Jan 31, 2008

Knit With The TV On

Thanks for all of the nice comments about my B. I told Stinkerbelle that you all thought that her Broccoli Pasta sounded good and it made her day.(It doesn't take much sometimes) She was so happy that she did a little fist pumping "Whoop!"

DSC_0168As Carole said yesterday, secret knitting projects like Sock madness test-knitting don't really make for great blog fodder. I'll post more about this and other test knits over on the Sock Madness blog soon but I really love this sock so I thought I'd share an itty bitty sneak peek.

Other stuff I'm working on if either a surprise for someone or not quite ready for public viewing. On the postitive side, many of these projects are nearing completion so I suspect that there will be a parade of finished objects at some point.

One of the things that if helping me maintain steady progress on all of my active projects are the shows I've been watching. I haven't been affected by the writers strike as much as I thought I would. Project Runway is still fun. I thought that I liked Rami at first but now I'm not so sure. L&O has finally started a new season and in an unexpected but pleasant twist, Dexter, which appears on a pay channel that I don't get, is going to be shown on network tv starting on February 17th. Yay!

There is one new tv obsession that is kind of unexpected. Masterpiece! As a kid, my parents would watch it and I dismissed it as an adult show. No thank you! Someone mentioned recently that they are showing The Complete Jane Austen so I settled in to watch it a few weeks ago and, to my surprise, DQ joined me. She asked what it was and, as I explained the types of stories J.A wrote - young women searching for love - I realized that they are perfect for the tween set. DQ loves it so much that she demanded that I not watch without her and she is taking the books out of the library. It's so nice to share it with her.

Jan 29, 2008

B is for...

Big, as in the size of this post. Really, it could've been for lot's of things. Bathroom for example. I could've been showing you the second bathroom at long last except, all these months later, it's not quite done yet. There are 2 key details missing and who knows when they'll be completed because my friend who's been doing the work is busy with his daughter's Bat Mitzvah. Actually Bat Mitzvah could be the perfect B because DQ's is just a year away and very much on my mind.

IMG_2322B could also stand for books like these from the library I manage. These may look familiar because they are the case reporters that are used as a backdrop for so many legal shows and commercials for lawyers. They are what librarians refer to as a space hog, taking up lot's of room and not getting much use since most cases these days are pulled from an online vendor. I'd like to see most of these gone.

I feel much more affection for my collection of knitting books or any of the other books in my house. And you probably thought that all I stashed was yarn. Not even close! I have countless books that I've bought because I just had to read it right away and then I didn't. I don't stash books intentionally but I will admit that I've had a totally irrational fear since childhood that I would run out of stuff to read. Yes, it's crazy but true.

IMG_2293As you can see, I had lot's of inspiration for B but, believe it or not, B is for Broccoli. I have loved it since I was very little and today, it's the only veggie that everyone in my house will eat. They might not all eat the whole thing - DQ likes the stalks and Stinky likes the flowers but makes a great big deal about how she eats the whole thing now - but they all eat it so it makes the shopping list every single week. Often we just steam it but frequently it gets special treatment and becomes one of Stinkerbelle's favorite meals... Broccoli Pasta! She requests it at least once a week and loves to help me make it. Grating the cheese is her favorite job. When she was younger, she would pick out the sun dried tomatoes but recently she's developed a taste for them and now she adds them to other things she eats. Wanna make some yourself?


Broccoli Pasta

One bunch of broccoli (2 if you love it as much as we do) cut up into roughly 1-2 inch pieces
One block of Parmesan Cheese (enough to produce about 1 to 1.5 cups grated)
One package of penne pasta
Minced garlic
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (julienned)
A pinch of salt

Here's the rough instructions on how it's made.

Boil a large pot of water with a little bit of salt. When it comes to a boil, add the pasta.

Put the sun dried tomatoes (about 1/4 cup depending on your taste) in a large pan with a bit of the oil they were packed in and the equivalent of a few cloves of garlic. I use about 4. Move it around the pan to coat the bottom. The oil will keep things from sticking and help to spread the flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes.

Grate the parmesan cheese while you watch the pasta. When it's not quite al dente, add the broccoli to the pot. It will only be in there about 2-3 minutes. At this point start a low flame under the pan to heat up the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. You can add just a little bit of parmesan to the pan too.

Scoop the broccoli out of the pot and move it to the heated pan with the sun-dried tomatoes etc. It tends to stay on the top of the pot of boiling water so it's easy to scoop it out using a bamboo handled strainer like this. Mix it with the contents of the pan to coat well before adding the pasta. Keep folding it over and mixing it up while adding pinches of cheese periodically until the edges of the pasta start to be a little golden and most of the cheese is melted.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheese on top and enjoy!

Over Committed

I feel a little like one of those poor, over-programmed kids right now. You know what I mean, the kids with a different activity every day of the week plus five on Saturday. So overwhelmed and yet unable to take a breath and stop for fear of falling behind.

