Dec 24, 2006

Key West

Isn't this sticker cool. It's constantly updated to show the current weather conditions in Key West, where I'll be during most of the coming week. I'm not bringing my computer so blogging will depend on the weather and the availability of internet.

Click for Key West, Florida Forecast

When we planned this little trip I envisioned strolling through town in my sandals and a nice, fresh pedicure. The fact that my feet would be sporting nasty purple bruises was not something I could forsee but, there you have it. I'll be forced to spend more time knitting by the pool and less time siteseeing. The horror!

It's funny how life has a way of throwing you a curve every now and then. We originally planned to be in Florida for a family event in November but this particular branch of the family has some screwy priorities and elected to put their friends ahead of family (these are close first cousins not distant relatives). At the time it was a huge family drama but, because we didn't go then, we are able to go now. As it turns out, now is when we need it most anyway. Isn't it funny how things work out?

We've been packing all day today. Of course the hardest decision is which knitting to bring. Decisions, decisions! I fibnally settled on a few things...

trip planning

Does that look like too much? You can click through to Flickr to get the details by clicking on the picture. It's really not as bad or crazy as it looks. A few of the projects are near or beyond the half way mark. There are 2 pairs of fingerless mitts that haven't been started yet in that pile but they go super fast. Let's remember that due to my recent injury I'll need to spend quite a bit of time off my feet. That should be conducive to lot's of knitting and reading. By the way, I found that hubbo's golf club carrier is an excellent place to stow my blocking wires. Hahaha!

Happy holidays to everyone that's celebrating! See ya soon!

Dec 21, 2006

ECF - 12/22/06

To the untrained eye this looks like simple Eye Candy but it's more than that. For me, it's soul candy too. This is the gift that the Drama Queen gave me for Hanukkah last night. It's a beautiful glass icicle that I'll hang over my kitchen sink. What makes this super cool is that she bought it for me at a craft fair we attended without my knowledge. She chose it and bought it with her own money. She is such a great kid!

Gift from DQ

Dec 20, 2006

Ribbons and Stash

Pink Ribbon startsI've finished the parade of recently finished objects so here is a peek at the socks I'm working on right now. Recognize the pattern? It's Pink Ribbons by Lisa Lloyd and they are 100% cashmere baby! I cannot tell you how soft they are.

These socks, which are for my M-I-L represent the last of my scheduled holiday knitting for this year. Will I finish them befor I see her on Monday? I dunno. I do have a 2 hour flight between now and then. I'm pretty sure that, at the least, I'll be close. I do know that when these are finished they will be the 15th pair of socks I knit this year. Ask me how many I knit last year. None! That's right - I never knit socks before this year. How crazy is that?

Yarn overflowI suppose it's no more crazy than the way my stash has grown this year. I'll stop and review the year more thorougly another day. Today it should suffice to say that at the start of the year, my stash fit in this cabinet and a basket or two.

Oh how things have changed! Now there are about 4 baskets and this is where the overflow stash lives. The bulk of my stash has 2 lovely yarn containment units to call home. I cannot allow the stash to grow beyond these. Surely the point of this little admission is obvious - I think I'm gonna join Wendy's Knit From Your Stash 2007.

yarn containment 1I've been thinking about it a lot. I know that there are folks out there with larger stashes but these 2 units are in my dining room and there are 3 other people in the house. It would not be proper parental behavior to evict my children from their bedrooms so that the fiber could spread. It's time to put a stop to this.

I had a lengthy discussion with my enabler a friend today. She expressed a little concern about what this might mean for MDS&W. Never fear - I'll be there.

Wendy's rules are kind of loose, as in, adjust to fit your needs. Here they are (with commentary):

Knit From Your Stash 2007
1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months. - We're ok so far although I'm not sure I'll make it to September.
2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:
2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone? - All good here.
2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift. - This works too.
2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project. - Whew! This one is important
2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time. - This seems open to interpretation so I think that I'm going to interpret it as one day - not one item. You see where this is going?
3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn. - Thanks goodness for Valentines Day, Mother's Day, My Anniversary... hey dude, take note!
4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt. - This is a make or break rule because there is a wheel on it's way and it will need to be fed.

So, as I was saying, a friend and I hashed this out and I wasn't sure at first that I could do it but then I started a mental inventory of UFO's that I actually want to finish like a certain scarf for my brother (I haven't forgotten), Linen Lily and my Elsebeth Lavold sweater. There is also the Neverending Vest for hubbo which I could (and should) finish.

I also have yarn for a few things I'd like to make like the Lotus Blossom Tank, a Debbie Bliss Denim blanket and the Dragon Wing Shawl to name a few. This doesn't even touch the yarn that I have set aside for projects 'to be determined' for my girls and the stuff I just ordered for mittens and hats. This alone could keep me very busy.

Forgetting all this I was still concerned because I love to visit yarn stores in my travels and I generally bring back a small souvenir. Then I realized that the souvenirs are usually sock yarn so it should be ok. Never-the-less, I think that I'm adding a small carve-out to cover this.

5. Souvenir yarns don't count but they must be limited to one per store and must be special - something you haven't seen before or can't easily get at home.

The more I think about it, the more confident I feel that I can stick to this. After all, MDS&W will likely be devoted to wheel fiber anyway. Right? That reminds me of one more concern to cover before committing myself - the cashmere clause. Last year at MDS&W, Felicia and I found a booth with cashmere towards the end of the day and had to pass because the damage was already done. We swore that we'd make up for it in 2007. Hence rule #6.

6. Cashmere does not count.

Ok, all covered? I think that does it. Game on!

