Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a safe, candy filled Halloween this year.  We will be spending the day bowling (when don't we spend the day bowling??) Then we'll rush to the local gas station to buy candy, then rush home to get dressed for trick or treating.  Why will we be rushing to the gas station to buy candy you ask?  Because, yes, once again, for the second year in a row, I failed to prepare.  In my defense, I thought we had another week.  I mean, how in the heck did it get to be October 31st already??  Argh!   I feel like I'm trapped in a time warp.

....It's astounding, Time is fleeting, Madness takes its toll ....

Ahh....  madness....

But anyway....  here we are, October 31st. and we have no candy, no pumpkins and I spent the entirety of October 30th frantically sewing costumes.  I hate sewing.  And I'm very glad I haven't donated blood lately because I needed every ounce I had yesterday.  I have the feeling I may be down a quart or two.  It's also a very good thing that Sarah's costume is trimmed in red ribbon because her outfit has just a tad bit more red on it than was intended.  And I find that I'm typing with my pinky fingers because all the others are so sore from the numerous accidental finger pricks.

Ok, let's move away from that whine fest.

I recently joined Twitter, much to my kids' dismay, and boy!  I'm a talker!  I never realized how wordy I was until my thoughts/rambles were reduced to 140 characters.  I also have no clue to what I'm doing on Twitter, but I'm having loads of fun annoying my kids by tweeting silly, meaningless things every few minutes.  I also find it rather strange that after only a few days of being on Twitter, I already have more followers than I do Facebook friends.  Weird.  Cool, but weird.  If you'd care to join my madness, follow me @JGKnits.

One more thing I should mention.  And I sort of hesitate to mention it because every time I state, "I'm going to .....," I automatically don't do it at all.  But, maybe this time will be different.  Yeah, and monkeys will fly.  But here goes anyway.  Back in the spring or summer, when my brain was fried from 100+ degree temperatures and humidity levels even higher, I signed up for Nanowrimo.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I have no idea how to write a novel and while I have to admit, I've always wanted to be A Writer, I don't actually have the desire to write.  I just like the idea of sitting at a desk under a window, surrounded by pads of paper and notebooks, a few cool pens, and a bottle of booze.  But back to Nanowrimo.  I'm not doing it.  However, because those Nanowrimo folks sound so excited about their project and they keep sending me fun, excitement filled reminder emails, I'm going to do my own version.  There, I said it.  The kiss of death.  Oh well, maybe this time will be different.  My plan is, rather than write a novel in 30 days, I'm going to blog.  Every day.

And maybe those monkeys will fly!

So, prepare yourself for some bad, boring writing.  I have enough trouble blogging once a week.  I also have no plans for anything specific to talk about.  I'll just do my normal, routine blathering on.  Although some days, ok, most days, I expect the blathering to be short. Probably not sweet, but short.

So, have I put some Halloween fright into you yet?

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I've been left speechless & you know that doesn't happen often.  Except of course when I'm trying to think of something clever & witty to blog or tweet about, that is.  But this is different.  This time about all I can think of to say is, "Wow!"

I mean, Wow!

A stranger, who I'd never met & knew nothing about, featured Jeannie Gray Knits, on her blog today.   You can bet your bottom dollar that I now know everything there is to know about Mystic Wynd's  Etsy shop and her blog though.  Mystic Wynd is a wonderful artist and a kind, caring human being and has an office/craft space that I would kill for.

You know, I'd planned to ramble on about Robbie, my recent obsession, in today's blog.  Robbie is an 8 year old autistic boy without speech ability who was lost in the woods near my house for six days.  Six!  I'm not sure why I became so obsessed with this particular missing child.  Maybe because of the autism,   Maybe it was because he was lost so close to my home & every time I left the house, I drove past the rescue command center & the zillions of news vehicles.  Maybe because he was only 8 and had wandered away from his family and the authorities were sure he was lost, not snatched.  I was lost in the woods for about 20 minutes earlier this year, and although I had my cell phone, water & a runner's energy gel pack, I have to admit, I was slightly panicked.  Oh, and did I mention that when I was lost it was a nice, warm, but not too hot, spring day.   Robbie was lost for six days with the nights getting down into the mid 40's.  Thankfully, Robbie was found relatively healthy and very much alive on day six.  Less than two hours before a very early Nor' Easter hit and the temperatures plummeted and the rain and sleet let loose.  Robbie is a very lucky little boy.  Anyway, that is what I had planned to ramble on about.  Instead, I'm going to talk about Etsy.