I had such plans for all that I was going to do in January and now it's almost over and I can see exactly how overly ambitious my plans really were. I was going to make a Sahara for myself in time to wear it this weekend. Thankfully I have a closet full og clothes because Sahara isn't ready yet. I'm just starting the waist increases and, as hubbo noted the other night, I haven't made the sleeves yet. Maybe it will be ready to wear to the next event which is 2 weeks away.

Most of what's occupying my time is secret. The mystery hat is moving along but nowhere near ready. I'd love to have it and another pair of gift slippers ready for Valentine's day. That could work. The other secret knitting is test knitting patterns for Sock Madness 2. We wound up with 12 patterns to consider and I've tried out 2 of them so far. Another 5 have been, or are being, tested by Carole, Felicia and volunteers. Of course other aspects of SM2 are occupying my time too. It takes so much to get it all assembled and running smoothly.

DSC_0169The little red baby sweater is making slow progress. It would be nice to get it to the baby while it still fits and since I'm making the 12 month size for a baby that's only about 3 weeks old this seems doable. I love this pattern. Look at the little leaves in the ribbing. Details like that are what makes a pattern really fabulous. I'll need to find the perfect buttons to do it justice.

What I haven't done at all this month is spin. I really want to but right now all I can do is gaze longingly at Charlotte while I sit and knit. One of these nights I'm going to flip out and dive into my fiber stash. It'll probably scare the family when it happens. I'm sure that it'll feel really good though.

Jan 28, 2008

Cars & Kinz

IMG_2296Look what I woke up to on Saturday morning. There was the hum of the buzz saw in the air and men in the trees. My new neighbor wants a deck so he was taking down a bunch of trees, inclucing the 2 you see here. I was both fascinated and saddened.

On the one hand, watching the way the guys move around way up there above the roofs of our houses is a little awe inspiring. the trees would sway this way and that but those guys were unstoppable and so skilled. Unfortunately, they were using those skills to remove 8 gorgeous, old, trees. Those trees are one of the things I loved about out house. The leafy majesty and beautifully textured bark provided a lovely backdrop for out house. Standing in my driveway, transfixed by the activity, I realized that I really an a bit of a tree hugger at heart. I was just so sad. That didn't stop us from having the guys remove one from our front yard though. It wasn't nearly as pretty though and my other neighbor had already hacked off half of it so it really needed to go.

IMG_2298Watching them take down the trees nearly derailed our plans oon Saturday but we finally managed to tear ourselves away and head downtown to the Auto Show.

IMG_2300Predictably, the big news at the show was alternative fuels. There were hybrids of all sizes. There were also hydrogen fuled cars - lot's of those. They were really touting that as the way of the future. There were also electric cars but these were much sexier than those we've seen in the past. Check this Chevy offering out. It's gorgeous even with the plug hanging off the side of it.

IMG_2302I'm still a little over a year away from buying my next car but it was fun to think about it. We checked out lot's of possibilities and eliminated many of them because hubbo's long legs won't fit. DQ was trying to steer me towards sports cars - even though hubbo wouldn't fit and Stinkerbelle is still too little to ride in the front seat. DQ found that very convenient. She'd love to be chauffered around in a cute little 2-seater. As you can see, Hubbo had other things in mind. He liked the big trucks. He can hold that thought for a while. I'm thinking of something cool and comfy that can get out of it's way in a hurry.

IMG_2309We experienced Camp Jeep again. The girls loved it last time so they insisted that we wait on the hour-long line again this year. It was worth it though because it's so much fun. The have an obstacle course set up with water, inclines, and bumpy parts like this series of stumps here. The part that really freaks me out the most is when they take you sideways so that the car feels like it's going to roll over on it's side. It doesn't but for a moment you really think you might.

There was one really down note to our weekend. Stinkerbelle lost Anna, her favorite little stuffed animal. You saw her recently when I made a little pouch/sleeping bag for her. She was in it on Saturday when Stinky lost her somewhere in the Nissan exhibit. We looked everywhere for Anna but she was gone. Stinkerbelle cried like I haven't seen in a long time. like her best friend was gone. I tried to reassure her by saying that some other child probably found her and thought she looked lonely and took her to give her a good home. That worked a little bit but we still called the Auto Show a few times to see if anyone had found her. We also searched high and low to see if any of her siblings might be available for purchase anywher in a 25-50 mile radius. No deals. They have penguin W*bkinz but not Lil'K*inz. Apparently the big ones just aren't the same. We're still hunting.

Jan 25, 2008

My DC - Week 4

It shouldn't be difficult to figure out where this picture was taken. It's the terrace at the Kennedy Center. I would love to go back in the spring. On sunday when we were ther it was wickedly cold out. There appeared to be a large puddle in front of us but we learned otherwise when Hubbo's feet flew out from under him. Ice. Stinkerbelle fell victim to the ice too. I warned her but some people just need to experience it for themselves. DQ was smart and enjoyed the terrace from the comfort of the warmth inside.


