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29 posts from April 2004

30 April 2004

It's a turtleneck day

elegansThe temperature in some local areas dropped 30 degrees in 30 minutes last evening. My husband was setting out on a walk to the library with the pup as the weatherman was making this information known, and decided that he'd best swap the shorts for pants. Brrr.

blue_wedgwoodBefore it got too chilly, I spent a little time in the garden snapping a few pics and pulling some weeds. On the left is a Blue Wedgwood hosta; it doesn't get very big, but is a beautiful bluish-green. On the right is Elegans; that one does get big and is quite impressive. I used to think hostas were boring, boring, boring; green leaves, big deal. The variety of shape, color, texture and size has me enchanted these days, and I enjoy watching as they mature. I suppose my appreciation also stems from the fact that I have a need for shade tolerant plants!

K is off to orientation/registration at the UW school she's enrolled in for next fall. She is so anxious to get back to school! Last night, when I mentioned that M was doing homework, K said that she wished she had homework!! Instead, she's writing a novel. That kid has been writing stories since she learned to write. And she does the work! Most kids can't stand to do research or, heaven forbid, make an outline for anything unless it's required for a grade. Even back in sixth grade, K was researching locations, developing characters, working on plots, and making outlines for stories -- for FUN! It blew me away then, and it still does!

My knitting needles were moving kind of slowly last night. I'm over half-way through the first stretch of Pattern A on the front, but I kept putting it down every few rows. I feel a strain in my right hand -- my flippin' off finger, specifically -- and though I don't feel it while I'm knitting, I wonder if knitting has something to do with it. The Endless Summer Sonata is pretty fine. I knit the entire back of that sweater and never felt a thing, so I just don't know.

I know lots of folks are heading to a festival this weekend. Can't wait to hear all about it next week. Have fun!

29 April 2004

Grrrrr

It is awfully darn hard to support a local business when they're just not there for you! It just kills me. It's a fine shop, and the proprietor is wonderful and extremely helpful -- but this is just bad business. I walked up to the door again tonight on my way home and the door was locked. This is NOT the first time, but it is the first time that there wasn't even a note on the door; in fact, the sign on the door said open and most of the lights were still on. As I, disgruntled customer, moped back to my car, another customer stood dumbfounded at the door. Yes, perhaps I should have called (why won't I learn that lesson?), especially since it's happened before -- and always on Thursday nights at 5:00??? What's that? People just don't have emergencies that regularly or that frequently, and if they do, then it's obviously something more; it's something that needs to be dealt with if they hope to keep customers -- *me* --coming back. A part-time employee, maybe just temporarily? I have been there when someone else has been "covering," but they seem a bit put out to be there and, well, they suppose they can check to see if my order is in. Poo. I can drive 10-15 minutes and find at least two other LYSs these days, not to mention all the general crafts stores and, of course, the internet; I try to balance my purchases, as most people do. This is convenient, it's on my way home, I'm familiar, and they're supposed to be open one night a week at a time when I can stop on my way home.
heart
I don't have my Calmer.

The warm weather the past couple of days has made a difference. Seeing this helped to improve my mood:

(click for larger image) Oops, I didn't mean to make it THAT big!

There's a back...

...but I don't have a picture to show you. Even with the funky knitting pattern, I used short row shaping for the shoulders and put the stitches on holders. There are a few places where a knit should have been a purl, or vice versa, but it just seemed like a better idea to continue in the pattern for the row I was actually working, rather than worrying about what might have been worked in that particular spot if I wasn't doing short rows. It's less noticeable and bothersome than a bulky shoulder seam. I haven't sewn a shoulder seam in a long time, and don't ever want to again! Three-needle cast off whenever I can!! The stitches for the back of the neck are also on a holder. With this pattern (kind of a scoop neck), stitches will be picked up on the sides of the neck, but the stitches for the front and back of the neck are worked from holders and are slightly decreased on the first row.

I cast on the front of Summer Sonata and worked the first 7 or 8 rows before calling it a day. I'd considered doing the sleeves before the front, and even thought about knitting them both at the same time. Then I realized that I don't really have to worry on this one about whether one sleeve will be longer than the other because it's a "work x rows in pattern A and x rows in pattern B" type of pattern. The armholes seem huge, but it's a very roomy top and I suppose they need to be.

The LYS is open late tonight, so I'm thinking I'll stop by on the way home from work to see if the CALMER has arrived for AUDREY. I swear, I'll be the last to get started.

I heard on the radio the other morning that a politician in Russia was introducing a measure that could land a weatherman in jail if his forecast was wrong. My weatherman was wrong today -- it was supposed to be crappy, but it's not! Lock him up and throw away the key??

28 April 2004

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Wow, the weatherman wasn't foolin'! If it weren't so breezy, it would be HOT!

Mom had a lot of plastic containers to take to the nursery. No one was around, so we just left 'em; that also meant that we didn't have an opportunity to buy any plants that we really don't need! I guess we'd expected to spend a little more time there -- 10:30 seemed a little early for lunch, so we needed to kill some time. A former co-worker at the antique mall was with us, and we decided to drive up the road a little further and visit another of our former co-workers who now runs a deli/ice cream shop and also sells antiques! A good time was had by all, and the money that would have been spent on unneeded plants was spent on largely unneeded antiques, instead!

I'm closing in on the back of Summer Sonnet -- only about 15-20 rows to the shoulders. Yay!!

The wind seems to have died down some. It sounds like we won't have another day even close to being this nice for at least a week, so I'd better go enjoy it some more!

27 April 2004

Pics

M allowed me computer time last night. I posted a few pics in "What I'm Working On" of Cecil in its present state and of Summer Sonata's progress, but I saved some for posting in the blog. Here's a close-up of Sonata (click for larger image).

Sonataclose

I got a little carried away with the armhole decreases and did too many, so had to pick out a few rows last night. Otherwise, it's sailing right along.

