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29 posts from December 2006

31 December 2006

She gave me an "M"

You might call this the Frickle-down effect on a meme...

Julie at Fricknits did G and gave Carol at Knit-and-Run an F, and (here's the Frickle-down part) Carol has kindly given me M!  I will write on ten topics or themes or truthinesses that begin with "M."  If you want to bore other people similarly, please ask me for a letter and I will give one to you.

Dsc09454_1Mackluks.  Carol was especially enamored of the Mackluks, and so am I.  They were one of my favorite gifts to give this Christmas.  I'm also completely enamored with the recipient of the Mackluks -- my nephew Mack -- but that's another M story.  Though not technically mukluks, that's always what we've called this style of suede-sole slipper socks.  (I wonder why I so often give pet names to my projects.  There must be some significance.)

M----- is my last name!  It's a difficult name to pronounce, telemarketers absolutely murder it -- it could be French (there are some in the Paris phone book), but husband's family is decidedly German.  I dated him for quite a while before learning how he pronounced it, which, in fact, is quite different from how some of his very own relatives pronounce it.  It's easily confused with other words -- or, rather, common misspellings of two common words and/or a contraction (with or without proper punctuation, but that, too, is another story) -- one is a troublesome bug, the other is on everyone's family tree -- and it's so very aggravating when doing the occasional internet surname search.  I am a hobby genealogist, you know; in odd moments of boredom, I type my surname into a search field!

Mom.  It is one of my great pleasures to be one.  I'm smack-dab in the middle of a transition that will take several more years, as my three daughters grow up, find their wings, move on and out, start living lives of their own.  It seems really odd, but already, I am sometimes unaware of (or find it difficult to keep up with) their comings and goings, even when we're all under the same roof.  I sometimes don't even wake up when they come to tell me they're home.  What does that mean?  I look forward to our relationships evolving with more equal footing.  I sure do miss my little girls sometimes, but I definitely enjoy the thoughtful, funny, independent young women they're becoming.  I guess we're always in transition, it's just that sometimes it's slow or even imperceptible, and other times it's a raging rapids and I'm just trying to keep my kayak from flipping over.  Next thing you know, I'll be wresting that G away from Ms. Frick because I'll be wanting to use it for Grandma.  Okay, really, not the next thing!

Movies.  We went to see Happy Feet on Christmas Day as a family.  A Christmas Day movie has become a tradition.  I enjoyed it quite a bit -- the music was fantastic!  The very best part, though, was at the end and wasn't even a part of the movie.  While the credits ran, there were little spotlight dances by "star penguins" at the bottom of the screen; two little kids -- a girl, about 9, and her younger brother -- were moved to join in, dancing with complete and utter happiness on the floor at the front of the theater.  It was just so fun to watch them.

Movie memes!  I like 'em.  Here's a new one I found, compliments of Beadslut.  (Warning: that "Quotate" button is entertaining and can tie you up for a little while.)

I'm a goddamn marvel of modern knitorious.

Which movie was this quote from?

Get your own quotes:


There was another at Mim's the other day (mine was the same as hers).  I think one of the first memes I ever posted on this blog was a "What Classic Movie Are You?" meme!

Maroon is one of my favorite colors; it shows up a lot in my wardrobe.  It is not to be confused with moron -- that's not a color.

Meg.  I watched the Meg Swansen Dubblemossa video and now I think know I want to go to Knitting Camp someday, or at least take a class from her -- I know she teaches the rare class here and there.  Here's the link to a streaming video clip about Camp (scroll down) that I found on the Schoolhouse Press site from a segment about Knitting Camp that aired on a program called "In Wisconsin" in December '05 on Wisconsin Public Television.  It is very entertaining, and you might glimpse some faces you recognize -- among others, I spotted Handknitter Sarah, Lizbeth Upitis, and Joyce Williams! It pretty much makes Camp irresistible!  Anyway, I didn't knit a single stitch while I watched the video, I just watched and listened, listened and watched.  Meg says that her mother was mesmerizing, but I think she is, too.  Oh, what fun!  I'm anxious, now, to watch the other video.

Mittens.  Yep.  In skirting the actual knitting of the coveted Latvian mittens over the past couple of years, I have knit North Star, two pairs of Thrummed, and a Flip-top.  I will -- MARK MY WORDS -- I will Knit Like a Latvian (Mittens!) this year.

Dsc09480Macrame.  I am also going to do something beautiful using the much-maligned craft of macrame this year.  I can't ever complete my ongoing quest for knitting books (Aran Knitting being the Holy Grail) at a thrift store without running into a number of macrame books and I've got a soft spot.  I used to get all nostalgic and buy them, but it has to be pretty special to come home with me now.  "Textiles" was a very popular class when I was in high school, and that pretty much meant macrame.  (Now, they hardly even sew in Home Ec -- I know, it's not called that anymore, either -- and Textiles in the Art Department?  Kids aren't interested; they're lucky if they even have any choices beyond Drawing and Painting in the Art Department.)  One of my sisters did a couple of enormous, award-winning, 3D macrame hangings -- one of them was embellished with ceramic medallions she'd made; when the hanging was later damaged in a flood, I used the ceramic pieces in a macrame project of my own. I also used to make macrame plant hangers in the summer that my stepmother sold at her fabric/craft store (I knit girls' angora caps in the winter).  Several years ago I acquired a "new edition" of Therese de Dillmont's "Encyclopedia of Needlework" (but trust me, it's old) and will you just look at that macrame?  I've got to find something that needs an edging!

Dsc09481(The knitting chapter is interesting, too.  There are chapters on "plain sewing," mending, different types of embroidery, knitting, crocheting, different types of lace, tatting.  It's very fragile.  I wonder how the TOC and illustrations compare to newer editions.)

Dsc09482_1Ahhh, the good old days...

Midnight.  As the ball illuminates tonight, I'd like to wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  I wish I could *clink* glasses of bubbly with you, give you hugs and kisses.

I.am.ready.

At midnight, of course, it will also be THE January One -- you know the one.  ; )  Happy, Happy Birthday, my dear Cara!  (Pssst, y'all, there's still time to enter the birthday contest.)

29 December 2006

I'll Have a Knittin' New Year's Eve

Dsc09479My brain is mush.  It all started this morning...

I was knocked off-kilter when, after my shower, with head and body wrapped up in towels and then my robe (we have no snow and it's been "warm for this time of year," but trust me, it's still COLD in the morning), I went upstairs to clip my nails.  I looked at the clock when I was finished, and it was 6:30.  SHIT!  That's when I'm supposed to be in my car, at the very least, and preferably already backed out of the garage and driving down the street!  I was still wrapped in terrycloth from head-to-toe, no make-up and on clothes, and I hadn't even brushed my teeth!  What in the world was I doing?  Did I pass out or something??  So yeah, no, I didn't pass out -- mad dash to do all that stuff and get out the door.  Hubby barely got a peck; it sure wasn't a kiss.  I wasn't technically late for work, but much later than I like.  The adrenaline hit never really went away -- I felt rushed all day, even though there wasn't really anything pressing, and it's been difficult to concentrate.  I've written lots of notes to myself, jotted down ideas for the blog, for the new year, for projects, stuff to talk to people about.  You should see all the slips of paper I stuffed into my bag throughout the course of the day!

Tonight, though, I downloaded the 6th lesson for my online writing course, and spent some time catching up.  I have now completed Lesson 3.  I knew when I signed up that it would be a bad time of year to start such a thing, but I just couldn't wait any longer and, to be honest, I've stuck with it more than my history with such things/situations would lead anyone to believe.  I'm proud of myself for that.  I am somehow driven and I'm not sure who or what's at the wheel.  And the best thing is that it seems to be working!  I actually have some ideas that I'm excited about exploring -- ideas that have been little clouds floating in, through, and around my head for years, but have only now been caught and put into concrete words on paper on the internet -- and even some brand new ideas; they're real.