Cake and Candles

cake - unfinishedI awoke this morning about an hour before my usual time feeling a little heartburn and general unease. I popped a Tums and headed to the kitchen because I knew exactly what was wrong. Last night I made a cake for an office party today. I like to bake and, except in very unusual situations, if it comes from my kitchen it was made from scratch. Last night at 10:30 pm as I was fiishing off the cake, I ran out of homemade frosting. Noting my ongoing difficultywith my feet, hubbo convinced me that it was fine as it was so I went to bed.

cakeIt was not fine and we both knew it. He was able to move on and go to sleep and put it completely out of his head. I was not. This is why, at o'dark thirty this morning, I was whipping up another batch of frosting. I think that we can both agree that this is much better. Not perfect - but better.

Now that the cake issues are resolved I can return to the regularly scheduled display of the last of the holiday gifts I finished while I was stuck on the couch. These are the second set of votive sleeves that I planned and I'm really happy with the way they turned out.

I used the pattern for Wire Menorah/Votive Sleeves from Melanie Falick’s Handknit Holidays again but this time the 24 gauge wire I used was gold tone. I wanted to use a red and gold theme and I couldn't believe how hard it was to find beads in these colors that pleased me. I wanted glass beads in true reds and most of what I saw was coral or pink - not red. I think that these worked out well. I like the randomness of the placement and, although you can't see in this picture, they catch the light very nicely.

Golden votives

Dec 18, 2006

Finished Under the Influence

Sunny Sox

The parade of finished objects completed while I vegetated on the couch continues with this pair of socks. They're just simple toe-up socks with a little slipped stitch pattern in the leg. The cool thing is that the yarn you see at the top of the picture is leftover from the socks. I used Elann Esprit again but these only took one and half balls. Woot! Since the Drama Queen(who will receive these as a gift) and I wear the same shoe size that means that I can make a matching pair for myself at a later date.

The most notable thing about these socks is that the two socks, from the same ball of variegated yarn, striped very differently. I don't think that DQ will care much - she'll just think they're cool. I find it curious though.

My brother has been known to refer to me as a weird-o and my girls too (they don't really count though). I saw this meme making the rounds and figured it was time to see exactly how weird I really am.

"Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”
  1. I love sundried tomatos, tomato sauce, tomato paste (even raw), tomato juice, even sliced tomatos on pizza or the Checca (fresh tomatos and spices in olive oil) that they serve at CPK... but no matter how many times I try, I cannot eat fresh tomatos.
  2. The smell of bacon cooking makes me nauseous - but I love the taste of a little hint of it on my cheese fries. Go figure!
  3. I bite my cuticles. It's so gross and it makes my fingers sore and ugly but I just can't help it.
  4. I love regulatory research. This one won't make sense to most people but anyone in the legal field will understand just how weird it is. Just lets say that diving into boring regulations and trying to figure out why they say what they do fascinates me and absorbs me. Just. Don't. Get. Me. Started.
  5. I love people watching. I blame it on all the years I spent in art school 'training my eye'. I especially find it amusing to watch men on the Metro and guess if they're single - blue shirt, yellow tie, tan jacket, grey pants, black shoes and a brown belt - oh yeah, he's single. No woman would let her guy be seen like that!
  6. I love to have company and entertain but I hate to be the center of attention and I usually choose to enjoy my parties from the sidelines. I cook up a storm and fill my house with friends and family several times a year but I get more pleasure out of watching my company enjoy themselves than I do from geting in there and mixing it up myself.

I'm not tagging anyone but if you want to share your weirdness I'd love to hear it.

On my Feet Again

Thank you so much for all of your good wishes! I hope to thank all of you personally but it will take a little while - I have a lot of catching up to do!

After posting the other day I retreated to the couch with my feet up and I was a totally uncharachteristically good patient. I kept my feet up and iced for 3 days. It was so hard because I am not a sedentary person. There was so much that needed to be done and that I wanted to do but I really just couldn't walk much at all and the painkillers just wiped me out. Instead I sat and watched my toes turn colors. Today they're a wicked shade of purple but I'm going to work anyway.

I learned that even with the painkillers ( I totally get why Dr. House loves his Vicodin so much) I can still knit. There was surprisingly little frogging involved either. I finished 3 projects over the weekend and I am now nearly finished with my holiday knitting. The last project, a pair of socks, made it's way onto my needles last night. Ahhh... cashmere!

Sheldon & FrankieThe first of the finished objects that I can share is Sheldon. Yes, this is the project that I hinted at the other day. Here is a picture of our Frankie meeting the newly hatched Sheldon. I'm not sure that Frankie was impressed but I just love Sheldon.

I saw the pattern as soon as the holiday Knitty was posted and knew that I had to make Sheldon for my niece but I'm a little annoyed. I don't understand why they post the holiday Knitty so late. For those of us who celebrate Hanukkah there was barely enough time to complete anything in it for gift giving. For that reason I couldn't use the KP Shine that was specified. I love KP stuff but they are so slow! There was no way it would get here in time. Instead I found some Rowan Cotton Glace. It worked well too.

Sheldon 2For the most part this was a great pattern except that I found it a little confusing towards the end. I was off the meds by then so I can't blame it on them. ( I just went back to get the link and noticed that the stuff that confused me while knitting has been updated with corrections - much better now.) After 2 tries I figured out what was wrong and I finished the project off. Sheldon is so cuddly. After a few hugs from my girls, he is on his way to my 3 year old niece in NYC right now with a few Franklin the Turtle books (Frankie insisted). My girls have already told me clearly that we need a Sheldon (or 2) for the house. They were bonding with this little guy and didn't want to let him go.