Etsy is like a huge, humongous, on-line shopping mall for handmade & vintage items.  Each seller has their own shop and does their own thing within the confines of Etsy's rules.  I opened my shop, Jeannie Gray Knits back in August.  And ever since, I have been totally and utterly amazed at the wealth of information and assistance available through Etsy and its artists.

As I said, I opened my shop in August.  By myself!  The kids didn't even have to help me with the on-line aspect of it!  Since then, I've worked hard to make my shop a success.  Ok, mostly I've knit.  And knit and knit and knit some more.  My husband can attest to the fact that I've been knitting instead of fixing dinner.  He's actually lost weight!  I on the other hand, have found it.  Argh!

But back to my Etsy shop...  Admittedly, my shop needs a lot of work.  My photo taking abilities rank up there with a two year old's.  My modeling abilities are even worse.  But every day, I spend a little time making improvements or learning how to make improvements or learning about things I should be trying to improve.  At first, I became one with Google.  I Googled how to start a business.  I Googled how to build a light box.  I googled tax laws and copyrights and shipping costs and a ton of other things I won't bother mentioning.  And all that time I spent Googling, I stayed fairly confused and/or overwhelmed.

One day, while staring mindlessly at my shop wall, Max, by lunk-headed dog bumped my hand like he likes to do and my finger came back down on a link called "Community."  I'd never clicked on this link before.  New things scare me, you know.  Plus, I still have that slight uneasy feeling that the next button I push is going to cause my laptop to go up in flames.  Will I ever become computer savvy enough to get over that fear?  Probably not, but as a friend recently suggested, I'm letting go of my fears.  Or at least trying to.

Anyway, Community brought me a new menu of links.  One of which was Teams.  Well, you know how I like to join things.  Within minutes, I'd filled out applications to join a zillion teams.  And as it turns out, each team has it's own wealth of knowledge.  And each time you go to a team's page, there's this little button off to the side that says Seller Handbook.   In fact, Seller Handbook shows up on just about every Etsy page.  Well, you know, I should probably read that sometime.

O! M! G!  The amount of information contained in that one little Seller Handbook link is incredible.  It's like Google reincarnated.  That handbook could probably even tell me my mother's maiden name if I asked it correctly.  Every single thing you could possibly want to know about Etsy or running a craft/vintage business is there.  Every Single Thing!  Once again, the wealth of information available, for free I might add, is absolutely incredible.

And then there are the other crafters.  Each artist that I've come in contact with so far has been friendly and more than willing to give helpful advice or at least to tell their story.  And then there are the artists like Karen from MysticWynd who go far beyond simply answering my questions in a kindly manner.  Karen actually sought out me and a few other "under discovered" shops (you gotta love that term!!) and blogged about us.  She did this without asking for anything in return and with no expectations.  Just out of the kindness of her heart.

As I said, I'm speechless.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Never say Never

Remember my recent blocking snafu?  When I accidently blocked a semi-circle into a triangle?  Well, the snafu turned out to be a good thing.  Yep, I'm channeling Martha once again.

Or at least I thought it was a good thing.  Until I saw photos.

When I hold it up in front of me and take a long hard look at the blocking results, those dragon teeth points are nice and ruffly and look great.  But when photographed....  they look like I did a horrible job with the blocking.

So, I'm trying to remember.  Was the wind blowing?  I don't think so.  I do remember that I was horribly hot & we were photographing shawls and thick, warmer than Hell itself cowls.  I don't recall any breeze at all.  Maybe the dragon teeth were hung up & sticking to my shirt in a weird way.  Except they look all snaggled toothed in every picture taken.

I still love the way the dragon teeth ruffle when I hold the shawl up in front of me though.

So what to do?  Reblock or name this the Snaggled Tooth Shawlette?

