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28 posts from February 2006

28 February 2006

This is my way

I don't know what to say to all you people.  Thank you, I guess, is the biggest thing.  Your thoughts and prayers, advice and well wishes, I'm reading them with tears streaming down my cheeks and I'm just speechless -- with a very full heart.  Thank you.

I went to the hospital late this afternoon to see Michael, my brother.  My SIL had been there most of the day, of course.  My mom was there, and her husband had arrived shortly before I did.  Michael had only arrived in the Critical Care Unit a few minutes earlier.  It's just like in the movies or on TV -- his head is bandaged, of course, and he has monitors and tubes everywhere, including a breathing tube.  There's a monitor specifically to measure the pressure in his brain.  They don't want to see it go over 20; it didn't go over 10 while I was there, and was mostly 8 or 9.  Besides the accoutrements of having had brain surgery, and other than a couple of scrapes on one foot, some scratches on his hands and a few (barely noticeable) across his nose, you wouldn't guess that he'd emerged from the crinkled, crumpled junk pile that was his car.  A sheriff on the scene said that in 30 years, he'd never before spoken to someone who emerged from such a wreck.

Ugh, my head hurts from this day, from trying to be strong, from being the "other mother," and my jaw hurts, too.  Talking, mom, talking, sisters, talking, aunt, talking, more sisters!  And I talked to dad again. Not only is my uncle the flight nurse out in Oregon fishing, so is my uncle the retired doctor.  I know that Michael's condition will be closely monitored by watchful eyes.  So much information to process.  We are very fortunate to have some expertise on our side.  Mom is a retired surgical nurse and I could see her putting on her professional persona -- checking the the stats and dials and tubes and whatnot -- able to be more objective at times.  Then she'd remember that it is HER son in the bed; see his wife, his sister; know that the outcome is all over the map at this point.

As it is, it's pretty scary.  But his eyes fluttered when he was spoken to, and he squeezed his wife's hand in the "special way" they have that brought tears to her eyes and let her know that he's still hers.  They hope to remove the breathing apparatus tomorrow.  He was quite restless and thrashing around -- I'm sure quite disoriented -- he didn't remember the accident -- and due to concern about further injury to his spine, they were going to sedate him a little more this evening, try to keep him calm.  I'll be spending a good part of the day there tomorrow.

There are freaky coincidences...  My boss who knows exactly what we're going through because his sister suffered very similar trauma quite a few years ago; she had lasting physical reminders as well as some measure of brain damage.  My stepmother who knows, too, because her son suffered brain trauma some years ago -- he was in a coma for a week -- from which he made a 100%, full recovery.

Here's how I'm calling this one.  I don't know exactly when they're going to remove that tube from my brother's mouth and I don't know when he's going to really wake up and be coherent.  When he does, though, he's going to have that goofy grin on his face and give that goofy laugh and he's going to say something incredibly wry and dry and funny.  I can't wait.

Thank you again.  No doubt I'll be back sooner rather than later.  This is my way, to write it down and try to make sense and make it real, make it be logical.  Blah blah blah.  This time it's in a living-out-loud kind of way.

My brother, the plastic surgeon -- giving Barbie doll a breast reduction by vigoriously scraping her boobs across the sidewalk.

My brother

First of all, and as far as I know right now, he's going to be okay.

My brother, Michael, was in the most horrific car accident on his way to work this morning.  He was taken by helicopter to the hospital.  I saw that helicopter heading to the scene this morning on my way to work.  I SAW IT.  One of my uncles is a nurse on that helicopter and I always think of him when I see it; I know that the helicopter isn't good... I didn't know that it was going to get my brother!

In this age of internet news and streaming video, I've been watching video and still pictures of the scene all morning and reading news accounts as details of the accident begin to emerge.  At one point, there was video of a pickup truck being removed from the scene.  My mom, with whom I've been speaking all morning, told me that my brother wasn't driving his pickup this morning -- and it was a really good thing because the truck was so badly damaged, how could the driver have survived?

I just saw the car that he was driving.  Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, oh...  my god.

I spoke with an ER nurse earlier this morning and she said that Michael had broken ribs; according to an account I read, he may also have a head injury, but not severe.

Ohmygod, that car.

He was slowing down on a state highway to make a turn and was rear-ended by a SEMI TRUCK going at HIGHWAY SPEED which pushed his car INTO THE PATH of an oncoming PICKUP TRUCK.  The car is frickin' squished.  They had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out.  He is sososososo lucky to be alive.  Ohmygod.

Mom just called (about 11:30 a.m.) and they're taking him into surgery -- there's bleeding on the brain.

An hour later, no news.  I don't know what to do, waffling about posting this, trying to stay busy, talking to people, calling my sisters, mom (she's afraid to drive), checking the news.  Hope and pray.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.  Mom called from the hospital; her friend Dar drove her there.  Michael's brain is badly injured.  He had two blood clots; they removed one, but the other is still in there... deep... something about the brain shifting.  I heard "cervical fracture," something "thoracic," another bit about "lumbar."  He can move his limbs, he recognized his wife before surgery.  Those are the good things.

27 February 2006

It's Monday, "how about we go from huge to medium?"

Heh.  Can you tell that I watched the Olympics while I did my Olympic knitting?  No doubt, I've seen more commercial time for The Apprentice than the actual show over the years.  The Donald is just weird; he can also be very, very funny and the commercial where he wakes up Patricia Arquette/The Medium, stands at the foot of her bed and says this to her (because his show is moving to the slot before hers on Monday nights), well, it cracked me up every time.  Honestly, I smile just to think of it.  ; )  Oh, and one of the funniest parts is that he says "huge" with a silent "h" and draws it out in a very Donald-y way.  I'm dyin' over here.  ; )

I, too, am moving from huge to medium.  With the Olympic knitting finished ('uge), I am moving back to Shirley Shrugs (medium, though really rather huge).  I am working on that baby 'til it's finished.  Some (my mom) might argue that the shrug would have made for fine Olympic knitting.  I'm waiting for her to announce that she deserves some one-on-one with Williamsro for having to wait.  She fell hard for it on opening weekend.

Dsc06646Dsc06647And in looking ahead, things will soon get small!  In the middle of Olympics fever, I still did a fair amount blog-trolling/reading/skimming and I even won a contest!  There was a sweet, little prize package from Jess in the mail over the weekend (wow, she's quick!) and I'm so looking forward to casting on socks in spring colors!  The pastel ball (Easter eggs!) on the left is Trekking XXL, and the brighter ball (tulips & daffodils!) is Sockotta.  That's a fun, little prize, Jess, and you've definitely got me thinking spring!  She also sent some Choxie truffles, which helped to fuel this Olympian to glory, a set of magnets and an inflatable bath pillow.  Thank you, Jess.  Now, I've got to get that shrug finished...

Thank you very much for all the nice comments about Williamsro.  I'm attempting to reply to each one and/or pay a visit-and-comment; I type fast, but for some reason, this is a very slow process.

26 February 2006

Without FA (further ado), it's an FO (finished object)

I'd like to present Williamsro, in solid gold.  I will get details and more photos up in a photo album very soon.  For now, a few pictures, some preliminary thoughts, and many thanks.

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My first thoughts when I woke up this morning:  1) I wonder if the blocking worked.  2) (for the billionth time) What can I use for "E" in the ABC-Along?  ; )

Dsc06675buttIt took three different shoots, three different settings, three different photographers -- the color of the sweater seems most true in the middle photograph.  I agree that my butt and/or puckering it didn't look too bad in the photo yesterday, but it was just not so good in real life. The vigorous overnight blocking really helped.  It also seems to have helped the armholes relax a bit; they were another area of grave concern.  I was beginning to wonder if I need to start an ebay watch for Cash Iroha in this color.  I don't think so; I think it's all good.  I've been wearing the sweater for a couple of hours now, and it's good.

