Aug 31, 2006

The End of Summer

It’s over! Really and truly finished. How do I know? It’s not just the fact that today is the last day of August. I know we’ve reached the end of the summer because today is the day that I take my girls to go meet their new teachers and deposit their school supplies in their classes so that they’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.

This afternoon we’ll go to the school and join the excitement as we search the lists posted in the halls to find out who their teachers for the next year will be. It’ll be a mob scene for sure. I remember when I was a kid and they’d print the name of your teacher for the upcoming year on your end of year report card. What was wrong with that? Is the summer of suspense really a better idea? I’ve been told that they do it this way so that the parents don’t have any time to complain and beg to have their child assigned to a different class. I can understand that to a point but, then again, I’ll bet that those parents will still complain.

red fountain plants Anyway, as I drove to work this morning with my car loaded up with school supplies, I saw these plants again. I love them. It’s a dark a dreary day here so the picture is dark and dreary as well but, trust me, these are beautiful. They look like a group of flaming fountains. I wish I knew what they were – any clue?

I’m still working on Lily almost exclusively but, with my notorious lack of focus, that is sure to change. Right now though, it’s a good project to work on while watching television. It’s much less difficult than I remember. Pictures and more discussion of that tomorrow. Speaking of TV, PR last night was just ok. I think I just wasn’t really excited by the challenge and the designers didn’t seem to be either. What do you think? Is it just me?

Aug 30, 2006

Way Better than Fuzzy Dice

mini blocker Isn’t this cute? I saw it on a blog (I forget which) a while ago and I had to have one. I knew instantly exactly what I’d do with it. I sent in my order to Felt Up and my mini sock blocker key chains (yes I bought a few) arrived on Monday.

Last night I took a little time out from working on Lily and made a tiny sock. Of course my girls were fascinated. The sight of me making tiny socks was inspiring to them. They’re having visions of socks for their AG dolls and B**ld-a-Bears. I’m sure there is no end to the applications that they can find for tiny socks. I had other things in mind.

mini sock Please excuse the crappy photo but this picture of the sock and blocker in situ was taken at o-dark-thirty this morning. It’s hanging from the rear-view mirror in my car. How perfect is that? It replaces a little hockey goalie (Lets go Rangers!) that hung there forever. I still like hockey but I LOVE knitting. I may not be able to knit while driving (except at really long red lights) but I can enjoy my knitting every where I go. Even more fitting is that this sock was made out of a small scrap STR left over from the first pair of socks I made. I just love little connections like that.

Thanks for all of your kind words about my dad’s flooded house. He was out there all day yesterday and returned to my house yesterday filled with excitement over all the action taking place at his house. Walls and flooring are already being ripped out; his stuff is being removed for possible restoration or replacement; and the insurance machine is in motion. For a guy like my dad, who loves home improvement shows, this is positively fascinating. See that... yet another silver lining on this cloud - entertainment for my dad.

Aug 29, 2006

Lily Returns

I hope that my post yesterday wasn’t a huge downer. It wasn’t meant to be. Actually there is so much irony involved in the situation that I’m more amused than anything else. I’m not referring to the fact that this coincides with the anniversary of Katrina, which flooded many homes, either. You should all know that, almost exactly 9 years ago, I was in nearly the same spot as my dad. At the time I had a toddler and we had just moved to a Virgina when some idiot on the 3rd floor of our building put her cigarette out in a paper bag before her nap. The fire didn’t reach our apartment on the first floor but the water surely did. We lost most of our furniture and learned the value of good insurance in a way that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

It sounds like a horrible experience but, it really is only stuff. Today we laugh as we recall the little frustrations and coincidences. I still find it ironic that the fire happened the day after I finished unpacking and removed the very last box from our house. I can remember watching angrily as someone used the brand new grill I got my husband for his 30th birthday as a step to get to the second floor balcony. I recall feeling silly after I used the one brief moment I was allowed into the collapsing building to grab a basket of dirty laundry rather than a diamond necklace that later disappeared during the restoration.

I remember all of that and appreciate that, after all was said and done, we were much better off for the experience. We got new furniture and a new home. It’s with this perspective that I can assure my dad that this is really just an opportunity in disguise. The saturated laptop will be replaced with a newer, better one. The leather furniture that collected more dust than he would have preferred will be replaced with something that suits him better. All the stuff that you look at on a day to day basis and say - “someday I’ll replace it” – will be replaced. I’m no Pollyanna but I do believe that things tend to work out for the best.

Before all of this happened I was all set to tell you about the two movies I saw last weekend. TWO!!! I never get to see first run movies. Between the girls’ schedules and everything else – it just doesn’t work out very often. Not only did we see TWO movies but they were both very good.

On Saturday night we saw Invincible – the new Marky Mark movie. Yes, I know he doesn’t go by that any more but, to me, he’ll always be Marky Mark and as long as he maintains that six-pack I’ll enjoy watching him. I’m not a huge football fan but the story is a true underdog tale and who doesn’t love that? Some of the scenes could’ve been shorter but the acting was good. I especially enjoyed Greg Kinnear, who was also in the other movie we saw this weekend – Little Miss Sunshine. This movie is a must see. The whole audience was ROFL! I’d never really seen Steve Carrell before but he was great – spot on perfect. The story is about a family of oddball characters on a long road trip in a beat up VW bus. I could easily watch this again.

