Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I don’t think it takes a mind reader to know how excited I was about Stitches this year. Last year was my first time attending and I had an amazing time, so when the opportunity to attend again this year rolled around, I jumped on it! My friend, Lara, and I decided to go and within a few minutes of making that decision, we also determined that an invitation needed to be extended to our friend, Anna. We know Anna via our blogs and our only relationship with her so far has been via the internet and somewhat over the phone for her and Lara. It was interesting, though, that there was no hesitation for either of us about inviting her. She’s just one of those people that her natural warmth comes through and we knew we would have a great time with her. I thought it was pretty great that as quickly as we decided to invite her, she only took about half that amount of time to accept the invitation!

So, after waiting what seemed like an eternity, we finally went to Stitches last weekend. I actually left home on Wednesday to bring the Bean over to Florida to stay with my Mom and Dad. My mom’s birthday was Friday, so I joked that Bean was her birthday present. I knew they would have a great time, though.

Thursday morning I got on a plane to head up to Atlanta and met up with Lara at the airport. It was so wonderful seeing her again and after picking up our rental car we headed out to the hotel and conference center. Our first class was that afternoon, Cut & Paste with Sarah Peasley and it was brilliant! We took one of her classes last year and knew she was an amazing teacher, but this class took it to another level. For the most part, it was about the Kitchener Stitch, which is a wonderful grafting technique that I use all the time to finish the toes of socks or finish the underarms of certain sweaters. It creates a row of knitting as opposed to a seam. Sarah took it a few steps further and showed us how to graft live stitches to a side seam, how to graft in pattern (including in ribbing) and even cooler, how to pick up stitches and then cut off an area of knitting that we might not like, without having to rip out an entire item. Say after you’ve knit a sweater, you decide that you don’t care for the ribbing at the bottom. Well, using this technique, you can just cut off that portion. Or, if you decide that you don’t like a section in the middle, pick up stitches above and below that section, cut it out, re-knit and then graft it all back together!

Me & Sarah Peasley!

After our class was over, Lara and I headed back up to our room to meet up with Anna. We liked her immediately and there was never an awkward moment or lull in our conversation or laughter. Amazingly, we never made it to the Market that evening or to the Ravelry meet-up. We were just having too much fun on our own. That night we hit Sotto Sotto for dinner, which was my favorite restaurant from last year’s adventure. They have a seafood risotto that I dream about! Their Caesar salad is also really yummy and I topped it all off with a wonderful ricotta cheesecake with fresh berries. I was SOOOO full when we left!

The next morning I was up around 6:30, as per my usual. I never can manage to sleep in anymore, darn that adorable little girl of mine! I puttered around the room, took my shower and killed time while waiting for the others to wake up, but finally just had to leave the room. I headed down to the Market and hung out with some lovely ladies while we waited for the doors to open. My first stop was, of course, the Knit Witch’s booth, where I picked up a couple of beautiful skeins of sock yarn and got to visit with the wonderful Brittany and Wayne. They are such a delightful couple and I loved getting to see them. Brittany has done a lot of custom dye work for me through the year and is always so great to deal with. After my stop at their booth, I headed down to check out the wares at Dragonfly Fibers. Kate does beautiful work as well and I selected a fabulous hank of laceweight yarn. It’s a huge skein and has 2,500 yards of yarn!

Finally around 11:00, the other girls were up and ready to head out to get some “breakfast”. I sort of envy the ability of those without kids to sleep in, but I think with that much yarn in the building, I would have had a hard time sleeping in any way! Anyhow, I met up with the ladies and we headed off to introduce Anna to one of the staples of southern food (as far as I’m concerned at least), the Waffle House! Unfortunately, I don’t think Anna was as enamored by it as we are, but I do think she enjoyed it.