Here's my current Knitting HQ. My husband gave me this chest for Christmas (I needed it like a hole in the head) because he thought it might work for knitting storage. He was probably thinking that I'd store more things inside than on top. I have needles in the top drawer, though I should do something else with them because I could be utilizing the space a little better; some stash is in the middle drawer; and knitting magazines are in the bottom drawer. On top, from left to right: a bag with K's current knitting; about four balls of leftover Cecil yarn; the Cecil sweater in the blue bag, along with Sonnet (on hold) and the Critter blanket (in progress); Seville is at the bottom of the green bag (waiting to be seamed), with Summer Sonata on top of it in a pot. Way in the back, in the pansy jardiniere, is the blue Debbie Bliss wool sweater waiting to be frogged. There are outposts throughout the house, but this is central command at the moment.

headquarters

Are these pics dark or is it just my monitor at work?? They seem fine at home...

I was reading Wendy's comments this morning where she likens knitting with cotton to knitting with string. A few years ago, I did knit with string. OUCH!! Talk about raw and tender fingers! It was a knitted box project from a library book -- I can't remember the title of the book right now, but it focused on projects for the home (all of them quite nice). After knitting with real string, actually purchased at the hardware store, knitting with anything else feels like there are rubber bands on my needles! If I am feeling challenged by fiber, I just remind myself that it could be string!

MickeyHow about a pup pic? This is Mickey and she's nine months old. She has two kitty housemates, but we can't quite call them friends.

After fooling around and posting this four or five times, maybe I just need to write a little more so that Mickey isn't hanging down into yesterday's title. Slowly getting the hang of Typepad's new picture inserting system and all the variables.

Let's try again.

26 April 2004

75 on Wednesday

Let's hope that forecast holds, as that's my day off. It's supposed to be windy, but who cares? I'll be going to lunch with Mom and a former co-worker, then a possible trip to a gardening place, but I'm sure I'll find time to enjoy the warmth!

I had intended to have pics to post this morning, but M forgot that I needed some computer time and shut it all down before I had a chance. Oh, well. They're old pics already, anyway! I didn't do any more work on Cecil yesterday, but did photograph it, and I'm liking the way it fits! I have passed the armholes and am about half-way through the armhole decreases on the back of Summer Sonata. I keep saying this, but I like it more and more, and K commented on how nice it looked last night, too. I don't even think it's something that she'd ever want to wear, but I'm glad that she can appreciate it! It was darn chilly here this weekend, and she was wearing the VK cabled sweater (shown in Recently Completed) that I knit for her in Rowan's Polar. It feels great to have made something that's become a fave! She's hinted that she'd like another in a gold color. With the right shade, it would be a knock-out -- especially with her hair.

You may recall that I went to see Rod Stewart a week ago, and that I couldn't even say when I'd last been to such a concert. Well, I'm going to another one -- two in less than a month! FLEETWOOD MAC!! I have two tickets, a generous gift from my employer!! I've regretted passing up a chance to see them 20+ years ago, but not this time. My husband and K were the only two who'd have an interest in going with me, and when I asked what their interest was on a scale of 1 to 10, K said 11, so she's the one. We'll have a blast!!

Woo hoo!

25 April 2004

Prom!

I just had to go to bed last night, so didn't find out about prom until this afternoon when A finally got up! Turns out she was only about 15 minutes behind me, but I must have zonked out quickly!

Pics, as promised! I've inserted these in a "new" way, so you can click them to see full-size images. Wonders never cease.
Prom1a

Prom2a

There's A before leaving home, and then with her fella friend before leaving his house. I think she had fun! (She's my quiet one.)

Today marks the last in our string of birthdays -- M now joins the ranks of teenagers, and I now have three such creatures under my roof! Among her presents was a gift card to Barnes & Noble and the three of them decided to go spend it!

In knitting news: I inserted the arms into Cecil last night. I tried it on plenty of times to make sure they eased in nicely and looked good. There's stockinette and reverse stockinette in the armhole areas and, at least for me, it required extra attention. I even draped it over an upturned bowl as I neared the top of the shoulders to help with shaping. I'd never done such a thing before and don't know why it occurred to me this time, but it worked! (One of my sisters and her guy have a pottery studio and they make good "shoulder" bowls!) I was very pleased with how they turned out. Then I knit a bit on Summer Sonata; there are only a few more rows to go before the third pattern section. This morning, I sewed up seams and wove in all the ends on one side of Cecil -- one side to go! It seemed to take a long time, and the wrist action required while seaming is not something I can do for long periods without pain.

That's all my news in a nutshell.

24 April 2004

A little spree

There was no knitting last night. I was socializing, instead. From 1978 to 1983 and again from 1987 to 1991, I did typesetting (now better known as a desktop publishing), proofreading and lay-out for a local, family-owned "shopping guide" and print shop. We were a tight-knit group and, boy, we liked to have fun. We still do! There's a small group that gets together a couple of times a year, but this time the net was widened, and I saw some folks I haven't seen in ages. I was a good girl, and even managed to escape before doing something silly -- like singing karaoke!

I think it's because of that work experience, and other, more recent work as a proofreader, that makes me save a blog post up to three times before I'm satisfied. I like to see it in its finished form, read it through again, make sure I like how it looks; I feel kind of silly sometimes, changing the wording of a paragraph because I don't like how it looks visually. I guess we all have our little quirks, don't we? That's one of mine.

What does one do when there's a balance in the PayPal account? Go shopping! I went on a little bender the other day and ordered the patterns for Rogue, Mrs. CB's Camp Jacket, and ChicKami. None of these are scheduled productions yet, but I just had to get them into the queue. There is one more I'd like to queue up, and that is the Must Have Cardigan. It's all blogland's fault. I have fallen hook, line and sinker for both Rogue and the Must Have, and I have had my eye on the Camp Jacket and ChicKami for a long, long time.

A just ran off to be mani- and pedicured and if she's not back by noon, I have to go pick up the boutonniere she ordered for the fella/friend. I'll be charging up the digicam and will share some pics!

