Friday, March 30, 2012

Here and There

The girls are on the farm, playing with the new lambs.

Sean and I are in Tucson to spend time with family and celebrate the life of his Uncle Joe.

Much love to you all. I will be back soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Books : In Which I Go Nuts At The Library

I found myself gleefully putting on hold a ton of books on the library's website one night late in February, and this month is the result of that nuttiness. 

Audio:

1.  Middlemarch, George Elliot - Several months ago I listened to 3/4 of the book, but oddly never finished.  Started from the beginning, listened to the whole thing.  Whew.  Glad that's over with.  I enjoyed it, but admit there were parts I had trouble focusing on.  At one point I even looked up the Spark notes online to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  It wasn't an ideal listen.
2.  Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy - I loved every minute of it!  Tolstoy's characters are phenomenal, and his storytelling abilities are superb. 
3. The Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks - I have grown to appreciate the historical fiction approach that Brooks takes.  I enjoyed it more than Caleb's Crossing, but less than People of the Book. It was a nice departure from the classics, even if the story in question (the plague in a small English village) was quite naturally depressing.  Brooks has a tendency to project some modern sensibilities on her female protagonists, and so at times I question the narrative when I probably should just let it wash over me. 

Print:

1. The Redbreast, Jo Nesbo, 2.  Nemesis, Jo Nesbo, 3.  Devil's Star, Jo Nesbo - The first three of the Harry Hole novels, now available in the US.  Still lots of fun.  Still not for the faint-hearted. 
4. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo - This is absolutely my must-read recommendation for the month.  Boo's book is the story of a period of time in a Mumbai slum - carefully researched and then rendered into a book that read like an extremely engrossing novel.  I knew of the abject poverty and corruption in the slums...but I also didn't know, and really had no idea.  Honestly, please read this book.  It was eye opening and heartbreakingly beautiful. 
5. The Sex Lives of Cannibals, H. Maarten Troost - Completely agree that Troost comes across as a younger Bill Bryson.  Enjoyed it, but was done about 3/4 of the way through.  I think his sense of humor just got old...and very predictable.  The cool thing is that I looked up Tarawa (the small south Pacific island Troost and his girlfriend moved to for a time) on Google Earth, which made the story even more real and cleared up some geography questions.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What I Did Today


I installed peel and stick linoleum tiles in the playhouse!

The girls are moving in now...more pictures to come as they set up their "home."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh. Snap.

My borrowed baby loves to hide behind quilts which are hanging to dry on the banister. 
After my boo boo today, I feel like doing the same.

It's a sound no lace knitter ever wants to hear.

I sat down on the couch this afternoon, reached over to pick up my Princess shawl, and pulled it over onto my lap.  Just as it was settling into place I felt a very wee tug, and then....

SNAP!

To be fair, with such wee yarn it was a wee sound....

I gathered the shawl up and immediately started looking for the source.  It didn't take long.  There have been two tiny bundles of yarn hanging from the shawl at points where ends would eventually need to be woven in, each held together by a plastic stitch marker/safety pin. One of the bundles had caught between the couch cushions when I picked up the shawl, and - as I'm sure you can imagine - it took very little pressure to snap the yarn.

I knit a row before I looked to see which of the two bundles had broken off. 

The good news...the snapped yarn hadn't pulled any stitches out.

The bad news...there is less than an inch of yarn hanging from the shawl at the point where it broke, and as it is pulled tight I imagine that inch will disappear into the shawl should I try to smooth it back into place.

And the point where it broke?
Right at the base of the middle section, where I started the first of the nearly 700 rows that make up the main body of the shawl.  It's where I joined the yarn for that portion of the shawl.

With less than 100 rows to go - and at least that many hours invested into this portion of my Princess - there is no way I can just rip out the middle and start it over again.  No, this is going to require some very tedious repair work...of the sort that would test a surgeon's hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

I've secured the break so that I can finish the shawl, and will do the repair when the knitting is over.

Until then...

Damn.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What I Could Have Been Doing

Two weeks ago I had my first-ever gallbladder attack.  Not fun, certainly, but all things considered it really wasn't that bad.  (This would be one of those things I didn't want to gripe about on the blog.)  In fact, the running joke has been that the sleepless night was considerably harder on me than the actual pain from the attack.  (True story....I am too old for all-nighters!)  Those of you who've had gallbladder issues will not be surprised to hear that after a rather long day in Urgent Care I was sent for a surgical consult and a gallbladder removal was scheduled for March 21st.

