Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today...So Far

In honor of my husband's aunts - who both read and enjoy this blog - and inspired by Lecia's blog, I decided that today I would present our day so far. The Princess didn't have school today, so it's been different - and fun - and...well... you'll see!
First, the Princess and I decided to make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for breakfast tomorrow. Yum. Unfortunately, I kept my back turned to the Pixie for just a hair too long. (Then again, she's not normally given to mischief.) I happened to glance around the corner when we had the batter all mixed up....and discovered that she had been painting on my couch.
That's right...blue and red paint on my beautiful couch. Thank goodness it's washable paint, and that the couch has a very cleanable microfiber cover.
Crisis cleared up, the girls got to taste the batter.
Then they did each other's hair.

Isn't she cute!
This one too!

I have such girley-girls!
We then went to Michaels - a trip that I've been promising the Princess for a while. She thinks it's better than a toy store! (Smart me to train her that way.....) I took the camera, but the Pixie just wasn't happy.
When we got home, I gave them hot dogs - which is a very rare treat in this house.
They loved them!

The Pixie is in bed now, and my Princess is happily making Thanksgiving crafts. She's a very creative sort, and will probably be here for the rest of the afternoon.

And now I'm off to the rather prosaic, n0t-so-fun to-do list. If I'm lucky, I'll have a bit of time to knit...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Monday List - Early Again!

The girls and I have a busy day planned tomorrow - starting with their dental appointments bright and early! I'm not entirely sure when we will be coming home, so I thought I would just go ahead and do this now.



Recap!

1, 2 & 3 My lifestyle improved GREATLY this week. I started using a cardio fusion DVD, which is totally kicking me in the tush in a good way, and I also went back to doing my Sun Salutations in the morning. I made it up early most mornings, and had plenty of time to work in my journal. That journal work allowed me to then focus on the Writing Diet exercises during my spare time. I already feel loads better!
4. The Sunflower Tam became Pixie's socks. No matter, another Christmas present is done!
5. Forest Path has gone back in the holding pin for now. As easy as it would be, I have other things I have to focus on right now.
6. The first sleeve of Ripples in Time is finished, and the second one is on its way.
7. I made huge progress on my general to-do list. My pictures were all transferred to my Flicr account, I scheduled all of the appointments that we needed to take care of, I made decisions about Christmas gifts, took care of our turkey for the Imani Mission (which served 519 at their Thanksgiving dinner yesterday!) and started an intense deep-clean of the house...the likes of which have never been seen around here. (It'll be a slow process...but we should have it done by my birthday.) All in all, I feel great about getting so much done!
8. I did not buy pants. I went shopping for them, but they didn't have my size.....and I let it go at that. Silly me.
9. I plied the Shetland/alpaca today, and there will be more about that later. Suffice it to say for now that it's not my best spinning.
10. After my sweater confession, I handed my books over to my husband and told him to pick some patterns. He did that, and I cast on the swatch hat earlier this evening. I should be able to work on it once the girls go to bed!

This Week's List:
1. Successfully get everyone to all of those appointments!
2. I have to find black dress shoes and tights for the girls before Wednesday AM.
3. Seriously....pants.
4. One more Christmas gift for the week - perhaps another Tam? I gave the first one to my PEO auction, so I need two more! It's a good thing they are so much fun to make!
5. Keep up with the lifestyle improvements - which is VERY important with our major holiday this week.
6. Keep working on Ripples in Time and my husband's cardigan. Every stitch counts!
7. Most of all, relax and have fun. It's a holiday, after all, and there's no point getting my knickers in a twist by trying to do too much when I should be spending time with my family.

Have a great week everyone!

Inspiration Sunday - Holiday Music Edition

As promised, here is my list of favorite Holiday Music. Given the ever-growing nature of our Christmas collection, I've divided it into a few categories to make it a bit easier. I've also pointed out a few of my favorite songs! The links are both to artist websites and amazon listings.


Instrumentals:


Manheim Steamroller wins this category hands down. We have all of their albums, and we never get tired of them. If I had to pick a favorite, though, I would probably go with Fresh Aire Christmas simply for their hauntingly beautiful version of "O Holy Night."


A Christmas Experiment by The Canadian Brass is full of bright, happy carols, and is sure to uplift the mood in any gathering.


Christmas Eve by David Lanz is a lovely album of peaceful piano music that I desperately wish I could play myself. (HA!)

Classics:

I adore A Christmas Portrait by The Carpenters. Karen's voice is so velvety soft that it seems perfectly made for "Christmas Waltz" and "The Christmas Song."