I followed the pattern pretty faithfully except for the materials. As I mentioned earlier I subbed a different yarn. I also subbed 12 mm saftety eyes instead of 9mm just because that's what I could find in the stores near me. I totally think it works though.


By the way, I never heard of the Subway Knitter but I don't think that's who caught me knitting my sock since I was in DC.

Dec 14, 2006

Isn't it Ironic

Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment at a very large and well known medical center. I was perfectly healthy when I arrived but, stepping off the shuttle bus I stumbled and fell and landed in a heap on the curb. Very graceful! We wound up spending the evening in the ER where they found that I had badly sprained my right foot. It's very swollen and the injury is serious enough that I can't walk on it at all AND, as if that wasn't enough, I broke a toe on my left foot. They gave me crutches but, because both feet are involved, I can barely use them. On the positive side, they gave me the really good drugs - Dr. House would approve and be jealous.

As if injuring myself on the grounds of a major medical facility wasn't enough, I did it the night before my last spinning class. That is certainly ironic. I can't walk at all much less tredle. I am so unspeakably pissed off.

I'm not sure if I can even knit much today. I suspect that knitting on Vicodin will result in much frogging. Ugh!

Up to the point that I fell, it was a pretty good day. Amusing even. I was riding on Metro and working on binding off another sock when I looked up and saw a woman who was also knitting a sock. I didn't pay much attention though because I was feeling the pressure of holiday knitting. We both wound up changing trains and again I found myself sitting accross from her. Suddenly there was a flash and I looked up to see her putting her camera away. I think I got caught KIP-ing! On film! How funny. I can only guess that she must be a blogger. What other explanation is there for a knitter takig a picture of another random knitter on a train? I'm really not that photogenic.

No pictures today because this is about as much as I can handle right now. I do have a finished sock - maybe I'll finish it's mate. Maybe I'll finish the mystery project too. Maybe I'll just take a nap.

Dec 13, 2006

First Skein

Start of something cuteTo those of you not yet bitten by the spinning bug - I apologize. Hearing me go on and on about spinning class must be very boring. In the interest of keeping it interesting for you I offer a little peek at a new project. I saw this new pattern recently and I fell in love. Isn't it obvious? I'm so enthralled by this pattern that I've been enticed to use the dpn's I despise. It will be a gift for one of my nieces when its done. Since I know how much you love guessing games, I'll let you guess what it is rather than telling you. Need a hint? Ummm... it's very cute and Frankie, (the 5th member of our K4S household) would like to claim it as a buddy.

Back to the spinning. I've had spinning and wheels on my brain so much lately. It's led to some amusing conversations. Actually, the same conversation over and over again. I'll be talking to a friend and mention that I'm going to spinning class and suddenly there will be a lull in the conversation coupled with odd looks from my friends. Then I remember who I'm talking to and clarify - spinning yarn, not spinning at the gym! Seriously, I am totally not an organized exercise kind of a gal and all my friends know this. (Of course that doesn't stop them from trying to convince me of the merits of regular exercise.) It's just funny that everone jumps to the same, incorrect, conclusion.

Last night I did a lot more spinning and I can really see and feel the improvement. I also think I may know what my first wheel will be. This is my forst skein from last week. It's been set and skeined and I like to pet it. The stuff I spun last night was much better. There is still a lot of uneven-ness but it doesn't vary quite as much.

First Skein

Dec 11, 2006

Purple Passion Scarf

Well, I can cross one more holiday knit off my list because this scarf is done.


This was one very simple scarf that combined a bunch of stuff I like. My design process was pretty simple. First I chose a bunch of yarns that I liked which went well together. In this case is was KP Andean Silk in Hyacinth and Cornflower (I just love this stuff), Moda Dea Lazy Daisy in Purple Rain and some new Berroco yarn that I got for free at Stitches (the leftover ball is in the picture below). I don't know the name of it but it was funky and perfect for this project.

IMG_0102[1]I wanted to do a lengthwise garter scarf for Stinkerbelle but I really worried a bit about it keeping it's shape. I-cord solved this problem. I used 200 stitches and did an i-cord cast on and an i-cord cast-off and I think thast it gives the scarf just enough substance to hold up to Stink. The design was simple 3 of this and 3 of that. I even did 3 'fun' rows but I did 2 of the Lazy Daisy and one of the Berroco to lend interest through asymmetry.

I wish you could feel this scarf. It's so soft and snuggly. The funky bits in the Lazy Daisy yarn are like little cottony puffs.

Dec 10, 2006


After class last Thurdsay I was really excited and just couldn't get the spinning out of my head so this weekend I took the opportunity to go down to Alexandria (where I'm taking spinning class) and do a little homework. Stinkerbelle came with me because she was hoping to get a little bit of weaving time in. It turns out that she was much more into watching me spin. That may be because her regular loom wasn't available.


Anyway, what you see here is the product of about an hour and a half of spinning. You may notice that this is not the Traveller - it's the Majacraft Suzie. Even though we were unable to get along the first time I really wanted to give it another try and, after a little bit of trial and error, we started to understand each other better.

The fiber I was playing with was a little different too. The little bit of brown peeking through is unidentified fiber that I chose because it looked a lot like the fiber that finally 'clicked' for me. It felt safe and I started with it. Most of it is covered up in the picture but it was somewhat even. You'll just have to take my word for it.

After my brown 'comfort fiber' ran out I moved on to the merino that you see on top. It's still very uneven but the constant commentary from Stinkerbelle has something to do with it. I'm really proud of what I spun and I can't wait until class on Tueday.

