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Welcome to my blog. It's good to have you here. I hope you'll enjoy reading about my writing and knitting exploits.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Poor Mr. Greenjeans

Mr. Greenjeans

In 2008 (gah!) I fell in love with Amy Swenson's sweater pattern Mr. Greenjeans.  2008!!!!  That's 3 years ago.  I decided to knit it out of one of my favorite yarns, Dream in Color Classy in the Jungle Cloud colorway.

So very pretty.  It was love at first sight.  I love the different subtle shades that appear in this colorway and I could envision myself wearing it with jeans and slacks.  I was so happy. 

This may be my most neglected UFO, and lately I'm feeling really bad about it.  It's a beautiful sweater, and the pattern is well-written.  Way back when, I tried it on and it actually fit great. 

See, my tell-tale camera even recorded the date on the picture (hanging head in SHAME).  I don't even have that much left to do.  So what is my problem???

Well, I remember the holidays hit in 2008 and it was a mad rush to put all of my knitting away and clean up the house for the holiday decorating and all of the holiday visitors.  I stuck poor Mr. Greenjeans in a project bag - or a plastic grocery bag : (  and stuffed it "somewhere." 

That was the first problem.  It went "somewhere" in the house with all of my other active and inactive projects at the time. 

Now you'd think since I was on such a roll before the holidays I would have pulled the sweater out right after the New Year and started back in on it.  Well, I didn't. 

Then in April 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  A couple of surgeries followed along with chemotherapy and radiation.  That pretty much finished off 2009 and some of 2010 for me. 

Every once in awhile I'd think about Mr. Greenjeans and wonder where I'd put it.  Then my son was helping me straighten up my office in late 2010 and there it was.  We'd found Mr. G. sitting there lost and lonely.  I was so happy.  But then I looked and I was missing the rest of the yarn.  What????  Where in the heck was the rest of my Jungle Cloud DIC yarn?

Finally I found the rest of the yarn, but by then I'd once again lost the project. Thank goodness I had pictures on Ravelry to help me remember what it looked like.  sigh.

Then, after searching the house from top to bottom, I relocated the elusive Mr. G. again.  And I quickly put the yarn in the bag with it and put it in a safe place.

Well, I checked the bag and sure enough I'd "lost" the pattern.  All it would take would be to sign on to Knitty and pull up the pattern and copy it.  That brings me to a broken printer.  My printer died a most tragic and noisy death.  By the time I replaced it, I had once again lost Mr. G. and along with it the desire to knit it.  You see, I'd replaced it in my heart with about a dozen other more crucial must-do projects.  Some of which are still not finished.  Do we see a pattern emerging here?

At the knitting retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago my roommate Renny pulled out her knitting and yes, it was her own Mr. Greenjeans in a subtle pastel that's going to look great on her.  Now that's motivated and inspired me again to go on the search for the project and pattern.  Hopefully the yarn is still with the project.  If not, I'm ordering more and alternating skeins if I have to.  But I am going to finish this. 

Since I'm over 55% done, I stand a semi-decent chance of finishing this long overdue project.  I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knitting Retreat

Friday, September 9, 2011, I left Richmond and headed about a 100 miles west/northwest of Richmond to the mountains of Virginia.  My destination - Staunton, Virginia and the Hotel Stonewall Jackson for the 3rd annual Staunton Knitting Retreat.  Sixteen of us attended and had an absolute blast.  The attendees were Emmy, Mary, Kat E, Norma, Janice, Renny, Issy, Linda, Cindy, Nelda, Fran, Jo, Wanda, Rita, Pam and me, Kat J.  Several of the ladies I knew through my local Tuesday Night Knit Night (TNK), and others I met for the first time but quickly became friends with through our common love of all things knitting.

We stayed in historical downtown Staunton.

Lots of stores and shops abound.  There's a great health food shop just up from the hotel.  I'm taking this picture from outside of Cranberries where I had lunch one day and a Sunday brunch.  Great food and good for you.  What a great combination.  They make delicious looking smoothies.  Sadly, I didn't get to get one.  I'll just have to go back and have one or put it on next year's list of must do things.

