Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You Never Outgrow . . .

. . . the delicious thrill that comes from doing something you know is going to make your oh-so-proper mother crazy!!!  Happy Easter to me!

(Apologies to those readers with feet issues!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cherry Blossoms are Here

Well, it looks like that annual spring rite is underway in Washington, D.C. According to the Bloom Watch, the peak blooming dates are April 1 and 2, but I was down at the Tidal Basin yesterday, and the trees are resplendent in white and pink blossoms.  In the picture on the right, you can just make out the Jefferson Memorial behind all of the flowers. 

I have to admit that, like most people who live in D.C., I think the trees are absolutely lovely, but I find the way they take over the city for two weeks every spring to be pretty frustrating.  People and tour buses just swarm all over the area between the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial, which makes it really hard to get around that area.  Really, they're just trees, and it's hard to understand how a bunch of trees can have such a crippling effect on a city.

But I supposed that's one of the liabilties of living here.  At the end of the day, it's great that people can--and do--enjoy and appreciate the beauty of D.C. and its famed cherry blossoms. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

The Yellow House Knits Semi-Annual Sale begins two weeks from today, on April 11 and will run until April 25.  The Semi-Annual Sale is your chance to get in-stock handknit baby sweaters at a significantly reduced cost.  Order a few for spring baby showers!

All in-stock sweaters will be 40% OFF.  Custom orders placed during the sale period will receive free shipping.  

If you've had your eye on a sweater, I encourage you to act quickly once the sale begins.  A number of Yellow House Knits customers buy from me only during the semi-annual sales, and they usually buy more than one sweater, so the inventory changes quickly.  

There will also be an additional special offer for bloggers: Blog about the sale between April 11 and April 18 and receive free shipping on your sale items (in addition to the 40% off) or save 15% on a future order.  Blog postings must include at least one picture of a Yellow House Knits sweater.  Email yellowhouseknits(at)gmail.com to let me know where to find your posting, and I will email information about redeeming these offers.  So schedule your blog postings now!

Home Sweet Home

For someone who doesn't like to travel that much, I have to travel a fair amount for work. I'm not one of those consultant-types who lives out of a suitcase Monday through Friday, but I do have to go away once or twice a month. The shorter trips are almost worse than the longer ones because they're so rushed--you barely get checked into the hotel, and you're packing up again.

This week I was in Indianapolis for a few days. As far as work trips go, Indy isn't so bad. It's a direct flight from National Airport, the client is pretty close to the airport, and the Conrad Hotel, where we stay, is quite lovely. But I still find traveling to be pretty stressful, and I miss the comforts of home.

There are certain routines of coming home that are so comforting to me. When I'm finally in my car leaving the the airport parking lot, as I get on the GW Parkway, I catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument across the river, and my heart always skips a beat. In that moment, I always think about how great it is to live in D.C. Then as I turn off Pennsylvania Avenue onto my street, I always look for something in the neighborhood to be different, like somehow maybe they built a whole new building in three days, and I'm always relieved and reassured when everything is exactly the same. When I'm finally inside, I flop down on the couch and look around at my little house, thinking about how I love every little detail, and just how GOOD it is to be home. I bask in the glow of being home until inevitably I catch something that needs to be handled (yesterday it was that the ceiling fan really needs to be cleaned), and I snap out of my reverie and back into the real world.

It's good to be home. As Dorothy famously said, "There's no place like home."

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Baby Sweaters

I just listed two new baby sweaters on Etsy.  I seem to be in a cardigan phase these days!

The sweater on the left below is a version of a pullover I did for a charity auction.  That sweater sold for well over $100 (wow!).  It was a one-of-a-kind sweater, so I decided to do a variation as a cardigan with slightly different colors.  

As for the sweater on the right, I just love the colors.  The combination of red, brown, and green is a really sophisticated option for a baby.  The red buttons are a perfect match for the red in the sweater, and I think the square shape is a fun twist.