I've been thrilled with the idea of the Knitting Olympics from day one and it's been so much fun to watch everyone's progress, get caught up in the spirit of fun with all the different teams -- it's just been FUN.  I have enjoyed the challenge immensely and I've got a gorgeous sweater, finished in 16 days, with which I am quite pleased.  There are FOs everywhere you look in blogland -- beginning about Thursday, folks have been reaching the podium in record numbers to collect their gold.  Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your wonderful, crazy idea.  Thank you, blog friends, for all your support, help, and kind words in this endeavor.  Thank you, fellow Olympians, for coming to the games and making it so much fun, for allowing me to draw inspiration and energy from you.  Walking in fields of gold.

What do you think...

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Does this sweater make my butt look big?

I'm a little unhappy with some puckering, especially in the back in the Blossom band (it's picked up and knit down).  I was this >< close to tearing it out and staying up all night to re-knit, but I believe it was Claudia's Blog where I once read a wise little tidbit suggesting that late-night, hair-trigger decisions to rip are often regretted in the morning (or possibly much sooner, if you're staying up all night to re-knit what you've torn out).  Olympic gold is on the line.  I have set it to as brutal a damp blocking as I can and I'll just pray all night.  In other news, I made the neckband a little wider today, sewed the sleeve seams, made that mountain of laundry into a molehill.  Good night.

25 February 2006

I just about choked on my toast!

I'm minding my own business, eating a mushroom omelette with toast this morning, and contemplating the day's Olympic knitting schedule, when I turned the page in the newspaper and read some of the most important "news" I've come across in weeks.  (I'm so out of the loop, it just isn't funny, so it's quite possible that this is news only to me.  It's also quite possible that no one else cares, though I just really can't imagine!)  At any rate, I have an important announcement.  As of right now, I country rock's #1 fan.  Hot damn and yeehaw, that red cowboy hat I got at Christmas must have been a sign... John Corbett has switched gears and is singin' country -- with his own band and everything!  All six feet five cute inches is gonna be in the 'hood (considering most of the state of Wisconsin as "the 'hood") at Country Fest this summer.  I haven't yet heard a single note, but I don't think I need to.  ; )

Dsc06640 Oh, I just listened (there and on AOL; video, too. Huh?  Bo Derek is his girlfriend?).  ; )  Time to reprogram a couple of the car radio buttons...  Good To Go!

In other news...  Christine found the coolest, yellow, vintage knitting needles -- they match her yarn!  Go see, and while you're there, make up a story and enter Christine's Conflagration Contest (her first-ever!) -- the deadline is noon on Monday!

I ought to have a completed sweater to post tomorrow, but for now, please enjoy yesterday morning's sky.  I'm very happy with the lengthening of days.  Soon it will be March, then April, then May, and then SUMMER!

24 February 2006

Hello? London calling!

Haha!  I've got to tell you, my front door looks 10 times better in that photo yesterday than it does in real life!  I couldn't have asked for better light.  I make no bones about the fact that I love my house, for a lot of reasons, but there's something about it in pictures -- lighting, framing, editing -- that even makes me think, "I want to live there!"  Oh, heh, I do; I have for almost 19 years!  In pictures, you don't see the dust critters, can't hear the floorboards creak, and the mountain of laundry is ignored.  I'm not kidding.  The kids will wash the clothes and dry the clothes, but they apparently draw the line at folding the clothes... there are stacked laundry baskets just outside the laundry room door.  I had to dive for underwear this morning!

AlhdtKaty, this one's for you.  That's Ali looking as if she's ready to take your order.  She's actually talking to Katie in London using my nifty new makes-me-feel-like-a-telemarketer headset and Skype, making for a darn cheap phone call using the internets.  Cheap, but not free, and they talked so long last night that they got disconnected because the money ran out.  ; )  Jan told me about Skype a few weeks ago and it's been working out very well. If Katie had her own laptop/computer and a headset of her own over there, we could actually be talking for free.  Free!  As it is, it's less than 2 cents per minute.  Once or twice, we've had a bad connection and Katie told me I sounded like Darth Vader, but mostly it sounds better than a land-line.  I Skyped Cara a few weeks ago, too!  I'm sure it wasn't anything like talking to Ann -- Cara's right when she says that Ann does the best phone -- I really don't do phone very well.  I never have.  I had a girlfriend in high school who would call me up and then just sit there and wait for me to entertain her, I guess.  I just hated that and it was torture trying to nicely extricate myself from the phone call (I never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings -- "I don't want to talk to you if you don't have anything to say," is what I really wanted to say) and I think it's had a lifelong affect on my "phone."

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Williamsro, up-to-the-minute update.  The color representation is really good here.  I am very proud of my side seam on the reverse stockinette -- that's not my favorite to do.  I ran some yarn in a contrasting color to help me keep on track of the rows and top/bottom loops on each side and it worked like a charm.  I still have the sleeve seams to do, but picked up and knit a few rows of the bottom edging last night while watching figure skating.  I'm very disgruntled at both Netscape and AOL for giving me the news before I wanted it; MSN was forthright in announcing that the results were in, but left it up to me as to whether I wanted to click and find out.  Grump.  So I knew that Sasha Cohen didn't win, but had to watch; she's such a beautiful skater.

Hubby and I have been invited to a farm for dinner tonight.  I am so excited that I'm even giving up yoga.  The farm has sheep and the farmer's wife uses their wool to make things and she has a fiber room; she's also the person who made that marvelous pumpkin lasagna that I went on and on about a while back.  Oh, I can't wait.  I will be bringing Williamsro because there's still plenty to do and, heh, I think she'll understand.  Woo.

As predicted, my sister took the Olympic challenge, too.  She has been quilting quite diligently on her Grandmother's Garden block.  I told her, though, that she must send me pictures and if I don't get pictures, she will be disqualified and out of medal contention.  I'm kind of a committee of one (it's an Olympics for one!) and it's gone to my head -- in a good way.  We're both having a lot of fun with these challenges (oh, I should have challenged her more!).

22 February 2006

Let's do it again

Thank you for all the input on the buttons!  The new ones it is (or will be)!

Working those shoulders was so much fun that I decided to do it again, especially after discovering that the sleeves were too small (or the opening too big).  I fiddled around with the fronts and back so much and concentrated on so many other things that I didn't even think about the sleeves!  It was a good few inches -- too much to fudge.  ACK!  I actually called two LYSs and considered driving an hour each way, if they had the color/lot, to see if I could track down more Cash Iroha to rip back the sleeves.  I decided, though, that the sleeves are okay, it was the body and the opening for the sleeves that needed the fix. Thankfully, there weren't any other implications and, in the end, it probably turned out for the better.

So, in a repeat of yesterday's performance, I tore out the shoulder seams, ripped back even further and re-knit both shoulders on the back (realizing that I'd skipped a phrase about casting off a few more stitches on the next rows at the neck edge and that's why I had to do this yesterday), ripped back the fronts to match the new measurement, and re-seamed the shoulders.  Some of this was performed in the waiting area of my Saturn dealership where an elderly gentleman sitting nearby was busy with his crochet -- looked like a baby blanket.  I didn't inquire; I was too busy, too focused on my event for chitchat.  When the young man came to tell me that my car was ready, I had scissors and yarn and Chibis all over (weaving in some ends at that point) and he smiled and told me to take my time.  I wonder if his mom or girlfriend knit.

