Monday, December 31, 2007

No rest for the wicked...

Ignore that ugly yellow 70s era linoleum that is still in my kitchen and I manage to rationalize by telling myself it's really "retro"...

...not that I'm all that wicked, I don't think. Unless I'm PMSing, then all bets are off. Or, is it considered wicked to have signed up to be part of a stash knit-down for 2008 -- part of which is to abstain from buying new yarn as much as possible -- and yet go and purchase a boxful of fibery goodness two days before said knit-down begins? Seems rather like the binge the day before you're planning to join Weight Watchers, doesn't it?

Ok, so...I have worked every day since Christmas except Friday. Mind you, this is not a complaint, as I love my job. I just usually only work on Saturdays, which works out well for many reasons, not the least of which is that it keeps my yarn-buying opportunities to a reasonable weekly minimum. However, I offered to work extra over the holidays, and I was taken up on it, which worked out fine because -- unbeknownst to moi -- it is INVENTORY TIME! Yeay! It hadn't occurred to me that a yarn store would have to physically count each and every item in the store once a year. I figured there was software to keep track of these things...and there is...but it seems to make the accountant happy to have those figures physically verified once a year.

So, I counted. And counted and counted and counted. I dragged the step stool and the cardboard box (the one I appointed as my "official inventory box" and quietly named her "Boxy") around the shop for four days, during which time I managed to count virtually every ball of open stock yarn in the whole store. Do you realize what this means? This means I personally touched EVERY BALL/SKEIN/HANK of yarn we have out on the shelves! Hundreds and hundreds of them! And they all felt so gooooood. I love my job.

The whole process was oddly relaxing to me, because I am a geek who loves to make lists and catalog things and count things. I must have a little OCD in me somewhere too, because I came to realize that I could not count without actually touching each ball as I counted it, and if I failed to do so, I had to go back and do it again -- the right way.

Today...today I got to the 50% off bins. On most days I work, I try hard to avoid these bins as much as possible, because they are dangerous. They act like a big, black hole, sucking away all manner of reason that would otherwise keep me from being able to rationalize the temptation of purchasing 10 hanks of the most putrid color of Cascade 220 ever created. It's this drab dirt color, and so far I have still managed to resist buying it, though the more I think of it, the more I'm convinced that it is so ugly that it HAS to have the potential to be turned into something beautiful and that, my friends, would result in a personal challenge that would have me buy those hanks and set out to prove the ugliness wrong. Thus...the effect of the 50% off black hole.

Anyway, as I excavated those bins today, I found the most beautious yarns that I didn't know were there because I've been good and have been avoiding them as much as possible. But there was the most captivating color of blue Debbie Bliss Merino DK -- enough balls to make a sweater for me. To die for purple DB wool/cotton -- enough for something for my daughter. Various Sirdar Snuggly skeins in different shades of purples, which will be perfect for some baby gifts I will need this spring. Some brand (can't remember which) of this brownish, kid mohair fuzzy yarn that just said "buy me and figure out what to do with me later because I feel so nice to touch." And a couple other odd balls that just jumped into my arms.

So, I filled up Boxy (her inventory career now at an end) and brought home the goods. And considering how much yarn I touched this week, I think I was pretty well restrained.

Truth be told, though, I may have to withdraw from this stash knit-down before it even truly begins. Who am I kidding...buying no new yarn? Inventory might be behind me, but the winter sale is just weeks away! Ahhhhhh.... :}

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sorry, folks...

...but it seems that I've become the latest victim of comment spam. Thus, I've turned on the word verification security thing for commenting. I liked not having it up, but I don't like random advertising in the comments, so... :::sigh:::

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The other side of Christmas...

My last two Christmas knitting projects, finished up in the nick of time!

We successfully made it through Christmas -- I'd say we survived, but that sounds rather bleak! I mean, really, it is a good holiday, after all! The day was full of activity and people. Since the kids had agreed to hold off opening presents until everyone got here around lunchtime, I assumed I'd get to sleep in more than usual. Thus, I stayed up the night before, finishing knitting and wrapping the last gift and generally relaxing.

Got to bed around 1:30, only to be woken up around 7:45 by the phone ringing. It was our oldest son, calling from boot camp! Seriously, this was the best way to start off my day. I hadn't heard his voice since he left back on Oct. 22nd. He only had two minutes to talk, so we made it fast, and of course once we hung up, I thought of at least a dozen things I wanted to say to him or ask him, but still...just getting to hear his voice was awesome. He sounded really upbeat, which was good to hear since he's been healing with a broken foot for the past few weeks and not getting to train. And I was glad to hear he'd gotten my package I'd sent...it wasn't much, but it was better than not sending him anything.

My mom and step-dad and daughter-in-law and grandson were all here by noon, when we finally opened presents and had brunch. The afternoon was pretty laid back, then around 4:00, my in-laws arrived after an impromptu invitation to join us for a very casual dinner. We'd already done Christmas with them on Sunday, but it was cool to have them over for part of the day, especially my brother- and sister-in-law who we don't see in settings other than my husband's parents' house very often...not sure why...but it's always nice when they do come over to our house.

So, definitely a full house this Christmas. It was a good day. Everyone was gone by 6:30 (everyone was TIRED), and I was in my jammies and ready to veg and recharge my personal batteries shortly thereafter. I spent the evening knitting...another pair of mitts, but this one for ME out of some yummy blue/brown Malabrigo I picked up a while back. Mmmm. Soft! :) (No picture yet, but will share one soon...are you getting tired of fingerless mitts yet? LOL)

And today began my crazy week of work. I only work on Saturdays usually, but I told my boss I would be available to work some extra hours over the holiday week if she needed me to. She ended up giving me two full days! Not exactly what I had in mind, but it is fine...I love my job, and right now, we're in the middle of end-of-the-year inventory, so I spent the day today counting yarn. I have now personally touched every ball/skein/hank of yarn on two of the four walls of the shop. LOL Not sure if I've got an inner OCD person or what, but I LOVE to count and catalog things and put them all in a big list. I find it incredibly relaxing. I am such a weirdo.

Tomorrow I get to do it all again. Woohoo! =}

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ready...

...or at least as ready as I'm going to be. At this point, I do not care what goes undone. The only "have-to" knitting left is the pair of fingerless mitts, which will easily get done today. The rest of today will be dedicated to food preparation for tomorrow, church this evening, and (hopefully) a quiet evening at home afterwards.

Merry Christmas. Peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Two more to go...

I'm two projects away from being at an acceptable level of "finished" with my Christmas knitting. All other projects that were on the list can wait for the new year without any terrible repercussions.

So, to finish...

One hat: All that's left are the decreases, which I ripped out once because I managed to do something wonky to them. (Why does this happen when you're in a hurry?) This will be finished and wrapped tonight before I go to bed. (Yes, it is after midnight already. Your point?) Will be given tomorrow when we go to my in-laws' for Christmas Part I.

One set of fingerless mitts: Will have these finished for Tuesday, which is technically Christmas Part II for our family. I'm halfway through the first one. The rest will go quickly once I sit my butt down and just KNIT.