But then I took a breath, did some research, asked around for friends and family to share their experiences, and decided that surgery at this point was premature.  I then promptly forgot about the whole thing until this afternoon when I realized what today was supposed to have been.

So, today I COULD have been in surgery. 

INSTEAD, I:
  • Went to the gym with a friend so that we could reacquaint ourselves with strength training and learn our way around a new facility.
  • Took a brief nap.
  • Cleaned out my closet.
  • Talked on the phone with my BKB.
  • Played with a baby. 
  • Worked on the Princess shawl while drinking tea and listening to Anna Karenina. 
  • Aired out the house (Much to my allergist's dismay.  Totally worth the headache!)
  • Enjoyed birdsong and rainfall.
  • Kicked off Spring Cleaning with the girls. 
  • Bought daffodils for my husband...a spring tradition of ours.
  • Made arrangements for a Spring Break outing with my grandmother.
  • Shared carrots and hummus with the dogs.
  • Ordered some half-price sock yarn.
  • and Appreciated the fact that I was home and in peace instead of at the hospital!
Yep, It was a GREAT decision.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sheep Shearing Day, 2012

Thank You to Guy Frazier for the excellent shearing job and a day full of fun!
























Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spoiled

 Opal Schafpate  - 1 skein, only 2 yards left!
Schaeffer Anne, 1 skein in Michele Obama

Both pair:
Ann Budd's basic sock pattern
80 stitches around, 80 rows in leg, 60 rows in foot
2.25 mm needles
Each pair took about a week to knit.

I'm a lucky knitter because I have a husband who actually loves his handknit gifts.  He's particularly fond of his socks, and so when he rather mournfully brought me three pair this winter that he'd completely worn through (with no hope of repair) I happily started work to rectify the situation.  The only problem?  I quickly discovered that the Anne was the only sock yarn in my stash with enough yardage for my husband's gigantic feet.  Many thanks to my Mom for picking up the Opal for me from one of her local stores.  (No one around here carries it anymore, which is a darn shame.)  She actually provided 3 skeins, so there will be more to come.  Although we didn't have much cold this winter, I want my husband to be prepared for next year!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Christmas In....March?

Friends, I have an idea.

Dangerous words, to be sure.

All of my gifts for Christmas 2012 shall be handmade! 
(Which means they will most likely be handknit, naturally.)

I've no idea why the subject of Christmas has been on my mind so much lately, but I've found myself mulling over this idea a lot over the last few weeks.  The fact of the matter is that I LOVE handmade Christmases.  I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but for me it's just so much more personal.  This afternoon I did a bit of a stash dive, and in the process discovered that I could probably come up with a gift for everyone on my list with stuff I already have...which sweetens the challenge considerably.

Generally speaking, my desire to knit things for Christmas doesn't usually start until sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  As we all know, by that time it's usually too late for such nonsense, so I ignore the urge and stick with standard store-bought gifts.  In the rare instances that I do actually knit something for someone I've had two results.  One, I work feverishly and don't manage to finish....resulting in a wrapped thing under the tree in various stages of completion with the needles stuck in.  or.  Two, I actually finish, but only because I've worked like a madwoman to the point of exhaustion.  If I start now, I'll avoid both traps! (theoretically.  I'm not stupid.)

So game on!

The Christmas knitting shall begin after Spring Break.

And would you believe, I already have plans for three of the gifts on my list?

PS.  The nature of the beast means that there will be a lot of secret knitting which won't be shared here on the blog until after Christmas.  Tough luck.  That's the way it is.  Just imagine how fun those post-Christmas posts will be, though!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stuck In A Rut?

It is true....my knitting has ground to a rather dull almost halt.

With the exception of some gift knitting - the BSJ's and a couple of pair of socks which I will show you tomorrow - I've not really done anything at all in months.  Truth be told, all of that gift knitting, though done in love, was hardly challenging.  The trade-off is that the recipients absolutely loved their gifts, and that made up for the sometimes dull nature of the work.

So what's going on?
 Well, there is this..
And this.