Ultimate Christmas - Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas collections. I'd rather have the entire album by an artist in order to fully explore what they have to offer. This album, though, brings together many of those classics that everyone knows and loves - from Judy Garland to Bing Crosby with a few modern classics tossed in for good measure. (The amazon link, though, lists the original composers, and not the performers.) Whitney Houston's "Joy to the World" never fails to bring me to my feet in praise, and Carly Simon's "The Night Before Christmas" always makes me smile.


Sentimental Favorites:

A good friend of mine gave me a copy of When My Heart Finds Christmas by Harry Connick Jr. my sophomore year in college. I happen to love the album for itself (can't even pick a favorite song!), but the memory of that gift doesn't hurt! Oooo....and when I looked Harry up to do the link I discovered a new Christmas album. I have to have that too!


Once upon a time, I was an opening cast member of our local Disney store. While there I purchased Disney's Season of Song. Believe it or not, it's not at all what you would expect from Disney. Instead of Mickey and the gang, you get gorgeous instrumentals, classical carolers and a variety of traditional music from the Nutcracker to the Messiah.


Most Inspirational:

Martina McBride sings with real conviction in White Christmas. Her music is powerful - without ever becoming too much. Again, 'O Holy Night' is a favorite, as are 'Do You Hear What I Hear' and 'Silent Night.' Unlike many Christmas albums, you can tell she believes what she is singing. (I am annoyed, however, that she's since re released the album with new songs on it.)

On the other side, Jewel's Christmas music tends toward the soft and gentle. Joy - A Holiday Collection is notable for Jewel's gentle duets with her mother, a medley that contains 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' and the message in 'Hands.' My personal favorite, though, is 'I Wonder and I Wander.'


I would be remiss if I didn't include Reba McEntire's Christmas Collection in this category. 'One Child, One Day,' ' Mary, Did You Know?' and 'The Angels Sang' are my absolute favorites on the first CD, and Reba's versions of 'Silent Night' and 'Away in the Manger' on the second are magical.


Most Enjoyable Cheese:

God Bless him, Michael Ball is one of my all-time favorite Broadway performances. His Michael Ball Christmas, though, sounds like it was produced by a lounge lizard, and I love every minute of it!

Kristin Chenoweth just came out with A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas. While there are some truly lovely songs on this album - check out her Holiday version of 'Sing' - a lot of it is overwrought and cheesy. Lesson to self about Broadway stars?

Best Childhood Memories:

A Charlie Brown Christmas and 40 Years - A Charlie Brown Christmas....seriously, what's not to love! As someone who slept with her stuffed Snoopy every night from the age of 3 until she traded him in for something better - a husband - I can't think of anything better to raise my own children on. God Bless Charles Schultz for insisting that his Christmas special would be about the true meaning of Christmas!

My husband brought home A Christmas Together - John Denver and the Muppets last year. We both grew up on The Muppet Show, and one of our dearest Christmas traditions is the annual viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol after decorating our tree.

Music I Can't Stand:

Two words - Santa Baby. Unacceptable anyway you listen, although Eartha Kitt is kind of ok.

Likewise, Elvis's Blue Christmas makes me shudder.

There are a whole bunch of artists - like Mariah Carey - who's Christmas albums I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

While some of the Transiberian Orchestra's stuff is nice, overall I find it way too maudlin and overwrought for comfort. (Sorry Honey!)


The Big One:

My mother has celebrated the holiday season every year for the last 35ish years by performing Handel's Messiah with the Independence Messiah Choir, just as her father before her performed with this incredible choir. I grew up attending rehearsals with her, assisting with attendance records (Mom's been in charge of attendance and seating for at least 25 years), babysitting for choir members and presenting the soloists with roses at the end of several performances. (With three of my most memorable dresses!) I've no idea how many times I've heard the Messiah performed, and I'm grateful that this has been such an important part of my life. I have a copy of their 75th anniversary performance that is part of our family's holiday tradition, although there are many, many beautiful versions available.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Fear The Zimmermann

I'm supposed to be working on the swatch cap for my husband's sweater. I've got the yarn, I've got the needles, and I have Spun-Out #49. In fact, I've had all of these things for several months and could have completed the whole thing by now. Gross procrastination has pushed me to the point where I'll be lucky if I finish it in time for Christmas.

This morning I decided that today was THE DAY to begin, and so I settled down this afternoon to start. An hour later, I was still sitting there, looking blankly at the pattern. Rather than just getting on with it, I had used my hour to poke through every single stitch guide I own (which is a bunch) because I just didn't quite like the center back cable. I was getting nowhere.

