Rachael in GSO

Just a blog about my life, my knitting, my dogs, and my general state of confusion.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Beer Dinner

Well, we finally found something fun & slightly elitist to do here in Greensboro - a beer tasting dinner! At M'Coul's, a local pub that has delicious food.

So you buy tickets for $30/person and get samples of six beers (4-6oz) and a mini entree that goes with each one. The food has been amazing, so I'm happy to go. The beer - well - I know it's good beer, and DH loves it, so I'm happy to just sip mine and hand it over to him if he wants it (he's gone to enough wine tastings with me to make up for a few beer dinners!). It's fun - we both enjoy the food and he enjoys the beer, and they seat everybody around the bar (and the bar is non-smoking!) so it puts you in sort of a forced camaraderie, which is pretty fun. They are supposed to be having another one in December sometime, and we will definitely be there.

Here's the menu from last night:

SP Challenge #2

I just checked the new secret pal challenge, and it's to knit a washcloth by November 22nd. The prize is tempting - a box of good yarn, but the timing is really bad.

I'm not really a washcloth person - and folks, right now - less than two months 'til Christmas, is NOT a normal 'pick up and knit whatever I feel like' kind of time. Every knitter I know (including me) is frantically working on Christmas presents, and most of us will be until the bitter end. Okay the joyful end...

So I will sit this one out, not b/c I don't want to participate in all the fun secret pal stuff, but because I don't have time to knit a washcloth right now!!! So somebody else will get all that cool yarn. :-(

Sunday, October 29, 2006


this has been a good weekend. two in a row? I don't even know what to do with myself...

my mom came down to visit and brought cold, rainy weather with her - so we went shopping friday in 45 degree, rainy weather. yuck.

it was fun though - I started working on christmas shopping and found a lovely black wool coat at the gap that fit me perfectly, I can even move my arms - totally bonus! So I had to buy it - I have issues with that, so if I can move my arms - to drive & do other helpful things, I have learned to just go for it. I got some bday presents for DH, but b/c he reads the blog - I can't say what - but it was a really good find!

I found a lovely knitting bag at TJ Maxx - is this the perfect bag? It's getting closer... and scored some lotion for $5 a bottle this is normally $20 per. very nice. I just love a good deal! And it meets with Duke's approval - a very important step in the process.

Saturday we planted 150 tulips in our front beds, it actually didn't take very long at all, and played around with knitting things. My mother loves to see all the projects I'm working on and I love to show them off. She even talked me into casting on for yet another project - the pi shawl in socks that rock - here's the progression so far. PRETTY!

We went to a japanese steak house saturday night, very fun, but I ate WAY too much. ugh.

My mother is taking home a lovely afghan that I started work on about 5 years ago, at this point I'm too much into the other fun stuff to care about it. And the room that it matched is about 3 moves in the past. So yay mom for taking that guilt off my hands - I hope you finish it & love it! she's going to be really unhappy that I put this picture of her in here, but I think it's a good pic. :-)

Poor DH has spent more long hours out blowing leaves off the yard - and all the leaves haven't even changed yet. That's what we get for buying a house in a tree friendly development. We love it - but sheesh! This time of year it's a bad, bad thing.

Today (Sunday) we set the clocks back when we got up - an extra hour for the last day of the visit. We planted more bulbs, daffodils around some trees & the mailbox and irises in the foundation beds. I even get to take about $50 worth of bulbs back that we didn't need. It will be GORGEOUS in the spring.

For dinner tonight DH is making meatballs - YUM - and I will make homemade pasta sauce for some good comfort food. Add a little garlic bread and I'm in heaven.

Oh - & my first package to my secret pal was misaddressed - a combination of problems - so it came back to me, I'm relieved that I got it back, so I now I have to mail it again on monday!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

North Carolina - where men wear overalls.

We all know I live in rural north carolina - so I sometimes run into things that seem a bit odd to me. A gentleman came in to my place of work yesterday wearing full-blown hee-haw overalls.

oh yes, you read that right - bright blue, over the potbelly, hooking at the shoulders - overalls. He might as well have had a piece of hay hanging out of his mouth...

I grew up in a place where it wasn't that unusual to see men in overalls, I suppose, but my recollection is that they were work clothes, to be worn outside and for specific, rugged activities. Overalls were not 'dress up & go into town' clothes.

