Socks and stuff

March 20, 2010

Thanks for all the nice comments and wishes about my 4 year blog anniversary!  I thought I better get the giveaway over first before the rest of my blog post – so without further ado…the winner (picked by Random.org) of the Wandering Cat Yarn certificate is….Lorraine!  Lorraine – I know you just posted about having too many choices…but hopefully you won’t mind picking just a little more yarn! 

I finished up a couple of projects this week – yes, I finally finished Citron!  I haven’t blocked it yet, so it will get its own post when its ready, but I thought I’d show you the socks I finished.

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Pattern:  Basic Gusset Heel Toe Up Socks (Wendy Johnson pattern)
Yarn:  Poems Sock by Wisdom Yarns, colorway 952
Started:  January 26, 2010
Finished:  March 19, 2010

OK, first off – these took forever.  I have to admit that I really love the colorway, and the color changes.  I love the pattern – just a basic stockinette sock.   I love the fabric of the yarn – these are superwash but just very wooly feeling.  Very perfect winter socks (just in time for the first day of Spring!).  But I hated knitting with the yarn.  It’s a single ply and extremely splitty.   I can’t tell you how many times I had to tink a stitch back because I had knit with half of the yarn.  So although I like the finished product, I don’t think I’d use the yarn again. 

I also screwed up the cast off on the second one – I used a cast off I found on Knitting Daily  – Version A – I usually do a sewn cast off for toe up socks but that takes forever so I thought I’d try something new.  I thought I did the same cast off on the first one (I really should start keeping notes on projects) – but if so I messed up the second and they are really hard to get on.  I thought (briefly) about ripping it back and doing it again – but I’ve spent almost two months with these socks and I think I’m done – I just can’t bear to spend any more time on them.  Poor Larry – he’ll be fighting to get them on from now on!

Since I finished the socks, I had to start new commute knitting.  I’m really sort of tired of socks, so I started a Traveling Woman with my Wandering Cat Yarn Top Cat – this yarn is so amazing!  So soft, so pretty – I’m enjoying every minute of the knit.   And the colors are perfect for Spring! (I think this would be a cute colorway/yarn for a baby sweater)

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I didn’t get a lot done on this shawl this week because I haven’t been commuting – I came home sick on Thursday and stayed home yesterday too – just a cold but so irritating that I’m sick.  I don’t get sick often so when I do I just hate it – I have to admit to being a little whiny.  So instead of getting my work done, and having knitting time on the train, and golfing on the first day of spring, I’ve been stuck inside – sleeping, coughing and sneezing (and whining). 

But last night Larry gave me a gift to make me feel better (he really has amazing timing!)

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He bought me a Hiya Hiya project bag from The Loopy Ewe.  He really is a great guy, isn’t he?  The bag is beautiful – I’ve been wanting it for months and every time they restock I drool over it.   The fabric is gorgeous, and the handle is part of the zipper and it just so cute!  And its the perfect size for a small project…

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Isn’t that nice?  It’s so well made and the little pocket is a nice touch.  Thanks, Larry!

I’m starting to feel a little better tonight and hope that I’m over the worst of this cold.  Tomorrow we are starting to clean out our room – the painter is coming a week from Monday and we have to have everything out of there (including all the closets).  Yikes!  I moved all my yarn out today – and that was enough to make me take a two-hour nap.    I can’t wait to get the room done – it’s going to be so nice.    I still have to buy new curtains and all that but I’ll get there.   Cleaning out the room has made me realized how cluttered it was – we are not going to be putting everything back in, and I’m hoping to figure out a way to keep it simple.   

OK, I’m off – we are watching New Moon tonight (I know, embarrassing but I loved the books!) and Larry and I made a crumb cake (3.5 sticks of butter – so unhealthy – but so good!) to eat while watching the movie.    I think I’ll knit the shawl too – I’m going to start the sweater tomorrow, but for tonight I think I’ll keep it simple.   I don’t want my stuffy head to lead to a bad start on the first sweater I’ve made in years!