I sewed in the sleeves and, apparently, most of my events those where they take the combined score or something because I had to do the first sleeve seam over, too!  (Note to self:  In the future, my training for this kind of thing should include some practice seaming -- particularly and especially sleeves.  They always seem too tight and have no give on the first run.)  Tired of seaming, I used a bunch of stitch holders to hold the sides and sleeves together, and moved on to knit the neckband instead.  It is getting more exciting by the minute.  Before the bottom can be done, the sides will have to be seamed.  I guess that's the next step.

Dsc06625Dsc06626I've seen some front doors view around the blogs...  I can't stand the view from my front door!  It's of an old house across the street -- the front door of that house lines up exactly with mine, but it's down a little hill.  The lady who used to live next door to me, who was in her 80s and had lived in the house next door almost her entire life, told me once that Mrs. So-and-So, who apparently used to live across the street, would roll over in her grave if she could see her house.  It's not too hideous, but it's not good; there's a new owner and he worked very hard late last summer and into the fall.  I was quite excited to note that there was someone measuring the roof, so maybe there'll be roofing this summer!  Can new siding be far behind?

So, anyway, how about the view OF my front door?  Huh?  Am I clever, or what?  Oooh, how about this:  the view BEHIND my front door.  That's just as you head up the stairs, all family photos -- grandpa, grandma, greats and great-greats and even great-great-greats.  I've never found the right thing for that empty spot at the top right, and look at how crooked they all are!

21 February 2006

Is it crunch time yet?

I just checked Stephanie's count-down clock and it's four and a half days to go, give or take a bobsled run or two.  Earlier today, I was getting nervous, but tonight was very successful and, betcha by golly wow, this all just might come together.

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Dsc06619Dsc06618First of all, I was able to sneak out of work a little early and stop at the LYS on the way home instead of doing it tomorrow (on my way to an oil change -- poor planning, I know, but it has to be done).  I bought the buttons that you see pictured on the right; those on the left I already had and they've been earmarked for a long time for another project, but, you know, I'm open.  Both a clerk and a customer at the LYS liked the new ones over any others I'd considered (oh, some really cute square ones!) because the design kind of echoes the cables.  I really like them both.  I really, really like the ones I already had, but fear they may be just a tad too small.  You can click to make the pictures big, and then click again to leave me a comment and let me know if you have a preference.  ; )

Please ignore the curly button band, it has yet to be beaten into submission blocked.  Have I mentioned how beautifully both of these yarns block?  How absolutely thrilled I am to discover that the most delicious yarn I've ever worked with can become even better?  The yarn is definitely doing its personal best.

So, at least having some buttons makes me feel better, and I also picked up a couple more hanks of the Blossom.  I'd rather have too much than too little -- I've got a lot to do and only just over three yarn cakes with which to do it.  I bought the original stuff on ebay (my LYS didn't carry it at the time and the stuff I bought in NYC -- which I don't regret for a second, Cara, and have a use in mind -- was the wrong color) and it was already wound up, so I really didn't know how much was there.  Anyway, it's likely that I'll need only one, if any.  I also picked up a 13 US circular needle -- I'm going to need it for knitting the Blossom bands on both the collar and the bottom of the sweater.

Dsc06620Dsc06621What I really needed to do tonight was tear out two shoulder seams, rip and re-knit both shoulders on the back (making the neck wider and the shoulders narrower to match those on the fronts), rip and re-knit one shoulder on the front (I had decreased 3 rather than 5 at one armhole), and then re-seam the shoulders so the cables lined up.  At left, you see the ugly before, and at right, the much more beautiful after.  Thank you, exalted Zen Master, for sharing your wisdom and guidance.

I'm afraid there are some, such as Christine, who are struggling.  They're feeling the burn and it's all they can do not to wander aimlessly between venues.  (Our fearless leader is in a whole other, stratospheric class here -- I can't even imagine the burn she's feeling...)  And that's another thing I like about these Knitting Olympics:  I am compelled to employ and and exercise my stick-to-itiveness, to stay focused and on-task.  In this situation, I would have much rather let Williamsro stew than fix all that stuff -- at one point, my thoughts actually wandered toward "scissors" and "how could I cut off a couple of stitches at the edge"; I would much rather have started a sock (or anything).  It feels wonderful to have persevered and I'm energized to see this through.  I'm visualizing!!

Red-faced skimmer

Dsc03709I'm a skimmer, he's a skimmer, she's a skimmer, we're a skimmer; wouldn't you like to be a skimmer, too?  ; )

Caught!  I couldn't be more embarrassed.  Well, yes I could, but not on the blog.  Wouldn't you know, I'd get caught on a post about skimmers, too.  Really, it's hilarious; I'm dyin' over here.  But, c'mon, 'fess up, we all do it to some extent.

Dsc03760Not to change the subject or anything, but, Oh, Look!  There's a windmill!  Katie went to the Netherlands and Belgium over the weekend.  The windmill is outside of Volendam, Netherlands, but someday soon we won't have to go that far to see one.  Dutch heritage is rich in these parts -- Little Chute is a nearby, tiny pocket where every other house has a kissing Dutch couple flanking a tiny windmill as garden ornament (the others have Mary in a bathtub) and Van (de) Something-or-Other is a more common surname than Smith or Jones.  One day soon a 10-story windmill will be built in downtown Little Chute and it will really be pretty cool.  The beautiful canal is in Bruges, Belgium.  This weekend, Katie will be "staying home" in London.

This damn sweater.  I'll be unseaming the shoulders and re-doing the back of Williamsro from the neck up today.  The cables front and back are not lining up and I thought I could live with it, but I can't -- and it would definitely not be my personal best.  The neck needs to be wider, too.  I don't know where I went wrong, exactly, but I know what to do to make it right.  I have started to add the contrast to the front, too, but that might also be in jeopardy.  Arrgh.  It's my day off tomorrow and you can bet on what I'll be doing all day!

20 February 2006

Holes

Dsc06609_1Why am I doing this?  I was thinking, talking, and laughing about the Knitting Olympics with my sisters over the weekend.  My chuckle is especially deep and appreciative when I talk about the various teams and all the buttons (I still can't get over the Bob Costas button).  I had Karen squirming with delight when I got to the part about being a member of the US Cable Knitting Team -- she gets it --  how fun this is -- and can feel the effervesence; I think she wishes she was a knitter!  (The Uco needle threader is busted, so she can't be that!)

As prestigious and glamorous as it is to be a member of an elite team such as the Cablers, not to mention the honor of just being an Olympian, that's just not "it."  (Next time, though, we need a Village, don't you think?  That could definitely qualify as "it.")  The idea of completing a sweater in a little over two weeks is very appealing, too, but also not "it."  The real reason the Knitting Olympics is a popular idea in my house is that it affords me the luxury of and reason for knitting whenever I want for 16 days -- and maybe some of that will linger.  I rarely knit at home during the day, for some reason.  It's just me.  When the kids were little and counted cross stitch samplers occupied my "free" time, I did it quite often during the day, and even when I picked knitting up again after such a long hiatus, I recall that I did it in daylight, too.  Recently, though, it's pretty rare.  I always feel like I should be doing laundry, vacuuming, balancing the checkbook, scrubbing the floor, scouring the sink... you know.  And, you know, the family is behind it, too.  That these Olympics have received media attention...  it's very real to them and they cheer (and chuckle) me on.