I am so, so, so tempted to cast on something fun tonight...something that doesn't NEED to be done. Something just for me. I just have this need to knit something that does not need to be made. After I finish the hat, of course.

Ahhh...just had a "duh" moment of realization! I finally got my m-i-l's shawl all blocked and pretty...was going to take a picture of it before I wrapped it, but I forgot! I was so happy for it to be done that I just wanted to get it wrapped up! Duh! Will have to take a picture tomorrow after she opens it! :}

Friday, December 21, 2007

A reminder to me...

...about something I want to try and knit once I'm not longer knitting Christmas gifts.

I was at the mall (again) tonight (why yes, I am insane...thanks for asking) and was browsing through Hot Topic -- a store that alternately excites me and freaks me out a little -- and I saw these really cool scarves that looked like giant chains. Maybe you've seen these before, but I hadn't. Basically, each "link" is a strip of stockinette fabric grafted together and then they are put together just as you would paper chain links. The links appear flattish due to the natural curl of the stockinette on either edge...though these were curling back toward the purl side rather than forward toward the knit side, which I thought was odd and I'm not entirely sure how to make that happen, as my stockinette always curls toward the knit.

Anyway...they looked so incredibly cool and they can't be that hard to make. Will have to give them a try sometime, just for kicks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas knitting countdown...

It's getting to crunch time here for gift knitting. While Christmas is technically still five days off, I feel like it is much closer. My mom gets in from Florida on Friday, I work on Saturday, and we're doing Christmas at my in-laws' house on Sunday. Thus, I feel like I only have two good days left to get a lot done. Granted, there are still the evenings. Hm.

Ok, so here's how things stand:

3 pairs of fingerless mitts for friends, already given -- check!

2 pair of children's mittens sent off to Texas -- check!

6 felted bowls filled with bags of white chocolate popcorn, given -- check!

1 white shawl, finished tonight, still needs to be blocked once my #@!$ blocking wires arrive, hopefully tomorrow, to be given on Sunday -- check!

1 pair of fingerless mitts for niece, to be given on Sunday -- check!

I totally love these mitts!

1 ear warmer for my husband, designed on the fly with a slit for the brim of his welder's cap to fit through. If nothing else, this will be good for a laugh on Christmas morning because I am most certain it is way too big. Will need modifying, but at least I tried to fulfill his request. So, check!

Really, it is the goofiest looking thing!

1 scarf for my hairdresser, to be given on Saturday at hair appointment (cheated here...it's my Red Scarf Project scarf that I didn't get sent on time...at least it is going to a good use, and my hairdresser looks really rockin' in red!) -- check!

Yet to finish would be:

1 hat for husband's grandfather...started, about 2" of ribbing. Should be able to finish this tomorrow for giving it to him on Sunday. It remains to be seen if he'll actually wear it. He's 95 and my husband doesn't recall ever seeing him in this type of hat before. But on my side is the fact that he likes me, so maybe... :}

1 pair of fingerless mitts in black Rowan Kid Classic for d-i-l...started the first one tonight, should be able to finish them tomorrow if I keep at it.

2 pairs of fingerless mitts for the kids (one pair each). Have one of my daughter's finished...am thinking I'll do one for my son and if worse comes to worst, then they'll each get one with an IOU for the second one soon to follow. At least it is something to unwrap, right?

1 pair of mittens for my grandson who, after trying on a pair of mittens I made too small for my niece declared he needed a pair as well and of course I told him I'd make him a pair. And he'll remember this. Oh yes. He may only be 2 1/2, but he WILL remember. (I'd give him the too-small-for-niece pair, but they're totally girly colors.)

It took three tries, but I finally got the sizing right for these mittens!
The middle one was the winner for the four-year-old niece.


1 dishcloth for my mom...this one is totally negligible, and if nothing else, she'll be here through New Year's, so she could still potentially get it before she goes home. In the mean time, she's got a very nice nightgown coming to her, which she actually requested. Was going to finish the green purse and give it to her as well, which might still happen. We'll see.

I'm feeling very optimistic about the knitting I have left to do and feel pretty certain that, barring any major catastrophes, I should be able to get it all done. It helps that I eliminated all socks and the complicated shawl from my agenda. They'll get made, but after Christmas and at my own leisurely pace. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One of those days...

...in which, at 8:29 p.m., my major sense of accomplishment for the day comes from having gotten my kids to and from their youth group activity tonight on time. That's it. Some days, that's enough, because some days, the rest of the day just kind of sucks.

On a more chipper note, if you aren't already watching Clash of the Choirs, go now and do so. There are two more nights of it after tonight. It's fantastic!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Apparently, I'm intoxicating...

...not to mention hot, complex and crazy. (Ha!) Or so says the "Which Spice are You?" quiz....

Your Score: Saffron

You scored 100% intoxication, 25% hotness, 75% complexity, and 25% craziness!


You are Saffron!

Those other spices have nothing on you! You're warm, smart, and you make people feel really good (and with no side-effects!). You can be difficult to get to know and require a lot of those who try, but you're so totally worth it. *Sigh*

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I might add that, if I'm saffron, I'm also expensive! Holy cow! Have you priced a jar of saffron strands lately? Incredible. $13.95 for a one gram jar! I don't want to snort the stuff, for goodness sake...just want to add it to my creamed chicken....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Derailed...


Went to work yesterday and found a big box of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn -- two bags each of eight fabulous colorways! -- just waiting to be marked and put out on display.

Like I could touch 160 skeins of any Noro and not buy some of it? And like I could buy this new sock goodness and not actually start knitting a sock despite my self-imposed "no personal knitting until all Christmas gift knitting is completed" mandate?

Yeah. Right.

I do not possess that level of self-control.

Ready to be finished...

Please ignore the cobwebs sticking to the basement wall behind my washer and dryer. Ick.

...felting.*

Seriously...these bowls were fun, quick knits, but the felting process? So not my thing. I love seeing how the knitted item transforms during the process, but the process itself? Too slow for my liking! LOL Each of these bowls took at least 15 - 20 minutes in the machine to felt and shrink down to the desired size. (This is about par for how long other felting projects have taken for me.) But since I hate to waste water, I was trying to have at least three bowls to do at a time. But because of the fiber migration that takes place during felting -- and especially with this furry Lopi! -- I was only doing one bowl at a time to minimize how many errant strands I'd have to pick off each bowl in the end. Thus, I spent over an hour on this today, doing these last three bowls. (And let's not even talk about the drying time...how I wish I could just pop them in the dryer! :})

It's so interesting how each one, despite being made in the exact same way with the exception of the yarn colors, turned out slightly differently during felting. Some are taller than others, some have more of a turned in rim at the top -- the black and gold one above really has a nice shape because of the black yarn at the rim (black always felts much tighter for me than other colors). The purple bowl? It took forever to felt and never did get very tight...it's shape is more of a flat basket than an actual bowl. This is the one I knitted Stacy Charles Ritratto in with the Lopi as an experiment...which I assume made the difference in how it felted, as the purple felted just fine in the other bowls it was in.