23 April 2004

Baby pics

Jeff, one of the guys at work, brought in a picture of his baby yesterday. The baby's not due until August!! He had accompanied his wife to the doctor yesterday and she'd had her first ultrasound. I couldn't believe it! A 4x6 color photo of his baby -- I could see his/her (they know, but they're not tellin') little face so clearly! In three pregnancies, I had only one ultrasound and that was because -- for a minute or two -- the doc thought there might be twins. I certainly didn't get a picture (it would have been more like a b&w print-out) and, in fact, it wasn't all that easy to even make out the baby on the monitor. I think Jeff's ready to start handing out cigars!

The family was doing the Earth Day thing when I got home from work yesterday. They filled four bags with garbage, some of it so disgusting that they couldn't even talk about it! The pup got into something, and Maddy had her in the tub lickety split!

My mom called last night to let me know that CBS News was airing a story about the dangers of cheerleading. It just so happens that we had a cheerleader meeting at Ali's school last night -- she will only be cheering for football season next year (at this point, anyway). The story featured a young college student from California who had broken her back and was paralyzed because of a stunt gone wrong; the second person paralyzed because of a cheerleading accident this year. Ali was on the cheer team as a sophomore and did the whole 9 yards -- football, basketball and wrestling, plus competitions. Yikes, even in Podunk, there's a lot of tossing and reasons to grimace when watching high school cheerleading competition! Thankfully, our cheer team is a non-stunting team -- a lift is about as daring as they get. The girls would like to do stunts (we're usually the only team in the non-stunting division), but, thankfully, common sense and caution prevail.

I finished the first patterned section of the Summer Sonata sweater last night, did the dividing eyelet row, and am about four rows into the second section. My wrist/arm really didn't give me much trouble. This next section is a shifting k4, p4 that makes a diagonal pattern. I like it more and more!

What a hoot! I followed the lead of Monkey Knits who trailed the Brainy Lady and looked at my googlisms. There were a ton more, but these caught my eye. Indulge me...

vicki is strictly prohibited
vicki is best known for her portrayal as the sexy french [...]
vicki is not affiliated nor represented by 900 psychic lines...
vicki is way in the back
vicki is new to northern angels although she does have experience as an escort...
vicki is the best
vicki is an incredibly cute victim
vicki is that
vicki is also interested in ways to allow different people to access different levels of access to a database
vicki is running out of time and leads
vicki is the best money I ever spent
vicki is a fifteen
vicki is loyal but emotionally emaciated by jake's merciless scrutiny of her every move
vicki is the woman for you
vicki is a haggen
vicki is very modest in chest size
vicki is currently working on her masters degree in midwifery
vicki is a fast study and quite tenacious
vicki is a serial entrepreneur
vicki is available for custom photo shoots and videos
vicki is a "sugar glider"
vicki is responsible for day
vicki is

22 April 2004

Not so quick!

As I brushed my teeth this morning, it occurred to me that perhaps it was my knitting of the trim around the armholes of Nancy that made them so tight. I tried it on again and I think that's it. It seems to me that the armholes were even a little roomy before, and maybe I subconsciously tried to take care of that issue! There should be enough yarn left to try a do-over. I love the way it feels and fits, otherwise, and it would be worth it to give it another go. I do want to wear that top, but it has to be comfortable!

I managed to cross more things of my list of things-to-do yesterday than not -- none of it for fun, really. It's amazing how quickly a day off can be eaten up by all the little stuff.

A found some sparkly sandals last night and the prom ensemble is complete. She put on the dress with all the accessories last night -- and even loaded the dishwasher looking like a prom queen. Kids!!

I spent a little time in the garden pulling weeds -- it's a lot easier to find the bleeding heart now! I was able to pull the roots along with the weeds on most.

TV: I watched American Idol on Tuesday night and was impressed with most of the performances. Barry Manilow was the guest judge and he'd spent a lot of time working with all of the contestants -- I think it showed. I was shopping with A, though, so missed last night's results show. K told me that she'd seen the end, when they were split into two groups, and that Fantasia, Jennifer and Latoya were in the lower group, but she didn't see who actually got the boot! So, I checked this morning and it was Jennifer who fell. I don't know if I can continue to watch that show. Poor John Stevens; he knows, and everyone knows, that he should have been gone weeks ago. It's cruel and unusual punishment, in my opinion. He's been tortured for weeks, the poor guy.

I was able to sit down at around 8:30 and did a little more knitting on the Summer Sonata sweater. (That sounds like a good name!) There's a big chunk of a k2, p2 pattern and it kills my wrist. I have to take lots of breaks. Audrey will be the same thing with all that ribbing. I'll have to really pay attention and not overdo it.

It's K's 19th birthday today (our eldest); an Earth Day Birthday! It's been tradition to go down on the hill and pick up all the trash that's blown there and otherwise accumulated over the winter months. There's a small web of paths at the bottom where K often walks the dog; there's an additional spot along one of the paths where things tend to accumulate, and she wishes to clean that up, also. The weather is cooperating today -- the sun is shining, but it will only get to about 50 degrees. The weatherman hinted that perhaps by next week we'll have a little warmth to go along with the sunshine!

21 April 2004

Nancy -- finis!

Yesterday's plans for Nancy & Cecil were 50% successful. Nancy is completely finished! I looked at Cecil and decided that I didn't want to sew in sleeves last night. I prefer to do that while sitting at a table, and I felt more like sitting in a chair! I looked right past Cecil to that lovely package of Endless Summer Sonata that arrived from elann the day before Easter, and decided to swatch. I'm not always, um, usually, a very good swatcher. I do believe I "swatched" enough to know that I should move from the US6 needles in the directions to US7. I'm looking forward to doing this sweater -- it's been a while since I've done anything with so much pattern, other than cables. The pattern is pictured in the "Looking ahead" album, while last night's progress is shown in "What I'm Working On."

It's a very dreary morning, but I went outside and took some pictures, anyway.

