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21 posts from December 2005

30 December 2005

Reflections in Yarn 2005

Dsc06229_1Mack's Wee Weasley is finished!  I sewed one shoulder seam just to the edge of the collar and left the collar open -- I think that will be enough extra ease so that it can be quickly slipped over his head and not cause too much distress.  A button and loop could be added, but I don't really think it's necessary.

Dsc06230_1I babysat for a while last night and talk about a baby in distress!  Oh, so sad!!  I think he had a little tummy ache and was tired -- it's hard work visiting during the holidays -- plus he's at that age where he's becoming more aware of his surroundings and Mama wasn't around!

So, there wasn't any Jaywalking last night -- not at all yesterday -- it was all Weasley!  I surprised Katie by going with her to Barnes & Noble at 9:00 -- I probably wouldn't have gone that late if I hadn't a gift card burning a hole in my pocket.  As it turned out, I browsed a little, had Sensational Knitted Socks in my hands, carried it around for a while, but eventually put it back and came home empty-handed.  I love that book, I love knitting socks, but I don't know if that's the best addition to my library right now.  Anyway, by the time we got home, I was pooped.

A timely, year-end meme.  Courtesy of Knit Once, Purl Forever.

1. List your finished objects, or just list your favorite FO.  I don't think I've finished a single thing this year that I/recipient don't/doesn't like.  I've tried to practice knitus interruptus; if I'm not feeling the love, I'm movin' on, baby.  Favorites?  St. Brigid, North Star Mittens, Kool-aid Baby Booties, Miss Dashwood, SOCKS!  Can you believe I'm knitting socks?

2. List your works in progress:  Rockin' Jaywalker Socks, Shirley Shrugs, Williamsro, Cromarty.

3. What skeletons are in your knitting basket?  Cromarty.  No question.  Oh, I think there's an almost-finished Sonnet and a top in mercerized cotton that needs only attention to the neckline -- those are really stinky.  I think I started a Flower Basket Shawl once, too, that's just sitting there.

4. What's your favorite project? Yes, I'll say it.  Socks.  I love making the socks (mostly because I love wearing them even more).

5. What project(s) will you never knit again?  Can't think of anything I disliked that much; have been falling out of love with cotton knitting...

6. What was your major knitting accomplishment for the last year?  Has to be finishing St. Brigid -- my first Aran.

7. What's your favorite yarn from the last year?  I knit with some great, new-to-me yarns last year; I'm not playing favorites.  Oh, but if you're going to twist my arm, that Noro Cash Iroha is pretty nice...

8. What's your favorite yarn overall?  Ditto.

9. What new knitting techniques have you learned?  Cabling without a needle.

10. What are your knitting goals for 2006?  I'd like to finish Williamsro by the one-year quit anniversary in March, and I need to finish Shirley Shrugs.  I must knit Latvian mittens.  I've joined the Crossed In Translation knit-along, so there's that (and it's a beauty), and there's a simple shawl or two in the line-up (Better Pal gift alpaca in mind for sure), as well as more socks (I owe DH a pair for his birthday).  I need to think about and refine this list -- I'm sure there will be some baby things, and I'd like to concentrate on working some stash.

29 December 2005

Let's get crack-a-lackin'

Dsc06222Dsc06221Imagine John Travolta, a la Grease: "It's petrifying!"  Really, it is electrifying -- I can't leave the Petrified Socks alone.  There's been precious little time, but what there is has been split between the sock and the Wee Weasley.  Mack is leaving tomorrow morning and my sister said she's taking the sweater whether I've finished with it or not!  It fits him perfectly with a little room to grow and he just couldn't be more adorable.

Dsc06223I've turned the heel on the sock and, as of sleepy-time last night, the gusset is finished, too, so now it's just foot for a while.  We'll just have to see if there's any pooling or flashing as that progresses, but I'm very pleased with how the leg turned out -- very even color distribution on both sides.

Turns out that last Friday -- an extra day off of work/school due to icy conditions -- the ice quickly melted, the sun came out and the temperature was nearly 40 in the afternoon.  Made for good last-minute shopping weather, and I also filled in at the antique mall for a couple of hours.  It was nice to share some of my bonus day helping someone who needed it.

My sister and her family arrived from the northland quite late Friday night -- or was that quite early Saturday morning?  We had a nice day on Saturday with last-minute bustle and then headed over to Mom's.  An aunt that I haven't seen in a long time brought Grandma to the festivities, along with birthday cake to celebrate Gram's 93rd birthday!  DH celebrated his birthday on the day after, but no cake.  Ugh.  Can't even think about cake or sweets.  Maybe I'll surprise him with a belated cake just before Katie leaves for England.  Or maybe defrosted brownies!  (Haha -- thanks for the brownie advice; I've never before had to deal with too many brownies.)

More later...  it's back to work for the first time in a week and I've got some catching up to do!

23 December 2005

Petrified socks

Dsc06180Dsc06179_1So many possibilities here... play on the name of the yarn, play on the name of the color of the yarn, play on the name of the company that made the yarn and thought up the name for the color, play on the name of the pattern?  Alas, I'm only about half-way through a leg, so plenty of time for exploration.  How about Petrified Jaywalker for today.

These photos are very true to color.  (Have I mentioned how much I love Reveal light bulbs?)  I love them.  If you're interested in such things, I'm making the larger size and I'm using US2 needles.  At first I thought I'd possibly overcompensated, but I've tried them on about four times and I think they're fine.  Also, I have two hanks of this yarn and, while I probably won't go as far as knee-highs, I wouldn't mind a little longer leg.  Maybe.  We'll see.  I can also see the Jaywalker pattern used on a sock with a very short leg.

