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21 posts from June 2007

29 June 2007

Friday!

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And Friday is Flower Day!  I have three small hydrangea plants out front.  There was a total of one flower from all three last year, but all are producing this year.  Every once in a while, when I think of it, I dump the coffee grounds 'round the base of the plants.

Yes, I was flat out on the lawn -- on the side of the house that has neighbors, no less -- to take the lily of the valley going-to-seed photo.  The neighboring house is for sale, but I don't think it's because of the lunatic knitter/photographer next door -- although it could definitely be because of the neighbors on the other side.  No love lost there; in fact, the police have been called and a summons has been served, but I just listen when I have to and nod/shake my head a lot and really try to stay out of it, thankyouverymuch.

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My favorite wild bellflower -- I'll have to look that one up again.  Most people would consider it a weed, but it's definitely a wildflower to me and I look forward to seeing it every single year.  ; )  Heh, my espalier crabapple will definitely be getting a haircut this weekend!

I was dog tired last night and went to bed early.  I didn't knit a single stitch, but would have if I'd have been able to locate my knitting!  Y'all are right about summertime and knitting socks, and I just happen to have at least two pair underway -- but I couldn't find them!  That's the problem with "organizing" the stash and WIPs.  I spent whatever energy I could muster on searching, and I kept opening the same drawers, disbelieving that my sock bag wasn't there... It's GOT to be here!  I just SAW it here!  Finally, I opened the lid of a sewing stand that's never held anything but knitting (usually, all my Lamb's Pride, but it's recently outgrown the space) and there it was.  I think I'll work at finishing the second Celtic Braid, but Bayerische is riding shotgun and may get a turn, too.

Happy Weekend!

28 June 2007

Camp

Last weekend, my friend Deb delivered her beautiful daughter for a week at Summer Camp.  Summer Camp.  Oh, those words!!  I've been thinking about them all week and remembering -- even after 35+/- years, those summer camp memories still bring a smile (or a cringe).

It was a week-long YWCA camp in northern Minnesota and I went with my cousin during two summers, when I was 11 and 12.  I took the Greyhound bus, by myself, from my home in NE Wisconsin to hers in Duluth (lost my pillow on the very last trip) and from there, we were delivered to camp.  She was a year younger than me, but we weren't really close and didn't see each other much -- she always seemed to put on airs, anyway -- her dad was a doctor and her mom listened to opera and I think my uncle might have paid a part of my camp fee and she probably knew it.  They had a huge treehouse in their backyard that my uncle had built and it had three trees going right up through the floor and the roof -- it was awesome and it was there that I saw for myself how much trees -- big trees -- actually move in the wind -- even a very little wind.

Summer Camp!  I played a lot of just-for-fun tetherball -- I was pretty good at it and it's still a favorite game.  I took archery (which I loved), swimming (not-so-much but mandatory), made lanyards, sang camp songs, and ate in a giant mess hall.  My most favorite thing of all was horseback riding.  "My" horse, both years, was a palomino named Taffy.  We learned the very basics of grooming and how to saddle a horse, and I still remember giving Taffy a knee -- "Do it again," the counselor said, "harder!" -- so she'd expel any air she might be holding so the saddle could be cinched up tight.  I learned all about "posting" and how much it can hurt when you're not used to it.  Taffy was a good, sweet, and gentle horse -- unless she was tied up.  She'd raise holy hell and be in danger of injuring herself and others if tethered.  As I recall, she'd been rescued from an abusive owner who would tie her up and beat her, apparently, and with my maternal streak we were a pretty good match.

I won the camp-wide "Miss Ugly" contest one year.  My cabin mates did me up good -- teasing my long hair (I swear, I lost half in the combing-out afterwards), applying fake moles and blackening teeth, they rubbed my legs with toothpaste which caked and dried and looked rather like scales (I smelled so minty!), it might have been on my face and in my hair, too.  As I recall, someone sacrificed an entire tube of Crest.  For some reason, I'd brought my violin to camp and for the talent portion of the program, I sawed and hacked an "accompaniment" while I belted out a completely tuneless "Mary Had A Little Lamb" in probably much the same manner as Rosanne's famous Star-Spangled Banner -- except worse.

There was the time I drifted over to "the other side" of the dock during swimming time and brushed up against some reeds.  I picked up a huge leech -- honestly, the thing must have been three inches long on the side of my calf.  Um, I freaked out a little.  Someone -- one of the cooks, maybe -- came running from the mess hall with a big salt shaker.  Ew, it was all very gross with the smily-turned-shriveled and blood...

Ask anyone in my family...  I'm still mad at my cousin for throwing away my 16 Magazines.  During one of those summers, she thought I was spending too much of my free time ogling the likes of Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, Davy Jones and Barry Williams (OMG, Barry's wearing "our" sweater in this photo -- I had this EXACT same sweater!), and reading about Dark Shadows, so she took 'em and tossed 'em.  Just like that.  (Airs... remember?)  Made my blood boil and it still does.  But it gets better...  I mean, worse.  Still miffed upon returning from camp, my aunt wondered why and when I told her that my cousin had taken and thrown away my magazines -- my personal property to which my cousin had absolutely no right, not to mention the whole making judgments about my chosen form of entertainment for my free time at camp -- my aunt frickin' backed her up.  Oh!  Don't get me started...

Yeah, so anyway.  I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world and I know how lucky I am to have gone.  I don't think any of my siblings ever had the chance.  So how about it?  Any camp memories to share?

27 June 2007

Fixies!

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Dsc00682I know...  Two days, two FOs -- I think it's a first!  I was so excited, I nearly took a header off the back porch doing that pigeon-toed pose!

