Saturday, October 27, 2007

Big 'D', little 'a', double 'L', 'A', 'SSSS'!

Here are pics from the trip JF and I took to Texas in early October. We stayed with his sister and her family for a few days in Plano (a suburb outside of Dallas).

We went to the State Fair of Texas. It's one of the largest state fairs in the country!

Just as we were having unseasonably warm weather here in New York it was also summer weather in Texas. It felt like 95 degrees in the shade!

Here's a shot of 'Big Tex." All the kids seemed to like him but I found him a bit creepy especially when he starts waving his hand!

They had an petting zoo with many exotic animals. For a couple bucks you could buy some grain and seeds to feed the animals. In addition to the usual sheep and goats they had ostriches, kangaroos, large tortoises, a mama pig with her piglets and this giraffe. It seemed a bit cruel to have the animals in relatively small pens in a hot room but it was interesting all the same.

After the weekend JF and I hit the road and drove the 5 hours to San Antonio. Here's the famous Riverwalk. We ate at that restaurant on the left 'The Republic of Texas.' The waiter was really nice and gave us tips on what to do while we filled him in on what's it like to live in New York City.

Here's a daytime view of a bridge passing over the Riverwalk.

These Mexican tiles were everywhere in San Antonio. I loved the bright colors and interesting shapes.

We stopped at the Goodwill in San Antonio to get out of the sun for a minute. I found a bunch of acrylic yarn that looks like it's from the 80's.

Our hotel was right across the street from Texas's most famous landmark-The Alamo. I became an Alamo expert during the course of this trip after watching an IMAX movie then taking the tour of the actual site. After learning more about the history of Texas I understand why Texans are so proud of their state although I still find it obnoxious at times!

We went to the top of the Tower of Americas. It's kind of like the space needle in Seattle. We saw a "4-D" movie inside that was really cool. During a part where you were supposed to be in a helicopter your chair vibrated and the room got real windy. Then during a scene at the rodeo you felt a bull 'horn' jab you in the back and bull 'snot' was sprayed on your face. Gross but definately felt like you were in the moment!

The entrance to Hemisfair Park where the World Fair was held in 1968.

We visited an artist's village aptly named "La Villeta" Most of the stuff was more 'art' than 'craft' so a bit out of our price range. I was shocked to see these handknit scarves made from Lion Brand novelty yarns selling for $50 and $60! Yes, that red scarf IS made out of Fun Fur. Maybe I've been missing out on a big money-making opportunity. More likely it's too hot for Texans to ever wear scarves so they have no idea how much one would actually cost!

From San Antonio we drove another 2 hours to Austin, the capital of Texas. We were so tired from walking around in the sun our first stop was to pick up a swimsuit for JF so we could relax in the hotel pool and spa. Next door to the sporting goods store REI was one of my favorite browsing stores, Anthropologie, where they were selling these knitted bears.

Many of the Mexican shops featured knitted and crocheted finger puppets. Here are a few sheep I though were cute and well designed.

Speaking of sheep here's our mascot, Woolly, who likes to come along on our travels. We took Wendy's advice and dined on authentic Texas BBQ at Stubb's our first (and only) night in Austin. It lived up to its reputation. The next week after we had returned home and were food shopping we found Stubb's BBQ sauce being sold at a grocery store on Long Island! It was a bit surreal. While in Austin we heard some live music on the famous 6th St and played a form of bar shuffleboard that was really fun.

This is a hat I cast on at the start of the trip. The yarn is a silk bamboo variegated blend I bought at the Garden State Sheep and Wool Festival. For some strange reason when I knit it up as a hat it formed this moon pattern.

Look, the back is just all brown except for the brim. Weird!

As you can see the Texas trip was a lot of fun. Glad I could share the highlights with my faithful blog readers :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Guilt-Free Blogging

A big pet peeve of mine is bloggers who start off their entries apologizing for how long it's been since they last posted. This bugs me for two reasons. The first is that it may be a new blog I'm checking out and if I've never read it before I really don't care that it's been 2 weeks since the last post. I probably have months if not years worth of entries to catch up on.

The second reason is that being a sensitive kind of person I feel as though I'm shouldering some of their guilt for infrequent blog publishing. When I go to read someone's blog I view it as a leisurely escape from other things in my life such as working, cleaning, and paying bills. I have enough guilt for not spending enough time on the things I'm supposed to be doing that I really don't need to feel anyone else's guilt.

It's especially bad on podcasts where they really belabor the point. I've heard podcasters go on for 5 minutes on the air about how busy they've been with school and work and kids and blah, blah, blah. Here's news for all you bloggers and podcasters out there. Unless you're a friend of mine I really don't care about what's going on in your personal life that's preventing you from posting frequently. I just want to know about your knitting life. If you want to throw in something interesting or life-changing such as pics from a trip you've taken or you just had a baby or got married or started a new job that's cool but don't apologize endlessly for it.

Think about when you watch a television series. Often a weekly drama series won't air for two weeks or more because of a sporting event or awards show. When the show comes back on the air does a big disclaimer flash across the screen at the start of prime time apologizing for making you wait? No, of course not. They just get right into the action. There's only so much time and what we really want to know is whether George is going to leave his wife or stare at Izzie all season with those puppy dog eyes of his.