Dsc06171No work today!  No school today!  We had freezing rain last night and, according to my boss, who talked to DH, you can't even walk outside.  I haven't tried it.  It looks slick.  My benchmark for ice storms is January 22/23, 1965, Highland Park, IL, when I was in first grade and my baby sister decided to be born.  We all went along in the car when Dad drove Mom to the hospital -- I remember that she almost fell on the way in.  The ice was thick, THICK on everything -- it was magical and sparkly and cold and dangerous -- and I got a new baby sister!  This is nothin' compared to that.  I hear sirens, though, and what a pain in the ass for anyone who planned to travel today.  Lots.  Some of my family was planning to hit the road tonight and some tomorrow...

Dsc06170Meanwhile, here's part of Santa-Ali's Workshop.  Man, she's rollin' this year.  It's one of those years when things have all come together at once -- ideas, inspiration, materials, motivation, and time.  I still have four small, painted, wooden boxes on a sill in the living room -- the start of a present project several years ago for which she lost steam and, well, there they sit.

I made two pans of brownies for Maddy to take to school today.  Um, there is no school today.  Um, I don't need no stinkin' brownies!  Between the Christmas gift boxes sent by DH's dad and mine, we're all set for sausage, cheese, nuts, cookies, jam, truffles, meltaways, apples, pears, and other things of that nature for quite a while!!  Do brownies freeze well?

22 December 2005

Dsc06085I forgot to mention that I am working on Spherey's limbs -- so far, there's only an arm, but they work up quickly.  He's propped, like a smiling orange, in a small dish on the entertainment center at the moment, overseeing the living room and, with that wonderful smile, it appears that he approves.

Mary in Boston was correct when she noted yesterday that Scamp was atop Time magazine. We laughed about cats and how they like to do that -- usually when we're actually trying to read.  That reminded me of this picture I took of Duncan and the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago.  Isn't he adorable?  Well, yes; that's why I ran, chuckling, for the camera instead of tossing him off.  We've had him for about a year now and he's like everybody's favorite sidekick, except maybe Roxie's, and he's just so charming. He and Scamp scuffle playfully everyday in a way that reminds me of Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King -- Scamp's like, "Yeah, I'll let you think you're as great as you think you are, and that maybe you even have a chance, but in the end, buddy, I'm still head cat around here and you won't forget it.  Just your daily reminder."  In a nice way.

Busy day yesterday.  Maddy has no cavities; let's hope the result is the same for Ali today and Katie next week.  Results of my test(s) are not back yet, but not much reason for concern.  It's the first time I stepped on an official scale in a very long time (haven't used the unofficial one much recently, either) and I can now say that it's just shy of 25 extra pounds traded for that extra grand that I've saved by not smoking thousands of cigarettes.  The doc, of course, said she'd rather see a little extra weight than continued smoking.  Interestingly, on the way to the doctor's office, I heard part of a call-in radio show (I had mom's vehicle and could not figure out how to switch from AM to FM) regarding the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.'s policy regarding smokers -- basically, quit or you're fired.  More info here.  One of the TV network news shows aired a similar segment/different company recently.  That led to call-in discussion about other health risks due to lifestyle choices -- mainly obesity and alcohol consumption -- and the idea that people with higher risk would pay more for health insurance.  Scary territory... Who decides what and how much of it is a risk?  Who decides that someone is obese due to choice?  Will Big Macs be regulated?  If you're going to make this type of argument, couldn't you say that people who engage in risky hobbies (some of whom already pay more for life insurance) -- sky-diving, car racing, downhill skiing, maybe even rollerblading -- pay more for health insurance, too, being more likely to have a serious accident requiring a doctor visit than someone who, let's say, knits?  Scary, scary.  I'm just happy that I quit smoking on my terms, not my employer's or my insurance company's.

Anyway, Katie's home from college with all her stuff -- DH went to get her yesterday afternoon.  She leaves for London in three short weeks.

I am suffering from holiday-induced ADD.  Let's not talk about knitting today.

21 December 2005

It's criminal

Dsc06162Criminal Thing #1:  Spherey and all his friends.  They are all so adorable, there really oughtta be a law!  Everyone to whom I've either shown the project and/or the book has melted with the cuteness.  Ali said that she needs an Oddfellow.

Among my shopping* stops last night was Hobby Lobby for Spherey's eyeballs.  I bought a couple of different sizes, because I think Squarey is in the line-up -- he's just got to be.  And the robot and the bear and the Knitty kitty Kate!  See?  Too much cuteness!!

Criminal Thing #2:  Being a Jaywalker!  Jaywalking is illegal, you know!  My mother is constantly breaking the law and I'm often party to it -- have been for years!  Almost every time we break the law in this manner, she tells me about the time she was jaywalking with all five of us little kids in tow.  She ran right into an officer of the law!  He did not arrest her or issue a citation, but he did give her a little (embarrassing) sidewalk lecture about not setting a good example for her children.  Heh, we see how well that worked!  So, I'm feelin' some Jaywalker love right off the bat!  Love.that.yarn!  I'm only a few rows into the zig-zag pattern, but have a doctor appointment this afternoon and, well, it depends...  I'll either be striking the pose (see Ann's comment) right off the bat or doing a lot of waiting/knitting.

Also, today, I'm going to do something I've never done before.  I'm going to sew a zipper into a knitted sweater.  And guess what?  It's not even my sweater!  Yessireebob and that bears repeating:  I'm going to sew my first zipper into a sweater that isn't even mine!!!  There's only one person in this world who would volunteer me for such a thing -- I think this is Criminal Thing #3.  Heh, not only volunteer me, but also tell me that it will satisfy some super-secret debt that's owed that he won't even tell me the circumstances about which.  I think I'm earning something, but I don't know what!  Heeee.  It'll be fine -- I've led the cheer many times and shown others The Way in the past, and the zipper's even already basted in.  Now it's time to take my own medicine, so to speak.  The party for whom I am doing the round-about favor is so worth it, anyway (Hi M), but, you know, I can't resist making a little noise.

