Oct 31, 2007


IMG_2003Was this the perfect night to be out trick or treating or what? The sky was dark with just the right number of stars and a few puffy clouds. The air was so crisp and carried the scent of fireplaces in use. We even stopped at a friends house and found them gathered around a bonfire partaking in some adult treats of the liquid variety.

We walked and walked until we were ready to drop. Yes, we are die hard trick or treaters. My girls and their werewolf friend (seen here without their masks on) were rewarded for their efforts with pounds and pounds of candy. They were especially delighted to find that some people were giving out full size bars. Oh yes they were!

IMG_2005Halloween is one of those times when I really love my neighborhood. I love seeing all the kids in their costumes. There were toddlers dressed as lady bugs and quite a few angels, fairies and the like. Stinkerbelle was a ninja and DQ decided at the last minute to be a witch. I even enjoy seeing the older kids. It just feels like the community is alive and vital.

Another thing that amuses me are the decorations. I can usually be counted on for a pumpkin and maybe some cotton webs on my shrubs but it totally slipped my mind this year. I never get as elaborate as some houses nearby. Look at this one. It won the prize for "Spookiest". There was a guy sitting on the porch giving out candy and he was so well costumed that the kids didn't know he was real untill he started talking to them. They were so surprised.

I hope that your Halloween was great too.

Oct 30, 2007

Too Much Candy

IMG_1999Happy Halloween everyone!

This is the view right outside my library doors. The table, with the cute plastic pumpkin appear bright and early Monday morning and it's been there ever since. Apparently one of the traditions in this office is to place pumpkins like this throughout the office for the Whole Week of Halloween and keep them continually replenished. Ack!

My daughters would think this was a pretty neat thing. I suspect a lot of people would but having this little bucket right outside my door all week long has been torture. I tried not to partake but my resolve faded embarrassingly fast.

It has been kind of amusing though because my library has big glass doors so we get to watch peoples candy habits. There are those who come once a day, grab a piece or 2 and that's it. There are those who stop each and every time they pass by. Then there are people who more or less drain the bucket once a day all by themselves. I guess the candy brings out the kid in all of us - for better or worse.

On another note, tomorrow is a big day because all of the patterns for Sock Madness 2 are due. I can't wait to see how they look.

Oct 29, 2007

Color for Spinners

Thanks for all of the wonderful birthday wishes.

My birthday had a bit of a rocky start. I started off slow opening gifts and giggling with my girls about how old I'm getting. Hubbo went to take them to Hebrew School and as I settled down with the newspaper to ponder breakfast it occurred to me to check the flyer to confirm the class time. Oooops! Class was supposed to start at 10 and here it was 9:30 with me still in pj's on the couch thinking about breakfast. Not good!

Color CardsI rushed out of the house, grabbing coffee along the way. As I drove to Alexandria I noticed that my gas tank was enpty. Ack! Thankfully, after this things improved quite a bit.

We spent the first part of class hand blending specified proportions of white and black fiber to make greys for color cards. About a million years ago I was an art major so this was kind of familiar but it was really informative to see how the fiber behaved.

In the greys the results were pretty much what you'd expect but as we moved into blending the primary colors to get our green, orange and purple it was far more interesting. You could really see the way the different components in the dyes used on the fiber brought each other out. For example, the yellow we used had much more red in it so it didn't blend into a nice green but, when you put it together with the red fiber it created a lovely orange. The red was reacting with the red tones in the yellow fiber.

Batt on First PassThe hand blending was nifty but things got so much more interesting in the afternoon part of class when we got to "play" more. We used the hand cards and then got a demonstration on using hackles. All very cool stuff.

Finally we got to the drum carders. Ahhhh... drum carders. I may need one of these - fast! I may even be doing a fair amount of online research into them right now. Any preferences?

We started out with the basics of using the drum carders and how to load the fiber on and quickly progressed to creating stripes. The possibilities abound!

I started out by selecting a bit of red, a bunch of blue and a whole lot of white. It started out as you see it above but I kept feeding through the drum carder and little by little it got prettier and prettier. It's magical to watch the was the fiber blends. Just when I thought it couldn't get much better, our wonderful instructor, Sylvia, brought out the sparkly stuff in multiple colors and showed us the different effects it can produce. It was wild and so much fun. We did a lot of ooohing and ahhhing.