I worked on these at Knit Night last night, and finished them off when I got home.  The weather is breaking today -- the humidity is getting less and less as the day goes on, making life more and more comfortable -- but it's still a bit too hot for socks.

FIXIES = Fixation + Footies

Using the free pattern Tootsie's Footsies (PDF) and one ball of Cascade Fixation on 4US DPNs -- there was a tiny bit of yarn leftover.  I bought the yarn at "Knitter's Nook" in Minocqua earlier this month.  I cast on around June 15th and finished on June 26th.  These were fun -- the Fixation is very stretchy and different to knit with, and I think they're going to be comfy little socks.

I have one ball of Fixation left, and I think I'm going to make Bikini Top featured on Knitty Gritty and as seen at Vixenpath.  Heh, yeah, no...  It won't be for me, but I think it could work for one of the girls -- it'll be a fun thing to knit, no matter.

26 June 2007

Larger Than Life Bag = Larger Than Life Love

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LARGER THAN LIFE BAG by Cecily Keim, Interweave Crochet, Spring 2007. Done as part of Cecily's Larger Than Life CAL, with additional inspiration from the Flickr group.

I used Lily Sugar & Cream, 7 or 8 colors from the dishrag stash, mostly leftovers.  Handles are drapery tie-backs found at the fabric store -- an inspired idea that I blatantly stole from Margene.  I bought two maroon and two black, using one of each color per side and staggering them so that a handle is sewn at the corner of each crocheted square -- giving lots of support for this large, heavy, cotton bag.

Going for an old-fashioned granny square look, I bordered each square with a row of single crochet in black and seamed them together (in black), I then worked a row of single crochet around each completed side.

After a failed attempt at crocheting and sewing on the gusset (it was too short), I picked up gusset stitches on one side of the bag with a long, circular needle and knit in garter stitch for 3 inches or so. I then picked up and knit the same number of stitches around the other side, and worked a three-needle bind-off to join the two sides together. Voila!

The fabrics for the double lining are upholstery and drapery remnants, chosen with the aid of my lovely daughter Alison, and they couldn't be more perfect.  I shudder to think what I was considering and what I might have brought home without Ali's keen eye.

At this point, it's just an open tote -- no zipper, snaps or buttons.  I'm going to use it for a little while and decide what (if anything) I'd like to do.

I got bogged down with the finishing -- as is the case with almost any project -- but I love this bag. I have not tired of the squares and the colors make me happy.

* * * * * *

Oh, now I don't remember where I found this:  CNN Favorite Pastimes survey -- Knitters, represent!

25 June 2007

Scattered

I found this first at Yarnish, and have seen it a few other places since.  It's based on the board game, Scattergories.

Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following.  They MUST be real places, names, things… NOTHING made up! If you can't think of anything, skip it.  Try to use different answers if the person before you had the same 1st initial.  You CANNOT use your own name for the boy/girl name question.  Have fun!

Your Name:  Vicki

1. Famous Singer/Band: Bobby Vinton / Vikki Carr / Vixen
1.a. Famous Song:  Volare (could also be used for #6)

2. 4 letter word:  Vice

3. Street:  Victoria

4. Color: Violet

5. Gifts/Presents:  Vacation

6. Vehicle:  Volkswagen

7. Things in a Souvenir Shop:  Vatican (replica of...)

8. Boy Name:  Vince

9. Girl Name:  Valerie

10. Movie Title:  Vertigo

11. Drink:  V-8

12. Occupation:  Veterinarian

13. Celebrity:  Vivica Fox

14. Magazine:  VOGUE

15. U.S. City:  Vale

16. Pro Sports Teams: Vikings

18. Reason for Being Late for Work:  Vomiting

19. Something You Throw Away:  Vacuum cleaner bags (full)

20. Things You Shout:  Voila!

21. Cartoon Character:  Cruella de Ville

* * * *

My Larger Than Life Bag is finished enough that I'm calling it!  It's an FO and I hope to have all the details and better pictures posted tomorrow.  Unfortunately, no other sewing was accomplished.  There was a little frustration with the sewing machine -- the needle kept falling out, no matter how tightly secured, and now I can't pick up the bottom thread -- so I had a little fit and packed it all away for a time out.  Maybe I should get angry/frustrated/exasperated more often because I seem to work it off by cleaning -- you should see my downstairs bathroom!  I'm not talking tub, toilet bowl and sink, I'm talking top-to-bottom walls and baseboards, shelves and pictures -- as well as tub, toilet bowl and sink -- streak, dust and cobweb free!

Go ahead, make my day (the upstairs kitchen could use some attention!)  ; )

23 June 2007

Almost...

Dsc00663If you've never cleaned or oiled your sewing machine yourself -- never gave a thought to cleaning or oiling except when it's suggested by the guy at the sewing machine shop when it's taken in for repair -- do it.  My machine is not used that much, and it's been several years since it was in for repair/cleaning/oiling, and I can't believe how much dusty, dirty lint was packed in around the feed dogs after I removed the plate!  The machine came with a couple of small screwdrivers, but I've long since lost the brush (not because of over-use), so I borrowed a couple of DH's stiffer paintbrushes.  I bought sewing machine oil (cheap, cheap, cheap compared to the repair/cleaning/oiling!) the last time I was at Hancock's... and I must admit, I've had my machine for over 20 years and I never knew that those three small plastic holey things on the top of the machine were actually oil ports.  It was all right there in the manual.  I also "checked under the hood" and oiled the specified points in there, too.  Thank you, Julia, for the tips!

