Monday, April 28, 2008

Back From The Fling!

Well, I am home from The Loopy Ewe Spring Fling and I hardly know where to begin to describe what a wonderful weekend it was. Sheri did an AMAZING job with putting this together (which is not a surprise!) and I think everyone had a wonderful time. I'm ready to go again...

The group of knitters that gathered together for the weekend came from all over the world (literally!) Many had 'met' via Ravelry, but what fun to spend time getting to know each other in person. One could always hear sounds of laughing at any given moment!!! Here is MOST of the group. (I've heard tell that at least one flinger missed the group photo because she was busy admiring her purchases from her trip to Loopy Central!) We were quite the group. Claudia agreed to be in the photo and is strategically hiding behind the Spring Fling sign.

The Fling started Thursday with knitters trickling in all day and taking over the hotel lobby. It also ended the same way (with knitters taking over the hotel lobby) as people spent Sunday waiting for their departure time to arrive. We got quite the looks and comments from other guests at the hotel. (Who always had a comment of having a grandmother or great grandmother who knit...... sigh.)

In between, we spent the majority of our knitting time in this ballroom. There were also classes taught by Cookie and Wendy and trips taken to Loopy Central (Where I hear that credit cards actually burst into flames !) Let's just say lots of yarny goodness (and fabulous bags!) were had by all.

Everyone who came to the Fling signed the oversized sock blocker that Sheri's husband had made which will hang at Loopy Central to commemorate the event. It's hard to see the size, but this sock blocker is almost taller than I am. (so REALLY tall!) I can't wait to see a photo of it hanging on the wall.

Everyone who came also got a fabulous goody bag put together especially for the Spring Fling. (Again, one of the many special touches that Sheri and her elves put so much time and effort into). It was a great bag with two patterns (one designed by Cookie; one by Wendy), a Loopy Ewe ceramic coffee mug; a sock pattern with some yarn samples in a 'sample bag' from Cherry Tree Hill, ' Everything Balm' from Goodies Unlimited and a skein of Wollmeise yarn dyed especially by Claudia for the Spring Fling.

As promised and expected, the eating was constant and wonderful, with trips to Starbucks; Coldstone and even Chipotles. (And that was on top of a food/snack bar that was stocked and available with snacks and beverages the whole time we were knitting!). No, we didn't go hungry! An eating highlight was dinner at Kobe Steak House Friday night with Kellie, Cookie, Capi, Wendy and Sharon. Not pictured - Claudia and Sheri. The food was fantastic and the chef cooking the meal for us was hilarious. We ate most of our food, but had some trouble with the flying shrimp! (Right, Claudia??)

I had a wonderful time meeting everybody and wish I had photos of everyone. (Which I hope to collect via email and Flickr). Here I am with Jessica, who was my swap partner before the Fling. It was so fun to be able to meet her in person. One of many kindred spirits I met this weekend. I know our paths will cross again, and hopefully soon!! I know I will leave names out if I try to list all of the wonderful people I had a chance to spend time with and get to know this weekend. But I have come to the conclusion that knitters are amongst my favorite kinds of people :-)

Speaking of knitting, I have to admit that the whole suitcase I packed of projects and yarn was never even opened while I was there. (Neither were my exercise clothes, but I won't talk about that....) Claudia showed me this scarf that was made from her wonderful yarn and I knew I had to make one for myself. (Little did I know that Claudia would GIVE me this scarf later in the weekend. It still has me speechless! Such a beautiful gift from a beautiful person!!) Meeting and spending time with Claudia was probably one of the biggest highlights for me and I hope to someday visit her in Germany!! (I mean, I am practically fluent in German!)

So here is how much I have done on my scarf which is the sum total of the knitting I did this weekend. (It may not look like much, but I did spend much of my time playing Loopy Elf and helping Sheri out here and there).

Sheri also started on a Wollmeise scarf and I think that it is quite impressive that she was able to do any knitting at all with as busy as she was putting on The Spring Fling! She did an incredible amount of work and I don't think it could have been any better!! I can't wait for round 2! (Which some of us thought might be fun to have a Spring Fling Beauty pageant as a part of it.. what do you think Fellow Flinger??)

Well, I know there is so much more I could write (and probably will in future posts) but it is time to get back to reality and start some laundry and head to the grocery store. Plus I think Sumo would really like to go for a walk. He did great while we were gone, but is quite happy to have us home. And REALLY likes the hat I brought him back. Isn't he just so handsome?