IMG_0097[1]When I wasn't spinning I was trying to wrap up the holiday shopping and the holiday knitting. I didn't quite finish all of the stuff I planned on completing this weekend but I do have another finished object. This is the Larkspur Hat from the Holiday 2006 issue of IK. I knit it in The Heathers from Cascade. The pattern was easy and I like that result but I'm just not crazy about the way the decreases look. It's definitedly giftable and it came out well but the perfectionist knitter in me says that the decreases leave a little to be desired.

Aside from the hat, I have 2 more gifts that are a heartbeat away from completion. Really, they'd be done by now if I hadn' taken a detour into spinning land. Oh, and I cast on for one more gift. I just couldn't help myself.

Dec 7, 2006


Here's a little eye candy. It's gotten really cold here in the past few days and, more importantly - it's super windy. This is just some decorative grass in the landscaping at a shopping center but I like the way it shows the movement of the wind.


* * *

IMG_0073[1]Tonight was spinning class again and, at first, it was horrible again. The teacher is great and, to her credit, never indicated how pathetic I was. She was very encouraging and assured me that my progress was normal. Yeah, right! I was making the same mistakes as I did on Tuedsday and I felt no closer to getting it right. I could not get my hands to do what they were supposed to do quickly enough and my feet were going way too fast. Just as I got to a point in my frustration where I really started to think I'd never catch on we stopped spinning to learn about using a niddy noddy and put our yarn in a bucket to soak for a while.

IMG_0076[1]My yarn is tied with a green string. All of us soaked our yarn together so I'm not sure how easy it is to see mine. It might be easier to see it hanginig up. Sorry the picture isn't that clear but trust me, you're not missing much. It's thick and thin and really, quite a mess. This is the yarn that you tuck away somewhere so that with any luck, someday when you get the hang of it, you can pull it out and say "see how far I've come."

IMG_0074[1]After the break we learned a little about unprepared fleece. We carded it and then we sat down to try spinning it and guess what - it worked. Click! Suddenly I was spinning stuff that didn't look like ass. My feet and my hands knew what to do and the yarn started to look more even and fine. Apparently the top was too compact for me to get a handle on it. The looser fibers were much easier for me to understand and feel. After that I went back and forth between the top and the fleece. I get it now.

IMG_0078[1]I really wish that this next picture was better but I'm still getting to know the new camera. If it was in focus you'd see some reasonably nice looking stuff. No more twisty, nasty mess. It's just a bunch of somewhat even looking yarn. The greyish, brownish stuff is Romney and it's really nice and even on the bobbin. The white is generic Brown Sheep top which I learned is much easier to handle when it's fluffed up a bit.

Now I just can't wait to go back and practice. Oh yes, and shop for a wheel.

Dec 6, 2006

Time to Reevaluate

Tonight, as I sat at my desk catching up with my correspondence, Stinkerbelle came over to show me a little something. She held up a pair of socks I made for her earlier this year and told me that she had worn them to school today. (The pungent aroma confimed this) She said that she had been "showing them off" at school. Awww... I felt so special. Then she left and came back with the book order form that they gave out at school today and started to show me what she had her eye on. Boom! I came back down to earth in a hurry.

I've reached one of the key moments in my holiday knitting marathon. The reality check! Hanukkah is just over a week away so it's time to think about all of this with a clear head and decide what I can really finish for gifting this year.

FF ScarfThe first to go is this lovely scarf. I haven't really gotten very far with it but, someday, it will be Forbes Forest in KP Andean Silk and I really love it. I can totally see why so many people adore this pattern and I think that my hairdresser will too - next year. I'll enjoy this much more if I can go at a more leisurely pace without all night knitting marathons. Besides, by pushing it off to next year I am no longer late for this year but early for next.

One of the 4 pairs of socks on my list goes too. I wanted to make socks for both of my girls for the holidays but I'm running out of time fast. One child will get the socks I planned because the pair is nearly half finished. Never fear - the other child will be getting some very cool knits too - just not socks. I'm working on a very cool scarf and fingerless gloves for her. They are totally unmatched but both totally her.

I think that the remainder of my sock time between now and the end of the year will be reserved for some decadent, cashmere, pink ribbon socks for my M-I-L. That and preparations for Sock Madness will keep me knitting sockks for a very long time!

I think that those adjustments should cover it all but I may need to revisit this again.

Dec 5, 2006

Spin Me Right 'Round Baby

You all are just so darn clever! Either that or I'm fairly transparent - take your pick. I was spinning tonight. For real!

I bought a spindle in May at MDSW and I've aquired a bit of fiber but my efforts to create yarn so far are best described as feeble. I just can't seem to get it to work for me. I want to though... I really, really do. For months I've been picking up the spindle and putting it down. We just aren't getting along.

Then, for my birthday, the fates (aka friends and family) conspired to indulge my fibery pursuits. I recieved a membership to Springwater Fiber Workshop, a gift certificate to same and a generous check. What's a girl to do but sign up for spinning class? So I did. Tonight was the first session and... I still suck. Sorry, I had high hopes of being able to report super exciting progress but the best I can say at this point is that it's starting to make sense to me.

I tried a Majacraft Suzie and an Ashford Traveller and I've got a long way to go. Let's just say that it wasn't pretty. I could not keep up with either wheel at all. Did I mention that I'm wickedly uncoordinated?

I have class again on Thursday so I have a little bit of time to digest the lesson before I go back for round two. Oh, and the big lesson for the night - don't wear black pants to spinning class. Hubbo thought the sight of me covered in fiber was very amusing.

Dec 4, 2006

Another Birthday

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes for my darling Drama Queen. Yes, the consensus seems to be that I am nuts to have hosted the sleep-over. I plead guilty.