After breakfast, we headed back to the MARKET!!! Lara and I hit every row, but Anna was much more efficient than we were. She picked out a project and headed off to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. I ended up with four bags of Noro, two of Yuzen and two of Silk Garden. Then we hit the Unwind booth. The ladies working that booth were a lot of fun and they had some great yarn. I picked up two skeins of Unison yarn in some really great autumnal colors to make a baby sweater, hat and some booties. The ladies there were also super kind and offered to babysit my VERY large tote bag (see last post) so I could shop more freely in the rest of the market. I didn’t add a huge amount after that point, but did pick up a couple more skeins from Kate at Dragonfly.

That night we hit South City Kitchen for dinner and once again, it was delicious! I got she-crab soup for my appetizer, shrimp and scallops with grits for my entrée, and banana pudding for dessert. Divine southern fare! I was in a great mood when we headed back to the hotel and that continued when we joined in the pajama party in the lobby. I did win a prize, not for my fun pj’s that I made, but for having my wee one with me, albeit not visible! It’s a scarf kit and I think I’m going to enjoy making it. Probably not something I would have picked out on my own, but the colors are nice and heck, if I don’t like it, I’m sure I can find someone who will!

Saturday morning came and we had our second class, Basic Pattern Drafting with Melissa Leapman. I have a knitter’s crush on Melissa and she is a wonderful teacher. We took her intro to cabling class last year and loved it. This class didn’t involve any knitting, but I learned a lot and even got to use algebra. I know that might not sound like a whole hell of a lot of fun to some folks, but I kinda love math and was thrilled when the lightbulb clicked and I figured out the formula to solve the problem before Melissa even got to that part! Yes, I am truly a geek, but I finally have learned to wear it proudly! This was supposed to be our last class, but I opted to add Melissa’s afternoon class since I had enjoyed the first one so much. The second class was Celtic Cables and was incredible! I’m really tempted to take the elements that I learned in both classes and try and design my own sweater. Then again, maybe I’ll just work one of Melissa’s patterns first….

Me & Melissa Leapman (who totally thinks I'm her stalker, I'm not, I just get easily excited when around knitting genius)

I did hit the Market again after my second class. What can I say, I have issues! I went back by the Unwind booth and am so glad that I did. I picked up eight skeins of MadelineTosh yarn, buy one get one free! It may be the yarn that I use in my first designing effort.

Saturday night, our little threesome broke up so Lara could go to see some of her Atlanta buddies. Anna opted for some quiet time at the hotel and I headed out to join 150 of my closest new friends to a dinner hosted by Brittany (Knit Witch) at her dad’s restaurant, Scalini’s. I will be honest, I was expecting more of the company than I was the food, but I was pleasantly surprised on the food front. The meal began with a family-style salad and the best garlic rolls I have ever had in my life! Fresh baked light rolls literally soaking in butter with minced garlic on them. I think I smelled like garlic for days after! For my entrée I got the meat lasagna, which was huge and I thought there was no chance of finishing all of it. But it was so incredible that I didn’t leave a single bit behind. Dessert followed with a big tray of desserts served family style again. The food was excellent and the company was even better! I sat in the back of the room with the funniest group of women I have ever been around. We didn’t have a full table, but I think we may have had the biggest laughs! I am so glad I decided to go to the dinner, even without my roommates. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, I think Scalini’s should be a must visit. Plus, Brittany’s dad is just adorable and charming!

My tablemate, Dawn, who was a riot! In the background is Miss Babs, another incredible lady!

Brittany's super-cute dad, John!

Sunday was the wrap up for the event and Lara and I decided to hit the Market one last time. I hit Knit Witch one more time and got five skeins of DK weight yarn and a couple more skeins of fingering weight yarn. I must’ve really liked her Pisces colorway, because I picked up another skein of it! Not that I mind, just that much more to love. We also went to visit Miss Babs, one of my dinner companions from the night before, so I could get some of her Yowza yarn to make an outfit for my upcoming addition. If it’s a boy, I will make a sweater and pants with it. A girl? A cute little dress. I also got some oyster laceweight, which I think will become Jen’s wedding shawl. Just for good measure, some of Babs’ Yummy sock yarn found its way into my bag! Two final stops: one more trip to Unwind, mostly to say goodbye, but they lured me with buy one get one deals on Koigu! Ten skeins later and two more Unison to boot, we finally said our adieus and headed over to the stage for the grand prize drawing. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but the ladies who did were so cute, I don’t really mind losing to them. Well, not so much, anyway!

