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Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday & Master Knitting

We survived the proverbial Black Friday in our house. For those of you that are from Canada, the UK or, really, anywhere that isn't the United States, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a national holiday that's intended to show thanks for what we have, what we've received, and, essentially to be thankful for everything we have. It's origins are traced to the Pilgrims of Massachusetts in 1621, supposedly...but there's evidence of Thanksgiving celebrations 60-70 years prior to that. But, that's kind of the point of Thanksgiving now...

Anyway, Black Friday is the supposed first "big shopping" day of the holiday season. There are many origins of Black Friday but the one that seems to be most common (and most supported) is in Philadelphia in 1966 when the police department started calling the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday," not as a term of endearment, though. What it meant was the Christmas shopping season opened at the city center and caused a number of traffic problems. The term still hadn't caught on until sometime after 1985. How it became a huge shopping day has it's origins in the Philadelphia story but what happened is some genius in some marketing department somewhere decided that they should have all these great deals on the Friday after Thanksgiving, things that some people will want and will bring them out to the stores. That caught on. And then retailers started opening earlier and earlier, having more and more deals, originally opening at 6am, then 5am, sometimes 4am. This year, places opened at midnight...and some places, like WalMart, started their deals Thanksgiving night or were open on Thanksgiving, as was the case with Sears.

Funnily enough, Black Friday is not the biggest shopping day of the holiday season. That day is still December 24 (Christmas Eve)...why people wait until the very last minute to do all their holiday shopping is beyond me but, I'm also the person that starts in September or October and, if I'm knitting, earlier than that.

But, I digress...

Black Friday in this household generally means stay at home, play video games, and be lazy from Turkey Hangover. This year was different, however. Well, so was last year but that's because we had a two-week old Little Man and Husband got up early and went and bought a nice, new, shiny, leather recliner for us...but this year was different, too. Husband went to WalMart at midnight after we stuffed ourselves silly with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, creamed corn, etc. His intention was simple: buy a Cisco Valet wireless N router for $25...or maybe two. These things usually cost $100 each so this is a deal. One of my friends has a business and she has internet and a netbook...and she keeps getting viruses on her netbook because she hooks it directly into the internet. Antivirus can only do so much and it's never enough. So, she needs a router (and many of you probably do, too - go buy one!)...and we knew she'd forget to go get one so Husband went and bought two. That wasn't so bad. He came home and went to bed after that and that was that.

But, yesterday we decided we were going to drive down to Schaumburg (Chicago) to go to Ikea. Little Man needs an overhead light in his room and we saw one when we were there last time that we really liked...but they don't ship those for some silly reason (probably because shipping is incredibly expensive). They were also having a deal on a kids' easel chalkboard ($10 when it's usually $20) which we thought would be good for Little Man. So, down to Chicago we go...and while we're there, we'll visit Husband's family (cousins on his mom's side). We drove to Glen Ellyn, where the family lives, visited with them for awhile and took the kids, 24 year old Erik and 22 year old Kellyn, and the grandkid, 8 month old JJ, and went to Fry's Electronics and out to lunch.

If you've never been to a Fry's Electronics, it's.....well, it's an odd store. It's clean and organized and nice like Best Buy or Target but it's all electronics and I don't mean just TVs and computers and has random things like electric cord finders and different types of wall jacks and different types of motherboards and cords and toys and DVDs and games's just crazy. We only bought a couple of things: a screwdriver set for me and one for Husband at work, and an Apple TrackPad (i.e., wireless laptop mouse) for use in the living room. We have a MacMini Server hooked up to the TV in the living room for watching DVDs and internet videos that aren't YouTube and I needed some way to be able to run it. Erik was looking out for a good deal on a new 32" flatscreen for his bedroom (didn't find any to his liking) and Kellyn just needed to get out of the house with JJ for awhile.

After lunch, we dropped Erik off at home and the rest of us went to Ikea and Joe's Crab Shack. We bought the aforementioned lights: the sun (that's for the overhead), the moon (for one wall), and three stars (for the other wall). We also picked up some new pots for the kitchen (our old ones, also from Ikea, are showing their age) for us, and a stuffed broccoli, a six-pack each of tumblers and plates, an 18-piece flatware set, a leaf canopy and a play tunnel for Little Man...and maybe a couple other random things that I'm not thinking of right now. And then, off to Joe's Crab Shack :)

Overall, it was a pretty good day, even if people in the interstate were a bunch of could have been worse. And considering he didn't have a good nap, Little Man was very well-behaved for most of the day. He got a little crabby in line at Ikea but other than that, he was fine.

And now for something completely different.......

I'm a member of The Knitting Guild Association as of 2011 Stitches Midwest. They're the ones that produce Cast On Magazine, among other things. They have quarterly (?) newsletters, free patterns for members, links for TKGA retailers, education, and local guilds, and loads of other things.

One of the things they have are correspondence knitting classes and master knitting classes (also correspondence). I've decided that it's time to learn some of the things I've been avoiding like the plague (two-color knitting, for example), things I just don't do very well (blocking and seaming), and things that I could learn to do better (gauge swatches, picking yarn for projects). So, I'm ordering the "Learn to Knit" class and the "Basics, Basics, Basics" class.

I don't think the first one is going to be too difficult. Obviously, I know how to knit but there are some things I just don't know and haven't bothered to learn, though I really should. The lesson includes things like knitting tools & abbreviations, casting on and holding the yarn, English/American style, German/Continental style, knit stitch, purl stitch, stockinette stitch, seed stitch, ribbing, twisted stitches, correcting dropped stitches, increasing (bar increase, M1, lifted increase), decreasing (k2tog, ssk, SKP or s1 k1 psso), yarn overs, gauge, useful tips (like joining new balls, what to do with those pesky tails, and blocking), and instructions for making swatches for committee review (which I'll need for the Master Knitting Classes down the line).

The "Basics, Basics, Basics" class may be a little more difficult as it's three lessons instead of one. The first one covers casting on, increasing, and binding/casting off. The second lesson is about decreasing specifically and the third lesson is about gauge and stitch pattern writing.

Once these two are finished, I'll probably look into the "Mosaic Knitting" class (which is six lessons and will include making a full sweater). Once that's finished, the "Professional Finishing Techniques" class (which is four lessons and also requires knitting a sweater), and then the "Swatch to Sweater" (which, again, requires knitting a sweater). Once all those are done, it's on to the actual Master Knitter Classes...there are three of those but you can't even purchase the next one until you finish the one preceding it.

How long is this going to take me? Perhaps several sunlit days...or years. Whatever works. It just feels like something I should I'm going to start doing it :)

Anyway, I think that's about all that's going on...I should get knitting :)


  1. I've always thought it would be a good thing to try the Masters, think we should do it together?

  2. How cool to be part of the guild! Your agenda sounds so fun and what great learning experiences you'll have.
    I avoid the malls for Black Friday. I get real pissy with crowds. I mostly shop online.