It's not the mirrors.

THIS IS IMPORTANT:  Okay, here's what's on one of my notes:  "Red Dog, Jan. 4th, SLEEP" and "Susie, Violet."  Translated, that means that Kristi at Red Dog Knits is looking for a Baby Whisperer and having a blogiversary contest, the deadline is January 4th.  Susie, oh that Susie has a heart as big as all Michigan, I swear.  Susie is auctioning some of her own, amazing yarn, including a couple of rare Rainbow Harlot Peacock hanks to assist the Violet portion of Lime & Violet with some medical bills -- bid if you can or check the other resources, but HURRY, because bidding ends at midnight tonight.  (Sorry so late on the take-up with that one.)

And here are just a few more things that have crossed my mind today:

  • I spent some time cleaning up the blog and Bloglines, moving things around, deleting things, adding things (trying an Amazon thing, and even aStore with stuff that I like and you might, too -- we'll see how that goes).
  • I wonder about how to do the food/recipe idea.  I'd like to have pictures.
  • I wonder where I'm going with this blog.
  • I will miss the ABC-Along.  Maybe I can channel my ABC energy into the food/recipe thing.
  • I want a new banner.  I'd like a new look altogether, but I really like my colors.
  • I'd really like to start something big -- a cardigan, cables.  Oh, I have something big -- a cardigan, some cables (Coup d'Etat) -- ready for seaming.
  • Do I really want to do a "Knit Like A Latvian" KAL, or should I just sign up with Stranded?  I'm already a member of Warm Hands, and they both share my KAL philosophy -- exactly.  But I think maybe I can do those and Knit Like A Latvian; it might be a nice, intimate group.
  • When am I going to take the tree down?
  • 122906_0637To send out the old year and bring in the new this weekend, I'll be doing a little of what Duncan is doing (see above), though not under the tree.  I'll also be Hand-knitting with Meg Swansen, right in my own living room.  These were borrowed from the library (have I mentioned lately how much I love the library -- particularly, inter-library loan?).  I'm going to find something around here with which to knit that Dubbelmossa hat -- or something I can call a swatch -- and learn-by-doing.  I'm hoping, with the aid of videotape and the remote, that I'll gain just that little bit more confidence -- or maybe I'm just circling those Latvian Mittens yet one more time?  A little extra knowledge never hurt anyone.  ; )

    Happy New Year, all.  Thanks for reading.  Have a great weekend.  I'll see you next year.

    28 December 2006

    Z is for...

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    Zoo.  Going to the zoo is special, and my most local recently added giraffes.  We decided to go meet them with my nephew, and had a very fun day in June.  Mack and my mom meeting giraffes at the zoo last summer (above), me and my mom meeting giraffes at the zoo during an earlier summer (below).

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    This was not my finest photographic effort, nor was it my Z when I took the pictures.  I took a picture of Queen Ann's Lace that day, and that was definitely with Q in mind, but not Z.  This one was hard... I think I'm a little past pleasing for zaftig, and I'm not sure quite how I'd portray that, anyway, so Z for Zoo it is!

    Have I ever mentioned how much I've enjoyed participating in the ABC-Along?  I was sometimes rushed and sometimes fell behind, but I so enjoyed thinking about each letter and how best to represent it, taking pictures to reflect a little of me and making it personal.  In the beginning, I'd intended to photograph each letter as it came up, but it didn't work out that way -- for the most part, it did, but there are a few "out of order."  I've definitely had some favorites -- okay, I was just going to go back and link to a few, but they're all favorites, they all really do reflect me -- people, places, things that I love and that are special or important to me.  I was inspired, N was just too much fun, O took me miles off my route to get to the spot after finally finding the one, V was pure chance, and X was a last-minute save; I wish I had a do-over or two... I forgot that I'd intended to do watch pins for W, though I guess that turned out okay.  Some of the pictures could be better...  From the very beginning, I've planned to print an Abecedary of my very own, and now I can finally do it!

    Thank you, Anne, for sharing your inspiration and being such a fine hostess.  I've enjoyed every frame.

    Mmmmm

    For the food portion of our holiday program...

    Dsc09366The main dish was Short Ribs with Root Vegetables, found in a recent Living magazine.  Over the years, we've had Standing Rib Roasts, Crown Roasts, Beef Wellingtons, Roasted Turkeys, Roasted Cornish Hens, Glazed Hams with Pineapple Rings and stuck with cloves... some of these things more than once... it was time for something new and non-traditional to go alongside the must-have Corn Pudding and Dream Whip Fruit Salad -- two items that are on the menu no matter what we have.  Yorkshire Pudding has come and gone; Smashed Potatoes, been there, done that; Candied Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli or Asparagus or Beans (all with or without sauce) -- we've had 'em all.  If we changed it up and had Macaroni and Cheese for Christmas dinner, you can bet that we'd still have Corn Pudding and Fruit Salad on the side.

    As promised, my husband made pumpkin and apple pies, and I made my new favorite (and couldn't be easier unless I did nothing at all) Aunt Mabel's Cranberry Pie Cake, plus I brought fudge.

    My sister brings the cookies every year -- she has for years and years and still, a week out, Mom always asks me if I think Karen will be bringing any cookies.  Like, should she hurry up and bake some, just in case or otherwise (or should I), and can I somehow find out if Karen's planning to bring some, but without any pressure and not to act as if she's expecting them because Karen is so busy and has so much to do... but is she?

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    She brought 'em, and also two types of biscotti.  One very large box didn't hold it all, she needed a couple of small extra boxes.  There was another assortment just like it for her mother-in-law.  Every crumb homemade and delicious.  I just realized that there were no Spritz!  The Double Chocolate Crinkles are everyone's favorite, the Macaroons were new this year, Ali likes the cookie and leaves behind the kiss, the chocolate drizzle was Karen's own touch to the also new this year "Maxine's Cookies," and doesn't she do a nice job decorating the cut-outs (and you should see how thinly she rolls those out, too). She spoils us, doesn't she?

    This is a spur-of-the-moment thought, but I think I shall add a new feature this year on the sidebar having to do with food and recipes.  Yeah, I think I could make that work...

    26 December 2006

    I am EXHAUSTED (in a good way)!!!  Here are a few holiday knitting highlights.

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    For a few minutes, I didn't think I'd ever get a shot of the Mackluks in action... or, rather, not in action.

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    Calorimetry looks like it was made for my niece!  Hey, what do ya know?  It was!!

    In the knitterly gifts-for-me department, I received a copy of "Folk Shawls" from DH and Katie gave me a gift certificate for a local yarn shop.

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    I stayed up 'til the wee hours on the 26th, sewing knit uppers to suede soles for DH's birthday slipper socks.  Holy cow, there are a lot more holes in the 11" sole than in the 5-incher!  I guess I thought they'd be spaced differently or something... they're not.  DH was fast asleep by the time I finished, and I swapped old slippers for new in the place at the foot of the bed where he keeps them.  He recognized the knitting right away, of course, because I'd been working on them right under his nose for two days, but I can be quite convincingly vague, when necessary, about what I'm working on:  "Oh, just some socks or something."  They fit wonderfully.