After the drawing we were going to head out, but the Webs booth drew us in. I picked up three Zaerballs and some other sock yarn, Jawoll Magic. I know I went really overboard on my yarn purchases, but I got some really beautiful stuff.

Stitches was a wonderful experience yet again. I just loved being around so many like-minded people. By the end, I felt like I had learned so much and made so many wonderful new friends. Thanks to Ravelry, I will be able to easily keep in touch with them! On Sunday, when it was time to leave, I had the same feeling that I used to get on the last day of camp and now that I’m home, I’m trying my hardest not to completely bore my family to tears by forcing them to hear every last detail of what happened. Hubby has been great, though, and seems to really enjoy hearing about how much fun I had. The man who even a year ago would have ribbed me about it, now seems genuinely excited that I have developed this sense of community and take such joy in my knitting. I knew picking him was a great idea. Of course, he hasn’t seen all the yarn that came home with me…..

Here are some photos of some of the people who made my weekend so wonderful! Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Anna, but I kept forgetting about my camera and she does tend to be a little camera shy!

Jennifer & Miss Babs

Brittany & Wayne

Me & Molly

Jessica, Me & Lauren

Lara & Me!

The Stash!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Been lovin’ the postal system lately!

I know I have a lot to catch you guys up on, but there's so much that I'm going to divide it up into two posts. The first one will deal with all the loveliness that has been gracing my mailbox lately, then I'll focus on my Stitches adventure in the next post.

I really have enjoyed checking my mailbox lately (and the front door, since a lot of things won't actually fit in the box)! Back on April 17th, I got the most amazing package from Vespa, who was my angel partner in a birthday swap that I participated in. She included the loveliest things including some yummy treats, gorgeous yarn, a bracelet that doubles as a row counter, a fabulous neck warmer, and several patterns from my Ravelry queue! The best present as far as Bean was concerned was the knit red fox tail made from Fun Fur. She looked so cute modeling it and pretended that she was Swiper the Fox from the Dora the Explorer cartoons. I have so enjoyed getting to know Vespa and look forward to continuing a friendship into the future as she singlehandedly saves the Canadian turtle population from the brink of extinction! Seriously, doesn't that sound like a story that needs to be followed? I do believe she may have need of a cape...

Please forgive the formatting of the photo below, it was blogger's choice, not mine!

Two days later was a really big mail day for me and SO exciting! The first thing I got was something that made me squirm a little bit because it presented me with a bit of a moral dilemma, but I think I’ve worked out my karmic balance so I feel better now. It was my gift for the birthday swap from my original partner, Annie-bom-Bannie. For various reasons, she had been delayed in sending it, and I had a lapse of faith and that’s how I got Vespa as an angel. This will teach me not to doubt and she sent me some wonderful gifts (and spoiled Bean, too!).

For Bean, there was a fairy costume with a matching purse, a Winnie-the-Pooh watch that actually has a little projector in it that will shine a pic of Pooh on the wall, and a super-sweet crocheted rose scarf. The scarf reminds me of an afghan that my grandmother made for me when I was around six. I’ll have to pull that out and photograph it, so you guys can see the similarity.

