Friday, June 29, 2007

Still not knitting....

I'm on my third week of knitting hiatus. I just can't bring myself to knit a stitch, and am not sure if it's the insufferable heat, the inertia of unemployment, or just blocked mojo due to a promised knitting project I've been dreading because I just can't figure it out.

So, I'm having to resort to non-knitting topics for blog fodder, but it's not like it's the first time.

Non-knitting topic #1, or, How to Become Nauseous in 2.3 Seconds Flat:

This is the second time this week my computer has crashed and given me the blue screen. I refuse to call it the blue screen of death, as I don't see the words "fatal error" anywhere in that indecipherable message, but it is still cause for alarm. I wish I knew which hardware or software was causing the problem, but it's really impossible to know. I suspect it might be my wireless mouse, as I was right-clicking the last time it happened. If so, that's easily remedied -- buy a new mouse, uninstall the old mouse with its bad driver. Or else it's an issue with my Firefox browser, which would be a real bummer, since I use it almost exclusively these days and have customized it out the wazoo. No secret that Microsoft is not a friend of competitor Mozilla.

I suppose it's time to back up My Documents -- haven't done that in about a year. I may need a new 'puter sooner than I expect.

Non-knitting topic #2, or, My Nightly Visitor:

That cutey-pie tuxedo cat has visited my front porch every evening this week. He seems very friendly -- doesn't run away but actually comes to the door when I approach. My girls tend to react as indoor cats do, which is to howl and hiss at the offending interloper, but they soon calm down and just watch.

Casey, the calico on the right, (who is allowed out on the front porch because she is the trustworthy and responsible one who doesn't stray far), eventually sat on the porch with this Tuxedo Cat for good long while and no kitty-spit was sprayed. I think they might be friends now. I imagine them having kitty-cat conversations, and that the Tuxedo Cat talks in a British accent, because, well, he's quite refined, dontcha know.

I sure hope that Tuxedo Cat has a home. He/she is really sweet, but two cats in my 900 ft² house are more than enough.

Alrighty, I'm off to conduct more non-knitting activities.

I see the heat is supposed to break on Sunday. Perhaps that will help the mojo.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Oh, Ravelry, you've revealed my soul....

Things I'm learning about myself (and my stash) because of Ravelry:

  • I have a ridiculous amount of sock yarn, for one who's not knitting socks.
  • I have a smaller, but still ridiculous amount of laceweight yarn, for one who's not knitting lace. Lace is beautiful, but it scares me enough that I don't think I'll be knitting anything complicated anytime soon. The idea of having to rip back lace to fix a mistake just churns my stomach. And my steadily decreasing attention span may just not be suited for lace knitting.
  • I've uploaded about 80% of my stash to Ravelry, and right now I have 66 different yarns listed. That number seems a bit appalling to this slow-as-molasses part-time knitter, and since the number will only get higher as I continue adding more stash to Ravelry, it will become even more appalling.
  • I need to figure out how to add one-of-a-kind, hand-dyed handspun yarn to my Ravelry stash. (Hi Patsy! Yep, I'm talking about your beautiful yarn!)
  • Most of the yarn I own is in quantities of just one or two balls/skeins/hanks. Clearly, I don't expect to be knitting garments anytime soon. I guess I have a lot more scarves and hats in my future.
  • Most of the yarn I've uploaded to Ravelry thus far is in some form of a blue-green colorway. I actually counted, and, not including anything that's purple or purpley-blue, a full 60% of my stash is some shade of blue, green or blue-green. I think I have a problem....
  • I need to get out of this "yarn collecting" mindset, which means I need to figure out some kind of rules for future yarn acquisition. I'm not sure yet what the rules will be, but thoughts are percolating, and I need to come up with some plan before I attend my next fiber festival, which is typically where I am weakest. At least I have a better awareness of my "blue-green problem", which might help curb my hand from impulsively reaching for everything I see in those colors. But if it is gorgeous handspun yarn like that from Pagewood Farm, my brain shuts down completely, and all bets are off.

Pagewood Farm, you're an evil temptress

I think I was happier in ignorant bliss, not really knowing exactly what I had....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Consumed by the interwebs

No, I'm not knitting -- don't even ask such a silly question! I haven't knit a stitch in about two weeks, and it's weighing a bit heavily on me, especially since knitting deadlines have come and gone, and more are looming on the horizon. And yet I continue to spend an inordinate amount of time at my desk, hypnotized consumed by a couple of new web toys, (and unlike the apparently eight-armed Robin H., I cannot knit and surf at the same time).