*That all went pretty well, by the way.  I feel better today.  I bought myself a little treat while I was at the candy store and scarfed it all down on my way to the next stop -- could have used a Coke to wash down all that chocolate, but I survived.  I don't think the red Jordan Almond** stained my teeth, either.  I think Norma and I are sharing a wavelength or two this year -- obviously, I'm no stranger to the inner sloth, but I'm also looking to the new year as the time to start afresh.  That's why I just bookmarked the calendar page to the yoga studio that's right frickin' next door to where I work.  I'm also planning to give up WW Online and find a meeting instead.  Yeah, remember that?  My back is telling me that I have to 1) lose some of the quit-smoking-pounds I've packed on over the past nine months, and 2) move and get some exercise.

**Jordan Almonds were always my favorite candy at the movies***.  They're not even available at the movies now; I'm not sure when they stopped selling them.  My friend's Raisinettes would be history before the previews were even over and I'd still have candy to munch on well into the feature.

***I was sitting around with some friends and an embellished Coke on Monday night and someone asked:  What's the first movie you remember seeing at the theater?  For me, the first one that sticks in my memory is Disney's Jungle Book.  I think it's the situation more than the movie that makes it stick...  We arrived at the theater late and the movie had already started -- mom took all of us and it was showing at a single-screen, downtown movie theater.  We watched the movie and then stayed for the beginning of the second show -- we were only going to stay until we saw what we'd missed.  We ended up staying for the entire second show!  I'm sure it wasn't often that all five of us were happy and quiet all at the same time, why disturb that?  What do you wanna bet we jaywalked on the way back to the car?

20 December 2005

What's a girl to do?

When Maddy was five, we all went to Disneyland.  DH and his brother were opening day attendees and my BIL still buys a season pass every year.  Admission to the park was the girls' Christmas gift that year from their uncle.  It was the first time, and by no means the last, that I talked Maddy into going on "a really fun ride" at an amusement park.  At Disneyland, I actually did it twice; she was five, I was her mother, she trusted me.  First, we went on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which, it turned out, Maddy didn't like at all.  I knew not of which I spoke, having never been to Disneyland before, but I was able to convince her, anyway, that she would like The Matterhorn.  She was seated in front of me in the sled we shared, perfectly still and absolutely silent during the whole ride -- not a scream, a shriek, a gasp, a laugh, or a giggle.  She quickly exited the sled when the ride was finished, spun around on the platform, hands on hips, and said, forcefully, "MOM!!  THAT WAS NOT FUN!"  After that, I couldn't get her to even look at the Teacups, though I did manage to get her on the Dumbo ride.

This is how I'm feeling.  I'm on the platform, awaiting the Holiday Express, spinning (not fiber) around and around and around, hands on hips; "THIS IS NOT FUN!"  I'm not enjoying any of it this year and I can't wait 'til it's over.  I'm not usually like this, but I just can't muster the spark this year.  It's all the usual stress of the holidays, plus a little here and minus a little there.

Dsc05723I ripped the Wee Weasley collar that was knit on size 3 needles and re-knit it on size 5 needles, casting off nice and loose with a size 8 or 9.  It's much, much better!  A wave of weariness washed over me and nothing else I have in progress was doing it for me last night, and neither were the Packers, so I just up and Jaywalked.  Yep, I'm a JaywalkerSocks That Rock in Petrified Wood.  Love.  I've never seen such a black black.  I feel a little guilty.  Eh.

I'm going to try to do the last of the Christmas shopping tonight.  With a smile.

19 December 2005

Big-headed baby issues

Dsc06155I knit the collar of the Wee Weasley as instructed (on the smaller needles) and it looks great, but I think I'm going to rip and re-do on larger needles.  I don't think it will fit over the big baby head!  I may even leave the collar unseamed 'til there's a proper fitting -- perhaps a button & loop closure at the neck would work better.

Dsc06153Mom stopped over yesterday and I showed her the Weasley in pieces and now she wants one.  She loved the "M," which is what her name begins with, also, so it wasn't a big stretch for her to imagine an adult-sized sweater.  I did not tell her that I've seen adult-sized Weasleys.  The colors are very much "her," and I know she'd wear it to death.  To be honest, I wouldn't mind putting the current version of Shirley Shrugs aside and changing courses...  I've been working on it, but it's going to be given on the needles and not even half-way -- maybe not even to the first shoulder -- next weekend.

Dsc06152Mom works a couple days a week in an antique store and, as is the case with many a small business struggling to stay afloat this year, the heat is turned down pretty low.  She's been wearing sweaters knit by two of my sisters, as well as her Natalya mitts that I knit last year using Jody's great pattern (which I've seen in the blogosphere a lot in the past few weeks).

Dsc06159Alison had a regular Santa's Workshop going this weekend -- she decorated mugs, embellished bags, made candy, and lots of magnets!  I saw the magnets on Holly's blog several weeks ago and knew that someone in my house would find it as appealing as I did.  (By the way, Holly, I was wrong when I told you that we used three bags of Kisses for candies... Ali said that we actually used FIVE!)

Maddy went to see Rent on Friday night -- it was funny to hear her and her girlfriend talking about why it should have/would have/must have been appealing and likeable to the boys who saw it with them.  On Saturday, she went with those friends and others to the mall for some shopping.  She told me that they were all in the food court, talking, laughing, having fun, when an "older lady" approached their table.  Maddy said that they were afraid they were going to get chastised for being too loud or boisterous; instead, the lady was crying and told them how wonderful it was that they were having so much fun together.  She gave them each $5.00, and to two of them, she also gave some religious literature.  I'm just not sure what to think about that.  Maddy said that they didn't quite know what to do; part of her wanted to run after the lady and give her a hug.  When I've told others about this, they get a little skeptical at the part about religious literature.

It's colder than heck.  Today's record low was set in 1983: -27F.  Compared to that, we're really rather balmy -- and it's sunny.  As evidenced by my photos today, the plants in the Garden Room are obviously loving it!

