Sexy knitting

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Woohoo! Both Bella Paquita AND Giselle were chosen for this session of the Sexy Knitters' Club.

I really couldn't be more flattered, especially considering the spectacular competition.
Just check out this list.

One of the things about my free patterns is that many are a bit rough around the edges, so I expect to be doing a lot of pattern support for Bella Paquita, but Giselle has been test knit 3 times, tech edited and copy edited so I'll mostly be answering clarifying questions for that one.

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If any of you were thinking about knitting either pattern, you might consider joining the group and knitting along. I can't wait to see how people's projects turn out.

I felt badly

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No really. That's not bad grammar up there, I really don't felt well, but I sure have fun trying.

My mom got me a fantastic needle felting book, about a year ago and I read every word of it but hadn't actually tried my hand at it. This is not uncommon for me. I generally take time to absorb a certain amount of technique before diving in.

When I saw that the Mendocino Yarn Shop had some needle felting supplies, I decided it was time.

So, while watching a bit of TV, on a lazy Saturday, I began stabbing the bejeebus out of some of my Almost Solid Series fiber sampler pack.

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Stabby stabby stabby stabby.

I find it equal parts tedious and fun. On the one hand, I don't really like having to constantly watch what I'm doing, and the little multi-needle tool makes a little clacking noise when you use it, which is not loud, but it's noticeable. On the other hand, it's pretty amazing seeing and feeling the transformation of fiber from soft and floofy to dense and matted. And once in a zone, it can be really addicting.

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I figured I'd make a little case or cozy of some sort. At this point, I was more driven by process than product. When I'd had about enough of stabbing, I started trimming off edges.

But how to finish it? Well, duh, this is roving after all. How about I spin myself some matching yarn with which to seam the piece?

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I didn't need much. In a few minutes I had enough length for a 2-ply yarn with plenty to spare.

After some more snipping and embellishing, I had a funky looking case for my sunglasses.

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And I even added a button from a collection of vintage beauties, my friend Ruinwen sent me.

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I think this is a really fun way to use up scraps of roving and fiber I have lying around. I'll definitely be doing more.

Not exactly a little project

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When your hat has over 200 stitches per row, it's not really a a little project, is it?

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While in Mendocino, I picked up three balls of Crystal Palace Maizy, two in deep purple and one in a coordinating print.

This yarn is 82% corn and 18% nylon which means it's soft and stretchy. It'd make fabulous socks but since I'm really not much for knitting socks, at least not second socks, I wanted to do something else with it, something I'd actually use.

Maybe winter in Portland, with all it's overcast skies and rainy days, makes me dream in color, but lately, I've just been bitten by the colorwork bug. Instead of working a standard stranded or intarsia design, I decided to give double knitting a go.

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Double knitting produces a flat piece of fabric that is knit on both sides. It can be used to make two color pieces that have alternating color patterns on each side and it's none rolling. All good stuff. But even better, keeping an even tension in double knitting is loads easier than other color work techniques. Because of the way double knit is worked, you are never carrying your yarn more than two stitches, and just maintaining one's normal tension is sufficient to produce a relatively elastic and even tension.

The progress is slow going but I'm happy with what I've done so far. This was a great, nearly mindless piece, to work on the road, too. The right side rows (those on the predominantly purple side) progress in a standard pattern, and the wrong side rows are worked exactly as the previous row, so there's little need to refer back to the chart I made.

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 3

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Ahh, San Francisco. If we could pick any city in the US, in which to live, it'd probably be here. This is not to say that we don't love Portland, because we do, but there is just something about San Francisco.

We arrose relatively early on Sunday morning and decided to reward our good little girls with a walk in the park.

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We spent a couple hours frolicing in the park and the girls had a fantastic time. Even Panda let loose a little in her own reserved way. The folks in the park were just delightful too.

Once we'd exhausted the girls throuroughly, we dropped them off at the hotel, and went out for lunch. Guess what Leo wanted.

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There's only so much butter and garlic soaked, and fried food I can handle, so I opted for a salad instead.

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Mmm

Oh, and look who joined us for lunch

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It's good ol' COF. San Francisco is a great place for knitwear.

Being Sunday, we didn't have grand expectations for nightlife options, but it turned out that riiight down the street from where we were staying was a cute little bar called the Voodoo Lounge. We ordered a couple filthy martinis, and, to Leo's delight, we got to play some poker.

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We both lost. The big winner was the bartender.

After losing we headed back to the hotel, all of 100 feet away, and tucked into bed. The girls seemed glad to see us.

The next day, New Year's Eve, we decided to devote solely to relaxation and spending time with the pups.

It looked a lot like this, plus some walks and a quick breakfast at a neighboring cafe. There might also have been some knitting. More on that in a future post.

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When evening rolled around, we showered and got purdy. There was a moment of panic when I realized the shoes I brought to go with my dress were busted, and that we forgot to pack my wrap, and the nylons I had gotten came with a hole. Oy! Luckily, I'd brought a more casual, but still appropriate alternative outfit. Rolling with the punches, baby.

We made a reservation at a restaurant we had passed a bazillion times but never entered, called Bobo's. Turns out it's owned by the same folks who make his favorite crab AND they specialize in Leo's other favorite food, steak. I appologize to all my vegitarian friends out there, this may make you queezy, but for us, this meal was extrodinary.