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Honorary Elf

Today I became an 'Honorary Elf' at The Loopy Ewe as I helped pack sneak-up orders; put together peppermint gift bags; and restock some of the hundreds of skeins of yarn that came in today. Phew! It's hard work being an elf and I was ready to put my feet up by the end of the day! (Sheri did a tour of Loopy Central on her blog today... check it out here.)

This is basically what happens at the Loopy Ewe: Boxes of yarn and VERY FUN accessories come in every day.......

And they are reboxed and sent out to knitters all around the world to enjoy. Here are just some of the orders that we mailed out today.

I have to admit that I made an occasional 'wrong turn' when pulling an order and ended up here - the M&M counter with a microwave conveniently located nearby!

Here is some of the yarn that I re-stocked -It looks so beautiful on the shelves, but probably won't be on there long!

I've really been enjoying getting to know Claudia, who flew in from Germany yesterday to attend the Fling. Claudia dyes the most AMAZING yarn (Wollmeise). She has a real aversion to having her picture taken (she'd rather have a root canal at a dentist, I believe!) so the Spring Fling might be a real challenge for her as I know many people will want their picture taken with her.

And can you believe that there are actually Lilacs out already in St. Louis????? Amazing! They smell so wonderful! And it was 80 degrees today!!! My kind of weather!! Tomorrow is the first day of the Spring Fling Knitting Retreat. I'll update when I can.

Until Next Time.....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Off To The Spring Fling!

Well, my bags are pretty much packed and I am ready to head to St. Louis for The Loopy Ewe Spring Fling! I am very excited! I am picking up my rental car at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning and leaving shortly after that. (Steve will be driving down Thursday to spend the weekend with Sheri's husband and will drive me home Sunday. Isn't he a great guy?) Of course driving means that I can overpack, which I tend to do. This is my suitcase that just has knitting projects and yarn in it!

I woke up very early this morning (3:00 a.m.) with my mind racing with everything that I needed to get done today. I knew I was trying to do too much when I used nail polish remover to take off my eye make-up and mailed my To-Do list. I knew the only cure was a Triple shot latte at Starbucks!!

On my To-do list was washing some of my hand knit socks to bring along. Here they are drying. I'll be sad when it becomes too warm to wear these. Wait. What am I saying. I love it when it's warm. There will be no sadness when warm weather finally comes!

I also decided I had better get my 'homework' done for the classes that are being offered at the Fling by Wendy and Cookie A. Here is my homework for Wendy's class. We'll be learning her technique for turning the heel of a sock. I have yet to cast on my homework for Cookie's class, but I think I can get it done in time.

Sumo would love to come to the Fling, but since he hasn't learned to knit yet, he will be staying behind and guarding the house. He has one of R&M's friends watching over him, so he will be well cared for.

Looks like the weather will be in the 70's with some rain later in the week. I'm packing my fun fleece that Sheri gave me for Christmas. I may make some people jealous, but Sheri does have T-shirts and sweatshirts that are now available (or will be shortly) so I think it will be ok.

Well, I 'm going to rack my brain and try to remember what else was on my 'To-Do' list. You don't suppose the mailman who finds my list will be willing to finish up any items I've forgotten??

I'll be bringing my laptop and hope to update my blog from the Fling. (Time permitting!) If not, I'll have lots to share next week.

Until Next Time...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Billy Bob

That was my nickname for a few hours when my false front tooth decided to fall out just an hour before we had 4 couples over for dinner. Makes for a long evening when you are trying not to talk; laugh; smile or eat. Fortunately Sumo loves me no matter what!! I went to the dentist this morning and he fixed it temporarily so I can at least go out in public. The biggest bummer is that the Tooth Fairy didn't show. (I think she's at a wheat convention somewhere, right mom?)
It's a very strange feeling. Brought back memories of loosing teeth when I was a child.

I finished knitting the Lucy bag just in time for my talk yesterday. I think it's going to be a nice color combination once it's felted. I'll be giving it to one of my BFF's! (I think she knows who she is...) I won't be able to felt it until after my next talk on the 28th. It's always hard to wait because felting them is so fun.

I had a another new experience yesterday as I was getting ready for our friends to come over... I cut my first Mango ever. I really mangled the first one, but by the time I had cut my fourth one, I was feeling pretty confident. They really are tasty!! What was I doing with my mangos?

Making Mango Salsa!! Yum! A friend had shared this recipe, and I decided to make it for our appetizer for our dinner. Since I seem to be doing more cooking that knitting lately, I thought I would share this recipe. My friend Tami made up the recipe and was gracious enough to let me share it with you.