Outback.jpg
This is the view (looking south) from my back porch. It's really getting green.

Heart.jpg
The bleeding heart has grown a lot since the last picture. The bud-laden stems are there, but not easily seen in this photo.

Bloodroot1.jpg
This is my bloodroot patch. It's an early-blooming wildflower that just appeared in my garden a few years ago. The patch has been growing every year and I couldn't be more thrilled. See all the teeny-tiny ones?

Bloodroot2.jpg
Here's a close-up -- with raindrops. I love how they look "hooded" and then emerge. The flowers will last a little while, then a nice little seedpod will form and break open, and the leaves will continue to grow quite large.

The morning garden tour is now concluded. Thank you.

20 April 2004

A different crowd...

Okay, it's been so many years since I've been to a concert such as this that I can't even remember who I may have seen or when/where it may have been! I do know that there was a lot more skin and fewer gray hairs in the audience, and there was a little more room for gettin' down since we were all a little less round! It didn't matter much -- ROD STEWART ROCKS! Old guy or not (I can't believe he's 59!), he puts on a great show that didn't disappoint. Looks great, moves great, sings great. Lots of great old songs and a few new ones. It was well past bedtime by the time we got home, but a good time was had by all. It was worth it! It's also the first "rock concert" I've ever attended with my mom!

The new venue in Green Bay, The Resch Center, has been attracting some great performers -- Elton John, Cher, John Mayer (K&A went to that one), Fleetwood Mac and Aerosmith to name a few -- so perhaps I'll still be able to remember the Rod Stewart concert when I attend my next one! My kids are so lucky -- when I was their age I had to travel at least to Milwaukee (and more likely Chicago) to see anyone great. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I had to walk uphill to school both ways, too. Ha.

I did manage to finish picking up stitches around Nancy's neck and do the required rows when I got home from work last night. On deck tonight: finish Nancy (bind off, make a button loop, sew on a button, and finish weaving in ends) and start finishing Cecil (sew in sleeves, side seams, buttons, and more weaving in). I really don't know if they're the perfect match, to be honest. I'd originally envisioned a more denim cardi for Nancy, and Cecil is definitely navy and might be overpowering, but I'll pair them up and give 'em a whirl or two before I decide whether they're truly meant for each other or need to seek new partners.

Am I fishing for a reason to buy some denim yarn???

19 April 2004

Nancy & Cecil

A few weeks ago, as I was closing in on finishing a tank top with some old yarn I had called Nancy, I went off on a wild tear and ordered some Cecil for a cardi to go with it. As the Cecil body was blocking yesterday, I decided that I'd better get to finishing Nancy! I knit a few rows around the back opening and each sleeve opening, and have picked up about half of what I need around the neck. It's looking great! I'm sure I can pluck a suitable button out of my button jar, and we'll be ready to wear.

I ended up washing the Cecil body rather than rolling it in damp towels. I forgot to put my work away one night last week and Mickey, our 9-month-old beagle, ended up wrestling it the next day, I guess. She was Home Alone for about 20 minutes -- probably the shortest length of time she's ever been left alone -- and got into a disproportionate amount of trouble! Anyway, I decided that it best be washed.

My accordion-folding blocking board is great for storage, and fairly portable when I'm blocking things like sleeves that each fit on one panel, but for the body of a sweater knitted together at the shoulders, with brass rods woven up the sides, and sprawled across 3 or 4 panels, it's best left in one spot. One spot that I do not have. I can dream about having such a spot, but knowing how things go, it would quickly be overtaken by the fate that overtakes every other horizontal surface in my home! I managed to move it off the kitchen table last night so we could eat. I unpinned it this morning. Just sleeves, seams and buttons and we'll have a team -- Nancy & Cecil.

I don't know if I'll get to do any knitting today, though, as we're going to see Rod Stewart in Green Bay tonight! We'll be rockin'!!

18 April 2004

That was different!

What a gorgeous day yesterday! I was thrilled to be able to hang laundry outside. We had a thunderstorm roll through in the wee hours, and it's not so nice this morning.

While folding some of said laundry, I caught a few minutes of "Clean Sweep" on TV. My sister's always talking about clean sweeping this and clean sweeping that. It's a great idea and oh, how I'd love to do it. It's a bit overwhelming, but I tell myself to start small. I managed to clean off one of the five shelves that were put up in the laundry room! Their original intention was to hold clean, folded, ready-to-put-away laundry (one shelf for each family member); they soon became catch-alls, like almost every other horizontal surface around here!

I accomplished a few things in the homekeeping department yesterday, and then settled down with the Cecil sweater and a movie last night. Husband, K and I watched "Life As A House" -- I love Kevin Kline, and I liked the movie.

The bands on that sweater were different from any I'd ever done, especially the buttonhole side. I was instructed to pick up 2 sts, *yo twice, pick up 8 sts, repeat from * 4 times, yo twice, pick up one more. The next row was knit, with two stitches knit into each yo. Interesting, and I think I like it! I stayed up late and picked up all the stitches around the neck -- I'm supposed to have 95, and I know I have many, many more than that, but saved the counting and figuring of decreases for today. I'd like to roll that up in some damp towels today so I can pin it down tomorrow.

I spotted my transplanted, hardy Asian lilies poking through yesterday. I bought a small pot quite a few years ago and just plunked it into a crock on the front porch. That fall, it ended up by the back porch and was soon surrounded and covered by much snow and ice. I was absolutely amazed to see that lily start to grow again in the spring! When they say "hardy," I guess that's what they mean! That little thing has multiplied quite a bit since then, enough that I was able to move some to another spot last year.

17 April 2004

Do not block.