Lily 8-28-06Finally, I decided last night that, rather than starting something new, I went back to a few UFO’s. I pulled out Lily, my linen camisole and, after I figured out where I left off all those years ago, I got to work. I’m not really enjoying working with the linen but the pattern is easy. I find myself wondering why I found it so difficult back then. I took this picture last night right before I sat down and started working on it. As you can see, I didn’t get far the last time. I’m making decent progress now so I hope to show you another shot later this week.

A new knitty toy arrived in my mail yesterday too but I’ll show it to you tomorrow. I am such a tease!

Aug 28, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere!

trek-walkerI finished this sock over the weekend and hubbo says it’s the most comfortable sock ever. I started sock number two right away before I could lose my momentum. I thought I’d have more knitting news than that to report today but yesterday didn’t exactly go as planned.

I started the day early. I just couldn’t sleep because I was so anxious to have my girls home. I intended to stay home and knit while I waited for my girls to get home but I couldn’t focus. I also couldn’t decide what to knit next – everything I want to do has some fatal flaw. I kept dragging out my books and looking at projects and then putting them away again. I felt restless and excited.

Shortly before noon the phone rang. It was the security company reporting that an alarm had gone off at my dad’s house. Remembering that my dad said something recently about false alarms, I didn’t think much of it since they had no specific information. A short time later my dad’s neighbor called me. He had the scoop and it wasn’t good.

Sometime during the long weekend that my dad spent in Connecticut, a pipe failed on the third level of his townhouse. It flooded the house completely. Water started pouring out of his garage and even escaped through the siding on the house. By the time he saw it yesterday afternoon, the ceiling in the living room had come down completely, ruining the contents. There is no official word yet but it’s likely that the whole place will need to be gutted.

My dad lives a pretty spare life but it still sucks to lose everything you own. It’s especially lousy because he’d bought it as new construction and only recently started to put his own stamp on it – adding color and replacing the countertops and floors.

Thankfully, my dad didn’t have his cell phone on in the car so I was able to tell him the news in person when he came to drop my daughters off. Hearing about it during the 7 hour drive home wouldn’t have helped anything. A distracted driver is never a good thing. He’s staying with us for the time being and I’m happy to live close enough to help him out.

Aug 25, 2006

The Good Ship Trekking

This is the sky I saw on the way to work this morning. Why is it that when I’m out and about with my camera, with the sole purpose of taking a lovely sky shot for Saturday Sky, I usually find nothing of any interest at all - but when I’m driving along with places to be and deadlines and such, I see stuff going on up above that makes my stop and get my camera out. It could have something to do with the fact that I tend to sleep in on the weekends and miss the early morning show in the sky. Then again, it could be nothing more than cosmic irony. Hmmm…

Sunrise 8-25-06

trek boatThis sky actually said more to me than just “oooo… how pretty”. It‘s actually a lovely posting companion to the sock that I was working on last night. Do you see the similarity in the colors too? This is for hubbo and, as I’ve mentioned before, his feet are huge. Ginormous even! I’m enjoying the yarn and there is seemingly no end to the enjoyment I get out of knitting socks but OMG – these are killing me. They just seem to go on forever. Thankfully, he likes his socks low so I’m just going to continue on in pattern up the leg ‘till it makes me happy and then call it a day before I lose my will to knit its mate.

Concentrating on the sock for the night was a good thing because I needed a diversion from by Seraphim angst. This morning I had a welcome e-mail from the dyer. She’s going to see if she can work out some yarn for me. I am more relieved than you can possibly imagine. I really can’t wait to wrap this shawl around my shoulders.

Aug 24, 2006

Scarves, skies and the shawl of sadness

My daughters called last night. They began the call on a very serious note with expressions of how much they miss us. I’m sure they do but I suspect that the very grave tones they used were more for effect than anything else because they quickly became giggly and distracted by their cousins and that’s as it should be. They are having a blast! DQ even found a moment to harass me. I suggested that, if she misses her camp buddies so much, perhaps she should write letters to them. "Oh mom - writing letters is so 1900's . I live in the 2000's." Yeah, whatever!

8-24-06 sky

Isn’t this sky great? I saw it on the way to work this morning and I had to share. I’m sure that I’ll flake out on my Saturday Sky as usual so maybe this makes up for it just a little bit.

22 rows to go

I worked on Seraphim last night while Barbie Boy got auf’d on PR. I liked him but he really wasn’t doing anything terribly inspiring on the show. Anyway, I hope that you’re not too tired of hearing about Seraphim. This picture shows it after I knit 4 more rows last night - and I did one more row after I took this picture (I couldn’t help myself) so now there are 21 rows left. See how pitiful the poor hollow ball of yarn looks? I still haven’t heard about more yarn or come up with an alternative plan yet so I’ll probably only do 2 more rows and then put it on hold until I come up with a solution. *sigh*

While that’s sad for Seraphim, it means that I can shift my attention to one of my many other projects. Then again maybe I’ll cast on for the purple Elsebeth Lavold sweater. If I can’t wear Seraphim for the High Holidays then I’ll need to create something else quickly.