There was a hole in the schedule of my Williamsro strategy last night (as well as a new hole in Ali's lower lip) and I was knitting on Shirley Shrugs instead!  All the pieces for Williamsro are on the blocking board!  I finished the right front Saturday afternoon, then finished (and ripped back several rows) the back due to an error in the directions (a wrong measurement) about which I'd earlier made a mental note not to forget, but not a physical one, so I forgot.  It was only Saturday night that I searched for, found and printed the errata for the book!  So I finished the back on Sunday morning and it joined the fronts on the blocking board that had only recently been vacated by the sleeves.  By mid-afternoon, the contrasting Blossom had been added to the bottoms of both sleeves and they were also set, again, under a damp towel (only the Blossom parts).

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My sister -- also known as Twin-K, Karen, or the human sewing machine -- brought her quilting.  She's been working on this queen size sampler quilt for almost as long as I can remember and she has so far to go that, well, it's just better to dwell on what she has accomplished.  While most people who take their first quilting class are perfectly fine with a wall hanging or table runner, my sister decided she needed something both more substantial and more useful, so she's making a queen size quilt.  It's not the size, really, that's taking so long, it's the OCD quilting method she employs.  And the best part, she knows she's outrageously anal about each and every stitch, but she started that way and that's how she's going to finish.  God, you just have to love her.  So, she finished quilting the square on the right while she was here and started on the Grandmother's Garden hexagons before she left.  She thought that finishing that one square (it was already well underway) was sufficient enough that, say, if there were a Quilting Olympics equivalent to the Knitting Olympics, she'd have earned herself a gold.  "Definitely not," I said, putting on my judging cap and donning my Olympic committee robe, "that is not your personal best.  Finish Grandmother's Garden by Closing Ceremonies and come talk to me about medals."  ; )  She'll do it, too, just wait; no one likes a challenge more.  She better win, too, so I can make a medal for her out of an old CD; heh, that'll be fun.  (She mentioned quilting in her morning email.  I think I've got her.)

18 February 2006

Getting over it

Dsc06580My sister, Twin-K, and her two sons arrived on my doorstep last night and, as she's wont to do, she had gifts in-hand!  She had a holiday tin full of sewing stuff for me with this Bizarro cartoon affixed to the lid.  Yesterday marked her 11-month quit anniversary, and today is mine.  My Quitnet email arrived, right on schedule, this morning:  6745+ cigarettes not smoked in those 11 months, and quickly closing in on $1200 "saved."

Dsc06581One interesting item in the tin is this UCO Automatic Needle Threader made in Germany, complete with instructions -- and my sister is trying to thread a needle with it as we speak!  It will thread both sewing needles and larger ones, like darners.  It's adorable.

Dsc06578Schedules are made to be amended, are they not?  I finished the second sleeve yesterday and they're both blocking now.  Karen brought her quilting, so I knocked off half the right front while she worked on one of her sampler blocks.  Woo.  I'm getting so excited about this -- it's also my symbolic, celebratory quit sweater -- and can feel the momentum building.  I do still feel the "heartbreak, pain & lost love" from having to end my relationship with Salem, but I know it was for the best.  ; )

17 February 2006

What day is it?

Dsc06560I had a snow day yesterday.  This picture was taken at about 10:30 a.m.  We had a fair bit more snow and a lot of blowing afterwards.  In fact, it was a blizzard!  Company's supposed to be coming from up north tonight (sister and nephews x2) and down south tomorrow (sister and nephew x1), so fingers are crossed.

Dsc06573_1Was yesterday Day 6 of the Olympics?  I thought it time for an overall view of the Williamsro field.  At far left, top, are my swatches; they shall be frogged tomorrow in order to supply yarn to finish the partial sleeve (shown on holder) and/or back.  The partial sleeve sits atop the finished sleeve, which is believed to be of appropriate length, but which still has some yarn attached, just in case it could be longer or needs to be shorter.  I think it will be okay.  The yarn remaining from sleeves will be used to finish the back (pictured on needles one yarn cake).  The left front is shown between the sleeves and the back with the two balls of yarn that will be needed to complete the right front.  To the far right are balls of Blossom which will be used for contrast at the bottom of each sleeve, down the fronts, around the collar, and at the bottom of the entire sweater.  I do believe that the Cash Iroha angst the other day was justified and I feel that I'll be just squeaking by.

Dsc06576My course of action will be to knit the right front next.  I think that's what I intended to start on Wednesday night, but somehow I got carried away and cast on for the back and was well into it before I realized I'd strayed from the plan.  It may all seem rather haphazard, but there is, indeed, something of a plan and I think it goes a little somethin' like this:

After the right front is finished, I will damp block both fronts while I finish the sleeves.  I'll finish the back while the sleeves are blocking and then, while the back is blocking, I'll begin to add the contrast to the sleeves.  Then I will sew the shoulder seam and sew in the sleeves (such as they are), determining the final length of the sleeves and then finishing them.  I will sew the side and sleeve seams and then knit the contrast on the fronts... then the collar, then the bottom.  Somewhere along the line I'll go buy buttons and sew them on, too!  I'm on this remembering/forgetting cycle with the buttons!!

16 February 2006

D is for...

Dsc06554...duh... or Depression glass.  When the ABC-Along began, I wrote all the letters of the alphabet in the spaces for every other Sunday of a pocket calendar.  I also wrote in an idea or two for a particular letter, if something struck me right off the bat.  Well, I checked my calendar yesterday and written right there in black and white:  Depression glass.  How could I have forgotten?

Dsc06555Dsc06348Depression glass reminds me a lot of my grandmothers.  I haven't added to my collection much in recent years, but happily remember the years of building -- the flush of excitement at scoring a particular piece, quite probably unnoticed by anyone else, in a box lot at an auction, or saving up for a certain item, or finding even one piece of an elusive pattern that I liked.  I especially like angles, I guess -- Sierra Pinwheel (I have plates, platters, bowls and a butter dish all with those cute, chip-prone, jagged rims), chunky Tea Room, geometric Colonial Block -- though I do have pieces with names like Swirl, too, and some with floral designs.  Most Depression glass isn't marked, but the "A" inside an "H" is fairly common.  People think it's an Anchor Hocking mark, but it really stands for Hazel Atlas, the name of an old glass company; it's sometimes found on the bottom of clear, utilitarian glass, too, such as jelly glasses or measuring cups.

Dsc06552 Dsc06556 Dsc06557

I've photographed, posted and written about this cabinet before -- it is framed by the kitchen doorway, visible from my front door, and behind it is the sink and an ever-present assortment of dishes that haven't yet made it into the dishwasher.  I knew, when we remodeled the kitchen, that the Depression glass would be "shown" -- I'd originally intended overhead, lighted cabinets with glass on all sides above the sink, but the space wouldn't allow it in the manner that I wished.  We happened upon a pair of these cabinets and the rest, as they say, is history.  There's a little cubby behind and to the left, between a heat vent and the countertop, that also houses some green (and always dusty) glass, and there are mixing bowls and various storage or refrigerator dishes in the other cabinets.  At one time, this cabinet held unadulterated Depression glass, but you can see that there's a jolly assortment of other oddments these days -- things that make me smile.  That rather Seuss-like leaning tower of sherbet glasses makes me smile, too.  That's what it's all about, eh?

15 February 2006

Taking offense

Dsc03552My husband just called out to tell me that the Knitting Olympics have made Time magazine.  Here it is online; or here:  NO IDLE HANDS For the 16-day Knitting Olympics, some 4,000 crafty couch potatoes have set a series of stitching goals they want to reach while watching the Games. Charitable projects include making clothes for U.S. pregnancy centers and for tots in Mongolia.

I take offense to the "crafty couch potato" part.  Big-time.