There were so many great options to choose from but I selected a pretty soft looking one that blended in a lot and just added a hint of sparkle. What do you think? It reminds me of my beloved lilies. Does it make anyone else think of impressionist paintings or is that just me?

I never thought I'd want to add the sparkly stuff to my fiber but this is really pretty. I can't wait to spin it up.

Finished Batt

Oct 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Birthday PresentsLook at all the lovely treats. Do I have the best friends or what? Look closely. Before she gave it to me, my friend Felicia took my new copy of More Sensational Knitted Socks and had the binding changed to a spiral. What a great idea! She also got my a copy of Knitter's Almanac and some merino/angora/casmere fiber to play with.

I got potpourri for one of the new bathrooms and more knitting books. One of my friends got me a copy of a book I already had so she's getting me something from one of my favorite LYS's instead. Sweet!

Hubbo and the girls did a great job too. Two cool knitty t-shirts and turtles. Yup, turtles. The green one was made by Stinkerbelle and the little black one was bought by DQ in Asheville was back in August. I am amazed. She's not usually great at keeping secrets but she was really smooth and stealthy about purchasing this little treat for me.

Overall, this was a pretty great weekend. I got to spend a lot of time with my friends and family. On Saturday night I enjoyed a delicious meal with really good friends which was made even more wonderful because the evening was a first for Hubbo and I. For the very first time we left the girls home alone. It was a little nervewracking but it worked out well. We came home to find the house still standing, unscathed and the girls hadn't killed each other. As far as I can see they didn't even fight while we were out. This could be the start of something really good.

Today, I spent my birthday taking a color class for spinners at Springwater Fiber Workshop. It was really nice and i'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Oct 25, 2007

ECF - Hershey Edition


On our way out of Chocolate World I saw these wonderful fluffy things lining the entry and I just loved them.

Have a great weekend!

Oct 24, 2007

Back in the Saddle...

IMG_1984As planned I got back to spinning. After so much time away I was a little apprehensive about how successful I'd be. I anticipated a few false starts and frustration but I was pleasantly surprised. What you see here is the continuation of the yarn I was spinning for my Hanami stole. When I started tonight, this bobbin was already partially full but I added quite a bit and I'm happy with it. It looks like it's a good match to the stuff I spun earlier this summer and it's fairly consistent. I am so relieved!

This is the other project that I started last weekend. It's a kit that I got at Stitches East. It's called A-line Dress for a Little Princess and, yes, I do have a particular princess in mind.

IMG_1986This was a total impulse buy. Felicia and I were walking past the booth (I forget the vendor) and they had a bunch of these cute little dresses hanging up and they were irresistable. The yarn in the kit I bought is cotton and fun fur but I don't know any more than that (no details or ball bands in the kit). I've gotta say that this is the first time I've bought a knit kit and it's been a mixed experience. As I mentioned, there are no details given about the yarn. I'm sure it's cotton and the fun fur looks familiar but I wish I had a few hints about what it is.
My wish for a little info on the yarn is a minor complaint compared to my issues with the pattern itself. It's a little, ummm.... vague. For example, I had to cast on twice because the instructions for the first row tell you to knit 1, add 1, knit #, add 1 etc. My usual method for adding stitches is to kfb except where it says something like add or, in the case of my Dragon socks, make 1. In those cases you would pick up the bar between stitches and create a new one. Right? Wrong! For this little number you are supposed to interpret the add as a kfb as I found out when I reached the end of the first round and found 8 extra stitches. Would it kill them to be a little more explicit. It's actually quicker and takes less keyboard strokes to write "kfb" than "add 1". I'm just sayin'. Even a note to tell us how to interpret the "add" would be nice.

By the way, I haven't been much odf a cheerleader lately for Sock Madness but, believe it or not, the patterns for SM2 are due one week from today. I can't believe that we're already approaching November 1. I guess that's what happens when you loose a month or so to the soap opera that has become your life. Thankfully, the Dragon socks seem to have gotten my sock mojo going again for I'm (kind of) ready to dive into the test knitting.

