Previous month:
December 2006
Next month:
February 2007

Marj and Janus

You may have been following the saga of Marge and Janice elsewhere, but I've got the scoop -- and the real thing!

It's my mom's birthday today!  Her name was Marge when I was growing up and Margie before I knew her, but it's been MARJ for quite a while now.  She didn't like the way her mom spelled her given name, so adopted a new and improved spelling on her own sometime in grade school (and has obviously played around a little with the short version, as well).  It wasn't until 1974, when she was a full-time college student in addition to mother of five, and in need of a passport for a trip to Russia that it caught up with her and she had to have her given name legally changed.  Her birthday is the last day (endings) of the first month (beginnings), which, of course, is where JANUS comes in.

Are you with me?

Among her birthday presents, Marj learned that she will be a grandma again -- and Mack will be a sibling and I will be an aunt again!!  It's the most exciting news we've heard 'round these parts in quite some time.  The baby is due in August -- on my dad's birthday, no less -- and that's pretty freaky-cool, too.

We -- Mom, Katie and I -- went out for birthday lunch today at a great, new Italian restaurant, and were joined by my brother Michael and his best friend Paul.  We got to know Paul a lot better last year, under circumstances we hope never to experience again, but we just don't see him as much now, so it was extra-nice.

Mike and his wife are going to Milwaukee at the end of next month to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert.  Mike's a huge fan and also a bass player -- he refers to his playing these days as "rehab" -- and Flea is the standard to which he aspires.  He used to play out in a band, with Paul and Paul's brother, and they had an impromptu get-together last night to see how it would go.  (It went fine -- they were rusty, but it was good.)  Anyway, the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert is on the anniversary of Michael's accident and it seemed like a really good way to celebrate... well, to celebrate life -- that Michael is alive and able to go to a concert by his favorite band!  Music has always meant so much to him, and this is pretty cool.  I'm working on ideas for something special from his sisters to make it an even more memorable night for them.

* * * * * * * *

Weblatvianproject1It's been -- what, a month or so? -- and I still end up humming Walk Like An Egyptian every time I try to think of a name for my Latvian Mitten Knit-along/Get-together.  Not only that, but Aerosmith's Walk This Way and King Tut, by Steve Martin and The Toot Uncommons, and have also elbowed into my brain.  I just can't shake it.  So, there you have it, the Knit Like A Latvian knit-along button -- the banner even references the soundtrack.  Has there been a knit-along with a soundtrack before?  ; )  The astute among you might notice that the Egyptian mascot is wearing my North Star Mittens, which are decidedly Scandinavian, but they do have a Latvian braid as they were a long-ago "warm up" project for the Latvian project that's set to commence.  I had to use what I had on hand, you know?


Are you still with me?  ; )

Argh.  I'm going to have to fix the stupid button and banner so they're not transparent, but I just can't do it now.  Bear with me, it's been nutso around here.

Knitter, know thy gauge

Dsc09625It only took a few rows of mulling things over with Calorimetry before I came to the conclusion that I need to know my gauge before going any further with the picking of a Latvian mitten pattern.  Yeah, I know, it's in every pattern and in every book and everywhere, and also right there in THE Book ("Latvian Mittens" by Joyce Upitis), where I've seen it countless times, pp 16-17, in both English and Latvian (how could I have missed it?):  General Techniques -- 1) Use wool, 2) Strive for balance, 3) KNOW YOUR GAUGE, 4) Correct your mistakes (i.e., RIP!).

I know.  Somehow, I even dared refer to myself as a knitter to another as recently as last Sunday over coffee.  The knitting of the gauge swatch is just not a natural, second-nature thing, no matter how many times it's hammer, hammer, hammered it into my head.  My experience over the weekend -- three tries, three different needle sizes, no luck -- drilled the lesson home pretty good.  (Any bets on how long the lesson sticks?)

Dsc09627So, last night, I took my desired yarn (Jaeger Matchmaker Merino) and desired needles (1US bamboo) and cast on 48 stitches.  I started out in one color, did a little two-color, practiced with a braid, continued on in one color, and will do a more complicated two- or even three-color bit before calling it finished -- I'd like to see how the three colors look knit up in different combinations.  That last bit was done tonight and so far, I'm getting 9-10 stitches to the inch -- and that's good.  I can work very well with that.  Ack, the red's not that bright and hopefully daylight will help make a better/more true photo.

At this time last year, many of us were beginning to "train" in earnest for our Knitting Olympics events -- remember?  I kind of feel like that now.  Last year, I was on the USA Cable Team.  If there were Olympics this year, I'd definitely be on the Latvian Mitten Team (was there a LMT last year?).  Alas, a few more years before we even have to worry about teams and events... still, I can't help but think of it.  Athletes train and compete every year, of course; smaller stage, smaller venues, step-by-step -- many, hopefully, leading to the Olympics.  Knitters, too?  I'm not ready to throw down and say I'll have a pair of mittens in 16 days, but I'll definitely be thinking about it, and about the Olympics coming up in a few years.  Maybe the mitts will be training for my future event of... what... Latvian DreamsGiant Latvian Mitten Cardigan (scroll down, it's Wool Gathering 67)?

Weekend Highlights

On Saturday, I was pretty much busy 'round home.  Katie did drag me to the Y.  I walked a couple of laps around the track and then started to feel my shin splints, so I changed my equipment sign-up, from treadmill to recumbent bike and pedalled for 10 miles.  It really felt good -- a much better workout than I've been getting on the treadmill.  My got my heart rate up, I broke a bit of a sweat, I worked -- something I really haven't been able to do because of the shin splints slowing me down.