I could also start on of the 2 scarves that I have planned. I signed up for the funky scarf swap and I have a plan in mind but I need the yarn. Actually, I have the perfect yarn for the scarf. It’s Manos de Uroguay and I bought a whole bunch of it to make a vest or sweater for myself but it would be perfect for my pal so I went to they LYS looking for more. It wasn’t my favorite LYS and as usual I walked out of there with nothing. They had the Manos but I thought it was overpriced. I certainly didn’t pay that much for the skeins in my stash.

The funny thing was that there was a girl in the store shopping for red yarn while I was there. As I got ready to leave the store she mentioned that she was starting a scarf for the Red Scarf Project. Hooray! That’s the other scarf I want/need to make. You may recall that I made one for it last year. In fact I think it may be one of the first things I wrote about. There are a few cool buttons out there for it but I like this one from Scout.

Red Scarf '07

Aug 23, 2006

Not So Random Thoughts

I’d call this post random but apparently randomness is a bad thing these days. At least that’s the message I get from the Drama Queen often who tells me, in her most exasperated tone of voice, “Oh Mom, you’re so random!” Usually this is in response to some suggestion or humorous remark I make to her. On second thought, given the inordinate amount of joy I take in teasing my daughters, I suppose that there are worse things they could call me than random. Can you tell how much I miss them?

I might not be missing them quite so much if they called but, then again, maybe not. Actually I’m fairly pleased that they haven’t called. Pleased may not be the right word – more like encouraged. I take the lack of phone calls as a positive sign. Clearly, they’re too busy having fun with their cousins to call me and that can only be a good thing.

Never-the-less, the house was very quiet last night when I got home so, instead of working on Seraphim, I went to a movie at the local cheap theatre. I saw The Break-up which may or may not have been the best choice. I was feeling a little annoyed about a certain person who went on a golf outing while I went to work. Not fair! (He was still not home at 7:15pm. Humpf!) It was a cute movie that had it’s moments but, as someone said to me today, it hit a little too close to home. Not the breaking up part but the way that men and women behave. I expect that most of us know of women who drop hints instead of coming right out and saying what they want. Maybe we’re guilty of it ourselves from time to time. Who doesn’t know a guy who clings to his adolescent side just a bit too tightly?

I guess that I was hoping the movie would be a little lighter. I knew that the reviews weren’t great but still…

Thankfully the movie only cost two dollars so it’s not too bad. I came home and did 2 more rows on Seraphim. For those of you keeping score – I still have yarn left. Thanks for all of the good wishes and confidence that you’ve expressed about my dilemma. I still haven’t heard a reply from the person who dyed the yarn. I’m sure I’ll feel better when I do. I think I should be able to go another 4-6 rows which will leave me short by 20 rows.

I’ll be working on Seraphim and turning the heel on my second pair of Trekking socks while I watch Project Runway tonight. This is the first season that I’ve watched and I love it. Speaking of good TV I ought to revisit the Emmy that I showed you on Monday. A few people asked about it so here’s a little more info. As I said, it belongs to hubbo’s cousin. I’d name her but I’m not sure how she’d feel about being mentioned on the blog. I also don’t want too many family members finding the blog and putting her name on it could result in accidental googling. I can say that she got it for her production work on a VH1 special for World Aids Day in the mid 90’s. Since then she’s done writing for Scrubs, Must Love Dogs and other shows that you’ve probably heard of. Perhaps that makes me cool by association.

Aug 22, 2006

Aunt Jessica's Magic

Seraphim sputtering

This is Seraphim as it appeared on Sunday evening after I finished the second chart. I love it! I really, love this shawl and it’s killing me to see the yarn running out. That may look like a healthy ball of yarn in the pictures but looks can be deceiving. It’s pretty hollow. That’s a center pull ball and the center is gone. I’ve got about 28 rows left, including the edging, and I’m just not going to make it.

I’ve been obsessing over possible solutions. One would be to try and get another skein of yarn that uses the same colors but in drastically different proportions. What I’m thinking is this – any ball of yarn at this point is going to be a little off – not quite the same as the original. Since the original yarn has a high degree of variegation, the individual colors don’t stand out as much. Because of this, if the person dyeing the yarn mixed up the same colors but maybe applied them to the yarn with a drastically different emphasis – say very heavy on the bright blue, green and purple, and less heavy on the dark blue – then it may create a neat effect at the edge of the shawl if I worked it in gradually. It may even look intentional. On a pattern like this, which looks like feathered wings, the light colors at the edge could even add to the feeling of the shawl.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Delusional perhaps.

I don’t know – thinking about it makes me feel sad. On a more positive note, my girls are having a great time with their cousins in Connecticut. It’s interesting to hear about their adventures because my sister and I, and our lifestyles, are very different. It’s a little hard to define. I’ve tried to explain it a few times in writing but it just isn’t coming out right so I give up. Suffice to say that my daughters went to a car race on Saturday night for the fist time. The Drama Queen loved the crashes. She is totally my kid.

Another thing that amuses me is the element of “magic” at my sister’s house. The last time DQ visited her she came back with a favorite food – steak. I had made it before but she’d never try it. It wasn’t my cooking because she eats it at home now and loves it. It’s the magic of Aunt Jess’s house. Somehow my kids will do things there that they won’t do at home – in a good way. That’s where DQ decided that she loved Chinese food and that’s where Stinkerbelle ate strawberries and apples on Sunday. At home Stink won’t touch fruit but at her Aunt’s house the magic takes over. I can’t wait to hear what else they’ll try.

