Back With A Vengeance (And Lots Of Pictures)

Finally! I thought I'd never get back - not only was my computer getting the electronics equivalent of a facial and body massage, but our network at the office was down for a few days as well. So I'm going to try and cram as much stuff as possible into today's blog. The Type-A's among you will be pleased to know that I did spend my computer-fast wisely and have been as busy as a whole hive of bees.

And speaking of bees, I received my first SP11 package earlier this week from my honey-of-a-SP who was a very busy bee putting together this wonderful package! The theme was "Arkansas", whose nickname is "The Honeybee State". I was surprised to learn this because I thought it's nickname was actually "The Walmart State". (I am just kidding - we always drive to New Orleans via Arkansas because it's so pretty.) My SP put notes on everything to explain how it was all connected to Arkansas.

Look at all these goodies! See the chocolate-covered goodness in the center? Special hand-baked treats for the pups - they loved every bite and came back begging for more!

Treats for the peeps included locally made red raspberry preserves (which my SP said was just like her grandma used to make) and some local honey from the Arkansas bees (it's yummy - they did an excellent job). We've already been slathering everything with these delicacies and will need to restock next time we're in Arkansas. There's some wonderfully fresh-smelling bath goodies and candle, as well as some cranberry and emerald-colored Sugar & Cream cotton yarn, which will be put to very good use.

Always a good sign - the Criquette seal of approval.

An adorable little honeypot that reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh. Mr. Criquette and I were just discussing how we should get one of those twirly things a couple days before the package arrived - SP are you psychic?

These were tucked in, too. (There were some others too.) I love this touch because it gives me a sense of some of the things in my SP's life. I wish more swap partners would include these free local papers in their packages!

Thank you, SP! This was one of the most fun packages I have received - Mr. Criquette said so too. And he also said to thank you especially for the raspberry preserves - one of his top 10 favorite foods. (We've been slathering it and the honey on everything except the tuna sandwiches.)Your package was not only so thoughtful, but gave me a peek into your life, which is a big part of what makes blogging and swaps so much fun. You rock in Little Rock!!

Now brace yourself for something so unusual that you'd rarely see it documented on this blog: FO's!!!!! In fact, it is such a special occasion that the Bird Girl emerged from her corner, where she is usually busy trapping hoards of stray dust bunnies, to model the collection.

Seven FO's! Completed in four days!

Another Dropped Stitch Soap Sack (still needs a ribbon tie) knitted with Classic Elite Premiere "Jasmine" on US#6 needles

The Improv Scarf

Clopseup of the Improv, a pattern I cooked up without a recipe, hence the name. I cast on for the width I wanted and proceeded to knit a 3 by 4 checkerboard grid until it was as long as I wanted. It's for the local homeless shelter, so I made it wider and longer so they can wear it like a scarf or a head and neck wrap. Knit with Paton's Rumor (an alpaca/acrylic blend) in the Hibiscus Heather colorway, knit on US#10.5 needles.

Surprise Birthday Cowl, which will be a gift to someone in the nursing home without family and who would not otherwise receive a gift for the holidays. Again, in a pattern I improvised. I decided on the dimensions and cast on accordingly. It was knit in the round, using a double moss stitch. It is so soft and warm as well as washable. It's made with Lion's Brand cashmere Blend in Light Blue and knit on US#8 Addi Turbos.

Ribbed premie hat, another of my winging-it creations. All I can say is that I cast on as many as I thought I needed, used a K2, P2 rib stitch and at some point I decided to start decreasing until it looked okay. Knitted on US10.5 dpn's in some Red Heart I had left over from play therapy.

There's no way I could make up a pattern this cute. It's the Simple Hat from "Baby Knits For Beginners" by Debbie Bliss. Knit with Peter Pan "Wendy" yarn in the sherbet-colored #1348, knit on US#3 needles. I found out I actually do like using itty-bitty needles - another hurdle towards sock-knitting overcome! This will probably go into the "gift boutique" in my closet, just waiting for the right occasion!

When I first discovered that people knitted their own dish and face cloths, I didn't get it. After using the 2 thick dishcloths that I received in a swap, I get it. So I knitted up these 2 and discovered other benefits besides utility. (1) They are a great way to practice new techniques without commiting to a big project, (2) They are very portable and fit in my handbag so go everywhere with me, (3) They make great gifts, (4) They are very economical, and the best reason of all, (5) They are just like knitting scarves only faster!