G-pa in sockOn Sunday night, in a family tradition, we went out for dinner to celebrate DQ's birthday and that of my dad as well. His birthday is 12/5. This year I gifted him with a pair of hand-knit socks and I'm pretty excited because they actually fit. I am so excited! Now I just need to create 3 more pairs of socks to get me through the holiday season. Yes, I know that I am delusional.

I have something very exciting to do tomorrow night after work which I expect will provide a little bit of new and exciting blog fodder. Care to guess what it is?

Dec 3, 2006

Happy Birthday DQ!

Today is the birthday of my very own Drama Queen. I found my baking mojo just in time and managed to turn out a creation to make her smile. She celebrated it by inviting 5 of her nearest and dearest to spend the night. Hubbo took Stinkerbelle to see the Caps play the Sabres (lerts go Caps!) so I was assisted by my buddy Felicia for the evening. I am so thankful for an adult to help me keep the peace!

ListI tried so hard to plan ahead. I even had DQ make a list of activities in an attempt to control the insanity. Don’t you love her list? I was clearly delusional.

Put a gaggle of tween girls together and it takes very little to set them off. Oh the drama! They watched movies, they played games, they tried out DQ’s new curling iron. No matter what the activity – it was loud.

I feel really bad for the nice people at a little restaurant near our house. We arrived for our reservations and the people all looked up in fear. Seeing a gaggle of tween girls enter an otherwise quiet restaurant could definitely cause one to assume that the evening is about to take a turn. I could swear that a number of them immediately called for the check.

DQ blows out the candlesIn the end it’s all good and I don’t have to do this again for a few months. The house is still standing, the girls went home none the worse for wear and DQ had a great celebration. That’s what it’s all about.

I love you DQ!

Nov 30, 2006

ECF - Warm Hands Edition

Happy Eye Candy Friday! I was feeling a little down yesterday but today I feel ready to battle on.

Here’s a little Eye Candy duo with a warm hands theme. First up is a pair of beaded Mittens that I saw at the NMAI last Saturday. They are amazing. I love the design! One can only imagine how warm they must be.

NMAI - DC Beaded Mitts

I originally planned the picture above for ECF but it's even more perfect than expected because I finished another pair of Elegant Eskimo Mittens for Dulaan last night! These are very pink. I used Elann Highland Wool again but this time I know exactly how much I used – 2 full balls plus a tiny bit of the third just to finish the last thumb. The fur is a little different too. It’s Sirdar Funky Fur Magic.
Pink Mitts

The Drama Queen loves these so much that she asked for her own pair. Now she says that “of course” she’d wear mittens as long as I make her fingerless gloves too. That’s my girl!

November Fog

I can not believe that it is the end of November. That’s just one of the many things that seem to have snuck up on me. This weekend is the Drama Queen’s birthday and I’m really not ready – the house is a wreck and I have only a vague idea of how it all will work. I’m also not ready to bake the bajillion cupcakes I need to send to school with her tomorrow. Speaking of baking – I have no “plan” for her birthday cake other than the fact that it will be chocolate. I always try to create something marvelous, or at least really cool, for my girls’ birthdays. This year my mind is a blank. Maybe I’m spent. Maybe the baking mojo is gone or on hiatus.

I’m afraid that the knitting may have something to do with it. In past years I was able to multi-task to a much higher degree. These days I just want to knit. It’s not even any one project that I’m dedicated to. Yesterday I worked on the mittens on my commute in and during lunch but I switched to a sock for the ride home. After dinner I worked the mittens until they were nearly done before starting one of the gift scarves I’m making. All the while, I was pondering the colors of beads I’ll use to make the votive sleeves that will coordinate with the red candles in the picture yesterday. See? It’s all good as long as I’m in knitland.

I took a little time out to speak to a few friends about upcoming plans and my brain froze. I’m pretty sure I was completely incoherent. What must they think of me? Better yet, why do they put up with me? Perhaps I’ll be able to get my shit together better after…

Cupcakes and cakes are made;
Holiday shopping is finished…
And wrapped…
And mailed;
Holiday knitting is finished;
Birthday gifts are purchased…
And mailed;
We are packed up for our trip;
Once all the stuff I can’t speak about is behind us.

Nov 29, 2006


Thank you for all of the nice things that you said about the mittens. I also appreciate the advice about where to send them. Dulaan it is! I’ll send them, along with the hat and the pair of mittens I started last night, to Dulaan. I’ve wanted to participate in that effort for quite a while. There is something really appealing about being part of the effort to send massive amounts of warm hand knit stuff to Mongolia.

Yesterday was a huge relief for me because Bloglines apparently fixed my feed after 3 requests to do so and suddenly I had comments again. I switched to the new version of Blogger on the 16th and Bloglines lost the feed. It’s funny because my little corner of the Blogisphere isn’t particularly loud and rowdy but the silence was still really noticeable. I missed you all!

I’m so happy that you enjoyed the saga of the book. Hubbo wants it noted that his first trip to O.N. was not only to retrieve the book – he was doing a return and an exchange too. I’m amazed at how many of you commented on that. Clearly you are not skimmers.

The other thing that a few people commented on was the votives. I have to say that the first pair was a little rough on my hands but, once you get he hang of it they go really quickly and my hands didn’t suffer too horribly. My fingernails were another story. Not good at all. I do think that they were worth it though. I used Grumperina’s suggestions and got the votives and the round white candles from Crate and Barrel which look lovely but I also added these:

Actually, the candles that were wrapped up with the first set of votives aren’t in this picture. They were in shades of blue. Trust me, they were fab and I think that this is one handmade gift that will be sincerely welcomed. I hope!