Dsc00654Have you joined Sandy's Saturday Sky Flickr group yet?  If you're Ravel-rousing -- or anticipate getting your Ravelry invite soon -- then you've no doubt got a Flickr account, so why not add a "Saturday Sky" set while you're at it?  This afternoon, I was... Doo doo doo, Lookin' out my back door!

I caught a bug in this photo -- just coming into the frame on the right.  I didn't even see it 'til I got it up on the computer.  The camera was set on "Burst 3," so it took three photos, one right after the other -- this is the first of the three and the only one with the fast-traveling bug.

It was a gorgeous day here -- simply gorgeous.  We did not go to Algoma, but instead to the farmers' market with a few other stops here and there.  Mom wasn't able to go, but we picked up some strawberries and radishes for her.  We grilled hamburgers (from grass-fed cows) and fresh zucchini and dined al fresco in the pergola tonight.  Yum.

Dsc00668One reason for the al fresco dining is because the sewing machine is set up on the dining table.  I am all but finished with the Larger Than Life Bag!  I broke a couple of needles before I was completely finished, though, and I don't have any heavy-duty ones left, so it's going to have to wait.  In the end, I did not apply anything to the lightweight fabric because what I had was not iron-on, as I thought (or I screwed up, whatever) and because of that, I didn't add any pockets or anything.  I totally stole Margene's drapery tie-back idea.  I bought four -- two maroon and two black -- there's one of each color on each side and I'm sewing them so that there will be as much support for the bag as possible.  Since I made it in cotton rather than wool, it's a bit heavy.  ; )  I'll post the low-down when I'm completely finished... shouldn't be long now.

22 June 2007

To the nines

When I signed on to post this morning, I saw that I'd done so 990 times in the 3+ years that I've been blogging, and that there have been 8,999 comments received on those posts.  That's an average of 9.08 comments per post -- whatever that means -- it's just that calculating an average has always been one of my favorite mathematical things, one of the few executions about which I feel confident.  While Margene awaits her 29,000th comment (say that three times fast!), the next one on this here blog will be number 9,000.  Have a cigar!

I'm afraid I've been boring of late.  Maybe even a whole lot.  I've been willy-nilly and inconsistent with the knitting -- there's no persistence, no purpose, no loyalty, no follow-through, no real big love.  The little "Fixies" are fun, but fleeting.  Master Knitting Level I swatches shall soon commence, but that's not going to be very exciting.  Maybe it's summer, maybe it's life.  I need to make some excitement!

It helps to find something beautiful.  I present, my first Friday's Flowers (as always, click for big).

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Dsc00617A couple of these are past their prime -- the allium, columbine -- but still so beautiful.  I lost my Pee Gee hydrangea tree a couple of years ago, and the Annabelles have good years and bad... this looks like a good year.  The arachnid in the hostas is a non-flroal bonus -- we've a history of arachnids in the hostas.  The pink star-shaped flower is atop the tall stalk of a succulent, and do you see the little bee butt in the hosta flower?  Actually it was a very big bumble bee and I'm amazed that I stuck around and managed a few shots -- I'm not so much with the big buzzing bugs, especially if they're associated in any way with stingers.  Boy, it sure seems early for the hostas to be blooming!

Here's the weekend plan (kind of a rinse and repeat from last weekend):

1)  Finish and mail the Special Swap project.

2)  Clean and oil my sewing machine.

3)  Finish the Larger Than Life Bag -- I can't believe I've let that sit for so long.

4)  Cut out (at least) and maybe sew the two other sewing projects on my list -- a batik top and a denim vest.  It would sure help if I didn't have to set up the sewing machine on the kitchen table.

DH mentioned that day-trip to Algoma he's had on his mind and I think it's going to be another glorious day tomorrow, so we'll see how the chips fall...

Happy weekend.

ETA:  When Norma wrote yesterday to say that she didn't know whether to blame Bloglines because she didn't see notification that I'd been posting or the fact that she's been so busy that she maybe didn't notice.  Almost always the optimist, willing to give a fair shake and benefit of the doubt, I wrote back and told her that I chose to believe it was maybe a little bit of both.  Well, Norma?  I know you're busy with depositions and weeds and all, but I think it's more Bloglines than you.  I don't know what the problem is... I suppose I should write and ask.  I try all different ways of saving drafts, posting into the future, the past, real-time -- or not.  It doesn't seem to make much difference lately.  I've never been much of a squeaky wheel, though -- there are times when I can squeak to beat the band -- maybe even the cicadas (DH brought a few specimens home from a trip to IL last weekend and he said they really WERE loud!) -- but there are other times, most times, when the self-doubt creeps in -- it creeps in everywhere! -- and confidence lags.  Yeah, for even the simplest thing like, "Hey, Bloglines, why aren't you updating me?"

Okay, I've copied that last line, now I'm going to go paste it into an email to Bloglines.

21 June 2007

Joiner

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I haven't played tag in years, but it was one of my favorite childhood games -- I especially liked "freeze tag" and my kids' favorite was "color tag."  I have knit a few dish rags in the past year or so and I was lucky enough to run across Emily's post for Dish Rag Tag before it closed.  Competitive knitting...  It's going to be a blast, and I'm really looking forward to it.

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With a beautiful button like that, how could I possibly resist Kim's Friday Flowers?  And just in time for Friday, too!