First of all, I've now joined the 21st century and am using a feed reader to do my blog reading, and boy, am I loving it! You may recall a previous post where I requested your blog reader preferences. The very kind NotPlainJane gave me an excellent recommendation for Google Reader, and after experimenting with it and several others, Google Reader won, hands down, for ease of use and simplicity of layout. I've now fully adopted its use, and it has completely changed my blog-reading habits.

Best tips I've found for using Google Reader, thus far:
  • If you're new to using a feed reader, start small -- just add a couple of your favorite blogs (via the "Add Subscription" button) until you get the hang of it.
  • If you're an experienced feed reader user looking for a change, you don't have to start from scratch -- you can move your subscriptions en masse by creating an OPML file on your existing reader, exporting it to your computer's hard drive, and then import your OPML subscription file into Google Reader on the Settings page.
  • Use the space bar to advance through blog posts - faster than mouse-scrolling
  • Drag the "Subscribe" button to your browser's Links/Bookmarks toolbar, to facilitate adding newly-found blogs to your Google Reader subscriptions
  • Create folders to categorize subscriptions. So far I have folders for local knitters, worldwide knitters, gardening blogs and photoblogs. I'm sure I'll add more as time allows.
  • Change the "Show" setting from "all" to "updated", to hide all blogs you've already read that have no new content. It helps de-clutter the subscription list.
  • Expand/Contract subscription folders by clicking the +/- button to show/hide folder contents, depending on whether or not you plan to read that folder during your current session. This also helps de-clutter your subscription list.

    my view of Google Reader

And speaking of photoblogs, (for you skimmers, I mentioned them up ^ in that fifth bulletpoint), I was sad to see that a favorite photoblogger, The Daily Mumps, has discontinued posting. He's a guy with four kids who would post a picture of them each day, accompanied by the funniest captions. I hadn't visited his blog in awhile because frankly, I'd forgotten the name of it. But after searching through old emails, I found it again today, which is how I learned that he has since quit posting to the blog. I went back and re-read a few posts, and he is still a hoot, so I recommend strolling through his archives. Start at his first post and just click "Next Mump" to advance through the pictures & captions. Mindless, cheap and clean entertainment, I tell ya. I think my all-time favorite, laugh-out-loud post is the one about the melting snowman. (To paraphrase: "Things to say to your kid when the snowman melts: You wouldn’t stop sinning, so the angels took him." Yes, it's twisted, but hilarious. And no, I'd never really say that to a kid!)

The other new web toy that has the potential to suck hours, days and weeks out of one's life is Ravelry. Basically, it's a very handy online relational database for knitters, where one can add yarn stash, books, needle & hook inventory, and completed, in-progress or queued projects, all in in one place, so that a knitter can (try to) keep one's knitting organized. Not only that, you can see what is in other people's yarn stashes, and link yarn in your stash to other people's completed projects, to get inspiration for what to do with that impulsively-purchased yarny goodness.

I got my invitation to join a couple weeks ago, and hadn't done much with it until enabler Jane talked it up enough to make me want to put all my stash out there for the world to see. So far this weekend, I've added a lot of my knitting books to my "library" and uploaded a little bit of my yarn to my online "stash", and will continue to load more as time allows. At some point, I'll start adding projects, too, but for now I'm happy with just attempting to get my yarn organized, at least virtually, if not in reality. Since I can't really organize the stash all that well in my house, due to space issues, at least it'll all be there for me to see online, when I forget what I have and don't feel like digging through bags or bins.

some of my Ravelry stash

There's also a discussion forum on Ravelry, so you can connect with other knitters and talk about whatever. Granted, there are already several healthy knitting forums around the internet, including Knitters Review and the Knitty Coffeeshop, so that's nothing new. But it's nice to have a Ravelry-specific forum.

If you're already a Ravelry user, you can find me out there as "BloomKitty", so please feel free to add me as a "Friend". If you've never heard of Ravelry, may I suggest you go there now and sign up and take the virtual tour? To me, it is the perfect website for non-blogging knitters (and knit-bloggers, too), to live. But non-bloggers can really benefit by posting pictures and bragging about finished projects without the burden of maintaining a blog or the obligation of posting regularly, (or the guilt when not posting regularly).