Nov 28, 2006

Fuzzy Mitts

I mentioned yesterday that I did a little Black Friday shopping. I really don't know why I do that to myself. It's so frustrating and it leaves me drained for the rest of the day. At least it was productive because, in addition to gifts for my girls, I got a little something that I have been hunting since June - a new camera! It's a Canon Elph SD-600 and I think I'm in love. It's super small so i can carry it around easily and it's got a million neat settings. Did you notice the nifty shot in yesterday's montage with the red berries against the black and white shot of the NMAI building? No... what about this then?

Red leaf in grass
I promise that I will not play with this setting too often on the blog. I'll try to show a little restraint.

So, on friday morning, in addition to the electronics stores, I hit a certain bookstore where I picked up a book that the Drama Queen really, really wants. (a certain DQ will celebrate her birthday 12/3) I bought the book and headed over the Old Navy for a little clothes shopping. It turned into a lot of clothes shopping. I loaded all of the stuff into the car and, as I was driving down my street I suddenly realized that I left the book in the cart at Old Navy. I got home and just before I passed out on the couch I told hubbo to please call them, see if it was still there, and go retrieve the book. He did and a few hours later called from the store to tell me that he had successfully retrieved the book. Sighs of relief all around!

But wait, the story continues because when I went looking for the book to wrap it it was nowhere to be found. We checked all the bags, the car... everywhere! Hubbo was too embarrassed to call Old Navy again so my brother did the honors. The called on Sunday to say that, yes, the book was still there. Hubbo went back again, under strict orders not to return without the book, and picked it up. It may be a while before we can show our faces there again.

Maybe it's the influence of all the shopping I did but I’m really feeling the Knit Unto Others vibe. This past weekend was really productive. I cast on for these mittens on Saturday afternoon and felted them Sunday night. I adore them!

Mittens in the Wild

The pattern is the Elegant Eskimo Mittens that I found on Knitting Pattern Central. That is just one of my favorite resources. I can almost always find something cool to work on there - and it's all free! The yarn is random stuff from my stash. The fur is Moda Dea Jai Alai and the turquoise is Patons Classic Wool Merino – beyond that I can’t say. I'm not really into novelty yarns but, in this application, I really love the fur. It feels so nice when you slip your hands in these gloves.

The pattern is quick and easy and I will definitely be making more. Then I’ll have to decide which “others” these will go to. I was going to send them to Dulaan but the stuff that I see for Dulaan always seems so hardy and these are a little more whimsical. What do you think?

Nov 27, 2006


I hadn’t planned to take a vacation from the blog. It just kind of happened. It’s amazing what a four-day vacation will do to you.

My brother and his wife were here to celebrate the holiday and from the moment they arrived my house was caught in a whirlwind of activity. We hosted the Thanksgiving feast so I cooked up a storm that included apple pie, chocolate cake and Kristi’s Holiday Cobbler in addition to the turkey and it’s trimmings. We played games and shopped and loafed around. Of course I was knitting a lot too.

NMAI - DC 1Aside from waking at o'dark thirty on Black Friday to go do my bit for the national economy, I rarely left the house. The most notable exception was a trip into the District on Saturday to see the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, a place that I’ve wanted to visit since it opened in the fall of 2004. It's within view of the Capitol building which was neat because my sister-in-law, who just moved here from South Korea, had never seen it before. The first thing that we all noticed about the museum is that it is a stunning building. The walls of the museum are made of yellow stone that curves along in a warm and inviting way.

NMAI 11-25-06

Inside, the museum is stunning as well. Many of the walls are of the same stone as the exterior accented with warm, natural colors and beaten metal. There are very few straight lines in the museum which lends it an organic feel that is exactly right.

NMAI - DC 6 We just loved this guy but, as I write this I realize that I have no details about him. He’s just one example of the art that is displayed throughout the museum, presented in a way that encourages you to get up close and experience it. While the art was beautiful, it wasn’t the thing that made the strongest impression. The word museum usually makes one think of a window on the past but the NMAI is really a celebration and appreciation of American Indian culture. I noted that many of the objects on display and quotes printed on the walls are quite recent – well within my lifetime. NMAI is as much about the lives of American Indians today as it is about those of the past. It’s about their contributions to and struggles in our changing world.

Predictably, we didn’t have nearly enough time to see the whole museum but the beauty of living where we do is that we can (and will) go back. It’s just a short ride!

IMG_0045[1]Oh! I nearly forgot the knitting. I finished my hat for Knit Unto Others and Stinkerbelle was kind enough to model it for me.

I finished something else for Knit Unto Others too but I’ll save it’s debut for tomorrow.

Nov 22, 2006

Sunset Sox & a Charity Hat

Sunset Sox & 1st Hat for OthersI have no finished objects to share today. Here is what I’m working on now – a hat for charity and a gift sock. The hat is using up some leftover yarn from a scarf I made for my sister about a year ago. Not only is it charitable – its stash busting too. Hooray!

The sock is Elann Esprit and I have to say that I am really enjoying this yarn a lot. I know that cotton is not for everyone but this feels really good. The colors are making me surprisingly happy too. I’m not really a yellow and orange girl but every time I work on this sock I wish it was for me. I’ll just have to order some more.

Looking at these two projects, I’m noticing that they have something else in common – besides the fact that neither is for me. I’m working both of them with the magic loop. I’m not usually a magic loop kind of gal so I’m not sure what’s up with that. Weird.

Nov 21, 2006

Finished Objects in Blue

I may have misrepresented things just a little yesterday when I said that last week was devoted to the Yellow Bag. I did work on a few other things as well. I even finished a pair of votive sleeves.