So it's odd to me, a good 20-25 years later, to see a grown man out doing whatever business he may have to do, in solid dark blue with yellow stitching overalls.

But then again it's odd to me to see people with 80's hair-dos and 'high fastening pants' everywhere too...

Lindsay: I mean, it's always been "Michael's got the brains, Gob's got the charm, Buster's got the .."

George Sr.: High-fastening pants.


There are things I like about north carolina - but there are also things that make me think twice - or maybe even three times.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

a 'normal' weekend

For the first time in what seems like forever, we had a nice, normal, calm weekend. It was so very very nice.

Things I managed to accomplish:
Cleaning (some of it anyway)
Ironing and mending that had been piling up for months (woohoo!)
Making cookies
Sewed needle case
Progression on mitten

In addition DH spent 4 hours saturday leaf blowing the back yard (great job!), this is the before shot.

Sunday morning I was surfing looking for a needle storage case for my dpns & small circulars - it was an immediate need b/c I had just gotten really annoyed with the artbins zippered case I was using, everything fell out - how is this a good case if they fall out? I have an issue with alot of the cases out there b/c I don't use straight needles and all the cases have oodles of room for straight needles. I found a pattern for a fabric case so I downloaded it & got right to work. I altered it so it only holds dpns & small circulars (my denise case takes care of the rest) - and voila! My very own needle case for under $5 - and I never would have found such fun colors if I were buying one...

and then there's the glorious mitten. DH has named it the 'Dr. Suess mitten'. So the mitt part is done, now I have to do the decorative cuff - and then of course there's the mate. I am displeased with parts of it, I think the second one will turn out better - live & learn - but I don't think any of the issues are visible to anybody but me.

and now there's chili on the stove and there will soon be cornbread in the oven and we will settle down to watch some episodes from season 2 of Lost. Holy crap that show just gets weirder and weirder!
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Friday, October 20, 2006

Namaste Knitting Bag

so nice...

I don't need a Namaste knitting bag. I don't. I really don't need one. In red, I really, really don't need a red one.

I swear there is absolutely no reason for me to get this bag. But holy cow that doesn't stop me from wanting it even a little bit!

The search for the perfect knitting bag is kind of like the search for the perfect pair of jeans. I buy one, I use it for a month or so, and soon the little flaws start to show through that make it not-quite-perfect. The handle that falls of my shoulder, the lack of pockets for accessories, no place to put the pattern or a book, if I am traveling - the mixing of my 'purse' items & my knitting stuff drives me bonkers...

Is this the perfect knitting bag? some say so...others say the perfect bag is just a myth, a rumor, an old wives tale taunting us into a lifelong search for perfection...but hey - at least we keep the economy going!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

check it out!

okay, so I started the mittens, the beginning is a figure 8 cast on - sheesh that's hard to do in two colors...I had to redo it 3 times, but I got it finally. this is the pattern I'm doing, though I"m not going to do the contrasting color in the cuffs, I'm sticking with the kureyon & black. I'm hoping the color progression of the kureyon will be oh-so-pretty as it goes down the mitten with the black pattern on top. woohoo! I'm thrilled so far - hopefully it keeps going this smoothly. The two circulars is working really well - I did have to start it on dpns, but I switched it over once the pattern was established. Posted by Picasa

good mail!

Ooh I just love it when the mail is all about knitting!!! The new vogue, some malabrigo (oh so soft!) to make mittens, and some noro kureyon and black lamb's pride to make mittens. What can I say? it occured to me that if I could make socks, then that mitten book (Magnificent Mittens) might not be so over my head anymore and it's getting cold, though the 75 outside kind of confuses that a bit, but it is October, and mittens will be necessary sooner or later - and what's one or two more projects on the needles, really?

I don't think there's anyway I can stop myself from casting on tonight. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 16, 2006

Planning for spring

This is what $170 worth of bulbs looks like now - unfortunately it'll be a while before you get the after picture...probably sometime in March or April. My mother is coming to visit next weekend (YAY!) and she has offered to help me plant them. BONUS! So I will be using her designing/planning expertise as well as her well practiced & perfected bulb planting skills!