Oct 23, 2007

What's Next

Yarn in search of a purposeThanks for all of the lovely compliments on my Clapotis. I was really surprised to hear how many of you haven't made one yet.

This is 1.35 oz. of Brooks Farm Four Play. I have no idea what the yardage is. It's what's left over from my Clapotis. It seems like too much to waste so I'm looking for a good pattern to use it up. Kristi has a few great ideas - fingerless gloves, wrist warmers, a headband maybe. I am the headband queen so this idea has lots of appeal. Do any of you have a favorite pattern to suggest?

Fire Breathing?Naturally the completion of one project has led to the start of something new. Actually, 2 new projects leapt onto the needles but I'm only sharing one today. This sock yarn is from the Neighborhood Fiber Company in a color called Glover Park. I saw it at Stitches and immediately thought - Dragon socks!!! I have wanted to make a pair for myself ever since I finished the pair for my Bloomin' socks pal earlier this year. This may be an overly literal interpretation of the pattern but I'm a big fan of green and this pattern so, for me, it works.

Apparently I'm not the only one who's attracted to this yarn. I cast on for these during my Hershey trip and on Saturday morning, as I sat working on them, my nephew, Jake, came over to check them out. He wanted to know what I was making and who they were for. He let me know that he could possibly use a pair of socks too. I can take a hint so I asked what colors he likes. He pointed at my sock and said that worked for him. He's got good taste but these socks are definitely mine. Now I need to find another skein. Maybe I will find my way over to the launch party for NFC's new yarn - Watershed. It's happening tonight at Knit Happens.

Getting ReadyLook what else I did tonight. I took Charlotte out of her hiding spot and prepared a bit of fiber for spinning. I hope to sit down and spin for a while tomorrow night. It's been way too long - about 4 months - since I spun anything. Life just got in the way. I will definitely be getting back into it though because I'm taking 2 classes in the next month or so. The first is on Sunday (my birthday) and I don't want to embarrass myself so I need to get a little practice in.

Oct 22, 2007


Kiss SomeoneAs predicted, I finished my Clapotis right before I left for Hershey so I was able to do my photo shoot during the little getaway. I was so in love with it that I just had to throw it around my shoulders right away. This would've been a fabulous plan had it not been in the 80's with 99.9% humidity. I speak from experience when I say that wearing wool on the Metro when it's hot and humid is a very stupid idea. Did I mention that it was jam packed? The Metro was so full that they couldn't even shoehorn any more people on and I stood the whole ride. Ewwww.... and oh my aching feet!
Clapotis Close-UpAlthough the debut was a little less successful than I would like, I feel no less in love with my gorgeous new Clapotis. It is a wonderful pattern and a fabuous yarn.
If you haven't yet experienced Brooks Farm Yarn then I have to say that you are really missing something wonderful. Seriously! What are you waiting for? I have heard ravings from others and admired it for a while but I wasn't sure exactly what I'd do with it. A yarn that special needs a great project. It all came together at MDS&W this year. They had an example of a Clapotis made from Four Play which is a 50/50 blend of silk and wool. This stuff is delish! I tried really hard to capture the sheen it has but I fear that I failed. As I knit, it seemed irridescent at times (wouldn't that be cool?) but it's just the deep lustre the silk adds. Clapotis Expanse
The silk content and the fineness of the wool also makes for a really soft yarn that's got a wonderful drape. I cannot wait for Fall to really arrive so that I can wear my new Clapotis. It was nearly 80 here today! That is just so wrong.
I can totally see why this pattern is so popular. It's simple and yet there's just enough going on to keep it interesting. This is what I knit while I sat by Stinkerbelle's bedside in the hospital and this is the first thing I reached for as I emerged from the fog brought on by my father's death. It was simple and comforting. I can even see myself making another one someday - perhaps as a gift.
The only question now is what to do with the little bit of leftover yarn. Damn! I knew I should've made it just a litttle bigger.

