Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Love Me a Good Cause

Good morning,'s the last day of the month, I did not win half a billion in the Mega Millions Lottery, and I had to take my fat dog to the vet for an ear infection.  But other than that, life is good.

I'm going to try and stop by Cathy Montoya's yarn shop in Evanston, since she's having a knit-in for chemo caps today to kick off her month of collecting for Halos of Hope:

I might even talk the husband into going since it's in a cool part of town.  See?  It all works out.

And I still have to finish the pattern to ship out to my subscribers tomorrow...the pattern was easy, relatively quick, and doesn't appear to have any mistakes (two other people knitted it also).  Problem is I still need to upload the photos.  I still consider myself "getting ahead," however, since I am almost done with NEXT month's pattern as well.  Progress!

All this means is it's getting to be time to choose my next garment.  Decisions, I want to make something I can wear right away, or would I rather make something winter-y and use more yarn and bring it to Starbucks where the air conditioner is always set to 35 degrees?  Tough call.  Or I could do both, I suppose...but I really am making an effort to finish things, get ahead, stop leaving sixty unfinished projects all over the house...the effort may be conscious, but it's working.

Meanwhile, I was at the dermatologist's office yesterday when a woman came over to me and said, "What are you knitting?"  I said, "A scarf," and then felt obligated to follow it up with, "I know that sounds cliche but I'm designing twelve scarves this year."

I come out of my appointment to pay up, and the same woman is sitting in the waiting room with a pair of fourteen-inch size 4s in her hand, and this sage-colored yarn and was intriguing.  Well, JEEZ...had I known she was a knitter, I would have whipped out the business cards, started talking about my favorite yarn shops...blah blah blah.

So I did that anyway before leaving the building.

The next three days are spent working, so I may as well get the yarny goodness out of my system today.  I don't know if I'll make a cap while at Montoya today, but I'll hopefully find the time to make a few to donate...I obviously have a soft spot for cancer patients, and will continue to do so until some new-age genius can accurately spell out what we can do to completely reverse the effects of cancer on the body.

I've done my part...I eat vegan-ish, I exercise, I have a positive outlook, I try not to load down with artificial sweeteners and nitrates and other chemicals that have already been proven to cause cancer, and I am the dork at Cubs games in the big straw hat because I don't like the largest organ in my body absorbing a bunch of chemicals into my bloodstream that I can't pronounce.  So now I just need researchers to do their part.

In the meantime, chemo kills a lot of bad cells in the body, and it causes the hair to fall out of about 99.5% of patients' heads.  So making chemo caps know...a good idea.  Join me and you can find the details of how to donate to Halos of Hope in the article above.  Thanks and I appreciate all of your support!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Look For The Signs

Good evening!  I have started Knit Tips Tuesday, but I don't think I'll finish it until tomorrow...stay tuned or just check the facebook page.  And if you're not a knitter (or have no desire to hear about yarn and techniques and crap), please read on.

I don't care if you're religious.  Hell...I carry around a 1.25-inch Teeny Jesus in my purse and capture a photo of him every day, as a tongue-in-cheek to Catholicism and Texans (separate further down the blog if you don't understand the reference).  But I do care about two things...I appreciate people who always try to improve themselves, and I appreciate respectful individuals.

That said, since my faith has been shaken more than once in the last few years, I look for signs.  Yes, some see it as grasping at straws.  Whatever.  Believe what you want.  But I get inspired by someone, design a knitting pattern in their honor (sometimes it's a gift, sometimes it's not), and share it with the world.  I don't make a million bucks designing knitting patterns, but I get a million bucks' worth of warm fuzzies from it.

So this weekend, probably most of you know I shaved my head for St. Baldrick's.  If you look at the last entry, you will see the exit cap I designed and made out of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb.  When I tweeted the story, Lorna's Laces retweeted it so all of a sudden two hundred people more than normal were reading my blog.  To me, this means that two hundred people who knit were now learning about an organization that helps fund research for curing childhood cancers.  SCORE!

I had a brief conversation with a customer this morning who had overheard a conversation with a coworker, and the long and short of it was me telling him the end of the conversation, and him telling me that I inspired him.  ME.  And little does he know, that every day I watch him on his crutches and think how amazing it is that he laughs and jokes with the cashiers every morning while his health improves, and if he wasn't hobbling around with pins and gauze I may never know anything was imperfect.  That, to me, is inspiring.  Grace is inspiring.

The conversation he overheard involved a coworker saying to me, "Can I say something that won't offend you?"  I told him I couldn't promise anything if he was planning on calling me a douchebag.  Fair enough.  He looked me dead in the eye and said, "You look better with hair."