Please note that after you sign up for Ravelry, there is a little bit of a wait before you receive an invitation to join. It is still in Beta mode, meaning it is a work-in-progress and there are bugs to fix and database sizes to increase and servers to add as more folks join and add content, so be patient. It's run by a cute-as-pie young husband-and-wife team who are devoting themselves full time to this new venture, and they aren't making much income from it yet, except via donations and a few ads. There are roughly 3,000 members and about 7,000 waiting to join, and they're steadily adding about 1,000 new members each week. I do think it is worth the wait, and has the potential to become a true force-to-be-reckoned-with for the online knitting community, right up there with the aforementioned Knitty and Knitters Review.

So, come out and play!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Another Hokie Blanket

As previously mentioned, Issy & I brought a bag of Hokie squares back from Saturday's adventure. Tuesday night, our knitting group sewed them into another Hokie Healing blanket:

as modeled on my front porch steps


^ my favorite square in this blanket

I didn't take any pictures Tuesday night, so I missed a lot of good action shots of the sewing and the finished blanket and several visitors, including Mary Jane's puppy Nell, but Jane did a good job of documenting the evening, so check out the pictures on her blog post.

For now, I will leave you with this Hokie-colored daylily blooming in the garden today:

maroon effect

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Belated Father's Day

Check it out -- even Honest Abe got his yarn on:

I know, I know -- not that kind of yarn. But he's still a cool dude.

I love old books. The older, the better. I picked this one up back in April at the Richmond Public Library's Friends Book Sale. They have a special room just for rare books, and I always make a beeline for there first. You never know what treasures you might find.

106 years old!

A few years ago at that book sale, I found a 1917 first edition of Henry Vincent Hubbard's An Introduction to the Study of Landscape Design, the first textbook on landscape design published in this country, for the first landscape design program in this country at Harvard University. I'm pretty proud of that find.

And this year, I was finally able to get my hands on a used copy of Hortus Third in excellent condition. It's not particularly rare, but at one point was particularly expensive. I see I can now buy used versions from sellers on for around $22, I suppose because the information within is becoming more and more outdated as the years pass. But from what I've read, there will be no Hortus Fourth, so Third is a good reference to have in the gardening library.

My dad is a history buff, so I figured he might like that Lincoln tome. I am going over to my parents house tonight for a belated Father's Day celebration (his request) and am bringing dinner and his gift (the book), before heading on to knitting group. I hope he likes it!

And I'll finally get to lay my eyes on the print version of Sunday's RTD article about the Hokie blanket sewing party. Speaking of which, it looks like our knitting group will be sewing another one together tonight at Barnes & Noble. If you're in the area, come join us!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend...

...and it's not even over.*

Friday and Saturday were very eventful and emotional days, and last night I went to bed around midnight, exhausted, fully expecting to sleep for ten hours. But I woke up at 5 this morning with thoughts of the previous two days filling my head, and I couldn't get back to sleep, so decided to get up and start organizing photos and writing this blog post.

A few weeks ago, my Lynchburg sister Anne & I decided to come to Blacksburg this weekend to accomplish a couple of tasks. Anne had books she wanted to donate to the families of the Virginia Tech shooting victims, and I wanted to help with sewing some of the knitted & crocheted squares into Hokie Healing Blankets which will also go to the victims families.

My friend Isobel from our Tuesday Night Knitters group was able to take off of work early Friday and ride along with me, so we left Richmond around noon and made it to our hotel around 4 pm, after a couple of stops for gas and lunch. Anne arrived in Blacksburg about two hours earlier and completed her book delivery to the Dean of Students office, so after settling in at the hotel, the three of us drove over to Mosaic. We wanted to offer our help in setting up for the following day's activities, and also to shop a little (of course). Mimi was working and assured us that they had things well under control for the sewing party, and so I then proceeded to do my part to stimulate Blacksburg's economy by making a purchase of some Tilli Tomas "Rock Star" beaded silk in a gorgeous Jade colorway. It's the least I could do. ;-)

After leaving Mosaic, we met up with my old high school friend Judi who is on staff at Tech. (You may recall the Hokie Hope Hat I knit for Judi a few weeks ago.) Judi works closely with the student group that calls themselves "Hokies United". These kids are the volunteers who organized the candlelight vigil on Tech's drill field the Tuesday evening after the shootings, and who now very unselfishly and reverently maintain the memorials for each of the shooting victims.