Aug 21, 2006

Oooo... Emmy

Saturday Sky 8-19-06 I took this picture on Saturday morning with every intention of posting it but, as you’ll hear, the weekend was a little more exciting than expected and I just never got anywhere near a computer.

I was in New York again this weekend and it was a great visit. Ironically, it was wonderful for the very reasons that made leaving NY a relief. That’s probably about as clear as mud. We moved away from NY nine years ago and it was like a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders. I love my family but we had so much of it in NY and they demanded so much of our time that we had no time for ourselves. This weekend we flew from one visit to the other non-stop all weekend and on Sunday night we returned home to Virginia, we were tired but full – like you are after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not just the turkey people – it’s the family.

When this trip up North was planned months ago, we couldn’t have foreseen how perfectly timed it would be. My grandmother has been ill recently. I didn’t mention it because I was in full-on denial - I couldn’t even think about it so I pretended that it wasn’t happening. She had passed out a little over a week ago and fell which landed her in the hospital for a few days. I’m happy to say that she’s home now and, although she got pretty banged up, she’s doing well. Hubbo asked her how she was feeling and her response was “Fragile.” I sat and talked to her for hours on Saturday and it was wonderful.

The purpose of this trip was to meet up with my sister who took my daughters back to Connecticut with her. Stinkerbelle and The Drama Queen will be with their cousins for the next week. My house is soooo quiet!
DQ and grandpa We visited with my grandparents and my mother for a little while before my sister hit the road again. I took this picture of DQ and my grandfather. Can you tell how much she loves her Zayde? It makes me unspeakably happy to know that one of my favorite people in the whole world is also one of my daughter’s favorite people. I’d show you pictures of my grandma but I don’t think she’d appreciate it much. She’s still a little bruised and wouldn’t want to be seen looking less that fabulous. I thought she looked just great.

We also visited one of my sorority sisters for a short time before settling in for the night at the home of hubbo’s uncle. At his house we stayed in the room that belonged to hubbo’s cousin Bonnie. Look what we found there – her Emmy! How cool is that? Naturally, I picked it up and took a good look at it. It’s very heavy and has a notice on the bottom that read something to the effect of – we giveth and we can taketh away. Nice huh? It’s still cool though because I never in a million year thought I’d see an Emmy up close.

On Sunday morning we went to visit hubbo's grandmother-from-hell. Yes, he knows I call her that and many other people do too - including family members. They all agree that it's an apt description. She's the type of person who is happiest when picking fights with her family and is usually on the outs with one or both of her two daughters. She was not nearly as venomous as usual but she did manage to tell us how angry she is at hubbo's cousin - in detail. She's also incredibly superficial and ordered us (hah!) each to lose 50 lbs before she sees us again. These demands haven't worked in the past - why would she think that they'd work now?

It sounds like an awful visit with her but knowing that I stood my ground with her once again is strangely empowering. I actually enjoyed it in a weird way. Does that make me a sick individual? Did I mention that visiting her was my idea? Yeah - I may be a little insane.

I was knitting feverishly over the weekend but my attention was mostly focused on Seraphim. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. For now I’ll just say that I’ve learned that the streets in Queens, NY are way too bumpy for knitting.

Aug 18, 2006

Crazy Fun

My family just drives me crazy sometimes. Last night Stinkerbelle was complaining again about the Drama Queen and how she doesn’t want to be around her. Moments later she told hubbo that we need to spend more family time all together – including DQ.

Her timing is kind of odd since we spent quite a lot of family together time during our recent vacation. In fact, our canoe trip that nobody was particularly excited about was a very good opportunity for family time. Canoeing is one of my favorite activities but the family is less than enthusiastic about it. They went to make me happy but didn’t expect much and they let me know it. After all the belly-aching about it that went on, it should surprise nobody that this is what we’re still discussing weeks later.

“Remember when we saw the wild horses!”
“It was crazy when we tipped out of the canoe.”
“Going over O-Hell (a rapids area) was so much fun. We did it really good Mommy.”
“I’ll never forget the look on Stikerbelle’s face when your canoe went over ours.”

It was a fun and eventful trip that will be fondly remembered for years to come so, although they complain a lot and drive me crazy, I’ll continue to plan activities that I think they’ll enjoy and hopefully we’ll have many more adventures.

eyecandyfriday Speaking of planning activities - planning my children's birthdays has always been a favorite thing for me so, in the spirit of Eye-Candy Fridays I offer the picture below. This was one of my more successful birthday day party ideas. For DQ’s 9th , she had a sleep-over party and I got small flower pots and tiles and had the girls mosaic the pots. Later, as the girls were downstairs watching shows and giggling, a friend and I grouted them and I made tissue paper flowers on pipe-cleaner stems. I stuck a flower in each and filled in treats around the stem like dirt. The display below is what the girls saw when they left in the morning. I was pretty happy with the way it worked out so I’m sharing it as my eye-candy today.

flower pot goody bags

Have a great weekend!

Aug 17, 2006

Seraphim in Distress

I have actual knitting content today but it’s not entirely positive. This is a picture of my Seraphim Shawl taken this morning. In person the color is a bit darker than this. It’s a dark blue with bright blue, purple and green sparks. I love the way the color plays out across the surface.