Dsc09624The biggest highlight of my weekend came yesterday when I met Purling Oaks Angie at a nearby coffee shop.  Angie and I are practically twins, with birthdays only two days apart!  I don't know if I've ever known anyone before with a birthday so close to mine.  We gabbed for over two hours  I brought Williamsro, knowing that it's on Angie's To-Do list and figuring she'd like to see it in person.  Also, I said as we met, "If I wear and sweater and carry a sweater, you'd pretty much know I'm the knitter, right?"  We talked about blogging -- the fun, the weirdness, the inspiration!  We talked about knitting -- but didn't knit a single stitch!  We talked about all sorts of stuff.  I think it pretty likely that we'll get together again -- in my neighborhood or hers.  ; )

On the way home, I delivered a ball of Cascade Pastazza to my mom so she can mend a hole in one of the Log Cabin Socks I knit for my stepdad for Christmas last year, and reinforce the other.  I asked to see said socks and OMG, it's a HUGE GAPING HOLE.  Some of the stitches on the other sock consist of three fine hairs -- they're not plies or strands or fibers, they're very fine HAIRS -- one more step and I'm sure they'll give.  I shook my finger at my stepdad and told him that the Log Cabin Socks are NOT for WALKING ON THE TREADMILL!  That's why God made walking shoes, for crying out loud.  It is very nice to know that he loves the socks that much, though.  I know he wears them a lot.  ; )  You know I'd MUCH rather he wear them out than not wear them at all.  Anyway, Mom will do her best at mending/darning, but another option is to make them into suede-soled slippers.

I know you know how happy I was to see Eddie (James "Thunder" Early) Murphy and Jennifer (Effie) Hudson collect a SAG Awards last night for their Dreamgirls performances, and that Julie Andrews was honored for lifetime achievement.  I actually Woo-hoo'd and pumped my fist in the air when they announced Eddie's name -- in much the same manner as I cheer for a Packer touchdown.  I'm sure the girls think I've slipped a little more off my rocker.  ; )  I love Chandra Wilson and her acceptance speech was wonderful -- and I couldn't help but realize this morning that three of the four actress awards went to women who could "thank their skin and nose and height and arms" and the other went to a woman with beautiful wrinkles.  ; )  I was thrilled to see the cast of Mary Tyler Moore -- especially Betty White (you know I love her) and Cloris Leachman and Valerie Harper -- oh, they all looked FANTASTIC!  Does this happen to anyone else:  Whenever I hear Jeremy Irons' voice, I can't help but picture "Scar"; it doesn't matter what he's doing, I see a lion.

Mittens.  After casting on three times with the Matchmaker -- starting with 2US needles, then 1US, then 0US (I don't even know why I have those) -- it has been determined that I shall have to shop for a pattern other than Graph 75 if I want to use the Matchmaker.  And I do.  So I paged through the book, counting stitches in charts, considering number of colors used, etc., and narrowed it down to one (or a combo or an adaptation) of these:  Chart 15, 54, 51, 97, 95, 108, 113, or 124 (which I've circled, so must favor).  I started a third Calorimetry while I mull things over.  Seems to be the mulling thing to do.

Finally, I saw that it was on this date in 1985 that We Are The World was recorded.  I still love that song and still have my record.  ; )


Mary Poppins (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), Help! (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Jungle Book (1967) -- even South Pacific (1958) -- all play prominent roles in shaping my taste in both music and movies.

While South Pacific and I were both born the same year, it is somewhat before my time in terms of consciousness -- and it was actually many years before I saw the movie -- but there's always been a connection.  I think it's because the album cover was seared into my brain practically at birth and it made a big impression on me -- the romance, longing and passion in that picture was palpable, and I could almost hear them singing.  I kind of have the same thing with Dean Martin's Volare -- not to be confused with Plymouth's Volare, though that does make an appearance in "the story of my life" (Brenda's, 1976, baby blue) -- which, I'm told, was very popular when I was in utero and I must have "heard" it on the radio and mom humming and/or singing along, and that has to be why I've always just inherently known that song.  (One of my nephews has the exact same thing with Chumbawumba's Tubthumper.)

The '60s and '70s were my formative years and there's no doubt that Julie Andrews, The Beatles, Walt Disney, and Rodgers and Hammerstein all left their mark.

I do love a musical, on stage or screen.

Of course I watched The Wizard of Oz every year as a kid, but it wasn't until the early '70s, and my first viewing of Show Boat (1951) that I really fell -- hook, line and sinker -- for musicals.  The crappy, dark, cloudy, formatted-for-TV version (ours was a portable b&w) did nothing to lessen the impact of Ol' Man River, Ava Gardner, and Howard Keel on me.  Add Shirley Temple, Fred & Ginger, Oklahoma! -- Elvis -- to the favored movie mix, and you might be able to imagine how I felt about Funny Girl (1968), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), A Star is Born (1976)...

Dreamgirls (2006), which I saw last night.

Sure, a musical is hokey -- so is Star Trek, in my opinion, but I'm still a huge fan -- and this one seemed to start out as a "regular" movie with songs and then turn into a musical (where a song is actually dialogue).  I am willing to make allowances and suspend reality, to get lost in the music (or space) -- in the feeling and emotion conveyed in a song.