Finally, I called my BKB, who is always good for both talking through knitting problems and for making knitterly confessions. If I'm honest with myself, I told her, than I have to admit that I'm afraid of this pattern. There's just too much to think about, and too much to decide, and too much that I don't know about anything for me to do this pattern. Ack!

Of course, some of this is just vintage Me. Just as I stall out on beloved projects at the very end, I also tend to fuss way too long about big projects at the beginning. Normally I'm fine once I begin and relax into the project, though. I do think it's being amplified considerably this time by my recent Forrestry debacle, but still...this is my natural process.

Having fessed up, it's time to get to work!



PS. My husband found my keys after he came home yesterday. They were tucked in a back corner of the Pixie's bookshelf. I don't know that I would ever have found them, but I can assure you that I am now hiding them from the Pixie in my upper kitchen cabinets.

PPS. The quote from yesterday is from the musical Rent, from the song, "La Vie Boheme."

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Secret Knitting Trick

Cute...isn't she! This is my Pixie, riding my 12ish year old lab mix this morning. She was very pleased with herself.

However, she's been a very, very naughty girl today. After being warned away from my keys several times this morning, my little Pixie managed to get ahold of them while I was cleaning the bathroom. I went to pack up the van so that I could deliver the turkey...and they were gone. I've searched everywhere that I can think of, and there's no sign of my keys. (Missing are my van keys, my key to my husband's car and my front door key.) Goodness only knows what she's done with them. We are now trapped at home until I find them as my husband keeps the spares with him. I've called our school to have the Princess sent home on the bus, and the turkey is in the fridge until after my husband comes home this evening. Which is why I'm working on these. From right to left, a pair of wee socks, Ripples in Time and the next Sunflower Tam - all presents for the Pixie.

You see, when I am very angry with someone I have a little knitting trick. I pull out whatever WIPs I may have for that person and knit like crazy until the anger has passed. If I don't have anything already on the needles than I will cast on something for that person - even if it's just a simple hat or a pair of socks. For me it's an effective trick because it's very hard to stay angry with someone when you are actively creating something for them. Jonathan Larson said, "The opposite of war isn't peace..it's creation," and I believe that with all my heart. Creation is an act of love...and knitting is my preferred method of creation.

Of course, my secret is now out....whoops.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Treasures

I'm quite happy to report that I've made a lot of progress on my photo project today. As I've been planted in front of the computer all afternoon, I have nothing to show in the way of creative work today.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law (my husband's step-mother, to be specific) brought by a family treasure to show me this afternoon when she brought the Pixie home from their weekly morning together. This lovely collar was made by either her Grandmother or her Great-Grandmother...she's not sure which. It was so beautiful that I asked permission to photograph it and document it here, which she graciously permitted.

And so, some eye-candy....










Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just For Grins

I was taught how to read using a system called I.T.A., which has faded into relative obscurity. My first grade class was, in fact, the LAST classroom in our school district to use I.T.A., as the district was transitioning to more 'modern' phonetics-based learning systems.

At the end of my first grade year, I was allowed to take home as many I.T.A. books as I wanted. I have a rather nice collection somewhere in my basement which always serves as high entertainment when it is brought out. You see, I.T.A. not only uses the standard English alphabet, but it also uses a set of symbols that represent specific sounds. The basic theory is that children learn how to read faster when letters, words and sounds are standardized - and as we all know, the English language can sometimes be rather wacky.

For some reason, I was struck with a burning need to look I.T.A. up on the web tonight. (Probably because it's come up in several recent conversations with friends about the literacy methods being used in our local schools.) You can learn more about it here, in an article which includes a chart of the symbols and the sounds they represent.

Crazy!

Choices

I just have time for a quick note this afternoon because I want to get some work done on the Pixie's sweater. (Gotta strike when the iron is hot!)

This morning I called the Imani Mission, which is a local service organization run by my church, to volunteer to purchase and cook a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner this Friday. If you were to know how tight our budget is, you might think this was a foolish thing to do - especially with the holidays coming. It's no secret that money is scarce around here, and we just don't have much for extras.

However, this year we are choosing to share what we do have with others.

Why?

Because we are so much better off than so many others are.

Because our families have provided us with a great deal of help and I feel that it is our responsibility to pay it forward.

Because we are so rich in what really matters - in each other and our families, in our health, in our talents and potential.

Because I am relieved and grateful that I don't have to host Thanksgiving here at my home, and feel that I want to celebrate in a new way this year.

Because many charitable organizations are going to be - or are already - facing shortfalls in resources and an ever increasing demand for their services.

Because it's the right thing to do.