You know how you're always advised to read a pattern through and be sure you understand it before you start? Being a visual, hands-on, learn-as-you-do-it type of person, I'm not going to understand much more than "knit this many," "purl this many," "yo here," "k2tog" there just by reading a pattern; the photograph and schematic are much more useful to me at that stage of the game. There are other things, though, that are easily understood just by reading, such as "Do not block the pieces." It causes one's heart to stop when one has already blocked, say, TWO SLEEVES! My heart started beating again when I told myself that the caution was likely because of the ribbon used for the original sweater. I think Cecil definitely needs to be blocked. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

We have two fronts and a back and they're knitted together! I figured out the short row shaping for the shoulders and used a 3-needle bind-off. I came across the blocking instruction as I was reading all about finishing and asking myself whether I should block the body before or after adding the button band. It is not a sizeable button band -- pick up stitches and work just a few rows -- so I think I will do them before blocking and the knitting will be done. Then, once it's blocked, there's just seaming and buttons.

Look what A brought home from art class the other day! She's not altogether pleased with them, but I think they're adorable. I love the polka-dot goblet. Maybe I'm influenced by A's feelings, but I can't help but think of the Land of Misfit Toys and the polka-dot elephant in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer!
goblets.jpg

Cheers!

16 April 2004

Cecil's progress

As promised, I'm baaaack. Here are the Cecil sleeves blocking.
cecilsleeves.jpg

This one is up close and personal; I think you can see the stitch pattern pretty well.
cecilsledetail.jpg

Here's another.
cecilsleeve.jpg

And, finally, here's a zoom-in on one of the sides with the rod inserted.
cecilrod.jpg

It is a FABULOUS afternoon, and I'm going to go play. First on the list, a run down to the garden to check on this (I'll bet it's grown since I snapped this two days ago):
bheart.jpg
My bleeding heart. (All that green stuff is something called garlic mustard -- very invasive and a pain in the butt. There's a nature center nearby and they have garlic mustard-pulling events every spring. I battle them constantly.)

It's a birthday!

I've been humming/singing all morning: "I am sixteen, going on seventeen..." Today kicks off our birthday season with A's 17th. She/her friends are planning a little get together tonight -- they insist that she go to the local coffee shop (where they must have something planned) and then they'll come over to our house. Last year, they'd made a big cardboard cake out of boxes and a boy popped out -- in only his underwear! I can't imagine how they'll top that, but I'm sure they will!!

So, 17 years ago today I felt twinges when I woke up, but decided to go to my preggo exercise class, anyway. That certainly got things going a bit more, but I didn't stop there -- went to work to pick up the resume that I'd been working on for my brother AND delivered it to him at his job. Yep, things were really going then. I called my husband (to take me to the hospital) and my mother (to watch K) and did my best to manage 'til they got there. I tried to remain calm -- K wasn't even two and I didn't want to alarm her. I recall laying on the floor with K bouncing a big ball all around me. The troops arrived around 1:30, I continued popping Tums like they were candy in the labor room (heartburn all through that pregnancy -- just the thought of green peppers had me gurgling), and A arrived at 3:30. When they told me she was another redhead, I didn't believe it 'til I saw for myself! Wow!!!

And spring arrived that day. I literally watched the leaves pop out on all the trees from my hospital room. It was Easter Sunday when they let me go -- 70 degrees and we had a picnic dinner outside! Seventeen years... seems like yesterday.

KNITTING: I'm to the shoulders on the Cecil sweater, but was too distracted last night to figure out how I want to handle it from there. The fronts are on holders and I'd really like to do a three-needle bind-off. I picked up the Critter blanket and did some mindless knitting for a change -- it's been a while since I did anything on that! I'll admit that I was tempted to cast on the Sonata, but thoughts of Audrey knocked that idea right out of my head. I stopped by my LYS and though they'd received a shipment of Calmer, they had not received what I'd ordered -- Audrey will have to wait just a little longer. I didn't linger long at the LYS, lest I get in trouble.

I'll be back this afternoon with pictures, as promised.

15 April 2004

The jury's in!

It was a nice and bright yesterday, so I hauled my blocking board out the back door and snapped some pics of the sleeves. The bad news is that they won't get posted until at least tomorrow. I blocked them using the damp towel method a la ChicKnits. I'm not sure what the intended purpose of my "blocking board" is -- quilting? It's cardboard with a printed grid and it folds up accordion style. I used to cover it with a sheet of clear plastic, but I decided that I really only need to do that if what I'm pinning down is w-e-t. I don't know how long it will last, but I nabbed it (new and unused) at a rummage sale for $1, so who cares?

The brass rods worked well. I wove them up the straight sides of the sleeves before pinning them on the blocking board, so only needed to pin the sleeves at the top and bottom. Fast! Neat! Even though I bought the smallest diameter rods that I could find, they're still a bit chunky and I don't know how they'd work for a finer knit -- unless I inserted them differently. Perhaps. I'll be playing with these things for a while.

We bought four of these rods. My husband cut two of them in half and rounded the ends for ease of insertion and so that rough edges wouldn't catch on fibers. We thought that they were at least 36" long and neither of us bothered to measure! They must be a little less than 30" long because the halves I used for the sleeves just barely made the 14" that I needed them to! The brass has a nice heft to it; they had steel rods but I'd be leary of rust, especially on something light-colored; aluminum was lightweight, but had some flex and a larger diameter. I'm considering wood dowels for smaller gauge things. I think they'd work if I sanded them very smooth and then sealed them with polyurethane or wax.

I worked with the Cecil for a while last night and have finished all the decreases for the armhole. I'd been pushing bedtime this week and it caught up with me last night. I was in dreamland for the last 10 minutes of Law & Order, so don't know how it ended.

Climbing the stairs and getting ready for bed revived me enough that I was able to read a chapter in Cry, The Beloved Country. I'm nearing the end. I'm enjoying it and it's a good story, but it's taking a while to finish. I'm hoping that there are quotation marks in Life of Pi, which is next. That one is a book club assignment and we next meet in less than a month.

Look for pics in the next couple of days. I think the pattern (especially the eyelets/rib shift) will be very visible. I traipsed down to the back garden and snapped pics down there, too. Green stuff!!