The results of a personality test I recently took (from a fairly reliable online source, if there is such a thing) were straight down the middle.  It said that I should not be alarmed or worried about that result, that sometimes it happens when there's a lot of stress or change, when someone is stretched to the limit, trying to be everything to everyone (who, me?)... just come back and try again another time.  So, I guess it didn't really surprise me that I cried during the movie -- I was kind of surprised by how much, though, and that I cried so hard all the way home.  It was a lot like when I saw Freaky Friday.  I was thinking about my daughters... it was Magic's fault.

If Jennifer Hudson isn't signed for another movie or recording something RIGHT NOW, there's something wrong in the world.  Eddie Murphy is absolutely FANTASTIC -- I really got a kick out of his costumes (the crocheted cap! the blue velvet suit!).  Beyonce was a very pleasant surprise.

Take the money and run...

...straight to the LYS!

Dsc09623 Dsc09622

Dsc09621I did win the baby pool at work on Tuesday!  Yesterday, with my winnings stuffed in my pocket and a gift certificate from Christmas, I stopped at the LYS to see if I could add to my Dale Baby Ull color selection -- what I've got is decidedly baby-ish -- I was specifically looking for a deeper red, a deeper green, a nice gold and/or tan -ish and/or brown.  I found a light gray and a deeper red, but the brown looked like poop and there was neither a nice gold (or even yellow) nor a good, deep green.  Meanwhile, I fondled some Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4-ply, pondering a little mix-and-match action, and I could not let go.  I brought home the three skeins at far right -- a nice, deep green as well as a lovely sage-gray, and an even nicer red.

Now, I've been paging through Latvian Mittens quite a bit lately, considering patterns and colors -- what I've got versus what I might need.  I am always drawn toward the two-color designs and, while no less Latvian than their more colorful counterparts, I do want to knit a pair with more than two colors.  Plate 11f barely qualifies as three-color, but I haven't been able to get it out of my head and now I think the Jaeger combo has pretty much sealed the deal and that's what they want to be.  I'm going to peruse and ponder for a few more days, all but declaring my intentions, "matchmaking" with 11f and the Jaeger.  At least for the first pair...

I can't imagine what this shop owner thinks, first I'm buying sock yarn to satisfy a bet lost on a football game with Kathy, and now spending money won in a baby pool.  Next thing you know, I'll be getting a game of craps going behind the shop, fleecing the elegant, upper-crust clientele of yarn money so I can get my wool fix.  Heheheh, get it?  Fleecing...for wool?  I'm sorry, here's the part where I'm making myself laugh.  Snort.  I'm absolutely, positively joking, of course; it's a very friendly shop, one of my favorites, and I love the owner, but it is swankier than most.  I'm just doing my part for the low-life knitters.

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned" -- from The Color of Money

Happy Birthday!!

Today, my nose is back to the other grindstone.  Someday (soon, I hope) this madness should end...

Meanwhile, I have been doing more un-knitting -- the red Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere that's been tied up with the Tivoli/Picovoli T for way, way too long has been returned to the skein.  It was still "Tivoli" when I began, and I was knitting it during my first knitting-related trip to NYC!  I'm not sure I could pull off that T these days (I don't think I was sure even then), cute as it is, and I love the yarn, but not how it was knitting up for this project.

Gotta run, but first, gotta say "Hey"...

Happy Birthday, Ann!! Happy Birthday, Jan!!

Paging through the birthday book

Dsc09590_1Dsc09592 Dsc09593

I found this little thing at a sale last year -- it appeals to me because a) it is an old book, b) with color illustrations, c) with handwritten names (some erasures, as well), d) it's for boys and girls, and e) it's awfully cute.

Dsc09594Dsc09595January is a big month for celebrating, starting off with a bang!  When I read that quote for the 1st, one small change came to mind:

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives... CARA!

My baby sister's birthday is today (and also Truman H's)!  It just does not seem possible that she's... as old as she is!  Happy Birthday, Annie!

A newborn is scheduled to make his appearance today (if he hasn't already decided on his own) that will make me the winner of an office baby pool (the winnings of which are traditionally split with mum).

Tomorrow... well, another small change comes to mind:

A dreary place would this earth be,
Were there no... ANN!

My mother's birthday is on the 31st, winding up the month.  She's actually got a trifecta, celebrating her birthday and anniversary on that date, as well as their first date -- which always seems more beneficial to her husband, having to remember only one date instead of three.

Dsc09620To be honest, I don't recall, exactly, my first date with my hubby.  (We don't have a song, either.)  (Uh-oh, will I have my marriage taken away?)  I could probably figure it out if I looked at a calendar... it was October, I know that much, and I do remember where.  I don't know what I wore, except for the boots...  Why I ever had cowboy boots in the first place, and wore them in the second place, is beyond me (it was the '80s... Urban Cowboy influence), but they're memorable because, well, have you ever tried walking the beach at extreme low tide in cowboy boots?  Trust me, you'd remember.  Do you recall your first date?

White weekend*

ETA:  It's Cara's fault... she commented on our cuteness and I remembered that I had a picture I was saving for just such an occasion as this (see below)...

ETA II:  To add pattern details about the Rib Warmer.

Dsc09601 Dsc09602 Dsc09618_1

Unlike Norma, my all-white meal wasn't so on purpose.  I'm really pretty awful at the meal planning most of the time and all I knew at the outset was that I would make scalloped potatoes and ham.  Yeah, well, so that's pretty much all I focused on and it wasn't until I was placing it on the table that I realized I didn't make anything else!  I quickly warmed up some frozen green beans for hubby and the girls, but I'd spotted the neighboring cauliflower in the freezer and that's what I had!  A white meal to go with our white day -- it snowed, at varying rates, almost all day.