Seraphim in distress

Right now I’m in the middle of the second chart and I have a little more than one and a half balls of yarn left. I’m guessing that some of you may already have figured out where this is going. Yes, I’m freaking out again about whether I’ll have enough yarn to complete the project.

I saw a link the other day on the Harlot’s blog to a calculator that you can use to figure out the percentage of a triangular shawl that you’ve finished. Admittedly, my first attempt to use the calculator was screwed up because I can’t do math but I think I did it right the second time and, if it’s right, I have finished a little more than half of the shawl. Unfortunately I’m quite certain that I have significantly less than half the yarn left.

I’m hoping against hope that the calculator is wrong because the yarn I’m using was dyed specifically for this project and I’m not sure that it can be replicated. There is no natural place to change colors either. I’m doomed!

On the positive side, I’m so intent on finding out if I have enough yarn or not that I’m really focused on this project and working on it a lot. If anyone has suggestions for what to do if I run out of yarn on this one – I’m open to them. I really love the shawl and I want it to turn out right.

Aug 16, 2006

Funky Scarf Swap Questionnaire and Answers

Here are my answers to the recently posted Funky Scarf Swap questionnaire. I'm not sure if they'll be interesting to anyone but my swap pal but feel free to read on. If nothing else you can see a few of my favorite things which happen to be pretty neutral - perfect for Project Spectrum in August. Not the earrings of course, but the teapot and tree qualify.

Let’s get the allergy part out of the way. Are you allergic to any fibers? - Not that I know of. I tend to be a little wary of wool though because I know that people are often allergic to it. My skin has developed sensitivities to various things over the years so I can no longer wear things like watches with leather bands, silver jewelry and perfume – all of those cause itchy break outs for me. Sorry if that was too much information.

Do you prefer any fibers over others? - I like natural fibers. I never use or wear acrylic unless I am absolutely forced to.

Thinking back to Scout’s post about what funky means to you, post an image of something that you think is funky! - This was a hard one for me. Here is part of my collection of glass bead earrings. I love these but hubbo isn’t a fan. He calls them “whimsical” which sounds like a good thing unless you recognize this as his code for “ick”. I also think that this cow spotted tea set is kind of funky with the udders waving up in the air.
Funky EarringsCow teapot

Would you prefer funky yarn or a funky pattern? I think that I’d prefer a funky pattern and color combination. I’m not big on fuzzy or messy-looking yarn but a little bit used as a detail could be cool.

What are your favorite colors? - I really like most colors but I tend to gravitate towards blues and greens and purples. It’s really about the color combination and relationship for me. For example – I’m not usually big on yellow but paired with a gorgeous blue it’s wonderful.

What is your favorite piece of art? - I love Monet, Matisse, Hockney and many others but this is a picture of art I loved enough to buy it for myself. It’s a copper tree that I love. It was the first grown up art we bought for our house and I love it.
Copper Tree

What colors would you never have up close to your pretty face? - That’s hard to say - probably nothing really wild and bright but nothing pastel either.

Would you prefer an actual scarf or a cowl? - I’d prefer a scarf. I love the flexibility of being able to wrap myself up nice and warm or wear my scarf casually knotted for effect. I’ve never been big on cowls – they don’t look good on me either.

When you wear a scarf do you prefer a wider/shorter scarf or a thin/long scarf? - As you can see in yesterdays post, I love my scarf long and kind of thin. Not too thin though, because I want to wrap it around me and feel cozy.

What is the climate like where you live? - In the summer it’s hot and obscenely humid but in the winter it can get pretty cold here.

Would you prefer a functional scarf (to keep you warm) or one just to funk-up your wardrobe? - I have a few decorative scarves but I don’t often wear them - mostly because I forget to. I look forward to wearing my funky new scarf to keep me warm this winter.

What else would you like your partner to know about you? - I like funky things but not over the top crazy. In general I stick to a lot of black and fairly simple, classic, shapes.

Aug 15, 2006

My Sad Old Scarf

You may have noticed the Funky Scarf Swap button that magically appeared in my sidebar. I’m pretty excited about it for a bunch of reasons but one stands out above the rest – the replacement factor. The scarf that I currently use is boring and old and desperately needs to be replaced. Answering the swap questionnaire is important but a quick discussion of my current scarf may be helpful too.
Tied ScarfThis is a picture of me in the scarf this morning. (Don’t-cha love the extra chin?) Understandably I cropped most of me out of the lovely picture that the Drama Queen took of me this morning. I’m not really important in this picture anyway – the scarf is the star. I’m wearing it here in typical fashion – folded double and wrapped around my neck with the ends pulled through the loop created by the middle of the scarf. It gets cold here in DC and I really do use the scarf for warmth. Wearing it like this puts lots of layers of scarf around my neck which feels so cozy. Some days, when it’s not quite cold enough for the scarf, I take it with me “just in case” and on those occasions I drape it around my neck, as a single long piece, and loosely tie it midway down my chest. I like it both ways.
Scarf Detail I also took a detail shot of the scarf. It’s a cabled cotton deal that I’ve had forever. I think it may have been fluffier or creamier when I got it but I’m not sure. I’ve had this scarf forever! I truly can’t remember where it came from or when. I’m fairly certain that it predates my kids but beyond that I couldn’t say.