14 April 2004

Blockin'

We took A to visit the Army Recruiter on Monday night -- she's a junior and is exploring her options. Yay for her, but it's too bad the Army doesn't have a need for interior designers... Anyway, we stopped at Home Depot on the way home and I bought some brass rods with the smallest diameter I could find so that I could weave them up the straight sides on sleeves and other knitted pieces to aid in blocking -- less pinning! I blocked the sleeves of the Cecil sweater last night and it seemed to work well. The jury's still out 'til I take out all the pins tonight and see how they look.

I was able to do a little more knitting on the back last night. I've finished the whole eyelet/rib shift part and am close to armhole shaping. It won't be long now!

I just found out that I'll get Friday afternoon off (paid -- woo hoo). If all goes as planned, taxes will be finished, Cecil will be nearing completion, and my Calmer will be here so I can get started swatching and all for Audrey. And maybe I'll have time to post some pictures!

13 April 2004

Banana Cream Soup

There are some things that just can't be rushed... I made an "Angel Salad" (our traditional springtime Jell-o concoction) for our Easter lunch on Saturday night. My husband is the pie man, so on Sunday morning, he started a couple of Banana Cream pies. Right off the bat, I'll say that his specialties (and favorites) are apple and pumpkin. He got started a little late and things just went downhill from there. We have learned: for a cream pie, the crust should be cooled before adding the filling; when doubling the recipe, you may want to cook the filling a tad longer and really pay attention to consistency; after pouring the filling in a hot crust, you might not want to pop it right back into the oven to brown the meringue. We ended up with Banana Cream Soup in a Crust with Meringue! Yuck. We thought that a bit of time in the 'fridge might help, but it didn't. Out it went.

I have a good bit of the back of the Cecil sweater done -- again. Having knit all the smaller pieces first, I think I was partially thrown off by the number of stitches on my needle for the back, and maybe the added weight had something to do with it. I just didn't have the flabby stitch problem on those pieces. I've tightened up (I'm not a loose woman anymore!) and evened out and it is looking much, much better. I'll be pinning out the sleeves for blocking this evening.

Apparently, I'm not the only one with the flabby stitch problem in ribbing, and someone even hunted down a tip! I will certainly be giving that a whirl!

No, I haven't completely finished taxes. I'm close. I hate them. I'll be on time.

12 April 2004

Ribit

Sometimes I can knit and talk at the same time, and sometimes NOT. I was trying to do it on Saturday night, and found mistakes a few times -- easy enough to fix, but geez. I was nearly finished with the back of the Cecil sweater last night and decided that I just wasn't happy. Besides the flabby stitches that bothered me a few days ago, there were some other problems with uneven tension and rows that looked funny. R-I-P. I started again and had a few rows done, but I was still not happy with it and ripped them out, too. What is my problem???

It was nice having company, though, so I'm not going to cry over some balls of yarn! My sister brought two quilt blocks along, but never pulled them out. We did a little bit of shopping with Mom on Saturday afternoon, played games with the kids, and worked on Easter treasure hunt clues.

When we were 10-12, there was an Easter that we spent at our grandparents' house with two of our cousins. I don't know exactly whose idea it was, but the grown-ups decided to turn it into a treasure hunt; we each had four or five clues to find and riddles to solve in order to find our Easter baskets. It was a blast! I don't remember my last clue exactly, but it had to do with music (I spent a lot of time in the music room then) -- and my basket was hidden in the big stereo cabinet that my dad had built for my grandma. The gift was a 45 of Don McLean's "American Pie." My Grandma told me that she had no idea what was popular, and just bought the #1 record at Woolworth's. My sister and I have done this Easter treasure hunt for our own kids a few times over the years, and it's always great fun.

I was surprised to see the order from elann (placed on Wednesday) on my doorstep on Saturday! I snapped a pic of it and the sweater that I intend to make with it -- it's over there in the "Looking Ahead" photo album. Audrey is definitely the priority, though, once I get the yarn in my hands...

I'm staying home and finishing up the taxes today after all. I guess the grrs decided that they weren't as prepared for whatever it was they were going to do, so it's all on hold. Okay, so I should finish up this blogging and get to work, huh? Ugh.

09 April 2004

Hippity-hoppity...

...Easter's on it's way! My sister and her three kids will be rolling in later this afternoon. It's been ages (Christmas?) since we've been able to get together, so I'm looking forward to it. She always brings a project along -- a quilt she's been working on for YEARS, card-making materials (she never buys cards), photos to organize, kids' journals to update (yeah, she's one of those -- her eldest will be 17 in July and she STILL keeps a journal for her) -- she's always doing something! We'll entertain (and be entertained by) the kids, find time for our respective projects, have brunch at Mom's on Sunday, and then they'll head out on Sunday afternoon. Her kids have school on Monday, making up a snow day (she lives 4 hours north of me and they had quite a few snow days this year).

Blogging may take a back seat for a few days. Not only will we have company over the weekend, but my husband and I will be taking a little road trip on Monday -- don't even know where yet, but I get to choose. I should really be staying home that day to finish up taxes (I'm bad), but, as I suspected, the kids have something up their sleeves and my leaving the house that day is part of the plan. I have a hunch...

I did not frog the back of my Cecil sweater last night -- it's OK! What I'm not real happy with are my stitches on either side of the ribbing. It's a pattern that starts out in a 13-2 rib (which looks fine) and then, over the course of an 8-row eyelet/increase/decrease sequence, it's shifted to a 7-9 rib. It's right around the time that the eyelets begin that my knit stitches to the left of the purl stitches become flabby, and those to the right of the purls are almost a bit too tight. I can kind of manhandle the loose ones so they look better, but looking at Audrey and all that ribbing, I'm going to have to figure out what I'm doing and how to fix it.

K arrived home early yesterday afternoon (she had a great time in Florida). It was so nice to drive my own car today! Pics soon.

08 April 2004

Senior photos!

I just got back from A's senior photo shoot. Part of the whole prom dress frenzy was that she wanted to wear her dress for a few shots. It was fun, especially because I wasn't able to go with K when she had her photos taken.