One of the secrets to making a good roux and then sauce, I've found, is to have all the ingredients measured, mixed, and ready -- the flour and seasonings combined.  (I did think THAT far ahead, at least.)  The last-minute getting the milk out of the fridge and measuring, WHILE stirring constantly, doesn't work.  The chopped onions were for later, but as long as I was prepping...

122206_1748a_1*We celebrated a White Wedding over the weekend; one that occurred 22 years ago Saturday in a little beach house on the Oregon coast.  Twenty.two.years.WOW!  How did that happen?  (I wasn't actually wearing white, but it gives me a reason to link to Billy Idol.)  (Thanks for the photo reminder, Cara!)

Dsc09603 Dsc09605

I have another FOO7 -- Elizabeth Zimmermann's Rib Warmer (pattern found in Knitting Workshop and also, I believe, in an available Spun Out) was completed on Saturday night.  It's an amazing -- and amazlingly simple -- thing to knit.  Yeah, amaz-ling-ly.  I started a Latvian mitten swatch; not sure how far I'll go with it.  My knitting with colors has definitely improved since the last time I tried this at home.  I flubbed up on the braid -- not sure what happened, but it's not quite right on the left half of that photo; you see where it changes in the middle from "arrows" to just purl bumps.  I'll be using different yarn for the real thing -- a tiny bit heavier, less tweedy, smoother, still undecided.  I have enough Baby Ull, but I'm not sure of the colors on-hand.

Also, yesterday, I knit the collar on Coup d'Etat; the sewing up comes next.

Up for air

Ufochallenge_1 Doin' my part to stay on Kat's list:

Dsc09585 Dsc09586

Dsc09589_1The grindstone isn't grinding 24/7... I am doing other things.  A mitten, started last year with Mack in mind, ripped and returned to the skein, DPNs and book put away.  The very tiny beginning of a Latvian mitten, marinating for over a year on an odd combo of birch and metal needles, also returned to the skein.  Only three of the five Brittany DPNs used to start this mitten survived and they're almost too small to even keep... but they're in my workbox... you know, for when I start that microscopic cable project that needs three size 1US cable needles.  (?)  Yeah.

This is a very small beginning to a big UFO problem -- bigger than I even realized.  Things will only get better from here... I can't get them off my mind... they're everywhere!

First FOO7 and pointing fingers

Dsc09581I made a new photo album this morning and posted my first FO for the year -- Fetching.  I ought to have one or two more by the end of the month, but really no idea which will come first -- the Rib Warmer or Coup d'Etat.

I finished Coup's left side button band with a half-hour of the 4-hour premier of "24" to spare on Monday night -- and there was no way I'd be able to keep up with Jack Bauer while also figuring out buttonhole placement.  Jack won the battle for my attention, of course, so I worked on the Rib Warmer for the rest of the evening -- garter stitch goes much better with Jack.  I'm just about to the point where the short rows begin and I'm so excited for the finish -- one quick seem and, voila, warm ribs.

Last night, I got out pencil, paper, calculator and ruler.  With coil-less pins, I marked the left side button band in 10-row increments -- it's very dark yarn, lots of rows, I tried to count a few times and my eyes nearly fell out of my head, so used pins to mark the rows and aid in counting.  I had decided on the one-row buttonhole as described in Knitting Workshop and which I'd recently seen demonstrated by Meg Swansen in Cardigan Details.  The ruler actually didn't come into play at all, except at the end, after all the allowances and subtractions and the division, when it assured me that the calculated result regarding spacing would be good.

In the interest of full disclosure, I began to knit the right side button band and was a few rows beyond the first buttonhole, even, before I discovered that I was knitting it to the side of the sweater (it has not yet been seamed) rather than the center.  I had a couple of false starts and, obviously, picked up the wrong edge in the end.  Further, the calculated result of buttonhole placement and the actual result are (as usual) two different things.  *sigh*  I shall have a look today, maybe do some counting, possibly more calculating, ripping may follow, I suppose... if need be.  Blech.

The rest of today's post will be me pointing at people (in a nice way):

Celia (I point at her a lot, she should be used to it), winding up the holidays, received the sweetest gift from her sister-in-law.  I love it.  I'm also pointing at her newest sister-in-law, a new knitter celebrating her first FO and already a start on her second (which will be for the really big FO due in another few months)!

Wendy, aka Bookish Mama, also received a very sweet gift at Christmas from Bookish Papa.  The biggest fun for you and me is that there's a resulting baby name contest.  It's a girl!  The initials are S.C.R. and all you have to do is figure out what they stand for!  I have made some preliminary, unofficial guesses, and shall hone them before I make it official.  I do have it on the most high, most excellent authority that "S" does not stand for "Santa."

Nova wrote a very enjoyable post about the Seamless Hybrid Sweater she just finished for her husband.  The sweater is just fabulous!  Congrats, Nova.

Okay, I was going to point to the purl bee and Nikki's Dragon Scale Mitts, which, with the sudden appearance of the white stuff in my neighborhood, followed by plunging temp, falls right in with my interest in knitting n-warmers (n = hands, wrists, ribs, feet, etc.), and now they've followed that post with one called Fingerless Gloves Galore.  No need for further pointing there.

But I will point at Warm Hands.  Wonderful things going on there -- great inspiration, too -- also at Stranded.  I have January 31st in mind to cast on the Latvian Mittens!  Details and button of some sort shall follow soon...

