Monday, December 31, 2012

The 2012 Blog Review!

The Knitting List: 
  • 2 pair mittens
  • 2 Andean chullos
  • 2 baby surprise jackets
  • 6 pair socks
  • 4 shawls (including one cape)
  • 2 scarves
  • 2 men's sweaters
  • 1 vest
  • 4 doll outfits
  • 1 pair baby booties
  • 1 Princess Shawl
Best of 2012:  The Princess Shawl


Top 10 Books (in no particular order):
  1. Defending Jacob, Willian Landay
  2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo
  3. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
  4. Wild, Cheryl Strayed
  5. Among Others, Jo Walton
  6. Crossing The Borders of Time,  Leslie Maitland
  7. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  8. The Sense of an Ending, Julien Barnes
  9. Song of Achilles, Madeline MIller
  10. The Twelve, Justin Cronin
Best of 2012:  Crossing the Borders of Time, Leslie Maitland
Special "Most Fun" award to the Outlander Books by Diana Gabaldon

I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to mention our losses in 2012, which in many ways defined our year.  We love and miss them all.
  • Joe Whitney
  • Eric Jansing
  • Janet Williams
  • Kritter
  • Kiera

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What I Read In December

1.  The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova - Yes, I know.  This book first appeared on the October spooky book list.  However, I only read a chapter or so and then had to put it off because of all of the library books last month.  It's now one of my all-time favorite books, and may be a candidate for my top 5 list that I will put up tomorrow.  As I shared before, it's a reworking of the Dracula myth....and it is bloody brilliant.  (ha)  One of the things I truly appreciated was the fact that on one level the book is a travelogue, with many of the locations being unfamiliar to me.  In fact, I had a lot of fun doing online searches for pictures and information about the various settings....discovering along the way some amazingly lovely buildings, such as the Rila Monastery.  Bravo!

2.  Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn - I've had soooooo many people tell me to read this book!  It first came to my attention via Books on The Nightstand, and since then it has been recommended to me every single time I ask for book recommendations on FB.  When a friend specifically messaged me to ask if I had read Flynn's books I knew I had to finally sit down and read it.  It's hard to sum up exactly what I thought.  I think Flynn is a very smart writer in her mastery of the minutia.  I think her characters are definitely unique and unforgettable, but I also think that none of them were in any way sympathetic.  I've read that you either love or hate the ending.  I feel neither extreme, but I do appreciate it, and have enjoyed contemplating it. 

3.  Flame of Sevenwaters, Juliete Marillier - Marillier remains one of my favorite writers, even though her most recent Sevenwaters books don't quite reach the brilliance of her first. The Sevenwaters books are romantic fantasies built around traditional Irish myth and many of the fairy tales we were all raised on.  They are centered around the family of Sevenwaters, with each book being the story of one of the daughters.  I think that perhaps what I love most about Marillier's books is that her female characters are always the ones that save the day, and they always get the happy ending they deserve because of that. 

4.  Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel - I wanted to like it, truly I did.  Ahem.  I truly dislike Mantel's writing style, which for a long while confused me so much that I found myself having to reread passages multiple times in order to figure out what was going on or who exactly we were reading about.  (I consider myself a smart reader, so this is a bit irritating.)  Ultimately, I found that I read it best when I was too tired to think about it....which isn't a great sign.  I wonder if so many people love Mantel's books because they are supposed to....because of the hype and the accolades, and all else.  It certainly wouldn't be the first time a wildly popular book had disappointed me.  Having found enough friends who honestly loved it, though, I"m just not sure.  At any rate, it's done and I can move on. 

5.  Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel - I bought it when I bought Wolf Hall.  I have to read it. 

I've found myself being drawn to books which share a common denominator over the last month or so.  I've not completed any of them at this point, and because I have intentions to branch out and read more along the same lines I've decided to keep them for a special themed reading post in January.  It should be fun! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Handmade Christmas - Part 4, What I Made For Everyone Else




You already know about Dad's Cobblestone Pullover made from our Jacob wool.
 
Well...I couldn't let Christmas go by without Mom also receiving something made from the first year's shearing!  Honestly, I don't know who was happier about it....Mom, who wore the thing all weekend over multiple shirts, or Dad, who was delighted that Mom also had a first year garment.  As for myself, I have to admit that it was a whole lot more attractive when worn than it was in the box.
 
