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We interrupt this weblog to bring you great knitting toys.

Free! I feel freeeeeeeeee! After over a month of working on the yearly magazine for my son's school, I'm finally able to rest. The final draft of the magazine has been completed and approved by the school director, and I've just now finished [literally] saving everything on cd's so that it can all be sent to the printer tomorrow. I feel like sticking my head out of the window and belting out a few mariachi* songs. Margaritas for everyone!

The past week was spent in front of the computer churning out the mag, and while I waited for pictures to get scanned and files to get exported into pdf I was able to work a few rows on a knitting project. But before I get back to regular knitting blab and show what I worked on, I have to show the three packages that just came in the mail because they're too fabulous to not share (click for a peek in each one):



Oh la laaaaaa! A felted necklace kit from Mariko, a goodie box filled with yarn and patterns from Bonne Marie, and a box of yarn and books from Morgan. With such sweet notes, too. Happy surprise mail fun thanks to my knitting buds!

I've never tried felting before so I'm really excited about doing Mariko's necklace. The yarns Bonne Marie sent are going to make some glam scarves, and I want to try her Bottom's Up Bucket-o-Chic using the Cascade 220 she included. (And wouldn't a Bottom's Up Bucket spring/summer knitalong be fun? Yes! There would be yarn prizes for favorite bucket hat photos....wooot!) Morgan sent over some Rowan Calmer in red and chocolate brown**, and I want to use one of those to knit Audrey from Rowan 35 [big thank you to Leya for sending me the mag last month!]. I'm really undecided between the two colors because both are so pretty. Audrey in red or chocolate brown?

*Just like the mariachis in Plaza Garibaldi. Si, si!

**Speaking of chocolate brown, the skein of Phil Ruban I ordered to finish up my sister's poncho FINALLY came in, but I haven't had a chance to go pick it up. But it's there, in the yarn store, waiting for me to go get it and fringe the rest of the poncho, already. Giddy-ap!

It's still Christmas in Lyon!

Can we ever have enough good surprises? I. Don't. Think. So! Click to see what the post brought to my door:

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The first is from Marrije, and it's Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Little Cherubs! It's no secret that I'm a big fan of retro knits, and ever-observant Marrije noticed this and sent over the book and a very sweet note as a surprise. What a gorgeous book! I immediately swooned for the diamond sleeveless vest, the fluffy bolero and (of course!) the chenille bunny. If you're a fan of children's vintage knits, I highly recommend this book. The second surprise package is from Theresa, and it's a lovely box full of - get ready for this - enough KOIGU to make Charlotte's Web, Lorna's Laces ANGEL, and a skein of SQUIGGLE. There it all lies on my coffee table, bathing in its own ray of sunlight, Handel's Messiah playing in the background. Look at the beautiful colors of Koigu she sent! I do believe that my idea of bliss is to fill up a vat with Koigu, dive in and swim about with a leisurely backstroke. Note now: I will start Charlotte's Web by mid-April. [Is it April yet? Is it??? And can I hop on a jet plane for a trip to Threadbear? Santa?] I am overwhelmed! My knitting buds rock my knitting universe.

Speaking of knitting buds, I need some input. Last year I received this lovely hank of hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn from Emma:


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...and I've kept it in my stash in a stingy, miserly fashion. I don't know...hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn seems like a treasure to me, so I've been satisfying myself with occasionally pulling this hank out of its ziploc and gazing at it lovingly. However, I feel like the time has come for me to do it justice by knitting it into something. Any ideas for a small project and a stitch pattern that will show up this yarn at its best?

And while we're on the subject:


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Early morning crafty breakfast.


This morning I started the felted necklace Mariko sent me! All I need to do now is the felting part. It's interesting. I must place the portions that are to be felted in a plastic bag full of soapy water and "agitate". Voilà! Magic necklace! I've yet to do that part because I am silently psyching myself up to do it. Have I placed the fiber on the necklace in the right way? Will it felt properly? Or will I "agitate" it all into a rock-hard blob? Felting gods, help me!

A little distraction can be good.

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Say it with me now: "Ooooooh!"


This photo of Colinette yarn - recently added to my stash - is here to distract you from the fact that I am bored of knitting sleeves, and have pretty much put all major projects aside while my sleeve-knitting batteries get recharged. The single rose prop in the photo is provided courtesy of my three-year-old son, who brought it home to me after visiting an open market with his Daddy on Sunday morning*. I think it charming that he brings flowers to me, and usually obtains them himself by repeating "flower for Mommy, flower for Mommy" to flower vendors like a caffeinated parrot.