Of course I look better with hair.  I have supermodel hair and I'm female.  But I did it for is a renewable resource.  So is class, but you have to find the source of it before it can be renewed.  And just in case there is any gray area as to why I shaved my head, it's because of penicillin.  Huh?

See, when penicillin was discovered, scientists didn't necessarily work at hospitals and universities with access to millions of dollars in grants.  The three scientists credited with discovering penicillin (at three different times from 1879 to 1928) basically stumbled upon genius when they weren't given much to start with.  That said, we currently live in a time where discoveries are sometimes still stumbled upon.  We also, however, live in a time where millions of dollars of research get us closer and closer, through study after study, to finding the next great revolution.

I collected over twelve hundred dollars from shaving my head.  Who's to say that my twelve hundred may or may not be the missing funding to that next study that finds a cure for a childhood cancer?  Not that any of us would realistically find it out to the dollar, but wouldn't it feel great to read in the paper (well...on the internet) that the cure for neuroblastoma was discovered because of a study funded by money from head-shavers involved in St. Baldrick's?  I think so.

And by the way, my coworker Dave came into work with a perfectly bald head today.  He grows his hair out (including his beard) for a year, and then shaves it all at once.  He re-shaved it this weekend sort of in my honor, and as he took of his hat, he said, "I think anyone that sacrifices themselves and takes a stand is awesome."  And out flew a penny, seemingly out of nowhere.  I laughed.  Believe in signs, don't believe in signs, I don't care.  CJ says hello.

I don't feel disrespected by the coworker...I encountered ignorance.  But this person is making no effort to improve himself.  I will most likely never socialize with him outside of work...ever...for this very reason.

I choose to surround myself with people full of hope.  I shaved my head for charity.  And I hope that because of it...through the twists and turns of the internet and random encounters and what have you...there is someone out there who benefited from it.  And my encounter with the two people from this morning proves to me that someone already has.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Check Out My Head!

Well, here we are.

I finished my hat, and I finished Zack's hat.  While I didn't get a picture of Zach's hat, it's probably only a matter of time before it pops up.  It looked like a floppy graduation hat...a bit ridiculous.  I'm very proud of it.

Thanks to my awesome support system, I raised $1,190 to benefit St. Baldrick's, a charity which funds research for childhood cancers.  Great job everybody!  I had an entourage with me at O'Malley's Pub, and I counted ten people who shaved their heads.  The great thing is that at least five of them were under the age of ten...they wanted to help other kids.  Just when you thought all kids did nowadays was surf the internet...

Anyway, here is me in my bald cap, made from Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb.  I thought the color, Turtle Rodeo, was appropriate since I recently missed the Houston Rodeo.  Mutton-busting in the audience with Kathleen was one of my favorite memories of Texas:

Tomorrow, I was thinking of going for a bike ride.  And choosing my next big project.  I went to Midwest Discount Yarn this week because I needed a sixteen-inch size 8 circular needle, and of course it's the mecca for vintage patterns sold at the original published price, so I had to buy stuff.  For fifteen bucks, I walked away with almost 200 patterns from 1967 to 1976.  Some of them are...well...more "fly" than others, but they are all at least a hoot to look at.  I was thinking of taking one of my higher quantities of yarn and making a cute dress with cables on it.  Perhaps there needs to be a measure of patience first...

For now, though, no knitting for the night.  My eyes need a break, my fingers need a break, and I really just want to rub the peach fuzz on my head until I fall asleep.  The husband posted a photo of the two of us (he shaves his head as a fashion statement, for those of you who have never seen him), and of course when we got home this afternoon, Bluto started licking the back of my head and he couldn't stop.  Whatever.

Oh, and what should I do with the OTHER half-skein of the Turtle Rodeo?  I was thinking a snood, so I would have a place to put my hair when it comes back!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tomorrow is the DAY!

Good evening!  I haven't fallen off of the planet, for those of you wondering why I didn't even blog on Knit Tips Tuesday.  I just worked Tuesday through Thursday this week and it sort of throws off my fun time.  You would THINK my job would want to work around my plans, but whatever. ;-)

Speaking of which, do you know how nice it is to go to a job where your boss just randomly says to you, "I am so glad to have you on my team!"?  I'll tell you how nice it is.  It's freaking super-duper-crazy-nutcase nice.