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We started with iron skillet roasted muscles and some lobster soup, and followed it with a petite filet for me and a bone in filet for Leo and a crab. Great googily moogily, so good and so much food. We finished the meal with a cup of espresso and then popped back over to the hotel room to brush our teeth and give the girls a little taste.

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Happy New Year to THEM.

For the celebration, we headed over to Leo's favorite Cigar Bar for some live music, mojitos and, of course, a cigar. When midnight rolled in, we had a big smooch and a glass of bubbly. Perfect.

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But the night wasn't over. We made a quick walk to the waterfront to catch a few fireworks, caught a cable car, and then walked back to the hotel.

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And the walk back? Only the better part of about 4 miles...in heels.

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We were good, and kept the alcohol consumption minimal and ended the evening relatively early, so we could check out and start our drive back home the next morning. We took the 101, up to wine country, crossed over through Napa Valley to catch the 5 in Scramento, and made it home in 12 short (ha!) hours. I think we were all glad to be back home, even if we were pining for more crab.

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I can't wait to do it again.

New Year's Eve Road Trip - Part 2

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IMG_0038.JPGAfter making a very painful attempt to watch I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, we tucked everything away, and curled in for bed.

The rain was relentless, drumming on the roof without pause. And it was cold. Not frostbite cold, but definitely cold enough that we all huddled together. And who was the star of the huddle? Thea. Seriously, that girl should come in every camping survival kit. She didn't care how much I tossed and turned, all she wanted was to sleep curled up, like a cat, in the crook of my stomach and she was like my own little furnace. At one point, I woke up to her shivering and I tucked her in under the blankets with me.Cute little monkey.

We all woke up a little achy but totally rested and no one had an accident. Awesome. Heck, I'll take smelling a little of wet dog over the possible alternatives.

The sun was just peeking through the heavy cloud cover, as we arose. It was pretty spectacular watching the scenery unfold through Stewie's sunroof. I took the girls for a walk and, we even got an on-leash pottie. Will wonders never cease?

With the car packed, the sun up and the family rested, it was time for more scenic driving. According to our map, we were quite a bit more than halfway to our destination. Our goal that day was to continue following the ocean until we reached San Francisco, and then head straight to the hotel, unpack and get us some of the crab that Leo has been pining for.

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The rain had lightened a bit and left behind a thick shroud of fog. Dreamy.

We were peckish, but decided to hold off on lunch when we reach this sign.

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Ooh, a drive through tree. I've heard of this. Relieved of five of our dollars we made our way to the tree.

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Hmm

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Yah, we don't fit. This sign appears to have employed some artistic license.

Still cool tree.

Off we go to find the girls a place to run off some of their pent up energy.

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The great thing about bad weather is that we get the beaches nearly to ourselves. The girls, they were happy.

Slowly, the lack of blood sugar started to sink in, and I began to become, let's say, a bit touchy. I was ready to find some food. We were hoping for a nice sit down meal, nothing that comes from a drive-through. We passed several perfectly acceptable little cities and I grew increasingly, er, touchy, but Leo assured me that those exits simply wouldn't do. When I had nearly reached the point where I was considering lobbing his arm off and consuming that, we saw a sign for a "business district" for a town we had not heard of before. It seemed as good a place to turn as any, and so we wound our way into the quaint little city of Mendocino.

This place was perfect. Exactly what we wanted.

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We sat down at a cute hotel restaurant, ordered some soup and sandwiches, and a touch of coffee, and felt renewed. On the way to the restaurant, I had even seen a little LYS. Everything was 20% off so Leo and the girls went for a walk while I went for a little spend. I was surprisingly restrained, all things considered.

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Still, we assumed, very much on scheduled, we headed off for the last leg of our trip.As we cruised down the 101, we looked forward to the point when we'd meet up with Route 1 and get to the really beautiful sights.

Now, Leo and I have driven every inch of the 101 and 1 from Mexico to San Francisco. We are well aware of the fact that much of 1 winds snakelike through canyons, yet we had still convinced ourselves that the 800 miles down the 101 were a good means of estimating our last 200 miles on Route 1. We had visions of arriving in San Francisco, even before our 3PM check-in time. Awesome.

We soon found ourselves creeping carefully around the hairpin turns and soggy roads. The car seemed to sway, just tempting the girls to expel their full tummies. The sights? Oh, gorgeous.

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But the sun soon began its decent, and those foggy and twisty roads proved quite the white knuckle slalom towards what I simply KNEW was certain death. With 100 miles left to go, minimal visibility and top speeds of 30 mph, it began to feel like we'd never get our crab before the restaurant closed shop for the evening.

The girls never made a peep, never had an accident and remained absolutely angelic the whole time.

We did stop to give them a break

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But they seemed as ready to get to the hotel as we.

Finally, at nearly 8PM, we rolled into the hotel parking lot and began unloading and setting up. The girls just seemed happy to be on terra firma again and Leo and I were happy to get a shower and change of clothes.

We even made it in time to get some dinner. Fried artichoke hearts for me, and Leo, well, he got crabs, no cream required for this affliction.

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YUM. And did you notice a certain hat making a cameo?

A little live music at Joe's and then we went back to walk the girls and go to bed. Ahhhh, what a day.

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Can you stand some more? Another installment soon.

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