Have a great weekend!

Jan 24, 2008

Stop Me Before I Order Again

DSC_0166Look what arrived today.Would you believe that this is my 4th KP order in 90 days? Please don't tell me if they have new spring colors coming in. Ditto for new yarns. Most of all, I do not need to know if they have a sale. Just. Don't. Tell. Me. Okay?

In all fairness to myself, I can mitigate this a little by saying that almost all of it is for specific projects and that quite a bit of it has been knit up before it ever became stash.

DSC_0165Part of this new purchase was red Cotlin for a baby sweater. Hubbo's cousin just had a little boy so I finally have a reason to make the Pea Pod Baby Set. Yay! I thought about using this yarn in green but it looked a little bright online and in the catalog and I just wasn't sure about that shade. I always love red on babies so that seemed a safe bet. I opened the box last night and started petting the yarn and the next thing I knew I was casting on.

It's kind of weird because all of a sudden I feel like my knitty mojo is working again and I just can't knit enough. Right now I'm working on the sock-du-jour, Sahara, a hat, and the baby sweater. These are all active projects. The sock is better for travelling. Sahara is pretty mindless right now. The hat is limited because it's stealth knitting. the baby sweater is fun because it's new and it ought to be quick. All of these are working for me and turning out well right now. I just need to keep up the pace because I've got another big sweater project, more slippers and many more socks that I need to get to straight away. gotta go knit.

Jan 22, 2008

Too Close

DSC_0156Tonight we attended DQ's chorus concert. There will be one more in the spring but I wasn't the only 6th grade parent commenting on how close the end of their elementary school careers are. We have already reached the midway point in the school year and the report cards for the second semester come home soon.

The concert was wonderful. See how happy DQ was? She positively glowed. She was even on too much of a high to get on my case for knitting at the concert. What was I working on? Socks of course.

IMG_2173You may remember this skein of yarn that I bought a few months ago during the studio tour in Maryland. The yarn is Sock Hop from Dancing Leaf and it has been skeined up and is quickly becoming socks. I would show you the pattern but I can't because it's a secret pattern I'm test knitting for Sock Madness.

DSC_0164I could'nt resist showing it to you though so here's the sole of the sock. Look at all of the colors! I think that Dalis calls the color Carnival but it reminds me of a landscape painting - I can see the blues of the sky and the green leaves on the trees. I can see the terracotta roofs of cottages dotting the countryside. It's weird because I usually find such a variety of colors to be too much but this is working for me.

I was also thinking about Heath Ledger tonight. I cannot believe that he's gone. It seems such a senseless waste. He was a wonderful actor. Of all of his movies, the one that I've seen the most often is A Knights Tale. That is my guilty pleasure and has been for ages. I know it's just fluff but I cannot turn that flick off and it's because of him. Not sure why but there it is.

Jan 21, 2008

Small and Random

Continuing where I left off.
DSC_0160Saturday, I returned home feeling achy and really looking forward to a nice quiet night. Stinkerbelle had a sleep over party to go to so it seemed promising. Of course, getting her ready to go was half the battle because last week, she decided that she really needed a sleeping bag for her Webkin, Anna, too. She had made a red and white pillow for Anna but the sleeping bag that she'd created wasn't making her happy. Naturally she looked to me to create one for her.

DSC_0161I went to the stash, pulled out more of the Cotton Ease that I used recently to make fingerless gloves for DQ's friend, K, and got to work. It was funny on Friday night because people kept asking what I was making but the looks I got when I told them that it was a sleeping bag for a Webkin are best described as confused. They weren't quite sure why I'd want to do such a thing. The only opinion that really matters is Stinkerbelle's and she loves it. After she came home from the party I added a trap so now she can carry Anna around with her. She looks pretty pissed off in the picture but she really loves the result.

Speaking of DQ and her friend K, a funny thing happened Saturday night. DQ invited K to hang out at our house but K misunderstood and wound up sleeping over. It was totally fine with hubbo and I but it was a surprise when K got in her pj's. Hubbo and I just looked at each other and wondered if we were missing something before calling DQ & K in to clarify. It was all good though and Hubbo and I laughed a lot over it.

Sunday, we had special plans. The girls were given tickets to see My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center by their grandmother so we all went to see the last performance of the run. The girls were a little uncertain about what the show would be but they really enjoyed it. The staging was wonderful, the costumes beautiful, and the singing lovely. DQ enjoyed the songs so much that she wants a copy of the cast recording now.

The Kennedy Center itself is just fabulous. You're not supposed to take pictures inside but they didn't tell me until after I got a few shots including this one of the lighting inside the opera house. It looks like a collection of lacey flowers spread accross the ceiling. Isn't it gorgeous?


All Over the Place

Wow! This was such a busy weekend. We were really all over the place. It was so good.