Next, I wish to point you to an Etsy site called Chickadee Buttons & Beads.  Chickadeebead girl is named Kristy and she hails from the beautiful, far north woods of Wisconsin -- one of my favorite places!  ; )  She's a novice knitter whose passion is making glass beads and, especially, buttons.  I have a couple of personal favorites -- green-shank flower and retro dot buttons, but she totally won me over with the chocolate-covered strawberry bead.  How cute is that???  Alas, sold since I first saw it yesterday -- drat!

I may be a bit more scarce than usual over the next week or so as it's nose to the grindstone time around here.

Winter Storm Warning!

011307_1520Maddy had a few places she wanted to go on Saturday afternoon, and she wanted to drive.  It was a very successful outing in that I found a pair of comfy, stretchy jeans, which I wasn't intending and really didn't want to buy, but we were there and, well, they were only $11!!  I'm wearing them now.  We also went to one of her favorite indie coffee shops and then walked down to an indie book store where I found a little something, as did she.  She still wanted to drive some more, so we just followed her nose and it led us to this farmhouse -- it's one of those that as a child I would think of as a fixer-upper.  Now I enjoy a quick and wistful memory of the little girl and her house dreams on the way to mourning.  The house is long past saving, and so sad.  There used to be a porch across the front and the back porch was originally open -- a proud pillar is visible through the broken wood.  There's not a drop of paint left on the siding.  The floor inside the side door is completely fallen away and, while there was a plank, I nixed the idea of going inside.  Everything in the house that could be removed and burned, or broken, was... removed and burned, or broken.  There were doorknobs and hinges in a pile of ashes, broken glass and porcelain strewn about.  I was startled by how compromised the foundation was in the rear of the house, pushed in and badly broken -- like something rammed into it, but underground (a really big gopher?) -- DH said that frost-heave can do that.  Incredible.  There was a barn behind me, with a loft full of hay, and a couple of outbuildings.  Maddy found an old bottle in the barn for her collection -- I let her go in a teensy, tiny bit. 

Dsc09570One of my biggest successes on Saturday was finishing the Fetching mitts while Madeleine practiced her driving!  I have always been pretty calm and cool in the girls' learning-to-drive stage, but the knitting helps to keep me even more relaxed.  When I mentioned the other day that I wouldn't mind a little more length from the thumb to the last cable cross/top of the mitt... well, chalk it up to operator error.  There's a very good reason why I so often use small sticky notes to mark my place in a pattern, and I can't really think of a good reason why I didn't use them here... I suppose it's because the pattern isn't very long or complicated.  The sticky note is my friend and perhaps I should have one pinned to my shirt, even, so I don't forget to use it.  Anyway, I had to rip out the first mitt, when was more complicated than it sounds and I actually had to rip out and re-do the whole thumb (mostly due to very good and diligent weaving in of ends!), but they are both perfect now and I have no complaints.

Dsc09568 Dsc09572

Dsc09573 Dsc09575

There was macaroni and cheese yesterday.  I found three Martha Stewart recipes and took a little from each.  Basically, while the jumbo macaroni cooked, I sauteed some onion in butter and made a roux -- one of my favorite things in the whole wide world to do (ever since I learned how to do it correctly!) -- then a nice white sauce with fat-free evaporated milk and some skim, in which I melted two types of cheddar and some monterey jack.  I made fresh buttered bread crumbs for the topping.  It was good, but not great.  A couple of notes:  I scorched the cheese sauce and, while it didn't taste burnt, I think there was an affect on taste; I should have used all (or at least more) of the onion I sauteed; it needed more salt and, especially, pepper; try to use a less sweet bread for crumbs next time.  I'll have some for lunch today and we'll see how it fared overnight.  Also, an 8x8 or 1-1/2 quart casserole of this would be plenty.

I cannot count the times I had to look away from 24 last night.  Guess what I was looking at!  The knitted-on seed-stitch (third try) Coup d'Etat button band!  I'm about half-way up the left side.  ; )  I was looking in my closet this morning, trying to decide which sweater to wear today with the Fetchings for our first Winter Storm Warning of the year...  I chose Oatmeal, but I really need a new sweater in the rotation!!!

I am...

...Working For The Weekend, just like Loverboy and most everybody else.  For some reason, I've got maximum TGIF today.  (You may have noticed, I had it already yesterday!)  I am also hungry.  The sky is gray, it's damp outside and starting to drizzle (I wonder if and when it'll turn to snow), and I just want to go home and curl up with a throw, do some knitting, watch some movies, make a big kettle of soup (maybe with dumplings), maybe bake some bread -- oh, I can't get macaroni and cheese off my mind, either.  I have never made macaroni and cheese from scratch before, and I think that's going to change this weekend.

I hope your lunch was more satisfying than mine.  ; )  Heads-up -- amongst the next pictures posted here, there will likely be food... macaroni bathed in cheese and the like.  OMG, I know, I know...  I'm driving myself nuts, too.  I'm pretty sure nothing else will do it now...

I have one little end to weave in on the first of the Fetchings and.. oooooh, I like it!  I even wore it for a while with that one long end hanging out.  The 4x1 rib section was made just a few rows longer, and also the thumb, and I cast off plain -- the picot edge was pretty, and even fun to do, but I didn't like how loose it was.  I wonder how a k2tog in each section would work -- just before or just after making the picot.  I'll have to try it on the next pair.  I have one more ball (maybe two) of Wings and will definitely knit another.  I wouldn't mind it even a little longer between the thumb and the last cable cross -- so I'll be interested to see if there's any yarn left.