Have a good weekend!


Rasberry Beret

March 8, 2010

I’ve been focusing on finishing projects in the last few days – a little less time online and little more time just knitting.  And I have something to show for the change in focus!

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I hope you will excuse my hair in these pictures – I stayed home from work today (because I couldn’t sleep last night and going to work on a couple hours of sleep never works for me) and spent the day being lazy (except for a dog walk).   So my hair reflects the dog walk, napping and sitting watching TV while knitting. 

Anyway, back to the hat – love it! 

Pattern:  Lightweight Raspberry Beret
Yarn:  Wandering Cat Yarns, Alpaca/Merino Lace Yarn
Colorway:  Rhonda’s Raspberry Jam
Started:  February 24, 2010
Finished:  March 7, 2010

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The pattern really is very easy, very fast.  I really enjoyed the mindless stockinette.  I think I could have finished this faster if I knit more consistently – I don’t see why you couldn’t finish this in a few days.   The pattern as designed allows you to do the ribbing with a different yarn, but I chose to do it all in one.  I think next time I make this (and I think I probably will make another) I’d use a different color for the ribbing – and maybe a wool yarn to make the ribbing pull in a little.  It’s a little loose/floppy but I like it – I don’t like hats that are too tight so I think this will keep me warm without flattening my hair.  The hat is really light but I think the alpaca will make it warm.

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The yarn is from Wandering Cat Yarns and its an alpaca/merino blend.  It’s very very silky and once I saw the pattern name I knew I had to use this yarn.   The yarn is laceweight and I doubled it for the hat.  I really enjoyed knitting it up, and the color is very pretty – a really nice subtle blend of pink and purple – very raspberry.  I was a little worried when I was blocking it – I put a plate in it to block and the hat was huge – it really really stretched.  So I ended up taking the plate out and just hand blocked it to a smaller  shape – it’s not the perfect tam shape, but I still like it.  Because of the stretch I think this yarn would be amazing for lace.    It looks like they only have one more skein of this in their shop – I hope they carry more in the future – it really was nice to work with.

I’m really pleased with the hat – but had to laugh – it was almost 60 degrees here today.  Figures!  But that’s ok – I’ll put the hat in my basket of hats and I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to wear it soon since I think these warm temps are a fluke.   

We had a really nice weekend – very productive and we got a lot of things taken care of (painter hired to do our bedroom, patio door bought, plans made, etc).  It was beautiful here and we spent as much time as we could outside.  We took the dogs for walks in the park – it was a little muddy and Penny got a little dirty (given the choice between the dry path and the muddy grass, apparently a white dog will always choose the mud) and they really enjoyed being outside again.    I’ve been working on Citron again, and have another 4 rows of the main pattern plus the ruffle edging to go!  I am really enjoying the project but I can’t wait for it to be done.    I’m not sure what I’m going to do next – I have about 4 projects in mind, but I just ordered some very pretty yarn in spring colors that may jump to the top of the queue just because I’m in the mood for spring.  Sure, I could work on one of my WIPs but I think we all know that’s not going to happen.    I also received some yarn in the mail today that could impact what I do next….but more on that next time!

OK, its time to get back to Citron (and dinner).  Have a good week!


Springtime Bandit

February 11, 2010

Just in the nick of time….

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I finished the Springtime Bandit shawl in time to wrap it, put it in a suitcase and bring it  to my mother as a Valentine’s Day gift (we’ll forget that I initially said it was her birthday gift).    It took way longer than it should have, but its done now, and I think its sort of pretty!

