Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas in California: Day One

I'm writing this post from my hotel room in Garden Grove, California, just outside Anaheim which is home to the beloved Disneyland.  Instead of staying home and making a big deal about Christmas, my family has decided to spend the week in and around the happiest place on earth.  Yes, I see the irony in spending the holidays at some place that will be over-decorated as an effort to avoid Christmas.

Anyway, we flew into Orange County yesterday morning and spent the day exploring the J. Paul Getty Museum, a beach in Malibu, and part of West Hollywood. 

Thanks to the new Canon Powershot digital camera that I received as an early Christmas present from my folks, I have well over one hundred pictures to prove it!  It's amazing how much of a shutterbug I've become now that I have a 4gig memory card in the pretty new camera.  I'm still learning all the settings, but one of the best ones I think has been the "Sunset" setting, which I utilized while in Malibu just before sunset. 

This picture is my younger sister Gina, taking a picture with her own camera of our other sister Rachel.  The lighting is amazing and I'm very impressed with the camera.  I don't expect that every picture I shoot with this new camera will be amazingly artistic like this one, but I'm having a blast with it regardless.

Okay, I realize this is a craft blog and I haven't talked about any crafting yet!  I did bring three different knitting projects on this trip: the malabrigo scarf, a vanilla sock, and the lace shawl I started this summer.  I'm making decent progress on the scarf and it should be done on this trip I hope or shortly soon after.  It's hard to get much knitting in though with all the running around.  Sadly I get carsick fairly easily so I have to be careful with what I chose to work on.  But this was only the first day of a week-long trip so who knows what this week will bring.  Stay posted for another post soon!

Coffee and cashmere,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Old Picture, New Project

100_1170, originally uploaded by craftylulu.
When I was in Nashville with my dad in 2008, I purchased two gorgeous skeins of worsted weight malabrigo, seen here, in the colorway "velvet grapes". This was my first Malabrigo purchase after hearing so much stuff about the yarn online, making these two skeins very special. They wouldn't be knit into just anything--the selected project had to be special.

Over a year later, I finally figured out what this lovely yarn would become: a scarf. That may not sound very special or unique especially for an avid scarf-knitter such as myself, but this scarf will be gifted to a very special person eventually. I wanted something more unisex even though it is purple yarn. (Who says men can't wear purple just as well as women can anyway?) Reversible is good, and a mindless knit this time of year is always good in my book. And thus the journey of the seeded rib scarf came to be.

I do not have a current picture of the scarf yet for a couple different reasons I won't bore you with today. The pattern is easy and fairly enjoyable for being so mindless and repetitive. I'm using size US 8 needles. For being just under the two month mark, I've completely used the first skein and am well into knitting from the second one. I'm thinking some fringe will be necessary.

Details as to the lucky recipient of this scarf to come after the holidays. I have to keep some things a secret after all...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Knitting Graffiti

On Saturday, my friend Jenna and I went to Denver for free admission to the Denver Art Museum.  We walked up and down the 16th Street Mall and then headed to the Denver Contemporary Art Museum where I found this...

Yup! Knitting graffiti on the bike rack!!  I was so excited to find it that I decided to take half a dozen pictures.   Some people who were also waiting for the bus with us started to slowly walk away from me because I probably looked so crazy.

Next was the Molly Brown House, which was amazing.  We stopped at a great little coffee shop before driving home.  It was a great outing and I feel very cultured.

coffee and cashmere,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WIP: Hudson River Triangle

The night before my flight to California in August, I took some Lorna's Laces Sheppard Sock in Jungle Stripe and cast on the Hudson River Triangle. I had attempted this lace shawl once before about a year and a half ago with a different colorway of the same yarn, but I just wasn't feeling it then.  As you can see by the progress I made in just a matter of days, I'm really feeling it this time!

The picture on the left was taken on an scenic overlook outside Stinson Beach, which was beautiful despite all the fog.  The right photograph was taken while walking along Stinson Beach.  I was using the stitch markers that a Ravelry friend gave me in a swap and even those are San Francisco themed!

If you are looking for an easier lace project, I think this is it.  I have never really done lace before, but I'm really loving this.  It is complex enough to keep my attention, a little challenging, but not mind-numbing difficult.  The pattern is very well-written, offering both written directions and charts

With Christmas just under two months away, I've been trying to work more on my gift knitting so this shawl has been taking a bit of a snooze.  What are you working on right now?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If You're Going to San Francisco... sure to wear some flowers in your hair...