Providing value (a little rant with knitting at the end)

It's difficult enough to make a living as an artist without worrying -- when you finally maybe do hit on a good thing, get a couple of breaks, get in a groove with a good thing going -- about whether the bank is going to think you're running a scam (involving sock yarn? give me a break) and freakin' shut you down without warning.  You may read about it here and here.  (Pardon me, my stinger might be about to show...)  Oh, this kind of shit just makes me want to stick it to The Man so much -- I have had it up to HERE with the (mostly hidden from the consumer) economics of banking and finance and the "convenience" of credit cards and debit cards and service charges and billing fees and interest rates and per-item fees and instantaneous deduction from the checking account but far from instantaneous deposits and how much interest is charged versus how much interest is paid and... you can be sure it's never in YOUR best interest -- it's very, very far from YOUR best interest... it's sickening and depressing... and did someone say SCAM(s)? -- but how in the world do you stick it to That Man?  What a heartache and headache for people who are only trying to make a living by creating a beautiful product that people want to buy.

And so much wasted time. For crying out loud, everyone knows that time is money.

I don't belong to the Socks That Rock Club, but I know what it's like to try and make a living as an artist -- to try and find something that works, that speaks to people on some level so that maybe someone might be moved to buy it and maybe an artist can eke out a living doing what they were born to do -- doing the only thing that, in their hearts, they really can do, the thing that makes them feel alive and hopeful and happy -- so that maybe all the creative time will pay, maybe all the mundane non-creative time traveling to shows and trying to keep track of receipts and writing stuff into the checkbook, even working temporarily at a soul-sucking factory job, will be offset because someone gets it, because someone sees some value in what they've created.  Shit, maybe one of these years they'll even be able to trade that 1993 GMC van in for a 2003 model.

That is when they're finished slamming their heads against a wall and/or being ground into the pavement by The Man.

Dsc09546Dsc09544Two miles on the treadmill at the Y, chores around the house (vacuumming! laundry! toilet-cleaning!), a couple of late appointments... there was an even later start to the knitting yesterday.  I did drape the Coup d'Etat over the Duct-tape Body Double in the light of day for some photos.  I think it's going to fit!!  I managed to frog and re-start the Fetching mitt (with three cable crossings at the cuff this time) and, while I usually hate having to do a re-do, this one is pure pleasure.

TGTIF (Thank God Tomorrow Is Friday)!  I'm ready for the weekend.


Dsc09543...but Fetching.  Well, it's a partial pair of... this must be a Fetching-ette -- I see now, in morning light, where I misread the directions, and why I have only two cable crossings at the cuff rather than three.  I just couldn't see what I was missing last night and thought that perhaps I was reading right through something about a variation...  My cast-off edge is quite loose, also, and with the clarity of the new day, I think this shall be frogged entirely.  Love is all I can say about it, though.  I'm using the same yarn that Carole used for hers (it's where I got the idea!) -- Classic Elite Wings.  It's stash yarn, one of three mis-mmatched skeins (though I can only locate two at the moment) that bought on a whim for a specific project and, well, I don't know what I was thinking.  This is a much better use.

Dsc09542I needed a break from all the garter stitching on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Rib Warmer, though the shaping helps to keep the knitting from being too tedious.  I'm also using stash yarn for this, some Filatura di Crosa Nikerboker from ages ago.  There's a little bit of alpaca in the mix, and it develops a very soft, fuzzy glow.  I have plenty of this in gold, and also some blue, and think I'm going to use the rest of it all up to make a little sweater for Mack.  There was a cute pattern in Yarn Play that might work.

The current plan is to finish the Rib Warmer (knit the other half) and Coup d'Etat (button band, collar, seaming), a pair of Fetchings (quick, soft, warm... quite fetching), and re-work the bottom of Williamsro, and then I'll be ready for Latvian Mittens.  I am thinking of January 31st for a starting date.

Ali is moving back to the dorm at school today -- classes start again soon.  Last week, she and two friends paid a deposit on a house to rent for next fall; she'll be moving in with another friend over the summer.  I'm not sure she'll ever live at home again.  It's kind of weird.

On Saturday, Katie's heading to Madison with one of her friends to look for a place to live in fall, too.  She has applied to Madison and, considering they've accepted her a couple of times before, I see no reason why she won't be accepted again.  She needs to "get on with it," as she says.  She may never live here again, either.  It's also kind of weird.

It's all part of everything and the way it goes, and I'm fine, but there will be some adjusting.  I think it'll be a big adjustment for Maddy, too.  She and Ali have become so close -- amazing, really, when I think on all those years when Ali just barely even tolerated Maddy's existence.  That's the way it is, though, an ebb and flow in all relationships.  Maybe Maddy and I will find more a flow to our relationship.  I hope so.

There's a new photo album in the sidebar.  Currently showing only one photo of one little thing, it will grow during the year and by the end, there should be 100 photos of 100 Little Things.  I've been wanting to do 100 of something, and something with photography, and there are so many little things around here...  I think it can work!

Change of plans

On Friday night, I finished the re-knitting of the Peace Fleece Coup d'Etat Cardigan.  Since I'd already wet-blocked the entire thing, I decided to just pin and damp-block the general area that was worked over.  It's nearly dry.  On Thursday night, I'd stopped at the LYS to procure the DPNs I need to knit the attached button band.  I'm excited to try out this new (to me) technique, and also anxious to finish the cardigan.