This is another view of the historical area from my hotel room (also note the scenic top deck to the parking garage - LOL).

Blackfriars, a theater presenting Shakespeare plays, is located right next door to the hotel.  Michael, my darling son and his lady love Jenna were in attendance on the Friday night to see AS YOU LIKE IT.  Sorry to say that I didn't get to see them although we were *that* close.

Several of the retreat attendees got there before I did.  About 6 or 7 of them had decided to do a KAL of the Bermuda shawl by Ilga Leja.  Now most of these knitters are advanced knitters with lots of experience.  I watched them frog all day on Friday.  They were intrepid though and between them managed to figure out the instructions.

We joked about the pattern being "easy", "addictive" and "unable to stop knitting" since these advanced knitters were having so much trouble with the pattern.  But nothing stopped them.  One of the ladies said she'd never gotten so much mileage out of yarn as she kept pulling it out and casting it back on. 

I have to say it must have become addictive, because by the end of the weekend several of them had made a fair bit of progress on their Bermuda Shawls (renamed by the group in jest, The Bermuda Triangle Shawl).  I have to admit, the shawl as it comes together is quite intriguing.  The Noro Silk sock is perfect for this project and I watched in interest as each shawl grew and the colors changed with each new section. Beautiful, really.  I'm so glad they stuck with it.  And I'm sorry to say I don't have any progress pictures to show you.  But I hope to have some in a future post.

I got to get to know a lot of the retreat attendees better.  Fran (in the navy top and blue shawl) is someone that I have had the pleasure of meeting through knitting classes.  She's a lovely person and when she pulled out this shawl my jaw dropped.  It is gorgeous!  I wish my camera had captured the silkiness of the yarn.  The pattern is Sweet Jazz by Samantha Roshak, and I've got to make one.  But since I have about 15 unfinished projects right now, I'd better finish some things first.  But I do love it and Fran wears it so well.

Friday night we went out to dinner as a group at The Mill Street Grill.

The Mill has great food.  I think we all ordered something different and everyone raved about how good the food was. 

No shots of the food though.  I was so hungry, I think I inhaled mine.

I hit the bed early that night, but my roommate and I ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning.  Renny is the best roommate.  Very kind.  Very sweet.  And funny.  We had lots of laughs together. 

Here's a picture of our room.  Notice my awesome beach tote has a place of honor on the bed - but only while I'm up and about.  I was able to get several projects in the bag and have room for more.  Since I'm the unofficial cast on Queen, this may not be a good thing.

Left to right - Norma, Wanda, Janis, Fran and Renny during some retreat laughter and project sharing.

Nelda explains to Fran and me a technique she uses - or we could be talking about our cats.  Nelda is another very experienced knitter and I wish I had pictures of her show and tell.  Linda and Cindy are still discussing the Bermuda Shawl in the background.

Linda shares a work in progress.  It looked stunning here, but once we were home and she had it finished and blocked it was breath-taking.  The pattern is Semele.  It may also be on my wishlist of patterns I want to knit.  I think Linda knitted it in 2 weeks or so.  She always amazes me with her speed.  As do most of the ladies in this group.  I'm the original slow-poke.

The only other picture I got during show and tell is a wedding shawl that Mary is making.  Shhh...it may be a surprise.

I'm hoping that someone else with a camera (hint, hint Linda!) will share some of their pictures with me.  I was so upset with myself and my camera.  Dead batteries right in the middle of show and tell.  But to make matters worse, I'd brought my battery charger with what I thought were charged batteries only to find that they were dead as a doornail too.  None of my batteries came back to life until Sunday : ( 

The next day with batteries recharged, I snapped this picture.  All hand blown glass, this piece of art was spectacular and brightened up the lobby.

The weekend was great.  Tons of laughs, lots of knitting time, good friendships forged - it just couldn't have been better.

The only bad part was when Sunday afternoon came and we had to leave.  We all agreed we couldn't wait until for the 4th annual weekend to be here.  But that's not until September 2012.

On the drive home, I stopped along the way and got some great shots of the mountains.  Rain clouds were gathering and it made the pictures unusual.