    Per unanimous decision, I baked oatmeal for birthday breakfast instead of baking a cake!  He likes oatmeal for breakfast and eats it often, and I've been wanting to try this for quite a while -- though I never, hardly ever actually make breakfast -- so it was a nice treat for all.  And yummy.  It smelled divine and tasted delicious (thanks for the recipe, Gretchen)!  The girls had him open their gifts at different times during the day.  It's a toughie, celebrating a birthday the day after Christmas, making an effort to keep it his special day and not an extension of Christmas (or, more likely, rushing it and rolling it right into Christmas).  Birthdays matter, no matter your age, and even if a person says they don't matter, they really do.  I know we did our jobs successfully today when DH said that he felt "cared for" and that he could sense the thoughtfulness that went into choosing his gifts.  You know, a couple of CDs and some socks and a book (some of these things from Goodwill) -- nothing outrageous, nothing expensive -- but they're things that he mentioned, that he wanted, that he knew took a little bit of effort (or time to knit/sew), just for him.  Can't ask for more than that on your birthday.  ; )

    I'm back to work tomorrow -- Wednesday -- but it'll definitely feel like Monday, what with the holiday and the extra day off today (not to mention Friday off, too), and I'll have LOTS to catch up on and do, so if you need me, you know where I'll be.  ; )  I'll try to come up for air a few times!!

    25 December 2006

    Christmas past

    Xmasland3 Bigbelly

    Christmas62b Torontoxmas1 Torontoxmas2

    Xmasmenasha1_1From the top...

    ChristmasLand The now-closed Santa's Village in Dundee, IL, ca. 1967.  We went there with my dad, my dad's boss and one or two of his kids... no moms.  I don't think I'd remember it if it wasn't for the pictures and, even then, the memory is vague.  How cool is that tree-ride-thingy, though, huh?

    At top right, I'm doing an imitation of my mother -- pregnant with Michael at the time.  My notes say Toronto, but logic tells me St. Louis.  We moved so much in those days, though... who knows?

    We definitely had a good time on Christmas morning, no matter where we lived.

    In that last picture, I was in second grade. It was Annie's first Christmas, so our first Christmas with our family as complete as it would ever be.  We were living in a rented house and moved into the first home my parents bought a short time later, a much larger "Colonial."  At the time, though, for a short while, I shared a bedroom in the rented three-bedroom with Michael.  The trap door to the attic, where the Christmas presents were stashed, was in the hallway right outside our bedroom door.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, as Mom and Dad pulled the presents down, and spying the guitar in the attic -- I knew that it was for me.  I don't remember that it was something I really wanted or asked for, was hoping for or expected, but I knew that it was mine.  I was dreamy in bed, happy and excited at the discovery, and then, a moment later, disappointed that the surprise was ruined.  I ruined plenty of Christmas surprises in years to come -- on purpose -- 4 a.m. adventures to the living room, usually with Karen, to see what was under the tree.

    Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  Merry Days!

    24 December 2006

    I'm working on it

    Dsc09360The first little Mackluk has been sewn and, oh my goodness, is it ever a charmer!  You can't look at it without going, "Awwww," and picking it up.  I can't wait to see them on his feet.  It makes one want to start a Mackluk factory -- almost.  In the end, I used a length of the yarn for the sewing and a large darning needle that I already had.  My hand got a little crampy with sewing, so I'll do the other one today.

    Dsc09355I found the perfect button for Calorimetry in the button stash -- I'm sure it was one of Grandma's or Great Grandma's and I'm happy to have found such a great use for it.

    DH will commence with the pies as soon as he's finished with breakfast -- one apple, two pumpkin.  I will do the cranberries after that.  Never did get to the truffles... but I did get a lot of cleaning done yesterday!  I had to make a mad dash to the sew/vac shop at 11:50 a.m., right after dumping a full vacuum cleaner bag into the trash and discovering that we didn't have any more!  It was a safe bet that the shop closed at noon on Saturday and it's the only place I know of that carries the bags I need!  (File for future reference: they're open Saturdays 'til 1:00).  On the way over, I wasn't sure if I should be mad or glad -- mad that someone used the last vacuum cleaner bag and didn't make note of it, or glad that someone else actually used the vacuum cleaner!

    22 December 2006

    As advertised

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    I bought the yarn on the way home yesterday, cast on as the game began, was on the increasing side of the short row pattern by the second-half kick-off, and bound off with several minutes to spare as the Packers pulled a win out of nowhere.

    Love this pattern -- what a wonderful, quick knit, and perfect for a gift.  I still need to find a button in the collection, but I'm counting it as another one down.

    Calorimetry from Knitty, one skein of Filatura di Crosa 127 Print (color 28), size US8 needles, three hours.

    Next?

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    21 December 2006

    Countdown

    I met five women from my book club for holiday socializing last night at an establishment that just opened last week in an old, renovated mill on the river.  We concentrated on the Martini page of the drink menu this time; next time, Bubbly Drinks.  Two of the five women admitted to shedding tears in the car -- either while driving or in the parking lot -- frustrated and overcome by the pressures and demands of the holidays. The other four (m'self included) are teetering on the brink -- those tears could start to flow at any moment.  Honestly, a martini social is exactly what was needed -- emphasis on the social because, being brand new, the martinis weren't exactly flowing, but it was just enough and we were all home by nine.  And no one was crying on the way out!

    Actually, I'm really doing okay.  Saturday will be melt-down day for me, if there is to be one.  I made several lists yesterday and crossed off plenty, including most of the stops-to-make.  I have needles to sew the Mackluks for one nephew, gag gift to accompany cash for another nephew, DVD game for a third nephew, and another gag gift for the fourth nephew (I still need something for the remaining nephew).  I had my niece pretty much covered in the gift stash, but felt something was missing...  I found it this morning at Vera's, when I saw her post featuring Calorimetry again -- I think my niece would love that!  It's so quick and small, it'll hardly count as Christmas knitting at all.  ; )

    I made a big pan of fudge, but still need to get to the truffles.  I have all the ingredients (half the battle) and tomorrow is another day -- a day that holds promise of more available hands for all the rolling and chopping and dipping, and is also another day off.  I like how that turned out this year... the normal day off on Wednesday, back to work for a day (today/Thursday) and a chance to regroup, then off another day before the official holiday weekend begins.  I have Boxing Day off, too, also (and more importantly) known as DH's birthday 'round here.

    So here's the plan for the next few days:

    Friday:  Truffle day.  Lunch and clean-up shopping, including stop at LYS (one or both -- I'll just happen to be in both neighborhoods) for Calorimetry and DH's birthday slipper socks.  Start (and possibly finish) Calorimetry for niece, consider whether any of my girls would want one (I'll have already purchased extra yarn at the LYS); start slipper socks.

    Saturday:  Clean and wrap.  Finish Calorimetry(s) and/or start/work on slipper socks.  Sister & family due to arrive at 7:00-ish.  Frostini bar open at 7:05-ish, though Quality Control reserves the right to start earlier.

    Sunday:  Mack due to arrive (with his mom).  Cooking, knitting, dinner and presents at Mom's.  Santa's coming!!

    On the horizon...  Spotted at Stumbling Over Chaos (that Chris, she's always got the scoop), the UFO Resurrection Challenge 2007, sponsored by Kat with a K.  I've got Cromarty, three "pairs" of socks, a cardi needing buttons, a chenille top from a Rowan book, and a Flower Basket Shawl -- and that's all without thinking very hard.  There's plenty more where that came from.  I've signed up!

    20 December 2006

    It's all about the feet

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    KnittedthankyouSocks from Celia!  Can you believe it?  Handknit socks just for me.  My name was drawn from the pot of contributors to her Kicking Asthma drive last summer.  They arrived in yesterday's mail and they are delightful.  Thank you, Celia, thank you so much.  I adore them -- especially the bright toes!  Forgive the poor pictures -- I was multi-tasking, amusing myself with the camera's timer feature while talking on the phone with one of my sisters (when shall I expect her? how long is she staying? what is she bringing?).  I promise I'll get better ones.