As long as the squirrels don't eat them all it'll be gorgeous!! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 15, 2006

koolaid dyeing

so I decided to try some more koolaid dyeing today...I am 'redhanded' as I type. I should wear gloves, but I just don't. it comes off eventually.

the first one I was trying to do different shades of red - one shade ended up an icky orange - so I overdyed the whole thing and used the microwave instead of steaming it on the stovetop like usual - and I felted it just a little bit...v bad.

the second one is MUCH better. 2 shades of red & a purple. I really need to 'graduate' to real dyes if I want to really get into this. they are drying on the porch at the moment.

alright - they are inside and here they are - the purple, red & pink one - which is NOT for a red hat club - can't anybody just like those colors anymore?

and the other one that was supposed to be three shades of red & now is just pretty much solid red. wellllll - maybe I can do some fair aisle with a lovely charcoal grey - that would be nice - but probably my first fair isle shouldn't be a sock - it just seems like a bad idea...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Socks that Rock

I finally ordered some Socks that Rock - OMG it's SO freaking gorgeous.

I got Ruby Slippers, Scottish Highlands, and Azure Malachite. One for me, one for my SP spoilee...and one for me...hey I was already paying for the shipping - why not!?!

SOOOOO pretty. So very pretty. drool.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

SP Contest #1

Hmmmmm…lots of good questions!

My favorite…
Actor: Kevin Spacey or Ed Norton or Allan Rickman
Actress: Dame Judi Dench - hmf no other women I can think of.
Animal: Outside of my adorable dogs? The Tiger – graceful, fierce and so beautiful.
Band: My favorite kind of music is Jazz Standards – so there's really no band associated with it. I do like Good Charlotte – but I haven't heard any of their recent stuff.
Beverage: Chocolate Martini!! If we're going non-alcoholic – coke.
Book: I love books of all kind – my favorite ever? That goes back to my teenage years – The Three Musketeers or The Scarlet Pimpernel - what's better than a swashbuckling hero?
Bubblebath: ? personally – I don't really like baths – they are too hot and make me feel like I am both suffocating and wasting time at the same time. BUT http://www.lush.come/ has some lovely bath bombs.
Candy: Kitkat
Color: bright red, brick red, cranberry red, and maybe that hot pinkish-red.
Flower: Blue hydrangeas – but in the spring nothing says 'happy' like tulips.
Food: I have to pick ONE? That's hard. I love all sorts of food, I love to cook – I tend to lean towards Italian food. And seriously there's not much better than homemade bolognese sauce with a loaf of fresh italion boule to go with it...
Lipbalm: Burt's Bees! (by default, I'm allergic to everything else - but it's still the best)
Lotion: the Bigelow line at Bath & Body works is pretty good, but if I had all the money in the world - Lemon Sugar body lotion by Fresh.
Movie: seriously – it's so hard to pick just one. The Princess Bride, The Usual Suspects, Gladiator, Snatch, Fight Club and in general good and not-so-good sci-fi adventure flicks.
Song: I hope you dance - b/c that song helped me make a decision to move to a strange city when I was wavering b/c of the line 'I hope you never take the path of least resistance' - and then later my DH proposed to me to that song by asking "Will you dance with me?" OH IT WAS JUST TOO SWEET. When I'm having a hard time with a decision or b/c of stress or just need to remember something about who I am I listen to that song.
TV Show: Right now – Lost (but I'm netflixing the second season – so no spoilers!), Dancing with the Stars, Deadwood, Carnivale, Entourage and Project Runway. OH! don't forget Extras.
Vacation spot: PARIS. (it wasn't hard to pick just one for this)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stupider and stupider - a random rant

so - is it just me or does the american public seem to lean ever closer to idiocy? on my way to the grocery store after work I drove by a billboard for a local toyota dealer - it says

toyota's are cheaper at x-dealership

now SOMEBODY PLEASE tell me what EXACTLY the toyota is possessing...the cheaper price possibly?

combine that with a deli counter girl - who, nice as she was, left in the middle of my order to help the manager with something - not her fault - but seriously? what manager pulls a clerk in the middle of a customer order to do something for TEN MINUTES? and the checkout clerk who never even made an attempt to pretend to help me bag the groceries...

I know I am not the only person to feel this way, but whatever happened to customer service? and grammar. whatever happened to customer service with good grammar?? lol

done ranting.