Dsc09534Saturday's main goal was to get the tree down.  I broke two ornaments -- which is two more than usual and while one was no big loss, the other was vintage, but at least it wasn't one of Grandma's.  I wasn't in the mood and I guess it showed.  I was resistant to taking time to go the Y, but Katie did finally cajole me into at least going for a walk and we did the 2-mile route -- it did kind of energize me for the big finish.

I've had Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop in a work basket next to my chair for some time and, lately, in the evenings, I've been pulling it out and reading a few pages or just looking at the pictures.  I saw so many beautiful items at the exhibit in Madison last month, but one item that really struck a chord, and that I knew I wanted to make, was the Rib Warmer.  I have some very well-marinated, utilitarian stash of the appropriate weight, so cast on Saturday night.  I will soon be half-way and will have a photo for the next post.

Super07My plans to participate in yesterday's International Pajama Day were thwarted by the maternal relations.  During my walk on Saturday, Mom called to tell me of two sets of aunts and uncles, plus a great aunt and uncle all planning to stop by my brother's on Sunday on their way to a nearby casino and, they wondered, wouldn't it be fun if we could all meet for lunch?  I was pretty resistant to the whole idea -- still weighed down, so to speak, by the Christmas tree, resentful that I had to spend any time at all doing that, and I'd been looking forward to IPD as my well-deserved and just reward.  So I fretted and frumped for the rest of the day, overnight, into the morning, and then realized what a complete and total selfish ass I was being, so I changed into some clothes, took a ride, had lunch and a good laugh with the relatives -- including my brother, who is just fantastic -- and then came home and got all comfy again.  You can bet I'm planning NOW for SUPER IPD!

Wanna trade?

Dsc09507 Dsc09510

Dsc09509I am looking for one more horn-blowing angel ornament (as shown at left) and am willing to purchase or trade either the cymbal-playing and/or the harp-playing angel (as shown, right).  They are silver and about 2-1/2 inches tall, and were purchased this season at Target.  I saw the horn-blower and grabbed three, thinking that they were all the same; I didn't realize 'til much later that they were all different.  I was able to find one more horn-blower, but I'd like a total of three -- one for each of my girls.  They so closely match the tree-top angel that they've always known, I thought it would be a fun reminder of their childhood to carry into the future.  Heh, our tree-topper was a late Christmas clearance purchase many years ago (after the china-headed treetop angel of MY childhood got smashed in a cat-induced tree-toppling) and she must be plated, because she's always pretty tarnished by the time the tree comes down.  She gets a good, fresh polish every December.  ; )

Time to pack 'er up.

Waiting for the piper

I just know the piper's gonna come calling today and he's going to want to be paid the Zzzzzs he's owed.  It's just a matter of time.

I've been doing pretty okay with the perimenopause thing lately -- I even had a doozy of those not-quite-monthly-anymore monthly things just before Christmas.  The past few nights, I've experienced some periods of, well... let's call it "warmth."  Last night, I was absolutely freezing when I went to bed, but holy cow, the tables turned in the wee hours and I was a raging inferno at 1:30 a.m.  I stuck my feet and arms out for a while to try and cool off, then I heard a cat meow, then I heard Ali come in, and then I just gave up, got up and checked my email.  Then hubby got up because he heard the cat (Ali discovered Duncan stuck behind Maddy's closed door).  We went back to bed, but I still couldn't sleep.  Fast forward to 3:30 a.m., I'm still tossing and turning, and the alarm will start to sound at 5:15...

Naturally, at 5:15, my "temperature" was fine and I was sleeping like a baby.  I hit snooze a couple of times and then hit the shower.  And now I just wonder when the piper (or the sandman) is going to show up.

In other news:  I am focusing on good words from yesterday's horoscope:  bountiful, visions, dedication, motivation, wonderful, discover, positive, knowledge, inspire.  I'm looking for those things in my everyday life and, you know what?  They're not that hard to find -- the blogs are are brimming with it, too.

The timing didn't work out, so I didn't make it to the Y last night, but Katie wasn't buying any excuses in regard to an early evening walk, either.  Thanks to the Google Pedometer (which I cannot stop playing with), I know that I walked 1.67 miles yesterday.  I mapped afterwards and have tweaked so I know just where to go in order to make it an even(-ish) 2.0.  We actually saw people sitting out on their front porches in nothing but sweatshirts.  The freaky weather stuff continues.  It looks like we have a chance at snow showers/flurries this weekend and a little bit through the week -- no mention of accumulation, though.  It seems a better chance for anything normal might be the following weekend.

This weekend, Christmas is coming down on Saturday.  On Sunday, I'm celebrating International Pajama Day!  Maybe you can join us.  I have some new nightwear to inaugurate that day.  ; )


Dsc09504Yesterday's sunrise -- pretty much the same as today's and also the day before.  The days are getting longer.  I really do want some snow, though.

DING*DING*DING!  Those of you who took a stab were absolutely right about the white object being a child's shoelace keeper.  For some reason, I remember them most on the twins' shoes -- I guess four feet at a time with jingle bells affixed made more of an impression than just two!  There isn't much of a need for lace-keepers these days, as kids' shoes with laces aren't the norm.