It's not much, but it's something...and it's a start.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Monday List

A trip home to my parents' farm early last spring. The girls had similar tramps through the woods with Grandpa last weekend, but I wasn't invited so there aren't any photos!

Last Week:


1. & 2. Ripples In Time and Forest Path moved slowly...but they did move forward.


3. There was no time to pick out cables or do a swatch cap for my husband's sweater.


4. One Christmas project is finished!


5. The photos were not moved. Sigh.

6. I did finish spinning that roving up into one happy bobbin of singles.


7. The house is spotless - or at least it was for my meeting.





Moving on to this week:



1. One of the most important things I need to do this week is to rebuild my exercise schedule. A combination of colds, weather, daylight savings, the needs of a kindergartner and laziness have all but destroyed the momentum I had. In the last week or so I've started to notice many of the signs that my lifestyle needs overhauled, so it's time to get to work.

2. Likewise, I need to continue on with my work in The Writing Diet. While a large part of me recognizes the fact that the healthiest/happiest people I know are the ones who don't ever fuss or worry about their size (or anything to do with lifestyle, really), I know I have a lot of work that I need to do before I can get to that point. (A trip home always brings up a lot of junk, for example.)

3. You would think that I would have no trouble with my morning routine - especially given how important I feel it is. Unfortunately, our entire family has been hit with the cold weather lazies, and the girls and I have been struggling to get out of bed lately. This week I want to reclaim my quiet morning time for journaling, yoga, tea and peace.



4. I'm on to my second Christmas gift this week - a second Sunflower Tam for the Pixie!

5. In the 'slow but steady wins the race' category, I will be continuing on with one square/day of the Forest Path Stole.



6. Likewise, I'm going to do a little bit of work each day on Ripples In Time. Even 30 minutes/day would be enough to finish it up in a week or so!

7. It's not at all fun, but I do have a huge 'to-do' list of general stuff that needs to happen before the holidays start. I really want to make a dent this week so that we can relax and have fun over the holidays. At this point, I'm moving the photos to this list as well as the complete pantry clean-out I've been needing for weeks.


8. Likewise, I have to buy pants this week. Sounds silly to add to this list, but I might squirrel out of it if I don't make it public. I literally only have one pair of jeans - and they are falling apart.



9. I would like to ply the Shetland/Alpaca I spun up last week, and as I know exactly how I want to do that, I have no excuses. I'll go a step further, and say that I have my next spinning project ready to go as a reward should I finish this!



10. My husband's Christmas sweater really has to be cast on this week if I have any chance of finishing it!



Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Etc.

  1. I try to regularly comment on a bunch of blogs, but for some reason I had a lot of trouble today when I went to do just that. So if you normally hear from me, I'm sorry. I have a busy day and had to stop messing with it so that I could move on!
  2. The girls and I are leaving tonight for a long weekend with my parents. I won't be blogging while I'm gone, but will be back for Inspiration Sunday.
  3. I had a great question yesterday about my favorite Christmas music, and I promise to talk about that next week! Just today, though, I bought my annual gift-to-self of a new Christmas CD. I bought Yo-Yo Ma & Friends, Songs of Joy and Peace, and it's so beautiful I literally cried over several pieces!
  4. I thought I had more to say, but find that my head is very full of 'things to do so that we can leave tonight' and so I think I'll just go!

Have a great weekend, and Happy Creating!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Secret Revealed!

I have been keeping a secret from you...


But today I received permission to write a bit about it, which means it's time to spill the beans!


I have been selected to judge the handspinning portion of an alpaca show!

Several months ago, I received an email from a friend in my guild, asking if I would be interested in such a job. It sounded like fun, and so I agreed and she passed my name along to the woman who is organizing the show.* The Pixie and I took my spinning samples out to her alpaca farm one beautiful morning about a month or so ago and I was hired! Yesterday afternoon we spent a couple of hours carefully judging alpaca samples at my dinning room table to prepare and train me for my upcoming job. I had a wonderful time, and by the end of our time together we were both satisfied that I would do a great job.

I will start to receive the fiber samples next month. Each sample will consist of about 2 oz. of fiber packaged in a Ziploc bag. I will evaluate the samples based on a set criteria, judging each against itself. (as opposed to judging them against each other) Once the initial critique is done, I will card, spin and wash a portion of each sample, which provides the information I will need to complete the judging process. I won't know until all of the samples are in, but the show is expecting approximately 100 samples.** I'll have until the beginning of March to complete the work!

This is all very exciting for me because it feels very much like I'm returning to my roots. I grew up in the 4-H system, and spent my high school career showing French and Giant Angora rabbits on a national level. I love the show circuit, and am thrilled to be a part of one again - especially since I'm on the opposite side of the table this time!