Happy weekend all! 

handknit baby sweater red blue green yellow purple
handknit baby sweater red brown green

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Yellow House Mystery

I loved the Boxcar Children books when I was little.  I'm sure I read the entire series multiple times, but I probably read the original book dozens and dozens of times.  I was fascinated by orphans Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden (and their dog Watch) and the life they created for themselves in the boxcar in the woods.

After they were rescued from life in the boxcar by their kind grandfather, the Boxcar Children went on to solve mysteries for the rest of the series, including a mystery about an old yellow house on Grandfather's property.  (Wonder why that one appeals to me today???)

The books have been reprinted several times since I read them in the early 80s, but the image to the left is exactly how I remember them.  Old books like this make me so nostalgic.  Other favorites: Nancy Drew (of course), Trixie Belden, the Meg mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown (clearly I had a thing for kid detectives), the B is for Betsy books, Betsy-Tacy (I also apparently had a thing for books about girls named Betsy), and Ramona.  And, of, course, I've written about my devotion to Anne of Green Gables before.

I think it's interesting that most of my favorites were not contemporary 80s books (like the Sweet Valley High books, although I read those too!), but they were books that were written decades earlier and withstood the passage of time.  I guess great books really are timeless.  I hope that when my niece is old enough to read that she'll be interested in reading these classics too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Anatomy of a Custom Order

I'm often surprised at how reluctant people are to order custom sweaters.  I think they don't trust their own abilities to pick out what's going to look good.  Generally they order an in-stock sweater in a different size or they defer to me entirely to pick colors and styles.

For those who are interested in a custom sweater but don't know where to start, I often suggest they start with an in-stock sweater they like and tweak it to make their sweater unique.  So consider the brown and turquoise sweater on the left below.  If we change the dominant colors from brown and turquoise to pink and sour apple green, make it a cardigan instead of a pullover, change the neckline, and swap out the buttons, we have an entirely different sweater.  But it's really not such a leap from the first sweater to the second.

So while I'm always happy to sell an in-stock sweater or to make one to order in a larger or smaller size, I really encourage buyers to consider customizing a sweater so it's exactly what they want.  If you're going to invest in a handknit baby sweater, why not make it perfect?

Monday, March 22, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

Thanks so much to Sarah at Sarah's Blog of Fun for the One Lovely Blog Award! I'm so grateful for the nice compliment!

Sarah has accumulated quite a collection of blog awards herself.  Be sure to check out her blog!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tulip Surprise

I had brunch with a dear friend today, and she arrived with a surprise for me--a lovely bunch of spring tulips.  To me, fresh flowers are emblematic of spring, and just yesterday I was thinking about picking some up.  I was really touched by the thoughtful gesture. 

I particularly like tulips because I love the way they haphazardly spill out of the vase, the flowers and leaves going every which way.  And I love all things pink, so these were particularly perfect.  Look how great they look against the yellow couch and the pink pillows.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Daily Happy

Once of my friends has a Facebook page on which she posts pictures of her "Daily Happys." Each day she takes a picture of one thing that made her happy that day. Sometime they're big things: the keys to a new car or Mickey Mouse at Disney World.  But more often they're smaller, everyday things: a sandcastle, a chocolate milkshake, even an empty in-box.

I think her Daily Happys are a really nice exercise--they force her to find some good in every day, even the particularly bad ones.

Well, here's MY Daily Happy for today: My beloved camellia bushes in my front yard are blooming!  The bushes, in various shades of pink, were planted shortly after I moved into my house a few years ago, and I've watched them bloom and grow every spring since them.  I just love the delicate pink flowers and the glossy green leaves.  But I was pretty sure they hadn't survived the February storms.  So when I saw them budding earlier this month, I got a bit hopeful.  And when I saw the flowers today, I was ecstatic.  Even if the blooms are less robust this year on account of snow damage, I am optimistic that they will continue to flourish for years.