Yesterday

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It was a very good day... definitely my kind of day.  ; )

For the most part, the crocheted chain provisional cast-on worked for the picot edge this time and I'm already into the heel flap for the second Fixie (Fixation + footie).  The last half-dozen stitches (the first to be set free once I started to yank the chain) must have been knit into a side loop rather than the back loop -- I had to pull the crochet yarn through to free those knit stitches -- after that, though, it was just as advertised.  I freed each stitch, one-by-one, and knit it together with one on the needle.  Very slick.

I used the directions in The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie M. Wiseman, but used a hook several sizes larger than my needle; I also found a wonderful online tutorial for many different cast-ons at Eunny's -- the one I used was the "Invisible Crochet Cast On II."

20 June 2007

I's Feeling near as Faded as my jeans

Dsc00608Here it is!  The First Freakin' Fabulous Fixation Footie c'est Fini!  The yarn is Cascade Fixation, the colorway is "denim" and it'a Fun, quick knit.  (Ahem.  Painting the back porch Floor is slated For later this summer.  It is neither Fun nor quick.)

I Finished it at Knit Night.  I turned it inside out to work the last Few rounds and then did a three-needle bind-off (rather than kitchener) For the big Finish.  I started the second sock and am at the crucial point where I'll Find out whether unzipping of the provisional cast-on For the picot cuff trick will -- or will not -- work.

Fingers crossed.

Dsc00610The threadleaf coreopsis is just beginning to bloom, as is the lavender.  It seems I've created a haven For the box elder bugs -- do you see them?  They are annoying but harmless, and there's not much I can do.  Spraying the trees is not an option, even without all the little brain Flags raised by those words -- there are just too many trees.  They are "weed trees."  The city put a moratorium on purposeful planting years ago, but it matters little.  The bugs are all outside now, but come Fall they'll want to join the ladybugs and move inside.  You know what the recommended method of control is?  The vacuum cleaner.

Can we talk about my movie queue For a minute?  I have Finally watched and sent Jean Brodie packing -- she having lingered here Far, Far, FAR past prime -- and I am expecting Strictly Ballroom to arrive at any minute -- that one on a long-ago reader recommendation, plus I miss Dancing With the Stars, I like Baz Luhrmann and I loved Moulin RougeAlice Doesn't Live Here Anymore was to be next on the list, but a serious breach in my cultural awareness was discovered this morning and Alice has been bumped by Marlo Thomas -- and not That Girl.

There was a deafening silence on the phone when Cara & Ann learned that I'd never seen Free To Be... You and Me.  Ummmm, "deafening silence" is not a term that I would normally associate with Cara and/or Ann, especially not with Cara & Ann -- "deafening," maybe... "silence," never -- so I knew that this was serious.  Of course I am aware of the concept, the message, the phrase, the associations of Free To Be...  but I have never seen the show and would not recognize a single song -- in Fact, not a single note, even while being "serenaded" this morning in both ears...

In 1974, I was a sophomore in high school -- aware (in varying degrees, depending on the day) of Watergate and Richard Nixon, the energy crisis, Patty Hearst, and Phil Donahue -- I was not watching "kid shows" on TV.  I didn't dare mention After-School Specials and my sketchy recollection of those -- my sisters and brother maybe watched them -- but I do remember Where Did I Come From?

Heh, is it just ME?  Anyway, maybe I can get delivery to coincide with Mack's next visit and we can watch it together.

This post brought to you by the letter F, and the song in your head by Janis.  ; )

19 June 2007

Feelin' the love

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Isn't it amazing how someone you've never met, someone you know only by reciprocal blog-reading and the exchange of an occasional email, can get it so right?  I have to say, Lynne is a gift-giver, -chooser, -tagger, -wrapper extraordinaire -- she says that gifts are her "love language" and, well, I'm sure feelin' the love!  There was just enough fiber (Lion Brand Organic Cotton! handspun!) to remind us that we're knitters, and just enough chocolate that I'm happy without guilt, but the theme for this swap was "In The Garden" and oh, my word, that "Treasure Box for My Garden" is so totally awesome... and it was only the beginning.  That little spade is actually a brooch, and the potted succulent is a candle, and there were so many special touches...  I can say "thank you" over and over, 'til I'm blue in the face, and it still doesn't express my... thanks.

One of the best parts is that this is a swap -- so I get to send something back!  The best part about gifts is giving!  I can't wait to finish my package for Lynne and send it off!!  There's just a tiny bit more to do on my project and I'm aiming to have it in the mail on the weekend.

In other news, it's Knit Night and I should be able to finish off one of my Fixations... the first footie.  I love it!  Tonight I'll find out if I can kitchener and talk at the same time.

Did I mention that Maddy got a speeding ticket on Saturday?  That was quick, huh?  It was a bit of a speed trap, but whatever... she was speeding and now she pays.  She's the first of my children to display -- get caught displaying -- a lead foot.  I have a little bit of one; my mother definitely does.  Mom used to be a surgical nurse and had to take call quite often -- many of her speeding tickets came going to or fro in the wee hours.  One time, stopped after a particularly long and rough night, she complained to the officer about his flashing lights, said that they were making her nauseous, and asked if he'd turn them off...

Go tell my girl Wendy a moving story... she needs some of that misery-loves-company lovin'.

18 June 2007

Post haste

Mad6_11)  It was supposed to be Madeleine (a near-lifelong fan, see "first day of pre-K" photo at right) in the audience with her grandparents for last night's closing performance of The Lion King.  Instead, at the last minute, it was Madeleine in the audience with her big sister Kate and ME!  "Lucky us," is all I can say about that (and "Hope you're feeling better, Joe!").  What a fantastic show -- costumes, set, music.  Also like old friends -- Mufasa, Zazu, Rafiki, Simba and Nala, even Scar and his troupe -- to someone like me, with kids the same ages as mine.  And I know it's all about the lions, but I couldn't get enough of the giraffes.  Awesome.