On the bright side - I got some lovely mums for our porch and I heard from my secret pal today. Hello secret pal!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Something Red

okay - here it is - Something Red - which is actually a barn red - though I think it looks like a rather garish pink in the pic. I finished the sleeves today - I did the one on the right first - as per the directions - and wasn't really happy with it - so I did the one on the left and I am much happier with that - so now to take out the one on the right and re-do it. sigh. I swear I'm not a perfectionist - but if I'm not - then why do redo I things numerous times??? well - the reality is - if I'm going to spend 30-60 hours or even hundreds - I have no idea how long it takes to actually knit something - to make a sweater - I'd rather spend another two and get it just exactly the way I want it then finish it and be eternally saying - I really think it would have been better if the ribbing started a little higher on the sleeves...

now I promised DH I would go back to his sweater once I finished the sleeves on this one - so the collar and button band is going to have to wait a bit. I wanted to finish both of them by the end of October - I may have to extend that deadline a few weeks. Posted by Picasa

TKGA & some assorted thoughts

okay folks, I've done it. I signed up for the Master Knitter Program. I'm not sure why - I do want to improve my knitting - and since I'm going to teach a class in the spring semester at a local CC - I do want to make sure I'm doing things right, but it really makes me wonder why I need somebody else to tell me if what I"m doing is right.

I finished my master's in educational admin two years ago - am I really hankering that much to be back in school that I'm fulfilling that with a course in knitting? I really detest being in school - all the time, all the papers, all the WORK. All the lack of fun, the deadlines, the taking over of your personal life - I hate it.

Maybe I've just never studied the right thing...so knitting it is.

And random - does anybody get Vogue Knitting? Why did I see the holiday edition in Borders yesterday but haven't gotten mine in the mail yet? Totally unfair.

I just spent an hour attacking the morning glory vine that tried to eat our house via the front porch stairs. It's my fault - I put it there - but who knew that in NC that was a VERY BAD IDEA? probably a lot of people - but not me! So it spent the summer slowly creeping up the railing and I thought it was sweet and innocent for a while, and by the time I realized that it was obviously saying 'FEED ME SEYMOUR' - it was too far along to easily dissuade it.

So a lovely October day in the mid-70's (I'm still not used to the weather here) and a half day off from work b/c of a conference - and I did it! I have conquered it! At least temporarily - now I just have to watch for babies & nip 'em before they can repeat the performance.

Monday, October 09, 2006


okay - in order - the purple sweater (my first sweater ever) that I started in february in hopes of taking it on our honeymoon in may for the fickle french weather - that didn't pan out - so instead I redid the collar 5 times and used about 5 yards of the extra skein I had to pay $10 shipping for just to finish it...but it's done, cute, and seriously warm. and the shawl - in Schaeffer Elaine - I kept the yarn for 3 years trying to figure out what to make out of it and here it is. I think I'd be happy if the neck went a little higher - but I ran out of yarn...so unless I want to redo the whole thing and decrease faster to make that happen - it is what it is. I debuted it this evening and I think it worked pretty well.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pretty things

Why oh why does Wendy Bernard make such pretty things! I haven't finished Something Red yet!! I'm getting there though. I'm almost done with the second sleeve and then all that will be left is the collar. I keep meaning to get DH to take a pic of me in it to post, but forgetting 'til I"m in my jammies. ;-)

Anyway - I want the new pattern. Even with the knowledge that wool, even merino, against my skin like that would make me itch like crazy all day - I still want it. It's SO PRETTY.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

a sock & a dog

So here's my first sock! YAY! though the uselessness of only one sock is killing me. I used Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch to figure out the two circulars thing. I really like this book. The chapters are separated by number of stitches in the repetition and I found this exceedingly helpful. It even has a baby sock so you can learn all the techniques, something I find to be a wonderful tool, even if I never do it.

Anyway, this book has stitch directions for 4 dpns, 5 dpns, AND two circulars - and length and width measurements for women, children, and men's sizes including narrow, medium, and wide. It also tells you how to adjust if you just have a narrow heel, or long toes, or whatever...I tend to lean more towards the 'here's a guideline - now go make your own pattern' kind of books anyway. And this one really explained the different parts of the sock & how it was constructed MUCH better than others I had read - AND it even helped me understand kitchener stitch for the first time, after multiple tries in the past.
And of course here's Pixie, my cute little fuzzy dog who is so interested in the sock that I think it really must still smell a little bit like sheep.