Burruss Hall

Judi graciously offered to give us a tour of the campus and show us the memorials. Our first stop was Norris Hall, where we walked all around the outside as Judi gave us a narrative of her local perspective of the horrific events, pointing out where some of the broken-out second story windows had been replaced, and more chillingly, remnants of blood on the sidewalks. There seemed to be a hush over the building, a cocoon of silence, if you will, and I felt both grief and reverence, as we paid our respects to those who lost their lives there. Certain aspects of the scene seemed very familiar, thanks to all the media coverage.

We then walked over to the drill field, where a soccer game was in progress, and I was comforted that students are feeling "normal" enough again to be able to partake in carefree activities. As we observed the arc of memorial stones for each of the victims, and a 33rd stone someone added for the shooter, I made an effort to capture images of the memorials for the two native Richmonders, Matt Gwaltney and Rachael Hill. It was obvious they were loved by many.

The items around each memorial stone are just a fraction of what has been left by numerous visitors, and for a time, many additional items were displayed under a tent on the drillfield. The tent items have now been moved to the Shultz Dining Hall, and that was the next stop on Judi's tour. I was not prepared for the volume of items there, or the emotional impact they would have. There were aisles and aisles of huge signed banners, and posters sent from everywhere. There was a table for each of the victims displaying more of their memorial items. People sent or left some really beautiful items, including an icon, a painting, a carved wooden horse with signatures all over it, and a set of handpainted Ukranian eggs. I had been holding back tears ever since we first arrived at Norris Hall, but finally had to let a few go when I came upon the table containing items and letters for Cho's family. On it were many notes conveying concern for the family and forgiveness for the shooter. And a simple handwritten note on a 3"x5" index card that said, "I forgive you..." sent me over the edge.

After leaving Shultz dining hall, the four of us ate dinner at Mike's Grill, and later had coffee at Bollo's before saying goodbye to Judi and retiring to our hotel rooms around 10:30 pm. What a long and full day!

(I invite you to see more pictures from Friday's campus tour which can be found in my "Virginia Tech" Flickr photoset, and I would recommend either the slideshow or the detail method of viewing.)

We Are All Hokies.
Issy & Anne with Hokie-Pokie-Dot bird at our hotel


The next morning after checking out of our hotel, we ate breakfast across the street at the Inn at Virginia Tech and then found our way to the conference room where the Hokie Healing Blanket sewing party was taking place. The three of us sat at a table where we made new friends with several local knitters from Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Roanoke. We were also joined by another Blacksburg friend Lawre, sister of our friend Jane in our knitting group. We had just seen Lawre when she was in Richmond on Tuesday, so it was fun to see her again so soon.

The ladies of Mosaic had prepared 32 bags of 64 squares each, and so our table grabbed a bag, arranged our squares and got down to the business of whip-stitching them together into an 8x8 blanket. Eight seamstresses and sixteen hands made light work, and we finished seaming our blanket in two hours.

By the time we finished Blanket #1, a couple of newspaper reporters and tv news crews had arrived and were shooting video and pictures and interviewing various folks. Issy managed to find herself in an on-camera interview for Roanoke's News Channel 10, but I'm not sure if that has aired yet. I did see that Channel 7's story and video has already been broadcast, and you can see Issy and myself very briefly in that. There's also a little article in the Richmond Times Dispatch and Anne and Issy are holding our blanket in that picture, along with Lawre, Gina Bonomo, and new friends Heather and Joy Kim. I'm quoted briefly, although I have no recollection of saying those words. I do recall starting to cry (and the subsequent embarassment) when he asked me about our previous day's campus tour and what was most meaningful to me.

The folks from Mosaic were incredibly generous, giving a goodie bag to the first 100 knitters who arrived. There were also door prizes and a silent auction. I won a craft book and Anne won a gorgeous red cashmere cabled scarf. They were also selling some really cool Hokie Knitting merchandise, include t-shirts and satchels. Food and drinks were provided, and one woman walked around massaging everyone's neck and back, and so we felt very taken care of during the whole experience. Our table managed to get another blanket sewn together before Anne, Issy and I had to head back home around 3. I had such fun sewing, though, and was really tempted to stay and work on a third blanket.