2)  Katie said that she has served coffee to and chatted with Zazu and other members of the cast and crew during the show's six-week run in our area.

Swap13) There were gifts in the mail late last week -- my Special Swap package from Lynne.  I knew my package was going to arrive early, on account of Lynne's big move, and I thought I'd just let it tantalize me for a couple of weeks, but then I saw all the Priority Mail stickers and figured that if the mailing was a priority then so, too, should be the opening.  Voila and surprise -- I have been swapped silly!  Don't worry, I'll share all the wonderfulness of Lynne and her knack for the gift -- you can get a sneak peek here -- but time's up for today.

16 June 2007

Don't look at me that way

Dsc00595Yes.  I did wind up yarn for socks before going up north -- in fact, just to be safe, secure and prepared, I wound up some Artyarns Merino 4 in addition to the Koigu.  The Koigu is from my visit to Yellow Dog Knitting in Eau Claire one Sunday last September, and the Artyarns is from a wonderful trip to The Knitting Room in Fond du Lac before tha... or, no, I think the Artyarns was from Temptations Needlework when we went to Sturgeon Bay (oh yeah, there it is, I even blogged about it).  No matter which way you link to it, I've had both of those yarns for quite a while.  Did I start socks with either of them?

No.  This is a brand new, never-before-on-the-radar sock started with brand new yarn!  They are Tootsie's Footsies (free PDF) in the Anklet version (all one color) made from Cascade Fixation.

Maybe so.  Notice the PICOT cuff?  I love it -- and the manner in which it's done... and hopefully I'll do it in just that manner when I get to the second sock.  The pattern instructs to cast on... knit... knit some more... yo, k2tog around... knit... knit... then turn the provisional cast-on to the inside...  HuhProvisional cast on???  (This is where reading ahead -- if not the whole pattern, at least a little bit -- comes in handy.)

I did indeed do a provisional cast on, using a crocheted chain and it was slick like -- slick stuff -- except that it's very important, when joining into a round, to pay attention and do it in such a manner so that when "unzipping" commences, it will progress in the same direction as the knitting.  Um, yeah, mine was set to upzip the other way.  So I unzipped and threaded waste yarn through the stitches and then knit off that, but it would be SO SLICK to knit each live stitch as it's unzipped.  And I will.

I purchased the Fixation at the Knitter's Nook in Minocqua, the last of my three northwoods vacation yarn stops.  It's a very quaint, small shop on the ground floor of a little house, right around the corner and off the main drag downtown.  The customer service was great and, for a small shop, there was a very good selection of fine, quality yarns.

I also visited the Yarn Barn/Charms 'n Such in Phillips.  The selection of yarn was... well, mostly Red Heart/acrylic and not what I'm after (though we all know there is a place and a purpose for the Red Heart -- and no one ever made it look so good) and, to be perfectly honest, the Yarn Barn is not purely a "knitting" store.  What they did have was a fantastic selection of tools for a lot of different crafts -- including knitting -- very good to know.  I would have purchased the DPNs I needed for the Wee Wallaby (the yarn and pattern for which also accompanied me and was also, basically, untouched, along with the sewing machine, but that's neither here nor there), had I not already purchased them at...

Hidden Talents in Woodruff (also part of that earlier "Minocqua" link) on the day we arrived.  Hidden Talents was very, very small, but incredibly well stocked with good, basic yarn and plenty of extras.  I think the shop owner is very in touch with her clientele and what they want.

I've added the new Wisconsin shop links to the sidebar.  I may fluff up that list and make it into a separate blog page (anyone try Typepad's new "pages" feature?).  I'll be heading back to the northland, on another fiber frolic, at least once more this summer -- in late July.  If anyone is in (or can be in) or around the Hurley area (I know, it's WAY up north), let's talk...

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Today marked the start of our local farmer's markets.  I have so far enjoyed strawberries with some cheese, and there will be salad with supper!  I've got plenty of sugar snap peas from the pergola, too!  Mmmm, yummy white Irish cheddar from Nala's fromagerie.

14 June 2007

Re-entry

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There's a reason why I don't often stay away from work for more than 4-5 days at a time... I'm not so good at the re-entry.  It's going to be apparent even more later today because, for some reason -- for the first time in quite a while -- I was wide awake at 3:00 a.m. (well, I know the reason -- I woke up to go to the bathroom -- but I could not get back to sleep).  I knew it, too; the minute I woke up, I could tell I'd be awake for a while.  My alarm is set for 5:15, but having had enough of the tossing and turning, I finally got up and checked my email (of which there's been very little lately, of course) at 4:30.  I crawled back into bed at 4:55, warmed up (it's really been heating up during the day, but cooling off at night) and waited for the alarm to go off while DH rubbed my back and neck and shoulders (that was the good part, but even so, overall, this whole thing is probably going to start sucking big-time in a little while).

Jack_in_pulpitScrabble

A good time was had by all in a Little House (my uncle's log cabin) in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.  It's not really Laura's "Big Woods," but it's close enough for me.  We took some walks (I nearly sprained an ankle the first time out, looking at baby ducks instead of where I was going) and some pictures, went canoeing (power-paddle!), dinked around in some nearby towns, had lunch at "Jumbo's," cooked over an open fire, read, knit, crocheted, played cards and Scrabble, sketched, listened to the quiet... and the loons.  Maddy and I got very close to a pair of loons in the canoe.  So cool.