Looking at the scarf you may wonder why I’ve kept it around so long. Good question! I do have other scarves but I rarely use them. One comes to mind immediately – a black and taupe striped chenille number. It’s nice but not nearly long enough and then there’s the chenille factor – I guess I’m just not a chenille girl. I’ve looked for replacements but nothing ever seemed quite right – wrong length, color, material. After I started knitting I often thought of creating a replacement but I just never got around to it.

I’ve got a few photos to take tonight so that I can answer the questionnaire tomorrow.

Aug 14, 2006

Just One Word

Rhinebeck. Arrrggghh! I’ve been so good lately. I went to one of the LYS on Saturday (it was 2 doors down from the birthday party the Drama Queen was attending) and bought nothing! I went to another LYS on Thursday and bought very little (just what was absolutely necessary). I’ve been trying so hard to show a little restraint. In pursuit of that restraint I was ignoring all mention of Rhinebeck. It was as if it wasn’t even taking place. My world was happy and balanced.

Sunday morning I returned from the grocery store and hubbo had a message for me. He said that my partner in crime my evil twin Blogless Felicia called and left a one-word message – Rhinebeck. Arrgggghh! Just like that - my resolve melted. She is evil through and through. You should all know that she is the very definition of a bad influence.

She proposes that we take a lovely drive up there to see the fall color and YARN! The scary thing is that hubbo gave our little jaunt his blessing. Hah! He’s got a very simple equation in mind. Even I, with my math-impaired brain, can figure this one out.

1 trip to Rhinebeck for Hillary = 1 golf trip for Bruce

Sadly there is a second, more realistic version of this equation that hubbo isn’t considering.

1 trip to Rhinebeck for Hillary = no golf money for Bruce

He said something about “blah, blah, blah controls” and “blah, blah, blah budgets” but I’m not sure he really gets it. I ought to mention that this will be about a week before my birthday. I can rationalize ANY purchase on my birthday.

Aug 12, 2006

Saturday Sky 8-12-06

Saturday Sky 8-12-06
Here's my Saturday Sky. No drama makes for a pretty boring picture but the weather is really gorgeous. It's cooler and les humid than it's been in quite a while.

Sadly, I'm not really able to enjoy the weather much because we set aside today for back to school shopping. Gotta go shop some more.

Aug 11, 2006

Plugging the National Book Festival and a Sock

Trek Sock 2

In addition to hiking, canoeing and playing I did a lot of relaxing on this vacation which, for me, meant reading and knitting. I brought most of the projects listed in the sidebar with the exception of the vest. Somehow, as the space in the car dwindled – so did my desire to drag it out. All of the other projects got a little attention but my focus was mainly on Seraphim and starting a new Trek Sock (seen above). My focus was rewarded by measurable progress. The sock is moving along nicely and I finally got to start the charts on Seraphim. My goal is to wear it to the High Holiday services at the end of September. I’m pretty sure it’s do-able.

As I said, I was reading a lot during this trip. I read Seven Up, one of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, and Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. I love mysteries and the SP books are a favorite. This one did not disappoint. I’ve been intentionally pacing myself with them because I dread the day I have none to look forward to but I think I may dive right into Hard Eight because I’m craving another fix. On a related note, I saw this site, Stop, You’re Killing Me over at Kristi’s yesterday and I’m so thankful for it. I love mysteries and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for a list like this to tell me the order of the books.

Undomestic Goddess was a little bit of a departure for me. I read mostly mysteries and classics with the occasional memoir or non-fiction thrown in. I don’t read romances and I’ve never read any of the chick lit. This was fun in a breezy, forgettable way. It was a very light read and, as it turns out, just what I needed.

If you’ve reached this point in the post then it’s likely that you’re a reader so let me plug one of my favorite upcoming events – The National Book Festival! Ignoring that it’s sponsored by the Bush administration, it’s actually a great event for the whole family. You can find me there this year in the Mysteries and Thrillers pavilion where I look forward to hearing Michael Connelly, Scott Turow and Kathy Reichs (her books are behind the TV show Bones) while I knit. I wouldn't mind hearing Doris Kearns Goodwin either. The Drama Queen will likely want to hear Kathy Reichs too because she loves that show but she’s most excited about hearing Abdrew Clements speak - she’s been on a tear with the his books lately. This may make up for the fact that Mary Pope Osborne (The Magic Treehouse books) won’t be there this year.

In the past, we’ve gone as a family and there really is something there for everyone. There are pavilions for Fiction and Fantasy, Poetry and Children along with one representing the states. The only thing that I don’t recommend is waiting in line for autographs. It cuts into your time to hear the authors too much because the lines are so long. Very often the line gets cut off before you even get to the front.

There is one thing that troubles me a bit about the event though. No knitting book authors! There is a place for them in the Home and Family pavilion but, when I checked the list there are no knitters listed. It’s a shame because there are so many great new knitting books out there and knitters seem to be a pretty literate bunch who would certainly love to hear someone speak to them. Maybe next year.

Aug 10, 2006

Canoeing and finding fiber

This should be the entry where I show you pictures of our wild and wonderful canoe trip last Saturday. It’s not. Why? Because I had the forethought to bring a one of those waterproof disposable cameras with us on the trip instead of my digital so I don’t have the pictures yet. It’s a good thing though, since we capsized a few times many times over and over again. My black and blue butt will heal way better than the digital camera would have.