Pattern:  Springtime Bandit
Yarn:  Malabrigo Sock,  Velvet Grapes colorway
Started:  December 27, 2009
Finished:  February 5, 2010

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This really is a nice pattern –  I don’t think my pictures do it justice.  The pattern is very well written, easy to follow and an interesting knit – and very easy.  I love the edging – its just the best part of the whole thing –  and overall, I really enjoyed knitting this. For some reason, a shawl that should have taken two weeks took me about 6.  It was no fault of the pattern – but it was just my level of focus  – I wasn’t knitting as much in January, and when I was I worked on too many different things.  But all in all, this was a very good knit and I liked it so much I already bought the yarn for another (worsted weight yarn this time!).

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I used Malabrigo Sock for this and absolutely love the yarn – I think it is amazing yarn and perfect for shawls.  I love the feel of it – both while I was knitting and after I blocked it.  But – I sort of wish I had not used such a varigated colorway for the shawl.  I think the pattern gets a little lost in it, and it would be better in a solid or semi-solid.    But up close the colors are so pretty, and I think my mother will love it.  Anyway, the Malabrigo Sock is a great yarn, and I just love everything about it.    I don’t think I’ve hit a bad Malabrigo yarn yet!

As I said above, I am going to visit my mother  – I leave tomorrow morning.    She lives in California, and its such a hardship to leave New Jersey in the winter and go spend 5 days in warm sunny Southern California – especially after the 15″ of snow we got yesterday.    Its just me going – Larry and the kids are all staying home, and it will be nice to have some one on one time with her.    I still need to pack – its hard for me to imagine what I need to bring and what 70 degrees feels like!   I am very happy to leave my big coat, boots, mittens, hats and scarves here though!

As far as knitting – I’m bringing the Citron shawl (almost up to the fifth repeat – I’m planning on doing 7 and its just flying!) and probably my commute socks too (just in case I need two projects).    I think I’ll have lots of knitting time, and hopefully I’ll have a finished Citron by the time I come home.  The Madelinetosh Prairie is amazing yarn – I will definitely be getting more!   

Yesterday was Dan’s birthday – he turned 25!  I can’t believe that one of my kids is that old (I had him when I was 10 of course!).    His birthday was a little bit of a non-starter though – his work did close because of the snow we got so he had the day off – but we weren’t able to give him the gift we bought him because Fedex couldn’t deliver.  But we had a nice dinner and Larry made him a delicious cake (it really is good – seems like a weird recipe but it was delicous!).   Happy Birthday, Dan – and that’s it – I’m not counting higher than 25!

OK, I think I’m going to go catch up on my blog reading and take a nap (such a hard life!)! 

Penny thinks that she would like to come to California with me….

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Have a great weekend!


Wrapping up

December 30, 2009

I just can’t believe that it is the end of the year – this year went so fast – as I get older, I’ve noticed that time just goes so much faster – what is up with that?  I swear it was just August! 

I’m off work today through next Monday – a nice little mini break.  My mother is visiting from California (she always comes when its 20 degrees here – I have never understood it!).   I’m looking forward to relaxing days of going to the movies, eating good food, seeing family, and lots of knitting.  I am working on Springtime Bandit and have finished three repeats of the body chart.  I’m hopeful that I’ll get this done in time to ship it out to California for her birthday on the 16th – I wish I could get it done in time to give it to her here but since I don’t want to knit it in front of her, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.   I’m really enjoying the pattern – in fact, I may cast on for one for me when I’m done with hers – maybe in a nice DK weight. 

Now that all of my Christmas knitting has been gifted, I can show you what I made….(click on the picture to go to my Ravelry project page)

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It doesn’t seem like much, but this was the most Christmas knitting I’ve ever done, and I was really happy with all of the projects.  And I think the recipients were happy too!  And, you will be glad to know, I also finished one more

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Larry’s Christmas socks – made from some stash KnitPicks Swish worsted I had leftover in the stash.  I had to use a short row heel on these – my first – and they were so much easier to do than I expected.  I thought the heel was ok – sort of hole-y, but I think I’ll try this type again and see if practice helps make perfect.  I think it is good to have options when making socks – I get in a total rut and always do the toe, heel and cast off the same way. 