And for me there were two different types of yarn. One is called a Wonderball and it looks like a variety of colors and textures in there. It has a pattern included, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how it knits up. I think it will look very arty! She also included a hank of blue and green wool that has a great texture to it. I forgot to jot down the brand and am feeling a bit too lazy to walk downstairs right now to check, so if you want to know what it is, send me and email or follow-up in the comments. I also got a lotus leaf scarf, which made me giggle since I had sent her the same scarf in a different yarn, some delicious chocolate biscuits, which made for yummy road trip nibbling, and a pair of really pretty silver earrings. They are faceted and add a bit of bling to any outfit, but are simple enough that you can wear them with anything. Truly my type of jewelry! I brought them with me to Stitches and wore them quite a bit. Annie is also a super nice lady and her daughter is right around Bean’s age, so they have become “internet buddies”. Keep your fingers crossed that Annie gets over her morning sickness soon and can start truly enjoying her little miracle that’s on its way!

Also in the mail that day was the latest installment from the Dragon Witch sock club. I love this yarn! The red is so vibrant and it feels so skooshy. I’m looking forward to working with it. I really like the pattern Kate created to go with it. I may alter it to include a ribbed cuff for a bit more elasticity and sag resistance, but that will be the only change.

And finally, for my big mail day was my first etsy purchase ever! I’ve deliberately avoided etsy because I can easily see myself getting a bit carried away, but I think this was an excellent purchase. It was made by Maiden Jane, whose blog I really enjoy and it is huge! You will see in the next post exactly how much yarn this gorgeous red tote can really tote! Jane is so sweet, too and included a couple of little treats for me and Bean in the package. I got a ribbon marker to keep track of my place in patterns. It’s such a simple, yet incredibly clever, design using ribbon and a strip of magnet! It’s already been put to work for my latest lace project (more on that later). And for the Bean, a really cute little kerchief. Again, simple design, but I wouldn’t have thought of it.

My final fun package that I’ve gotten in the mail this month was waiting for me when I got back from Stitches yesterday, so I don’t know exactly what day it arrived. It’s my swap package from the Favorite Things Swap on Ravelry and it’s from Alphamperry. I love everything in it! I got a really pretty pink scarf adorned with leaf patterns down the side, a baby blanket of Alice’s own design in some great nature colors (I’m not all that into traditional baby colors for this baby, so the blanket is perfect), a red paisley pashmina, two Godiva chocolate bars, a couple of little bags of Ghirardelli coffee, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac, a children’s book about a knitting mouse, and three different yarns including Dream in Color, Happy Feet and Fashion Toes. I had actually looked at the Happy Feet while I was at Stitches, but ended up not getting it because the booth only had it by the bag and I didn’t need that much, so I’m really glad to have gotten it from Alice! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her that things settle down a bit at work and she gets over a cold so she can enjoy the rest of what spring has to offer!

So, all of these items add up to me really loving my postal delivery person this month. I always love getting packages in the mail! (hint, hint)

Coming up next, STITCHES!!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Promised Photos

Beautiful azaleas!


St. Louis Cathedral and a sweet girl

Cafe du Monde - Bean took this picture herself!

Eating beignets and listening to jazz

Mommy, Bean and a cannon
Dancing with the brass band!

And the rock-a-billy group!

Mommy's haul from the Quarter Stitch

Teacup ride at the Strawberry Festival

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Local Tourism and the Kickoff of Festival Season

Have you seen the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog yet? If you haven't, please go out and rent it. We've been watching a lot of it since it came out on video recently and I think I love it every bit as much as Bean does. Cute story, great message and best of all, it's set in my beloved New Orleans! Each time we watch it, I bust with pride about being a New Orleanian. And yes, I mean bust, not burst....I'm a Southern (prounounced: suh-thuhn) girl after all.

What I found interesting, though, after watching this movie so many times, is that Bean had no idea that she lived near this amazing city. So, on Monday I decided that we would become tourists in our own home town. Now, I take her into the city quite often, either to the zoo or the aquarium and quite often I will take her for a little walk on the waterfront edge of the French Quarter, but I don't think I had really told her Where we were.