So...felting...fini! Just have to wait for them to dry and I can fill them with their goodies and give them to their intended recipients! Hopefully this weekend.

*For any purists out there, yes, I realize that when you apply this process to an already knitted item, the proper term is actually "fulling," not "felting." Felting is what is done to unspun fibers. But most people today use "felting" interchangeably, so who am I to confuse anyone this close to Christmas? ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spinning...spun...


I've been trying to teach myself how to spin with a drop spindle for several months now, and while I'd read about it and comprehended the basic idea of it, my results were less than stellar. Thus, my roving and spindles found themselves hibernating in a container under my bed.

On Sunday, I went to a drop spindle class with Cosy at Knit One. What a difference it makes to have someone to show you how to do something, someone to give you little bits of advice that make a huge difference in your finished product!

I'm so excited about my first tiny skeins. The one on the right is what I came home from the class with...the purple in it was my very over-spun yarn that had been on my spindle from my solo attempts, and the blue was what I spun there. Before I left for the day, I was able to ply the two together. How cool is that? The other two little skeins (which would have been one if I could get over this over-spinning issue and thus having my yarns break on me as I'm trying to ply) I did at home yesterday.

I'm spinning some Corriedale top that I bought a while back from Halcyon Yarn. I went by the description of it being good for beginners, but then I learned about staple length on Sunday, one of those little things that matters. The staple length of this fiber seems to be significantly shorter than the merino that others were using, thus affecting my ability to draft the fiber without breaking it. Still, I figure it is good for practicing with. I've got a lovely braid of merino roving that I bought in April at KnitWitz in Jacksonville...I'm anxious to try it out and see how it spins.

And thus begins a whole other obsession, I fear.

My ultimate spinning goal is to own a spinning wheel, but probably not until mid-2008. By then, I hope to get to at least one fiber festival and also to at least one vendor who has wheels on site that I can try out. Until then, I will dedicate myself to perfecting (ahem) spinning with my little drop spindle.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snoopy vs. the Red Baron...

Why is it, of all the songs played at this time of year, this one always makes me cry?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Odd bits on a Sunday morning...

Last night was the hubby's work Christmas (er, holiday) party. The obligatory "good time was had by all." No, really...it was nice. Huge. Over 400 people this year. I remember the first one we went to 14 years ago...40, 50 people maybe? The company has really grown. It's a good thing. Anyway, after a crazy-busy day at work yesterday, I got home a half hour late, got ready to go (thankful for the good hair day I was having!) and forced myself into small talk mode for the evening. We were home around 11:30, when I promptly changed into my jammies and curled up to knit and relax.

My latest pair of mitts...love 'em! My favorites so far...


My first felted bowl...it was a fun, quick knit...perhaps needs to be felted a bit more to make it sturdier, but I like it, which isn't always the case with my felting projects...


And if I turn it upside down and add a tassel, it would make a funky fez, no? LOL


(Please admire the no-make-up-morning-hair- glasses-still-in-my-jammies look I'm sporting here. I am such a fashionista, no? :})

The kids spent the night at their grandparents last night. Kevin got up to pick them up and take them to church this a.m. whilst I opted to be a heathen today and chill at home (and get a couple more hours' of sleep). I'm really coveting my alone time lately, likely because I haven't been getting much of it. At this time of year, I quickly become aware of how much I need it.

Thus, I'm off to make some coffee, tidy up the messy house and try to make heads or tails of what I need to accomplish in the next week. I used to do this regularly...plan the coming week on Sunday. It makes such a difference when I do it. I think maybe I'll try to get back in that habit in the coming year. Right now, Christmas is in just over two weeks, my mom will be in town in just under two weeks, and I need to prioritize.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Wow!

Hey! Ya'll really like to help a girl out, don't you? LOL Thanks to my friend Lain for posting about my scrapbook supply giveaway...Lain's got an awesome scrapblog and, I must add, the girl is really going places in the scrapping industry. I'm so proud of her!

Anyway, all you Lain readers...PLEASE be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment! blogger does not, for some reason, link e-mail addresses to comments (not sure if it is how Blogger is set up or if it some weird setting issue on my part or what), but unless you have a Blogger blog that has your e-mail addy on it, or where I can leave a comment, I will have no way to contact you about the scrap stuff! So, please leave your e-mail addy for me. Or, if you'd prefer, just e-mail me directly at lmbwrites AT comcast DOT net instead.

Note 12/8, 1 a.m. : I've had way more responses to this than I originally anticipated! I'd love to send stuff out to everyone, but I need to bring the goodie madness to a close now. If you have already received a reply from me, then you're in, as long as you send me your mailing info. Thanks!

To-Do List...

...Send cards
Bake cookies
Hang outside lights
Decorate blog
Finish shopping
Wrap gifts
Finish gift knitting...

Monday, December 3, 2007

The first week of December brings...


...thoughts of getting organized for Christmas. Granted, the decorating is mostly done. (My Dickens-ish village houses aren't up yet, and the outdoor lights aren't up but the weather isn't cooperating for those anyway.) And I have my Christmas knitting schedule in place (and have already deviated mightily from it). Now to plan for the rest of it.

Cookies to bake. Cards to send out. Picture to send out with cards. Presents to wrap. Places to go. People to see. Etc.

My all-time favorite parody version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" by Bob Rivers. It's hilarious, even moreso because I think everyone can relate to something in it, even if not to the degree represented in the song. And as the song goes on, the whole thing becomes more frenetic and insane...so much like the holidays can be. Art capturing life! LOL If you're so inclined, you can listen to the song here...it's #10. And if you have a warped sense of humor like my family and I have, you might also enjoy song #2, "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire." Mmm...tasty! ;) (Note that there are some song titles on this site probably deserve at least a PG-13 rating.)

That said, in recent years, I've been pretty good about slowing down the pace of Christmas a bit. There are some things I just choose not to bother with. One year I hardly baked and instead bought my cookies from my mom's Cookie Lady. Several years ago, I decided I would only decorate with the things I absolutely loved instead of every piece of Christmas stuff I'd collected over the years. One year I didn't send out cards -- at all! Last year, I gave up the notion of the "perfect" family Christmas picture and instead made use of Photoshop and put together a collage "picture" using shots of each of us individually throughout the year. (So much better and less stressful for us all!) Some years I put Christmas letters in my cards, sometimes I don't.

This year, for the first time in nearly a decade, I bought my Christmas cards instead of making them. I'm doing another collage picture, but no letter. If the outside lights don't get hung, I don't care. Cookies will get baked, but maybe not 12 different types. And knitting...knitting will get done...or not. It's all good.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Growth...

The boy becomes a teenager today.

Thirteen.

How'd that happen?

Love you!

Friday, November 30, 2007

How not to unravel a sweater...


I've been wanting to give sweater recycling a try for a while. I have this sweater I bought a few years ago in Ireland...very big, very nice, very, very hot. I hardly ever wore it because it was so darned hot. Despite that, I managed to somehow put a hole in it, so I decided this year I'd use it as my test piece for unraveling a sweater and reusing the wool.