YAY sock - now I just need to get the other one done so I'm not so much like that kid in the nursery rhyme with one sock off and one sock on. (diddle, diddle dumplin', my son john) Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 02, 2006

Secret Pal 9 Q's

I am doing Secret Pal 9 - YAY! I'm so excited that I answered all my questions already - so here they are:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I like anything merino or alpaca. I use regular wool to knit for other people, but I find it itchy. I absolutely HATE acrylic anything and novelty yarns, and I'm not a huge fan of cotton - it hurts my hands.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I don't have a good system for needle storage, I use denise circulars, so they sort of store themselves, but there are all sorts of other odds & ends that need keeping somewhere too.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I have been knitting about 4-5 years. I inherited my great-grandmother's knitting needles & decided I should pick up a book and give it a try. Everybody says I knit 'funny' - I hold my hands oddly, a cross of english and continental - I assume that's a result of learning from a book instead of a person, but it works for me! I think I'm intermediate - I gave up scarves a while ago unless somebody needs one, I have done a textured solid sweater and am working on a cardigan and a sweater for DH. 4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have an amazon wishlist.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)

I have pretty severe allergies, so nothing really strong is good for me. But I like vanilla, cinnamon, citrus, cookie scents, that sort of thing - natural stuff.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?


7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I crochet, but only blankets and not frequently. I love to cook. I also quilt and bead - though I've sort of given up on the beading at this point.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I love jazz standards and anything eclectic enough to be interesting. Yes, I can play MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

I love anything in the pink/red color family and almost anything vibrant - other than lime green, yellows, and oranges.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married (May 28, 2006) and we have two cute, fuzzy little dogs.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I live in NC, so the need for winter accessories is arguable, but that doesn't stop me from knitting them... I wear scarves, hats & mittens. I'm not a poncho fan.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

So far I'm loving sweaters that I have designed myself. I like socks, though I've only finished one, and I like making bags too.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A sock (second to the above mentioned), two sweaters, a bag, and a vest.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I prefer circular needles. I like bamboo...the knitpicks metal needles are pretty good & the Denise circulars are the 'good' kind of plastic. Mostly I'm happy with just my Denise.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

No - I've been considering putting one or the other on my wish list for Christmas.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

A crocheted blanket I started 7 or 8 years ago.

18. What is your favorite holiday?


19. Is there anything that you collect?

Not really.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I've been thinking about buying Barbara Walker's book - Knitting from the Top, or one of her pattern books. And I would love to get my hands on one of the out of print Alice Starmore fair isle books. I am also experimenting with dyeing, but haven't moved past koolaid yet, I've been considering buying some 'real' dyes, but don't know where to start. I subscribe to Vogue & Interweave.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

see #20 - Fair Isle & dyeing.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I guess so - I am 'stashing' sock yarn & I have finished one whole sock. I think I'll stick with it. I wear a size 7 medium.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)


Sunday, October 01, 2006


Knitting made NPR's morning show on Friday. And who says knitting is in decline?? somebody needs to tell all the knitters - or just plain shut up about it.

Personally, I'm not that excited about the book - but I'm glad it's getting knitting a bit more publicity in general. I'm not a really big fan of pattern books - I like to look at the pictures, but only to get ideas, I'm REALLY not good at following patterns to the letter.

My mother says I've always been that way. I couldn't ever just follow the directions and do it the way they said - I had to tweak this and move that and change the color here and so on. And for most of my life I had about a 50/50 shot of finishing whatever project it might have been and loving it or hating it. I think at this point I'm working on about 75/25 ratio - and I"m happy with that. I'd rather love 75% of the things I make and hate the rest then just simply be 'satisfied' with all of them...

The new Magknits is up. And I think this sweater vest is just too cute, and the designer has some really cute patterns on her website. I think I wouldn't make it this long though - I'm okay with things being longer - but I'm not okay with the tunic style - my legs are short enough as it is, if my shirts are that long people will think I'm trying to wear a strange dress.

YAY - sunday morning with coffee and new knitting patterns - the world is full of possibilities - I'm off to knitpicks to look at yarn for the vest. I'm thinking maybe the dk weight merino in a vibrant color.

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