Daily Happy.  Wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Slow Down

Yesterday, I had a hectic and frustrating day. I ended up getting home from work later than I had hoped to and was anxious to get my evening run in so I wouldn't be eating dinner in the middle of the night. So, when I took Mr. Bullet out to do his business, I was doing my best to move him along.

Except he was having none of it. Despite my urging to the contrary, he was poking around, smelling everything, lifting his leg on any available upright (trees, fences, sign posts, garbage cans, and so on). When a car started across the street, he stopped in his tracks and watched the car drive away as though he'd never seen something so interesting.

So, eventually I gave in and decided to mosey along with him. Our sprint around the block became a stroll.

And that's when I noticed that it was an absolutely beautiful evening with just a sliver of a moon in the sky. And I noticed that the daffodils are just starting to come up. One of my neighbors is painting her house a really pretty caramel color. They finally fixed that pothole on Independence Avenue.

It was something of an ah-ha moment--a reminder that sometimes we're just so busy that we miss the opportunity to stop and look around and just enjoy the little things. Like an evening stroll with your dog.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Listing on Etsy

Multi-Colored Handknit Baby Cardigan
I've just added a new baby sweater to my Etsy shop.  I'm really excited about this sweater.  I knit it in a style of knitting called "mosaic knitting," which is a type of colorwork that results in something of a geometric pattern.  Sweaters knit this way tend to be a little bit thicker than others, so this is definitely a fall/winter sweater (perfect for a spring baby shower). 

I'm particularly pleased with the color palette.  I love the way the lime green and blue balance the red.  So often red ends up being the dominant color when it's combined with other colors, but I feel like all four of the colors are equally prominent in this sweater.  Plus, I like that it incorporates stripes--which everyone knows are my favorite--but with a twist.

For more information about mosaic knitting, check out this great Knitty article.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Button Obsession

I am obsessed with buttons--kind of like some people are obsessed with shoes.  That's actually a pretty good analogy because the right buttons can really make a sweater, much like the right shoes can make an outfit.

When I see buttons I like, I buy them, regardless of whether I have a real or anticipated need for them.  On occasion, I've actually designed sweaters around a great set of buttons.

When possible, I like to use handmade buttons, both because I like to support independent artists and because I like the buttons on my sweaters to be unique.  That's not to say that there aren't some really great mass-produced buttons out there, and I buy them too, but the handmade ones are particularly special.

So imagine how pleased I was when these beauties arrived yesterday.  I had special-ordered them from an artist in Israel, and they ended up getting lost in the mail.  We were at the point where we were ready to assume they were gone for good, and then they miraculously showed up.  And they were definitely worth the wait!  I just love them.  The blue swirls are perfect for a sweater I'm just finishing.  I don't have an immediate use for the others, but I know they'll look spectacular however I use them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Overheard in D.C.

DCist has a great feature called "Overheard in D.C.," which consistently makes me laugh out loud.  Here are some of my favorites.  (My friend actually submitted the first one.  I'm so proud of her . . .)

At the corner of 13th and E Streets NW:
Group of tourists: "Do you know where the monument is?"
Passerby: "Which monument?"
Tourist: "The pencil-y one."

At the National Zoo:
Young Son: "Mom, I want to go see the lions." (heads towards Great Cats exhibit)
Mom: "But that says 'Great Cats.'"
Young Son: "Mom, lions are cats..."

Line for the Megabus in New York leaving for D.C.:
20-something Woman: "Which bus are you waiting for?"
Man: "This line is for the bus going to Washington, D.C."
Woman: "Do you think it stops in Boston?"
Man: "Probably not."

At Pentagon City Metro around 4 p.m. on Friday:
Woman 1 (on her phone, texting): "Is 'trynda' a word?"
Woman 2: "What?"
Woman 1: "You know, like, 'I'm trynda do somethin'"

Headed toward Franconia-Springfield during an evening commute:
Older woman on the phone: "Hi Steve, it's Beth. The wedding is off tomorrow... yeah... Mary's water just broke."