Oct 21, 2007

Hersheypark in the Dark

IMG_1931The trip to Hershey took much longer than any of us expected. It was raining really hard at times and the traffic was nasty. It's normally about a 2 hour drive from my house but it took us 4! It was worse for my sister and brother though, they didn't arrive atthe hotel till 2 in the morning. Apparently there were floods in Connecticut and new York.
It was worth it though because Hersheypark was great. Two weekends a year they open for a Halloween celebration. They rename all the rides to "scarier" stuff so the Sidewinder becomes the Screamwinder etc. Many of the visitors to the park added to the atmosphere by coming in costume. The little kids were adorable dressed up as bumble bees, giraffes etc. Some of the adults were just plain weird. We saw super heros and witches and stuff I couldn't identify. It was really amusing.
They also have an area set up for the kids to trick or treat. They call it Treatville and as you get in line they give all the kids 12 and under bags to collect the candy. They're serious about it too. No candy for the adults at all. Bummer! In fact, they didn't give DQ a bag at first because they thought she was too old. She laughed over it. She's used to people thinking that she's older than she is. All the kids had a blast collecting their candy. Talk about kids getting sugared up.
The weather was perfect for going to the park. It was sunny and bright but not too cold or too hot. It would be great except for the fact that apparently people from far and wide noticed the weather too and they were all in the park! The lines were worse than I've ever seen them. One of the park workers commented that they'd never seen this event quite so well attended. They said it was more like a summer Saturday.

It was a great weekend full of good food (the Hershey Grill is delish!) and good company. We relaxed and played 'till we collapsed.

On Sunday, just before leaving Hershey, we went to Chocolate World to see a few shows and shop. Sadly we found that the power was out. Talk about Hershey in the Dark! We had to shop fast and pay before the back up generators powering the registers died.


Oct 18, 2007

ECF - Knitter in Training Edition

Knitter In training

This is my friends baby. Isn't she adorable? She came with us to Stitches last weekend and we let her pet some yarn. Ya gotta start them young!

This weekend I'll be out of town but not at Rhinebeck. We'll be meeting my sister and brother and their families in "the sweetest place on earth" for a family getaway that we planned long ago. Naturally it won't be exactly what we planned but I'm sure that the kids will have fun.

Hope your weekend is great!

Oct 16, 2007


Clapotis continues cruising along, I'm still resisting the siren song of my new aquisitions, and the crying at random moments shows no sign of stopping. Nobody wants to hear about all that. Not even me.

Thankfully, there is stuff that distracts or amuses me from time to time so lets focus on that today.

I've been taking Metro lately. Mostly it sux because the trains are crowded, they constantly break down and despite all these negatives they regularly raise the rates. On the positive side, there are few places that are better for people watching. Sometimes it's sweet like the mother with 2 small children I saw the other day. The train was packed and they had to stand. In their efforts to stay vertical, the children had each grabbed onto a stranger's shirt (in addition to their mother's hands) and the woman whose shirt it was just smiled down at them. Awwwww....

Then there's ewwww which is what I thought as I watch a young guy preening. As so many do these days, he was wearing his jeans very low on his waist. It was another very full train so he was holding on to a rail on the ceiling - hanging from it actually. Um, not a great idea if you don't have a six pack and certainly not if your jeans are hanging a bit low. Know what I mean. Not indecent - just yuck.

Another random thing worth noting is how thankful I feel for my DVR. My 3 weeks in hell coincided with the start of the fall season. I missed a lot but, I'm happy to note, my DVR didn't. I've finally caught up with Grey's (just ok so far) and Desperate Housewives which seems to be off to a good start. Is it just me or is the Dana Delaney story line much more fun than the Alfre Woodard one? I think so. I'm also really enjoying catching up with Damages (the Glenn close show). The story is really coming together and getting intense. I'm not quite caught up with it yet but I'm really enjoying it.

That's all for today.