These pictures are taken from the top of Afton Mountain.  There were a couple of historical markers here.

This one talks about the flight of Richard Dupont.  He used this point to fly his plane in 1933, I think, and break the distance record for sail planes.

And the other marker talks about a meeting held at a nearby tavern in 1818 to decide the location of the University of Virginia, which ended up in Charlottesville, VA.  The meeting was attended by former presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  The tavern burned down in a 1909 fire.  I've lived in Virginia most of my life, but I don't know that I'd ever stopped to read these markers before.  Virginia is full of history and markers.  It's fun to know that you're walking in the same place that others have travelled before you and to know what they were up to.  Me, I was just taking pictures after a great weekend of fun.

I'm already looking forward to the next retreat.  And yes, I did get dumped on by torrential downpours about 20 minutes later. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N Part 2

So when I left you last I was headed into Nags Head, NC, on the Outer Banks, after a 7 hour trip that should have taken half that time. 

We did get there - eventually.  Got the keys to the house we were renting and directions.  We hadn't eaten since lunch, but we decided to unload the car and then go to dinner.

The house was lovely with lots of decks and porches to enjoy the views.  This is a shot of the living room.  We could sit here and look out a wall of glass to the beach.  Well worth the trip.  After an evening shower, we even saw a rainbow but sadly I could not get a good picture of it. 

I had the best knitting intentions for vacation. 

This is the WestKnits Mystery KAL - Earth and Sky.  I was up to clue #2 when we went on vacation and took the project with me along with the clues so I could work on it.  And didn't.  There was just too much to do.  I loved being with the family and the hours just flew by.  So not much knitting time for me.

However, I did get to visit the local yarn shop, Knitting Addiction.

It's a great shop with a lot packed into the square footage.  I might have bought some more yarn.  I was trying to check out when the rest of the family showed up and Jorgie insisted on paying for my purchase as part of my birthday gift. 

And he joined in the fun and "helped" the ladies as they wound my yarn.  Thank goodness Lisa (shop helper extraordinaire) and Jeanne (the owner) were good sports.

Here's a shot of Lisa with Jorgie and our son, Jorgie, after she had wound one of my skeins of yarn.  The boys makes themselves home wherever they go. 

I also got an awesome new knitting bag - HUGE - made by a local artisan.

The ceramic button is also made locally, and I just love the bag.  I've packed it full with projects to take on an upcoming knitting retreat.  When I saw the bag as I walked into the shop, it truly was love at first sight. 

Now Jorgie has a few objections to all of my bags, totes and satchels.  He thinks I have way too many.  So imagine his surprise when he discovered that he had bought me the MacDaddy of all totes.  LOL!!!!  Vacation - fun times. 

After leaving the yarn shop, we managed to get up to Duck and Corolla (more towns in the Outer Banks) and do some shopping. 

The kids visited the Flip Flop Shops and while we were waiting for them, the owners decided to prop open the door with the biggest Flip Flop I've ever seen.

And I thought our Jorgies had big feet. 

Every Outer Banks vacation it is tradition to get a shot of my three Jorgies (husband, son and grandson) sitting on a bench together.  Here's this year's shot and I do think my Jorgie looks especially handsome with my purse sitting on his lap.  It takes a secure man to do that and endure the teasing that he'll get from the rest of the family. 
Told you we grow them big.  Jorgen, the grandson, is just over 6 feet tall and the other two Jorgies are about 6'4". 

We didn't do all of our shopping on one day.  It was nice to have the beach, family time and a little getting out and looking around/shopping time.

This year we didn't visit the Wright Memorial where Wilbur and Orville Wright had the first manned flight.  We've done that in previous years.  But we did pass by Jockey's Ridge where people hang-glide and try to replicate that first feeling of flying.  Those dunes are much higher than my camera makes them look.  And they're HOT.  It feels like your feet are going to spontaneously combust.  People (not me) actually walk up these dune. 

Back to the house - and the beach.  The water was wonderful.  Cool, but not cold.  Always a bit of an undertow, and I don't go out far.  I did manage to get the family in the water.  It's always a chore to get them to put that first toe in the water.  But after that, they're good.