I have thoughtful Marie of Space Craft to thank for enabling me with this lovely yarn by ordering it and sending it to me in trade**. I received it yesterday and, quite frankly, can't stop staring at it like a love-struck fool. (Do you want to see a closeup of this yarn? Sure you do. Click here.) As soon as my honkin' big 15mm Addi Turbo circs come in and I finish up some current projects, I'll be knitting this yarn into the wrap featured on the cover of Vogue Knitting's Holiday 2003 issue. The very thought makes my palms all sweaty and I feel like running around the room in circles from excitement. I've been wanting to knit something using Colinette for a while, but it was seeing someone else's enviable stash that pushed me over the edge, thank you very much. I won't name names [cough::Wendy::cough], but seeing photos of someone's yarn stash can be enabling.

Marie was also kind enough to include a gift of Colinette hand-dyed chenille [drools helplessly] in the package. Marie rocks my knitting world. And any suggestions on what I can make using this yarn are welcome.

Speaking of chenille, I may have taken a break from my trip to Sleeve Island, but I haven't completely stopped knitting:


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This was my quick break from the sleeves.


I knit a flower washcloth from Weekend Knitting, using the Crystal Palace cotton chenille everyone's favorite biologist sent to me in one of her yarn care packages. What a fun little project! I have a hank of this yarn in green and I'll be knitting another flower this week. Meanwhile, I headed over to my favorite store that sells provençal products and bought some handmade soaps from the south of France. I'll be sending them together with the flower washcloth as a gift to my Grandma.

*Mommy, of course, had stayed behind. Mommy is a lazy person on weekend mornings.

**Fact: Trades with knitting buds make me feel like I get presents in the mail.

I finished the sleeves. Alert Tita.

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We got Gorilla Arm Sleeves!
[Cheers all around.]


This weekend I finished up the second sleeve for my husband's ribbed sweater! They look rather small in the photo, but each sleeve required over 3 skeins of yarn. (Look at all the ends I'll have to weave in! Don't you feel simply awful for me?) After working all that 4/2 rib on those looooooong sleeves, I cannot begin to describe how happy I was to bind off the last row on the second one. I'm so glad that I finished I feel like putting the sleeves on the ends of couple of long sticks and waving them around like they're banners while I run around the block. Okay, I'm kidding. Maybe I'll just walk very fast.

I'm now leisurely steam-blocking all the pieces to the sweater, and if I finish doing that by the end of the week I'll be having a seaming party during the weekend. Kir royal, anyone?

To further reward myself on completing all the pieces of Monsieur Le Hubby's sweater, I decided to go yarn shopping. My latest acquisitions:


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I love me a good yarn expedition.


Clockwise from top right: Anny Blatt/Bouton d'Or's latest pattern book for spring/summer 2004, Bouton d'Or Mango in Alouette, Phildar Coton Microfibres in white, and Phildar Phil Ruban in Cuivre. With the exception of the Phil Ruban, the yarns I got are pretty fine gauge, particularly the Mango. Earthy colors, some pinks, reds, and ocean colors seem to be in at the moment. Lots of lacy tops, too. Not pictured but also acquired because Phildar goes bonkers when it comes to issuing pattern books: Phildar's latest summer pattern book. Bright colors in that one, as well as a lot of white. Lacy is also in as well as some 80s-inspired designs. I think I'll pass on the 80s-inspired designs, though. I wore them once, back in the 80s where they belong, and...well, I don't think I want to go there again for fear it will encourage the comeback of poodle-permed hair which is, quite possibly, the worst thing I have ever done to my straight hair. Ever*.

*Oh, wait. I forgot about the Sun-In. [Enter scary music from shower scene in Psycho.] Remember Sun-In? Yikes. If you sprayed Sun-In on your dark brown hair while at the beach and gave it uneven streaks and patches of bright ORANGE instead of "natural highlights", raise your hand. [Raises hand.]

Hello. I am a yarn trollop.

SOLDES. Magic word, that. The summer sales started in my city on Wednesday, and on Tuesday night I pitched a little pup tent in front of the yarn store and spent the night there, so I could be the first one in the store come 10:00 a.m. the next day.

Just kidding. Actually, I started my yarn shopping last Saturday, because Plassard in Champagne de Mont d'Or closes from June 30 to August 31 and I wanted to make sure that I got some choice yarns before it closed. All of its warm weather yarns were on sale so I went a little bonkers there, and picked up a mini stash of Grand Large, which is a worsted cotton that is very similar to Rowan's ASC. I also picked up some novelty yarn and Tahiti cotton yarn, which is fine gauge and knits up on small needles.