Oct 15, 2007

Picking up where I left off

I took this picture in the hospital room that I shared with Stinkerbelle for 2 days and nights while she was sick. (It turned out that she had shigella which is like e-coli or salmonella. She had a pretty intense case of it. We still have no clue where she got it but right now I don't care. The important thing is that it's behind us.) The theme of the mural was Greece and it was nice to escape into it. The sheep made me smile.IMG_1857
It's strange to think how fast things change. The stuff that seems like such a big deal fades quickly. All through that weekend I sat and worked madly on my Clapotis and tried to tune out the television which played an endless parade of kid shows. I know way more about Hannah Montana and the Suite Life of Zach and Cody than I ever wanted to.
I didn't knit at all over the past 2 weeks. My house was too full of people and there was too much going on. Besides, it just didn't feel right.
I'm just getting back to the Clapotis and working the decrease section. I figure that I should finish by the end of the week and that's a good thing because I can't wait to dig in to the stuff I bought at Stitches. I already turned some sock yarn I bought into a yarn cake and I'm itching to cast on for another pair of Dragon socks with it. Not yet though - I must finish my Clapotis first.
I was so good this year and mostly stuck to the list I brought with me. I didn't buy anything at all without a definite and specific plan. I'd show it to you but I'm not sure how much fun it is for you to see a full bag of cranberry colored Shelridge Farm yarn (for Eris) or a bagged up kit for a girly little dress. I suppose that the Tilli Tomas Disco Lights in natural would make a pretty picture but you've seen it before. Right? Better yet, I'll tell you that I got 2 skeins of that lovely stuff at 20% off as we were leaving the show. Now that's something!

Oct 14, 2007

At The "Yard" Show

IMG_1893Felicia and I went to Stitches today for some desperately needed fiber therapy. We brought Felicia's baby with us and that provided a whole lot of fun because she was well behaved and got tons of attention everywhere she went. It seems that nobody could resist her adorable, chubby, baby cheeks. We both got some fun stuff and I stayed mostly to the list I brought with me. It was all good.

We arrived in Baltimore to a sea of Ravens fans. They were everywhere... including our favorite lot near the convention center. When we arrived they were already in full party mode with their grills fired up and their beer on ice. The attendant had to move a few of them out of the way so that we could park. Not only did their tailgating get in the way, the football game caused the lot to jack up their price from the usual $15.00 to $25.00! Ugh.

As much as the fans presence frustrated us, we totally confused them. As we left the car, a bunch of them called out to us wondering what we were going to see at the convention center. We told them it was a yarn show but as we walked away we heard them hehind us.... "Did they say a yard show?" "I think they said yarn show." "Yarn show? Huh?" It made no sense to them at all.

After all of our shopping we returned to the lot to find a really amusing sight. I really wish I had a picture to show you but I'm still not quite myself yet so when Felicia started calling to me - "picture!" I totally spaced it. Anyway, I'll try to paint a mental picture of what we saw.

As we arrived at the lot, we saw purple clad Raven's fans everywhere and many of them were crowded at the exit of the lot we parked in. They were watching a truck towing a small U-haul trailer try to get out of the lot but it was having trouble. No matter how many times it backed up, tried to straighten out or otherwise adjusted itself the result was the same and it hit a metal pole. I immediately noted that the truck had New York plates which told me that the driver had to be a stitches vendor rather than a Ravens fan. Some of the fotball fans were already in their cars - behind the truck. They were all blocked in and getting frustrated.

Suddenly, a group of guys all decked out in purple jerseys approached the trailer. They seemed like they may have had a beer or two so we worried just a bit about where this was going. They told the driver they could fix the problem and then, as we all watched, they reached down, lifted the trailer and moved it a few feet to the right. It was great! As the truck drove away, we heard one of the guys ask what was in the trailer. He called out "I know there's something in there that I'd like." We laughed so hard because I'm pretty sure this guy had no idea what was in there. I'm guessing it was yarn.

Oct 11, 2007

ECF - Dad's Patio Edition


As we started the task of cleaning out my dad's house, I noticed these flowers growing on his patio. They were so pretty and not the kind of thing I would have expected him to plant. Aren't they perfect for Eye Candy Friday?

Thanks for all of the kind things you've said. If I have your email I'll respond directly. It's nice to know that you're all thinking of me and my family. I appreciate it more than you know. I just wish that you all were closer so that you could come and help me eat the vast amount of food that's been delivered to my house. I may never need to go to a grocery store again!