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    Where have all the needles gone?  I can't find a single hand-sewing needle!  I have... at least four sewing baskets and three machines, miles and miles of thread... and no needles.  They're on my shopping list!  There will eventually be shopping today.  I went through my gift stash bin last night and am sitting much better than I'd anticipated, so not as much shopping as I'd feared.

    Dsc09328Hubby is completely jealous of the socks.  He was eyeing up the ones Celia sent and I swear, if they hadn't already been on my feet, they might have ended up on his!  He was watching in awe (love that) as I pinned the uppers to the lowers on the Mackluks, made a wistful comment about how they're similar to the ones I bought him a few years ago.  (I've actually bought a few pairs of slipper socks for him over the years.)  Anyway, I think I'm totally on track with the making a pair for his birthday, but I'm having second thoughts about the color I chose.  He said he really liked the color of Mack's and this is what I was planning to use.  Should I add LYS to my list?  Go ahead, twist my arm...

    I'm in charge of chocolate and cranberries this year, so truffles and fudge will be cooking up in the kitchen today!  I'm going to make Aunt Mabel's Cranberry Pie Cake again because, well, it's so darn easy, why not!  I'm not over the magic of that yet.

    19 December 2006

    On blogging, writing, why... Angie this is for you.

    What keeps you blogging?

    Are there times when it's more of a chore?

    Any suggestions for a new blogger?

    The answers are in here somewhere...

    WARNING:  This is certainly not going to be for everyone... and you may click away NOW.  Almost a FREE WRITE w/ plenty of interruptions and some editing, revising, correcting (after all, i did work as a proofreader once)

    in order to answer the question about what keeps me blogging, i have to go back to why i'm blogging in the first place.  like so many -- it looked like fun, like a caring community, and why wouldn't anyone want to be a part of it?  it was kind of like being at an auction -- raising the paddle and getting in on the bidding before even realizing what exactly you're bidding on.  i sure didn't think i had anything much to share, certainly no expertise or vast knowledge of technique in the world of knitting -- not like wendy; no oozing of creativity -- not like bonne marie, and i guess that's why i blogged for quite a long time before even throwing my name into the knitblogger webring -- even with the name "knitorious," i wasn't sure i'd focus enough on knitting to merit a spot on the ring and i sure didn't want to join up and then get kicked off because i wasn't holding up my end of the deal, so i just didn't join for a while.  there were many who didn't want to read about anything but knitting on a knitblog, either, and that just wasn't going to be me.  didn't want the pressure.  i wanted to be a part of it, though.  i'm not very eloquent or analytical or political... voices being heard... i hardly ever take a stand.  it's rarely black and white, all subject to change.  i'm wishy-washy

    somehow i gained a small readership.  it starts by leaving comments on other people's blogs, starting a dialogue, finding things in common, sometimes linking to-and-fro.  way early on, there was a handful of blogs (relatively speaking) -- it wasn't difficult be become fairly well known and recognizable.  i'm proud to be in the class of norma and margene -- we all started blogging around the same time and each of us has the benefit of a few more years than many of the bloggers who inspired us.  and they, oh they inspired me...  it's the process, utah, zen, smith...  crapola, craptastic, tinctures, dandelions, so fanfuckingtastic is norma...  katy (those sweet kids), ann (irresistable), cara (so much to love about cara), stephanie...  stephanie has pretty much changed the world.  i'm such a dolt, still dumbfounded.  still can't quite explain it.

    really, sometimes i don't know.  lately, i have been wondering why i continue.  at the very basic, gut-level, i blog almost everyday because i'm afraid that if i didn't, i'd stop altogether.  much of it is just the simple act of writing.  i'm actually writing and sometimes people even read it.

    cara had that "my life, my blog" meme recently that i didn't do, but i should, except that i completely suck at impromptu answers to questions like "what was the best... this or that..." pretty much fucking anything... i just can't think of one best thing on the spot, or even 10 from which to pick a frickin' one.  it's all a jumble and mostly feelings and i don't take the time to think them through, sort them out, come up with something that has words to describe it.  but i do know that my childhood ambition was to be a mother.  i always, always, always wanted to be a mother.  not a writer...  that's my adult ambition.  that's harder because there are so many roadblocks -- most of them put in place by me, manufactured by me, and maybe only imaginary, but they're there.  and while writing is not the focus of my blog, i do have to actually write it and sometimes i write it better than others.  for the most part, i love to write it.  i especially like it when i find something that excites me and let 'er rip.  riff.  it feels so good (like this, this kind of feels good -- right now), though sometimes i think that i'm the only one taking the ride, hearing the music, like i might get just a little too carried away and, i have wondered, am i just humoring myself?  i'm not that funny or witty or wise.  or interesting.  am i?  what the fuck do i know?

    so my childhood ambition has been realized -- if i had it to do again, i'd have been a mother more... mother TO more, too.  in regards to the adult ambition... i've signed up and am taking an online writing class, a workshop, a beginner's kind of thing.  i have another blog where i keep that stuff -- accessible.

    you know, i have this wonderful, wonderful aunt (subject for another time) who said the words, "you should be a writer," to me once -- many years ago.  i can't tell you how often i think of her, those words.  she also says, "you can do anything you want to do" and has always told us that we're beautiful.  she lives life.  my grandma tried to encourage me, too.  when michael was in the hospital after the accident, i took the responsibility of writing almost-daily emails to keep family members updated (and take some of the pressure off my SIL) and i got so much wonderful feedback, just from a month of little emails, and another aunt even wrote to ask me if i'd ever considered making my living as a writer.

    that kind of took the wind out of my sails a little.  i don't know that i've fully recovered from that yet, found my way back to wherever i was headed before that abrupt detour.  i wonder what would've happened next if that accident had never happened.  where was i going?  that was a catalyst for so many changes -- changes that might not sound like much to some, but they rocked my world over here.  personalities and people.  you'd think we'd have all come through it a little closer -- overall, not really.  in some cases, way far apart.  life changes, i get that, but holy shit.  i don't think you're ever prepared for how FAST it can change.

    so, finally, i'm taking an actual class -- my hope is that i'll find some direction.  even if i don't actually "make my living" as a writer, i'd love to supplement my income by writing.  lord knows, we could really use that.  my reply to my aunt was that i'd love to make my living as a writer, but what in the world would i write about?

    that's always been the problem.  what to write, what to draw, what to paint.

    i've been so fortunate in that i've been able to meet some fantastic bloggers in some really fantastic places -- new york city, who'd have ever thunk it -- it still totally blows me away.  three times i've boarded airplanes and flown to meet fiber-loving friends i'd never have met -- never have gone -- if it weren't for blogging.  and it's me, but it's not me... on the blog.  there's a blog persona, just as there is a work persona and a family persona and i'm all about the persona... that's so scorpio... i should be a spy or a detective, something having to do with secrets and sleuthing.  sometimes it gets in the way.  i'm definitely more free and outgoing via keyboard, much more guarded in person.

    there are still many people -- people who are close to me, who I see every day -- who don't know about the blog

    I remember going to solon springs the summer between junior and senior year -- it was only supposed to be for the summer, but then dad invited me to stay and finish school there.  it was an irresistable opportunity to re-invent myself -- one that didn't appeal to sharon so much -- and i took it.  i know it hurt mom, and i completely broke the heart of my best friend at the time, and annie.  annie didn't trust me for a long time after that.  it's a wonderful life.  anyway, i remember thinking that i could be anyone i wanted to be -- and to be honest, there were things about "me" or at least things that i know people thought about me "back home" that i was more than happy to leave there.  start new.  my former classmates would have all peed their pants, seeing me in the running for homecoming queen right there in solon springs, but that's exactly what happened.  crazy.  i was still me, though, same hair, same face, same clothes, same mom and dad, same sisters and brother... different place.

    what was the question?

    yes there are times when it's a struggle.  it's not done in a bubble, that's for sure, and i am affected by what's going on in the rest of blogland -- at least that little part of it that i can keep tabs on -- it's so big now, and continuing to explode -- there's no way anyone can keep up with it all anymore.  and that leads to some self-doubt -- there are so many bloggers out there, so many who are so much better than me, why even bother?  better writers, better knitters, better crafters, better gardeners, better photographers, better mothers, wives, daughters, people.  who cares what i think or what i'm doing?

    want to see the lights on the pergola this morning?