(More pictures from Saturday's blanket sewing party can be found in my "Hokie Healing Blankets" Flickr photoset, and again I recommend either the slideshow or the detail method of viewing.)

As of this writing I haven't read any other blogs about the event, so am not sure if all 32 blankets were completed yesterday, but if not, I have every confidence that they will be completed in short order. Mimi told us on Friday that at last count, they'd received 6,100 blanket squares, and after that, stopped counting. They asked that everyone take bags of squares home to sew more blankets together and then send them back to Mosaic. Issy used her experienced eye to pick out squares for a blanket with the idea that we Tuesday Night Knitters might sew one together. Additional blankets will be given to survivors, and perhaps to some of the police and EMS folks who attended the scene.

My friend Judi also requested that we might obtain a square for each of her Hokies United students who have been working so tirelessly to maintain the memorials. Gina very graciously agreed, and so I selected a number of squares and left them for Judi.

Issy & I were on the road headed home by 3:30, and decided to take 460-East the entire way, rather than the truck-clogged I-81/I-64 route that my GPS and MapQuest recommended. It took us slightly longer, but most of the drive, once past Roanoke, was quite peaceful and pleasant. And it was a pleasure to have Issy there to keep me company!

All in all a lovely, meaningful and fulfilling couple of days!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tuesday Night Knitters Rock Da House!

It was a mob scene at knit night last night. Here are a couple of pictures of the crowd:

(I stood on a bench to take this ^ picture.
An artist must suffer for her art.)

And we had guests!

Jane's sister Lawre paid us a visit, as she was in town for a bead show. Here are the happy siblings:

Lawre and Jane

My friend Lou, (who usually knits with the Richmond Knitters on Wednesday nights at the Panera at Willow Lawn), was nice enough to hang with our mob last night. If you're a regular Virgin Wool reader, you may recall a few photos I took of Lou's various knitted socks a few months ago. And if you're a long-time Virgin Wool reader, you may also recall that last November I carpooled with Lou and Beth when we were up in New York for the Knitter's Review Retreat. Fun times.

Anyway, here's Lou having a deeply serious knitting discussion with Susan:

Lou and Susan

And here are a few squares that Lou knit for Mosaic's Hokie Healing blankets:

Speaking of the Hokie Healing blankets, they had another article in the Richmond paper yesterday about the blankets. Mosaic has received over 5,000 squares so far, and more keep coming in! They're having a sewing party on Saturday and are asking for volunteers. My Lynchburg sister and I are going to Blacksburg on Friday to deliver something to Tech's Dean of Students office, and we're going to stay overnight and then sew some blankets for a few hours on Saturday before heading back home. Should be fun! Anyone local reading this who would like me to deliver a square for you, let me know. I'm probably leaving town around noon on Friday.

But back to last night. There were more finished objects!

Amy brought her way-cool mitered square scarf she finished, which is just lovely:

love those colors!

And remember all the lovely yarn that Patsy dyed a few weeks ago? Here it is, all skeined up and ready to go to a good home:

mohair, alpaca and wool -- oh, my!

Unraveled's Mary Jane stopped by and paid us a visit last night, which is how we found out that someone we all know and love was going to be a television star today! You may recall a couple weeks ago when Mary Jane, who breeds Havanese dogs, brought Stanley to visit us at TNK. Later that week Stanley was adopted by new owners and moved to Manhattan. And today, he was on Regis and Kelly!

The show is having "Top Dog" week, and today's dog segment was devoted to "Puppy 101". It was so fun to see Stanley again, and now he's famous!

Look, even Kelly Ripa appreciated Stanley's handsome self:

Kelly pets Stanley

Now we can say we knew him when...... ;-)


Monday, June 11, 2007

Happy Graduation Day!

Yesterday, I felt energized enough by the relatively cooler weather to stroll the garden, watering and weeding here and there, and taking pictures of what's blooming.

Here's one crop:

Black-eyed Susans

More of yesterday's flower photos can be found on my gardening blog, here. Stop on by!


Today, I was out and about the entire day, chauffering relatives for the nephew's graduation, followed by a huge family dinner at Maggiano's (yum!).