We started out the day by parking in the Uptown area, so called because it is upriver from downtown, not because it is particularly ritzy, although there are some AMAZING mansions along St. Charles Avenue. Due to the crazy nature of this city, you can have an incredibly wealthy neighborhood right next to one of the poorer ones. It just adds to the gumbo that is New Orleans. And no, it's not N'Awlins as so many would like to call it. Yes, we do slur the two words together a bit, but we definitely start the word with a New sound.

Anyhow, back to our day. We parked our car on St. Charles Avenue not far from Tulane University (my alma mater) and jumped on the streetcar headed downtown. I pointed out to Bean that we were riding on the streetcar just like Tiana (the princess) and her mommy did in the movie. This clicked with her and she really enjoyed the ride. It was a perfect day, cool with low humidity and we rode with the window up (open) for about half of the ride. I pointed out some of the houses that I had grown to love while I was in school and she pointed out others to me that she liked. So much fun!

When we got downtown, we hopped off the car and headed into the French Quarter. I walked a little ways with her on Bourbon Street (it was early in the day, so no drunks walking about) then cut over to Royal Street (where a lot of the art galleries are) and made our way to Jackson Square where the St. Louis Cathedral is. The square was so beautiful with all the azaleas in bloom and we had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo from behind the crepe myrtles!

Once it got to lunchtime, we headed to one of the restaurants on the square to get some gumbo. Bean had promised to try it, but true to her picky nature, refused once it got to the table. She ate chicken fingers instead while I enjoyed gumbo and some fried crab claws with remoulade sauce. Yummy! I swear half the reason I never left this city after I graduated is because of the food! Okay, well maybe the Hubby has more to do with it...but I really do enjoy the food, too!

After lunch, I allowed Bean a really great treat as we headed over to the World Famous Cafe du Monde for some beignets. She loved them and amazingly enough did not make a complete mess of herself with the powdered sugar they liberally dump on them! We sat next to the outside edge of the restaurant, which is fenced in by a low, wrought-iron fence. Right outside the fence was a trumpeter playing lots of local jazz and he loved it when Bean began singing "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In" with him. She can be so outgoing when she wants to be, and quite charming. I was really proud of her the whole day on Monday.

We walked around a little bit after our beignets taking in the sights and sounds of the quarter, including a brass band and another kinda folksy, blues band. Bean loves music and danced around quite a bit and got a real kick out of putting money into the bands' tip jars. We also made a quick stop by the Quarter Stitch, one of my favorite yarn shops! No matter how much yarn I seem to accumulate, I never can seem to pass that store up. They are so sweet in there and have a shop dog that is more than happy to keep my little darling busy while I browse. Somehow, six skeins of koigu and one of Jitterbug sock yarn found their way into my stroller. Not sure how that happened exactly.... ;-)

But, we had to call it a morning as the Bean was starting to get a bit tired (heck, so was I) and jumped in a cab back up to our car. It was such a fantastic day and even stepping in a little dog poop once we got back to our car didn't take me out of my fabulous mood! I enjoyed introducing my little girl to the city I love so much and can't believe how long it had been since I actually stopped long enough to enjoy it properly!


This weekend kicked off one of my favorite times of year in Louisiana - Festival Season! Not to be confused with Carnival Season (which culminates with Mardi Gras) Louisiana has some of the greatest outdoor festivals around celebrating every type of food you can imagine and lots of great music. I truly am not meaning to dog on any other part of the world, but this area of the South has such a unique personality, and this time of year it really showcases all of the things that make it special.