I haven't knit a stitch since... I don't know when.  I even went to Knit Night on Tuesday night without anything to do.  I just drank iced (decaf at that time of day) coffee and chatted (I wasn't the only one, either... there might be something in the air).  I will be knitting soon enough, though.  At the very least, I will be working on any one of the 16 swatches required for Level I of the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program, the materials for which arrived via email today.  My LYS, Iris Fine Yarns, is hosting an "interest group" which will meet a couple of times a month, and several members of the Knit Night group are also attending.  I'm very excited about this and looking forward to the challenge -- learning more and improving my knitting.

I visited three northwoods yarn shops and have a story or two or three to share -- when I'm a little more with it.

08 June 2007

Gone Fishin'

I have been spending a lot of time at the fabric store lately, considering that I've actually done very little sewing.  I was there again yesterday.  Mom needed to go.  I did need needles for my machine.

Dsc00511The red swatches have been put away for now.  I still haven't started with the Monkey business, but on the list of things to do today is winding yarn...

I've been wishing lately that I could hibernate -- or at least put the blinders on, tune out, and take some time to recharge.  I'm doing the next-best thing and heading up north for a few days.  I don't really plan to fish... though I could.  I plan to listen to the quiet.  Gaze at the water.  Watch the sky.  And knit.  Maybe sew.  And do some other crafty stuff.  And cook.  And take a walk everyday.

I must be prepared for all moods of fiber fancy that may strike, of course, so I'm winding up some Linen (for a Mason-Dixon towel that may be a gift), some Koigu (for Monkey -- can you believe I've never knit with Koigu?), packing some Mission Falls Cotton (can you say "Wee Wallaby"?), and also the colorful stealth knitting shown above (which might actually be finished prior to departure).

Y'all have a great week and I'll be back on Tuesday... or Wednesday... or maybe even Thursday.

07 June 2007

Nefertiti at the door, bearing tomatoes

I have the best neighbors.  I just got back from a walk with the dog -- it's been a busy day, but I had to get the walk in before the storm (which I've been awaiting all the live-long day) hits -- and along the way, I picked up a neighbor lady.  Because she was along, both Mickey and I ended up walking around the block a couple times more than usual -- which is GREAT!

I used to get up early a few mornings a week to go walking with this neighbor -- I recall that she still had one of five in a stroller at the time who often joined us -- so it was kind of nice to walk with her and catch up.  We used to hit the road at about the time I now get up to get ready for work -- I don't even want to think about what time I'd have to get up in order to fit in a morning walk.  I will admit that lately, I've been thinking that I really should think about it and come up with a number and maybe I could get used to the idea.  Anyway, she lives around the corner and a couple blocks down and I almost always go by her house when I walk the dog, and I told her that I think about knocking on the door sometimes to see if she'd like to tag along and she said, "Do it!"  It's so much nicer when there's someone to do it with.  Yay!

I invited her to come see/sit in the pergola for a bit and she complimented the pea-growing and offered up some of her surplus tomatoes, particularly for when the peas have finished, or perhaps to plant in pots as I did last year.  She said that one of her daughters started way too many seeds and she doesn't keep a garden plot in the country anymore and, really, I'd be doing her a favor.  How many would I like?  She'll send them over...

A very short while later (such service!), the doorbell rang and it was Nefertiti at the door, bearing tomatoes...

You see, this child (when she was a child -- now she's a teenager) figures into my most favorite Halloween memory (there aren't many because it isn't my most favorite "holiday") and it pleases me to remember it whenever I can...

"Trick-or-Treat!!"  I opened the door to find a 7-year-old astronaut and his Egyptian-looking sister, along with another two or three sisters, at the door.  I chit-chatted and doled out the goodies and when I came to the astronaut, he turned his back on me, instructing me to deposit said goodies into the "air pack" on his back.  I was utterly speechless at the cleverness of those paper-wrapped and bound Pringles containers, an integral part of the costume which (this is the best part) also featured hands-free candy collection!!  I could tell that his sister, the Egyptian one, wasn't too impressed with the astronaut stuff -- actually, she just wanted some attention for her very clever costume and she's the sweetest thing you'd ever meet, so, in the interest of equality and not begrudging at all, I asked about her.  She stood up very tall and looked me, with her big brown eyes, straight in the eye, and with just the slightest toss of the head, in the sweetest, most regal voice a 7-year-old can muster (if you can imagine it -- she really pulled it off), she said, "I am Queen Nefertiti."

Oh my.

Dsc00508Nefertiti did not bring me any old sad-sack tomatoes -- she has bestowed on me two Black From Tula (a Russian heirloom), an Amish Paste (another heirloom), and a Miracle Sweet.  I am so happy!!  (And I love how "Black From Tula" rolls off the tongue, not to mention "Nefertiti.")

Dsc00509One of them even has a flower already!

So, it's 7:30 p.m. and other than some on-and-off wind, a few rolls of thunder, and 30 seconds of rain... not much for a storm.  Not that I want a storm... well, actually, yes I do.  I love a good thunderstorm.  The storm watches and warnings are effective statewide, I hear, until midnight.  Every high school graduation in the area that was to take place tonight -- and there were many -- has been postponed.  Katie just called to say that she picked up an extra few hours on Saturday because now all the high school kids are scrambling to rearrange their work schedules so they don't have to a) work during graduation or b) work during graduation parties or c) work too early on the morning after graduation and those parties.

In other news, I have completely caught up -- re-entering all the data lost in my Quicken files since the last good backup which was in early October!  I didn't get dressed until 2:00 this afternoon to do it, but it's done!