And.  Nine months yesterday.  Woo.  (That would be nine months + a day for my sister, for those of us -- ahem-her-cough -- keeping track of these things.)

17 December 2005

You should have seen the one that got away...

Dsc06092...or, "What's with the fish?"

I was at Main Street Art Works in teeny, tiny Hilbert, WI, where they are preparing for a January display of sturgeon decoys.  Sturgeon fishing is big around here at about that time of year.  This fish is on loan from I-don't-remember-where and you can see why it would appeal to me, can't you?

Dsc06093There's a fiberglass body providing the framework for this wonderful mosaic work!  It looks scaley and prehistoric and it's big and oh, so cool!

Last night, I blocked the Wee Weasley sleeves under a damp towel; today the front is blocking and then I'll do the back.  After that, I'll do some sewing, knit the collar, do some more sewing and then, time permitting, give it a good soaking and blocking in one piece.  I believe I'll have at least an extra day because I don't think the little guy will be here 'til Christmas Day.

As far as Shirley Shrugs, I went back to the drawing board (Excel) and re-did my chart.  I think I'm back on track.  Three more repeats to slog through.  I didn't have the short rows figured correctly, either, so fixed that right away, too.

Since those two projects were where they were, I cast on for Spherey at lunch time yesterday and had a few decrease rows under my belt by bed time -- quick!  So cute, too.

Ali and I made Holiday Pretzel Treats this morning, as first seen on sUsAn's blog.  She'll give some for gifts, and I'll give some for gifts, and maybe we'll have some left (we did each perform a taste test -- they passed) -- or maybe we'll make some more!

I'm going to get some knitting done!

16 December 2005

Like a fish...

Dsc06091...out of water.

Or, as Cara said today, "What the ... #*&(*^%* ... Typepad.  That blows!"

A day without Margene, I survived.  Many craptastic (bow to Norma) days with (or without, as the case may be) Bloglines, I survived; I even kept on feelin' the love.  The learning curve days spent with NewsGator, not too bad.

Dsc06094A whole day without Typepad?  For them, too, I've kept on feeling the love.  They've grown awfully fast, as have all blog-hosting services, I imagine, and have had some growing pains -- lots.of.growing.pains.  It seems that they were pretty up-front about it today, when ProBlogger called and asked about it directly, and then later on their own sites.  A whole day, though.  It does blow.

I've read more than once, though, that a blogger should have their own domain, own their content with no fuzzy lines.  I know, too, that other folks (JenLa more than one, twice, thrice, girls?) with other blog services and/or their own domain have issues with losing things from time to time.  That's what I call techno-crap and you've just got to expect it.  Computers fry, hard drives fail, domains blow.  Is it time?  May I soon be Jaywalking in more than one sense of the word!

15 December 2005

Give me an "M"

Dsc06125Yep, look what I made!  It's quite far from perfect, but it'll be okay.  I got about a dozen rows done, then ripped and started over.  I'm a lot happier with the second try.  A few more inches to go and all the pieces will be finished!  I charted the M myself, tracing a manipulated letter onto custom knitter's graph paper using my kitchen window as a lightbox.  It turned out just a teeny bit taller and narrower than I'd planned, but I'm happy with that, too.

Dsc06126And yep, I bought yarn.  Three hanks of Cascade Pastazza for more Log Cabin Socks -- I love that yarn, I love those socks.  I don't know how to describe that color, but trust me, it's pretty.  That's some Trekking sock yarn that coordinates rather well with the Pastazza for no particular reason.  I also bought a few skeins of Lamb's Pride Worsted in bright colors because I got Jess Hutchison's booklet in the mail the other day.  That will be some fun knitting!

Dsc06123Dsc06118It snowed yesterday.  It was nothing like last week in New England (is there a Barry Manilow song? B.M. comes to mind!), but it was our first significant storm.  It started fairly early, and then picked up in the late morning.  Some schools were closed in the early afternoon and I think that was wise -- it was gray and there was a lot of blowing and visibility was often poor.  It took Ali a very long time to get home today.  She may be extra, extra cautious these days when weather is a factor.

14 December 2005

One done...

Dsc06112Dsc06113...two to go.  Thank goodness!  There's an FO to report and, best of all, it gets crossed off the Christmas To-Do List!  They're a little big for me, but that's a very good thing in this case -- since they're not for me.  And man, are they ever warm!  They're the Log Cabin Socks -- I'll post details in the photo album.

It's snowing outside -- the beginning of our first significant storm/snowfall of the year.  I have a lot to do today and snow wasn't really figured in...  Whatcha gonna do?  One item on the list is taking Maddy to get her ears pierced for the very first time.  She'd been talking about it and St. Nick brought her some earrings -- she's ready!

Dsc06115Look what came in the mail!  Henry's mom sent me this zipper tote she made in one of my favorite designs!  The little guy wearing reindeer ears steals the show, though!  Thank you, Stephanie and Henry, for thinking of me.  So sweet.

Dsc06116The catalog underneath is Sundance.  I'd like to knit a stocking for Mack and am considering a design similar to this.  My sister likes it.  This would be for next year -- even with an FO under my belt, I'm not going to get IT done in time.  Shirley Shrugs and I have a date with the calculator later today.

But first, I'll be taking the Wee Weasley to the LYS and that project ought to be on the downhill slide later today.  Very exciting.  I'm trying to pace myself, though.  I know that if the shrug is the only thing going, it won't be good.  It's so weird because I used to be such a monogamous knitter and now, well, I'm just not happy unless I have a little going here and a little going there.

It was just a blast to read all of your comments about your own department store/downtown Christmas memories.  The mall with Santa plopped between the kiosks just doesn't compare, though I hope there's something magical and memorable about it that my kids will one day recall.