Btw, if you are looking for a modeling career and your butt is smaller than mine (and whose isn't??) please get in touch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Never Block Before Coffee

Doh!  I should know better than to try to block something before the first cup of coffee.

The Sausalito that wanted so badly to be a shawl turned itself into a fine shawlette.  I got pretty nervous while binding off.  I ended up with 6 inches of yarn left over.  SIX!  Six inches.  That was cutting it pretty dang close.  But the yarn new it's own mind and told me it would be okay and that I should continue binding off while my hands got slipperier and slipperier with nervous sweat.  That was around 2:00 a.m. this morning.

Around 7:00 a.m., before I'd had my first full cup of coffee, I began the blocking process.  The final increase row and the bind off row combined themselves to create a tiny little ruffled edge.  When beginning the bind off, I thought it might look pretty strange, but half way across, I decided it was a cute teeny-tiny ruffled edge that I liked very much.  So, I didn't think much about it when I encountered the  ruffled edge while blocking.  Blocking it into a nice, larger than expected, triangle.

Around 9:15 a.m., it suddenly dawned on me.  The shawlette was knit to be a semi-circle.  Not a triangle.  No wonder the edge was so ruffly during the blocking.  Doh!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Yarn Speaks

I've had a skein of Sausalito from Crystal Palace Yarns sitting on the top of my stash pile for a while now.  It was too soft and pretty to use.  It deserved the perfect pattern but I couldn't decide what that perfect pattern would be.  Besides, I liked petting it each time I dove into the stash pile.

Yesterday, I decided that it needed to be mittens.  I cast on and knit a 2x2 ribbing for two hours and still had barely an inch of ribbing.  I love this yarn and know it would make a beautiful pair of mittens, but at this rate, it would be five or six years before I had a completed pair.

What to do?  The skein is only 198 yards.  The skein wanted to be a shawl, but again, it's only 198 yards.  I could mix it with some other yarn, but there didn't seem to be anything else comparable in my stash.  And it really, really wants to be a shawl.  The yarn's quiet whisper began to scream at me that it wanted to be a shawl, or at least a scarf.  It didn't care that it was only 198 yards.  "Figure it out!" it hollered at me.

Ok, ok.  How to turn 198 yards into 420, which is about what I use for my favorite, basic shawl pattern?  Obviously, I need to knit very loosely and on large needles.  Oh!  Duh!  Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi shawl, but cut in half, and with dropped yarn overs.  Yarn overs don't take all that much yarn and if I drop them, they'll stretch out and make huge rows with very little yarn.

I cast on and quickly became obsessed.  It may end up being the world's smallest shawl, but it Will be a shawl!

The only problem is, Saulsalito makes me think of salsa which makes me think of Corona.  Is 9:00 a.m. too early to start drinking?

Monday, October 24, 2011

All a Twitter

I have slammed myself head first into the 21st century it seems.  First real, high-speed internet (which I still haven't figured out if it's high speed, highspeed, or high-speed) and now I've gone & signed up on Twitter. I'd love to have you follow me - I can be found at JGKnits, but I don't promise I'll be taking you far.  The bowling alley is about as far as I go these days.  Also, it seems that the moment I gained the ability to share my wit & wisdom in 140 characters or less, all wit & wisdom immediately left the building.  I suddenly have nothing to say.  I'm sure I'll think of something though.  Eventually.

In the mean time, I've been busy knitting.  Can't show you what because I seem to have lost my camera.  It has to be here in the house though, or, and this one terrifies me, but it may be out in the yard somewhere.  I was taking pictures out there the other day.  But those pictures have been loaded into the computer so the camera had to have come back inside with me.  But did I take it out again?  I just can't remember.

I'm suddenly a nervous wreck about my knitting.  I filled out the application to participate in a holiday bazar this December.  The first few minutes after dropping it into the mail box were full of excitement and hope.  Then reality struck.  OMG!  I've got to get busy knitting so I have something to sell.  OMG, I'll need a table cloth.  OMG, I'll need shopping bags to put people's purchases in.  OMG, what if I buy a bunch of shopping bags then don't sell anything?  OMG!  I'm going to have to listen to people make snide comments about my knitting.  That's one terrific thing about selling on Etsy - you don't hear people saying mean, horrible things about the items you lovingly slaved over.  You can pretend that everyone who sees your work oohs & aahs over it and the only reason they didn't immediately buy it was because they fainted from the item's sheer beauty.  And of course, there's the final & most dreaded OMG, what will I wear?