First of all, thank you to everybody out there who has offered their love and support through the loss of my brother. It's been a very interesting four months since Tony left us, and I have been so fortunate to have some freaking amazing people in my life. Many thanks to my readers who have been so patient and understanding with my long absence.

In August, my family took a trip to San Francisco. This was the first time I have been out to the Bay Area since I was nine years old. We toured the City all day on a Saturday, starting in Chinatown and making our way down to the Castro District where I was able to check out the one and only ImagiKnit.  I bought a skien of green Malabrigo Chunky and one skein of gorgeous blue Malabrigo lace.  The chunky yarn has already been knit into a really fun and easy hat.

If you are ever anywhere near San Francisco, you must go check out ImagiKnit.  Their store is huge and beautifully organized.  The shop is split into two big rooms.  The first room, right when you walk in, is all the animal fibers (merino, wool, alpaca, etc).  It is organized by weight.  The second room is plant fibers, set up the same way.  The staff was incredibly helpful and they offered a huge variety of yarn, buttons, notions, books, and everything else under the sun for knitting and crocheting.

I still have plenty of pictures to show off for the rest of my trip, including the lace shawl I started the night before my flight and pictures of the shawl and the beach.

Coffee and cashmere,

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life Without a Camera

To any and everybody who left comments or thought good thoughts for me or my family, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Losing my brother has been the hardest obstacle I've encountered in my life but I've been so fortunate to be surrounded by people who truly care for me.

From left to right: Rachel (holding Daisy), Me, Tony (with Zoey), and Gina

On June 26th, we (my folks, my sisters, and I) started the drive to Anderson, California, where Tony had been living. The 2.5 day trip was difficult and long. I knit some of the sock I had been working on since May but really couldn't do much without getting too carsick. We stayed at Tony's house for a few days, sorting through his belongings and calling friends to alert them of his death. We're planning to to make a couple of quilts out of his t-shirts. My dad stayed behind in Cali for another week after my mom, my sisters, and I got back to Colorado on July 4th.

A big chunk of July was spent at my family's house in Pueblo. We celebrated my mom's fifty-second birthday with a lovely homecooked meal. Tony's funeral was on July 22nd; I gave the eulogy. Before I came back to Greeley last week, I got together with some of the old knitting group which was just a blast.

Oh and why are there no pictures of any of these escapades? Well, for some reason my camera has started taking horrible pictures! They are streaky, miscolored, and blurry. I haven't been doing loads of crafty stuff lately though, so you're not missing out on much.

Classes start on August 24th and I'm kind of excited for the new school year. I'll be taking 15 credit hours (five classes), so who knows how much I'll be able to update this blog but I'm hoping to keep up with it.

Lots of love to all,

Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P. Dear Brother

Well, so much for a short hiatus...

On Tuesday, my brother Tony died from his heart condition. He collapsed on his kitchen floor and died instantly from what I've been told. I didn't find out until Thursday afternoon. My family and I will be driving out to California to take care of his belongings, make sure his dogs have good homes, etc, etc.

I miss my brother so much already. May he always rest in peace.

R.I.P. Anthony Paul Gratton
May 5, 1976 - June 23, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please Enjoy This Brief Intermission

I'm taking another pseudo-hiatus from blogging even though I REALLY don't want to this time. Elphie, my poor laptop, is currently in the hands of the computer wizards at Bear Logic (the computer store/repair shop on campus) and I am stuck with either using desktops at the library or the super slow and frustrating loaner laptop until mine is fixed. And that won't be until probably Monday... So I guess what I'm saying friends is don't expect any posts from me over the next week, give or take a couple days. Between my crappy computer situation and finals, I doubt anything I write would make much sense, especially with no pictures.

But just as a teaser, I cast on Tuesday night for a new sock, my first time using Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock yarn. Ooh the possibilities...

Cashmere and lots of coffee,
Lulu the Sock Knitter

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lulu Tries Some Technology

Normally I consider myself a rather tech-savvy person. I know a decent amount of HTML and CSS, and I even know what they stand for (hyper text markup language and cascading style sheets, respectively). Clearly I've been able to maintain this blog for the last two years on various different computers. I've helped both my parents with various computer problems over the years but still know when I'm over my head and need to call a professional. I can even type nearly 120 words a minute when I get on a roll.