My first lace pattern. This and the dropped stitch soap pattern will be bundled up with some Burt's Bees baby soap for an upcoming baby shower. Please ignore the many errors, caused by lapses of attention. I learned lace knitting + TV + large glass of Chardonnay = ADD knitting. The pattern is from a Leisure Arts booklet (Kitchen Bright Dishcloths). Knit with Classic Elite Premiere in "Almost Green" on US #6 needles.

This is one of my favorite patterns ever! And there are no glaring mistakes!!! The pattern is the Wheatfields dishcloth (designed by Vaunda Rae Giberson) and can be found here. Knit with Lion's Brand Cotton Ease in Violet.

It is as beautiful on the back as it is on the front. I highly recommend this pattern and already have my second one on the needles. I am also in love with this yarn - if there was a better choice of colors, I could be talked into going steady with Cotton Ease!

I took a 4 day weekend last week with the dual purpose of knitting and soul-soothing and accomplished both. In addition to the gratification of having so many finished gifts, I have been reassured that my usual slow output is not because I am a pathologically slow knitter, but because I am usually distracted by all of the have-to's in my life. I also had the pleasure of reading "Plan B: Further Thoughts On Faith" by Anne Lamott, who is brilliant at distilling complexities of faith and life into beautifully simple daily practices. In it, she describes her habit of taking "cruises" when she feels overwhelmed by her world:

"At those times, I make a nest for my baby self on the couch in the living room. I stretch out with a comforter and pillows, magazines, the cat, unguents, and my favorite drink...there is no one around to whom I have to be nice, and no one who will see me in a bathing suit. and my cruise takes only two hours, instead of a week...It's unbelievably healing; it resets me...After awhile you see the sweetest, most invigorating thing of all: one person tenderly caring for another, even if it's just me taking care of me on my old couch. "(p282-283)

I laughed as I read this, realizing that I was taking my own cruise last weekend. And I came back feeling refreshed and ready to step back onto dry land. I plan to make a habit of scheduling "Knitting Cruises" into my life. I've got the sofa, the remote, the cat, the wine, the yarn, the sticks, and the UFO's and I am good to go. So I am curious to know, what's your favorite way to cruise at home?

And speaking of the cat, the Original Criquette has been up to her usual standards of cuteness. This morning, she was all over the porch, watching leaves falling off the trees and twirling their way to the ground, trying to stalk them. Then she noticed the knitted goods laid out for the shoot, and her curiosity got the better of her. There was a loud noise which scared her off right after the last shot, but I am sure she was thinking about stretching out of the scarf for a little cruise of her own.

"Oooooh, leaf!"

"Wait a minute, what's that?"

"Is that wool I smell?"

"Must...check out...wool..."


Camille said...

This is disturbing! I just made about a zillion of those soap sacks. I think we are kitchen cotton twins.

I'm glad you liked everything! I was worried most about the raspberry jam because it's either a love it or hate it thing. Some people aren't big fans of the seeds. I'm so glad you liked everything! This month's package will go out early and won't be as big, sadly. It should go out on the 3rd.

Faren said...

All the FO's look great. Isn't it so nice to actually finish something every once in a while?
Criquette is quite pretty!

Dianne said...

You sure have been busy! That is more FOs than I get done in a month...or two...or three. You put me to shame!

Nichole said...

Great pics! Great SP package... yummy! Awesome FO's! Cute kitty!

Heatherly said...

holy cow! what alot of knitting! i love the pooh honey pot! :-)

BOSSY said...

Now who is the Busiest Beaver?

Channon said...

Wow! You've been impressively busy. Nice to have you back amid the bloggers!

Sonya said...

The FOs are great. Wow a computer fast glad you made it back.

Spinning Jenny said...

I got my package... Thank you so much. I love all the little things you threw in for me. I can't wait to start using my yarn. I have a pattern picked out on ravelry..

Violiknit said...

What lovely SP packages! That honey looks so yummy... So many F.O.'S, and they all look fantastic! I especially love the closeup on the cowl. I love that Wheatfields dishcloth too; thanks for linking the pattern! The "Original Criquette" is such a cute wool hunter :)