Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back to School and a Knitting Retreat

I am in my third week back to school and up to my eyeballs in homework and studies. These are the three books I am using for school this semester and what I am hauling around and have my nose buried in. My classes are:
  • Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Project Management Software
  • Windows Operating Systems Fundamentals
  • It Career Success Skills and Strategies

The Powerpoint class is by an instructor I have had many times and I am finding the content interesting. Last semester I had to give several presentations and I used Google for presentations - partly because it was easy and partly because I didn't have a good understanding of how to use Powerpoint. So it's nice to get familiar with Powerpoint.

The Project Management class is an online class and I am finding that interesting as well. I had never used Project management software and never thought much about project management before this course, and now that I am studying it I find it really interesting and feel that I will learn much that I can apply to my future careers and to my personal life as well. One of the people in my class is going to plan her sister's wedding as her final project - which I think is really cool!

The Windows Operating Systems Fundamentals class is a challenge. I have to work with a Virtual machine and install servers and operating systems in a virtual enterprise environment. It's interesting but I find it really challenging. I am learning a lot!

And the IT Career Success and Skills class I find a bit frustrating. We didn't meet for the first class and I had to miss the second class - so I am feeling a bit lost and frustrated with that class at the moment. BUT, I think this class may be instrumental in getting myself into a new career. I suspect I will have a kick-ass resume and a better idea of how to market myself after this class. So I have high hopes!

In between all of this I have managed to sneak in something really exciting. I went on my very first Yarn Retreat! The retreat was hosted by Sun Valley Fibers (who make nummy yarn!) and it was called Sun Valley Fibers January Thaw 2014. It was held in a hotel in a tiny town in Wisconsin called Barneveld and it was a big adventure for me!

Sadly, these are the only two pictures I took. My hotel room and the view out of the room.

As you can see, a huge bed which I happily plopped onto at the end of the night and collapsed after a long day of meeting awesome new people and knitting like mad. 

The view out the window gives you an idea of how cold out it was. It was bitter and I actually went home a day early to avoid driving home in nasty snow and wind. So very glad I did that! It got pretty bad and it was about a six hour drive one way. I can't imagine driving that in bad weather.

I enjoyed the retreat on several levels. I learned a lot about myself. I suffer from social anxiety and my first night was a little rocky as I was pretty overwhelmed. Around 100 people attended (or more?) and when I walked in it was a wall of noise and activity and I felt like a sad little wall flower. After a call home (not an easy feat as my cell only had Emergency service and the hotel struggled to connect my room with long distance) where my hubby talked me down, I was able to grab my knitting bag and head down to hang out with the other knitters. It didn't take long before someone joined me and that helped calm me down too. After talking to this kind knitter for a few minutes I found out it was Megan from the Stockinette Zombies Podcast! I don't watch podcasts, (is it a vlogcast if it's video?) but I will surely be checking it out now that I met Megan.

Soon I was meeting more knitters and chatting about projects and fibers and admiring projects. It was a pretty rocky start but it didn't take long before I felt comfortable and was happily drinking cup after cup of coffee and knitting away with my fellow knitters. I met some really great people and I enjoyed talking to them so much! It made me really happy that I pushed myself out of my nest and took a chance on doing something that was pretty far out of my comfort zone. And of course, I got some amazing yarn and now have a bunch more friends on Ravelry.

So that is what I have been up to lately. School, Knitting retreat, and trying to survive a January in Minnesota!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stash Enhancement

I made it four days into 2014 before I added new yarn to my stash. Uffda. Glad I didn't bother writing down any resolutions this year!

Pretty though, right? This is Zitron Wolkenspiel, a 4 ply fingering weight yarn in the color Abendrot. We popped into Knitters Palette Yarn store in Lakeland Minnesota on January 4th and this little lovely followed me home.

The color on the photo just doesn't do the yarn justice. We don't get enough natural light around here in the winter, so it's hard to showcase the glory of this yarn. There are some hot orange tones to this yarn and I just fell for it. Num num num.

At least the pressure of NOT adding to my stash was blown early. Now I am free to be a glutton of yarn the rest of the year knowing I am not breaking any promises to myself or the Internet!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hot Child in the City

  • Project Name: Hot Child in the City
  • Pattern Name: Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cosy by Alexis Layton
    • {This is a Free pattern on Ravelry found HERE.}
  • Yarn:125 yards of  Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky in the color Wine. 
  • Needles: Size 10 double point needles and a cable needle 

My Ravelry project page can be found HERE for anyone interested in greater detail.

I have been wanting to knit a hot water bottle cozy for many years. What could be more comforting then a hot water bottle with a hand knit cozy? So I dug through patterns on Ravelry and came across this one. The pattern is written to have a tie at the top to keep the cozy secure on the bottle, but I preferred the ribbed turtle neck look to the tie down look. I also think having no tie is just more practical for us. Nothing to get lost or separated.

The pattern calls for 5 repeats of the cable pattern, but I had a smaller hot water bottle than the one in the pattern, so I did the cable pattern 3.5 times which brought me to the top of the bottle's body. Then I did the k2,p2 ribbing until I was to the to the top of the spout of the bottle, did a knit row as a kind of turn row, and then switched my ribbing to p2,k2 so it would lay nice.

I kept ribbing until I had the length of the neck/spout area covered and was back to the body of the bottle, then bound off in the ribbing to keep it nice and neat. 

I am really happy with how it turned out. The yarn is a ball of Knit Picks that was was in my stash for years, so I was able to Stash Bust to make this as well - so that felt good too. 

And I think I may be giving my bottle a test run today. It's so cold out that all the schools in the state are shut down and my boss called me last night and told me I could stay home if I wanted too today. (Uh, yeah I want to stay home!) So it's nearly 11:00 and I am still in my jammies playing on the Internet. Not a bad day after all!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Revived Socks

I cast these on in December of 2011 and then apparently stuffed them in a bag and completely forgot about their existence. Fast forward two years and I am doing some cleaning and organizing, and hark, what is this? I honestly do not remember casting these on and working on them, but I have notes on Ravelry stating I did (apparently cast on while watching The Biggest Loser).  So I decided to quick finish them up so I could wear them this weekend. Monday is supposed to be so cold here that the governor of Minnesota closed all schools in the entire state for that day. Before the Wind Chill is factored in they say a high temp of -10°F and I have heard colder than that on some channels. Yikes. So having a paid of bulky wool house socks sounds mighty fine to me!

As you can see by looking at the toe construction, I decreased more on one toe than the other. I think I got confused about which size I was working on and followed the directions for the small sock on the first sock. When I finished it I was not thrilled with the toe, but I thought Well, if I make these again I will change the toe construction - because I am not an elf and my feet aren't shaped like an arrow.
Then I finished the second sock and realized it was a Jenny oops - meaning I fudged up that first sock. So I have a pair of house slippers with wonky toes and I know that if I make them again I need to REALLY watch that toe construction.

I wore these all last night and my feet were toasty warm in them. When it gets cold like this you can just feel the cold seeping in through the walls and floor of the house, so I am pretty sure these will get some good wear for the next few days/weeks.

If I were to change anything, I think I would make the ribbing much higher (which would make this a two skein project in this yarn) and I would watch the toe construction so I didn't get wonky arrow toe on one foot next time. I might also try an eye of partridge heel on it as I am sort of in love with the eye of partridge heel.

Pleased to have a wearable garment and to have cleared up a long lost WIP! Win!
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