Nighttime at the Giant at 9th and O NW:
Giant employee to homeless man: "Sir! Sir, you can't sleep in the frozen food section."

Around noon on a Wednesday:
A family of tourists is admiring the Dept. of Treasury.
Daughter (around 14): "Wow, that's a cool house!"
Son (around 10): "That's not a house, that's the castle where the king of the United States lives!"

At the National Menorah on the seventh night of Hanukkah:
Guy: "That last light bulb must have burned out."

In the guestbook at the Smithsonian American Art Museum:
One entry: "This museum is great, but the overemphasis on American artists is self-detrimental. In order for this museum to be credible it needs to have more representation from European artists."
Next entry: "That's because its the AMERICAN art gallery, douche-face."

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Am Hooked

I missed it last week, but this week I finally remembered to Tivo Who Do You Think You Are? I had read the reviews that said the show was tedious and boring, but I thought it was truly fascinating.  I've always wished I had the time and patience for genealogy, and this show made me wish that much more.

In this particular episode, Emmitt Smith traced his ancestry back to his slave-owner great-something grandfather and then went to Africa and learned about the current practice of trafficking children, so I think it was probably a particularly moving episode (I cried!), but I think I would have been just as interested if it had been less dramatic.  I really don't think there's such a thing as an ordinary family history.

I know precious little about my ancestors, except that they were from small towns in Germany, Italy, and the Ukraine, and they all came to the United States relatively recently, which means that any genealogical research I would do would have to be done in Europe, so it would be fairly difficult without help.  My great-grandfather came over from Italy around the turn of the century by himself at the age of 14.  That's something I can't even fathom--he must have been terrified to leave his family behind and go off on his own to a country where he didn't speak the language.  And he was just a kid.  Wow.  He is exactly why I think any family history has the potential to be a really good story.

Looking forward to Lisa Kudrow's story next week.  It looks like it has a Holocaust angle, so I'm sure I'll be crying again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vacation Planning

When I first entered the working world, someone gave me the advice to always have a vacation scheduled.  She said, "As soon as you come back from one vacation, plan the next."  It's turned out to be among the best advice I've gotten.  Following that approach does two things:  First, it makes sure that I actually schedule vacations.  Otherwise, inertia takes over and I find that I'm at the end of the year with a lot of vacation time left and not enough time to use it.  And second, it gives me something to look forward to.

They don't all have to be big trips--even a long weekend or a planned staycation counts.  So, taking that advice, when I came back from Puerto Rico in January, I put a long weekend in Memphis on my calendar for April.  I lived in Memphis a few years ago and loved it.  I generally go back at least once a year to visit and relieve my days as a Southern girl.

Even though the trip has been on the calendar for a while, it became a reality today because my friend and I finally bought tickets and made hotel reservations.  I'm totally psyched!  We're going to do all of the fun things we used to do when we lived there--go to a Redbirds game (love Minor League baseball!), eat lots of BBQ, go for a run along the Mississippi River, and probably venture out to Beale Street.

I am officially looking forward to my next vacation!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Special Offer

This month's special offer for Inside the Yellow House readers: Place an order for an in-stock or custom baby sweater and receive a FREE coordinating handknit baby hat! I usually sell these hats for $10-$15 each, so this is a great deal.

There is no limit to the number of hats: order two custom sweaters, get two matching hats; order five sweaters, get five hats. Stock up for upcoming baby showers!

Mention coupon code ITHY-MAR in your convo or email (yellowhouseknits@gmail.com) to me to take advantage of this offer.

Since it sometimes take a little longer to hammer out all of the details for special orders, this offer will be good for a little longer than usual. The offer will expire at midnight on March 13.

Have fun!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Has Spring Sprung?