So onto the knitting...I have made an exit hat for tomorrow out of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb, and the color is called Turtle Rodeo.  I'll post pictures of me in it within the next couple of days.  Thanks to my generous friends and family, I have raised $805 to date on my personal St. Baldrick's webpage for childhood cancer research.  If you have donated, thank you so much!  If you have not, don't think for a second that I'm pressuring you.  The fact that nobody has tried to talk me out of shaving off my supermodel hair pretty much tells me that I'm loved and supported.  Here is my page:

Also, the Knit Tips Tuesday these past two weeks have been dedicated to knitting for cancer patients.  The link for the first article is hyperlinked in the second article, so here is the one from this past Tuesday, and you can read the first one within it if you haven't yet:

I also posted a new pattern on Etsy and was the March Scarf pattern of the Month.  If you can believe it, April's is almost done (by both of us this time!), and I actually have a different idea for May than I had originally planned.  We'll see what I end up with.  Either way, I want to shout from the rooftops, "I'm getting ahead!  I'm getting ahead!"  And none of you believed me...ha ha is the pattern:

And finally, a story.  I believe in signs, as most of you know, and of course I have that weird gift that freaks me out sometimes and makes me wonder if I should be honing it or stifling it (all votes appreciated).  Case in point:  I was walking out of the house on Tuesday morning, and when I looked back at the house to see if I turned the light off, I had this vision of the porch collapsing.  Don't know why...other than one floorboard, I never even heard so much as a creak out of the thing.  But whatever.  The next day, Bert was climbing down the stairs and the porch collapsed.  (FYI...he's okay).

Anyway, I'm sitting at Starbucks today, finishing my St. Baldrick's just-in-case-it's-cold-tomorrow cap, and this woman comes up to me and says, "Can I just say, it is so nice to see people out knitting."  She showed me her little tupperware box.  "I brought mine with me."  I offered for her to sit next to me, but she was waiting for a friend.  She told me she just started getting back into knitting, so I told her I write an online column about knitting.  "Wait," she said, "Do you write Knit Tips Tuesday?"

So at this point, starstruck, I whipped out my Sharpie and signed her bra, addressed to "honey."

Just kidding.

She was lovely...we exchanged phone numbers and it turns out that not only is her birthday the same day as the husband (mine, not hers), but she runs a rescue for dogs that educates owners before allowing adoption. In other words, many of her dogs are the so called "dangerous breeds," and of course I have my two useless guard dogs at home.  Yes, this could all be a coincidence, but I still think she was plopped there.

On that note, have a good night and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Time to Freaking Finish

Here's my plan for the day.  I'm going to Starbucks.  I've already had my tea but I'm going to have my normal venti Orange Blossom, and I'm not picking up my butt from the chair until my sweater seams are sewn.  The dog food purchase can wait, the scarf sample can wait, the new pattern I have floating around in my head can wait...

The pit bulls...well, the fat white one for sure, and the red one possibly...are sleeping.  They won't miss me.  But I can't sit in this house and see one sleeve on the dining room table and the rest of the sweater on the chair for one more minute.  Watch me go.

The St. Baldrick's event is only two weeks away, so I'm sorry to bug people for donations on short notice, but Tracey's daughter was my inspiration.  I can't help the whimsy-factor.  Anyway, please forward this on to any knitters (or people who like giving gifts to knitters) in your life.  If they donate a minimum of $5.00 to my St. Baldrick's page, I will send them a FREE pattern from my Etsy shop.  Just make sure the donor sends me a message with what pattern they would like.  It does NOT include the pattern being released on 3/20, but any other one on my page is fair game.

Here is the St. Baldrick's page:

And here is the Etsy page:

Now just you can check up on me later this evening if you'd like, but I WILL have completed that sweater.  I'm not leaving my wooden chair at Starbucks (unless I have to pee, but that's a VERY brief stop) until that thing is complete.  GO.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Knitting and Shaving For A Good Cause

Shaving?  Yes, you read that correctly.  I can hear my Texas friends gasping all the way from here.

Good morning!  I have a friend at work who has a ten-year-old daughter.  This kid has never known a child with cancer, never been really sick herself (other than some really funny head-lice stories, which I'm pretty sure SHE does not find funny), and doesn't have a reason to shave her head for St. Baldrick's other than that she wants to help.  Me too...I'm inspired.

So on the 24th of March, I'm going to O'Malley's Pub on the northwest side to shave my head in solidarity for kids with cancer.  I myself am a two-time champ of cancer survival, so this head-shaving thing is old hat.  But if I can do something for others, I'd like to.  Here's my donation page if anyone is interested:

My fundraising goal is a thousand bucks, but of course I'd be happy with $5,000 also...

So this week's Knit Tips Tuesday...and the following one...will be dedicated to knitting for cancer patients, chemo caps, that sort of thing.

And this week's knitting will be dedicated to all scarves, all the time, of course!  I have two currently on the needles, and Tiny E has one of them also on the needles but I haven't heard her progress yet.  Either way, both of them are easy-peasy compared to last month's lacy thing.  On the other hand, I should be dedicating my knitting to "finishing."  See, that sweater I was making?  Yeah...half a sleeve is sewn in.  In other words, you have to sew two sleeves into the shoulders, and then a seam on each side from the bottom of the sweater to the tip of the sleeve.  I have half of one sleeve sewn in.  Break my heart.