Another thing!  After we visited Santa, we'd go to an area in the store that was blocked off and had very short doors -- adults were not allowed inside.  It was a place where kids could shop for their family members with help from clerks.  There were separate tables with geegaws for "Mother," "Father," "Sister," "Brother," etc.  We each had a list and a set amount to spend and a clerk would help us choose presents for everyone on our lists -- and stay within budget!  When the girls were in grade school, a marketing class at the high school set up shop in an empty storefront downtown for a few weeks with a similar purpose -- must not have gone over real well, though, because I don't think they did it again.

Okay, I'm off to get busy -- I have to check my list!!!

13 December 2005

Memory -- it's like magic

The small city where I did most of my growing up decorated the main street for Christmas with beautiful, golden angels.  It was dubbed "The Avenue of Angels."  Some of the angels, hanging from street lamps, had golden horns lifted to the heavens, while others bowed their heads in prayer.  At main intersections, four angels would drape gracefully from each corner, in tinselly gowns twinkling with light, horns raised, to meet in the middle.  Oh, they were beautiful!  They eventually got old and decrepit and were replaced with a tacky display that was billed as "The Avenue by Candlelight."  Never in a million years would the candles hold a candle (if you will) to the angels.  When the garish candles finally bit the dust, they were replaced with another version of angels.  These new angels are not nearly as graceful or beautiful as the originals, mind you, and they're a little too brassy, but they're a vast improvement over candles.

Back in the day, people would actually go downtown to shop, bustling in and out of stores, shops, and boutiques -- even in winter!  There were places called "department stores" and "dime stores" -- lots of 'em -- with well-known names that you'd find in nearly every town -- Penney's, Sears, Woolworth's, Kresge's (other, bigger names in other, bigger cities) -- and most had lunch counters or restaurants right in the store!  In our area, there was a regional department store called the H.C. Prange Co.

Prange's occupied a six-story building and had a five-level parking ramp.  I have distinct memories of being in the parking ramp at Christmas time with my mother at the wheel -- bumper-to-bumper from top to bottom following an afternoon of shopping.  My mother would be damned if she'd let anyone squeeze their car in front of hers!  More often than not, she had five, tired little kids in the car, so I really can't blame her for wanting to keep moving forward.  Prange's exterior holiday decor was a very simple and elegant tree made from many strands of large, white lights strung from the top of the street-level canopy all the way to a large, brightly lit star at the roofline.

The store windows came to life with mechanically animated displays -- spinning, swinging, twirling elves, gingerbread men and forest animals, for example, cavorting in sets filled with piles of fake, glittery snow.  There was music piped outside and the sidewalks were filled with shoppers.  "City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in the air there's a feeling of Christmas..."  Once upon a time, those words rang very true.  But, oh, those windows!  That display!  It seemed to go on and on, but always ended too soon.

Inside the store was an "Enchanted Forest."  On either side of a roped off path, there was more of the same animation that sparked the front windows, and towering, white trees -- lots of branches -- more piles of snow and millions of lights.  It was truly enchanting!  The destination was tucked away, out of sight 'til the very end, though perhaps a glimpse would be caught along the way -- a little hit of red in all that white, heightening the anticipation to just this side of unbearable...

SANTA CLAUS!!

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I recently learned that those animated displays have been restored and are on display at a historical museum in the city where Prange's had their headquarters.  I smell a road trip...

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Typepad wouldn't let me post my pictures today.  This has nothing to do with the pictures I have and I don't have any pictures of this, so thought I'd try to see if a thousand words (more or less) could paint any sort of picture.  Hopefully, full and living color will return tomorrow.

12 December 2005

Music to my ears

The back of the Wee Weasley has joined the sleeves in the finished pile.  The next row on the front will see the start of the letter "M."  I have the last of a two-session color knitting class at my LYS on Wednesday afternoon and I'm going to work on it then.  I love the class, by the way, there are only two other "students" besides me, so it hardly even seems like a class and is practically one-on-one.  This isn't a something that I really needed, but it's helping to reinforce some things and I'm enjoying it.  Focus will soon be shifting to sock and shrug.  /knitting

Dsc06099_1There was a comment or two about the artwork when I posted the pics of my knitting space last week.  There are many old photographs and, among them, these ladies that DH rescued from the curb several years ago and brought home to live with us.  He's brought home other ladies and gentlemen, but none have stole my heart like these girls.  The same four women are in both pictures -- they're small, maybe 3" x 6" or 4" x 6".  The one on top is dated '04, the other is undated.  I have no idea who they are or why they were photographed like this -- I have another photo of a larger group of women and these ladies are among them, too.

I love the playfulness in the top photo.  Their expressions and posture, the tilt of the head -- look at the girl who is second-from-right -- it all says, "Fun, fun, fun!"  It isn't just their attire that is different -- it's their whole demeanor.  I figure that the second picture was taken about a year later.  It's a bit more formal; they're much more subdued and "lady-like," but I still see twinkling eyes.

Dsc06097 Dsc06098

I'm a little pressed today, but I had a great weekend that included lots of music -- even dancing -- and "Walk The Line" (go see it -- RUN!).

09 December 2005

Apples to apples

Or Bloglines to NewsGator.  Testing, testing.  1, 2, 3...

Jen wrote about other services the other day and I decided to check into at least one other.

As long as I'm here, I'll tell you a story about my couch/sofa/davenport.  Once upon a time, Katie was three-and-a-half and Ali was one-and-a-half and I didn't own a slipcover of any kind.  The floors of my house were like a conveyor belt, there were so many washable markers and crayons and colored pencils strewn about.  You could get from the front door to the kitchen with one, quick, rolling step.  (By the time Maddy arrived, there were sharp-cornered Legos added to the mix, drastically compromising the conveyor and damn, they hurt!)  Katie was is smart and she was learning to write.  I walked into the living room one day to see "Ali" written in very large, very orange marker on the inside arm of the couch -- I have to say, it was very good use of available space.  In that purely rhetorical way of mothers, I screamed asked, "Katie, who DID that?!"  She looked at me with those big, blue eyes and said, "Ali did."  Ali's very smart, too, but at that time, she was still barely controlling the desire to eat the marker!  It still cracks me up.  I think I got most of it off -- there might still be a ghostly image or a strange orange glow in the area.