This weekend I'm looking forward to a little retail therapy at Stitches. I hope that you all have a great weekend.

Oct 10, 2007


Dad as a babyMy dad's name was Martin Modell but to most people, he was Marty. He was Grandpa Marty to his 4 grandkids (and a few of my friends) and Dad to my siblings and I.

He was the only relative I had in Virginia and, as such, he celebrated most holidays, birthdays and other events at my house. He was at our house so often that he was like a fixture. He'd come over, let himself in, find our snack stash and make himself comfortable. Often that entailed falling asleep in one of our living room chairs.

DadMy dad was a member of Mensa and he loved anything that would stretch his brain but especially crossword puzzles. I think that's why he loved computers. They represented a challenge to him that was never ending and fascinating.

It wasn't just computers that interested him. My dad found all of the goings on around him to be very interesting. He would come to my house full of stories about the latest crisis in his HOA management (he was it's president for 8 years) or the new road that just opened. It was all very interesting to him and he often engaged my friends in lengthy, deep, conversations about it all when he was at my house. My friends laughingly referred to it as their Grandpa Marty time but they enjoyed it and him. It was all good as long as we stayed away from politics. He and I were at odds there. It was just one of the many things that he teased me about.

My dad had his quirks and one of them was an affinity for office supplies and gadgets of all kinds. He often bought himself the latest and greatest, only to decide within months that he didn't need it after all. This is how I got my first CD player. He sent post-its, compasses and fancy pens to my girls at sleep away camp and they thought it was cool even though they were covered in company logos. Another quirk was his habit of wearing his tube socks pulled all the way up to his knees. He was not exactly a fashion plate, in fact he was totally color blind, but he was amusing to us.

Dad & meI have often felt that there is an odd symmetry to life and the way things work out and I see it even in this, an event that leaves me heartbroken. Two years ago this month, I left a job I loved for a new position. This new position turned out to be the soul sucking job from hell and my efforts to find a way to get through it led me to knitting blogs. I read the Yarn Harlot, Zeneedle and Wendy Knits (among others) and not only did it help me get through the day, it took my knitting in directions I never imagined.

Dad and DQ - 1995Before long, I started a blog myself and my dad read it every day. He enjoyed it very much and on many levels. First, there was the knitting itself. He would often call me after reading the blog and ask me questions. "What's BFL?" "How did you do that?" "What are you going to make with that?" He was curious about things and my fiber play interested and intrigued him. Next there was the name of the blog - Knitting4Shirley. Shirley was his mother, from whom I inherited my first needles. He wasn't a sentimental guy but he told me that he liked the fact that I named the blog for her. It made him happy to see that I was carrying on a hobby she loved. He also told me many times that he liked my writing. He even said I wrote well. Coming from him this was real praise because my dad was a published author of 4 books and countless articles. Yes, they were computer related books but, they were fairly well respected and continually generated inquiries. My DH and I often referred to him as the "Wordsmith" because he loved to tinker with resumes, letters, articles and school papers. He always made them better for his efforts. When he complimented my writing it meant a lot because I remember the fights we had when he edited my thesis.

Dad & StinkerbelleMy dad was there for so many of the highs and lows of my life. He was the one we called to come and stay with the girls overnight when Bruce had his cancer surgery in January. He was also there when I did the walk through on my house and had the pleasure of being the one who brought DQ to the hospital to meet Stinkerbelle for the first time. We returned the favor too, and on more than one occasion he was our guest for an extended visit like last fall when his house flooded and needed to be rebuilt.

My dad was only 64 when he died suddenly on September 30th. We never saw it coming and I hope that he didn't either. He leaves a hole in my life that is unimaginable and I'll miss him every day.

Dad & me - Wedding, 1994

Oct 1, 2007

See ya soon

After a brief hospital stay, my daughter is much better and has returned to school.

Unfortunately, there has been a death in my family. My father passed away suddenly and totally unexpectedly and it will take a while to work through it. I'll be back once all the ceremonial stuff has been done and things settle a bit.

Keep us in your thoughts.