I'm also trying to expand my horizons by crocheting a giant granny square blankie.  I'm trying to get rid of cheapo yarns I have lying around, and what better way to practice crochet by doing it on yarn that I can rip out time and time again?  It's about six inches in diameter at the moment...I'm FLYING, I tell you.

My "before" picture is on my St. Baldrick's page...take a gander and just know that while you're breathing in and out, wishing I wasn't making my supermodel hair go away, but two things you should know:  hair is a bona-fide renewable resource, and these kids need our money and my hair way more than I do.  Thanks for reading...I can't wait until the middle of next week (meaning a week and a half from now) when I get to post my newest Scarf Pattern of the Month.  It weighs nothing.  At all.  I wore it twice before giving it to another friend at work for her wedding.  Sigh.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Transform the Way You Look at Your Stash

Ooh...I just sounded like an infomercial!  Here's why...the last three Knit Tips Tuesdays have been about converting patterns from one yarn gauge to another.  It will change the way you look at the yarn you purchased and didn't know what to do with (very Chicago of me, ending a clause with a preposition):

I'm currently at a Starbucks helping out a friend, and Toni Kukoc walked in the door (google him if you don't know who he is).  What's funny is when he was walking toward the door, I thought, "Wow...he's going to hit his head on the door on the way in!"  He did not, however...according to the employees at Starbucks, he comes in two or three times per day.  I assume he got the hang of the door (and most others, as his height isn't new to HIM) early on.

So, I actually had two knitting samples in my bag this morning, and I'm sitting near the door.  All of a sudden, I realized I have this cashmere lace thing in there and that would be all I need to keep the chill off my neck.  And sure enough, I throw the thing on and all of a sudden I'm being looked at differently.  You a GIRL.

Because let's face it...I'm not exactly a cashmere-lace kind of girl.

BUT...I am an openwork kind of girl, and I ran across this pattern and thought to myself, "Hey!  I can do that in my sleep AND use an employer-approved color to look professional!  It will be all about the accessorizing, but it can certainly be done:

So that I'm back to being "ahead" and the pattern for last month has been sent out, my .pdf software is Kopa-Zetic, and I'm almost done with my chunky sweater, it's time to start planning!  Not that I didn't have sixty things already planned, of course.

Incidentally, I was at a bar near my house, watching the Blackhawks game a few weeks ago.  All I brought with me was a sleeve from the chunky sweater, and I had an empty chair on each side of me.  Now granted, I was watching the game and was having quite an easy time knitting stockinette stitch without looking, but the owner of the bar asked me if I was making a sweater.  I said, "Well, technically I'm just making a sleeve right now."  I think I came across WAY more bitchy than I meant to.  Next time, I'll just do the hockey-fan thing of, "WAIT FOR A WHISTLE BEFORE YOU TALK TO ME!"  I actually think he would have appreciated that way more.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Some Things Never Get Old

Good morning, blogosphere.  After wrapping up the lace pattern four days EARLY (which, as you know, is my New Year's Resolution), I somehow had infected Adobe software, or glitchy Adobe software, or whatever the case may be.  I called upon my tech-ey friend Ed, who did the Chicago-accented "Lemme see it" when I told him what I thought was wrong.

I did what I thought was right first.  I uninstalled the software.  Duh.  The security scan didn't come up with anything that couldn't be removed, so what's the problem?  Then, I tried to reinstall it.  It's free software...this (on my level anyway) isn't rocket science. Uninstall, reinstall.  Got it.  It wouldn't let me reinstall.  So then I re-checked what version I removed to see if maybe it was a different version than the latest one.  Nope.

Hence, Ed.  He told me some driver was incorrect on it.  Or something.  I tend to stop listening about computer stuff because unlike cars, I have no desire to be self-sustained in that area.  While we were talking about my little Adobe problem, he started trying to sell me a television.  Not going to happen.  But either way, I'm bringing it to him this afternoon...he took a gander at it last weekend and said he knew what he needed to do, but it might take up to two hours.  I didn't have two hours.  Today I do.  One meeting at 9:30am, and then a meeting in Villa Park if I make it, and then Ed's going to town on my software.

That looks way dirtier than I meant it.

Anyway, It pisses me off that I have no proof I was actually AHEAD of the game this month, but all is well...I will just have to prove myself in March!  I'm on a roll, knitting-wise, and I may even finish the Lion Brand From Rowan Pattern Sweater tomorrow.  If I can fit big projects in between my yearlong scarf challenge (and by the way, this is where you are supposed to forget that the sweater is made on size 13 needles), then I'm just that much more awesome.

And this was on top of missing moms, drug issues, apathetic boyfriends and girlfriends, rainwater, and some lace work.  I think I need a nap.