For the first time since I began a Capital K Knitter, I have two long-term projects which seem to be sucking up all of my creative energy.  The first is an exercise in math, fine handwork skills and complicated lace.  The second challenges notions of color and pushes (often unsuccessfully) against the OCD boundaries which so often constrain me.  I absolutely love them both, and yet....

The question is, am I finding myself unable to start new and different projects because there is a part of me that wants/needs to finish these things, or am I in one of those creative slumps that just happen sometimes?

I don't have an answer, but I can tell you that I'm feeling particularly uninspired right now...which is odd when the world around me is opening up to the joy and beauty of spring.

The question deserves some contemplation.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Knowing When To Keep My Mouth Shut

Monsoon season comes to Chuck and Josh!
Bonus points if you can name the podcast hosted by the two men who my cacti are named for....

So it was a rather difficult week for a variety of reasons.

I had written up a big post explaining the whole mess....but I'm not going to publish it because I just don't want to have THAT kind of blog.  I like to think I've found a happier place here, and it's been a long while (I think.  You might have a different opinion.) since I've used the blog to complain or whine.  Discussing serious issues occasionally....well, that's a different story.

At any rate, sometimes it's just best to stay quiet, and so that's exactly what I'm going to do!

My apologies to any of you who may have been worried about my absence from the blog.  Please know we are all good, and this week is bound to be better.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Twins!





 I've made so many of them that they hardly need explanation...
Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket, knit on size 4 (3.5 mm) Addi Turbo's (24 inch circs) with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (whatever I had on hand), and taking about two days/jacket to knit.  As you may have guessed because of the buttons, the twins shall be a boy/girl pair.
Mama Megan is one of my oldest friends from church.  (Her Dad officiated at our wedding.)  She has about six weeks to go, and she looks fabulous! 

I'm so very excited for her, and can't wait to meet the babies!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

How To Silence A Child

I've been thinking about this post for months now....only to discover yesterday morning that I actually wrote it on January 29, 1991.
That's right....I covered the exact material I've been pondering 21 years ago.  Believe it or not, the story that entry tells covers a problem I still struggle with today.  Remember that essay I'm supposed to be writing for you?  Every time I sit down to a blank page I flip out a little bit, convinced that what's in my head will never come out as I think it should. 
Rather than rewrite, I thought I would just share that journal entry with you.
"What will I write about today?  An essay on the evolution of writing assignments.  (I'm bored, can you tell?)  When I was in the fourth grade, we had creative writing every week.  We would be given a topic and enough time to write about it.  I used to write really wonderful stories.  Unfortunately, when it was time to read for class, I would get shy.  I would decide that my story would bore everyone.  I couldn't read it correctly with the right accents for effect.  To make matters worse, I had troubles deciphering my own handwriting.  It was horrible.  To this day, the only time I can come up with a good story is when I know that no one else will see my work."
Pretty darn insightful for a 17-year-old, don't you think?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Finished In February!

Back at the beginning of February, I shared with you all a list of things that I needed/wanted to get finished.  Here is the follow up:

  1. I did finish the binding on the quilt.  It is happily in use as the new couch quilt.
  2. The Green Man embroidery piece is very close to being finished.  I need to decide how I would like to display it before I finish the flowers and tree buds, though, as beads are being considered
  3. I made a decision on the silk stole.  I do want to finish it....but given that I have so many other things that must be done first, it's on hold for a bit.
  4. The drop spindle singles are the one thing that didn't even make it out of my project bag.  Oh well!  I did get back to work on some laceweight on the spinning wheel, though, so that's got to count for something.
  5. The clogs are going with me this weekend to  my parents' house, and will be done by the time we come back.  (Again, I need their washer to felt...mine won't do it.)
  6. I did get quite a bit done on the Princess, but it is taking a break right now.  Apparently I needed a break to do other things more than I needed to do the Princess. 
Other things that I managed to accomplish in February include:
  1. A whole lot of reading, as you've seen.
  2. Three separate baby gifts - which I'll be blogging next week.
  3. A pair of socks for my husband.
  4. A secret for my husband.
  5. Reorganization of my corner of the basement...which now is fantastic.
  6. Reading/note taking on the first four of my journals.
So all in all, a very good month.  I'm pleased with what I was able to finish, and now have far fewer random things hanging over my head!