I was just reading Norma's post and learned that I, too, am probably behind in the ABC-Along.  Darn it.  Need to check my calendar and see if I had any ideas for "D."

The left front of Williamsro is all but finished.  Woo.  It very neatly used up almost exactly two hanks of yarn.  I think I will be safe in the yarn department.  Woo again.

Dsc03557Among the places Katie visited in Wales last weekend was Tintern Abbey.  You don't know how easily I could make this a UK photo blog over the next couple of months...  The pictures -- this place and its surroundings -- nearly bring me to tears.  Maybe it's just me and where I'm at right now and that the sun is shining and the ceiling is the sky and the floor is grass and even without glass, those windows are breathtaking...

It might also be my daughter's sense of humor.  This one is entitled:  Chuck Taylor goes to Tintern Abbey, Wales.  ; )

14 February 2006

Pastoral

Dsc03365I knit the second sleeve of Williamsro 'til I ran out of yarn, then started on a front.  I am a little concerned about the quantity of Cash Iroha.  I don't recall this being an issue before, and don't know if I'm manufacturing drama (do I really need to be conjuring it out of thin air?) or if I misplaced a hank or if I really might be short on yarn.  So, I knit the first sleeve to a point and the second sleeve to a slightly shorter point; the fronts ought to go fairly quickly -- or, they would if I could keep my head on straight and count rows properly.  I'm fairly confident that things will work out fine, and I do have a little more of the Blossom than required so can maybe fudge a little here and there.

Katie has six required field trips, four of which have a lot to do with Shakespeare.  She also has a Shakespeare class, so she's about had enough with the Shakespeare, not being completely enamored in the first place.  This lovely sheep shot (click for big) was taken on the way to Stratford early last week.

13 February 2006

Olympic snuggling

Dsc06520Best dressed bear -- the bastardization of Miss Dashwood on his noggin', Opptuna keeping his back and belly warm, and my most favorite booties covering his tootsies.  We smacked that hat on Mack's head, too, but it may have been for the very last time.  It was great to see him!  He's going to be crawling any minute!  He's so happy, and even though he's cutting teeth on the top, I don't think I heard much more than a whimper the whole time we were there.

Dsc06550The Garden Expo was fab and my sister did well.  Lots of great booths and vendors, including a huge booth (double-size or maybe even triple) that was devoted to mosaics.  I put my blinders on the first time we went past, but I was sucked in big time the second and the young girl who helped me was so enthusiastic and sweet.  I bought a hand-, wrist-, arm-saving "tile" cutter.  Besides having one sister who lives in Madison and another who lives close, Katie will be going to school there next fall, so I think I'll have opportunity to check out the mosaic supply store, too.

I'm not really happy with that first sleeve of Williamsro -- the second one is so much nicer.  The first was done in the car and I should have slammed on the brakes a way long time ago.  Maybe I'll have time to re-do it before closing ceremonies.  I'll work tonight while watching the pairs skate.  So sad about Michelle Kwan having to withdraw -- it's hard to imagine women's figure skating without her.

10 February 2006

It's only words

My daughter wrote "arse" in an email the other day, and used the phrase "a couple quid."  She also wrote "loo" in an IM to her sister -- as in, "I was comin' out of the loo when..."  She had a not-so-good day yesterday, as, well, we all do and I can definitely relate and I'd think that maybe there was something in the water except that her water source is way far away from mine.  Maybe the answer is blowing in the wind.  At any rate, she just called to tell me that she's really fine and everything is good.  She said, "Have a nice weekend in Madison" to which my only reply could only be, "Have a great weekend in Wales."

Wales.  Arse.  Loo.  Quid.  Makes me giddy.

Also checking in (because we're actually not leaving 'til noon or so) to say that the bees aren't making honey yet, but a couple of things have righted themselves.  The two family phone calls had to do with each other and I won't go into details, but it wasn't pretty, ended in a hang-up, and I got stuck wearing the black and white shirt and holding a whistle.  It really, really, really sucks being the eldest sometimes, especially one with strong maternal instincts, one that can pretty much see every side of the story and can and will defend to the end -- get prickly, even (big surprise) -- one that is always there with ears, a shoulder, and some Kleenex.  Well, I'd say there was some growth yesterday, as the hanger-upper actually called the hanger-uppee and no one hung up; things are much improved between them.  Happy.

As for Shirley Shrugs -- I pulled out the needle yesterday, fully intending to rip it back a few repeats.  A tried it on, modeled it in the bathroom mirror, adjusted, spun around, held out my arm, looked at it from front and back and sideways, spun around some more and still couldn't quite figure out what I should do or how it was really going to sit and fit in the end.  I consulted with Ali, fashionista de casa, who suggested that very long sleeves on an article such as this would be desirable.  I decided to put it all back on the needle without ripping out anything and just carry on to the other side.  I reason that Mom likes things that are big -- very big, sometimes too big for me, even, but she manages to look uber stylish -- and to roll up her sleeves.  I don't know what kind of stretch or lengthening might happen in the wearing of this thing over time, either.  The worse that could happen is that I'd have to snip and rip back and fix from the cuffs.  If it comes to that, because I'm generally a cup-half-full kind of person, I look at it as an opportunity to learn a new skill.  (Remind me of that if and when this happens.)

09 February 2006

Eventually, there'll be honey -- right?

Yoga was GREAT last night!  I never went on Wednesday night before and, even though it's a beginner class (I assumed it was just like Monday & Friday -- same teacher, too), it was completely different.  Maybe a fluke.  Some of it's torture, but it's so good.  ; )

I was minding my own bees' wax last night, totally grooving to most of the Grammy Awards (I thought it was a pretty good show, for the most part -- Mary J. Blige sang the pants off of Bono, huh?) when all of a sudden, I started getting punched in the gut.

Shirley Shrugs is finally to a point where it can kinda/sorta be tried on, and so I did.  It has a freakin' gorilla arm.  The placement of the short rows looks good on paper, the beautiful rounded shoulder they made looks wonderful, but it's totally in the wrong place -- it should have been worked at least one repeat earlier and, in all honesty, probably two.

Then there were two phone calls; one received, one made, neither was good news.  Family stuff.  A couple more early morning punches sent me reeling out the door and I'm not recovering well today.

Tomorrow, we're off to Madison where I'll be occupied most of the weekend with knitting and/or my gorgeous, happy nephew.  Look for me back on Monday, perhaps.  I hope you all have a great weekend and I'll most certainly be thinking of my fellow Olympians!  Break a leg, y'all.

08 February 2006

Getting the monkey off my back

I kid you not, one of the most popular search terms that brings people to my blog is "monkey-shaped cake."  I blogged it once -- barely a mention -- a year ago, and also mentioned a "bunny-shaped cake," which I see in the search terms occasionally, but usually only in spring, and not nearly as often as "monkey."  Every time I see "monkey-shaped cake" in the stats, I think, "I've gotta blog the cakes."  That meant finding the recipe and looking for pictures and I'd always put it off -- until last night!  So, if you would like to know how to make a monkey- or bunny-shaped cake -- or even a different animal-shaped cake (it's adaptable, you'll see, and you're all creative) -- step right up.  I'm getting this monkey off my back!

Dsc06487Dateline:  April 1995, or ca. 10 B.D.C. (Before Digital Camera, hence I found one lousy photo of the bunny cake I made, none of the monkey).  Alison's birthday was on Easter that year and Woman's Day magazine had an issue earlier in the month with an Easter-Bunny Cake pictured on the front.  No-brainer, eh?  It looks like a followed the directions to the T, except I used Hershey's Chocolate Kisses for buttons, and looks like M&Ms or Skittles in place of the bow at the neck, and I marched four candles down on either side of the buttons to celebrate eight joyous years of Alison.

