Tuesday, May 30, 2006

14 Days Later

I've have been so busy working on a new business venture that I haven't had a chance to post on my blog or anything! I'm hardly even knitting! SIGH! But, I am having a really exciting time meeting with my business partners, writing a business plan, talking with the current business owner, interviewing attorneys, etc. At the same time, I'm thinking alot about how to hire someone at my husband's and my business, Odyssey Restorations, Inc., to take over at least a portion of my job. Ideally, I will work two days per week at Odyssey and two days at the new place... Don't ask me what the business is; I can't tell you yet...

By the way, I'm onto the first sleeve of the modular sweater I'm currently working on. To see a photo of the front, check out my website at . After that, I still have the Sunrise Circle jacket to complete (and since I'm only about 2" into it, that will take a while).

Also, my karate instructor told me that I will probably test for my black belt in early December! YIPPEE!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Repeat Trick

Here's a nifty little trick I learned from Lizbeth Upitis many years ago at a Minnesota Knitters' Guild Yarnover. If you have a pattern that involves repeats every x number of rows you can use a piece of extra yarn to help you keep track of your repeats. Take a piece of scrap yarn and double it, then tie knots in it (far enough apart so that you can get your knitting needle into the holes in between the knots) equal to the number of rows in your repeat. One end will have a loop in it formed by the doubling of the strand of yarn. This is the end that I call my "repeat loop." Here is a photo of what several of these look like.

In the photo above, the "repeat loop" is on the right hand side of each of these "Repeat Threads" or RTs. The bottom one has 10 holes, the next one has 8, then 6, then 4, then 2.

To illustrate the use of an RT imagine you are doing a cable that needs to be crossed every 6 rows. So, you make a RT with 6 holes in it (tie 6 knots). The trick is to put the RT onto your needle either at the beginning of the row (or if you are doing a repeated motif within the body of your sweater, at the beginning of the motif) the very first time you cross your cable, making sure that you use the end of the RT (your "repeat loop"). On the next row, when you get to where the RT is, slip it to the other needle,but slip one hole down on the RT. Do this every row, until there are no more holes to slip into, then you know that you are on a repeat row. This time, slip the RT back on at the "repeat loop," cross your cable on that row, then keep going.

This trick works really well if you are doing different cable patterns within a sweater that don't repeat on the same row. Just put RTs at the beginning of each cable section and follow that.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Needlework Unlimited

On Saturday, a couple of friends and I visited Needlework Unlimited to spend some time with my friend, the owner of the store, Karen Rumpza. Karen was nice enough to let me take some photos of her shop to put up on the blog. So here they are (thanks, Ann, for the loan of your camera!).

Needlework Unlimited is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not too far from Lake Harriet. They have a really nice selection of handpainted yarns and one-of-a-kind-skeins of yarns. They carry Rowan, Dale, Noro, Addrienne Vittadini, Alchemy, and many more brands. And, while I'm not a needlepointer, they seem to have a nice selection of canvasses and yarn for that as well... The best thing about them in my opinion is that they always seem to be well-staffed with knowledgeable people who aren't intrusive. In other words, they are there to help - but only if you want to be helped. You can browse to your heart's content.

I took a Knitting Camp there a couple of years ago in the summer. This was not an overnight camp, but it lasted a couple of days, and there were probably four new techniques we learned, plus door prizes and food and lots of knitting. It was really enjoyable, and much more convenient than going to an overnight camp or Stitches or the TKGA Convention. I noticed while I was at the shop that they are planning on doing it again this summer (but I think it's called a mini-camp now). Unfortunately, I'll be out of town when they do it. SIGH! But, here's your chance!!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I've Got a Secret

... but I can't tell it yet. You'll just have to keep coming back to find out more when I'm ready to spill.

In the meantime, I thought I'd update you on my karate, since I haven't mentioned that in a while. On Friday evening last week, I tested for my double black stripe belt (that's a brown belt with two black stripes) - and I passed! Yippee! I was so nervous all day. I have been plagued with balance issues since I started karate. I have improved so much over the four years I've been taking classes, but I still have major problems balancing when we do multiple kicks. (Imagine standing on one foot, then moving your other leg around alot without setting down - it's hard.) Anyway, everything came together really well on Friday. My instructor said that it was the best karate I've ever done! I'm so pumped... My next belt is the big one - black. I was hoping to test for that in September, but now I'm thinking December is more likely.