IMG_2275On Friday night DQ and her friend R went on a Girl Scout overnight at Dumbarton House which is in Georgetown. I went along as their chaperone. They had a program going on that was focused on the portraits in the house. The girls got to take tours in small groups and the guide would discuss the portraits in each room and what they could tell you about the subject and the life they led.
DQ and R were the oldest girls there and we were also the smallest group but we enjoyed ourselves. It's amazing how much longer your weekend feels when you start your activities on Friday night after work. The only not so great thing about my overnight was sleeping on the floor. Actually I didn't sleep so much. I tossed and turned and went home very achy and sore.
IMG_2282The room that we stayed in was yellow and had the emblems of the different chapters of the national Society of the Colonial Dames of America. That organization is all about historic preservation and Dumbarton House is their headquarters. The yellow walls in the room were also a great backdrop for R to show off the newly completed fingerless gloves that I made for her.

DSC_0159I also took a picture of the completed gloves before I gave them to her. Do you see the little scrap of yarn in the picture with them? That's all that was leftover. Whew! I'm thrilled because the yarn, Andean silk from KP, was leftover from another project. So great that I used up stash scraps.

The pattern was nice but I would adjust it if I made it again. The cable twists when the gloves are on because the thumb is too close to the cable. I also think that the relation of the cables could flow just a bit better. I'm not sure how exactly but I'd definitely love to play with it a bit.

There's so much more to say about this weekend but I feel sick and lousy. My house is also lacking in food because the grocery shppping didn't fit into the weekend plans. I'll tell you more tomorrow. Right now I need food and a nap.

Jan 17, 2008

My DC - Week 3

We got our snow yesterday. Most of it will melt today but it was kind of fun watching it fall. Even better, it looks like there is more in the forecast for the next few days. Someone complained that it would ruin the weekend but I disagree. I think it would be perfect. What better excuse to stay home and play with fiber than impassable roads?
Last weekend we were in DC to see the hockey game at the Verizon Center. Here is one side of the sign.

Knittin' 003

Just around the corner we saw this. I just love it.
Knittin' 004

This weekend I'll be spending quite a bit of time in the city. I'll be doing an overnight on the floor of a historic home with DQ and then we're going to see a show at the Kennedy Center. I'll be sure to take my camera.


I've got nothing of substance today. It's just one of those days. My throat is scratchy so I'm drinking crazy amounts of tea to try to avoid losing my voice. It seems like everyone is getting sick and that's one trend I'm happy not to take part in. One new thing is that I'm drinking my tea without sweetner. It's a really small thing but maybe it'll help me move towards more healthy choices. We'll see.

DSC_0137How do you like this stuff. This is the same yarn, a wool with a silk winding, in it's natural state and after being dyed by me. What do you think of it? DQ had a big say in the colors.

I'm playing with it right now and trying to decide if it's the right thing for a very big project. If I like it then there will be about 10-12 more skeins coming my way to be divided and dyed before I use it to create about 100 small objects. Intrigued? I 'm not ready to say more than that right now but I will soon. What makes it even more unusual for me is that it's a crochet project which ought to be a huge clue for any family that are checking this out.

According to the reports there is snow on the way and I'd love to be able to wear my new felted mittens but they're still not quite finished because KP ignored the comments I sent in my most recent order. I was short by one ball of yarn so I noted the lot number I needed in the comments area. I can understand if they didn't have anything from that lot left but some acknowledgment of the comment would be nice. As it is, I don't know if they weren't paying attention or they couldn't supply that lot. Argh!

It probably doesn't matter because we may not get any snow after all. Those guys (even Doug, my weather dude of choice) are really just guessing anyway. Right? The skies do look very grey and ominous though. You never know.

ETA - it's 11:00 and the snow has started. Score one for the weather dude.

Jan 15, 2008


DSC_0157A week ago I was feeling really troubled because it was looking like Sock Madness 2 wasn't going to happen. Things were kind of quiet and it didn't look like we'd have enough patterns. After lot's of thought and discussion with Carole, we decided to let everyone know the state of things and see what happened. Then I sat back and waited to see what the response was. What followed was a flurry of positive messages and an avalanche of patterns. Whew! I am so relieved.... and overwhelmed. Suddenly there is a huge amount of work to do.
No matter how busy SM2 gets, I'm determined to keep working on the other projects I've started. Above is Sahara. It still looks kind of blob-like but there is a hint of shape. I cannot wait to get to a point where I can start trying it on and visualizing the end result. So far, it's been a pretty uneventful knit. Let's hope that doesn't mean that disaster is looming ahead.

DSC_0156The other thing that I'm working on right now is the current pair of fingerless gloves. These are the Icicle Wristwarmers in KP Andean Silk. Soooo soft! Don't you love the color. It's a deep, rich purple called Hyacinth. I took this picture on Monday. Right now this glove is finished except for the thumb. I hope to have this pair ready for gifting on Friday.