Six days later*, it was 10 candles (artfully arranged, I'm sure) on a monkey cake in celebration of a delightful first decade with Katie.  I pretty much made the same cake, but cut the smallest cake baked into two half-circle-ish things for the ears close to the head, used two different flavors/colors of chocolate frosting (lighter inside the ears, on the face, and on the belly), and I distinctly recall using Hershey Nuggets for the tail -- making a swirly trail of frosting to use as glue and stuck Nuggets end-to-end to make a nice, long monkey tail.  Can you picture it in your mind's eye?  It was darn cute.

Basically, it uses two boxes of pound cake mix (prepared as directed), two cans of frosting, and your choice of assorted candies, cupcakes and/or marzipan (or whatever) for the trims -- jelly beans, licorice, hard candies, soft candies, chocolate sweet, sour -- whatever turns your crank and/or fits the theme.  Rather than being baked in pans, the cake is baked in three ovenproof bowls (all greased and floured):  approx. 3/4 cup of the batter is put into a custard cup, 2 cups into a 1-quart bowl, and the rest into a 2-1/2-quart bowl.  Bake them all at the same time in a 325-degree oven; the cup for 25-30 minutes, the medium bowl for 35-40 minutes, the large bowl for 50-55 minutes -- testing your bowls of cake, of course, as your mileage may vary.  Cool them all for a few minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.  Cut and trim the custard-cup cake to make ears of whatever shape you need and arrange with the head and body, maybe using a bit of frosting to "glue" the pieces together somewhat and perhaps stick them to a foil-covered sheet or serving tray (whatever works) and then have fun decorating!

That was the first year I'd ever used pound cake mix instead of regular cake mix for birthday cakes (it's sturdier) and the girls -- all of them -- LOVED it.  So there you have it!  The guilt monkey's off my back!

*(And then, three days after that, we'd have celebrated Maddy's fourth year -- usually, by the time it's her birthday, we're sick of cake in any form and no matter how much we loved it.  We probably had donuts!)

07 February 2006

Feeling stronger everyday

Dsc06484Can it be?  I've only been going to yoga class for a month, about twice a week, and last night I took note of a marked change.  Holy crap, I think I actually lifted stuff off the floor in Superman!  It isn't pretty, but it feels so nice.

I am usually quite tired after yoga.  The very warm room, all that work and sweat and concentration, followed with a little relaxation -- I sleep quite well on those nights!  I have to admit that I saw the inside of my eyelids instead of Jack Bauer for a few minutes last night.  ; )  I had laundry to catch up on and a radio program to listen to (see yesterday's "special bulletin" -- more on that to come -- and how cool is that streaming radio thing?) and then the dog was in my chair and I was too tired to move her or my knitting -- so no knitting, either!

We had one of those nights -- family members scattered to the four winds -- so I had cereal, my favorite light dinner.  Last night's cereal du jour was Cheerios avec bananas.  It may not look like it, but I have been attempting to expand our suppertime repertoire.  Twice now, I have gone to -- I don't know what to call it, I don't think there's a common term yet -- a place where you chose a menu ahead of time and they shop and do the prep work and you go in and assemble the meals to take home and store (fridge or freezer) to finish and consume later. Dream Dinners, Dinner Helpers and Let's Dish all offer this service and/or variations on the theme. I gotta tell you, it makes me feel like Betty Crocker.  It costs in the neighborhood of $2.25 to $3.50 per serving, which really isn't that bad compared to eating out and is a lot healthier; and even compared to grocery shopping, I'm using everything I pay for with no waste.  What I really like is putting together six meals in an hour!  We've had five or six different meals now and they've all been good -- some better than others, but all good.  I don't know how regularly I'll do this, but I think even a half-dozen ready-to-go meals in the freezer every couple of months could be helpful.

06 February 2006

Hormones on the air

An invitation just landed in my inbox that will be of limited interest, but enough to warrant a special bulletin.  I've been meaning to mention this book, and now there's a time-sensitive reason.  We've known Pam for years and years and years and years (yep,a really long time) and it should be an interesting and informative program.

You're invited to tune in TONIGHT
at 7 p.m. PST (that's 9 p.m. CST and 10 p.m. EST) for
Women's Health and Women's Hormones
a radio interview with Pamela Levin, RN
on "Women's Voices" hosted by Val Muchowski
Val will interview Pam about her just-published book
The Female Hormone Journey: Lifetime Care of Your Hormones
On the radio:  KZYX, 91.5 FM
Streaming online:  KZYX.org
"It's what your mother would have taught you if she'd known!"

Pam is also the author of Perfect Bones and Cycles of Power.  More information on all of this and free articles for improving your physical and emotional health are available at Nourishing Company.

Football dork

TypePad's home page has a feature section to showcase their user's blogs.  Recently, they've featured Ben Roethlisberger's Official Blog where I left comment #250-something, congratulating him and his team on their Super Bowl win.  Dork.  Not only that, but I was all misty watching Bart Starr deliver the Lombardi Trophy at the award ceremony.  I think my favorite commercial was "Addicted to LOST," (that's a video link and may take a while to load) a bit of fun with a great, old Robert Palmer song.  Both the National Anthem and half-time show were uninspiring and disappointing; I was most disappointed in the anthem performance.

Dsc06481I completed the first short row shoulder over the weekend and I think it turned out great!  It's very difficult to photograph and I think it's hard to even see it (which is a good thing) -- I can see some blurpy stitches on the row where all the wraps were worked, but it's not bad.  It curves!  I'm not quite sure how the second shoulder will be worked technically, but I'll be thinking about it as I work my way over there and it'll get figured out.

Dsc06482Dsc06483Pics:  modeled on Maddy's shoulder (above); right side (left); wrong side (right).  See the bend?  It's like magic.  I do see an extra little twist in the cable at the bottom of that last diamond (the wrap row), but I'm not worrying about it.

I was in my PJs, celebrating International Pajama Day, until nearly 5:00 when I packed up Shirley Shrugs (& Her Short Row Shoulder) to go for pizza and football at Mom's.  The nice thing now is that I can knit it in her presence.  Sometime after half-time, she said, "That a lot of knitting, isn't it?  You wouldn't think so, for a shrug."  Heh, no ordinary shrug, mum.

Dsc03341Katie called Sunday afternoon.  She had a busy weekend, visiting Hyde Park (where there are flowers!), Kensington Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral for evensong, Leighton House.  Actually, what she said was, "I went to Lord Leighton's house."  I heard it in the same way that she might have said, "I'm going to Jay's house."  I said, "Did he invite you in for tea?"  ; )  We had a good laugh.  (No, she didn't have tea with Lord Leighton, nor with the Queen in her gallery at Kensington.)  ; )  A fellow student from North Africa asked her if she was going to be watching the soccer game...  She thought she'd watch a little.

Next weekend, Katie will be going to Wales -- horseback riding, even.  And in a few weeks, she'll spend a weekend in Peterborough with host parents my sister had during her time studying in England.

05 February 2006

C is for...

Dsc06470Chairs.  The first chair I bought that needed caning atop the first chair I ever caned.  I picked up the bentwood child's chair at an auction for $30.  I fell in love.  The caning on the seat was completely destroyed, but there was only very minor damage on the chair back; thank goodness for that, because in order to replace the caning on the back, the chair would likely suffer irrepairable damage.  Caning in the round is a bit tricky for a first-timer, so I picked up the dining chair to work on in a class.