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    ...to face unafraid, the plans that we made...  (we can do it, susan)

    18 December 2006

    Yukking it up

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    I'm making Mukluks for my nephew Mack -- they're Mackluks!  Yukyukyuk.  I know they're not really Mukluks, they're slipper socks with suede soles, but "slipper socks for Mack" doesn't humor me as much as "Mackluks."  Please.  This week, it's all about finding, keeping, creating, and holding on to good humor -- holding on for dear life at times!

    I also have a pair of soles in DH's size, and will knit them next.  In keeping with my no knitting for Christmas, except for Mack (and there seems to be a foot theme for him this year, with the Christmas stocking and now Mackluks), hubby's will be a birthday present -- on the 26th.  Katie will get some, too, but only the soles and they'll go in her stocking as-is because she wants to knit them herself!

    The first Mackluk was knit during the Packer game and discarded shortly thereafter (it's in the foreground of the photo on the right).  The seaming wasn't going well (I know, it's a wee sock, how hard can it be?), and then I discovered another small error -- well, small only in that it was a one-stitch mistake, but to have 8 stitches instead of 7 on a project of this size, well, it can actually be quite big.  I was also a little concerned about the cast-on edge at the top of the cuff and that it might be too tight for Mack's chubby little calf.  I thought, why oh why am I seaming this stupid little sock knit on two needles?  I got out the DPNs.

    I knit the second version -- on the left -- during Sunday Night Football.  The casting off actually occurred just a few rows later.  It was a little tight with only 26 stitches on the DPNs, but the cuff is so much nicer knit in the round.  Then I did the heel, casting off as instructed, before picking up the gusset stitches on the first needle, keeping the instep stitches on the second needle, and picking up the second set of gusset stitches on the third; I did the knitting -- back and forth across three needles -- with the fourth.  Once the gusset decreases were finished, I set aside those needles and completed the instep on the last needle.  Tomorrow night, the second sock of the second version and then the sewing.  I don't remember the yarn -- I bought it ages ago, had about a dozen rows knit for a hat and it's been sitting forever -- they're a little tweedy, perfect for Mackluks.

    On the right, the remainders of three balls of Kureyon after knitting one Lizard Ridge square with each ball, then another square using all three, and I wonder if I can get yet another, possibly not even worrying about when to make the designated change.  I found a surprising tie in one of the balls as I knit earlier, with a completely different color tied in, and I didn't mind at all how that turned out -- having a drastic color change right in the middle of the repeat.

    17 December 2006

    Year in review: 2006

    Thank you, Celia.  (Because it should not be missed, I'm linking to Celia's Unrequited Love podcast at Quirky Nomads, too.  It's a great story, and so wonderful to hear her voice!  I was hoping for a little yodel at the end, but I guess that's part of another story.)

    01The first sentence of each first post of the month for 2006 (one picture from every month, in order, is my addition):

    January

    Happy New Year!

    February

    On Friday morning, Maddy tried to "wake up" our main computer.

    March

    I saw my brother today, but he didn't see me.

    02 03 04

    April

    I forgot to mention yesterday that among my chores, right between stopping at work and stopping at the bank, was a stop at the DMV to finish what Alison had started, but could not complete, the day before.

    05May

    We did a little rummaging on Saturday and this is part of my haul from a sale at the home of the couple who own an antique mall in our area (not the one at which I occasionally fill in) -- it was bargain day!

    June

    Ina sent this "Iris Garden" Lorna's Laces, the yarn that my Individuals won for me, basically, in the ABC-Along "I" Contest.

    July

    There isn't any fruit on my cherry tomato yet; I've got it in a hanging basket at the south end of the back porch.

    August

    If you click on the picture on the left and look to the left of the white truck, you will see a dark shape on the horizon, also known as Rib Mountain.

    06 07 08

    09September

    Katie had to be to work at 5 this morning, and Ali at 6:30; it's Maddy's first day of school, which would normally start at around 8, but only the lowly freshmen have to go so early on the first day of school.

    10October

    This is one of two mini Faroese shawls I made yesterday from the top down.

    November

    a.k.a. The Pergola Project.

    December

    God, I love the internet.

    11 12 It's been quite a year.  ; )

    16 December 2006

    Today's tip

    Do you have Photojojo?  If you take photos and you don't have Photojojo, you should get Photojo.  I don't remember where, but I found a link to that site months ago and immediately subscribed to the newsletter.  I can't imagine that I'll ever have a need for Jowlers.com or need to know how to add hair or fur to a photo (but... you never know), but I love this idea for frames, and this one.  There are project ideas, tutorials, guides and more -- all having to do with photos and photography -- and lots of links to other cool sites that lead to more cool sites and more and... hey, isn't that how I caught this knitblog wave?

    This project for Photo Christmas Tree Ornaments landed in my in-box the other day and it's PERFECT for so many of the hard-to-buy-for people on my list -- a single ornament, or a set, or for gift adornment -- or just for me!

    Just wanted to share.  Not that I'm avoiding ripping cleaning paperwork decorating baking anything.  *SIGH*  (Yep, a big one.)  I'd best pick one and get to it!

    15 December 2006

    The lure of the lizard

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    Last weekend, I washed the Peace Fleece Coup d'Etat Cardigan and pinned it out on my plastic-covered, accordion-fold, cardboard blocking board -- which is where it remains.  I walk by several times a day and think that I should get to it -- I'm sure it's dry by now.  There is a problem with one of the fronts.  It's a problem that I have only just barely acknowledged and have spent a mere minute agonizing over -- all I know is that it will have to be re-done, I do not really care to dwell on what went wrong or where (there's plenty of time for that).  I will un-do the lovely three-needle bind-off at the shoulder, rip to the start of yoke pattern or sleeve decreases or neck decreases (to be determined), and pick it up from there.  That's my weekend project.

    While I've ignored the Coup all week, I've succumbed to the lure of the lizard.  I'd picked up a ball of Kureyon in Chicago so I could give Lizard Ridge a try -- and I'm now on ball number three.  It's easy knitting, fascinating to watch the short-rows do their thing and to see the colors play.  I think the remainders of the three balls can be used to make a fourth square and then I think I shall stop.  I may make a pillow, or a number of pillows, or something for the shoulders, or a small blanket -- perhaps with deep borders of black in a stained-glass type of arrangement.  'Twould make a nice, small blanket for a lap, or maybe a stroller.

    TaylorOur amazingly warm weather continues, and northwest is still getting hammered -- WOW, a 97 mph wind gust at Rockaway Beach!  DH and I took a walk on the beach at Rockaway on our first date, when there just happened to be a very romantic, low-low-tide-with-full-moon.  I was not so romantically wearing boots with heels which made walking on even hard-packed sand difficult, but that just adds a bit of wry to the memory.  If my weather is a good indicator of yours, Elizabeth, I predict that the chance of a White Christmas is quite slim.  To help in the holiday spirit department, I used a small gift to add James Taylor at Christmas to my holiday music rotation last night, and I am quite pleased.

    14 December 2006

    Wisconsin is...

    ...home to very many great things, not the least of which are good beer and the Brewers, good brats (I'm partial to Johnsonville, myself) and the Packers, good cheese (mmm, curds), baked beans, sauerkraut (it's good on brats and good for you, too!), the world's largest hamburger, and maybe ice cream sundaes.