When I finally finish all the pictures on the camera and get it developed I’ll try to casually work the photos into a post – probably about something totally unrelated. Perhaps it will be something on the order of “hmm… short row heels, that reminds me of the time that we went canoeing and…” In every day conversation I tend to digress to the point of forgetting the original point. Why should this be any different?

I’m not sure that the pictures will be any good anyway. I can tell you about the trip though. It was wicked fun! I love canoeing. It’s really weird because I’m totally un-athletic and I totally suck at all other strenuous activity. (Did I mention that I was the slowest person on the hike up Loblolly Trail? Yep, that’s me – perpetually bringing up the rear.) Anyway, canoeing just agrees with me. It’s a good thing too, because Stinkerbelle was my canoeing partner and… let’s just say that she’s more helpful when she keeps her paddle IN the canoe.

We were canoeing on the South Branch of the Potomac and the water was very low that day. They need rain desperately. The low water level meant way more portage than usual which was ok until one of hubbo’s flip-flops broke. Portage over slippery rocks with one bare foot is no fun. We were rewarded for our perseverance by sightings of wild horses (too cool), turtles, fish and a Golden Eagle. I didn’t see that last one but DQ and hubbo did.

On Sunday, we started our trip home a bit earlier than I had anticipated. The Drama Queen was anxious to talk to her buddies after a month away and hubbo was worrying that all our stuff wouldn’t fit in the car. Once the car was packed there was nothing to do but head home at a nice, leisurely pace. That allowed us and unscheduled stop at the Lost River Craft Cooperative and Museum. What a good call!

P of T handspun I stepped through the door and something immediately caught my eye. Fiber! It was down at the end of the aisle immediately to right. I found a little bit of handspun – the blue is indigo dyed wool and the brown is a wool/silk in its natural color. The buttons are deer antlers and, after seeing so many deer during the visit, I couldn’t resist them.
Basil Coopworth

I also bought this ball of fiber for $4. I thought that sounded very reasonable. It’s Coopworth and it’s really nice and soft. The best part is that when I paid for my fiber treats the woman at the register told me that Priscilla, who spun the yarn, was working downstairs in the museum that day. She only works on Sundays. How lucky for me! I went down and introduced myself and, when I mentioned that I was buying the fiber in the hope that I’d learn to spin it some day, she offered to teach me on the spot. Hubbo was off touring the museum so I ran to the car and grabbed my spindle super-quick.

It was a quick but very helpful lesson. She demonstrated first and then watched me try while correcting my technique and form a bit. I have quite a way to go but I’m not afraid to pick the spindle up any more. I would love to have stayed longed but the family was getting restless so we hit the road again. As I mentioned earlier, the car was already jam packed when we stopped at the LRCC so my new treasures had to ride home on my lap. It was ok though, because in addition to the fiber, I bought this lovely new tea pot. It doesn’t photograph well so you’ll have to take my word for it – it’s beautiful. It has impressions of leaves and things all around it that have been highlighted with touches of green and brown and frogs are affixed to the side and handle. I love it.


I was just doing my bit to support the local economy.

Aug 9, 2006

Oh Deer!

As I mentioned earlier in the week, our vacation spot this year was Lost River State Park in West Virginia. It was wonderful. There were lots of organized activities planned by the naturalist on site like campfires, games and hikes. It was also a perfect place to sit back in a rocking chair and do nothing. We did a little of both.

cabin 23
This is the cabin that we stayed in. The super cute log cabin that I showed you earlier this week was the one next door to us. As you can see, this had a less charming exterior but on the inside it was clean and lovely. There was a large fireplace (no we didn’t use it – ahem, it was freakin’ hot out!) and wood floors and plenty of room.

deer at cabin 1
One of the best things about the cabin was that the deer would come right up to it. None of us had ever been that close to a wild animal before. This deer is in the small grassy area between the cabin and our driveway.

dark path
The park was heavily wooded but, as we learned, it wasn’t always that way. When the cabins were built there were few trees surrounding them. They weren’t removed during construction – there just weren’t any. Go figure! After construction the trees were added. Today the park is full of trees and shady paths and creeks like this one abound.

sock on Loblolly trail
Naturally, being in such a gorgeous setting inspired hiking. The naturalist led us on a hike up the Loblolly Trail. He was very knowledgeable about all kinds of things like how to tell pine trees apart by the number of needles it produces in a packet. Who knew?

fire in park
Part of the trail led through an area affected by a fire a few years ago. It was fascinating and encouraging to see how the forest was regenerating.


Here’s the real highlight of the hike – wild blueberries! They were all over and we spent quite a while picking them. Yum! There were ripe blackberries too.


squish socks
Here are the Squishy Purple Socks that I made for Stinkerbelle. I have to say that when I bought the yarn quite a while ago on Elann it was a total impulse buy as are most of my purchases on that site. I’m not sure I even had a clue how to make a sock at the time. It was cheap and purple and it looked soft – that was it.