After this I've got one more pair of slippers to make before I turn to a little design work. First there is an idea rattling around in my head for a hat design and I need to work it out. Then I'll get back to fingerless gloves. The Dedos en Fuego that I made for Stinkerbelle last year have gotten lots of use but they're not holding up as well as I'd hoped. The yarn just looks sad and worn. Stinky has been watching me knit and getting big ideas. She'd like an asymmetrical pair of gloves where one represents fire and the other, water. She chose a variegated purpley blue yarn for this version of her gloves. It's time for me too make it work now.

Jan 14, 2008

A is for...

DSC_0140It's Astounding that I had so much trouble with the letter A. Most people who've known me for any legth of time would've assumed that A is for Art - and it is.

This painting hangs in my bedroom and has the distinction of being the only piece of my own work that hangs in my house. It's an oil that I did my first year in college. I was a Fine Art major then and found it incredibly flattering that this was chosen to hang in the annual show with the upper class' work. It was even more Amusing because the composition was based on Avoidance. The model had a nasty looking nose ring, bad skin, and was seriously un-Attractive in my opinion so I painted her back instead.

There is plenty of stuff to look at on the walls at my house. Mostly watercolors now that I think about it. Not sure why that is. Here are a few paintings that we bought during our Adventure in Key West. They are by 3 different artists - Martha de Poo, Barbara Powell & Ann Irvine. Looking at them reminds me of the wonderful vacation and makes me smile.

It's wonderful how art can take you away to a different place or time.

DSC_0149This painting is one of a pair made for us by our friend Carl. He did the first one, of hubbo, on the occasion of his 30th birthday and this one was made to commemorate my 30th. They hang in out front hallway. When you look at the painting closely you can see the clever titles on the spines of the books and note that the mouse in my hand actually is of the rodent variety. The portrait of hubbo shows him as "Tickle me Brucey" and reminds us of his over the top reaction to a gift of a Tickle Me Elmo doll that was given to DQ on her first birthday. He may have been wayyyy more impressed with it than she was and pounced on it. Such a great memory.

DSC_0143There are memories in this pair of Japanese prints that my siblings and I bought for my Dad many years ago. I remember finding them on ebay and how excited I was when I was the winning bidder. We took them to be framed and matted and gave them to my dad. He was was really into this stuff so it's a nice reminder. Interestingly, there was a watercolor hanging in his house that I did in high school that I was going to reclaim but my brother requested it. Who am I to deny him fine art?

DSC_0151Paintings aren't the only thing hanging on my walls. We bought this sculptural tree at a craft show and I love it. It's made of different metals. I think it's mostly copper. The coolest thing is that the leaves weren't painted. The artist got the different colors by heating the metal to different degrees. So flippin' cool!

Jan 13, 2008

More Socks and Gloves

IMG_2262Don't you just love it when you accomplish all the stuff on your to do list? On Saturday I started out with a crazy list including 3 super markets and I got it all done. There was just one downer for the day. The last local store that was selling the waffles Stinkerbelle likes is no longer stocking them. Boo. In the past she has been super picky and would only eat the square, Pillsbury waffles. Since they are no longer available, she has reluctantly agreed to eat round waffles. Such drama over breakfast food! Oy!
As you can probably guess from the picture, we went to see the Caps game on Sunday. Great game with the wrong outcome. The place was packed but there were way too many Flyers fans there. They were loud too. They didn't stop me from knitting though. I finished the first test sock for Sock Madness 2. I wish I could show it to you but... you'll just have to wait. I can say that I like it very much. I don't want to start another test sock 'till tomorrow when the rest of the patterns are scheduled to arrive so last night I worked on Sahara and started another pair of fingerless gloves. Yup! Another pair for another one of DQ's friends. I fear that I've opened Pandora's box and that I may never get it shut 'till I've outfitted everyone DQ knows.

Jan 10, 2008

My DC - Week 2

As I looked at my modest collection of pictures of My DC I thought about themes and tried to come up with a plan for how the pitures each Friday will relate to each other. I still have no firm plan. I expect that there will be days when i show lots of views of the same building, days when it's all about windows or doors or statuary. Today I've got 2 rooflines.


They're both very ornate but very different.

Look at those blue skies. Much better than the grayness outside. I hope that you have sunshine where you are.

If you're interested in other views of DC you can see the ones posted by Sprite or Sweet Pea. Frederick, Maryland is being presented by Mia. Some have said that their My Wherever posts will be a little more sporadic but I still look forward to them. Cursing Mama will show us her very special view of Minnesota and Kristi's gorgeous pictures will probably make us all love Fort Collins, Colorado. If you need a little something to make you think warm thoughts then you'll want to see what Carol's got to show us from sunny Florida. Do you have something to share?

Selifish Knitting

Look at this! I started a sweater for me. I am powering through this thing and loving it so much.