Yeah. Well. Clearly, this was not a good choice. I mistook the "Made in Ireland" tag for "HANDMADE in Ireland," and assumed I could just undo the sweater much as I could any sweater I'd knit myself. No. Not happenin'. This one clearly had been serged, because every row unravels into it's own little strand of very curly yarn. :::sigh::: That pile accounts for only half a sleeve.

I'm thinking now how I might be able to be creative with it and still get some use from it. I wonder if the body would felt as is and I could then turn it into a bag or something? The yarn is supposedly 90/10 wool/silk. I don't know if that would felt or not. At this point, it probably can't turn out to be any bigger a mess than what I've already got, right?

Live and learn.

(Wish I'd seen this before I started.)

Friday ponderings and pictures...

...it is not fair that Kevin took today off work and I ended up having to get up early as a result. In case you never got the memo (as my husband apparently did not), Friday is my self-appointed sleep-in day. I'm up with the kids doing school all week, Saturday I work and Sunday is church. Friday? My day to sleep a little late. Unless my husband takes the day off, goes out to get new tires on his truck first thing in the a.m., and calls at 8:15 a.m. to ask if you can bring your credit card down to the tire place as he seems to have misplaced his. Grrrr. Consider that I did not go to bed until 3 a.m. because I was up and being productive. This would be the equivalent of me calling him AT 3 a.m. and asking him to come bring something to me somewhere. Yeah. He'd be really happy about that. Just as I was. Again...grrrr. Oh, I did it. I got up, went out into my cold, cold car, drove the 45 minute round trip...but I was not pleased. Oh, no. I was not pleased.

...from yesterday...what I was doing until 3 a.m....organizing my yarn!


...it is cold down here in my little office/studio. I could build a fire out in the woodburner, but I pretty much suck at building fires. I would have made a terrible pioneer woman. My family would have starved and frozen to death. Thus I am using this teensie little space heater my son loaned me before he left for basic training.
It doesn't do much to heat up the room (kind of like spitting into the ocean, frankly), but at least my right side is slightly less frozen than my left. I'm not sure if it is completely within the recommended operating guidelines to tilt the little thing upward like I have it, leaning against the corner of my love seat...but the back doesn't get hot, so I'm hoping it's ok, because I use and exercise ball for my chair at my desk, and I'm thinking that overheating the rubber of this ball could have its own ill-effects.

...my sad little Sony.
I love, love, love my big, beautiful Canon 400D, and I happily use it anytime I want to take good quailty photos. It's excellent for my needs in that way. But sometimes, it is just easier to grab my little point-and-shoot Sony and take a fast photo. However, I cannot do that. I have not been able to do that for months. Because I've misplaced the cord and cannot recharge it. :::sigh::: I was certain that once I went through all of my piles and boxes that I was cleaning out down here, I'd find it. I'm 80% through all of that stuff, but still no cord. It's an old camera, and while it still works, I'm not going to spring for a replacement cord. Just really hoping to find mine somewhere.

...love this...


This is a stool my dad sat on for as long as I can remember when he was downstairs at his workbench. It originated at the University of Pittsburgh, where my dad worked in the machine shop. I guess they were getting rid of it at some point and he brought it home. The wooden top has clearly been worn over the years and years of use, but right in the center, you can still see the identification that was stamped into it:


If you can't quite make it out, it says "Physics Pitt". I love that! Mainly because it makes me wonder...just how many world-renowned physicists actually sat their hienies on this very stool? Some great physics-related discovery could have taken place while some guy in a lab coat had his Ph.D. butt on my stool! Isn't it cool to think about? :)

It's amazing...

...what a little late day caffeine will do for you. Got a major second wind this evening and proceeded to clean out my entire scrapbooking stash, which then allowed me the storage space to completely organize my yarn stash! You have no idea how exciting this is, as my yarn stash has been squished into my bedroom closet over the past year. (That said, this time last year I didn't *have* a yarn stash, as I was not yet a crazy knitter.)

So, the goodies to share from my last post are all waiting for eager takers. And I can now see all my preeeeetty, preeeeetty yarns at a glance, which can only be helpful for my creativity, right?

Oh, and on top of all of this organizational productivity, I also loaded all of my favorite Christmas music onto my iPod tonight. Yee-ha! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cleaning house...

...er, studio.

I've got way, way, way too much scrapbooking stuff. There was a time when I didn't think that was quite possible, but guess what? It is. Too much of a good thing. Too much stuff for too little storage space.

In an effort to get my scrap stash under control (and make more room for my yarn stash, which is ever-growing these days), I need to unload some things. I've got cardstock. I've got stickers, rub-ons, chipboard. I've got Heidi Swapp and Karen Foster and 7Gypsies (ok, that would be a lot of people here in my studio office...really, I just have their products!). I've got too much to name. I've got it, and I want you to have it.

If you're interested in receiving a package of scrapbookin' lovin' from me, please leave a comment here. Once I get it all sorted out (in the next few days), I'll draw names and send happy packages to those folks. Please help me clean out my room! :)

NEW NOTE! 12/8 - Ok, I realize I did not specify a time zone (my bad), but it is now 1 a.m. here on the east coast, and considering how many dozens of replies I now have, I'm going to say that the time's up! Thank you all for offering a good home to my scrap stash! (If I've contacted you and asked you to send your mailing addy, please still do that as you're on my list of people to send things to.)

NOTE ADDED 12/7 - If you are commenting and wanting some scrap stuff, PLEASE leave your e-mail address in your comment! Blogger is not, for some reason, linking e-mail addresses to people's names, so unless you have your e-mail address in your blog that I can connect to, I'll have no way to contact you! And that would be sad! Because then I could not give you any scrap goodness! If you'd prefer not to post your e-mail addy here, you can e-mail me directly at lmbwrites AT comcast DOT net instead.

ALSO - I never expected such a big response to this! I'm going to send stuff to as many people as I can who comment by midnight tonight and who give me their e-mail addresses so I can contact them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New eyes...



As I get older, I find I'm get somewhat less vain. It takes too much energy.

True, I still get my hair colored every six weeks, not just to camouflage the gray but because I enjoy changing up my appearance. It's fun. I'd make a great chameleon. However, when it comes to other things -- like wearing my glasses -- I've put up a lifelong fight.

I've worn contacts for 28 years now, only reverting to my glasses at home, and only when I'm feeling too lazy to put my contacts in. Wearing them in public is not something I choose to do unless I have no other option, and even then, it's with a bit of teeth gnashing. I never feel as if I can see as well out of them, but more than that, I just don't like how I look in glasses. I have a hard time even convincing myself that they're a fashion statement of any sort (and with the vast array of glasses out there today, from the classic to the funky, that could be a compelling argument).

However, things change. In recent months, I've had a recurring issue with my eyes becoming horribly red -- red enough for friends and strangers alike to comment on it. I assumed it was just my contacts drying out, so I used drops more and more, but it didn't help. Finally, I went to the eye doctor who said a) infection and b) possible over wear. I don't wear my contacts 24/7, but I am a night owl, often not taking my lenses out until 2 a.m. after they've become terribly dried out. Thus, "b" seemed as likely as "a" might be.