*My name and bio have been printed in the show catalog, but a certain level of anonymity is still necessary to protect the integrity of the show - which is why I'm not giving anymore details or names than I have been.

**This is also why I've been working to get the number of WIPs I have down.

I Am Responsible For Christmas Creep

I had my husband set up my computer so that I could play our Christmas music over our network. I've been very happily listening to it all day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pleasure

Sometimes a project comes along that is just so perfect that every stitch is a joy to make.

Sunflower Tam, by Norah Gaughan in Knitting Nature
Dream in Color Classy, Cool Fire (about 1/2 skein)
Addi Turbos size US 6 & 7 and Boye DPN's in a 7
November 9 - 11, 2008

The first of the Christmas Knits is done!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Monday List

Isn't this a neat picture! I glanced out of the window last week to find that my daisies had sent out two last stems of blooms (post-frost, I might add!) and I thought the sight of them against the fall backdrop was enchanting!

The recap:
1. Pixie's sweater wasn't finished, but I did get the gauge problem figured out and am at long last moving forward on it again.
2. MS4 is in shreds, and I couldn't be happier. Rarely have I been more annoyed with a project, and I know I made the right decision.
3. I did a swatch and steek test yesterday on the yarn for my husband's sweater, and yes it will work just fine. I thought I had decided upon a needle size, but now I'm not so sure.
4. I started something new and fun! It involves Nancy Bush's new book, chocolate colored Claudia Hand Paint fingering yarn and beautiful blue beads. More soon, I promise!
5. Yes, my sleep schedule is much improved - although it could be better yet. I'm finding that I really suffer when I stray outside of the schedule - as I did twice last week. (election and my meeting) In addition to just getting to bed on time, we also rotated the mattress yesterday as we know it's starting to fail. After one night, I can already tell that it helped.
6. I'm still struggling with food, but in all honesty I think I did something better this week by starting to rebuild my wardrobe. My biggest struggle is not with my size, but with self-confidence and self-esteem, and I feel miles better today than I did at this time last week.
7. I got the Sun Salutations in, but not the walks. I think it's officially time to revamp the exercise plan to include more indoor activities. It's just too chilly to walk with the Pixie, and it gets dark too early to walk after school. (Plus, Princess really needs me then.)
8. & 9. No movement on either the photos or the drawing yet.
10. Journaling is going a-ok!

This week's list:
1. PIXIE'S SWEATER!!!!!! I think I've just lost interest in this one. Let that be a lesson to myself...I should never again let a project sit for so long.
2. Speaking of projects that have sat for too long...I really want to get back to work on my Forest Path stole. In all honesty, I think it's really boring to knit and I don't particularly care for entrelac. BUT, this is a stole that I very badly want to own and wear. I think I can easily manage one square/day. Really, I have a reason for wanting all lace projects to be finished by the start of the year...and this is one that I do NOT want to frog.
3. Now that I've decided that the yarn I purchased for my husband is appropriate, I need to go ahead and do a swatch cap. My next decision, though, is whether or not to use the cables that Zimmermann included in the original pattern instructions. I do, after all, have a whole shelf full of stitch guides and could pick something different.
4. I'm already excited about Christmas. I can't help it...I just love this time of year! Yesterday I began my official Christmas knitting - which isn't really as big of a list as you'd think. If I do one small project/week than I'll easily accomplish everything on my list. This week I want to get the Princess's hat done.
5. The photos have to be moved. I just can't delay this one any longer!
6. I started spinning 5.2 oz. of an alpaca-Shetland roving this weekend, and would like to finish it up this week. I also have some reasons for wanting to finish up as much spinning as possible by the end of December.
7. I have company coming Wednesday afternoon to teach me something important. I need to clean the house in preparation. (And I'll ask her at that point if I'm allowed to write about what I'll be doing!)
8. As far as health concerns go, my goal this week is to let go and just not worry about it. The healthiest, happiest people I know are the ones who never worry about it...and so I need to stop fussing too.

I think that's enough for now. The girls and are going to be leaving Thursday evening for a long weekend with my parents, and I also have a whole bunch of errands to run this week. It's definitly going to be busy, and I don't want to set myself up for failure!

Happy Monday Everyone!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Inspiration

No photo today, just a few comments.

You may remember that I recently cleared 15 years of old clothing out of my closet. On the one hand, it was extremely cathartic, but on the other hand it left me with very little to wear. In fact, I quickly found that I was back in the type of sweats and t-shirts garb that I had avoided so carefully for a few years. I stopped paying attention, and quickly gave up on myself. (The Forestry debacle didn't help either.)