I'm still knitting away on the sweaters pictured in my last post. I can't believe I still haven't finished that teddy bear sweater. Maybe tonight...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Photo of Yarnover Project

Here's a photo of the teddy bear sweater I'm making using the instructions for the Garden Maze Design class I took at the Minnesota Knitters' Guild's Yarnover.
The design is by Rita O'Connell. You're looking at the front of the sweater. The two sleeve holes are on the left and right. After the body is finished, I will pick up the live stitches on the sleeve holes and knit the sleeves down. It shouldn't take me long to finish the rest of it. Of course, it's not my top priority right now.

Instead, I've been working pretty consistently on my modular sweater designed by Barbara Venishnick from the Spring/Summer 2004 issue of Vogue Knitting.
This has been a fun sweater to knit. I'm using Rowan's Cash Cotton, which I love! I tried several different yarns before landing on this one, and I'm very happy with my choice. My only complaint is that there are so many ends to weave in!!

There are two other things that are biting into my knitting time: Disney World and karate. I'm planning a trip to Disney World July 19 - 25 for me, my 8-year old son, my 13-year old daughter and my daughter's friend. I'm so excited!! I adore anything Disney. I just recently became a member of Disney Vacation Club, and the kids and I are going to use that membership for the first time. I'm a little nervous about going during the hottest and rainiest time of the year, but we'll have fun anyway... And, as for karate, I'm testing for my brown belt with two black stripes tonight at National Karate. This is my last belt before black belt. I'm exceedingly nervous! I had a pretest yesterday, and I didn't feel like I did very well - and I was pretty vocal about it. The instructor told me that she's confident that I will do fine tonight, but that if she hears even one little peep out of me that sounds like I'm disgusted with how I'm doing, she'll fail me. UGH! I have a really hard time keeping my negative thoughts to myself when it comes to physical activities (I used to do it to myself when I played high school and college tennis as well). I know expressing those negative thoughts doesn't really help anything - it probably hurts my performance even more. So, tonight, I won't make a peep. I can't...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I went to the Minnesota Knitters' Guild one day workshop, the Yarnover, this past weekend. I meant to take a camera with me to click photos of the market and my classes, but unfortunately I left it at home. I did take photos with my phone, but I can't figure out how to download them. UGH! Anyway, I had a fabulous time. Lucy Neatby was the keynote speaker. (See her website, Tradewind Knitwear Designs for a good photo of her.) She talked about designing and how she comes up with designs. The talk was not as informative as I had hoped, but she had some great anecdotes. Mostly, though, I was impressed with the way she looked. Her hair was bright pink, as were her pants. She wore an orange t-shirt and a multicolored vest. I thought it was great and that she had to possess a lot of self-confidence!

My first class of the day was "Shadow Knitting" with Jane Killian. My friend, Jean, helped her out. We used the Vivan Huxbro (sp?) technique for shadow knitting and a pattern that Jane gave us to knit a hat. There was not a lot of teaching in the class - more following the pattern and knitting with some suggestions thrown in occassionally. But that was o.k. with me. Since I've been knitting for over 20 years, I've found that there are few things that I have to be taught - most things I can learn or intuit by reading patterns or directions. That said, I enjoyed the class because: 1) I learned a new technique, 2) I got to knit the whole time, and 3) it was fun talking with people... Now if I could only find the hat I made (I didn't finish it in class, but I did finish it later that day). My son was having fun playing with it, and who knows where it is! Once I find it, I'll post a photo.

After the first class was a long lunch with plenty of time to shop at the various vendors that were in the market. I won't talk much about the market except to say that I spent way too much money! I bought some hand-dyed fingering weight yarn in some lovely muted shades called Tree Bark from Josyln's Fibers. And I bought a wonderful skein of hand-dyed yarn from Amazing Threads. And, as a last minute splurge, I bought three skeins of Fiesta Yarn and a vest pattern from Knit Wits. There was a booth selling light up knitting needles - so you can knit in the dark. Only straights - no circulars. I wasn't really interested...

In the afternoon, I took a class on "Garden Maze Sweater Design" taught by an old Knitters' Guild friend of mine, Rita O'Connell. She has taken the idea of a garter stitch sweater shaped by increases and decreases to its farthest reaches - kind of like taking Elizabeth Zimmerman and Cottage Creations patterns and jumping off the deep end with them. This was her first time teaching the class, and while she gave us very detailed instructions, it was really too much info for a 3-hour class. I did fine with it, but there were some less experienced knitters who had a difficult time figuring it out. As it was, I only got to the armholes of the teddy bear sweater (from the top down), and I've had questions since then about what to do.
I'll post a photo as soon as I have one of the finished project.

All in all, it was a fun and inspiring day.