Mango Salsa

3 mangos
3 red, yellow or orange peppers
1 small red onion
Juice from 2 limes

1. Chop up the mangos, peppers and onions. Tear apart the cilantro leaves.

2. Throw the mangos, peppers and 1/2 of the chopped onion together and five or six leaves of cilantro.

3. Add a couple tablespoons of lime juice. I usually
taste at this point to make sure one ingredient isn't too strong.

4. Add in more onion, lime juice and/or cilantro to taste.

Well, I'm off for an overnight to Des Moines. Lots of exciting stuff coming next week as I head to St. Louis early Tuesday morning for the Spring Fling!

Have a great weekend!

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lucy Bag- Take 5

Well, I am just about finished knitting my 5th Lucy bag. It will be a two tone black and gray one. I should have the straps finished today. I did something a little different this time, and started the bottom on 2 circulars instead of double points. It was much easier for me. I also left the stitches on my circular needle when binding off for the straps. Also seemed easier than putting each section on a stitch holder. (I'm all about making things easier!) This should be ready to use as my 'before' felting example in my talk tomorrow.

Thought you would enjoy seeing what is sitting on my counter at this very moment. I told Steve that we could use a 'little' chocolate around the house and this was his solution. A 45 ounce bag of M&M's. My hand has a hard time not reaching in and grabbing a few every time I walk by. I'm going to need to hide it from myself!

Also sitting on the counter is a loaf of Beer Bread that I made yesterday. This is one of Steve's favorite breads. It's yummy right out of the oven and makes great toast.

Beer Bread

3 cups flour
3 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) beer
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix dry ingredients and then add beer
3. Pour into a greased loaf pan
4. Pour melted butter over the dough
5. Bake 1 hour. Remove from pan and let cool at least 15 minutes.

*If using self rising flour; omit baking power and salt

I got a very fun package in the mail yesterday. My friend Michelle sent me the cutest bag that she made that is the perfect size for a sock project. It features the peppermints that will soon be found in all of the Loopy Ewe orders that are mailed in the heat of the summer (when chocolate kisses would melt - not good when packaged with yarn!) Sumo thinks that it is the perfect size to store milkbones in. He may be right, but I think I'll stick with a sock project!

Off to finish the Lucy bag straps and get some other things done around the house. I think I may also call a friend to meet for lunch. (I've missed doing that during tax season!)

Until Next Time....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It Is Finished!

No, not my sweater.... but tax season! (Well, technically it is over the 15th, but I don't have to go to work Monday or Tuesday so I am done for this year!) It was an intense season and nice to have wrapped up.

Now back to my knitting..... I have made some more progress on the front of my sweater. I think you can start to see the cabling up the center. I am really liking it! And with the snow we got yet again today, I may still very well be able to wear it next month!

Yesterday was R's birthday. We waited until today to celebrate and headed down to Cedar Rapids for an afternoon of bowling and an early supper. A & K drove in from college and joined us. (M's parents drove in as well and joined us for dinner). It was a fun time. We are extremely blessed parents is all I can say!!!

Bowling was a big part of R's birthday gift as well as he received a certificate for a new bowling ball as well as a retro bowling ball bag. He also got a Vikings hooded sweatshirt and T-shirt from M's parents. This is quite the gift considering how big a Bears fan as her dad is!!

Sumo spent the day in the dog house in more ways than one. Yes, here is my not-so-sweet smelling dog after deciding to roll in something very disgusting! It is times like this when he becomes Steve's dog! What is it that is so appealing to dogs about rolling in such things? I don't get it. Nothing a sudsy bath with a garden hose won't take care of.

Well, off to cast on another Lucy bag. I need to have one in pre-felting form for a couple of talks on knitting I've been asked to give in the next few weeks. (To show the before and after stages).

Hope you all have your taxes filled out and filed.

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Making Progress....

Yes, I am making progress on my sweater. I finished the back and I actually think it looks like it is suppose to! I am trying to do as much on it as I can because there is going to be a seaming demonstration at the Spring Fling in a couple of weeks and I'd love to get some help with doing the seams.

I cast on the front last night as well and am knitting away. The front is the same as the back except for a double cable pattern that goes up the middle of the sweater. If you look close, you can just see the beginning of it between the two markers. The cable pattern is a 24 row repeat and I am only on row 6, so I have a ways to go before the pattern will be really visible. Hopefully by my next post!

I have a new pair of knit socks on today. No, I didn't finish my Swirl socks yet, but I did receive these in the mail yesterday from Sheri. They are knit with alpaca yarn and are SO soft and warm. My toes feel at perfect peace.