    It's home to Lakeside Fibers in Madison, which also houses an excellent coffee shop and cafe (fabulous light, wonderful view), where I met Gail/Gail's Good Yarn yesterday for a little lunch, a little visit, a little nibble of some local chocolates, and I am so pleased to say that I even got a little Christmas shopping done!

    Wisconsin is home to knitting legend and talented knitters (who will, apparently, never go hungry, at least while they remain in Wisconsin!) -- Elizabeth Zimmermann, Meg Swansen, Amy Detjen, Joyce Williams.  I had nothing to do with where I was born, or where they were born or where they chose to live, and yet I can't help but feel proud that we share this place.

    I can't explain what wonder I feel about these knitters, about the fact that yesterday I was able to stand before actual, in-the-wool works of all of the above and then some, including Kaffe Fassett, Teva Durham, Cheryl Oberle.  Yes, I was every inch of verklempt.

    All that wonderful wool brought together in celebration of the great and powerful EZ -- that's how it felt to me, anyway, like a celebration.  It was thrilling to not only stand before, but also beside, under and behind many of the works because of the way in which they were displayed -- hung from ceiling, away from the wall a bit, even out in the middle to walk around, and overhead.  I would have stuck my head up each one, if I'd been allowed, crawled inside -- tried them on!  Apologetic signs at frequent intervals throughout the gallery implored visitors not to touch, while at the same time acknowledging that this would be difficult for the knitters.  (There's an understatement!)

    It was very telling, to me, the appeal of the great and powerful EZ, in that there were a couple of young women, along with two or three small children, gathered around a TV to watch an EZ video.  The children were as interested and mesmerized as anyone!  Listening and watching.  I may have witnessed the planting of new seed, knitters being born, perhaps they'll grow to be great and powerful someday themselves.

    Stand-outs among stand-outs were EZ's Original Aran, Original Ribwarmer (I want one, DH would love one), the smallest of wee Baby Surprise Jackets (they aren't the same on the computer -- Katie saw them all lined up and had to ask if I'd knit wee sweaters when she has a baby -- they just make you think that way, even if the time for babies is a long ways off, or a long time since), the Original Adult Surprise Jacket (I think this was on the one with the frayed cuff -- it made me want to plotz, right there, still does to think of the time it took, the work, the love, to wear out the wool), the Bog Jackets were wonderful, and Gaffer's Bavarian Jacket... it was all so, so wonderful.

    Joyce's Bavarian Twisted Stitch Shell really tested my resolve to follow the rules and not touch -- I got as close as I could.  If it had been behind glass -- *bonk* -- I would have left a nose-print, no doubt.  If you've knit Bayerische or contemplated Am Kamin, you'll have a teensy tiny inkling.  The gauge, the details... the perfectly beautiful curve of the shoulder, the increases at the side.  Well, I just love Joyce Williams now more than ever, if that's possible.  ; )  Her beautiful Lily Jacket (which I've been fortunate enough to actually see her wearing) and Cornfields Pullover were also on display, as was the amazing Olive Branch Pullover.

    If you are in the Madison area, I urge you to go see this show before it closes on Sunday -- New School Knitting: The Influence of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Schoolhouse Press.  If you are not in the area, do take a look at the virtual gallery.

    Finally, check out TECHknitting -- check it out and bookmark it or get it on your Bloglines list because I guarantee you will be wanting to see what comes next.  Yet another reason to bust my Wisconsin cheese buttons over here.  ; )

    13 December 2006

    Y is for...

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    Yard.  The picture above was taken from high atop the other end of the back porch roof on the day of the "N" photo shoot.

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    Most of our yard is planted with things other than grass, and a lot of the rest is wooded ravine which we've never been inclined to change.  It takes about ten minutes to mow with a push mower and that's the way we like it.  It takes longer to get the mower to the grass than it does to actually mow the grass.  Hm, perhaps we could plant something else in some of those places...

    When the kids were little, there was a large patch of grass on the east side of the house -- the back yard -- where they played and where we installed various sandboxes over the years, combination picnic/play tables and lawn chairs of all sizes, plank-and-sawhorse "balance beams."  The biggest back yard attraction for the kids -- all the neighbor kids as well as my own -- was the playhouse that DH built at his earliest opportunity, which wasn't until after he re-built the stone retaining wall that he had toppled over early that first spring (it took 'til November and just don't ask).

    When the kids outgrew the play tables, we built a garage, then a deck (and then a pergola over the deck) on their back yard.  There have been a lot of changes to our yard over the years, always striving for improvement and better use as we all change and grow.

    Vickivickivickivicki

    121206_2150My sister just called to tell me that my nephew Mack is really looking forward to my visit today.  When he got up, she told him that I was coming, and so all morning it was "Vickivickivickivickivicki..."  I expect, no matter when I arrive or who I see first, that I shall be greeted by name!

    I drove by an over-the-top, but well-done* Christmas display last night and, apologies for the bad camera phone photo, but given my location, who do you suppose that is at the end of the tunnel?  I know, you can't even see him.  Hint:  he's carrying a football.  ; )

    *The scale was pretty good, everything was in good shape, there was apparent planning and design, nothing was toppled over.  No matter how much or how little there is on display, the very worst thing is when it's toppled over... and no one bothers to put it right... for days and days and days... and days... like, let's say, the house on the corner of my very own street, let's say.  Arrggh!!!

    12 December 2006

    Just for fun

    Aw, bummer, the fancy Christmas stocking thing is busted -- must be a hole at the toe!  Please leave your "gifts" in the comments, as it appears to be broken.  Update:  I've replaced it with my own.  ; ) What would you leave in my stocking?

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    With gracious bow (and luxurious gift given) to everyone's favorite Beadslut.

    11 December 2006

    Finishing

    Dsc09196On my list of things to finish this month was Shirley Shrugs -- again.  Late last week, I pulled out my cast-off edge and "shortened" it by several rows and bound off again, but a little looser this time.  I took it over for a fitting yesterday to determine the most comfortable seam length, then finished that off during the football game.  Mom had been having a hard time telling top from bottom.  With the addition of short-row shoulders, there's definitely a difference, though it is fairly subtle.  I'd shown her the tell-tale "design feature," the double-crossed cable marking the first short-row shoulder, but apparently it isn't as apparent to her as it is to me, or maybe she needs her glasses on in order to see it.  I tied a small bit of yarn on the inside at each shoulder, but that's not so pretty and is still a mostly visual clue, so I also attached a vintage mother-of-pearl & Bakelite button to the inside left.

    Time is running out!  I'm heading to Madison for the day on Wednesday to finally see New School Knitting: The Influence of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Schoolhouse Press!  There may also be blogging and fiber fun, a little shopping, perhaps a sighting of my niece, and definitely dinner meet-up with the Mackster.  ; )

    10 December 2006

    Crafty corner

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    I finished with the lights yesterday and unpacked boxes with ornaments and decorations.  I placed a few very special items on the tree myself, then Katie came along and did hers and a whole bunch more while I watched (and dozed) from a chair.  Ali and Maddy have yet to hang their ornaments.

    St. Nick brought the girls S'more ornaments a few years ago and I was thrilled to find a knitter for myself this year!  The cross-stitch ornament was an unexpected gift from my SIL.  I always remember her giving it to me and telling me that she just couldn't resist because it was so perfect.

    The inscription from Grandpa & Grandma is on the bottom of a ceramic "holiday" igloo.  It has cut-out windows and colored plastic pegs that look like lights on trees when illuminated -- some of the pegs are broken, damaged or missing altogether.  There's been a big crack from the bottom edge to nearly the top and I handle it with extreme care every year, wondering if it'll be the last.  I imagine that when it does eventually break, I'll have not choice but to glue it together.