But can Lulu figure out Windows Live Writer or Windows Live Photo Gallery? No.

After hearing good things about Windows Live Writer on a blogging group on Ravelry, I downloaded the program, even opting for the Photo Gallery program at the same time. For a long time I've wanted to get more creative with this blog, change my photos and my layouts some, actually be able to edit my pictures so they look really good. Once the programs were downloaded, I excitedly started composing a post with pictures even. Over the next couple days, I attempted to publish that post to this blog.


After some Googling, I think it might just be a program glitch that I constantly get the same error message every time I try to publish a post with pictures. I'm hoping that is what the problem really is, because otherwise I might feel just a tad dumb.

And as for the Windows Live Photo Gallery... I have no idea where to begin really! I want to be able to crop my photos, even add words or captions onto the image, make collages for the blog when I have a photo-heavy post planned. I was able to crop a picture earlier but when I tried to save it as a new file, it wouldn't let me; I got yet another error message of doom. The funniest thing about all of this is that it saved the original picture under the new file name. Oh what did I do?

If anybody has any suggestions or feedback for me on all of this, send it my way. Are there better programs out there to edit pictures? I've heard amazing things about Paint Shop Pro, but even that is not only expensive but intimidating. How do I get my feet wet in this vast world of graphic design?

And the cherry on top of this craptastic sundae: my laptop is wigging out! Sometime after Thursday, probably over the weekend, the battery stopped charging. While I still have 25% battery life left, I have to keep sweet Elphie plugged in so I don't risk losing any of my work (and at this point in the semester, that would kill me). I'm pretty sure the battery is A-OK and the problem is with the AC adapter power cord thingie. Then last night I tried to import some CDs into iTunes and my computer didn't even recognize that there was a disc in the drive! I tried multiple CDs, cleaned both the discs and the drive, but no luck. So this afternoon I have to hike up to the UC (University Center, which is like our student union) to the computer store and make them fix this.

On a more positive note, I finally caved and joined Twitter. You can read my tweets at Until today, I didn't realize that Melanie or my sister Twittered, so now I have a new way to keep in touch with them. I have a feeling this Twitter thing is going to become a new addiction, at least for the moment.

Wish me luck.

Coffee and Cashmere,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where Did April Go?

Wow! I can't believe tomorrow is the next to last day of April. I can't believe the last two weeks went by so incredibly fast, but I suppose that being busy pretty much every single day with something didn't hurt. Funny how looking back on the last few weeks, everything seemed to have happened so quickly but while it's actually happen, it doesn't feel that fast. Some days even seem to drag on forever.

I haven't really been doing much knitting since I finished my socks. There's some stuff I'd like to do, but (to borrow a phrase from Cameron) I just don't have the bandwith for it right now. I'm supposed to be working on a sample for my hometown LYS, but that's just not happening. More about that in the next post probably.

The UNC Feminist Alliance held our Pro-Choice rally on the 16th and despite rather cold, windy, and generally dreary weather, I think it was quite a success! We organized everything in just under a week. Everybody decorated solid white t-shirts with pro-choice slogans in black lettering. Several girls got together to make some amazing posters! The one I have pictured here is just one of nearly a dozen beautifully crafted signs. We handed out condoms (which came in lots of different colors and kinds!) and pamphlets with lots of good information. Then last week, three of us spoke to our Student Senate about various concerns we have for our campus. Looks like I'm turning out to be quite the activist now! Right now I'm planning to start a scrapbook for the group so future members can look back at how our group was started, what we did, etc. (See how I manage to tie everything to a craft somehow?)

In my last post, I alluded to a date with a special somebody. No, I did not wear my hand-knit socks; in fact, I don't think he's even seen them. The date went fantastically and I look forward to future outings with this man. His mother crochets, so he's quite accustomed to the obsessive fiber habit. It's always nice when the significant other/love interest/whatever he is at least humors my insane craftiness. Doubt I'll be knitting for him any time soon, but he at least has the potential to someday deserve a dishcloth or something small.

As much as I would love to stay and ramble on some more, I must depart to laundry and studying. Finals are next week so there is a great deal to be done.