Since buying the yarn I’ve made quite a few socks and what I’ve learned made me wary of the Elann Esprit. I feared that the cotton with the elastic content would be too weird to knit. How would I get gauge? How tight should I pull it? Would the texture of the yarn obscure any pattern I tried?

squish heel After reading the positive things that Theresa said about the yarn I decided it was time to give it a try. I’m happy I did. I’m also going to buy more. I am jealous of Stink’s socks and I want my own. They are so soft and inviting. The best word I have for the fabric created is squishy. It’s a little like gym socks but softer.

squish heel 2 One more thing before I stop talking about these socks. Since they were an experiment of sorts, and since Stink is 7 and won’t notice or care – I did 2 different heels. The first sock was a wrapped short row heel. I still hate it. It’s no fun. It never comes out right for me. Blech! The second sock has a heel I saw in the pattern for Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ Priscilla’s Dream Socks. It worked so much better for me. I’ve got 2 pictures here so that you can try to detect the difference. Can you tell which is which? Here’s a hint – the first sock looks a little worn.

Aug 8, 2006

Time is a luxury

Since my daughter started going to sleep-away camp in North Carolina, our summer vacations have revolved around picking her up. This year was no different. We drove out to Lost River State Park in West Virginia on Monday to settle in to the cabin. Tuesday morning we left and drove down to North Carolina to pick the Drama Queen up at camp at 8 am the next morning before driving 6 plus hours back to camp. Was it a lot of driving? You bet! Was it tiring? Not as much as you’d think because we had the luxury of time. Even though it sounds like we did a lot during the vacation, it was all done at a leisurely pace and that makes all the difference.

We had a relaxing weekend before we even left home. During that weekend we shopped a little (I got a leather coat! I’ve always wanted one. I love a good sale) and packed a lot. We swam and I finished the purple squishy socks. It was so carefree and felt like a vacation before the vacation.
cat figures The drive to West Virginia was fine and I’ll tell you all about the cabin and the park in a future post. Before I really got into WV we did a brief stop in Asheville (on our way to pick up DQ) and I played some more. We had lunch at a cool place called Tupelo Honey (Yum!) before strolling around the city. I stopped at Earth Guild again and I bought a few yarny treats and exchanged the Cotton Fine that I bought the last time I was there for some Cotton Fleece. I’m not sure what I was thinking the first time around. We also saw these bronze kitties across the street from a climbing gym where Stinkerbelle tested the rock walls for a while.

Grove St Arcade We continued walking and found the Grove Street Arcade, which I missed last time. It’s a really beautiful building full of lovely stores. Don’t you love the ram’s heads? This time it was open and we went in and found Asheville NC Home Crafts.
magenta yarn
Naturally, I did my bit for the local economy and bought a little yarn. If I remember correctly - this is locally grown and dyed but commercially spun. There was some gorgeous handspun too but it was a bit out of the budget.

We spent the whole afternoon in Asheville but, eventually we had to leave and we promised to return. We may even make it the focus of all of next year’s vacation. It’s rough because there are so many places to visit and not nearly enough vacation time.

If there was one thing aside from the lack of structure that made this vacation great – it was the people we met. We met fabulous people everywhere we went but, above all others, one stands out and deserves a separate mention. Judy in Johnson City, TN.

On Wednesday morning we picked DQ up from camp. I was so happy to see her! We packed the car with all of her stuff (after a pit stop at the Laundromat the wash the nasty, dirty, clothes) and set off for the drive back to WV. My kids don’t generally get car sick but, after a while in the car, as we passed through Johnson City, TN – DQ felt ill. Hubbo pulled into the nearest parking lot and DQ hopped out of the car and threw up. I think it was a bad combination of the heat, pent up excitement, and accumulated lack of sleep.

As I sat at the edge of the parking lot comforting her, I looked up and saw a woman approaching from the restaurant. It was Judy. She was on her break when we stopped and she wanted to help us. She brought out ice and cold towels. Then she returned to the restaurant and got sugar packets to get DQ’s sugar up. She insisted that we go inside and showered us with anything she could think of that might help. Towels, a plastic bag (just in case), big cups of ice, plastic gloves (to fill with ice for an ice pack)… you name it and she brought it over to us. She spent most of her break trying to help DQ feel better.

Before long DQ regained her color and we were able to hit the road again. I will never forget how kind Judy was. It shouldn’t be so surprising when someone lends a helping hand and yet – it is. It is always amazing and wonderful to know that there are people out there who are so kind and willing to help a stranger in need.

names in watering can Maybe it’s those feelings of gratitude, or maybe it’s the fact that I had not one, but 2 willing assistants – whatever the reason – 2 names were pulled from the watering can last night. Margene and Knitting Granny were the names they chose. If you send your snail mail to me at hillary[dot]c[at]earthlink[dot]net then I’ll send you each a little surprise. I’d post a picture but then it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore. Right?

Aug 7, 2006

Wild and Wonderful

I’m back. We returned late yesterday from the most relaxing vacation ever. Thanks to everyone who played along with my little game. I’ve looked through the comments and nobody guessed the correct place but I did get some great ideas for the future vacations. I’ll have my trusty assistants pick a random name for a special surprise. I hope to post it tomorrow.

I need to get back to the current vacation recap. There’s so much to say that it’s hard to know where to begin - picking up DQ from camp, knitting progress, fiber acquisitions, meeting great people, hiking, canoeing, playing with the spindle - it's all in there. I’m pretty busy today with little time to tell you all the details but here are a few impressions from our vacation.

log cabin



DQ on horse

WV welcome