Jacob Handspun from our first year
US 8, 5.0mm needles
December 8-9, 2012
 
Not pictured (because they've already been the subject of blog posts)
Heart to Heart Scarf for my Mother In Law, Emily
Celeano, for my other MIL, Penny
Daybreak, for Sean's Aunt Suzy
Lyrica, for Sean's Aunt Lee Lee
 
Still to be completed (EEK!), although I have good cause:
Red socks for my grandmother
American Girl Doll coat for my niece
 
 


A Handmade Christmas - Part 3, What I Made For My Husband


 Max, by Elsebeth Lavold
Book Twelve:  The Walk in The Park Collection
Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool
7 skeins Forest Green
1 skein Granite
US 4 (3.5mm) and US 6 (4.0mm) Addi Turbos
October 16 - November 4, 2012
 
 
For those of you who are new to the blog, my husband is very spoiled.  He is on the every-other-year sweater plan, which means that every other year I knit him a new sweater.  As he is a (very intelligent) man who actually LOVES to wear his handmade sweaters (and doesn't just wear them to make his knitting wife happy), I am happy to oblige.
 
I think he may have forgotten, though, that this was his year because his sweater did surprise him a bit - despite the fact that he walked in on me working on it multiple times.  Yay me!
 
I actually purchased the yarn 8 or so years ago to knit a sweater for myself.  When that didn't happen, I gave it to my mom.  This fall I realized I had enough (or so I thought) to make Sean's next sweater, and so I took it back.  Long story short, I had to purchase a contrasting skein for the cuffs and collar because no, I didn't actually have enough.  (Still not sure why...my gauge is spot on.)  Ah well, no one would ever have known it wasn't supposed to be that way had I not just told you.  Moral of the story, don't buy yarn that you don't intend to use right away. 
 
Sean's other sweaters are considerably heavier and bulkier than this one, and I think he's rather enjoying having something different!
 
PS.  The pattern is a subtle knit/purl pattern that forms lines of boxes that run vertically.  For some odd reason they seem to have freaked out my camera, so you'll just have to pretend you can see them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Handmade Christmas - Part 2, What I Made For The Girls

Links to all of the patterns and further details about the projects can be found on my Ravelry page.
Candy Stripe Day Dress
by Jacqueline Gibb
leftover yarn - Dream in Color Classy
US 5, 3.75 mm knitting needles
December 13-14, 2012
for Tanith


Poncho Set
by Jacqueline Gibb
Ellen's Half Pint Farm 100% Merino Sock
US 7, 4.5 mm needles
December 16 - 17, 2012
for Gillian

Heather Aran Set
also by the talented Jacqueline Gibb
leftover Jacob Sheep yarn
US 2 and 4 needles
December 10-14, 2012
for Tanith - technically from my Dad
 
*Dad won an AGD sweater and hat set at the AGM (Annual General Meeting) for the Jacob Sheep Breeders Association last summer in a raffle.  He didn't know which kid to give it to, so I made this sweater and a headband/ear warmer (which has temporarily disappeared into the Christmas clutter) for him so that he had a sweater and hat for both girls.

Andean Chullo
by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence for Knit Picks
Knit Picks Palette (kit)
US 1.5 - 2.5mm needle
November 15 - 22, 2012
for Tanith!
 
I made one of these hats last year for Gillian, and Tanith has wanted one every since.  One kit has more than enough yarn for two hats (and drat it, I have a second kit because I just didn't know!).  Along with the hat, we also gave Tanith the flip-top mittens I made to match Gillian's hat as Gillian has outgrown them.




Northanger Abbey Hood
by Catherine Salter Bayer
Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool, Cherry
US 6, 4.0 mm
US 7, 4.5 mm
US 8, 5.0 mm
November 28 - December 7, 2012
 
So here's the back story:  When Gillian was about two I fell head over heels in love with the color of this fabulous Jo Sharp yarn as it was a perfect red for my little blue-eyed blond, and I bought I think 2.5 bags worth of the stuff.  Eventually I sold a bag, as I had different lot numbers (and no real idea of why I had purchased soooo much), and began working on a cabled sweater for my wee girl.  Gillian was about four at the time, and already as opinionated as can be.  When I tried the body on her, she told me she loved it....and would wear it if it were purple with pink hearts. 
 
I knew she wasn't lying, so I set the whole thing aside with a sigh.  I gave it all to my BKB, who was going to finish it for her daughter.  When that didn't happen, she eventually gave it back.  I've used some for Santa hats and elf slippers....but mostly it's been sitting for YEARS.
 