    Katie broke (beyond repair) her 1988 ornament from Grandma & Grandpa last night.  It wasn't one of her favorites, but it's still very sad.  I told her that I broke mine from 1977 a long time ago, too.  I still remember.  It was a cardinal.

    09 December 2006

    Can't get it outta my head!

    Dsc09179Today's Saturday Sky comes to you from the comfort and warmth of my computer room -- this is a shot out the window (and up a little) to my right.  There's an actual warming trend going on here this weekend -- temps in the mid- to high-30s, they say -- but I'm still chilled to the bone from last week's cold and wind, plus I'm still wearing my nightgown.

    Beth and I have been writing back and forth a little bit about mittens.

    ***NEWS FLASH***  Oh my goodness, no wonder I like her...  Not only does she have a team in the Crafters Fantasy Football League, but just look at what her favorite Christmas album is -- The Carpenters!  ***/end flash***

    So, anyway, back to mittens.  In one of those thirty posts of November for NaBloPoMo, I wrote about how I'm always thinking about the mittens and a bunch of you wrote about how you think about them, too. Beth wrote last week and wondered if I was still thinking of doing stranded mittens in the new year; have I seen Eunny's new pattern; have I seen the new patterns on Knitty?  And I most certainly am; I hadn't, but now I have (also purchased/printed); Corazon are wonderful, and the Latvian-inspired Tiffany made my heart flutter.  I heard from more than a dozen people who might be interested in a friendly, low-pressure KAL and I've been thinking about the ways I can keep it low-pressure, but fun and exciting, too, maybe even with a surprise.  I'm all about keeping it low-key and fun.  Currently, though, I'm stuck on the really fun name and for some reason, "Walk Like A Latvian" popped into my head -- you know, like the Egyptians... only Latvian... even though Latvians walk just like the rest of us.  Maybe walking like Egyptians with Latvian mittens?  I know, it's sick.  I could have drunk-bloggged this last night (well, only slightly inebriated, really) and then perhaps been forgiven, but the truth is it's been in my head for DAYS.  I'm sorry, but perhaps if I disburse the pain even wider it will eventually subside altogether -- because I already scarred Beth with it and it didn't help me one single bit.  Maybe if y'all feel my pain...  It's not even limited to Latvians...

    In the meantime, Eunny wrote a great post with tips for 2-color knitting here.

    Nanette Blanchard has some wonderful booklets and patterns available, including Stranded Knitting.  Nanette also has links in her sidebar to her free patterns, and also to some of her helpful tips knitting posts (many of them having to do with color knitting, of course!).

    There's Latvian Mittens, of course, Latvian Dreams, Folks Mittens, Favorite Mittens...  Schoolhouse Press has a lot of resources, including the Satakieli yarn recommended for Latvian mittens.

    More to come... the new year is a few weeks off yet.  ; )

    07 December 2006

    'Tis the season

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    Unfortunately, even by the end of the day the tree wasn't much more improved than in this earlier-in-the-day photo, except that I did put the tippy-top of the tree in place... after ripping all the friggin' lights off of it because half of them weren't working.  Yes, I know all about pre-lit Christmas trees.  Let me tell ya... if you think my tree looks pathetic, you should have seen my mom's yesterday.  It is a pre-lit tree that she's used for enough years that much of it now needs to be re-lit.  She's threatening to use the table-top tree instead, or even the feather tree!

    Dsc09175_2Ho ho ho.  We listened to Christmas music, but I sure wish someone could find our Hanson Snowed In CD -- if that doesn't get me a little pumped about the Christmas hullaballoo, nothing will.

    Quite a many several years ago, I came home to find the oval window on our front door positively aglow with lights.  I'm not sure from whence the inspiration came, but DH had made this thing resembling a fish skeleton out of lumber scraps and wire, cleverly fashioning loops so it could be secured to the door both top and bottom, stapled 200 lights to it employing the willy-nilly method, and called it done.  This year, it was time to replace the lights and we used cute little clear button lights purchased on clearance last year (or maybe even the year before).  He was a little more orderly with the new arrangement, thinking stars and space, galaxies and orbits.

    * * * * *

    I had Breakfast With the Boys on my way to work this morning and those boys made me cry!  It's only by chance that I catch the show on Thursday mornings, and I've enjoyed it every single time.  I'm really going to have to make a note -- Mark Tauscher is hilarious.  It was co-host John Maino who brought the tears this morning, though.  He was on the phone from Washington where he was to deliver gifts to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this afternoon.  There are plenty of Packer items in that Santa sack, of course, including 100 jerseys signed by Brett Favre earlier this week.  Maino was embedded with local troops in Iraq for a week last summer and this morning he talked about what the Packers mean to our local troops -- it's something to think about, talk about, concentrate on, fight for...

    It just made me think, you know.  I'm not going to complain about my Christmas tree lights any more.  I'm going to hope that the Packers win at least one more game before Christmas -- for the troops -- but even if they don't, I don't know, just play and do their best.  Pray that our guys will come home soon.  Lots of stuff like that...

    06 December 2006

    The jolly guy in red

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    "St. Nicholas" filled the stockings tied to the stairway last night.  In a very practical mood, she left slippers for the girls and insoles for DH -- he's been complaining of sore feet.  ; )  The girls each get an ornament from St. Nick every year and this year it's the angels above, which are reminiscent of just like our horn-playing tree-top angel, except that it wasn't discovered 'til the very last minute that only one of these ornaments actually has a horn -- the others have cymbals or harp!

    Dsc09174Is it pathetic that I fill my own stocking?  I don't give myself a gift because, well, I've actually been quite wild and free of late with the "add to cart" buttons -- nothing huge, but a pamphlet here, a booklet there, a magazine, a book... now I've got to find that Noro book with the Blossom vest pattern that I mentioned yesterday.  It's not yarn that makes my finger twitch, it's the patterns!  So, let's pretend there's a back issue or two of Wool Gathering sticking out the top there.

    Coup d'Etat is off the needles!  I short-rowed and did a three-needle bind off at the shoulders and there's just no other way... totally love that technique.  I also did full-fashion decreases and increases throughout and I'm anxious to seam.  My blocking board is already in use at the moment, but perhaps later today I can give all the pieces a bath and pin them out.  It's going to be button time soon!

    I saw Katie for the first time yesterday when I came home last night and she noticed that I was wearing Williamsro.  Not only did she notice, she told me how wonderful it looked, that it was her favorite of all the sweaters I've made, why don't I wear it more.  I proceeded to tell her/consult regarding that bottom Blossom part and she confirmed the conclusion I'd come to after wearing it for the whole day.  Yes, there's the whole horizontal stripes can make anyone's anything look big, but I don't think the horizontal-ness is the problem here.  Can't get much more horizontal than Fib, which is also one of my favorite sweaters, so I obviously have no issues with the horizontal.  The biggest thing with Williamsro is that there are too many stitches picked up for that bottom part -- so many that it is actually distorted -- and there's no elasticity to the Cash Iroha so no resistance and it just let's itself be pulled.  There's a bit of a flare, a swing -- even bulbous quality -- to that Blossom section that maybe isn't so evident in the photos, but it'll make a huge overall difference if I can find the magic number.

    I think that the rest of my December knitting is going to be devoted to The Fix & Finish.  I've got Shirley Shrugs and Williamsro in need of attention, there's Coup d'Etat seaming in the wings, along with a button band and many buttons to be sewn... there are buttons to be sewn on sweaters that haven't seen the light of day in so long, I'm sure you've forgotten.

