing matching theme of fabric and closure! I promptly packed it up with all my non-Knitpicks needles, and it works like a charm:

Then Aubree gave me a cute little sock knitting case she found on Etsy:

Inside is a smaller case in the same fabric for a couple of sets of Double points or accessories. She got it from Zig Zag Stitches on Etsy, and I love the fabric so much that we're worked out a custom order for a tote bag!

I think I've caught the cute knitting bag bug.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Embossed Leaves

I somehow managed to knit an entire pair of socks with no blogging about them? Enter the Embossed Leaves Socks from Interweave Knit's Favorite Socks book.

I think these may be my fastest socks to date: I started them on December 23rd, and finished the knitting on Jan 13th (grafting the 2nd toe took until the 14th). Even so, that's 3 weeks, start to finish.

I knit them in my beloved Dream in Color Smooshy in the color Visual Purple. This second picture is more accurate to color. I'm wearing them today, and they are comfortable and surprisingly warm for lace.

I knit these on size 3 needles (actually one needle, a 12" Addi Turbo that I found in a Southern MN LYS in my travels this fall), and though I've never used the super small circ method before, I have to admit I liked it. However, I think the Smooshy would have benefited from a smaller needle size...maybe the 1.5 I used on Grandpa's Socks.

So now the question is: what to take to Knit Night?

Monday, January 14, 2008


Hey Flan,

I'm so impressed with not only your mega hiking but also the fantastic baby shower!

The Baby Blanket continues- at least a reincarnation of one. I was working away with the DB cotton angora and the yarn, the pattern and I were not getting along. All reviews of this yarn say that it fluffs angora like crazy. I think I may have gotten an odd batch or something because there is really no fluffing happening- it is way over plied so that might have something to do with it.

Plan A morphed in to Plan B. What to do when the yarn doesn't work? Get new yarn. I went back to the stash (being on the yarn diet and all) and pulled out some organic cotton yarn I'd gotten from elann awhile ago. Originally, this yarn was going to be used for a sweater for The Mommy, but it quickly got repurposed. Now, the new yarn is rocking the old pattern and everyone, especially the knitter, is very happy.

However, you know how I like to have plans for all of the yarn in my stash, so what to do with the DB?? Embroider that bad boy. Yup, you heard me, with sewing. I decided that the garter and stockinette bits of Plan A looked much better than the pattern bits. Then I remembered that I had seen a cotton bag with some beautiful embroidery in one of the Debbie Bliss books. Off to the local library and the internet to do some serious embroidery research. Have become solidly convinced that most of the embroidery/ needlecrafts available are complete crap, but a small margin might be worthy to grace my knitting. New plan: make a plain stockinette baby blanket with garter edging and embroider it with pretty flowers. It could happen- maybe.

The realization that babies in utero probably won't wait until proper embroidery skills are acquired and then baby blanket be knit before arriving into this world means that the DB baby blanket probably won't be done in time for this particular child was shocking. The fact that I realized it before attempting this feat shows progress I think.

So... for the time being I am trucking right along on the cream cotton baby blanket and am 23% done. One week ago it didn't exist, so am feeling pretty good about that. The fact that 23% got done in one week and the laundry and dishes didn't might not be too impressive to The Hubby but at least he knows by now not to comment.

Hope your week is going well too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I've joined the ABC-along that Vicki is hosting. I loved this when people did it in 2006, so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon this year.

The resolution is helped by my cute new camera, a Christmas present from my father for the hiking of Grand Canyon. Which brings me to my entry for A.


Mike and I upon arriving on the rim after hiking the Grand Canyon. The longer (and picture heavy) post is below.

On the morning of New Years Eve, we started out on the South Rim.

The view from the rim looked like this:
A couple hours later, at our lunch stop at Indian Gardens, we were looking up at this (note that its still Fall down here):
After lunch, we were looking down at this: Known as the Devil's Corkscrew.
Five hours after we started, and a vertical mile later, we were on the banks of the Colorado River. I promptly twisted my knee on the sandy section of the trail. At the time, just badly enough to brace it and limp for the rest of the trip.

Being at the river bank meant we still had 2 miles to go to our stop for the night, the incomparable Phantom Ranch. At the bottom of Grand Canyon, it's like a mirage to see a collection of cabins that look like this:

One of the joys of hiking Grand Canyon in the winter is that there's almost nobody around...which is also why there are virtually no pictures of Mike and I together in the Canyon....nobody to take the picture!

We had an amazing steak dinner at Phantom Ranch on New Years Eve, stopped by and chatted with some NPS people who were staying at the Ranger Station, and were in bed by 9pm. I have to say I didn't miss staying up till midnight one bit!

The next morning we got up EARLY for breakfast, packed up, and started to retrace our steps.

Note that its still partially dark when these pictures were taken (also cold!)

We ran into some friendly deer just a few steps down the path.
Recrossed the silver bridge (oops, I didn't tell you about the bridge on the way down. Phantom Ranch is on the North side of the Colorado River, we started on the South. There are 2 bridges, and we crossed the silver bridge, which is used just by hikers. It's a suspension bridge, impossibly long and swaying when you're on it.)
And a few minutes later, turned and looked back as light broke into the Canyon.

Before we left the bottom, pictures of us at the river:

Scenic views from lunch on the way up (what you can't tell is that it was so windy we had to constantly hold on to everything loose, or it would blow away).

A friendly bird that came within a foot of me while I was lying on the bench at our lunch spot.
We still have all that to climb?
1.5 miles to the top (still cold, windy, and I was moving VERY slowly by now).
We hiked up that!
The light was starting to change as it moved towards sunset, and it looked like an impressionist painting:
A kind gentleman took the photo about 150 yards from the top. At this point, I was good to go. Note that it's getting dark again.
Accomplishment! Mom took this pic when we hit the top. Note that it is actually dark at this point. It took 10 hours to climb out, literally dawn to dusk. We probably would have been quite a bit faster were it not for my bum knee and the fact that both Mike and I had colds.
That's accomplishment on both our faces!

And no, I didn't take my knitting! But my next post should have knitting...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


So we've spent months plotting a baby shower for Aubree (technically due at the end of the month, but she's full term). And tonight was the night. Aubree knew we were doing a little thing, but not about the extra surprise we had in store.

In the past few months, 14 knitters knit sections of the Circle of Friends Blanket. At knit night, pieces would be slipped in my bag when her head was turned, or handed off surreptitiously in the coffee shop next door. This weekend, I seamed. And seamed. And wove in ends. And more ends.

The finished project was so worth it!

There were, of course, other knitted gifts. An adorable (matching!) hat.

An ruffly pink hat:
The Baby Surprise Jacket I knit earlier in the year:
An an adorable sewn sleeper gown.

So now the baby is properly outfitted, she can arrive!

Right Aubree?

Coming up in my next post: our Grand Canyon trip in pictures. And: New Knitting Priority List.