I love these days when the air is still crisp, but you can actually feel the sun on your face.  The Weather Channel says it's supposed to be at least 60 degrees all week, which to me means that maybe spring has sprung.  My next-door neighbor warned me not to get my hopes up, but they are already way, WAY up! 

Yesterday, I hung a wreath on my front door, on the grounds that if I act like it's spring, it will be spring.  Now, I just need to get some flowers in that pot next to the door!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

When Pigs Fly

I pride myself on giving pretty good presents (handknit baby sweaters, anyone?), but this one may be the best.  Last year for Christmas, riding high on my cheese-of-the-month club success the previous year, I gave my brother and sister-in-law a membership in the bacon-of-the-month club.  Yes, bacon, delivered right to their door once a month.  This is not your Oscar Mayer grocery store bacon (although bacon is good stuff no matter where it comes from!); this is high-quality, thick cut bacon--applewood smoked bacon, Kentucky dry cured bacon, and so on.

This gem of an idea, comes from Zingerman's, an Ann Arbor institution, which I have missed terribly since I moved from Ann Arbor six years ago now.  (Every time I go back to A2, I go straight to Zingerman's for a loaf of their Parmesan pepper bread--so good!)

Anyway, the March shipment arrived while I was visiting my brother and his family this weekend, and I can confirm the reports that the bacon is awesome.  So I get credit for being the coolest sister in the world, which I think is an honor I rightly deserve!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cupcake Success!

Because I know you're all dying to know the outcome of today's cupcake mission: We found the Cupcake Truck!  It was touch and go for a while, first because a client threatened to call during that time (she was early).  Then the driver didn't update his Facebook status when he got to our stop, so we were waiting around wondering if he was going to show.  Finally, we decided to venture out to see if it had arrived--and there was the pink truck, shining like a beacon on what had become a frustrating day. 

I struggled to decide which flavor I wanted and finally settled on the classic chocolate.  And WOW, was it good--a highly satisfying chocolate experience.  The cake was moist and fudgy (and that's really high praise coming from someone who doesn't like cake that much), and there was a generous amount of rich, decadent icing on top.  Chocolate was coursing through my veins all afternoon.

I will be following the Cupcake Truck more closely in the future and will definitely be a repeat customer. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tracking the Elusive Cupcake Truck

I am a big fan of cupcakes.  Cake not so much, but cupcakes yes!  It's related to the ratio of cake to frosting.  In my view, the cake is really just a vehicle for the frosting. 

Anyway, I first heard about Curbside Cupcakes (which I call the Cupcake Truck) a few months ago.  The pink truck trolls downtown D.C. and Capitol Hill, selling (surprise) cupcakes.  As far as I'm concerned, what's not to like: cupcakes in a pink truck?!?!

They post a schedule on their website of where they'll be and Twitter about their whereabouts in real time.  They only stay in each location for a short time, so you have to get there on schedule.  Despite the fact that I have been obsessively tracking the movements of the Cupcake Truck, I keep missing it--much to my extreme disappointment. 

Well, I just checked the calendar, and the Cupcake Truck is scheduled to be a block away from my office tomorrow, and for a change, I have no meetings or calls scheduled for the time the truck is supposed to arrive.  So the Cupcake Truck is On My Calendar.  I can taste the cupcake goodness already!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Newly Finished

Here's an early look at a sweater I finished knitting this weekend.  I was really happy to finally be finished with it because I had to redo the neckline a bunch of times before I was satisfied.  It was super frustrating, but in the end I'm pleased with how it turned out.

This sweater is actually a variant of a custom order I did recently, in which the stripes were very pale.  I figured for this one, I would use brighter stripes, but the overall effect is still pretty demure.

I think this sweater would work well in a more coordinated color scheme as well, for example different shades of pink for the stripes.  Or a dark blue blue sweater with stripes in medium blue, light blue, and white.

I need to block the sweater over the next few days, which should smooth it out and make it look "finished," but it should be available on Etsy soon.