Coffee and Cashmere,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FO: Daffodil Campfire Socks

Pattern: Campfire Socks from Cider Moon
Size: Men's
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Sheppard Sport in Daffodil, less than one skein
Needles: US 3 Clover Bamboo DPN's
Mods: I knit a shorter cuff because I don't like really tall socks!
Started: I cast these on during my Thanksgiving break in November, but didn't start really working on them until this month.
Finished: This morning!
Thoughts: This is my first completed pair of socks and I am soooo proud. I think this pattern is excellent as an introduction to the wide world of sock knitting. The pattern is extremely well written and was easy to follow. I had such a hard time putting these down!

So now the big question is: are handknit socks too much for a first date?

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Million Different Things

This week has been a busy one. Monday I ran around campus going to class, to the health care center, to Academic Advising, to career services, and then finally that night I went to work. Tuesday, I met with my adviser to discuss classes for next year, went to work, went to class, and then bummed around with Kate my RA. Wednesday was class, a nap, dinner with friends, Cold Stone with Courtney, and my first meeting of the UNC's GLBTA club In & Out. Afterwards, I went to Village Inn with the group and stayed up late eating onion rings and talking about a million different things. Thursday I ran around campus hanging with friends and going to meetings, squeezing my macroeconomics class in between.

The meeting I went to Thursday night was for the UNC Feminist Alliance. We talked about different issues affecting women on campus like getting better health care and insurance coverage for female university students, having a pro-choice rally next week, and why is a man considered a stud but a woman is a slut. After the discussion, we joined the College Democrats and made t-shirts with pro-choice slogans. Pictured here is the shirt I made and I'm very excited to wear it!

Now finally, I have photographic evidence of The Finished Sock. In fact, I've even already turned the heel and shaped the gusset of the second sock and now just working on the foot. A lot of people have been very interested in my knitting since I've been taking the socks everywhere. There has even been talk about starting a Stitch'n'Bitch to be sponsored by the UNC Feminist Alliance. The finished sock is pictured here with a Barnes & Noble bag, which holds Easter presents for my little sisters. Oh, that and a couple things for me.

To my Catholic readers, I hope you have a happy Good Friday and a very happy and blessed Easter. Sunday I will hopefully spend with my parents in the Denver area if they can ever tell me what the plan is!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

FO: Showers in Spring Dishcloth

Pattern: Showers in Spring Dishcloth

Size: One Size

Yarn: Cascade Pima Tencel

Needles: US 7 Knit Picks Options Harmony

Mods: None.

Started: Sometime in early March.

Finished: Sometime while I was home for spring break.

Thoughts: I really like this yarn even though it sheds ever so slightly on really dark clothing; I will probably knit with it more in the future. The pattern was well-written and the image is cute! I think this will be my washing my face cloth since it is sooooo nice and soft.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Playing Catch Up

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was home for a week in March for Spring Break. I love going home, where the rest of my yarn and craft supplies live. Even better is all of my mom's craft supplies, scrapbooking stuff in particular, is at my house. A couple years ago, I just got completely hooked on scrapbooking. With all addictions, I have to pass it along to my friends. So last year, I gave my best friend Melanie a scrapbook of her very own, 8.5" by 11", with the promise that I would make some pages for the book at a later date.

During my time home, I finally was able to to! The first page pictured here is the "cover page" of the album, with a lovely quote by Maya Angelou: "Precious jewel, you glow, you shine, reflecting all the good things in the world." The background paper for that page was from the Rockstar Stack, which is filled with some very awesome paper. The second page pictured is from our high school graudation last year. Oh how we hated those stupid yellow robes! The actual graudation ceremony wasn't too bad though since Mel and I sat next to each other, so we were laughing way more than we were crying.

Speaking of Melanie! Last night we made official plans for the No Doubt/Paramore concert in May, including her coming to stay at my new apartment with me for a little while. I can't wait to see what kinds of things we'll create then!

Coffee and cashmere,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Currently Addicted To...

So much for being back, right? It's been over a month and this time, I HOPE, I am back for good! My spring break was a couple weeks ago, during which I caught my little sister's cold that rendered me pretty much useless for well over a week.

Now that I'm feeling better, better being a relative term, I've been actually doing stuff. Lately, I've been totally hooked on Cherry Lime cokes from Sonic, the Knitmore Girls podcast, used book sales, and knitting my first sock.

Yes dear readers, you read that correctly. Lulu is knitting a sock! The first picture is from Wednesday the 1st: behold the sock and the books I purchased from the Friends of the UNC Library used book sale.