We really had a nice Christmas, and I enjoyed the family time.  I had a very yarn-y Christmas and received a lot of yarn as presents.  How nice is that?  I do think that giving Larry my Loopy Ewe wishlist was a good idea!    I got lots of Madelinetosh and Malabrigo – very very nice!

Well, its the end of 2009, and its been a good year – every life has its ups and downs, but overall, we got through 2009 without any major disasters or problems.  Everyone in the family is healthy, happy and safe and what else could I ask for?   We had a sad summer and said good bye to two of our family pets, but the bitter was offset by the sweet when we welcomed Penny to our family in October.   I think next year is going to be a big change year – two graduations, one new apartment (maybe more) and who knows what else!   Next year will be Larry and my 15th wedding anniversary and we are starting to talk about how to celebrate – my vote is for Hawaii!

Knitting wise, 2009 was an ok year – looking back on my projects, I realized I didn’t do any “big” projects – no sweaters or huge lace shawls.  I mostly did little projects – and I know that I haven’t been knitting as much as I had in previous years.     I’m not going to list them all of my FO’s here – if you’ve been reading for a while, I’ve already gone on an on about them.   But my absolute favorite project  was my first toe up socks – after years of not being able to “get” how to do toe up, Socks from the Toe Up changed all that, and now I don’t like to doing socks any other way.  Totally changed my knitting!

 My knitting goals for this year were to learn to do toe up socks and to knit a fair isle sweater.  I definitely did the first, but didn’t get too far on the second – my fair isle vest hasn’t been touched in months, and I recently decided to rip it back to the ribbing and restart it because its puckering too much.  But still  – not too bad on hitting my goals.    I also wanted to not stress about knitting, have a manageable number of WIPs and use my stash.  Again, I think I did really well on this part of my goal for 2009 – I really don’t stress about knitting anymore (except for the occasional shrieking when I drop stiches on a lace project!), and I have a pretty small number of WIPs right now with plans to finish them off in the next month or so.   Use my stash?  Well….I did use stash for a lot of my holiday projects, and for other projects during the year, but I know that I bought more than I used.  Hmmm….maybe this needs to be something I look at for next year!

Well, I suppose I should go get moving – so tempting to just stay here in my pajamas and watch movies all day and knit.  That really does sound good, doesn’t it?  But I have plans today, so I suppose people wouldn’t be happy if I just showed up in pajamas…

I want to thank you all for visiting with me here, and letting me get to know you through your comments and your blogs.    I hope you all have a very Happy New Year and that 2010 brings good luck, good yarn and happy knitting!


Darkside Cowl

December 23, 2009

I finished up a little something this last weekend, and I just couldn’t be happier with it….

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Pattern:  Darkside Cowl
Yarn:  Madelinetosh Worsted, Jade colorway
Started:  December 12, 2009
Finished:  December 20, 2009

This yarn is amazing!  You have to get a close up to just see how soft and squishy this yarn is…

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Doesn’t that look great?  I loved working with this yarn, and I love this cowl.  I wore it to work yesterday and it was so soft and warm and nice.  I love the colorway – I don’t have a lot of green things but I just had to have this when I saw it.   

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My normal model wasn’t home this afternoon, so I had to make do with Andrew.  Who apparently enjoyed the warmth of this so much that it made him fall asleep.  I don’t know  – I think I’m going to have to find more cooperative models!

I really enjoyed the pattern – very easy, very fast, very relaxing – I made the cowl about an inch too long (9″ – I’d probably go with 8″ if I made this again) but it was ok.   All in all a very good interim project and a great break from all the end of year stuff at work, and all the Christmas prep at home.   And really love this yarn…

And so I was very happy to unwrap a gift from Larry this morning….