Votive sleeves - take 2
If this isn’t your first visit to the blog then you may have seen my first attempt at votive sleeves. I ran out of beads that time but it turned out ok because I think that I like these much better anyway. The pattern is the Wire Menorah/Votive Sleeves from Melanie Falick’s Handknit Holidays and I used the 24 gauge wire specified. I have no idea about the size of the beads I used. Sorry! I can tell you that the square-ish beads are Czech glass in colors called Crystal and Blue Iris the round ones are glass too but I have no real details. I’m very happy with the way these came out and I will certainly make more – I need one more set to gift and, of course, one for me!

Mailbox I also completed another project last weekend. Well, I finished the first phase of it anyway. I installed my new mailbox. In this picture you can see the old mailbox, still sitting atop a worn and tilting post in it’s old spot on the other side of the driveway. It was a boring black plastic job with a red flag that had recently gone missing. I had been plotting it’s departure for a long time and made sketches showing a low curved brick wall around charmingly planted garden surrounding the new mailbox. As usual it’s a very ambitious plan.

Mailbox - view 2 There is still no fancy brick wall and no lovely plants but the mailbox is up and I love it. I took a plain white metal mailbox and a few cans of spray paint and went to town. I think it’s funky in a very cool way. This box won’t tip over either – we set it in concrete rather than using the lame-o post on a stake that we had before. This baby is built to last! She's off to a very knitty start too – yesterday she brought me a new set of Option needles.

Nov 20, 2006

Pay it Forward

I’m not sure where to start. This weekend was productive and wonderful but there was one thing that happened that just left me speechless. Lets start there.

Balloon Wind ChimeI wound up going to Sugarloaf with my girls on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day and, more importantly, the Brenda's Yellow Bag was finished in time so we went. There was so much to see. Many times the girls saw stuff that tickled them but Stinkerbelle fell hardest for one thing. There was a very colorful booth where a man had made wind chimes that look like hot air balloons. He makes a wood frame and stretches the fabric over it. Beneath it hangs either a traditional basket or some other figure, with the chimes below. Stink was drawn to the one you see here with the dolphins. She wanted it very much but I resisted and told her I’d think about it.

Later in the day we were passing by the booth and she asked if I had made up my mind. We looked at it for a while and I told her, as I reached for a business card, that I just couldn’t do it that day. It wasn’t unreasonably expensive but we had bought a bunch of stuff already and I felt like I needed to put the brakes on.

This is when the vendor did something that left me speechless. He reached up, unhooked it, and gave it to Stink. I sputtered something like “you don’t have to” but he insisted. I reached for my wallet and he refused. I was shocked. Stink was amazed too. He told her that he wanted to give it to her. Suddenly I was struck with the idea of paying it forward and explained it to Stink. We thanked him and, as we walked away, we discussed how we’ll pay it forward. The timing is perfect because for the next 2 weeks I’ll be knitting unto others.

Brenda's BagI worked on the yellow bag to distraction most of last week and by Saturday night I was close enough to being finished that I just planted myself on the couch and stayed there until it was done. I knit until my fingers started to go numb and then I knit some more. Somewhere after SNL the bag finally went into the washer for the first of 3 felting cycles and at 3 am my head finally hit the pillow. Tired doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I blocked the bag a bit and delivered it, still damp, to Brenda, who makes the funky beaded earrings I wear. (You may remember that I showed you some of them as part of my answer to the funky scarf swap questionnaire. I’ve been buying them from her for years and my daughters and I both wear them.) She liked it! I am so relieved. I love making stuff for people and I’m incredibly flattered when they ask for something but I always worry that it may not be what they hoped for.

Brenda's Bag 2I didn’t use a pattern for the bag so, instead I’ll give you a few stats and observations on it. The bag isn’t deep, only an inch or so, but it’s roughly one foot tall and one foot wide which is just what I was aiming for. I used a bit more than 4 balls of Cascade 220 (in 5 colors) to make it and I doubled it throughout.

I’m happy with the circles which I added randomly throughout the bag. I know that I complained about the intarsia. I really do stay away from it normally but there are some projects that just need it and this was one of them. The thing that made it bearable this time was that I didn’t bother to weave in any of the ends of the yarn and, instead, I tied them off inside the bag and clipped them after it was felted. Weaving them in would have driven me round the bend.

The strap for this bag is only 6 stitches wide so I knit it in garter stitch to add thickness and, hopefully, strength. It’ll hold but I think that a more substantial strap may have been better. It just doesn’t feel like enough to me.

In the end, the most problematic aspect of this bag was fixing a value to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be compensated in some way for my work and I know that it has value but I’m not comfortable thinking in those terms. That’s why I’ll never have a booth at a craft fair or sell my stuff in any formal way. I can’t imagine putting myself out there like that. I was one of those kids who couldn’t handle asking for a raise when she babysat and I haven’t changed all that much. Brenda did give me some mighty cool stuff though.

Nov 16, 2006

ECF and What Comes After the Storm

I took this picture last night as I walked to the Metro. The weather was quite bad here yesterday and the calm after the storm yielded a gorgeous pink sky. Very appropriate to this post.

After the storm
Nearly 3 months ago, my father returned home from a weekend away to find that his house had been flooded to a degree that required most of it to be gutted. We were happy to be able to offer him a place to live so he moved into the rec room of our small house.