06 June 2007

Ta-da

PergolapeasLook what I found!  Sweet little baby pea pods... in the pergola!  There really and truly are peas in the pergola -- not just seedlings or sprouts or flowers -- real, actual peas!  I've never planted any kind of pea before, so I planted two varieties -- both sugar snap peas -- this one's a little shorter and started flowering earlier (hence the early pods).  I daresay we shall soon have a harvest!

Munch, crunch, munch.  I think most of them will get eaten right off the vine -- at first, anyway.

It's Wednesday, is it not?  It's kind of a Random Wednesday and I'm at work when I'm usually not and it's as good a time as any for a random kid update.

Maddy just called me, beside herself because "Guitar Hero" just arrived and wondering if she could hook it up to the big TV (the one that for a few minutes last night was sound accompanied by a bright, horizontal line, so -- yeah -- it's on its last leg).  She was up very early this morning, considering that it's Day Two of Summer Vacation, off to school to see about making some changes to next year's schedule.  She's been making good use of that new driver's license, also.

I had to stop and see Alison -- at the tattoo parlor -- last night.  The second wing is well underway (so she won't be flying in circles anymore).  I've got to tell you, it's been quite a while now and I've even considered getting my own (still considering), but it still makes me catch my breath sometimes.  It was quite a leap, for one thing -- from having one word tattooed on the inside of her wrist to big, full-blown wings on her back -- on her whole back.  Forever.  (This, Stephanie, is the kind of thing that can happen when you're the mother of headstrong, independent, creative, beautiful, live-life-to-the-fullest, it's-all-or-nothing, no-holds-barred adult children.)  No returns.  Ali is going on her first blind date tonight.  Bowling.  With the roommate of a co-worker.  Bowling.  It makes me grin from ear-to-ear to think of it.  My grandpa was a fantastic bowler, but I'm not so sure it's in the genes.

Katie is gettin' downright giddy.  First, my stepdad replaced the alternator in her car, and did some other troubleshooting, so now her car is running better than it ever has and she's pumped.  (I have got to take that girl to a car show -- we'd have a blast.)  She's getting so excited about moving to Madison in August -- she loves her new neighborhood (the one where the nearby elementary school has compost bins and little classroom gardens -- no milk carton bean sprouts there!); her work transfer request went smoothly and she even visited there and met the manager last weekend; she's back on track with the long-term plan and finishing school is the first thing.  So cool.

It dawned on me recently that there will be an empty room when Katie moves and I've got plans.  It's actually not the best room in the house for a bedroom, anyway, but it will make a mighty nice... um... I hesitate to call it a fiber room or yarn room or sewing room... it will make a nice Vicki Room.

So then, while I was upstairs cleaning out the closet and looking around in that room -- most recently occupied by Alison, but occupied over time by all three girls and even, when Maddy was wee, all three at once -- it occurred to me that it might also soon be empty.  It's kind of empty now, in that no one actually sleeps there every night and except for all the stuff -- all the stuff which is wide and varied in nature since all three girls have occupied that room at various times from infancy to young adulthood.  Alison might move back for a while in the fall, but experience has shown (and I have learned) that I shall not be holding my breath, but I will be going with the flow (and, besides, I'll then be occupied with the Vicki Room).

It occurred to me that I could very well be standing in the middle of what might be used as a Guest Room.

I could have guests!  Who wants to come over?  Do I need to get bunk beds?  I'll let you know when I can start taking reservations.  ; )  This could be another benefit to having adult children.  It still smarts, that some of the most fun parts have gone by so quickly and I wasn't ready yet, but it's time to move on, look forward.  (Someday, I might even have two Guest Rooms.  I could even have a B&B!)

Lily1 Lily2

The actual knitting has been so very, very pitiful around here, but not for lack of inspiration.  My Lily of the Valley Smoke Ring kit from Wooly Wonka Fibers arrived the other day.  That could help get the needles going.  ; )

05 June 2007

By the light of an overcast morn

Swatch2 Swatch3

That's Rowan Summer Tweed worked in the "Double Wing, Openwork Version," and the mish-mash swatch (with "Vine Lace" and "Pebble Stitch") in Ultra Silk that I mentioned yesterday.

Swatch1At right, the two, unblocked "Double Wing" swatches -- interesting in that they're both worked over the same number of stitches on the same size needle -- the Summer Tweed version does have two extra rows (between the second and third repeats -- I just wanted to see what would happen).  These yarns are quite different and it's fun to play around with them.  The Ultra Silk feels wonderful -- it's so soft and drapes nicely, and it's got some spring -- it'll be interesting to see how this swatch blocks and behaves.  The Summer Tweed, on the other hand, has no spring at all!

I don't think the Ultra Silk is shown to best advantage in a small, all-over textured pattern such as "Pebble Stitch," either.  I like it in the two other patterns, and I'll bet cables would really pop!

That's what I've been playing around with on the needles.

Beans1 Beans2

Beans are sprouting already!  You know what comes to mind when I see a bean sprouting like that?  Milk cartons -- the windowsills in our classroom (anywhere from kindergarten to third or fourth grade) jam-packed with 'em -- hoping and praying that there would be germination by the time it was Mother's Day!

I got out and took these pics in the nick of time because -- ugh -- it's raining again!

04 June 2007

Let's make this quick!

LlamabuttMonday's are not good...  In a nutshell, most of my weekend plans were usurped by the almost-two-year-old pictured at right.  In fact, Mack is so close to two that we even had celebratory birthday cake!  We played cars and bulldozed some dried beans and played with a bunch of rocks and sang songs and just had fun!  I was absolutely tickled that he was sporting the llama shirt that I bought at Rhinebeck last year.  He was being a goofball, and the best pic I got of the shirt was the llama butt side.