Two rounds of antibiotic/steroid drops later, it seems to be better, but I'm afraid to push my luck. As much as I hate having to wear my glasses, I hate having red, unsightly eyeballs even more. So, I've been trying to wear my lenses only when I have to go out and then wear my glasses at home.

However, I decided to splurge on a new frame...my old ones were a bright gold, which clashed horribly with my highlighted hair. (I know, someone is thinking, "My gosh, what a diva! Heaven forbid her glasses don't match her hair! If only that was my biggest problem!" Yeah, yeah. The other frames have been around for a while, so I was due anyway, ok? Geez.) I figure if I have frames I don't hate, maybe I'll even wear the glasses :::gulp::: in public on occasion, giving my eyes even more of a rest when needed. We'll see how it goes.

Gifties underway...



So, Christmas knitting is underway. (Note to self: start Christmas knitting way earlier next year. Like, January.) The pirate socks are for my kids and possibly my niece, if I get that far. They aren't particularly difficult, just time-consuming, as socks can be. I'm doing all three pairs with different main colors to keep things from getting boring. But then I think what if I don't get them done? Or what if I only get one and a half pairs done? What then?

Enter the mitts. I love fingerless mitts and have finally started making them. Everyone on my list might end up with a pair of mitts this year, frankly. Even the kids. And that way, if the socks don't make it, there will be something knitted under the tree! I'm enjoying knitting the mitts more than the socks right now, though, so you know which one I'm working on most. (The mitts pattern is from One-Skein Wonders and is called, appropriately, Fingerless Mittens.)

Then there is my m-i-l's white shawl. Oh, lawdy, if one more person requests an all-white knitted item from me, I may have to use my DPNs as weapons. To keep it interesting, I chose a complex lace pattern to do...and about 60 rows in, I realized something important...I really don't like knitting lace that much. Yeah. Hm. I mean, it's pretty, but what a freakin' pain if you make a mistake. (Ask me how I know.) So, just another 135 ever growing rows to go on that one. Must start dedicating some serious time to that project daily if I want to have any hope of giving it to her on the 23rd (when we're doing Christmas with that end of the family) and not have it still on the needles with a note promising to finish it.

Then my husband came to me the other day and said, "You know how you always want to know what you can knit for me?" And I am, because he won't wear sweaters, or scarves, or gloves/ mitts, and the socks I started for him just aren't happening for some reason. Just not feeling inspired on those. Anyway, he handed me some obscure outdoorsy catalog with a picture of a headband-y thing through which the beak of a baseball cap fits. That's what he wants. Okaaaaay. I've never seen such a pattern, but it shouldn't be too hard. I'm envisioning circular knitting, short rows (to make the top and bottom at the back wider than the rest of it) and a big bound-off buttonhole of a thing in the front. I'm probably envisioning it far more complicatedly than necessary, actually. I usually do.

And then there are the people on my list who I have no knitted item planned for. I wonder...will they care? Will the be disappointed? Feel miffed? Perhaps a few extra pairs of mitts will be added to my list for that purpose. Hm.

At least I can say, now that I've finished my harvest pullover, I am being very good and not doing any of my own personal knitting. I really, really want to work on my Malabrigo sweater, but that will have to be my reward for getting through the Christmas knitting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day musings...

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always my mom's holiday to host. She loved it. I can remember her making the stuffing the night before, helping cut up bread into cubes and then toasting it (which I never understood why you'd do that if you wanted moist stuffing) and eating a few of the squishy cubes along the way. I've got vivid memories of our kitchen in the hour or so prior to the big meal, my mom and her cousins' wives all in there taking care of last minute preparations. Flo always -- always -- brought her special hand potato masher to use, because the mashed potatoes wouldn't taste right being done any other way. Someone would hold the pot, and she would mash them into white, fluffy goodness. Sometimes we'd play some sort of game that lasted the whole day. One year, it was the safety pin game...everyone got a safety pin, and if you were caught crossing your legs, you lost your safety pin. Somewhere, I have the funniest picture, taken at dinner time, of Wilma peeking under the table cloth during the meal, trying to catch someone off-guard and take their pin.

As we kids got older, got married and had kids of our own, it was no longer feasible to continue the same hosting arrangements for the holidays. There was more extended family to be considered and to share the holidays with, and so things changed. Unfortunately, they changed the same year my dad died, which made things even more different that year. No dad. No big family Thanksgiving. Life goes on.

A couple years later, though, I found myself in my mom's place. Thanksgiving became my holiday to host for my mom and step-dad and my in-laws. Some years we had as many as fifteen people here around our table. The only year I didn't cook was the year I was pregnant with our second child and due within the week. I vividly remember our first Thanksgiving here...it was the first year my husband and I were married. My son was eight. I remember that morning, all three of us cuddled in our big bed, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, late autumn sun streaming in through the windows. Later that day, I remember my husband carving the turkey that had cooked overnight (that's how Mom used to do it, as she said it helped cut down on the mess later in the day), standing in our chilly kitchen, that same soft gold sun shining through the bare branches of trees and into our kitchen resulting in shadows and light that will always be a part of my memory of that day. It was so special.

Now here we are, fourteen Thanksgivings later, and things have changed again. My mom and step-dad moved to Florida last year, and while they came back for Thanksgiving last year, they aren't doing so this year (they'll be here for Christmas instead). I miss my mom's presence. I had to bake the pumpkin pies this year. That's what she always brought. I realized, as my daughter and I were mixing the filling yesterday, that I don't even own the right spices for pumpkin pie filling because I never needed to make it before. (We improvised. Hopefully they'll be edible.) I just spent a half hour on the phone with my mom this morning, talking about our day ahead (they'll be celebrating with some friends down there...my mom hosting the meal) and other things of little consequence. Just the talking is nice, though. Thank God for unlimited calling plans.

And this year, my oldest son is also missing from our Thanksgiving picture. He'll be celebrating this day at Parris Island, with the drill instructors and 84 other recruits in his platoon at basic training. I keep hoping he might get to make a call home today, but I'm prepared for it not to happen. Or for it not to be to me, anyway, as he does have a wife who is higher up on the call list. Either way, I miss him. He's a third of the way through his training almost, so I just keep thinking about his graduation in January and seeing him then. But it is still going to make today (and Christmas) feel strange.

I might feel a little blue today because of the changes that have happened this year, but it doesn't make me any less thankful. I know I am blessed...with love and family and health and a home and food and more material things than I really need. More than anything, I have the promises of the one who provides these blessings, the one who says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

And so I give thanks...for everything.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Peace.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finishing...

I've made it my goal this week to finish the UFOs that have been laying around (not the ones in the box under my bed...the more recent ones that I've just been lazy/procrastinating about). I'm making progress!

So far this week, I've...

...blocked my Red Scarf Project scarf, which was supposed to be mailed off last month (guess it will either wait until next year's project to go out, or, if I need it to, it will turn into a Christmas gift).