It's incredible! I graduated from a very small school (36 kids in the senior class) and we all took a day off of school to drive 60 miles to have our pictures taken. I sat on a stool, he took a few shots, then he hollered, "Next!" Well, that's what it seemed like, anyway. A's photographer just built a new studio -- we hung out in two big rooms and there was a different setting every 8 feet or so with props all over (even hanging from the ceiling). I was invited to look through the camera to see how he'd framed some shots -- she's so pretty!!! It's going to be hard to choose. We'll look at proofs on the 28th.

I did a little unexpected online shopping yesterday. I ordered some Endless Summer Sonata in "burnished apricot" from elann to knit one of the tops in the little Patons book that I got on sale last week. In reality, I won't get started on that 'til after Audrey, but I'll be ready... (I'm that way about reading, too; I like to have one or two books stacked beneath the one I'm currently reading.) I also ordered a copy of Vogue Knitting Quick Reference for one of my sisters (for Christmas!). I may pick up The Ultimate Knitting Guide for her, also, as she lent her old VK reference book to someone and doesn't think it will ever come back. And, I ordered some bamboo needles -- for her or for myself. There's plenty of time to decide!

I finished the second half the cardi I'm knitting with Cecil last night, and started the back. I have the same feeling about the back that I did when I started the second front the other day -- too tight! I put it down and decided that I wouldn't make any decisions about it until today. I couldn't really look at it objectively last night. I'll have plenty of Cecil to finish the sweater, and that's always a good feeling!

K called last night from somewhere in Georgia and they were on their way home. I think they'll be driving right through, so I expect her sometime tonight. It will be great to have her back and she's looking forward to sleeping in her own bed! And, I'll have my car and camera back!

07 April 2004

With a little bit of sun...

...my, what wonders there are to behold in the garden! It was a most wonderful day yesterday -- the afternoon temp was in the 70s! When I got home from work, I grabbed a rake to de-leaf the bed outside the back door; but first, I used the non-business end as a pointer to show my husband all the perennials coming to life out back. The delphinium has made an appearance and the mallow has awakened! The bleeding heart is bursting forth, as usual, and has given me a new volunteer! Columbine and forget-me-nots are everywhere! Oh, I do love spring!

We sat down and made a list of things we want to do and things we need to do on the house this year. The "needs" will have to trump the "wants" when we start to prioritize, but I think we'll be able to find a balance. Plumbing, plastering, painting (inside & out), a little carpentry -- it could be a busy summer!

I sat down with the Cecil and the second half of the cardi front last night. At the 9-inch mark, I was to begin the eyelets and the ribbing change, but I ended up frogging the whole thing. I decided that I was knitting the second side tighter than the first and it just didn't feel good. My neck and shoulders have been aching the past few days, and the tension showed up in my knitting! I started over. I watched American Idol, and I guess my needles were singin' last night, too, because I had 13 inches under my belt when I decided it was time to hang it up for the night! Yay!!

I took inventory of my knitting books over the weekend and added the list to my blog. I was surprised! Where did I get that signed copy of Knitting Workshop? A few of those books, such as A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, were library rejects -- my husband is a very good scavenger and he knows what I like! The DMC Encyclopedia of Needlework is very old and one of my less expensive "finds" from when I worked at an antique mall. The Reader's Digest book was a gift from my paternal grandparents some years ago. My treasure is the 1959 edition of Good Housekeeping's Complete Book of Needlecraft; it belonged to my maternal grandmother (who died when I was 8) and it is the only place I've ever seen her signature. She had many and varied interests, and this book means the world to me.

Company's coming -- a sister and her three kids on Friday, and maybe another sister on Saturday! I should sacrifice some knitting time to get some cleaning done in the next few days. The kids' break starts before lunchtime today, and I did suggest that if they found a few spare minutes this afternoon, they could clean something -- anything!

06 April 2004

Nostalgia

First, she has a dress. Second, I can't believe some of the incredibly hideous colors that prom dresses come in! Third, 5:00 on a Monday is definitely THE time to go to the mall.

The vintage-inspired dresses were my favorites, but A wanted long. It's been a while since I've looked at clothes, but I do know that vintage has been "in" -- I was surprised at how "IN" it is -- everywhere. And the "vintage" is anything -- there were shoes that reminded me of my grandmothers ('30s, '40s), but also some thongs that looked so '60s and platform sandals like I had in the '70s! The formal dresses reminded me of my mom and my aunts ('50s, '60s), and there was a little, pink, Chanel-styled jacket that looked just like Jackie's ('60s)... "Audrey" is going to be SO in style (so unlike me)!

Reading the Audrey blog and seeing the progress is fabulous. I'm chomping at the bit!

I finished off the second sleeve of the cardi in Cecil last night, and did about 4 inches on the second half of the front. I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out. If I can pull myself away from the knitting, I just might block those sleeves ahead of time so they're out of the way.

My eldest and the camera ought to be home on Friday or Saturday; I'm anxious to share.

05 April 2004

Will she ever find a dress?

I do believe the girl will try on every prom dress in a 30-mile radius before all is said and done. Yesterday, she returned the number she bought on Saturday, along with the free shoes. Granted, it's been many a year since I danced the spike off a shoe like that myself, but after trying them on, I think I know why they were free! Ouch! She put a different dress on hold at the mall yesterday. She'd like me to take her out there after school today to have a look. She said that she WANTS MY OPINION! Prom is the 24th...

All my good intentions for the weekend involving a tank top and a chenille top went out the window with the Cecil staring at me. My "playing around" with it on Friday night has resulted in a left front and one and three-quarters sleeves. The end result will resemble the summery cardi on the cover of last summer's Vogue Knitting. I could easily have two sleeves and a start on another piece, but I wasn't doing my yarn-overs correctly (between knit & purl and purl & knit stitches) and had to frog some. The eyelets didn't look right, and I finally pulled out a reference book to see where I was going wrong. It didn't surprise me that I was making it a bit more complicated than it had to be!