Friday morning, after our weekly play date in the our mall's play area, I wandered in to Eddie Bauer just to look and found a massive sale. I went back that night and was able to purchase some really nice things to start rebuilding my wardrobe. It's no wonder, then, that when I woke up yesterday I felt lighter than I had in a while. In fact, I actually had to stop and consider my wardrobe options both yesterday and today...which is something I haven't done in years.

And so Inspiration Sunday today is just a gentle reminder. When we take care of ourselves than we feel good about ourselves. As a result, we can find ourselves in a better place of mind for creativity to flourish.

P.S.

I found my shawl pin! I cleaned out my knitting bag yesterday morning in preparation for a class I taught at Hillcreek, and in the process I found it tucked in the very bottom of the bag. Yay!

Also, check out Margene's blog. She bought the Starbucks mug I mentioned the other day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Dangers of Overstuffing Your Knitting Bag

So last night I had a PEO meeting. As I am president of my chapter, I quite naturally have to go to the meetings, and yet as I'm trying to avoid sugar I decided to arrive a bit late to the social so that I could easily ignore it. In this, I succeeded, but I think I also offended the woman who brought the dessert. That's always a risk.

Anyway, because I was late I had to park rather far away from the hostess's home. In fact, because I also have the bike cart in the back of the van - and so can't see clearly out of the back - I chose to park several car lengths beyond the line of vehicles parked in front of her home. All in all, I was about two and a half to three houses away from the house I was visiting, parked on the opposite side of the street.

I was actually a bit later than I had planned, so I jumped out of the car and grabbed my knitting bag/purse and my PEO bag and hurried up the street. Just as I came to the edge of the hostess's front yard, I heard something fall out of my knitting bag and hit the ground. I turned around and was horrified to find my new shawl project lying on the sidewalk. My horror turned to shock when I realized in a flash that the six rows of shawl before me were not attached to anything in my bag.

With a gasp, I grabbed up my knitting and began to gather up the yarn as quickly as I could. You would think this wouldn't be that difficult...but the yarn was a dark chocolate brown fingering weight yarn, and the street light above my van was out. A knitter's prayer ran through my mind (Please don't let any cars come! Please let the yarn be intact! Please don't be filthy! Please don't let anyone hit me as I'm bent over in the middle of the road trying to find this (&$(@ #Y$# yarn! ) as I tried to juggle the strand of yarn leading back to my van with both of my bags. Finally, I gave up on trying to real the yarn in as I walked, and I rushed to my van where I finished the process. It does, after all, go quicker when pulling on two ends of the yarn at once.

Here, a whole new set of problems hit. First, the key bob with my remote door lock broke off of my key chain a couple of weeks ago. Normally, this isn't much of a problem, but I knew there wasn't a chance in you know what of me finding it in the bottom of my knitting bag in the dark. Fortunately, my keys were still in hand, so I fumbled with the lock and finally got the car open. I turned on the light, climbed in and found my missing ball of yarn.

Next, as I turned to climb back out so that I could stuff the whole mess back into my bag, my PEO bag gave up to gravity and fell over, spewing paperwork all over the road. So I bent down and gathered all of that up (again with the dark...) and then turned and locked the van. At which point I remembered that I had to manually turn the overhead light off. So I again had to fumble with the keys to unlock the door.

Finally, I started walking across the street and happened to glance down at myself. I had worn a shawl in instead of a coat - which is something I do often. At this point, I must have been out of shock because when I realized that my shawl pin was missing all I did was sigh and turn back to the van. I unlocked it a third time and riffled through it for a few minutes before realizing that my pin was probably long gone. At this point it was becoming critical for me to get into that house to start the meeting, so I locked the van a third and final time headed in. (and a post-meeting search of the road, car and purse turned up nothing.)

The moral of the story is to make absolute sure that your knitting bag is not overly full. I broke my one rule last night - of being sure the bag is easily closed and capable of staying closed on it's own - and look what happened!

I think I'll recover today with a big pot of tea, perhaps some chocolate and my shawl.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tradsies

Yesterday I exchanged some yarn at my LYS. I took back some lovely stuff that I hated to part with - Claudia Hand Painted fingering - but I also didn't want to risk the type of fading that I've experienced with my Jeweled Step and Frolicking Shamrock socks. Instead, I brought home these beautiful skeins of Dream in Color's Strange Harvest Smooshy. I want another fingering weight shawl for every day use, and I think this will do the trick nicely! I even have a pattern already picked out....