...sewn the zipper in the baby sweater I made for friend's new baby (who isn't quite so new anymore...here's hoping it will still fit said baby).

...finished my Seesaw Scarf I started a couple weeks back (and I wrote up the pattern for it!).

...finished my daughter's little black shrug that I just started last week (so she can wear it to church this Sunday...a week late, but hey).

...both started (yesterday) and finished (today) an impromptu neck warmer...actually, it's being blocked overnight, then I have to sew on three buttons, but that's it. And I will sew on the buttons tomorrow! It will not languish!

I'm trying so hard to not cast on anything else new until my finishing is...well...finished. But I've got ideas, you know? And pretty yarn. And...and...it's so hard not to cast on when you're feeling inspired! :}

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shrug This

My altered version of the Shrug This pattern from One-Skein Wonders. I added long sleeves, lace detailing and a little extra length in the bodice. It fits my 11-yr-old daughter perfectly, and she's pretty slender. I have no idea how this shrug is meant to fit an actual adult woman. You'd have to block the bejeebers out of it, is all I can think! But it will be perfect for her to wear with these winter dresses designers insist on making short-sleeved.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Pattern: Seesaw Scarf

In the midst of a lot of time consuming knitting recently, I felt the need to create something bright and fun that would finish quickly. I had some odd skeins of Noro Kureyon sitting around, their colorfulness just screaming at me to do something with them. Thus, I came up with this scarf pattern. It's a pretty easy knit, even for newer knitters.

Seesaw Scarf

This scarf is built from a series of garter-stitch short rows that create wedged sections of fabric that alternate in direction. Once you understand the wrap and turn technique, this will be a fairly quick and easy project. I loved how it turned out with the colorful Kureyon, but due to the design the pattern creates, it also looks nice done up in a solid.

Yarn: 2 skeins Noro Kureyon (220 yds.)

Needles: US 9 needles

Gauge: 4 stitches/inch in garter stitch. Getting gauge is not critical to this project. Just be sure to use the correct size needles for whatever yarn you choose so that you get a fabric that is pleasing to you.

Finished size: approximately 5” x 54”. Note that this pattern will not result in a rectangular-shaped scarf. It will either be an isosceles trapezoid (if you work an odd number of pattern repeats) or a parallelogram (if you work an even number of pattern repeats). Do whichever pleases you.


Key:

W&T – (Wrap and turn) Move yarn to the front (between the needles, as you would to purl), slip the next stitch, move yarn to the back, return the slipped stitch to the left needle. Turn work around to begin the next row.

Pattern:

Cast on 20 stitches.

Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K18, W&T.
Row 3 and all remaining odd rows: Move yarn to back (between needles), knit across.
Row 4: K 16, W&T.
Row 6: K14, W&T.
Row 8: K12, W&T.
Row 10: K10, W&T.
Row 12: K8, W&T.
Row 14: K6, W&T.
Row 16: K4, W&T.
Row 18: K2, W&T.

Repeat rows 1-19 for the remainder of the scarf, either until you’ve run out of yarn or you’ve reached your desired length.

After finishing your final pattern sequence, ending with Row 19, repeat Row 1 once more.

Bind off loosely.

Block or don’t block. Your choice.

Seesaw Scarf in Noro Kureyon.

























Sample swatch of Seesaw pattern done in solid.










© 2007 Lisa Beamer, a.k.a. Fibernymph ~ This pattern is free to use and share for personal use only with this copyright notice attached.

E-mail: fibernymph@comcast.net


Friday, November 9, 2007

Stash Math



For you fellow yarn stashers out there, this could be a sensitive subject. After all, stashing behavior has a touch of obsession/compulsion mixed in with it, I believe. And those of us who share this sickness don't always really want to admit just how much of a problem we have. The idea of quantifying one's stash can, to say the least, be daunting...or perhaps downright frightening.

However, in my newfound obsession with all things Ravelry, I've been both counting and photographing my yarn stash so I can input the info in my "stash" database on the site. Currently, I have :::deep breath::: 160 skeins of yarn logged. One. Hundred. Sixty. That be a whole lotta yarn.

The database then offers to show you your stash in either thumbnail photos, in list form with all pertinent details visible or it will allow you to download it to Excel. All of this greatly decreases one's ability to be in denial about just how much yarn one has stored in the closet, under the bed, and/or in bags and baskets around the house.

I should note that this tally does not include yarn being used in current projects nor yarn that has just come into the house in the past week. :::sigh::: Keeping an accurate stash count could be as difficult as keep count of rabbits...or hamsters...or other quickly propagating things.

I haven't even tried to log my needle collection yet. Like I could even find them all. Sheesh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Books

I am a self-confessed bibliophile. If my the size of my house allowed it, I would have bookshelves in every room, and they would be filled to the brim. As it is, I have bookshelves in my bed room, dining room and office...and they are filled to the brim. I also have boxes of books stashed away...books I'll probably never read (or read again), but I'm not ready to purge them from my collection just yet.

Along with novels and various topical non-fiction, I always manage to amass huge collections of books aligned with the topics of any hobbies or passionate interests I develop. My scrapbooking obsession? Yeah...dozens and dozens of books on that subject. Photography? A respectable shelf-full. Christianity and religion? Stacks, which include at least a dozen different Bibles.

And so we come to knitting. I only went whole-hog on knitting last January, though I had a couple books around before that. Since then, though? Thirty-six books. Thirty-six. That is an average knitting book purchase of 3.6 books per month. And I can tell you that working at the knitting shop has only furthered this habit because now I see all the new, pretty books as soon as they come in. And I can buy them at a discount. Dan-ger-ous.

I was adding some of my books to my Ravelry "library" today, and it very coolly then also links the books to any patterns you've used from them. I only have about 2/3 of my books listed there because of the way their book system is set up currently, but of those 24-ish books, I was surprised to see that I've only used five of them for a total of seven patterns (two of which I made twice). That hardly seemed right! I've done a ton of knitting this year, and while I've gotten some patterns online and bought others at the shop, I'm always looking at my knitting books, so it seems I've had to have used them more than that!

Then it dawned on me...even though I don't use the book patterns as much as I think I do, they do offer me scads of inspiration. I get ideas from them. I learn techniques from them. I glean from them and then use the information in different ways.

Not to say I don't have a list a mile long of patterns from books that I'd like to make some day. I definitely do. But I think it's cool that isn't the only use for them. And in some instances -- like, The Natural Knitter -- the books have such beautiful pictures in them that I love to just flip through them and gaze lovingly...especially at the sheep. :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sweater Surgery Pending


So. Current project: the Harvest Pullover. Raglan. A lot of stockinette. Brown stockinette. But then there were the sleeves. The pretty, pretty sleeves, which were the whole reason I wanted to make this sweater to begin with.

Ok. So, start knitting. DID A SWATCH. GOT GAUGE. Proceed to begin the sweater. Made it to the first sleeve. Knit, knit, decreased, lathered, rinsed, repeated. Finally -- FINALLY -- got to the first pretty, pretty colored section. Did the red. Did the orange. Did the yellow. Got into the green and then...hm...:::checked instructions:::...realized I misread and had to rip back 30 rows of sleeve. Recovered from the setback, continued on in the correct manner, and ended up with a lovely, lovely sleeve, as seen above.