Moment of truth, as seen on the Siegel Center's jumbotron

We got the boy all grad-jee-ated. Life is good!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Proud Aunt

Pardon me whilst I brag. I just can't help it -- I'm bursting, I'm so proud.

My nephew's high school baseball team won the state championship yesterday. This is the front page of today's Sports section in our local paper:

( ^ click for big)

That's my nephew in the far right of the photo, with his hat in his hand, about to dive on the flesh pile. I'm so proud of him and happy for him, that he's ending his senior year of high school on such a high note.

(The article can be read online here, and nephew is quoted throughout. Wicked cool!)

Here are a few of photos of him at an earlier game this season:

pick-off attempt (he was safe)

I remember the day he was born. I was in school at MCV, working on my second degree at the time, living with my parents to save money. We got the call from my brother one hot August day that my sister-in-law was in labor, and my parents and I drove over to the hospital to wait while their first grandchild, my first nephew, made his debut on Planet Earth. I remember my brother coming out of the delivery room in tears, announcing with joy that it was a boy! Later, we were allowed in the delivery room briefly, to meet this new addition to the family, and what an honor that was! That was the one and only time I've been so close to the delivery of a nephew or niece, (or anyone, for that matter). I still tear up a little now, thinking about that day, almost 18 years ago.

This boy has made his parents very proud. He's a hardworking bag boy at Ukrops; he's been on the drumline of his high school's marching band; and he's played baseball ever since T-ball. But more than that, he's just a good kid. He's intelligent, respectful, courteous, thoughtful and athletic. I suppose he's a typical teenage boy. And I love him like my own.

Tomorrow, this same kid, the oldest of my parents' twelve grandchildren, will be the first to graduate high school. He'll be attending JMU in the fall. I better start scouting out some nice purple and gold yarn for his hat!

And speaking of hats, you may recall the solid black hat I knit for nephew #3, (one of the baseball star's younger brothers). Earlier this week, his parents held his birthday party and I was finally able to give him his hat, and capture him giving it a test drive:

He looks pretty cute, wearing it, I think. And it received the teenage stamp of approval when he opened the gift and said "Cool". That's all an aunt and a knitter can ask for! :-)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Me and Cher and Demi -- who knew?!

This is freakin' hilarious:

The photo in the center is my driver's license photo from 7 years ago, back when I still had bangs and wore contacts. According to the facial recognition software on this website (which I think is more hairstyle-recognition than anything else), these are the celebrities I most look like.

Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Okay, now, here are the celebrities that look like my work photo from two years ago:

Lynda Carter and David Letterman. HILARIOUS!

(And what's with the resemblance to James Joyce? Is it the mustache?)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Feed Reader recommendations wanted

I love technology as much as the next geek, but sometimes I'm slow to jump on certain bandwagons.

For instance, I've had the same cell phone for the past six years. At the time of purchase, in early 2001, it was cutting edge, state of the art -- the first "SmartPhone" of its kind. A cell phone with an integrated Palm Pilot and wireless web and email.

These days, this brick looks like a holdover from the 1980's and weighs a ton in comparison to newer phones, but I still use it. Why not? It still works perfectly well. The battery life is phenomenal (~ 5 days between charges, if I limit lengthy calls), which comes in handy for work travel.

But there are a myriad of newer, prettier phones available now, phones whose features put my antique to shame -- phones with cameras, GPS technology, mp3 capability, picture-viewers, and much prettier and easier-to-use web, email and texting features.

So why don't I upgrade? Oh, laziness, for one. Don't really feel like researching a new phone when the current one works just fine. Also, I'm cheap. I paid a hefty price for this phone and want to get as much life out of it as possible. Thirdly, I haven't yet seen any of the newer phones that make me think I could happily live with them for the next five years. (I really like the "push" email technology of RIM Blackberries, but I haven't seen one with all the bells and whistles of other phones. That sleek new iPhone looks promising, though....) Fourth, I'm afraid if I make a switch, I'll be losing things I really like about my current phone (battery life, great geographical service coverage, etc.). Finally, there's always a slim chance I may have to go to Europe for work, so would like my next phone to be usable in both the U.S. and the E.U., which will require it to have GSM network compatibility.

And so, for the time being, I will wait. If my phone breaks, dies, or gets lost, I'll happily replace it with some new fancy one. But for now, as long as it keeps working flawlessly, I have no complaints and will hang on to it. It's like an old shoe, I guess....