Blue-ish Sahara

The pattern is Sahara. I've wanted to knit it for a while but the moment was never quite right. I originally planned to knit this with the Deep Purple Silky Wool but I cast it on, knit a few rows and decided that there was no way that would work. What is it about that yarn? I think it may be cursed. I tried Tilia and that didn't work, now this.

I'm so happy that I found the perfect yarn in my stash. This is Cotton Fleece in New Age Teal. I'm getting gauge and the fabric is lovely. I had chosen Tilli Tomas Disco Lights in Natural for the accent and I think it'll work well with this yarn too.

This isn't all I have on my needles today but it's all I can share. That's a pity because I'm really happy with the current sock in progress. It's a test knit for Sock Madness 2.

Jan 8, 2008

PSA and the First FO of 2008

The title of this post is right - I do have my first finished object for 2008. Are you shocked? I'll get to it in a minute but first I have a little Public Service Announcement. Please stay with me for a minute.

As you all know, my father passed away a little over 3 months ago. Based purely upon geography, I'm the one who's become responsible for settling things. My dad was a really organized guy and most things I need are right there in his labeled and categorized files. There is one glaring exception though and it's driving me mad.

My dad was a super-techie computer geek so it makes perfect sense that he had all of his bills paid online... automatically. I'm sure it made life much easier for him and appealed to his geeky sensibility but it's really frustrating and aggravating for me, because my dad left no records of what was being paid automatically, what the passwords for the accounts were - nothing. I have his computer and, having some familiarity with such things, I've tried everything to shut the payments off. Still they continue. The worst is that payments have still been going from the closed bank account to the leasing company for the car that was paid off, account closed, three months ago. How does that happen? Makes no sense - right? Argh!

I know how badly this stuff sucks and it feels kind of morbid to think about stuff for after you're gone but please, if you use online banking, make detailed and updated records for your family - like a roadmap. Even the people at the bank that I'm dealing with (who have been very helpful and keep writing off the hundreds of dollars - yep hundreds - of bank fees generated by this problem) admitted that they personally use online banking and have never written it all out. I suspect that there are a lot of people who use automatic bill pay and have never thought about this issue. If it helps to get past the ick factor, pretend that you're leaving records just in case you go away on vacation some day to a remote island or an isolated mountaintop and love it so much that you decide never to return home again. Believe me, your family will thank you for it.

Ok, I'm done now, let's continue on to the finished object. These fingerless gloves are for DQ's best friend, who she often refers as her "Rock". The Rock was at the house the day I finished DQ's fingerless gloves and she loved them, said that they'd look great in red. I detected a hint. She also spent a little while looking through my knitting books and admiring them. After she left I hit the stash and found some old Cotton Ease. I was hoping for wool but I have to say that the Cotton Ease worked really well. Nice fabric, nice cable definition.


The pattern I based these on was the Fingerless Mitts with XO Cable. I say based on because I cjhanged it up a bit. Some of the changes were intentional and others were not. The modifications started on the very first row. The pattern specifies that you start the cable immediately but I like things to flow so for the first 6 rows I knit a simple rib that makes allowance for the rib to start on row 7. It went like this: K1, P2, K2, P2, K2, P4, (K2, P2) to the last stitch, K1. (I also ended the cable early and did the last 6 rows like this.)

DSC_0135The next modification was at the thumb gusset. Basically I decided that I like the thumb gusset on another pair of fingerless mitts that I knit recently so much that I integrated it into this pair. The difference is in the way that the M1 was done so that it left no holes. No holes is always a good thing.

Anyway, all I really changed was that I did the M1 by picking up the stitch from the row beneath the stitch rather than the bar between the stitches. Check out this pattern for Cabled Fingerless (pdf) to see what I'm talking about. The only tricky part was the set up row which I did like this - Row 1: K6, P2, Cable, P2, K25, PM, M1, K1, M1 from the next stitch but don't knit the stitch itself, PM, K2. Continue the gusset as written, doing the M1 by picking up the loop from the stitch beneath the one being worked. I hope that this makes sense.

I also adjusted the dividing row based loosely on the instructions in Cabled Fingerless so that it goes like this:
Next round (dividing round): K6, P2, Cable, P2, K24, M1, Sl1, remove marker, place gusset stitches on waste yarn for thumb, place slipped stitch back on left needle and knit it together with the next stitch, K to the end of the round and continue pattern as written.

The unintentional modification was in the cable. I just plain screwed it up and you can probably see the error in the pictures. I didn't notice the error until the glove was finished and, really, I like it just as it is so I went with it and turned it into a design element by repeating it on the second glove.

Jan 7, 2008

Slippers All Around

DSC_0126It's going to be in the low 70's here in Washington, DC today and I'm talking about wool slippers. How strange!

These slippers were finished in December but there was so much going on that I didn't get a chance to show them to you until now.