Here's a shot of me hamming it up for the camera complete with beach hat and sunglasses.

These seagulls absolutely cracked me up.  This is only a portion of them all lined up and hoping for lunch.  It was so cool to sit and watch them queue up in their straight lines.  Yes, I'm easily amused.  The beach was deserted except for a few families and the birds.  Just the way I like it.  The sound of the ocean waves rolling in and out, in and out.  It really relaxes me.  

One last view before I go of the beach and the ocean.  It was a great vacation.  Wonder what it looks like after Hurricane Irene?


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N Part 1

This year I got to spend my birthday at the beach!  Well, technically, I spent most of my day in traffic.

Heavy traffic.  The usual 3.5 hours that it takes us to get to the Outer Banks of North Carolina took us double the time  - 7 long hours in the car.

Now anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not a particularly good traveler.  I'm worse than most children.  (Are we there yet?)

I got bored in the car and began amusing myself by taking pictures out the window and some not out the window.

Here's a picture of the great pedicure my daugther gave me before leaving home.  My feet look pudgy from sitting so long in the car.

Part of the fun about traveling to the Outer Banks is that we get to go through tunnels.  Now a lot of people don't like tunnel travel, but I've always liked to go through them.  Here's a shot of us going down into the tunnel in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

Traffic was moving swiftly at this point (enjoyed it while we could) and that made Jorgie (dh) very happy since he's one of the ones not overly fond of tunnel travel.

This was his happy view - the light at the end of the tunnel.  He always lets out a sigh of relief.

We had an awesome view of the bay after emerging from the tunnel.  Water, water all around.

We also crossed over the Intracoastal Waterway.  I was feeling pretty relaxed and counting the time until I could get out of the car and into a bathing suit. 

Next stop was a time-saving short-cut via the Cheasapeake Expressway.  We surprised our family in the car behind us by paying for their toll too.  Jorgie gets a kick out of this and will routinely pay for the car behind him - family or not.

You can see we don't have a built in GPS, but since we're prone to getting lost wherever we go, we travel with a portable GPS unit that Jorgie has called Maggie ever since the first time he heard her voice.  Maggie often will get upset with us when we veer from her chosen path and we'll hear her "recalculating" our route.  I often think she's really muttering obsene words under her breath. 

At this point in our trip, I really had high hopes that we would get to the beach ahead of time.  Traffic jams had leveled out and we were speeding along without any hang-ups.  My birthday cake and ice cream was just a memory.  And a saved picture on the camera.

I don't know if you can see it, but Jorgie got a question mark candle for the cake.  Last year he forgot to get a candle and for a few minutes I didn't have a candle to blow out and make a wish on.  This year he made sure I had a candle to make my wish. 

When we stopped for a break, I noticed that family member Brittani didn't look too thrilled at our progress.  She was yearning for waves and sun. Not more traffic. 

I'll have to see if I can't put a smile on her face before the day is out.  She's much prettier than this grumpy face shows.

As soon as we passed into North Carolina, it seems that we picked up beach traffic in earnest.  We kept moving along, until about 40 miles from our destination.  Then it took us 3 hours to go that distance.  No fun.  In retrospect I feel sorry for Jorgie since he had to put up with the clogged traffic and with amusing me.

Finally we got a glimpse of the sound. 

Now we're talking.  If the sound is outside the car window, surely the ocean can't be far behind.

Or maybe not.  That 3 hours of sitting in traffic kind of took the love out of the day.  Stop. Go. Stop some more.  And I was getting hungry.  Now we were stuck on the Wright Memorial Bridge - the bridge that leads into the Outer Banks.  Nags Head, North Carolina was our destination.

Finally off of the bridge, I was sooo happy.  But we still weren't moving.  I couldn't resist taking a picture of the speed limit sign.  Well, we had one of the numbers right.

At long last (and just before I could think of going postal) the sign for Nags Head. 

Next post I'll show you non-travel shots.  We really did have a great vacation at the beach.  Perfect weather, perfect people to spend the time with.  It just went too fast. 

Until next post....