By the way, I'd love to have you all over for knitting -- a slumber party would be even better.  Just call ahead, okay?

From where I sit

Dsc05940_1 Dsc06083

Before rearranging on the left, after on the right.  Not a whole lot has changed, I guess, except for the location of the floor space I occupy.  I have my favorite chair and pillows, favorite table with all the same stuff (patterns, books, tools) above and basket (full of patterns, books, tools) below, favorite lamp -- oh, it's a different chest!  I realized that, essentially, DH and I just switched spots.

Dsc06077Here's the view to the right from my chair.  I'm not completely satisfied with all this, but will live with it 'til after the holidays and then decide what to do.  The last time I tried to rearrange, it all ended up back in the same place!  It takes some getting used to.  Until last weeked, there was a huge void on this wall (between the lamps) where a bookcase used to reside, but I found the water-stained, frameless young girl's portrait in the stash (oh, yes, there are many different varieties of stash) and she provided the impetus to pull it all together.  The couch/sofa/davenport isn't scaled correctly for this room or in comparison with any of my other furniture.  *Lightbulb: on.*  I wondered last night whether I could add some height -- some ball feet or something to raise it up a few to several inches.  It's old, old, old and the original upholstery is (and always has been) hideous (now it's hideous and worn), but it's pretty well made and was an honest to goodness bargain.

08 December 2005

Yippee yahoo-haw

Dsc06071Ooo, sorry, lasting effects of the cowboy hat.

Today I'd like to talk about how nice it is to have a balance in the PayPal account -- even if it's small.  It kind of feels like free money, you know?  Last night, I was able to spend a little of that free money on Jess Hutchison's pattern book which I knew was once again available because of my nifty blog-reading system wherein I'm definitely more in the loop and more caught up than I have been in ages.  I knew about this on the day it happened.  I'm thrilled.  (Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, it is the little things -- and most of the time they're free. Or might only cost $8 plus shipping.  But if you use that free PayPal money, well, then it's a free-for-all that comes in a little booklet of little patterns for little things that will be freely given so that someone else might feel a fraction of my joy.)

Um.  I swear to you, I'm not on drugs of any kind.  I didn't even take ibuprofen last night.  I do think that I'm in a little better mood, though, and perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge has left the building.  Coming across the word "poppycock" in a comment during some unusual (for me) late-night blog reading didn't hurt.  Who here knows of which and whom I speak?  Is it just me?  I keep seeing that face and imagining that word -- with all those other words she uses -- passing through those lips.  Oh, and The Twelve don't hurt, either -- it's a parade!

I did not get the new meme (or not) memo in a timely manner, though, so pics of my knitting space(s) tomorrow.  (When I visited Cara's, I sat and knitted in both their spots on the couch!)  Thank goodness, because otherwise it's the same old knitting, you know?

Dsc06074Or not.  Up top, you see two balls of Lana Grossa Luna that was an early Christmas gift from my best non-knitting friend.  It's gorgeous and I love it, but I'm not sure what to do with it.  Naturally, I initially thought "scarf," but I really don't wear scarves.  Or hats (with very few exceptions, which would sometimes be related to warmth or (and a rare occasion, indeed) alcohol consumption.  I tore off the price stickers already, but am thinking of trading it in for sock yarn.  It was so cold yesterday that I was wearing two pairs of store-bought socks and was wishing I had more that were handknit.  I don't mind one bit when y'all say, "I told you so."

You can see that I got my book for the Crossing Over While Being Translated (or something like that) knit-along.  (I will admit that I was fascinated by that show for a while.  Didn't hurt that he was kinda cute and, if I remember correctly, was a ballroom dancer, though to my knowledge he never danced on the show.)  Anyway, I love that book (and would like to live there, too).  There are lots of other cables, there are color projects, lace projects -- really gorgeous!  Atop the book are the two sleeves and start of the back that constituted the Weasley Wednesday knitting.  Oh, and I finished the gusset on the Log Cabin Sock, so that's on the home stretch.

07 December 2005

Random, and even knitting!

After months of suffering with a lame, squeaky mouse that, finally, would hardly even point anywhere, I bought a new optical mouse last weekend and I.love.it.  It's smooth, baby, real smoooooooth.

Among the two or three* non-knitting blogs I enjoy are two photo-blogs -- I dare not click on any of their links to other photo-blogs or lists of photo-blogs because I might never return.  Check them out:  daily dose of imagery and wideangle.ca.  The latter has been posting pics from China, which makes me think of Celia and how much I've enjoyed the albums she's posted from her recent trip there (and check out her November in Pictures post!).

I have begun the gusset on the second Log Cabin Sock (woo!) and I wore a wrist brace to bed last night.  I think I'm going to make today Weasley Wednesday.  Shirley will Shrug on Saturday and Sunday for sure.  Thanks for your nice comments on that, by the way.  Speaking of which, I'm using Mission Falls cotton for the shrug and I've noticed several posts 'round the land that Mission Falls is back!  Amy, for one, had a post about that.

And, OMG and speaking of Amy, if you don't know that the new Knitty has been posted, you've had your head in a snowbank -- I love it!  I can't wait to make a Kate or ten!  It's all knitting crack -- I think it just keeps getting better.  I've barely made it to the articles, but am anxious to read Jenna's article on sleeves.  Maybe I'll finally fix Goldie.