DSC_0127I used 2 different patterns and you can see the difference between them here. DQ's cobalt blue slippers and the small green ones next to them were made using the Ballet Slipper pattern in Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas. Stinkerbelle's slippers are the Family Classic Felt Slippers which are a Fiber Trends pattern also from Beverly Galeskas. I provided two different views of the slippers so that you can see the difference. Stink-o's come up higher around her ankles. What's not obvious from the pictures is that DQ's have a thicker sole because the pattern calls for 2 soles sewn together prior to felting.

The construction is a little different too. The ballet slippers start out being knit straight and then a seam is sewn up down the center of the sole before you join and continue knitting in the round using a complex series of short rows. The booties start with a sole that is knit the from heel to toe before you start the upper which can be knit as a separate piece attached later or, as I did it, you can pick up stitches around the edge and continue in the round. These don't use any short rows and instead there are consecutive rounds with decreases across the toe for shaping.

I think that the booties are a bit easier to knit but I can't say that I have a strong preference for one pattern over the other. It's really a question of style. DQ is a dancer and, before I treated the bottom, she said that her slippers were great for practicing dance moves. Stinky is not a dancer and the booties really appeal to her, especially now that the soles have been well coated so that she can even wear her slippers outside a little bit. Not that she's going to school in them or anything.

DSC_0132Let's talk about the soles of the slippers a bit. I was really worried about the kids slipping so I did a lot of research on the internet to find a good material to make the bottoms slip resistant. After reading about various solutions and reading the product information, I settled on Plasti-Dip which I bought at H*me Dep*t. I think it works well.

I used these on the red slippers that I made for my nephew and noted that painting it on the fuzzy bottoms with a sponge brush was a little messy. With these slippers I did things differently. First, I let the girls wear the slippers for a few days (with stern admonitions to be careful) to compact the fibers a bit. Then I sat and shaved them lightly with a razor befor painting the Plasti-Dip on with a disposable brush. I like the effect much better and I think that it came out smoother. No word yet on how it wears but I've got more Dip if I need to refresh it.

DSC_0131Most of the slippers have worked out well and they fit fine. These slippers will stretch a bit and mold to your feet somewhat. If you look at DQ's slippers you can see that she put a safety pin on her left slipper so that she remembers which goes on which foot. She's looking forward to having slippers that fit each foot like it was poured on. (She also had me paint the Dip on the sole of that slipper in the shape of an "L" for the same reason)

The exception to my slipper success is these sweet green slippers. They were supposed to be for my niece Sam but, as you can see above, they came out much smaller than the others and Sam is 9. There is no chance that they'd fit her and more yarn has been ordered. I do have another niece though. She's a 4 year old ballerina so, with the addition of a few rosettes, these should be perfect for her. As you can see, I used a differnt method to treat her soles. I used puff paint which is an idea that I was initially pondering for the rest of the slippers. I'm not sure how it will hold up but I figures that it was more likely to work for a smaller, lighter child. Let's hope I'm right.

Lanolin Hat!

I am so glad that you liked my idea to change up Eye Candy Fridays. I look forward to seeing the things that other people love about where they live. I've always been a fan of the tour books that take you off the beaten path and that's kind of how I see this. It'll be less of the postcard shots and famous places and more charming or interesting little details. Maybe I'll put up a list of other blogs that are participating in the bloggy travelogue.

DSC_0043Speaking of stuff I posted last week - looking back I realized that I didn't post any knitting or fiber at all last week. No fiber on my fiber blog. That's so weird because I finished 2007 in a knitty frenzy and most of it came out exactly as I planned so I have a bunch of stuff to share.
This hat took about a day to complete. It's so nice to sprinkle in a few super quick projects among the bigger ones. Progress feels good.

The pattern I used is called Cap Karma and I found it via the Brooklyn Tweed blog. This was such a good thing since Jared had a nice modification worked out for the decreases which I used. I really liked this pattern. It was simple and quick but the effect is nice. I do think that if/when I make it again I'll use a solid or semi-solid yarn which will show off the pattern better.

DQ in Daddy's Hat

This hat was for Hubbo but he's not nearly as photogenic as DQ (she really rocks the tween 'tude) so I asked her to model the hat for you.

Kiparoo Hat - with Lanolin!The yarn is Morning Myst from Kiparoo Farm and it's a wool/mohair blend. The color is lovely and the mohair didn't bother me as much as it usually does but the real story here was the lanolin. I've never worked with a yarn that was so full of lanolin before. It wasn't a bad experience but it was definitely different. The yarn felt solid and after working with it for a while my fingers were shiny from the lanolin coating. I was actually kind of fascinated by it.

The small picture above (the first one in this post) shows the fabric before I washed it out and I think that you can kind of see the effect of the lanolin. The yarn looks a little harsh. One it was washed the mohair started fuzzing a bit and the fabric started to look softer. I think that there's still quite a bit of lanolin in there though but I'm not sure what the best soap is for removing it. Any suggestions?

Jan 3, 2008

Not ECF...