Then, in mid-November Gillian requested a red cloak and hood, completely out of the blue.  My heart sang!  I did a Ravelry search for patterns in my library and came up with this gem from the Jane Austin Knits series of magazines by Interweave Knits.   It is rather perfect, and my girl was delighted when she found it under the tree!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Handmade Christmas - Part 1, What The Girls Made

 Clay Yarn Bowl
For Mom, From Gillian
(materials are leftovers from Grampa's vile dog)

 Mizzou Pillows
For Doc and Gana, From Both
(the fabric is quite literally the only craft supply I purchased)
 Fish Pillow
For Unkie Erin, From Gillian
(Fish design by Gillian!)
 Knit Jacob Sheep Hats
For Grandpa and Grandma, From Gillian
yarn leftover from 1st year shearing/Grampa's sweater
 Embroidered Dish Towel
For Mom, From Gillian
 Knit Scarf
For Grammie-Great, From Gillian
 Fish Pillow
For Unkie Erin, From Tanith
(She designed her fish as well!)
 Cat Toys in Decorative Box
For Unkie Erin's Cats, From Gillian
 Cat Bed
For Mimi (Grandma's new barn cat), From Gillian
Potholders
For Grandma, From Tanith
 
Knit Scarf
For Tanith, From Gillian
 
Decorative Box (Gillian)
Clay Flower (Tanith)
both for Santa
 
Not pictured:
Knit Scarf for cousin Molly
mini Molly Doll for the real Molly
Both by Gillian

Customized Travel Coffee Mug for Dad, from both

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

With Love,
The Fraziers

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kiera

 What I would like you to know about Kiera is that she had a choice.
She could have allowed the abuse she endured as a pup to ruin her life....
 or, she could choose to let love, patience and kindness heal her broken heart.
 She chose love.
She chose love each and every day for the 15 1/2 years that she was a part of my family.
 She was the sweetest, most gentle, most trustworthy dog I've ever met.
 Kiera was even the kind of dog that even cat people liked.
  Most of all, though, she was mine...my heart, my soul, my shadow, my constant companion.
On December 20th, I wrote on my FB wall, "This may sound a bit silly, but one of my Christmas wishes is coming true with the snow today.  Knowing that my sweet Kiera dog is not likely to see another winter, I've been hoping that she would be able to play in the snow again before she goes."
Two days later I had to say good bye.

Godspeed my sweet dog, and Thank You.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Bought A Dress: My Birthday Resolution

 
I fell in love as soon as I saw it in the winter Anthropologie catalog. 
 
Really, is there anything more delicious for dreaming than Anthropologie's catalogs?
 
But for me....that's all they are....dreaming.
 
I'm a realist, and I'm a stay at home Mom who rarely goes anywhere or sees anyone other than my husband, my girls, our families, the folks at church and the baristas at Starbucks.  All of these people love me.  None of them particularly care what I look like and/or how I dress.
 
If they do, none of them have complained.
 
Beyond that, we are also a family on a tight budget, and I've  managed to learn how to live with a very, very limited wardrobe.  I would tell you just how few clothes I have, and how old they are, but I think most of you would be shocked and honestly horrified.  With two quickly growing girls with different tastes and a husband who needs to look presentable for work, I consider my own needs to be at the bottom of the pile. 
 
It doesn't help that I've never felt quite comfortable with fashion.  For as long as I can remember, I've always been somewhere between "I just don't care" and "I am never quite right, and this is stressful, so I'd rather opt out."  Add in a dash of "these clothes are ridiculous" during my formative years, a sprinkle of "I was born in the wrong flippin century", and a rather unfortunately over sized portion of "we won't go into it now but the self esteem issues are major and/or I don't like to be noticed much" and you have the hot mess that I am today. 
 
It doesn't help that I despise shopping.
 
The straw that broke the camel's back was Tanith's awards assembly at the beginning of December.  I was dressed as usual - jeans and (old) t-shirt, plaid flannel shirt, no makeup, hair clean but not styled.  As I sat down in the gymnasium and looked around at the other parents I thought to myself,
 
"Wow.  I look like a hobo.  I'm not even trying anymore."
 
I was honestly embarrassed....and that's entirely new.
 
I spent the next week or so pondering my hobo-like state - really giving some serious thought to how and why I had ended up that way, and paying attention to my appearance in a way I really have never done.  My conclusion?  Something needed to be done...and quick. 
 
Honestly, though, I had no idea where to start. 
 
Buy some makeup?  I literally ran out almost a year ago, and have been relying on samples since for the few occasions I've needed it.  I go back and forth between loving and despising the stuff, and I have skin issues that make it problematic at best.  Plus, I've been contemplating trying a new brand, but didn't know where to start.
 
Worry about the clown shoes?  Note to self....the next time you buy your one pair of good shoes to last a few winters, orange mary jane Birks (while fun at first) will wear on you after a bit.  People with square feet don't have a lot of choices anyway, and so they'd best make better ones than I did that time!
 
Cut the hair?  That can wait. And it's really a non-problem given my fabulous stylist who won't let me do anything stupid and who always makes my hair look great.  More of an issue of me actually doing something with the stuff.
 
 Clothes?  Where to start?  Help!  When you need almost a complete overhaul it's a little bit overwhelming!
 
Then came my birthday.
 