So what does that have to do with the title of this post? Not much, except that, now that everyone on Blogger has upgraded to Blogger Beta, my Blogrolling alerts don't work anymore. (They never did work with TypePad blogs and other platforms.) So, now I will need to jump on the RSS Feed Aggregator bandwagon and sign up for something like Bloglines, if I want to be an efficient reader of blogs.

I wasn't real happy with Bloglines the last time I tried it, although I know that is probably what 90% of you use and will recommend. So, I'm wondering what the other 10% of you use -- anything you like better than Bloglines? I've done a little research -- this article in particular has been helpful. But I'm still torn, and am open to suggestions.

Tell me what you think....

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Burnt Orange and Chicago Maroon

According to Virginia Tech's website, those are the official Hokie colors -- "burnt orange" and "Chicago maroon", adopted back in 1896. Didn't realize maroon was associated with Chicago, (I always think of how they dye the river green on St. Paddy's day), but, there you have it.

Anyway, I bring that up because I have a little update on the Hokie-knitting goings-on in my little world.

You may recall the Hokie Hope Hat I knit for my friend on the VT faculty. She received it back in early May, and emailed me a heartfelt thank you, and followed up with a sweet thank you card:

In her email, she wrote:

"I LOVE my Hokie Hope Hat! What makes it extra special is that you made it! I will wear it with love and pride --- you have no idea how much it means to me. I am touched beyond words! And for the blankets being knitted with the remnant yarn, I again, am touched beyond words.

Your gift is from the heart as well as your hands. You have made me smile and truly feel "happy" again. Thank you for finding such a special way to share in our loss while also celebrating our lives (and friendships).

I share her words here not to toot my own horn, but in hopes that it might brighten the days of anyone who has been knitting for Virginia Tech and wondering if their knitting has been received in the spirit in which it was intended. Rest assured, it is.

Judi's hat was knit with some luscious Malabrigo:

purchased locally at the Yarn Lounge. And lucky for me, I still had lots of yarn leftover after the hat was finished, so I knit several squares for Mosaic's Hokie Healing blankets:

log cabin square
two VT logo squares using Linda's pattern

And I still have enough of the orange leftover to knit at least one more square. Last week, Unraveled's Mary Jane Watkins was gracious enough to take my three squares and several others knit by fellow Tuesday Night Knitters, and ship them off to Mosaic with other squares collected at her shop. Thanks a million, Mary Jane!

Speaking of the Tuesday Night Knitters and Hokie squares -- one of our knitters, Linda M., knit a whopping eighteen (18!) blanket squares! So many, in fact, that she won some gorgeous Lorna's Laces yarn from Phyl's blog contest! She brought it to knitting last night, but I didn't take any pictures, so you'll just have to imagine some pretty yarn....

And speaking of pretty yarn, how about some more Burnt Orange and Chicago Maroon:

After I pestered Scout for a solid two weeks, she somehow found a spare moment in her crazy-busy life to dye me some Hokie-colored yarn. (Thanks, Scout!) Both hanks are 100% superwash merino (a Louet Gems base yarn, I believe). One is a worsted weight, and the other is sold as "bulky", although I'd probably call it a heavy-worsted (about 4 stitches per inch on 9's), rather than chunky or bulky. Still lovely to knit with, and knit with it I did.

And what else would I make, but a hat:


Yes, at the risk of ridicule, I've knit another hat. It's no secret -- I love knitting hats. Easy, mindless, quick. Only slightly more complicated than a scarf, and takes a fraction of the time to knit -- they make great gifts. My feeble, unemployed brain can handle hats, so, for the time being, I'm clinging to hat knitting for all its worth. Hats are probably the one knitted item I wear the most, (of course, not at this time of year), more so even than socks or scarves or sweaters.

But I do get teased about my constant hat knitting, and perhaps am getting a little too sensitive about that. Case in point: I may have snapped and actually told someone in my knitting group last night to "Bite me!", after being teased once again, about my hat knitting. (My humble apologies, Linda.) And I may never, ever, live that down. Sigh....

So let me change the subject by distracting you with pom-pom remnants:

So far, I've only used up the heavier Hokie-colored yarn -- not sure what I will do with the worsted weight, but am open to ideas. And anyone who snidely suggests a hat is just asking for it!