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Another skein of Madelinetosh Worsted – this is the Fjord colorway (another look at it here).  This isn’t a great picture – its much more of a teal colorway – one of those colors tht is hard to photograph.  Anyway, Larry is such a nice husband isn’t he?  This was a gift for our anniversary today (Happy Anniversary, Larry!  14 years!) – we agreed to not give each other gifts as we are going away for a long weekend in January, but he snuck this in.  It was hard for me to be mad about it as I was hugging the yarn!  I’ve already printed a pattern for it, and I think I just must start a project with it tonight (in case you are curious – I’m going to make a Thermis cowl).

I finished up my Christmas shopping this afternoon, and I’m off work for the next two days.  I’m very happy to have everything done, and I’m ready to relax and spend time with the family (and my knitting!).    Penny apparently thinks I should be spending a little more time with her, and less time on the computer – so I think I’m going to be playing a little bit of fetch tonight too!

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I don’t know if I’ll post again before Christmas, so I want to wish all of you that celebrate the holiday a very Merry Christmas!  And I hope Santa brings everyone a little Madelinetosh!


Colonnade

December 13, 2009

I work from home once a week, and our heat is on a timer – it lowers the heat around 7:00 a.m. and turns it back on right before Cieara gets home from school around 2:45.  And every time I work from home, I freeze my ass off.  I try to remember to go downstairs and turn it back up – but I usually forget, and then get  busy or caught on calls and can’t move around.  Plus I always feel sort of guilty about turning it up too high – I try to see if I can’t just deal with it – better for the environment and our oil bill if I don’t turn it up, right?  But it gets cold!  I usually put a shawl on, but since most of mine are laceweight, I can’t say that they are very warm.  So I’ve been thinking more and more about a nice warm shawl for those days.  And about three weeks ago, I finally found the right pattern, the right yarn and cast on.

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Pattern:  Colonnade (Knitty, Fall 2009)
Yarn:  Manos Del Uruguay Wool Clasica, Stellar colorway
Started:  November 21, 2009
Finished:  December 12, 2009

I had no idea this pattern even existed before I went looking for something – I saw this issue of Knitty when it came out, but didn’t look at this pattern – I typically look at laceweight shawls, and I have so many in my queue that I’m not looking for more.  But when I decided to make a worsted weight shawl, I went into my stash and started looking around – and saw the Manos.  I bought this yarn years ago to make the Landscape shawl so I pulled it out and found the pattern (which I had also bought).  But this time, when I looked at the pattern and looked at the yarn I thought that they just wouldn’t go – too much varigation (and the shawl seemed like it would be a little boring to knit).  So I went over to Ravelry and did a search on the yarn to see what other people made with it – and apparently this is the pattern that most people used this yarn for (at least shawl-wise).  So I decided to give it a try.  What a great pattern – I love it!   Quick, easy but still interesting – it seemed to just fly off the needles.  I’m not actually sure when I started this – I’m guessing on the date but it went pretty fast considering I’ve been doing other knitting and that my knitting time has been limited at night because of Penny (and work, Facebook, Ravelry, blogs – I really need to figure out a better balance!).  Anyway, great pattern – I highly recommend it!

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I loved working with this yarn.  I know that there are people that don’t like Manos yarn, and compare it unfavorably to Malabrigo.  I like Malabrigo, but I just love the colors of Manos – aren’t those amazing?  I have to admit – I like the scratchiness of the Manos – sure Malabrigo is butter soft, but Manos is just so…wool.   So scrunchy – and the thick/thin parts…so nice.  I washed the shawl last night, and I think it softened it a bit – but you know this is a wool shawl.   I’m not sure I’d want a sweater made of the yarn, but I think its perfect for something like this.    I’m so glad I thought to use it – it felt so good to use stash yarn that I’ve had this long (I bought this in 2004!) .  The shawl used a little over 3 skeins of the yarn – I actually have 2.5 skeins left of it  – maybe a scarf?. 