And then there's the concern about my hair.  What if my hair is pumpkin orange, which it very well may be by December.  I dyed it for the first time ever the other night.  Last Wednesday, to be specific.  It turned out great.  Slightly darker and just slightly redder than my natural color, but 99.9% of the gray was gone and that's what I was aiming for.  But, and there always seems to be a but.  Each time I wash it, it seems to get slightly redder.  Except it's not really red, it's orange.  I'm still at a very brown stage of orange, but I can just picture my big, gigantic pumpkin head by December.  Aack!

Speaking of washing my hair....  I'm coming up on 2 months without using shampoo.  I can't remember when I stopped using it, it was late August or early September.  My hair was doing SO much better before the dye job.  It was getting shiny, and not oil slick shiny, but healthy shiny.  It was curling so much more, but in a controlled, ringlet way, not in my normal frizzy, triangle head way.  Even the top was curling and the top never curled before.  The dye job totally straightened my hair for a few days, then it returned to it's old, frizzy state.  Today, it's obviously on the mend, but still pretty frizzy.  Granted, a trim would help. It has been over a year.  But the point is, my hair is SO much healthier since I stopped washing it with shampoo.  If I ever find my camera, I'll post pictures.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Space of My Own

I've been busy, but apparently, not busy knitting.

High speed internet finally found it's way to our little slice of rural Virginia and we immediately signed up. There was a bit of a waiting period because all 500 other houses in our little slice of the world also signed up.  At the same time.  The arrival of high speed internet was such big news, the county had a town meeting so everyone could learn about it and get on the waiting list.

Yesterday was Installation Day.  Needless to say, the family was a tad bit excited.  I got no more than two hours sleep the night before, my husband took the entire day off from work to stay home & Google & watch TV (a gazillion channels comes with the internet package) and my daughter, who normally sleeps until 2 p.m., woke cheerfully around 8:30 a.m.  Meanwhile, Zack sat at the window so that he'd be the first to shout, "They're here!"

I can't wait to see how quickly this blog post posts.  It used to be, I could hit "Publish Post" then go hit the bathroom and the coffee pot and when I'd return to the computer, it would still be swirling the post into public existence.   That is, if the computer hadn't thought it had been abandoned and shut itself down prior to the post actually being posted.

You'd think that I have been busy Googling, but no.  What I've actually been busy with is rearranging my craft space.  I wish I'd taken "before" pictures, although I'd never have had the nerve to post them.  You'd have reported me to Hoarders Anonymous.  Because rather than a craft space, it was more like a huge gigantic pile of junk in the corner.  And my craft stuff was under the pile.  The pile made me quite uncomfortable and sucked every ounce of creativity out of my system so I'd moved my favorite 'spot to park my butt' to another room.  Which meant I'd started a whole new pile.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Internet Guy had to get to the phone line and the only incoming phone jack we have in our entire house happened to be under and behind my huge gigantic craft junk pile.  Things had to be moved.  So I took the opportunity to rearrange.

Ok, it may not look like much and it may take the term Shabby Chick to the extreme, but I'm happy.  I have a desk, granted, it's so tiny I have to set the laptop on a pulled out drawer to type, but I have a desk.  My family's crap is not spread out all over my desk and it never will be.   As I sit at my desk, I'm surrounded by craft supplies.  None of the knitting stuff shows up in the picture, but the books are shelved off to the left and the yarn is behind me.  As soon as I get a brighter bulb for the lamp so I can see with the lamp shade on, I'll be super happy.  And once I get a bulletin board, I'll be in heaven.

So you now know where to find me.  In my corner, watching on-line videos while knitting.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Head Smack!

Argh!  I did it again.  I typed a blog post while signed into the internet under the wrong user name.  When I do that, it automatically attaches the post to the blog assigned to that username, not the blog I'm trying to post to.  Will I ever learn??