With only one sleeve and the bottom of the sweater still on circs, it wasn't possible to try the thing on (yes, too lazy to put the sweater on waste yarn at this point), so I slipped my arm in the sleeve to model it. See how the cuff hits right below the wrist? Yes. This is how I was hoping it would actually fit once finished.

Fast forward a couple days, add the second sleeve and then energy to try the thing on the correct way. Hm. Okaaaay. Sleeves come down to my fingertips. Not good. But! The neckline was not yet finished, and that, I surmised, would right this wrong and pull everything up to where it should be.

Took the sweater with me to work today and opted to finish up the neck before finishing the rest of the body of the sweater, just because I couldn't shake this uneasy feeling about the length of those sleeves. Lo and behold...the crew neck as it is now only pulled the sleeves up to about mid-finger length. Bonnie -- my boss and knitting extraordinare -- went on to outline my various options for fixing this. One choice: rip back the sleeves, rip out two inches of brown and reknit the color work. So not going to happen. Seriously. I could probably do it in my sleep at this point, having the color pattern memorized as I do, but there is just no way in hell or any other afterlife location I'm redoing those sleeves. No. Way.

The most palatable option she offered me was to CUT the sleeves just above the colored sections -- yes, CUT, as in SNIP SNIP -- unravel the brown the two unwanted inches and then graft the two sections together, which should result in it looking like nothing untoward had ever happened. This sounds like a much happier choice to me. I like grafting. I like not reknitting 180 rows of sleeve. The thought of the cutting aspect? Has me a little freaked. Ok, a lot freaked. But, it's the best option I've got, and Bonnie said I could bring it in and do it under her supervision, LOL, so that's probably what I'll do.

Oh, and the swatch? That told me I was getting gauge? It lied. And I know why it lied. Because I knit my swatch straight, which means I threw, whereas the sweater is being knit in the round, which means I'm knitting continental. (Why do I knit English when I knit straight and continental when I knit in the round? I don't always, but I do when I'm doing mind-numbing amounts of stockinette...it goes faster. And I suck at purling continental, so that's why I don't knit that way if I'm doing more complicated stitch pattern work in the round.) My gauge is always looser when I knit continental. I KNOW this. I just totally forgot this. And so I suffer the consequences. :::sigh:::

Sunday, October 28, 2007

UFOs under the bed...


So I pulled my under-the-bed box of unfinished objects out tonight. I like to visit them occasionally, open their zip lock baggies and pet them a bit. It gives them hope that they may indeed see the light of day and be finished at some point in the future. I currently have approximately 14 UFOs -- not including projects on needles that I'm actively working on. (In my defense, everything in my UFO box is not mine...there are some projects my kids started and never finished. Just sayin'.) Tonight I made my UFOs feel extra special and took their pictures, too. I'm trying to get my Ravelry pages up to date, and pictures are essential.

I applied for membership on Ravelry back in early August and got my invite in early October. I've been smitten ever since. It is such a cool site. A great way to keep track of all of my projects, both finished and in process, as well as those that have been relegated to hibernation status (hence the box of UFOs). And, as an enabling tool, you can also queue up projects that you want to cast on in the future!

And I'm slowly working my way through my stash, taking pictures of all of that yarn, too, so I'll be able to easily see on my Ravelry stash pages just what I happen to own in all of those storage boxes and bags. (You'd think it would make it easier to NOT buy more yarn...but no. Ha!) I'm almost caught up with my project pages, but it's going to take me a while to get all of my stash inventoried and online.

Then there is the community aspect of it all...you can connect with other knitters in various groups. There are a lot of well known knitwear designers on the site, and it's very cool to be able to e-mail them and say, "Hey! Loved this pattern!" or ask a question about something you don't quite understand.

Just to clarify...Ravelry (which I was mispronouncing for months as "Raverly"...as in rave parties or something...with yarn?) isn't paying me for this endorsement. But if you're a knitter and really into your craft and want yet another way to feed the obsession, check it out. It's still in its Beta stage, but you can still sign up and get on the waiting list.

And speaking on online communities...I was going hot and heavy on MySpace for a while, but I've been sidetracked by Facebook instead. Facebook is a warmer, fuzzier MySpace kind of place...more comfortable for me, anyway. There are a lot more people I actually know (versus virtually know or "know" because I follow their bands or other art) on Facebook, so that makes it nice, too. And I can play Scrabulous with my friends on Facebook...what's not to love about that? LOL

Ok...so that ends my infomercial on web sites that allow you to have a fulfilling social life from the comfort of your own chair (or, in my case, exercise ball, which is what I sit on when I'm at my computer). Who needs real life when you can just live it all online? Heh....

Monday, October 15, 2007

The party was great...

...great weather...great people...great food...great fun. Was so cool seeing some of my son's high school friends again. These kids, they're getting older. Doing things with their lives. So, so neat to see life moving on in this way.

Can't have a party without cake...


Some people hung out later and we had a fire and made S'mores. Everyone loves a fire on a chilly fall evening...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

So far, so good...

Weather for Sunday: 64 degrees, mostly sunny. Couldn't ask for anything better. Woohoo!

Preparation level: what's done is done, what's not done may not get done, and it just doesn't matter. It'll be fine.

State of mind: Good. I'm excited for the party tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to seeing my son's friends, some of whom I've not seen in several years. I think it's going to be a really good time. I feel like this is the graduation party I never got to throw for him back in high school, and I'm glad for the opportunity to finally do it.

Today was Family Day for the new recruits that will be heading to boot camp soon. I went with my daughter-in-law and grandson to see what it was all about. It was mainly a time to get information about what's going to happen to them during the 13 weeks they'll be at Parris Island. It sounded incredible...impossible...amazing. I cannot even imagine enduring the grueling physical challenges they're put through, but I think my son will do well at it. He's got it in him to do this, I know that.

It was the other aspects that they kept talking about though...the changes on the inside that most captured my attention. More than once, they talked about how the kid getting on the bus is not the same kid you'll see when you go down for boot camp graduation. I so want that to be true. My kid is a good kid...I love him as he is...but I know he can be so much more. I am so praying that this is finally going to be the opportunity that will help him break out of this cycle he's been in of not moving forward. He tries but something always holds him back. Hopefully this will be the thing that will help him break free of that and finally find some success and help him build his confidence and take him places in life. For him and his little family, I pray so hard that this will be the case.

In the mean time, it's finally dawning on me that once he leaves for boot camp, it's not just for 13 weeks, but really, he's gone. It's going to be a whole new experience of letting go for me. Even though he hasn't lived here for three years and he's been married for over a year, there's still been a certain level of dependence on us due to various life circumstances. Between that and the fact that he and I have always had a pretty good relationship -- he's always talked to me, even when things were pretty crappy with him -- this is really going to be a change. I find myself thinking about this and suddenly tearing up. I know it is a good change, a right change, for him to move on and away, but I'm going to miss our closeness. I'm trusting God to take care of that, though. I know he will.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Life --> Crazy

Wow, ok...so, in less than three weeks, our oldest son heads to Parris Island, SC for Marine boot camp. I'm still getting used to this idea, as it was only a month ago that he decided to pursue this course of action to begin with. This is a major thing, and he's leaving behind his wife and son, but he's doing it for them, to hopefully improve his little family's life. Totally praying all works out well for them.