I've often been tempted to fall into the same trap with my posts. Instead I remind myself that no one wants to hear it and just start in with the good stuff. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rhinebeck Recap

So I went to Rhinebeck today and it was awesome as was to be expected. JF and I got off the day to a bad start with horrendous traffic (& sleeping in didn't help.) We ended up splitting up for most of the time with JF going off with his parents (a whole knitting family, isn't that cute?) and I went yarn shopping with Monica. We had fun checking out all the vendors.

When it was time for her to go home with her ride I ended up running into Melody who had just arrived. It was yarn kismet! So we walked around together for awhile. She was a sheep and wool festival virgin so it was fun "showing her the ropes." It didn't take much convincing for me to get her to pose for a pic:

Afterwards JF and I grabbed some dinner with his parents at The Daily Planet diner in Poughkeepsie then hit up Grandma's Pies in Yorktown for dessert (The peach pie is highly recommended).

Here's my makeshift Rhinebeck Blogger Bingo bag:

I barely got in on the game as I emailed to be a square a few days after the deadline. Fortunately someone else had dropped out so I got to take their slot. Since I didn't have time to order any of the Cafe Press merchandise I printed out the logo, enlargened it on a copier (is that the right word?), colored it in with colored pencils, and pinned it to my tote bag. It got the job done though. Six or so people came up to me but unfortunately I didn't seem to be on anyone's cards. Oh well, it was fun all the same.

Now on to the loot:

Despite my best intentions to make only non-yarn related purchases I bought this Silk Seductions Yarn at the Seaport Yarns booth. I had actually seen it in their store last week but it seemed more enticing at the festival as they had many skeins of it (there was only one in the store as they had the rest on hold for the festival) and it was discounted. Yarn enabler Melody put me over the edge but at least she bought some in white so I was not alone! I'm going to use it to make silk flowers-can't wait to see how they come out!

This is some handpainted alpaca that was a Show Special. I can't remember the name of the booth. It doesn't look all that great in this pic but the violet handpainted color looks really beautiful in the sunlight. Not sure exactly what I'm gonna make with it but probably something along the line of hat/scarf/mitts.

My official 2007 New Sheep and Wool Festival Sweatshirt. For the second year in a row they were out of t-shirts by the time I got to the souvenirs booth. Last year rather than settle for a sweatshirt I filled out a mail order form to have one delivered to my house. After three months and no t-shirt I received a check in the mail for the $$ I had paid. Guess they realized they had no more in stock and figured they would refund the money which was cool but alas no shirt. Anyway, I learned my lesson this time!

I found this adorable stuffed lamb simply irresistible. "Dutchess County Fairgrounds" is embroidered on her tummy and she has an ear tag that says Dutchess County Fair. I suppose it's the generic toy they sell at other events but I thought it seemed fitting not to mention that she could join my stuffed animal sheep collection (wow can't believe I just admitted that on the air!)

This is a really pretty sterling silver charm bracelet I purchased from one of the jewelry vendors called Millpoint Emporium. I was wearing a green sweater and the bracelet matched so perfectly I couldn't resist. While the lambs with bells on are super cute the kicker for me was the sexy little shepherdess in the middle.

Finally I picked up some handmade saps from Barrytown Soap Works. One is Annandale Apple and the other is simply called Violet. The Chocolate Mint lip balm smells incredible and makes my lips feel so soft.

I'm passing on Sunday's festival as I have plans to go up to CT to see my sis and the new baby. Since JF isn't much of a baby person he decided to keep himself busy cooking a week's worth of meals for the new parents to eat during the week. Isn't that sweet? How did I luck out with a fiancee that both knits and cooks?!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Make Way for Baby!

I'm officially an aunt! Let the baby knitting begin...


Name: Ainsley Isabelle
Birthdate: October 16, 2007
Birth time: 3:48 pm EST
Weight: 7 pounds 15 oz
Length 19 1/2 inches

Need I say more?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Return of the Knodcasts

My next favorite knitting podcast I'd like to review is the Knit Picks Podcast. As most of you know Knit Picks is a website that sells their own line of yarn and needles in addition to knitting books and accessories. Through some magic of either smart business practices or child labor (my theory) they sell their yarns at 1/3-1/2 the price of name brand yarns of the same fibers. I was skeptical of this knodcast when it first came out as I figured it was just another vehicle to push their yarns.

I was pleasantly surprised when I first listened to the knodcast to realize it was nothing of the sort. It's hosted by Kelley Petkun who owns the company. Her voice is very warm and comforting and sounds to me like the kind of aunt who would give you good advice but not judge you. The knodcast is obviously scripted and while some may argue that takes away from the spontaneity of the episodes I've actually come to prefer it. I find that without a script the speaker tends to ramble on and I end up fast forwarding my iPod until they (finally) get to the point.

Recent episodes I have enjoyed included how to teach someone else to knit, the properties of wool produced by different types of sheep, and the technical differences between balls, hanks, and skeins of yarn. She also throws in a couple book reviews and briefly discusses what she has on her needles at the moment. On one episode she did biographies of Knit Picks staffers but I found it interesting to hear about their career paths and how they ended up working at an online yarn store.

In short: a well thought out pleasant knodcast.

Rating: 4 out of 5 dpns