There a few pieces knit in ribbon that I really do like, and this cardi I'm knitting is one (the VK version is knit in Crystal Palace's Deco-Ribbon). I can't bring myself to do it, though. I look at and feel the edges of some of that ribbon and it reminds me of the many tags I have ripped out of clothing, rather than carefully cutting, because they were driving me crazy with the scratching. I can't imagine wearing something that's made entirely of itchy, scratchy, clothing tag-type material. Please, correct me if I'm wrong!

I miss my camera. There are a few things that I'd like to show you, not the least of which is the sprouting of my Bleeding Heart in the back yard! It's one of the biggest highlights of spring for me! A few warm, sunny days and that old thing will be a foot tall. I have snowdrops blooming on the hill, also. In my little spot, you don't dare plant anything until Memorial Day, and I guess that's why I like perennials so much -- who can wait 'til Memorial Day for some gardening action??

03 April 2004

Calmer in Laurel

I had to order the Calmer for Audrey today at my LYS; she said that "Rowan is good" and it usually takes about 8 days. I've had to order yarn from her a couple of other times and have discovered that it's best if I call to check on the order, rather than waiting for her to call me. Things tend to get lost in the back room. My mom was with me and she hadn't been there in years (I think she'd taken a class there long ago). She's amazed at all the new and different fibers and configurations there are since she last put down her needles.

Oh yeah, I finally settled on Laurel for the color. If I were knitting it just for me, I would have chosen Amour, but the other two who may wear this sweater are flaming redheads, and Amour just won't work for them. Laurel is a very soft green and I know my grrs like it.

I was actually out on a toot with my mom for all of the morning and half the afternoon. We started the day off by going to a local antique show and sale. My birthday is more than half a year away, and Christmas is even further than that, but my mother now has gifts for both occasions, as well as the birthday gift for one of my sisters. What fun! We ran into a fair number of people we knew and had fun chatting and looking -- there's such a difference in merchandise at a show compared to a shop.

From there we went to my LYS, and that was fun. And then, my mom took me to a new shop that's opened right in my very own town without my knowledge -- and they have knitting supplies!! It has opened very, very recently and they're still stocking, but have a pretty nice selection of needles and notions, and carry some Patons, Lion Brand, and Maggie Knits yarn. Ooooh, I like the Maggie Knits linen -- and the colors! I'll definitely be visiting there again.

There was a package from Elann last night when I got home -- the navy blue Schoeller Stahl Cecil that I'd ordered. I played around with that for a while; it took a little while to get comfortable with it.

Prom dress update: A just walked in from a little shopping trip with a pretty little dress (black and light pink) that cost $139 and it came with free shoes. She's happy, I'm happy; let's dance!

02 April 2004

Funny Face

You've made my life so glamorous,
You can't blame me for feeling amorous.
Oh, 's wonderful, 's marvellous...

--from the title lyrics, "Funny Face"
funnyface11.jpg

Well, well, well, my first Knit-Along, and it's AUDREY!! (keyboardbiologist.net/audrey) I'm not 100% certain that this is the sweater for me, but if it isn't, I know two young ladies who could certainly do it some justice. I'm most excited about the Knit-Along part, anyway, and am looking forward to the exchange and discussion with all those wonderful knitters. I'm anxious to go yarn shopping; that will likely happen tomorrow, and I think it will be Calmer for me. I'm leaning toward red tones, but I'll wait 'til I have a look-see before committing. I have a $20 frequent buyer card from my LYS to use and a ball of Polar from the VK cable sweater (over there in the Completed album) that I can return, so the bite shouldn't seem too bad. The last time I was there, my LYS had a good selection of Calmer in stock. Let's hope that's still true.

I was knittin' for the critters last night. It's a rather hodge-podge blanket with three or four Homespun colorways, but it'll be soft and cozy and that's what a kitty or pup will be most interested in. I really love some of those Homespun colorways.

Two things: 1) I probably watch more TV than I should (mostly dramas and old movies), and 2) I'm a big baby. Every single time I watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition, I end up wiping my tears on my sleeve. Being a big baby television watcher, you'd think I'd have some tissues handy. Not so, and I ended up with another damp sleeve again last night. It's not so easy to wipe your eyes on your sleeve while you're knitting a critter blankie, either...

Normally, I have Wednesday off during the work week, but for the next two, I'll have Monday -- that means a couple of 3-day weekends! Granted, one of those is Easter and I have no doubt that other people are making plans for at least some of my time. But this weekend will be mine and I'm gearing up to finish the tank top and to start sewing the chenille pieces together.

I have a big window behind me in the office, another a bit further down, and then a big greenhouse window to my left. It's so nice and sunny today that I don't even have the office lights on!

01 April 2004

Critters

Having circs in hot, little hand doesn't necessarily mean that one will rush to use them. That means that I didn't do any work on the tank last night. Instead, I opened a drawer in the chest where I stash some of my knitting stuff and saw balls of Lion Brand Homespun in various sizes rolling around, along with a nearly full skein -- mostly the remains of some scarves that my daughter knit. The Critter Knitters Knit-a-Thon is inescapable in knitters' blogland, and what better use for those little balls than a little critter blankie? It's been on my mind. I'm nearly at the half-way mark for an 18" blanket, but I'll likely have enough to make a larger one. I do believe I have some other acrylic yarn (in a different stash spot) that I could use for another one or two.

If you give a girl a cell phone, don't you think she'd call? Don't you think she'd just be dying to use her new phone?? A was expected home from cheerleader practice at 6:00 last night. She wasn't home and I hadn't heard from her by 6:30, so I called her! She was at a local home improvement store with some cheerleader friends, trying to hunt down a boy they know who works there; then they were going to a bridal shop to try on prom dresses. "Oh, I meant to call you." Well, too bad for you, missy, we're having artichokes (the kids' new favorite).

And no, I don't have $350 for a prom dress, even if it is your favorite color.

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