Thursday, December 20, 2007

USPS is the Best!

I swear I have the best USPS letter carrier. He really does go above and beyond the call of duty. Look at all the boxes of boxes he carried up to my front porch. That same night he called me at home to update me on the status of a shipment trace I put on a package sent to a customer. I didn't realize they did the trace inquires too. This is why all my shipments go USPS Priority Mail. So I have a Starbucks $20.00 gift card for him tomorrow.

Grinchy Goodness ~

Grinchy Shawl. Oh how happy I am with this!
It really is so quick and simple (once you get the hang of knitting with really loopy yarn).
Started with 7 stitches. 3 border stitches and a center stitch. Then garter stitch (like you'd see any pattern with this yarn) and on every other row did a yarn over after border, either side of the center stitch and a final one before the last 3 border stitches. That's it! For the edge I knew I wanted something kinda frilly and freeform-ish so I did a modified frilled bind off.
Standard Frilled Bind Off - k1, * m1, bind off, k1 bind off * (repeat from * to*).
My modification: I repeated the m1, bind off 1 - 3 times randomly to get an exaggerated frillyness.

Here it is before it's bath and blocking.

Here's it's closeup.

Grinchy Grouchy Sock - 1 down and turning the heel on the second one tonight.
Here it is reclining on the Grinchy Shawl.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hey... Look over there =>

Yeah... look at the new shiny things on the right under 'Knit Happens'. I've added some new javascript objects from Ravelry to show my current projects progress. Still some tweaking to do to make it look better and easier to read. It will help once I include pictures for all of these in progress projects.

I'm also ignoring the fact that I'm lying on Ravelry and really have more projects started than what I've listed there and showing here but I'll deal with that later. I'm also changing my blog template and need to find a nice picture to put up here on the title bar.

As you can see over in the new fancy dancy project status bar area the Hemlock Ring Blanket is DONE! Casting off that one was something else, but I am so pleased with the way it turned out after blocking. Pictures in the next day or two. Also you'll notice another project 100% complete. Well this is true in the sense that I'm done knitting it but I won't mark it as 'Finished' until I've washed, blocked and done a photo shoot... so be looking for that one too.

Tomorrow starts my holiday break and I really need to create some lists to keep me on track so I'm ready for Christmas Eve.
  • Presents left to be purchased
  • Food to be bought at the grocery store and Costco
  • Target list... yes, this get's it's own special list
  • Oh, and yes a list to keep track of the lists.

It's my turn to have the family over for Christmas Eve and there will be about 20 of us. A couple of us are silly and like to have 'theme' Christmas eves. Mostly these involve the food and traditions from different countries. We've done Italian, Danish, Mexican, Irish and we even did a Christmas/Hanuka combo when they fell on the same day.

While these are fun and a great way of learning new holiday traditions and possibly adding them to our own I thought it would be fun to do something totally different. I started planning on keeping with the country type theme by doing a Greek inspired Christmas. Then everything changed when I started working on my Grinchy socks and remembered how this is my favorite Christmas movie and thought how fun it would be to bring a little of the elements of the story into our Christmas Eve. The original movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, came out in 1966 when I was 5 years old and is such a major part of my childhood memories of Christmas.

  • Prime Rib 'Roast Beast'
  • Yorkshire Pudding 'Who Pudding'
  • Twice Baked Potatoes (ok I'm cheating here and bought them at Costco)
  • Sauteed Fresh Green Beans. These just look so much like grinchy fingers.
  • Cherry Jello Salad in the shape of a large heart. 'grew 3 times ...'
  • Fresh Green Salad
  • Homemade biscuits, because we won't let Brenda come without them ;-)
  • and various assortment of deserts

We'll have a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and possibly showing one or both versions of the movie. Want to know more about The Grinch? wikipedia article

And now for a little musical interlude ... the song You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Ok, now maybe I'll have to make this my new 'tradition' when I have Christmas eve to base the theme on my favorite Christmas stories/movies. Hmmm, maybe it'll be the Nutcracker next time. What's your favorite Christmas story/movie from your childhood?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Busy, busy, busy ....

I really do hate going so long without posting but there just never seems to be enough time in the day for everything I'd love to do. If there were more hours in a day or if I could get by with just say, 2 hours of sleep I'd be fine ;-) Ok so what have I been doing with the measly 24 hours we get in a day? (besides sleeping and other mundane daily tasks.


My current projects are coming along nicely.

  • Hemlock Ring Blanket - should be casting off tomorrow night and ready to wash and block on Saturday.
  • Grinchy Grouchy Socks - well not so nicely now that I think about it. I cast on the recommended number of stitches on a US 0 (a size smaller than in the pattern). Knit the cuff and then a full repeat when it became very obvious that these were way too big. I'm going to frog (rip it out for you knitting muggles out there) and start over with 1 less pattern repeat or 1 less stitch in each repeat... haven't decided yet. Once it gets rolling I'll post some pictures.
  • Hypotenuse - Done, washed and blocked .... however I'm not happy with the blocking so will take a do over. I don't currently have blocking which will prevent the scalloping you get with just pins. (more on blocking wires below)

  • Grinchy inspired shawl. I had an idea to make a shawl to go with my Grinchy Grouchy socks for Christmas. I first did a moebius scarf using the Claudia Hand Painted Boucle but wasn't happy with it (way to long and too narrow). So I started a very simple triangular shawl in garter stitch. this is your basic neck down pattern starting with 5 stitches and increasing every other row 2 stitches in from each border edge and on either side of the center stitch. I am very pleased with this one and know it will be a keeper. the simple patter suits the boucle nicely and shows the gradual shifts in color well. I'll keep knitting until I get close to the size I want and cast off. Gratuitous yarn picture ... Claudia Hand Painted Boucle (small loop) in Woodland Moss.

Other knitting related stuff...

On Saturday I met with 4 knitters in the Monterey Ravelry group at the Ol' Factory.
It was great meeting fellow knitters and we plan on making this a monthly event. I brought my Grinchy inspired (need a name for this) with me since it was a mindless knitting project perfect for chatting and knitting.

Shop Stuff

I've been really busy with new things for The Knitting Hutch.

Eureka!!! For the past 3-4 moths I've been searching for the perfect set of blocking wires to carry in the shop as well as a user and admin friendly shopping cart.

Blocking wires - I've found them!
Take it Personally has a wonderful blocking kit that I've placed an initial order for and I can't wait to give them a try on the Hypotenuse. They should arrive in a day or two and will retail for $24.00. The kit includes: 12 large (32 1/2" long) straight wires, 2 flexible wires, 20 nickel-plated T-pins and yard stick.

Shopping Cart software located!!! Boy this was harder than it should have been. There are literally hundreds of Paypal enabled shopping carts out there but who has the time to effectively evaluate all of them. Well, I've found one - ZenCart. This was one of the first carts I looked at but I was so hung up on wanting something that I could populate directly from Quickbooks POS without having to enter in each product one by one. After looking at many carts it was apparent that this wasn't possible and if it was you would still have to go back and add in pictures and other attributes one by one so I gave up on that requirement. I went back and looked at ZenCart with a new perspective and knew it was the one. It utilized a mySql database on my hosted site and php scripts. Hey I know this stuff... how perfect. I downloaded, installed, picked a template and now at the tedious point of fine tuning the configuration settings and entering all the products. I'm targeting a 1/1/08 roll-out. I'll be busy, busy, busy over the holiday break... oh yeah, I'm doing this for my dad's fly fishing online store as well.
So here's some initial screen shots of the shop. I'll give more details of the features and goodies as this progresses.

What do you like/dislike in an online knitting shop?