For a long time I've done Eye Candy Friday. I've posted flowers (lot's of flowers), food, pretty things and yarn. It's been lot's of fun but I'm gonna change it up a bit for 2008.

I love DC. Love it! This is no big secret so it shouldn't surprise you to hear that, since starting the new job downtown, I've been taking pictures as I wander around the city of stuff that appeals to me. Most of the time it's architectural details on buildings but sometimes it's other stuff.

It occurred to me, as the new year approached that one of the features I love about blogland is the opportunity to see places that I wouldn't otherwise experience. I was thinking that it would be cool to return the favor by sharing views of My DC on Fridays during 2008. There are certain buildings and vistas that are well known but others are less familiar but still lovely. This would be like giving you all a little tour of the things that make DC one of my favorite places.

If it sounds cool then feel free to join me and share pictures of places you love. If you do then let me know. We could have a yearlong bloggy travelogue and sample different places through the eyes of people we love and admire.

I'll start the year off with a place that ought to be familiar to everyone. It's actually just a 5 minute (or less) walk from my office and there's a sweet little park across the street that some of us have lunch in when we feel like doing battle with the squirrels. They're pretty aggressive.


Most of the pictures I post will probably be less familiar. Stuff like this perhaps..


This is from another building that's a quick walk from my office. Not anywhere famous, just another office building. That's what I love about DC, so many of the builings here are covered with carvings and ornamentation of all kinds.

Jan 2, 2008

Loving Frank

Have you ever read a book that you just wanted to become a part of? Perhaps it was so vividly written that you felt like you were there, walking beside the characters. Maybe you were just really enjoying the opportunity to get to know the people or the time a little better.

My love of Frank Lloyd Wright goes back quite a long time. He was even the inspiration behind a lesson I taught back in the days when I thought I might become and art teacher. I had the 8th graders choose a location and design a house that would address the characteristics of the geography. Ok, I may have been a little idealistic and over-ambitious back then. I should admit that this lesson is a big reason why I decided not to spend my career in a classroom.

DSC_0089When I read the recent review of Loving Frank by Nancy Horan I was intrigued by the story of the affair between Mamah Borthwick Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright. To be sure I've read a bit about the man and I was aware that he was a rather controversial figure. I had never heard about this part of his life.

DSC_0082For those of you who are still unfamiliar, here are the broad strokes. In 1903 FLW built a bouse for the Cheneys in Oak Park, Illinois. Mamah and FLW quickly became involved in an affair and in 1909 they left their respective families (she had 2 children, he had 6) and ran away to Europe together. Although they returned to the US, they would never return to their families. The affair ended tragically in 1914.
Although the story is true, the book is a work of fiction. There simply isn't a great record of Mamah but Ms Horan has taken articles from the time, letters from Mamah, and what is known about FLW's life during that period and woven a wonderful story of their affair as it may have been. Mamah, a woman who was college educated and very interested in feminist issues of the day, is the focus of the novel. She was fluent in 6 languages and worked as a translator for Ellen Key, a Swedish feminist author.


As I neared the end of the book late last week I felt that old sense of wanting to climb onto the pages and found that, in this rare instance, I almost could. There are 5 FLW in Virginia and Maryland but only one of them is open to the public. Thankfully, the Pope-Leighy house is only about 20 minutes from my house so I convinced DQ to experience it with me last Saturday.

DSC_0091I am so glad that we went. To walk through one of FLW's structures is to marvel at the attention to the details and the way everything is so well thought out like the planter box which is placed right outside the kitchen window so that one could reach out while preparing dinner to clip herbs. Every space is utilized which would've been essential in a house like this because it's tiny. That was the first thing I noticed as we approached it. Inside the spaces compress in some spots like the entry which just a little over 6 feet high and the hall that is only 2 feet wide. Then you emerge into areas like the living room which feels expansive in comparison with 11 foot high ceilings and tall windows along both sides that bring the outside in.

DSC_0088The use of horizontal lines is hard to miss. The slots on the screw heads are all aranged horizontally, the cypress boards than make up the walls are arranged horizontally and, I don't know if you can see it from this picture but, the bricks use 2 shades of mortar, red for the vertical lines to make them blend in and white for the horizontal lines to accentuate them.

The wooden window screens were a favorite feature of DQ. (shhhh... she liked it but she told me she'd deny it if anyone asks) The cantilevers that FLW is so known for are in evidence throughout and I love the way they are used to extend the roof to make the house look bigger.

Today, the Pope-Leighy house is unusual but, back in 1940 when it was built, it must have been really unique. Walking through the house, I thought about how it must have appeared at the time to people accustomed to seeing more traditional homes. I wondered what kind of woman would choose a home that was so at odds with the norm. Nonconformity takes spirit and strength and that's what I see in the version of Mamah who lives on the pages of Loving Frank.

I can't wait to experience more of FLW's homes in person. As I told hubbo, we'll need to add a new vacation requirement - stops at yarn stores will now be joined by visits to FLW homes.