In miscellaneous other news, I will have a post up tomorrow about a new lace project that I cast on last night, and am super-excited about. I've also decided to remove the pressure of a one-month sweater for an adult male from my list, and will be making a decision about the yarn today. A picture on Kristin Nicholas's blog of her new pattern for crocheted, felted and embroidered ornaments is making it onto my possibility list. Oh, and for the knitters/coffee lovers out there - Starbucks has a new mug in which looks like a cabled sweater. It's super-cool!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Love The One You're With?

I tried. I really, really tried.

With 8 of 11 sections finished on the Mystery Stole 4, I am sending it to the frog pond.

My reasons are such:
  1. I am not enjoying this project. It's not fun to knit, and I'm only knitting on it for a sense of obligation. Life is way too short to be forcing oneself to a hobby like this.
  2. I do not particularly like the finished design. While yes, I love many of the elements, I don't really think they work well together. For me, it's a case of too much is too much. I have to admit, too, to being rather disappointed with the overall theme of this year's project. Last year's Swan Lake as well as the previous two designs were much more cohesive and meaningful. Serendipity is ...well...rather haphazard for my taste.
  3. I love the beads, and like the yarn. The more I look at them together, though, the less happy I am about the combination. It's too drab, and neither is showing off well. (The color above is fair. It's hard to photograph with my camera. The beads are a gorgeous, soft gold that I really want to reclaim for a future project. I have enough of the yarn left for a scarf later on if I finish now. (I don't think it will frog well.)
  4. You may remember from Monday's list that I had considered putting this piece in my PEO auction because I'm just not going to use it myself. There are two big problems with that one. For the first, see #1. For the second - consider that the last stole I put in the auction, while appreciated greatly by the woman who purchased it (a fabulous knitter in her own right, and a very good person), did not fetch even half of what it was worth.
  5. I really need to move on to other projects - like my husband's sweater - and this is holding me back.

The Green Woman is hopping around the house, pretending to be a frog.

No wonder my non-knitting friends think I'm nuts.

And yes, just as I still (at 34) have to call my Mom whenever I'm sick for permission to stay in bed, I called my BKB this afternoon to confirm this was the right decision. Silly me.

PS. That was ridiculously satisfying to frog. I had to cut a bunch of it up to get the beads out, and every cut just plain felt right.

Oh Happy Day!

Politics are a very quiet, personal thing for me. I don't enjoy discussing them, and generally try to keep my opinions to myself because I think they often bring out the ugly in people.

But today I am so happy and proud of our country that I can barely contain myself.

YES, WE CAN!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What A Difference A Needle Makes

I started Ripples In Time late last spring, but after I completed the body the whole thing was set aside - in part because I needed to order metal DPNs to correspond with the Addi Turbos I had used. For some crazy reason I did not keep the needles with the project - but put them away and relied on the notes I had made on my Ravelry page. I therefor ordered a set of 3.25mm - US3s - from KnitPicks when I was ready to begin again.
Several weeks ago, I finally cast on with my new DPN's...but was alarmed to find that the gauge was way off. I checked and double checked my notes and my Ravelry page - and according to them I had ordered the right size. I was a bit confused because I thought I remembered using the size that the pattern called for - which was a US 2, or a 3mm - but surely I wouldn't have made such a simple clerical error! At the time, I figured that the weight of the DPN's was throwing me off because the KP needles are quite heavy. I let my frustration put me off of the project again and moved on to happier knits.
Last weekend I finally sat down to get to the heart of this mystery. In order to finally figure out the problem, I decided to work the sleeves flat using my Addis. I began the first sleeve on a 3.25 mm needle, and got the sample you see in the first two pictures.
I then worked the same piece in a 3.o mm needle. Right away I knew that this was the needle I had used because it felt right in my hands - whereas the slightly larger needle had felt a bit awkward.
Much better...isn't it! Now I can settle in to work, and hopefully will very soon have a completed sweater.
Next time, I'll leave the needles with the project.
And be more careful when recording my Ravelry entries.
And I won't let so much time go by in the middle of the project.
Why is that dratted Green Woman laughing so hard?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Monday List

I was thrilled this morning when I pulled up last week's list and realized how much I had actually managed to accomplish. It certainly didn't feel like a productive week!

To review:
1. The Princess's costume was indeed finished - much to the delight of a very happy girl.
2. Tudor Grace was finished, MS4 received some attention and I even figured out my gauge issues on the Pixie's sleeves. (Turns out I recorded the wrong needle size on my Ravelry page. tsk..tsk...)
3. & 4. Measurements were taken and the Christmas list was hashed out.
5, 6 & 7 Last week was - as suspected - a horrible week for healthy living practices. Ugh.
8. The house was cleaned, and in the surprise event of the week Princess got into the act on her own - spending two hours Thursday night happily cleaning her room. We were stunned.
9. My journal goals slipped along with the other healthy living things. Quite frankly, there was so much turmoil over our topsy-turvey schedule last week that it's no wonder.
10. I did have a very fun week!