At the end of a rather perfect day, my husband presented me with an envelope.  Inside was a hand-made gift certificate for "One Item From Anthropologie."  I was rather gobsmacked.  My husband wanted me to spend money in my dream store...and he was giving me the freedom to pick ANYTHING.
 
But....there was a caveat.
 
What he really wanted was for me to buy THAT dress.
 
You see, when I first saw that dress I took the rather outlandish (for me) action of actually posting a link of it to my FB page.  I may not like shopping, but I love to daydream and pretend sometimes.  That's all I really meant by the link.  That, and I honestly loved the dress so wanted a permanent reminder of it for just in case.  Sean took me seriously, though, and he would have gone ahead and just ordered the dress, but some of his online friends didn't think that was such a wise move.  They cautioned him to leave the choice to me...thus the handmade gift card.
 
But what he really wanted was for me to buy THAT dress...to make a dream a reality.
 
I kind of wish he'd just bought the darn thing on his own.  As it was, it took me until almost two days later - with Sean standing over my shoulder to make absolute sure that I actually ordered the dress - to pull the trigger.  Over the course of those two days I went through every single emotion possible - and yes, it really was that big of a deal.  I also spent a lot of time considering what else I could do with the money.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that very few of those options had anything to do with me and the hobo problem  It was just so blasted hard to consider spending that kind of money on a whimsy - even if it was half off!
 
It felt selfish. 
 
It felt completely out of character.
 
It felt impractical
 
It was honestly scary. 
 
But I did it.  I bought a dress while my husband and girls cheered me on.  And when it arrived a few days later I almost wept because it was so beautiful.  It's now hanging in my closet, and I will admit to frequently going in there just to look at it, touch it, admire it, and yes...dream of wearing it.  The fact that so very many of my family and friends cheered me on when I shared the news of my new dress, well that's just a bonus. 
 
I'm choosing to look at that dress as a promise to myself...a promise to move beyond the search for better health which has so consumed me since my children were born and into a place where I am also seeking grace and beauty.
 
With all of that in mind, I have made an official birthday resolution.  (No, that's not a real thing....but I don't care.  I'm making it a real thing this year.)  My 39th year is going to be the year where I pull myself together and stop looking like a hobo.  Baby steps, giant leaps and bounds...both will be needed, and all of those things I mentioned above will need to be addressed.  By my 40th birthday I would like for my appearance to no longer be an embarrassment or a hindrance to me.
 
Deep breath, and off the cliff I go....sparkly dress in hand!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lessons

 
Today...we made more Christmas gifts.
 
Today...both of my girls used their hands to create something.
 
Today...my girls used their hearts to give of themselves.
 
Today...my children understood that the things they made are and will be truly valued.
 
Today...they knew that the work of their hands and hearts was worth more than anything they could ever buy.
 
I think that's a good day.
 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two More Under The Tree




Heart To Heart Beaded Scarf
by Sivia Harding
Dream in Color Smooshy Cashmere, Cocoa Kiss
size 6, silver lined gold beads
Addi Turbo, US 3 (3.25 mm)
June 23 - Nov. 12, 2012
For Emily, my Mother In Law

This is actually a special request.  Emily fell in love with the Heart to Heart scarf I made for myself a few years ago, and eventually I asked her if she would like one for herself.  I did have trouble finding just the right yarn as she requested a 'soft black' like that is used on some of the MU Tiger clothes.  I knew what she meant...and it took some time to track down a yarn that was both the right color (not black, not grey, something in between and not at all harsh in tone) and was also soft enough to wear next to the skin.  The Cocoa Kiss was a rather inspired idea, if I do say so myself, and the yarn is delectable.  The beads were a perfect match for my MU loving Emily!  I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoyed making it.
 

 (This first picture is a terrible shot, but the color is accurate in it!)

Lyrica Euterpe
by Rosemary Hill (Seven Small Shawls, Year 2)
Frog Tree Pediboo, 2 skeins Raspberry
Addi Turbo US 8 (5.0mm) (I think....whoops)
Nov 23 - 28, 2012
 
Lyrica is one of three small shawls/scarves that will be starting their journey through the US Mail tomorrow to three very special women.  The other two shawls - my Daybreak and my Celeano - have been patiently waiting in my shawl drawer for their perfect homes for quite some time now.  I'm very excited to be sharing all three...and when I do my Christmas round up I'll tell you where they all went! 
 
I do want to make a note about the yarn.  Pediboo is a sport weight yarn that has a bamboo weight.  As much as I like the drape of the finished shawl (and think it's a perfect fiber for the climate it's going to) I have to say that I didn't enjoy working with this yarn at all.  It felt oddly heavy and slick - but not in a good way.  Bamboo just isn't my thing...but then I bought the yarn for the incredible color (which I wish had photographed better) and not for the fiber content!