Speaking of this used book sale, I'm so glad I finally got to check one out. The university library hosts one every first Wednesday of the month. I picked up four books, including a basically brand new copy of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks (one of my favorite authors) for a mere seven dollars.

I did not want to put that sock down all day Wednesday. That night I started turning the heel. Yesterday I finish turning the heel and shaped the gusset.  During last night's meeting of the UNC Feminist Alliance, I worked on the foot.  Couple more inches and I'll shape the toe and be finished with my first sock!  This picture was snapped this morning, proof of how addicted I've been to this little sock! Even if I never knit the second sock, I will be very happy with myself.

For the record: the pattern is the Campfire socks from Cider Moon, knit with Lorna's Laces Sheppard Sport in Daffodil. I'm knitting them on size 3's.

So what's been going on in your lives?

Lots of Love,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm Back!!!

Oh man, it's been weird not blogging, but I think the break did me some good.

First of all, my brother is doing much better. He is back home in California with his dogs. I miss him but we still talk a couple times a week.

Secondly, I'm freaking broke. I got a speeding ticket and then a week later was in a minor car accident. I'm fine, but I'm paying for half of my deductible to get my car fixed. No more yarn money for me for a while...

I participated in two different swaps recently. The Ravelry Group Caffeine Addicts did a Valentine's Day themed swap, and I got my package the day before V-Day from Greymuse from San Francisco! Two different coffees, two mugs, two sets of stitch markers, a rubber "love rat" and a stuffed devil bear, and five skeins of yarn!! Plus, I think I've made a good friend in Greymuse. The second swap was a $5 card and candy swap for my Teen Knitting group on Ravlery. I got several small circular needles so now I have needles to make the Argyle Beret!

I have been knitting too! I don't have any recent photos to show all the yarn off because I can't find my camera charger cord thingie. (God-forbid I left it at home and won't get it until March...) I'm currently working on the Uncle Argyle scarf from the latest Stitch n Bitch book, which will become a sample for my local shop back home. Other than that, dishcloths, a baby sweater, and a toy for my friend's new baby.

Hopefully I can get my hands on a camera soon so I can show everybody some pictures!

coffee and cashmere,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking a Break

As of right now, I am taking a break from blogging. Until when, I'm not sure. I just need some time to get my life together I think.

Last week, my brother was admitted to the hospital in my hometown for congestive heart failure. Thank God my father brought him to the ER when he did, or else I probably would have been brotherless right now. I was able to go home for a few nights to spend hours at a time at Tony's hospital bedside. Monday night, he was alert enough to know I was there, which I think was a comfort to us both.

Over the past week, it's been a series of ups and downs for both my dear brother and the rest of our family. Tuesday night, I finally had to return to Greeley for school and for work. It's been very difficult for me not to be there and to furthermore, be alone and isolated up here.

So my dear friends, I am on hiatus until further notice.

All my love,

Friday, January 9, 2009

Howdy, Hi, Hello!

And a happy belated new year! 2009 has been fairly good so far. I'm tomorrow morning to start heading back to school for the spring semester even though sometimes it still feels like I just finished last's semester finals although that was a month ago.

So what have I been up to? Besides lots of knitting of course...
  • I got my hair cut, and I think it's the best haircut I've gotten in ages
  • Then, I've been hanging out with my best friend Melanie as much as possible. On New Years Eve, we drove north to old Colorado City and then to Manitou springs. We even stopped at the new yarn outlet in Colorado Springs, where I bought yarn for Melly to learn how to knit! [Look forward to reviews on some yarn stores soon!] Some of the boutiques we visited were just amazing.
  • I made stuff to eventually sell in my etsy shop, when I get around to pricing and photographing everything.
  • I cast on for a sweater.
  • I bought more yarn.
  • Then got yarn to make a sample scarf for my hometown shop.
  • And last but not least, I think I finally came up with some new year's knitting resolutions!
2009's knitting resolutions are...
  1. Knit a sweater.
  2. Actually knit a whole sock. I don't even care if I do a pair. I just want ONE handknit sock at this point.
  3. Do my best to finish all my Christmas knitting before finals week come December.
  4. Learn more techniques and get more adventurous with my knitting.
  5. Teach Melanie to knit, which I've already been working on.
What are your knitting resolutions?

coffee and cashmere,