SwingjacketSpeaking of Kate.  There's another new baby in the 'hood.  Kate Gilbert's "needles on fire" may only be glowing embers for a little while as she gets used to her new daughter!  But then, what do you want to bet she'll have the best-dressed-in-mommy-designed-hand-knits-baby in Canada?  I was so surprised and happy to see Kate's beautiful Pearl Buck Swing Jacket in the latest Interweave Knits.  I love it!  I love Kate's designs.  Not that I need any further validation of her talent or my judgment, but when Mom was choosing which shrug pattern she wanted me to knit, she saw Kate's IK cover sweater and really loved it.  Of all the other sweaters and things she looked at that day, it was the only one she commented on -- and it almost made her jump the shrug ship altogether.  Believe me, this means something.  If warmth while knitting** in bed wasn't the primary motivation in this selection, I'd be knitting that sweater!

I love Boston Legal.  I've been a huge fan of all the lead actors for.ever.  Oh, yeah, James Spader, especially to look at, but William Shatner...  I know, I know.  I think you either love him or hate him.  I think I love him -- not in the Cara & Bruce way -- but I do.  He cracks me up.  I can't explain it.  Before you get all up in arms or down on me and want to show me the light, I'd just like you to know that I've kept all my feelings about Gilmore Gag Girls to myself.

*It's pitiful, I know.  I do have another folder of non-knit blogs that I keep private.  (Get your mind out of the gutter, Ann.)

**Hahaha.  You can tell whose blog this is and what the #1 subject is!  That should be "reading in bed" -- my mother barely knits, much less in bed.  ; )  I think, though, that the Shirley Shrugs action won't be limited to the bedroom.  (Ann:  See previous parenthetical comment.)

06 December 2005

Best seat in the house

Dsc06043_1Dsc06041_1Duncan's got the best seat in the house for admiring the tree!  He's been super-feisty lately, terrorizing his fellow pets and tearing around the house with such vim and vigor that some of us have been caught in the crossfire.  I was innocently folding laundry on Sunday when Duncan came tearing through the space between me and the basket; his paw landed on my foot and a claw was extended, striking right between two toes (OUCH! and many expletives deleted) as he launched himself through.  He actually drew blood -- like I dripped blood on the floor when I went to get a band-aid!  He drew blood on Ali at some point, too, though I don't think there was dripping.

Dsc06064_3The girls look like they're playing Ring-Around-the-Christmas-Tree, don't they?  Katie's wearing my red cowboy hat -- she looks way better in it than me, but here you go.  Yeehaw!  I got all gussied up this morning -- even tied a bandana around my neck -- for a bathroom mirror pic to keep y'all happy.  Y'all happy?  I hate having my picture taken and it's absolute torture to take one of myself.  I must really love you guys.  (Don't burst my bubble, okay?)  Added later:  Oh, for crying out loud, I didn't mean to post a life-size picture.  Really, I didn't.

Dsc06060Proof that wonders never cease:  there are knitting pictures today.  There we have Shirley Shrugs with not a bad reprsentation of color -- it's a toughie, a gray-ish, sage-y-ish green.  I think I've got one repeat to go before starting the first experimental shaping of the shoulder using short rows, though it seems to be measuring up a little short.  It's all experimental.  I love that in a Christmas gift for Mom, two and a half weeks from deadline and several days behind, don't you?

Dsc06061Man, I love these Log Cabin Socks.  I love that yarn, too.  Cascade Pastazza -- soft, a little fuzzy.  I should be even further but I screwed up yesterday at the change from ribbing to pattern.  See how the ribs flow right into the cables?  I forgot to move a stitch and I was off by one and didn't realize it 'til I'd already done the second cable.  R.i.p.

05 December 2005

Dids & did-nots

I did not work a lot on Shirley Shrugs (though more on it than any other knit I've got going at the moment).

I did get all but half a string of lights working on the tree.  I changed four strings (Ali helped with one) and then I ran out of gas.  The non-working lights were at the bottom of the tree and I just turned that side to the wall.  Smirk if you want.

I did not work much on Wee Weasley, but I'm at least finished with the increases on the second sleeve and that means I'm on the home stretch.

I did unpack Christmas decorations and mostly watched as the kids decorated the tree.  That was a lot of fun -- listening to their chatter, some of their memories, talk about their favorite ornaments.  This was Katie's last weekend home before the end of the semester -- very close to Christmas -- and she wanted to be part of tree-trimming.  I doubt I'd have mustered it quite yet if it hadn't been for her.  Yay Katie.  I think I'm just a bit more in the mood now, even though I didn't make fudge (but I did get the chocolate chips -- still need the sweetened condensed milk).

I did not work at all on the Log Cabin Sock.  That's going to change today!

I did go to a Christmas party on Friday night.  It was held at a farm, one of those agritainment operations; this one has somehow carved out a kids-by-day, adults-by-night niche (including wedding receptions).  I am enamored with outbuildings and our party was held in one -- I don't know what this one would have been originally, but it was very cute and cozy.  We also went on a moonlit hayride, singing carols and passing schnapps.  I found out that I look pretty good in a cowboy hat.  Who knew?

St. Nicholas came a day early to our house.  (Heads up!  He's supposed to come tonight!)  Katie's heading back to school this morning, so we all got up extra-early today!  He brought some hip, new sunglasses for Kate & Al, pierced earrings for Maddy (for her soon-to-be-first-time-ever-pierced ears), the new Enya CD for DH, a couple of wished-for books for Ali & Maddy, and Bad Haggis "Trip" for Katie.  Kate's been wanting some good Celtic music, and has even been talking of learning to dance, so it was fun to find something different.  I'll credit AOL's XM Radio and the Celtic station with inspiring my search.  (I have been enjoying that feature of AOL quite a lot over the past few months.)

02 December 2005

The 8th way to win my heart

My Jersey grrl pointed out that I only listed seven of the eight ways to win my heart yesterday.  Yeah, once in a while I'm easy like that.  ; )

8. Point out, in a way that makes me want to give you a hug, the ways in which I err!

Memes like this are a challenge, but I'm always happy when I'm finished.  It's very hard to look in the mirror and talk about what I see there, but it's good for me -- really, I'd rather talk about you, ya know (kinda like Ann did today)?  100 Things nearly killed me last year, but after I was finished making the list, I was still in the mode, so for a while when something new would pop into my head I'd think, "That's Thing 101... 102... 103, etc."