This weekend we started things off right by heading down to the French Quarter Festival on Saturday morning. Bean was very excited to be going back to New Orleans so soon and I think had her heart set on getting some more beignets. (Sorry, kiddo, there was no way I was waiting in the crazy line for them this time!) But we did have a great time sitting out on a big lawn next to the river, listening to a brass band and eating all kinds of yumminess. You wouldn't believe the variety that exists among the food booths at these things, everything from bbq to fried alligator on a stick. I had shrimp tacos and some of the most delicous, creamy macaroni and cheese I have ever had in my life. Then followed that up with some fresh strawberry crepes. Mmm, mmm, my belly was happy. Then we walked around, again finding ourselves near Jackson Square and then walked up Royal Street toward where we had parked. On the way, we found a wonderful little gypsy-jazz group playing on the street (it's a pedestrian mall during the day) and stopped to watch them for quite some time. Bean danced and joyfully put some money in their jar again and was so excited when we let her buy one of their cd's. She wasn't so excited about the cd itself, but got quite a kick out of giving someone money and getting something back for it. What a little grown-up, huh?

Anyhow, we headed back to our car and home so Bean and I could catch an afternoon nap. She was supposed to go over to her grandparents' house that night and Hubby and I decided to take advantage of the fact and head out for some dinner at one of our favorite little restaurants, Cafe Degas. The sole basis of the decision to go there was the fact that I was totally craving paneed veal! This kid is definitely giving me much stronger cravings that Bean did when I was pregnant with her! Dinner was amazing (escargot, veal, and frozen lemon ice box pie for dessert)! All in all, I think Saturday was a perfect day!

But the weekend continued to be so much fun! This morning we got up and once again, the weather was lovely. We headed up to the small town of Ponchatoula, which is up on the north shore of Lake Pontchatrain, for their annual Strawberry Festival. So much good food to be had, along with rides and midway games. We met up with one of my dearest friends from college and her family, which is always a treat and had a great time. For those of you who know me, you know my world tends to rotate around food and today certainly did not dissapoint: a rib-eye sandwich (so Tender), a seafood baked potato (which was basically a potato slathered with a creamy cheese sauce and topped with shrimp and crawfish), gumbo, strawberry shortcake, and a (non-alcoholic) strawberry daquiri! I was so fat and happy when we headed out of that festival! Bean and Hubby had a great time, too. They spent a lot of time on the rides (which I can't go on right now) and it was wonderful bonding time for the two of them.

Sometimes Hubby has to spend a little too much time at work and when he does, he definitely needs a little time to reconnect with her. She adores him, though, and it was wonderful watching them play and chase each other around at the festivals this weekend. Made me fall even more madly in love with them both!

Okay, I know this post is woefully lacking in pictures, but I'm feeling a bit lazy tonight and I don't feel like going out to my car to get the camera out. So check back tomorrow and I will have a post with just pictures and captions in it to share with you how much fun we had.

I hope all of you had great weekends, too. Hugs from the Deep South!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

We've had a beautiful Easter here! It started early, with me heading outside around 6:30 to "hide" eggs around Bean's playhouse. I don't really try too hard to hide them, I don't want to frustrate the poor kid. Next year I think I will make it a bit more challenging for her. When she and Daddy woke up, we chilled out and watched a couple of cartoons and then I decided to make some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Unfortunately, I left them in for just a minute or so too long. Enough to burn the sugar just enough to where we wouldn't really enjoy them. So, bagels it was!

After breakfast, Bean was very eager to find out what the Bunny had left for her. She already had some candy that was left outside her door, but she likes finding eggs! I had hidden two dozen of them for her along with a couple of little toys and they made her very happy. In fact, we had to hide them another four or five times in the house so she could keep hunting! For lunch, we headed over to the in-laws' house for a late lunch. It was delicious, but Bean was getting pretty cranky so we didn't stay over there very long.

Currently the Bean is taking a nap, and I just finished up weaving in the ends of my latest finished object! They are Wicked by Glenna C. and were a lot of fun! I started them back on February 24, but put them down for a long time while I worked on Iron Knitter socks. After making so many pairs of socks for other people, I'm really happy to have a pair for myself. I'm still working on one other project, but I'm at the finishing stages of that one, too, so I fully expect to have some pictures for you in the next day or so.

So, here are my Wicked Socks! Have a great Easter!