Dsc06471_1Dsc06477_1 "Buyer beware."  I didn't examine the dining chair closely enough, so didn't discover 'til later that it had been badly broken and then repaired with a wooden peg and glue.  I haven't come up with a satisfactory alternative fix, so it is quite weak and is treated tenderly these days.  It does have a double pressback, though, with a lovely oak leaf and scroll design.

The child's chair has problems, too, most notably, somewhat weak legs.  It has so many other things going for it, not the least of which are the intact labels and marks inside, showing that it was made by Jacob & Josef Kohn in Vienna, Austria; beautiful wood and workmanship, and a graceful line.

Dsc06472 Dsc06473 Dsc06475 Dsc06474

04 February 2006

WTF? A very lengthy pot pourri post in which the word "knitting" is used, but no actual knitting is discussed

Let me tell you about another gift I received last week -- a phone call from my sister; a sometime knitter, she knows about my blog, but has never seen it or any other.  She was talking to me while munching on chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, and munching quite loudly -- very loudly, in fact -- and laughing, making sure I knew that she was talking to me through a mouth full of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and trying to tell me that they were direct from Hawaii. I beat her to the punch on that one, though; I knew, the minute I heard "macadamia," that they were sent from Hawaii and I knew who sent them!  I knew that she was really calling to tell me that she was totally floored by the macadamias.

You may recall that I did a little outright pimpin' for my sister after Christmas, right here on my blog, and even made a photo album, “Shameless Nepotistic Commerce," (it’s over there on the right) to showcase some of her hand painted pottery.  Speaking of which, if you're in the area next weekend, she and her business associates have rented booth space at WPT's Garden Expo in Madison (TwirlGirl, darlin', there's your cue -- seems the only time I hear from you is when I say the "magic word").  If you're an artist in Wisconsin, this is a shitty time of year for making money; maybe we should try being Norma's neighbors in Vermont.  Anyway, I’m doing my teensy little thing so that her dog and cat have food this winter, when lo and behold, there was de-lurking and emailing and phone-calling, ordering and shipping from Wisconsin and receiving in Hawaii, and everyone was, apparently, quite happy.  That's business!

Ah, but the de-lurking order-placer sent my sister a gift (the macadamias) and a "Thank You" card after receiving her order.  My sister was flabbergasted, and the macadamias were no doubt foofing out all over her shirt as she asked me, "What kind of person sends a thank you card and a gift because you sent them something they bought and paid for?"  I told her, "Knitters, baby!"

I’d like to say a public thank you for the thank you to Sandra, in Hawaii, from me and my sis.  ; )  Her reaction to the gift you sent was, in turn, a most delightful gift to me, too, in the crazy way of the world.  Oh, I do so love blogging and this community!

There's just a lot been going on and, to tell you the truth, over the past few months, I think I nearly reached the point a few times where I could definitively answer the question, “How much shit can a person take?”  Alas, there's always more; that whole infinity and beyond thing... there's always “beyond.”  So, I sometimes take great pleasure in little things – maybe, sometimes, more pleasure than I should -- like a bed piled high with pillows or receiving a belated birthday present (or any kind of present, anytime)!  I like receiving them, opening them, savoring them, photographing them for my blog (I pretend that rubbing elbows with Cara has made me a better photographer - ha!), thinking about them, admiring them, fondling them (if appropriate), using them, writing about them for my blog, posting them on my blog, and sharing them (with public thanks) on my blog. Did I mention my blog?  I also like thinking about and shopping for presents for pals -- better or otherwise, when I choose to participate or I accept an invitation.  I also sometimes pick up presents for plain old friends, but usually only when I see something that’s “them” and the price is right.  I like reading about the presents I give and seeing pictures occasionally (with public thanks) on other blogs, if the recipient is so moved (plus, it’s like Technicolor delivery confirmation); if not, okay!  Anyway, it's the little things, you know?  Lots 'n lots of little things that sometimes show up on my blog.

I read Knitter's Review's review of Mason-Dixon Knitting the other day and I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Mason-Dixon Knitting (the book), having read and enjoyed the very charming Mason-Dixon Knitting (the blog) for a long time, as have many of you, of course.  Plus, I met Kay at Rhinebeck last October!

I also read Annie’s post, including quotes from the above-mentioned book review, and I got to thinking about those quotes, too. (It also made me a little defensive and somewhat taken aback. She could be talking about me! Is she talking about me? I showed pictures of gifts the other day!! I wished I had a cast list so I, too, could follow along as to who was “in” and who was “out”).

I like to think that I write a "good blog" – not anywhere near the level of the Mason-Dixon girls and the like, but pretty good – my knitting (nothing too technical), the kids, the house, my yard, it’s all pretty everyday because we’re pretty regular ‘round here -- and I like to feel that I'm part of a "close-knit community."  I am not writing a book, though, so my blog -- my blog -- is not 'isolated on paper' and is, very much, a public conversation.  "A Chosen Few" might choose to read my public conversations as if they were private, and might choose to keep themselves "decidedly left out" of the public conversation, might choose to isolate themselves by building a wall but forgetting a door.  My comments have always been open, except, I think, for one post; that, along with the fact that I post to the internets without constraint, makes my blog undeniably public.  The welcome mat has always been by the front door, I don’t think I’ve ever been rude or made anyone feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. I'm not always as active in the "close-knit {knit blogging} community" as I'd like; arguably, some may choose to differ. Sometimes I feel paranoid or shy, scared or insecure, uninformed or intimidated – my own manufactured feelings which I’m usually able to quickly quell. {I’m usually pretty confident and secure in my skin and, despite this really long post (I’m so sorry, but I may as well get it all out and be done), I really despise blogging about blogging (*yawn*) or blogging about my feelings about blogging (save for the occasional, exuberant, generic “I love blogging/bloggers”).} Sometimes I just have a hard time keeping up with all the action! Mostly, I have a complete and utter blast with other regular people, like me, and some not so regular, who all happen to have a blog, usually about knitting. Some are younger, some are older, most are warm, charming and witty, with personality and character and without taking themselves too seriously; they have a great sense of fun and humor and playfulness -- about themselves as much (usually more) as anyone else.  It's fun to involve myself in "all the goodness and wackiness and generosity that can exist among knitters, especially online."  The keys are doing it -- taking the risk and getting involved, putting myself out there, give and take, come what may – and having fun.

I have recently written the words "blogging etiquette," even with links, but not with much explanation. I put it out there occasionally as part of my own fascination with the blogging phenomenon (I’m not really so fascinated by the rules and regulations).  There are very fine points to be made, I’m sure, but my bottom line in regard to blogging etiquette – “The Golden Rule” – is pretty much the same as my off-the-shelf variety, everyday etiquette.

Blogging is huge, did you know?  There are millions and millions of bloggers… and "beyond."  An originally small niche community of bloggers, such as knitters, was probably quite static for a very long while, and slow-growing for shorter while, and has most recently exploded into a mushroom cloud and it’s impossible to keep pace with the changes or even try to imagine the many ways it may change.  Who heard of “podcasting” a year ago? In April 2005 – less than a year ago – programmer Chris McEvoy did a study of Bloglines knitting feeds; Wendy was declared the "knitters' knitter" with a whopping 70 subscribers (that was a lot, way back then, in the olden days of blogging) and today that number is 2,827; Yarn Harlot had 51 subscribers, and today it’s 2,921 (no doubt they each have quite a few more, with other services, additional feeds).  There are 900 member bloggers in the Knitting Blogs webring, and over 100 waiting in the queue.  What was once one small and intimate community is now made up of many small, intimate and very fluid communities formed of like-minded people that come together to make something of a whole.  Thank goodness, just as in the real world, each of us is different and unique; differences that provide immeasurable opportunities for sharing and learning.  Unfortunately, just as in the real world, each of us is different and unique; differences that are sometimes viewed as polarizing threats.