The knitting news is pathetic.  I'm 14 rows behind schedule on Shirley Shrugs, haven't knit a single stitch on the sock, and the progress is slow on the little Weasley.  I'm hoping that the kids and Christmas CDs this weekend, the company party being tonight, and trimming the tree, will provide the needed holiday attitude adjustment.  Maybe I should make some fudge, too.  Or cake.  Or cookies.

So, back to thoughts on the meme (some mighty meandering to follow -- with no knitting -- fair warning).  The "places visited" strike a chord, don't they?  It's funny how I think of them -- sometimes when I think of a place it's, "Oh, yeah, I've been there" and other times there's such a flood of memories that it's hard to sort them out.  When I originally thought of Mackinac Island, I was remembering the trip that DH and I took with the kids several years ago.  When Mary in Boston commented on it, I was overcome with thoughts of my first visit there when I was 12.

Dad took all five of us on a trip around Lake Superior in a Winnebago.  I wrote a little about it, mostly as it related to Canada, here.  We also stopped in Sault Ste. Marie on that trip and watched a ship go through the locks during a rain storm -- I have a vague memory of a lady flirting with my dad in the rain (or maybe the other way around -- somebody was flirting) (under an umbrella or am I romanticizing?) -- and we visited Mackinac Island.  My parents were freshly split and my dad, having always had a crew cut, was going for a new look and growing out his hair.  When your hair's been standing up straight on end for much of 30 years, it's not going to suddenly lay flat just because you want it to -- and there's not a much worse look than an overgrown crew cut -- so it had to be coaxed into an at-ease position.  Dad employed the hot and steamy method -- several times a day, everyday, he'd place a steaming hot, wet washcloth on his head and give it a little twist in the desired direction to get all those little hairs to give up the fight.  I think I got a little Super 8 footage of that when I had a turn with the camera.  I did my baby sister's hair on that trip every morning -- curly pigtails on a 6-year-old. 

One of the best things about that trip is that so much of it was caught on film.  My dad's actually kind of geeky. He likes gadgets and electronics and various types of tools (big and small) and fixing things and making things and tinkering.  He's a mechanic -- it's like second nature to him, maintaining vehicles and machinery on a seasonal schedule.  He's really a pretty cool guy.  I used to love watching him mix epoxy -- oh, that was mysterious glue -- and use a soldering iron, he loved his radial arm saw (DH is a table saw guy) and had a lathe in the basement.  There were a couple of years when he and mom made our Christmas cards using woodblocks that he carved to make the prints.  Anyway, some of the early electronics that I remember were a cool old Polaroid camera (used to love the smell of that stuff he had to smear all over the pics), a big Aiwa reel-to-reel tape recorder, a Super 8 movie camera.  If I've got any "geek," it's definitely from Dad.

Also caught on film at Mackinac Island was some footage of our guided tour.  We were all ready to go in one wagon before it was discovered that it had a flat tire.  Another wagon and driver came to our rescue -- and how fortunate for us!  The driver/guide was the best tour guide ever -- so animated and excited and a natural-born story-teller.  There's nothing worse than someone reciting the script on a tour like that, you know?  Such a great trip.

01 December 2005

10, 9, 8... Blast Off!

First seen at Crazy Aunt Purl's and then spotted at Carole Knits (both are cake-lovers!), may I present...

TEN random things you might not know about me
1. Mail call is something I look forward to everyday
2. I often wear favorite articles of clothing until they're too worn for even the rag bag
3. I find dresses & jumpers much more comfortable than any pants/slacks/jeans
4. I have a closet full of dresses & jumpers that I haven't worn in two years
5. I've never owned a suit
6. I installed our most recent dishwasher
7. I've never run out of gas or had a flat tire (knock on wood)
8. I loved being a stay-at-home mom
9. I love to dance and would like to take lessons someday
10. I am not in the mood for Christmas

NINE places I’ve visited
1. Mackinac Island (twice)
2. Yellowstone National Park
3. Door County, Wisconsin
4. Chicago
5. New York City (twice)
6. Washington, D.C.
7. California coast
8. The Outer Banks
9. Canada

EIGHT ways to win my heart
1. Bake
2. Vacuum or scrub the floor
3. Clean something, anything!
4. Make me a card or a gift
5. Give me a foot (back, neck, head, arm, leg -- full body) massage
6. Don't push it
7. Look at me that way

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1. Take an Alaskan cruise (can we get a group rate?)
2. Take a Mediterranean cruise
3. Live in a big city for a while
4. Live in the country for a while
5. Explore the Maritimes (especially, but any coast) in an RV
6. Hire a chef and have a fancy dinner party for a bunch of friends
7. Visit all the places on my genealogical checklist

SIX things I’m afraid of
1. Spiders
2. Snakes
3. Bees, Wasps, Hornets
4. Serious injury or illness
5. Big dogs
6. Falling

FIVE things I don’t like
1. Animal prints
2. Dishonesty
3. Pushy salespeople
4. Politics
5. The cost of living*

FOUR ways to turn me off
1. Ignore me
2. Lie to me
3. Be late
4. Look at me that way

THREE things I do every day
1. Knit
2. Eat
3. Kiss my husband

TWO things that make me happy
1. Knitting
2. Snuggling

ONE thing on my mind right now
1. Fixing the Christmas tree lights

*I heard a commercial this morning for "energy gift certificates" from a local gas utility -- "Give The Gift of Energy."  Whoa, yeah, that's what everyone wants in their stocking this year -- frickin' heat!  It's absolutely disgusting, and so very disheartening given all the other energy issues in the news at this point in time.  No wonder I haven't been able to lose the Scrooge.

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