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This isn’t a great picture, but I wanted to show the shape of it.   This isn’t a standard triangle or rectangle – its sort of weird – but it fits so well.  The  pattern calls for a button closure, but I don’t think I want that – I have shawl pins I can use to close it if I want but it actually just hangs so well, I’m not sure I”ll need it.   I can move around, type, talk on the phone and this won’t fall off like some shawls.  In fact, it sort of looks like a sweater when its on (at least from the front).  I wore it today for a bit – and it is warm, comfy and just the perfect shawl for a really cold day. 

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All in all, a very succesful knit – used stash yarn, it went fast, and I’m very pleased with it.  And I got a needed break from all these little projects and Christmas knitting.

I took Friday off and had a really nice long weekend – lots of Christmas shopping – in fact, I’m just about done which is nice since I started the weekend without one present!  We also put up our Christmas lights yesterday, and I made some cookies.   Today was a little more shopping, a little wrapping and a little knitting.  Oh, and another Penny training session – we’ve added Ruby to the training and its going well for both of them  – I can’t believe what a difference a little positive training does to crazy dogs!  All in all, a very relaxing weekend – but very productive as well.  And a really good break from work.  I love random long weekends, don’t you? 

As I mentioned above, I’m working on the second sock for Cieara’s present.   Its taking forever, and I’m hating it.   But I’m just about to the heel, and am determined to finish this by next weekend so I can get it all wrapped up and ready for Christmas.    I think that next year I’ll start my Christmas knitting in July so I don’t have to do so many projects together (ok, so many projects for other people!).   The only good thing about Christmas knitting is that I can’t do it at home – so I have to find other projects to work on here.  And since I finished the shawl last night, I had to find something to work on today.  Which meant that I finally got to start something with the Madelinetosh yarn.   So amazing.  More on that next time!

OK, time to go – have a great week!


Berry Hill Socks

November 27, 2009

I can’t show all of my knitting projects right now since they are gifts, but I thought I’d show you one – since I know that the person that is going to receive these doesn’t read my blog.  I finished these up earlier this week, and I’m very happy with them.

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Pattern:  Berry Hill from Wandering Cat Yarns
Yarn:  Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering, Electric colorway
Started:  November 6, 2009
Finished:  November 21, 2009

I posted about these socks before when I started, and I was happy with them all the way through.  They are knit from the cuff down (which was weird after doing so many toe up socks) and they just flew.   The pattern is very easy to remember, and it is a perfect pattern for solid (or semi-solid) yarns.  I love the cuffs and think its really cute  – and really unusual – most sock patterns just start with ribbing.  I made the cuff 4″ because I don’t know how the recipient likes their cuffs and I figured 4″ was sort of middle of the road (I like mine longer).

I really liked this yarn too – originally I bought it to make a Chevron scarf but I think this is a much better use of it.  This is really nice sock yarn – tight twist but soft.  The color is really pretty – very bright and I hope that the recipient likes it.  Since this was a stash yarn, I’m going to call these my November socks of the month too!

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All in all, very nice pattern, very nice socks.  I think I’ll have to make myself a pair after the holidays!

I’m done with four gift projects, and am just about done with the fifth one.  That means I have one official one left, but I’m thinking that I may try and squeeze in a pair of socks for Larry (he doesn’t read this blog) – I originally told him he wouldn’t get a pair for Christmas since he gets so many during the year but I think I have time to finish something for him.   And it would be a surprise then – which is hard since he usually knows who I’m knitting for.    I’m going to be very glad to finish all this holiday knitting – its time to make something for me! 

Thank you for all the nice comments about Cieara – we are just taking this day to day, and trying to keep a link to her so she knows she always has a fall back.  Its very stressful though, and isn’t making for a good family dynamic right now.    Even so, we had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday – lots of food, family and a little fun.   I ate too much and today feel just sort of out of it.     I can’t decide on whether I want a day at home to lie around and relax, or if we should go to the movies.  We are going into NYC tomorrow to go to lunch and to check out the Shops at Bryant Park so I think maybe a do nothing day would be in order.    

OK, off to do a little laundry, and a little knitting.  Have a great weekend!