Without Further Ado....

My goals for this week are:
1. To finish Pixie's sweater. I really want to get this done so that I can move on to other projects! It's the one thing in my workbasket that makes me feel a bit guilty for not finishing it sooner.
2. To also finish MS4. To be honest, I'm not so crazy about the design. I love various elements from it...but I think all together it's a bit of a hot mess. I'm trying to reserve judgement until it is finished...but I think this one may wind up in my fall PEO auction as did MS3. Note to self...do NOT sign up next year!
3. The month of November is going to be all about my husband's sweater. I need to make one big decision (Is the yarn I bought truly appropriate for the pattern he picked?) and then I need to get to work swatching. Best case scenario, it's done by the end of the month so that I can work on smaller Christmas knits in December.
4. Having just listed 3 'must' goals for knitting, I think I also want to cast on this week for something fun. I have a few ideas, so look for a post on that later this week.
5. I seriously have to get my sleep schedule back on track this week. I know what works, and now that our schedule is back on track there are no more excuses.
6. Likewise, it's back to cleaning up my food intake. I've literally been sick for the last 5 days because of the rich foods I've been eating and the excess sugar. I want to feel good again, and I know that is only going to happen if I stick with clean, whole foods which are as close to the earth as possible. As much as I hate to say it - having been raised on a beef farm - I think the meat is going to have to go too. It's triggering almost as much of a nasty reaction as sugar is.
7. I've already got a jump start to this next one. I plan on doing my Sun Salutations every morning and I'm also going to take a 30 minute walk every day.
8. I really need to get all of my digital photos off of my hard drive. I've been looking at Snapfish and Shutterfly as possible sources for both storage and printing. (Any comments appreciated!) At the very least, I need to upload everything to my Flicr account. My husband backs up all of our family photos on multiple disks - but I need to have easier access to them. Plus, we've now had digital photos for 5 years - and haven't ever printed any of them out. That's right...we have virtually no candid shots of our children at all in this house. I really want to fix that.
9. I feel that it's time to start getting serious about learning how to draw. Hmmm....
10. Daily to-do lists and gratitude lists are the key to me getting things done and maintaining a positive attitude! I want to be sure these are a firm part of my daily journaling habits. Also, I've already started to add in Cameron's exercises to my personal writing, and I think that's important work to keep up.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Inspiration Sunday









One of my most prized possessions is a very large handknit coverlet which was given to me by my husband's maternal grandparents several years ago. They knew I was a knitter, and so they knew I would appreciate the work that went into this magnificent family heirloom. As I happen to have adored Mema and Grandaden, I feel very honored to have been given a piece of their family history.

Somewhere I have all of the details about who knit this when...but I didn't stop to look for them today. I was in too much of a hurry to post this particular piece of inspiration!

What I can tell you is that the coverlet is very large. It would easily cover a king-sized bed, although it didn't start out that way. When first knit, the counterpane squares made up three separate bedspreads. At some point someone repurposed the three spreads by taking the squares apart and sewing them into one large piece. My husband's family called the pattern 'kitten's ears' and the work is done at 12 stitches per inch. It's an incredible feat no matter how you look at it.

Last month my husband's aunt gave me these squares - which I imagine were the leftovers. As the coverlet is simply too large to put on display, I am thrilled to have these smaller pieces, which I would like to frame and hang in the living room.

As I prepare to knit several grand projects myself, I turn to my counterpane and marvel at the craftmanship that went into such a beauty. I hope someday someone will look at my knitting and feel the same way.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Trial Run

My parents came up to spend Halloween with us, and during the course of the day I had my mother try on Forestry. It fits her perfectly, and so I sent it home with her. Mom's never been one to really wear - or like - brown, and so while she loves the craftsmanship that went into this sweater and the design she's just not all that sure that she'd wear it. If she finds that she does not wear it, it will come back home to me. If, on the other hand, she discovers that she loves having this piece in her wardrobe, than I am going to gift it to her. We'll call it a combo Christmas and birthday gift.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. I really wish that Mom had just fallen in love with Forestry, because I think that would be easier. As it is, I am glad to not have it here as a constant reminder of a really big mistake - especially since I really didn't want to frog it and start over - but I'm a bit uneasy about it going somewhere where it may not be used. (And I still wish it fit me!)

We'll hope for the best!