On Wednesday, the beginning of the BIG SALE, I visited Anny Blatt/Bouton d'Or boutique and picked up some ribbon yarns. I also visited my favorite Phildar boutique even though the only yarns on sale are the discontinued ones, and nearly screamed when I discovered that my BELOVED Phil Ruban has been discontinued. I immediately gathered a bunch of it into a little mountain, jumped on top and hung onto it like a crab clings to a rock. Ka-ching! Here's a show-and-tell of my new stash additions [lots of images; clear your cache]:




I love me a bargain, but I didn't get everything on sale. Sob! I picked up some Plaisance and Coton Microfibres and paid regular price for them, because I noticed that the new yarns for winter came so the store is being cleared out of a wide selection of its cottons and I'm just now starting my summer knitting. I also had to pick up a skein of each of the new winter yarns that interested me the most. Those weren't on sale either but they looked so neat and I have no will power. Such a yarn trollop, I am! Here they are:

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100 percent guilt-free yarn.
[Click here for a REALLY big view.]


That wraps up the stash enhancement for now. Today was spent fighting the crowds at La Part Dieu mall. No yarn shopping there, unfortunately. But I got cute shoes!

I love me some stashy goodness.

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She gleefully announces, "Yes, there's more in the bag!"
[Click here for an obscenely big view.]


I love me some stashy goodness! Lots of Phil Ruban in variegated light blue, solid green-blue, fuchsia, red, coral and purple. Somewhere in Contres, there's a knitter wondering what happened to all the Phil Ruban in her local Phildar boutique. When I went into the boutique, the Phil Ruban wasn't on sale because the saleslady did not know that IT HAD BEEN DISCONTINUED. I was the one who announced it to her. [Hee!] She checked on the computer and discovered that it had been discontinued, so she put it on sale right then and there. Good for me, because all of the good colors were still available as they hadn't been put on sale before I got there. Score!



The book was an extra treat. Thanks, Marta!


Also added to my stash: some GGH Java from Marta in Germany, who sent it in exchange for web work. (I had been planning on doing the pink cardigan [Jacke en Apricot] from Rebecca 27 ever since I saw it in the mag that Athena sent me back in May.) I received the Java about a week before I went on vacation and was able to swatch it while in La Loire. It's a really nice yarn; light and airy.

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

Beep beep! Someone's now rolling along nicely on her "Jacke Apricot". I finished the back and am moving along on the front pieces now. Here's the back, which I knit while watching "Anne of Green Gables" [love that series!]:


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Hello. Please block me.


This yarn is so smooth to knit! GGH deserves a gold star on their forehead for coming up with this one. It's light, airy, and doesn't tire out the hands like some worsted cottons. If someone offered me 5 sweaters' worth of Java in exchange for my donning a pair of lederhosen and dancing around the block while singing out, "I LIKE JAVA", you bet your java I'd do it.

And there's stash enhancement news! A friend just had a baby boy, and I - under the notion that I have no yarn in my stash suitable to make a gift for a baby boy [please allow me to continue to remain under this notion for purposes of justification] - go to the yarn store with the intention of (as I told my husband) "checking out yarn colors". I checked out the yarn colors, and then I walked out with the latest Tendances and Layette pattern books, and some yarn to make the new baby a sweater. Oops! Say it with me now, darlin': Rabbit likes to yarn shop!


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Yarn is "Oxygene" and "Brumes".


There's more...here's another stash enhancement I can't help sharing because it's just so fabuloso: Some Cotton Fleece from my pal Theresa, which she sent on over so that I can make Gigi. (Yes, I must think that I have a thousand knitting hands.)


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Welcome to the stash, my dears!


I need to get my hands on some 3.25mm dpns, so I can get to Gigi this summer. Then again, I'm on such a cardi kick right now I may end up doing it in fall, instead. In any event, I've got some fun knitting months ahead.

Neat new books.

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Japanese knitting magazines! They're my new favorite thing. She also sent some candy and an extra treat of cute fabric, which I'd love to use as the outer covering for a needle case, maybe? Thanks, Pinku!

I also got a copy of R2 magazine from Marie of scifiville. I'm now seriously tempted to try some of the R2 yarn...maybe knit "Tasty" or "Flush". If I make a dent in my stash this summer, I just might do it. Thanks, Marie!

Ooooh, how FROU-FROU!

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Freshly added to the stash: Some fluffy Phildar Cecilia. Vintage cardigan, thou shall be mine! (I'm all about the cardigans lately. I can't help it. They're just so PURDY!)

New mags I've just gotten:

1) VK Knitting, Summer 2004 issue courtesy of the ever-thoughtful TAMARA, who sent it just because. [Gracias, Tamara!] My favorites: The "Just Peachy", a.k.a. "Goddess" tank, Bobby Summers's lacy v-neck and Gayle Bunn's halter. Huzzah!

2) Phildar Hommes Automne/Hiver 2004-2005. Much, much nicer than last year's, which I didn't even buy because I found the designs to be...well, I just didn't buy it. This year's edition is much nicer, I think. I've got a few possibilities mapped out for Monsieur Le Hubby. He deserves the knitting love, too.