I have subscribed to and receive my Daily OM horoscope via email ever since Margene linked to it a long time ago.  An excerpt from this morning's email:

January 4, 2007
Comfort in Dedication
Scorpio Daily Horoscope

You may feel the weight of your many obligations more intensely than usual today. A bountiful agenda can overwhelm you before your day even begins, as visions of long hours and fatigue can discourage and dismay you. Yet your overall mood is likely one of hardworking dedication that provides you with the motivation you need to keep going. This faith in the value of devotion can lead you to a wonderful revelation that makes subsequent busy days seem less daunting. Specifically, you may discover today, while going about your duties, that you can now clearly see the positive effects each has on your personal and professional lives. This knowledge can inspire you to immerse yourself wholeheartedly in your responsibilities.

Key words:  weight, obligations, intensely, bountiful, overwhelm, visions, discourage, dismay, hardworking, dedication, motivation, faith, devotion, wonderful, revelation, busy, discover, duties, clearly, positive, knowledge, inspire, immerse, wholeheartedly, responsibilities.

Good grief, what else is there besides laundry?  It pretty much sums up how I've been feeling since the new year, though.  I wonder, too, if part of my feeling unsettled is due to the weird weather.  I'm still grappling with maintaining focus, at any rate, so it's going to be a list today -- a laundry list of recent keepers, if you will.

-> My friend Vicki Forman is writing a column called Special Needs Mama at Literary Mama.  Vicki says, "I have spent the past year writing a book about our family's experience raising Evan and our life since the twins were born six years ago.  Out of that book came the idea for a column, 'Special Needs Mama,' which will narrate some of the daily truths that arise from being Evan's mother."  I hope you have time to read Vicki's column, and to explore the site, 'specially if you're a mama.

-> Angie's blogging.  You remember Angie -- I dedicated a post to her a while back.  (I guess I didn't frighten her none.)  She's blogging about her life in the country, cooking, remodeling -- even knitting -- at Purling Oaks.  Go say an encouraging word; I'm sure she's sick of hearing from only me.

-> If you haven't heard about Rachael and her amazing Run-A-Go-Go idea, you've surely just emerged from under a rock.  It coincides perfectly with my shiny, brand new as of New Year's Day YMCA membership, so I decided to use it.  Yesterday, I walked about 2 miles on the track -- and at a pretty good pace for a while -- plus had orientation on the circuit equipment.  I'll enjoy the machines a lot -- I liked using the machines at Curves, and they were powder-puff in comparison.  I do need new shoes -- that's on the agenda for the weekend.

-> Ali will soon start training for her new job, much closer to school/dorm!  Not wanting to buck the current trend amongst my offspring, she will remain a barista in her new job.

-> I've been knitting a little, reading a little, decluttering a little, doing a little laundry a little.  Ack.  I hope it snows soon.

Red buttons

Dsc09486My last FO for 2006 was another Calorimetry.  I used the specified Filatura di Crosa 127 Print, but 7US needles instead of 8.  It will be part of a birthday gift for my sister later this month, and it's going to look great on her!  I have yarn for two more.

I think one of my favorite parts is choosing the button.

Dsc09487_1 Dsc09488_1 Dsc09489_1

Sorting through and playing with the buttons will never get tiresome.  They're mostly buttons found in Great Grandma's sewing machine drawers.  I loved playing with buttons even as a girl.  Mom kept a pretty, old candy tin full of buttons on her dresser and I would scoop them up by the handsful and let them sift through my fingers like treasure, spotting the interesting ones as they slipped by, later diving in and hunting for the special ones.  They always felt cool to the touch, even on the hottest of days.  If you like buttons, too, check out this recent Kmkat post.

You can run across the oddest things in the button box, though.

Dsc09490_1 Dsc09491 Dsc09492 Dsc09493

That little red clothespin seems too small for even the tiniest of doll clothes, doesn't it?  I know what that little white thing was used for (it's one of what should be a pair) -- DO YOU?

I'm feeling woefully disorganized, particularly where my knitting is concerned, considering it's a new year and auld lang syne and fresh starts and all that.  On the other hand, DH and I cleaned out the coat closet together to kick off our Year-long Decluttering Campaign.  Under the heading of "You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks," I showed him the best way (IMH-who-does-the-laundry?-O) to fold the sweaters and sweatshirts that we (mostly he) keep on the shelf to avoid avalanches; as a further avalanche prevention measure, he also added a 3-inch wide board to increase the depth of the shelf.  I have signed up for tips and printed out my free Decluttering Calendar, a very helpful thing I've found at a recently subscribed-to blog called My Simpler Life.  I also listed one item on ebay yesterday, and have two more lined up.  I've been thinking about this for... forever.  I'm taking it slow and I hope that translates into steady and winning the race.  I've got to think of it that way -- a race against the stuff.  I can see the genesis of pathways forming in certain areas of my home, piles of things teeter or get moved back and forth a lot, not to mention the kids -- there's just a lot of stuff.

UfochallengeThe decluttering will also extend to my knitting and, to that end, I have joined the UFO Resurrection 2007 at Kat with a K.  If my stash was a little bigger (i.e., consisted of yarn more useful or earmarked for a project) I'd consider Wendy's Knit From Your Stash-along.  How long does a project sit before it becomes a UFO?  I had Coup d'Etat on my lap last night and I think I may have finally figured out what went wrong.  That one will have to get frogged a little for the fix.  I'll be pulling some projects out of the  mothballs soon... oh, there are some OLD ones.

Finally.  A shout to Jen and La and The Third Annual JenLa Knit Blog Awards.  They totally made my day.  Thank goodness it's a new year -- 2006 really kinda sucked and, judging from how often I've read variations on that theme in the past week, it seems to have really kinda sucked all over.  So, shall we?  Onward...