It was a mostly rainy, crappy weekend weather-wise, so let's not talk about that.

I did manage to get my Quicken file reconstructed into March, so there's only April, May and the tiny bit of June left to go.  Believe you me, I've made some manual backups along the way.

Before the little guy came, I did my craft/fabric/hobby store run and that was a lot of fun.  I didn't do a darn thing with it -- except wash some denim that I bought for the vest pattern, neither of which was even on my radar -- but I'm ready.  After reading Julia's recent post, I also picked up some sewing machine oil and that will be done before anything else!

Yeah, once that machine gets going again, there's the bag to finish, a batik print top to sew, and now a denim vest!

I finished the Ultra Silk swatch -- I did several repeats of the "Vine Lace" pattern, then a little stockinette, then I buckled down and figured out the "pebble stitch" described in the original pattern, then a little more stockinette.  I started the "Double Wing, Openwork Version" using the Summer Tweed last night.  I've never used Summer Tweed -- I think I like it!

That's the weekend recap, except I think our TV is starting to go.  "Oceans Eleven" had some "texture" the other night.  And I'm hoping for improvement in the weather this week -- so.very.tired of the rain.

02 June 2007

One small step

Dsc00404Maddy did indeed use the car last night!  She made a special mix CD to play for the occasion, too.  I don't recognize the names of most of the songs, but have heard them all.  I'm listening to "Thriller" right now (damn, he sure had it once, didn't he?), and I see that the affinity for "New Shoes" runs in the family.  ; )

In Wisconsin, the first nine months as a licensed driver is a probationary period and there are restrictions.  Maddy will only be able to drive alone between 5 a.m. and 12 a.m. unless it's to home, school or work; she can only have one* of her peers as a passenger; and if she has two or more moving violations, points lost are doubled.

*This is the one I can really get behind -- there are too many In Memoriam names in my high school yearbooks, most of them victims of car accidents, often multiple fatalities from one crash -- three, five at a time.  Can you imagine?  It's been 30+ years since those losses occurred and I still get choked up -- now, with the added perspective of a mother.

I have been grappling with my feelings about cleaning out the closet and what it means and my adult children and newly licensed driver child and their growing independence -- sometimes effervescent -- Katie's off to Madison today to meet the property manager and her future roommate to sign a rental agreement -- it's all good, but man, sometimes it makes my head spin.

Dsc00407 Dsc00405

The watched peonies are opening ever-so-slowly.  So worth the wait!  And both varieties of sugar snap peas are now sporting flowers.  That reminds me... I'm going to have to string up some supports for the beans soon.

Special_swap_1This weekend, during my breaks from reconstructing my Quicken files from the pitiful last backup in October, I'll be working on a couple of projects I have in mind for the "Special Swap" masterminded by Lynne.  This is my first time as a Special Swap participant and it couldn't be more fun.  The theme this time is "In The Garden" and my swap partner is Lynne, herself!  I'll admit that I was first very excited about that, then a little nervous (it's Lynne), but I'm back on track and having a blast bringing all my ideas and things together.

I also plan a trip to one or more hobby/craft/fabric/yarn emporiums for, among other things, the necessary bits and bobs to finish my Larger Than Life Bag!

Dsc00408 Dsc00411 Dsc00413

And there's been knitting!!  It's been hot here this past week -- too hot to knit -- and if it hasn't been hot, then it's been sticky and/or damp -- too sticky and/or damp to knit!!

What in the world is WITH me, though, that I haven't awakened in the middle of the night BECAUSE I was HOT ever since it GOT HOT?

I also was totally swept away by Craft in America a few nights ago -- what a great series -- and it was especially interesting to see Wisconsin artists, Dona Look and Ken Loeber, featured.

Anyway, a while back, I brought home some Berroco Ultra Silk and Rowan Summer Tweed to swatch for my Vintage 1959 Vogue #33-inspired project.  I started out with the Ultra Silk, trying to do the "pebble stitch" described in the pattern and a) I didn't get it and b) it seemed kind of fiddly.  I pulled out my Barbara G. Walker "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns" book (a wonderful find that DH bought at the library for no more than $1 one day after it had been "withdrawn" from said institution) and didn't find a "pebble stitch" listed, so paged through with my little sticky notes, flagging possibilites -- none of which resemble pebbles at all.

On the left is a "Vine Lace" swatch underway.  It's a very simple 9-stitch, 4-row repeat.  The two on the right are "Double Wing, Openwork Version" -- it's the same pattern used for Monkey (minus the last knit round/row), which is so funny because I've begun to sense that "monkey on my back," even printing out the pattern the other day, yet I haven't pulled out the sock needles (probably feeling guilty about the three -- at least -- WIP pairs of socks somewhere around here).

I need to finish, then block; knit something with the Summer Tweed and do the same; then consider the possibilites -- which may end up looking nothing like the original #33, but I guess that's where the "inspired by" part comes in.  I love working with the Ultra Silk -- it actually reminds me a lot of Rowan Calmer, but even softer and without Calmer's tendency to sometimes split.

01 June 2007

My pretties

Iris Peony_bud

That's what's become of the iris bud I posted a little while back.  Does a watched peony bud bloom?

Peony_2 Peony_1

They're working on it.  I believe I'll have a total of five.  I'm picky about pink -- this one's a keeper.

Maddy takes her driver's road test this morning.  Fingers crossed!!

ETA:  She passed!!  She wants to borrow the car tonight!

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