    05 December 2006

    Flashback to February

    I had a flashback on Friday night when I tuned in to Ice Wars for the visual and auditory accompaniment to my knitting -- right back to February, Williamsro, and the excitement of the Olympics, knitting and otherwise.  ; )  I tuned in late, but may I just say that Brian Boitano is still elegance and perfection on skates; that Kurt Browning is one of the most charismatic, talented and entertaining showmen who ever strapped on a blade; and that I wish that darn way-back machine would work because Scott Hamilton never failed to both amuse and inspire, but he's a pretty good announcer, too.  Dick Button has gotten on a nerve or two of late, but I can't really imagine figure skating without him -- he's been the voice since I began watching as a little girl.

    Dsc06655buttIt's been almost 10 months, then, since I asked that age-old question:  Does this sweater make my butt look big?

    120506_1038It's very timely, too, that an email from blogless, lurking, fellow Wisconsinite Angie arrived wherein she asked about Williamsro.

    Truthfully, after my short-lived (life got in the way), celebratory, post-Olympic party, flushed with victory and wondering what to do next, I became more and more unhappy with Williamsro each time I pulled it on.  I'd been warned about the tendency of Cash Iroha to relax and grow and that certainly did happen.  I'd always been just a little bit unhappy with the number of stitches picked up for that bottom part knit in the Blossom, too.  I've talked about doing it over, possibly even knitting it just a wee bit shorter.  I don't think it made my butt look big in February, but I think it does now (granted, I think my but actually is a little bigger now).

    I am wearing it today.  It's the coldest day of the year so far -- wind chill in the single-digit-below-zero area this morning and thank god there wasn't much wind -- and I do believe it's the warmest sweater I have.  (I wore St. Brigid yesterday -- I try to wear it once a week, unless I have an opportunity to wear it more where I won't be running into the same people.  I wear it as much as I can, would wear it everyday if I could, and I may need to knit myself another Aran soon.)  It's not as bad as I remembered.  It may be that more than just my butt are a little bigger, despite the months-long dalliance with Weight Watchers.  Whatever.  That's obviously not bothering me enough to do anything about it except for the occasional whine.

    In conclusion:  I am warm and toasty today; the Cash Iroha pills a bit more than I think an expensive yarn should; I'd still like to re-knit the bottom Blossom part (that'll be a big pain in my big ol' butt to frog); I think Williamsro would be wonderful in a 100% wool yarn; I have the rejected, redder Blossom that I bought in NYC that would love to must knit into the vest I saw at Julia's yesterday that I can't believe I never, ever saw anywhere before!

    You can see in today's (in the bathroom) picture that there's still a bandaged finger -- a different one than yesterday.  I can still knit, though sometimes clumsy, and it's due to nothing other than our recent, sudden, but not unexpected cold, dry weather.  Cracking, peeling, splitting, ouch.  I can knit well enough that I should have all the pieces to Coup d'Etat set to block tomorrow.  ; )

    04 December 2006

    What was I thinking?

    Heheheh, I originally wrote, "What was I tinking?"  Here's the deal, I am One Finger Bandaged this morning (it could very possibly be Two Fingers by this afternoon) and it's throwing off everything.  There was no tinking, but there was a little ripping -- Saturday night, but I'm over that now.

    I was momentarily bored with the knitting and very, very sleepy yesterday afternoon.  Knit-knit-knit, purl 2 together, knit 3, make 1, knit (or purl, depending), maybe purl a few more (or knit, depending), knit, purl, knit, purl, zzzzzzz.  By the time I decided that maybe I should take a nap, it was really too late, so instead I changed the pace.  I ripped the upholstery off of a footstool in the living room, gathered the necessary tools, and started to recover it.  I've had the fabric and trim, the cardboard upholstery strip thingy, the tacks and decorative nails for a long time... a very, very, very long time.  Maddy used to use this footstool as a table at which to eat her cereal while watching morning cartoons.  She hasn't been up early enough for morning cartoons before school in... well, a really long time.  I didn't completely finish the stool, but got pretty far, and I thought about taking a progress picture, but decided to wait 'til morning -- I was envisioning morning light.  I don't know what I was thinking, though, because there hasn't been "morning light" at that time of the morning in I don't know how long.

    02 December 2006

    X is for...

    Dsc09169

    X-acto.  At one time -- for many years -- when I worked as a typesetter, an X-acto knife was practically an extension of my hand, along with a hand-held waxer or trigger can full of rubber cement.  Cut & paste, for real.

    W is for...

    Dsc09157

    Wardrobe.

    Dsc09160 Dsc09163

    Dsc09164W is also for wonderful, as in my best friend of almost 30 years who I think of every single time I open my closet, contemplate my wardrobe, and choose something to wear.

    My best friend is six years older than me; our birthdays are exactly a week apart, making us both Scorpios.  People often mistake us for sisters -- they always have and it amuses me that they still do.  A couple of years ago, I bought her Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg's "Twin Sons of Different Mothers" -- because it's one of my favorite CDs of all-time, but also because we were still "Twin Daughters of Different Mothers."  Funny thing is, she actually does have a sister named Vicky, and often, when the three of us were together, we would still be mistaken for sisters.

    We met when one of her brothers hired me to work in their family-owned business -- she was the one female in the production area of said business and they kind of wanted another female so she'd have a work pal.  Something like that.  Being a girl wasn't a requirement, but it didn't hurt, though they hesitated a little bit because of our difference in age.  She was already married, trying to start a family.  At 19 and 25, six years can still be huge.

    We hit it off, though, more than anyone could have ever imagined, and our difference in age was probably perfect -- she, a bit more worldly and wise and a lot more confident, and me, putty in her hands.  One night, we went out for a drink after work.  It turned out to be a major turning point in my life, really.  I don't remember a lot of details, in fact I think it was a blur right from the start, but somehow a message was conveyed.  It sounds strange, but I got -- found, was given -- self-confidence that night.

    A very small, but significant part of it -- one that I think of every single day -- had to do with my wardrobe: earth tones.  "Lose the earth tones."  Every splash of color in my still, mostly earth-toned wardrobe, reminds me of my wonderful best friend.  The self-confidence and self-doubt wax and wane, it's sometimes a struggle to be strong and confident -- I guess the periods of self-doubt help keep the self-confidence from turning to arrogance, though.

    01 December 2006

    Up my alley

    God, I love the internet.  I found a new link in Rebecca's Pocket today, via the lately cantankerous Bloglines, to The New York Times list of The 10 Best Books of 2006.  I clicked on over and skimmed the list and a couple caught my eye.  I placed holds on the local library system for The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel and Falling Through the Earth.  These join Yarnplay on my list of holds, which I'm waiting for someone else to return.  I am currently enjoying the two Nancy Crow books that I'd similarly placed on hold a couple of weeks ago.

    I just added a couple of Gee's Bend books to the list.  It's addicting.  I wonder if there's a limit.

    It's snowing here, but I'm not complaining.  We're at the very, very northern edge of the big midwest storm, the snow is very fine and shouldn't pile up more than an inch before ending early this afternoon.  It was awfully windy earlier, and very cold.  All of last year, the big storms were either to the north of us or to the south and I wonder if it'll be more of the same this year.

    I'm cruising along on the back of Coup d'Etat.  I should have some good knitting time this weekend, though I do think we'll take time out for a show at the planetarium tomorrow.  I haven't been there since grade school and I want to go.  I think my nephews will like it.  I worry that they'll be bored.  My sister will be bringing Christmas cards, probably not her quilting, to work on this weekeend -- she's made every card she's sent for the last 20+ years.

    ETA:  No.  Just no.  Whoever found my blog by searching "sweaters that light up"... well, I don't know why you would have landed here, but DON'T DO ITUgly Betty can do it -- she can wear anything and be cute as a button -- but she's the only one who could wear it and who would like to receive it as a gift.  The.only.one.  No!

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