I choose to celebrate opportunity!

+ + + + + + +

Random (exercise):  Yo-glow.  That's what I was feeling this morning after 90 minutes of piping hot, power yoga (my longest class yet).  The stretching and twisting and sweating did wonders to right a few things in my head, rid some toxic thoughts and loosen my shoulders, and (bonus) my aching back felt so much better!

Random (TV):  I've waxed poetic in previous posts (I may even have been inebriated once) about Betty White, "Boston Legal," William Shatner, James Spader...  And I’ve been meaning to say that the past couple of episodes have had a cherry on top!!  Michael J. Fox – he was incredibly funny and also so sad.  The storyline for Betty White, trying to get arrested for armed robbery as a means to socialize with her former co-workers was hilarious and also so sad.  I was, as Norma would say, “ROFLMAOWPIMP,” with a quivering chin.  One of the things I love about that show is that it always gives you a little something to chew on for a while afterwards.

Random (more TV):  I stayed up late last night watching Steve Martin on A&E's Biography.  I missed the earlier airing and the VCR was being weird and the remote wasn't working!  Lucky, lucky ducks are we that he's hosting SNL tonight.  I'll even watch SNL for Steve Martin!  (Can't wait for "Pink Panther"!)

Random (last one):  Ali cut my hair today!  She took some pictures, I took some pictures -- hated them all.  How in the world do you look at a camera as if you love it?

03 February 2006

Bend me, shape me

Any way you want me!  Baby I'm yours.  (Hmmm, I think that last bit is from a different song.)

Dsc06430On the left are two things that led to my vision of turning Shirley Paden's beautiful Cabled Shrug in the Fall '05 Interweave Knits into something just a little bit different.  With short row shaping at each shoulder, I'm hoping that it will hug the neck more and be more inclined to stay on the shoulders, but still be very shruggy and very much a shawl.  In the mail yesterday was my very own copy of Fall '03 IK -- that must have been the last issue before my subscription began -- I've seen a few other projects from that issue recently that made me decide to nab a copy.  Obviously, "Short Rows" (the sweater) is inspirational in this endeavor, but the thing that really put it in reach was Teva Durham's incredible pairing of "short rows" (the technique) and cables for the Aran Tree Skirt in Melanie Falick's Handknit Holidays.  (Short rows also combine nicely with color work in the book for a Floral Tree Skirt).

Dsc06431Wouldn't it be Teva Durham?  Who else!!  Anyway, I'm 10 rows from knowing whether I'm close to being on the right track.  I saw my mom last night and she loves it -- loves the color, loves the texture, she even loves the wrong side.  (She better not love the wrong side best...  I don't know how she could, but that could so happen.)  She can't wait to wear it -- and she means sometime in the six weeks left in this winter.  I remain true to this project and excitement is mounting at the moment -- so glad that the weekend is nearly upon us.  If all goes well, I'll be motivated to get to the other shoulder; after that, I'm afraid I'm going to have to plan some rewards (or something) for the completion of each repeat (or something) down the other (long, long) arm to the finish.

02 February 2006

Nationals

Dsc06427The Olympics begin in a week and a day.  I feel like I'm at Nationals, and while my programs for each competition are different, there are some similarities.  Shirley Shrugs for Nationals:  Big, Green, Cables.  Williamsro for the Olympics:  Big, Green, Cables.  My hands are getting used to cotton after a bit of a hiatus; you may recall that Shirley Shrugs was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my mother.  Ahem, don't worry, she didn't suffer.  I used to like knitting with cotton; these days, not so much.  I am persisting and resisting, picking myself up off the ice when I fall, getting back on course when I miss a gate...  Oh, the pressure to stay on the sled!  As of last night, I've begun the experimental short row shaping at the first shoulder and I'll be nearing the half-way mark soon.

Ipdbutton I intend to participate in Super International Pajama Day on Super Bowl Sunday (this Sunday) and perhaps I'll meet and pass that half-way mark, meaning that the short row thing doesn't look stupid and I don't waste too much time with that.  It would be super if I made it to the other shoulder and started on the long, long, long home stretch.  (Did I mention that it's l-o-o-o-o-n-g?)  Well, a girl can dream -- and I'll be wearing jammies.  Do click on the button.  I am going to meet that woman someday -- on her turf or mine or maybe even in Scotland!  There will be wine, maybe pajamas -- that would put a different spin on the international part, wouldn't it, Celia?

Dsc06424More goodies in the mail!  I don't remember if it was the Wellington Hat or the Celtic Braid Socks that I recently "saw" in progress somewhere (probably the socks), I immediately shot off an email to Yellow Dog Knitting, where they just happened to be putting together an order for Cabin Fever.  The yarn is stash yarn of varying ripeness.  I've got some Galway that I'm thinking of using for the hat, and some gorgeous Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in a pewter color for the socks.  They love the sock at YDK, too, and mentioned that they're thinking of using it in a class.  It's a different type of heel and toe for me, so I'm excited about that.  But resisting.  I'm in the middle of Nationals, you know.

Dsc06419Punxsatawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, meaning six more weeks of winter.  First, we need winter to arrive in these parts!  I've got a little pansy action going on in my living room year 'round, and I finally found the perfect frame for the vintage pansy print that Cara sent me last year from Maryland Sheep & Wool.  I've been shopping and looking for months and here I had the perfect thing right in my own home, practically in the same room.  Isn't it sweet?  Thanks again, C.

Big, Green, Cables...

01 February 2006

Diagnosis: dust

UPDATE:  Because it's my day off and no one around here really needs clean clothes and because there are certain things that can be done even on a lame-o computer and because Carole mentioned something about Boston Olympians blogging, I've created an entirely new list on my sidebar which deals exclusively with Harlot Olympics stuff.  I've found other blogs, lifted other buttons (they are SO me and mine)... tell me more!!   /update

On Friday morning, Maddy tried to "wake up" our main computer.  It beeped at her, and it continued with long, slow beeping even after I tried to turn it on and off a couple of times.  My heart sunk to my toes at the same time as my brain pushed against my skull and my blood began to boil.  This computer is barely over a year old!  I know this sound and it isn't good!  <Insert a few words/sentiments of your choice.  It can go on and on.>

DH had an all-day commitment, but thought he might have a little window of free time in the middle of the day -- enough time, say, to run the sick computer to the Geek Squad.  That's exactly what he did and when the consulting geek plugged in our computer, it fired right up with nary a beep, no problem at all.  He opened up the case and asked, "Do you have a dog?"  Well, yes we do, and three cats to boot!  Our computer sits under a desk, is elevated off the floor, and is somewhat protected in the rear, but these babies suck air to keep cool and dust is a killer.

All this is to say, we left the computer for a diagnostic check-up and it hasn't come home yet.  I'm hopeful that we'll get it back today.

I will leave you with a link to Wild Tiles & Wild Textiles.  Yvette brought this to my attention and now I'm dreaming.  I'm dreaming of a mosaic art workshop weekend in SCOTLAND!  Oh, wouldn't that be cool?  Would I be as enamored if it was someplace else?  That meme I did the other day and the question about what I'd do if money were no object?  I'd bring Christine (this would take care of a couple of things in your list, too!) and Elizabeth with me, and anyone else who wanted to come, and we'd meet Yvette and have ourselves some fun.  I'll bet we could find a little wool around there, too.

Oh, by the way, did you know that SOCK TEAM USA has their own BLOG?

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