Lastly, I would like to take a minute and wish my dear friend Cheryl a VERY Happy Birthday! (She's the one on the left!) We have been friends forever and have shared many many laughs (and many tears as well). I love you friend! I sure wish the three of us could go out for lunch today and celebrate. Hopefully soon.

Until Next Time....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Red Hats

Yes, today was the day of Red Hats. And it still has me smiling when I think about it. K & I decided to meet yesterday in a town half way between here and her school and shop and knit and hang out. She was also in search of a topic for a paper she has to write for her creative writing course on going somewhere and doing something with a group of people that she has never done before. We racked our brains last night and the best we could come up with was to try and find a wedding to 'crash'.

But when I woke up and went out to the Lobby of the hotel this morning, this is what I saw - Ladies in red hats and purple dresses and vendors selling everything imaginable that a member of the 'Red Hat Society' might need. There were glasses that lit up; hats with more feathers than some birds; purple dresses with sequins galore and so much more.

The selection of hats alone was unbelievable!! Yes, we had stumbled across a local convention of Red Hatters!! They had quite the day planned with a luncheon; song time; and even an Elvis impersonator!! And you guessed it; K introduced herself as a journalism student and asked if she could possibly sit in with them for just a bit. They welcomed her with open arms!!!

K spent some time visiting with a table of ladies and got quite the page of quotes and song lyrics to include in her paper. I am pretty sure she will be the only student writing about attending a Red Hat Society luncheon!!

We also did some shopping and enjoyed lots of walking outside today in the 65 degree weather!! I think we've finally made it through winter!! I spent my knitting time working on a sweater that I started last fall. I am about half way done with the back. I have wanted to join a sweater KAL that Sheri is doing, but felt like I needed to make some progress on this one first. If so, I plan on hopefully buying some Dream in Color Classy when I'm at the fling to make this.

Sumo and Steve manned the home front. I know it's pretty hard for Sumo when I'm gone because as hard as he tries, Steve just won't give him any treats! (I keep telling him he's begging up the wrong tree!!) I know I've confessed earlier into making him into a bit of a monster lately with occasional treats. But who can resist such a sweet face? (Well, other than Steve?)

Off to work some more on the sweater. I think it's almost time to start decreasing for the armholes. I hope I can figure it out......

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Day Off....

Yep. I had a day off today. I had visions of knitting all day, and possibly grabbing lunch out with a friend. That was the plan. But as I headed down the stairs this morning, I knew right away that the heat was off. It was downright chilly inside! It took a good deal of time to determine that our propane tank was empty and I needed to call various companies to get it filled and the furnace up and running again. Then the internet went down as well, so more phone calls and trying to get to the bottom of that problem. There just always seems to be something!!!

I did manage to get some knitting in. I started with a M&M dishcloth that I have owed my mom for quite some time. I forgot how quick and easy these are. And they really do turn out cute. I'm hoping the color works in my mom's newly redecorated kitchen!!

I also cast on and got the cuff and 3 pattern repeats done on my second swirl sock. My goal is to be wearing these socks next week! Then I'll be casting on my Loopy Legends yarn. I think I'll break out Cookie A's Monkey pattern for those!

I decided to do a little baking today (having the oven on seemed like a good idea since the furnace was out) and made a couple of loaves of my mom and dad's new favorite bread. It's got a lot of fun different seeds in it and has great flavor. Especially toasted!!

Multi Grain Bread:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon millet
  • 1 tablespoon quinoa
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry milk powder
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bread machine yeast

1. Put all ingredients into a bread machine and run the dough and first rise cycle.

2. Form dough into two long loaves.

3. Let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Enjoy!

My mom's tip: Make up several packets of dry ingredients (except yeast). When you are ready, just add water; butter and yeast. Works great. In fact, the loaves I made today were from a ziplock of ingredients ready to go that she left behind when they were down for Easter!

While I was knitting today, I snacked on my new favorite treat: Kettlecorn. It's so delicious. I really shouldn't buy it anymore because I have NO self restraint when eating it. I'm pretty sure I could eat a bag in one sitting!!

So, did anyone play any good April Fool's Day jokes? I have to admit that in the past I have pulled some pretty good ones. Yesterday I attempted to get Steve, but he suspected right away. I'll try again next year......

Well, Panera is closing their doors, so I guess we'll head home. Hopefully we'll have internet again tomorrow. If I had to choose between heat and internet, I'd choose heat any day!!!

Until Next Time......