Here's the post that was intended for this blog.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Icy Lace

The Sunset Mittens are finished and are awaiting a photography session so that they can go into my Etsy shop.  They'll be waiting a while.  I found my camera, along with my phone, both with dead batteries, at the bottom of my purse.  The photos need to be taken outdoors to avoid indoor shadows and since we are supposed to get a couple of inches of rain today....   Hopefully I'll be able to sneak in a quick photo session between cloud bursts.  In the mean time, I should put building a light box onto my to-do list.

Wow, that's a very small picture.

In an effort to ignore the fact that I still need to frog & reknit Kate's shawl, I started a new shawl using Patons Lace in the Porcelain colorway.  I started it a few days ago and have been knitting obsessively on it.  I'm not sure why I bought the yarn in the first place.  Balled, it's not all that impressive, just as it's not in that teeny-tiny photo.  The colorway is blues and white and frankly, balled, it looks a bit dingy.  In the store, it sort of reminded me of faded blue jeans if I squinted my eyes just right.  But once I started knitting a lacy pattern with it, it turned into icy crystals.  It's beautiful and I think I'm going to be very pleased with the finished project.  The problem is going to be wanting to keep it for myself.  It was supposed to go into my Etsy shop.  I'm having that problem a lot lately.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Channeling Martha

I must have been channeling Martha Stewart last night.  I finished Kate's shawl yesterday afternoon and since the dear daughter was unavailable, I forced my son to model it.  He was NOT happy about it and as it turns out, I wasn't happy either.  Seems I failed to add in a few increases on one side of the border which is causing it to curl weirdly.  In frustration, I tossed the shawl aside and cast on for a simple cowl.

I used the long tail cast on method and kept casting on until I ran out of tail.  Then I counted my stitches.  Since they were divisible by 4, I decided to do a 2x2 rib.  On the fifth row of ribbing, I got bored and switched to stockinette.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I opened my email to find Lion Brand offering a free pattern using Martha Stewart's new yarn.  The pattern is for a stockinette cowl with 5 rows of 2x2 ribbing.   Freaky.

There are a few differences though.  My gauge is much looser and I'm using yarn Bee's Rainbow Wool in the Sunset color way.  I've never used this yarn before, but so far, so good.  I'm not normally a big fan of orange, but lately....  I think it was the early onset of Fall Fever.  It seems that for the last month or two, I've instantly fallen head over heels in love with every orange thing I've seen.  But no matter.  I think this cowl will be very cheerful on those long, gray winter days and it will remind me that Spring will come.  Eventually.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Loving the pink

I have no idea why I drug my feet for so long on getting started on Kate's shawl.  It's been a joy to knit and I'm almost done with it.  Another evening, maybe two, of TV time and it will be finished.  And I'm still loving the yarn's pink color.  Actually, I'm a bit upset that I don't have more left over.  For once, I did a pretty good job of estimating how much the project would require.

On a different note....  Hubby surprised me yesterday and willingly offered to take me to the Montpelier Fiber Festival.  Hubby doesn't normally willingly volunteer for anything fiber related.  It was a beautiful day for the festival.  Cloudy and cold.  Actually, it was in the upper 50's, but considering it was 90 degrees two days before, the 50's felt pretty dang cold.  It was perfect weather for petting fiber and dreaming of creative opportunities.  And of course, the sheep dog trials were fun to watch.  They always make me a little edgy though.  Jealous is probably a better word.  We can't even seem to teach our dogs to sit, yet those dogs were out there herding multiple sheep between caution cones & separating them by color/breed.  Sheesh.

Well, I'd like to say I'm off to finish up Kate's shawl and teach our dogs to sit but no.  I'm off to the bowling alley.  I'm a little nervous.  I started a homeschool bowling league this year and the bowling alley is allowing us to host a free bowling party today in an attempt to attract more team members.  The invitation has gone out to 800 families.  Either no one will show, or it will be a complete and total mob scene.  I'm not sure which I'm hoping for.

Since I took no photos of the sheep dogs, here's a picture of our dogs' idea of sitting.

Sitting on the furniture, of course.