3) Interweave Knits Fall 2004, thanks to KRISTEN, who sent it because I showed a yearning for it. [Merci, Kristen!] Boy, oh boy. Nice stuff in there. I find Annie Modesitt's (one of my favorite designers) Sideways Spencer very charming. I also like Shirley Paden's Tuck and Lace.

Lovely goodies from all over the place!

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Lovely Tahki Cotton Classic from Jenny! This would make a wonderful tank, or maybe Polka Purl Dots from IK's Spring 2004 issue?


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The Novita Winter 2004 from Finland [!], with the additional treat of a bar of chocolate from Iris! This is the first time I've seen a Finnish knitting magazine and boy, oh boy do my Finnish neighbors got it going on when it comes to knits. Great stuff, and I'm particularly charmed by this saucy sweater. Love it!


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This is non-stash related, but too cool to not share. Some fun surprise treats from Heather, including lip balm, candy, freeze-dried ice cream like the astronauts eat, space shuttle toy, a little coin purse (that my son is now using to store his toy cars so he can attach it to a button loop on his pants!) and some goldfish which my son ADORES. My son opened the package first thing and was so excited he could barely stand it. Just for Heather, here are some pictures of his pajama-ed, spiky-haired self showing off his space shuttle. (I can hear him playing with it right now as I type this.)

Back to stash-related goodies, I also received the latest Rowan mag in trade from Carrie, and the Noro Knits book in trade from Sarah. Wonderful things to knit in both! I've got my eye on a few things from the latest Rowan, and the two things from the Noro Knits book.

In short: My online knitting buds ROCK!

WOW!

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Date: Saturday, 6:45 p.m. Right before store closing time.

Place: PHILDAR.

Duration of shopping time, including chatting with ladies at shop: 15 minutes.

Booty obtained: Big ole mountain of Pegase yarn, so I can make jackets for two of my favorite guys.

Conclusion: I like me a good yarn expedition.


And I've also received some goodies from my knitting buds overseas that are too fabulous to not share with everyone:

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1) Kathi sent over a surprise box filled with all kinds of wonderful things: An origami kit, biscuits, cookies, toys for the Captain, a tote, Sanrio goodies [!], candy, stitch markers, a sample of the beaded ring for the bucket hat knitalong prize, and a crochet magazine with a huge-eyed doll on the cover that I expressed a yearning for. My son and I were gobsmacked as we pulled everything out of the box! The Captain kept saying, "For me??? For me???" as I showed him what he got. Such a thoughtful gesture. Thank you, Kathi!

2) Donna sent over Australia's Knitting Magazine (I love seeing what knitters overseas are knitting!), and some Yowie's (chocolates with toys inside, like Kinder eggs) for the Captain! (There were three Yowie's, but the photo only shows two because the Captain attacked it before I could take a picture.) The next day he insisted on taking the toys - which turned out to be three Australian animals - to school to show off to his friends. And a few weeks ago, I received the sweetest postcard from her daughter Em, as a thank you for the prize yarn I sent her as a reward for her adorable dancing tutu shots. This surprise made our day. Thank you, Donna and Em!

3) I received some knitting treats in trade from Wendy and Ei: Wendy sent over the Debbie Bliss Alpaca book [wow, wow, wow at the designs; I've got two on my wishlist] with some post it notes that read "It's hard being a Goddess". [Hehe.] And Eilene sent over the Rowan Ribbon Twist Collection [wow, wow, wow at these designs, too...I've already picked a project to knit from here] and some Addi needles. Thanks, Wendy and Ei!

What an goodie-filled entry, eh? I think I should just title this entry "WOW!". So I did :-)

Who has the best knitting buds???

Two packages in one day. Oh, my. I ran around the room in circles when I got them!

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From Ann, a batch of Kid Classic in Glacier and a hank of Orchid Line Soft Spun. I've had them displayed on the coffee table since I pulled them out of the box this morning, and keep gazing at them lovingly like a love-struck fool. Me like Rowan yarns. Thank you, Ann!


I also received this package. Non stash-related, but oh-so-yummy:

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A whopping box of treats from Jessi! She sent the Hot Tamales because she likes them with her popcorn. I tried some Hot Tamales popcorn as a late afternoon snack and swooned. Where has this snack been all my life? Never again will I eat a bowl of popcorn unless it has Hot Tamale candy in it. Thank you, Jessi! P.S. My little captain LOVES popcorn. I had a hard time getting a photo of the above, because he kept pawing the box of popcorn and repeating, "Mine? Mine? Mine?" like the pigeons in Finding Nemo. What a funny kid!

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