The time since then has been interesting and I think that we have all learned a lot. My girls can now detect the opening of a tube of Ben Gay from across the house. We also know that sending my dad to the Costco can yield interesting results such as a refrigerator packed with 6 half gallon containers of orange juice. (He thought it might be too much but bought it anyway.) We learned that my dad’s taste buds may be a little out of wack. How else can you explain the fact that he didn’t notice that he was using GINGER rather than GARLIC on his pizza until midway through the second slice? Hmmm…

D RoarsI listened in amusement as my dad matched wits and wills with Stinkerbelle on a regular basis. Let’s call that one a draw.

I never expected deep conversation but my very conservative dad and I had a lot of very interesting conversations about the direction of the country and other, equally controversial issues. There was no yelling or bloodshed.

The biggest surprises were the conversations that my dad and I had about my knitting. The Shirley of the title was my dad’s mother. It is from her that I inherited my knitting needles and I taught myself to knit as a tribute to her. I never knew if any of this meant anything to him. It does. My unsentimental dad told me that he likes the name of the blog (so it will stay) and commented on the differences between my reasons for knitting and those of my grandmother and great-grandmother. It pleases him that I knit. It pleases me that it matters to him.

I mention this now because my dad moved out yesterday. I’m happy to have the house back to normal but I’m also pleased that we were able to spend some quality time together. Of course normal is a relative term and here it means that the chaos is diminished just a little – not completely eradicated. My brother and his wife will arrive on Tuesday for a Thanksgiving visit and, shortly after they leave, we’ll host a bunch of giggling tweens overnight in celebration of the Drama Queen’s birthday. See – the fun never ends!

Knit, Knit, Knit

Why oh why do people insist on crowding around the doors of the Metro trains? Lately I have been taking the train to work (instead of my car) in an effort to maximize my holiday knitting time. I’m lucky and get on at the end of the line so I usually get a seat. The part hat sucks is that every day I have to fight to get off the train because people crowd around the doors, and some really discourteous folks pile into the train before others get off. As hubbo reminded me last night – there is nothing common about common sense. I unfortunately see proof of this every day.

Blue EspritThanks for all of your, ahem, support of my holiday knitting plans. I am well aware that I’ve got a touch of insanity. My list of holiday knitting is best described as ambitious and may will be revised in the near future but, for now, I continue to give it my best shot. As proof I offer this sock which I finished last night. It’s just a generic toe-up sock in Elann Esprit. 1 down – 8 to go!

I can’t afford to have naked needles so I started another sock this morning but unfortunately it’s not the mate for this blue one. Why? I lost the other ball of blue yarn. Ugh! I think that my holiday knitting plans may be jinxed.

I also started something else last night – another votive sleeve. I’ve been very busy collecting beads lately and I’m pretty sure that I have enough to complete a pair of sleeves this time. Actually, I bought so many beads (a little overkill maybe) that I’m absolutely certain that I have enough. I also got something else that made threading the beads on the wire last night easy peasy. It’s this silly little bead tray thingy. It’s blue and it has 2 holes of different sizes with caps on them in 2 corners so that you can easily pour the extra beads back in the containers. I dumped a bunch of beads into it as I sat on the couch last night and went to town. So much easier! You really don’t want to know how I was doing it before.

Jasmine BagAs I write it all down I realize that my recent knitting efforts sound like those of a slacker. Not so! See this! It’s a bag that I started last weekend. I probably shouldn’t admit to any of this because it makes me sound more crazy rather than less. I started this last Saturday because it’s for a crafter who I hope to see at a craft show this weekend. I’m starting to realize that it probably won’t be ready in time because, as you see it in these pictures, it’s about 8 inches tall and I hope that it will be 18 before felting. Yep, I still have to knit 10 more inches... and the strap... and felt it. Also, I’m doing intarsia and I HATE intarsia. It slows me down. Don’t look inside the bag either. Ewww … nasty ends everywhere. I plan to felt it as is and clip the ends afterward. Thank goodness for the forgiving nature of felting - it hides a multitude of sins.

Jasmine BagThe thing that makes this really nuts is that I promised this bag to one of my favorite crafters back in February. Ack! February! I bought the yarn (her color choices) in March and it sat since then. Procrastination will get you every time! She is planning to embellish it with the cool glass beads that she makes. That’s why I went with the circle motif. Perhaps, if I pull and all nighter Friday and work on it all day Saturday, I’ll get it done in time. Did I mention that she’s gonna be in town this weekend?

Nov 14, 2006

Ruffles and Reality

D with scarfWhen I wrote about my purchases at Stitches last week, I mentioned that two things I bought found their way onto my needles immediately. One was the pair of Fetching that I made from the Brooks farm yarn. The other was this cool ruffled scarf. Walking through the hall, Felicia and I stopped at a booth where someone was knitting this up and we had to have it.

The yarn is Linie 194 Solo and 2 balls of it made up a 4 foot scarf. It's a nifty 2 color woven band that get's "knit" by poking the needle through it rather than wrapping the yarn around the needle. It was really good for TV and Merto knitting. I think this will be a perfect holiday gift for a certain green-loving 8 year old I know. I think I detect a hint of jealousy around my house. As I finished this last night my girls wanted to know why I’ve made 3 things for their cousin in the past month or so. I dunno. Just lucky I guess.

ruffle scarf

I was feeling good as I finished this scarf yesterday because it’s one more gift that I can consider done. I felt so good that I went back and reviewed my list of holiday knitting and created a nifty little chart for it in my sidebar. I thought that having it there would make me feel accomplished and successful. Um – not so much! Here’s what my holiday knitting chart looks like now.

Socks4 pairs0
Votive Holders2 pairs1 single
Fingerless Gloves1 pair2 pairs

Do you see the problem? It’s kind of glaring. Of the 4 pairs of planned socks, I’ve completed none. The horror! I’ve got to get to work fast.