In the mean time, I offered to host a going away party for him. Now. Honestly? I am not a good party thrower. I get stressed. I get crazy. I worry about whether or not people will have a good time. The biggest stressor for me is the smallness of our house. Now, I know, hospitality has nothing to do with how big or small your house is, or what you serve and all that. I *know* that. But still...there are going to be anywhere from 50-70 people through my tiny little house the afternoon of this event...I can't help but be a little concerned.

Like...what if it rains? Would it be considered rude to stack my guests up three and four high in the living room? And what if my one toilet in my one and only bathroom picks that day to totally go bonkers and not work, as it it wont to do on occasion? Ordinarily, we function just fine as a single bathroom household, but that day? It would be *so not good* for the toilet to decide to back up.

Food? I can handle. Beverages? No problem. Chairs? We'll solicit them from family and have plenty. Square footage under cover in case of rain? That might be a problem, so my first defense will be fervently praying for good weather.

So now my biggest questions are: can I completely re-landscape my front yard and paint my kitchen within the next 11 days? Ha! You think I'm joking. I went to Lowe's and bought paint tonight....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's my birthday...

...and I am feeling blue. Not because it's my birthday, I don't think. Rather, it is a blue feeling that happens during this post-vacation, re-entry time (and after this vacation, its for other reasons than feeling sad that vacation is over...sheesh!). It's partly a blueness about my camera, which I'm still mourning and the fact that the insurance adjuster still has not called me back...partly blue realizing that in 25 days, my oldest is leaving for Marine boot camp and I'm going to miss him...partly blue because it is just a good "blue" type of day (overcast and rainy in early fall)...partly blue because...I don't know. I just am.

Some days are just blue days. I think this is one of those days, but I know it will pass. The camera can be replaced. My son is doing what is best for him and his family right now and he will return eventually. The rain will stop and the sun will come out and the fall leaves will blow in the breeze.

This morning, I got a big hug from my 2 1/2 yr. old grandson who told me he missed me...that melted my heart and made me smile. Even blue days have their bright spots.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vacation...the highs, the lows...

See, now this is where I'd usually insert a picture to show something fun or pretty from our trip. However, I cannot do that for this trip. Because all of my camera equipment was stolen on this trip. Camera. Two lenses. Filters. Extra battery. Both CF cards. The whole shebang. Gone in a matter of minutes on the beach. Someone out there is enjoying my stuff. Or else they're enjoying the profits from selling it, which it is likely they've done by now.

So, aside from being out $2,000 in camera stuff, I have...

...driven three hours through torrential downpours on unfamiliar roads.
...suffered a nasty cold for the first half of the trip.
...had a child throw up two nights.
...had the bed I was sleeping in suddenly fall apart and scare the crap out of me.
...been stopped by the police for running a red light.

I do not like dwelling on the negative. I rarely do. I'm the one who is always looking for the silver lining. But this trip? It's been really difficult. I've been so out of sorts through all of this. But in it all, I know there is some sort of message or lesson I'm supposed to be getting. One lesson I've learned for sure is that four trips to Florida within 12 months is too much of a good thing. I'm so ready to just be HOME.

But, in an effort to not be a complete poop about this trip, I will note the following gifts I can recognize from the past week...

...walking on the beach at night under an almost full moon and also seeing people set off fireworks right by the ocean. Very cool.
...attending a Celtic worship service at the local Episcopal church, which was quite beautiful.
...getting whistled at by some guy out on a fishing boat at the piers (how long has it been since *that's* happened??).
...finally getting my new tattoo that I've been designing for months (picture to come, eventually, when I have a camera again...ahem).
...only getting a warning about running the red light. (Whew.)
...read Joshilyn Jackson's second wonderful book, Between, Georgia.

We leave my mom's tomorrow morning, drive to Orlando and fly home through Atlanta. After this week, I'm seriously praying the planes all stay in the sky as they're supposed to. Just get me to Pittsburgh, folks. I want to go home.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Longer a Mystery!

For months now -- months -- I have been staring at the southerly night sky, seeing the same two celestial bodies night after night, the larger and brighter of the two above the other, the smaller and lower most often twinkling a fabulous red. I've looked on my star chart and tried to figure out just which two bodies they are, but I've never come to a firm conclusion.

Until tonight.

Jupiter and Antares.

Two more faces I can put names to in the night sky. Too kewl.

Reruns...

As I prepare to shut down my old blog, I'm going through my old posts and am publishing here a select few that are worth keeping out. They'll be back-dated to the time of their original posting. If you choose to read them, enjoy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Recent Knitting

A couple projects from off the needles recently...


Sweater for my grandson. I'm really enjoying sweater knitting. I could never have imagined I'd be able to make sweaters! They seemed to me like they were something that only the most skilled of craftspersons could create. Here it turns out that even someone like me, with enough knitting know-how to be dangerous, can create a reasonable sweater. It's just like my dad told my mom when they first got married: if you can read, you can cook. Well, if you can read a pattern, you can knit a sweater! In this case, if you can read a pattern and switch sizes on the fly, you can knit a sweater that will not look like your grandson is wearing a dress. Because I was not in the mood to start completely over, this sweater was knit width-wise in one size and length-wise in the next size smaller, with some parts falling somewhere in between. But it fits him perfectly and hopefully will last him through the winter. (And doesn't he look stylish modeling it for me over top of his shorts and tank top?)

Next, the felted cottage tea cozy. I'm not so into tea cozies (or any cozies, for that matter), but when I saw the pattern for this in Knitter's Stash, I had to make it because my friends, Will and Becky, lived in Ireland a couple years ago, and the cottage they lived in looked remarkably like this one (only it was not made of wool and the roof was actually not thatched, though it could have been at one time because the cottage was several hundred years old). Anyway, I decided it would make a great birthday gift for Becky, thus I commenced knitting and felting and knitted up the roof, doors and shutters. Then the darned thing sat for a couple of months because doing all of those embroidered silk ribbon flowers? Not a fun time. It was really hard to pull the needle and ribbon through the felted fabric, so I could only work on it in very short amounts of time lest my finger tips feel like they were going to fall off. (I probably should have felted the fabric a little less than I did, but I'm still a felting novice, so I'm still learning these things.) But I got it done in time to give to her at the end of August, so all was well. I have no idea if it actually fits her tea pot, but honestly? I don't care. It's their Irish cottage, in wool, and as far as I'm concerned it is as much a piece of artwork as it is functional, so...whatever. LOL

Here's a close-up of some of the details...

Foggy mountain morning...

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago as the kids and I were on our way home from visiting friends in the Shenandoah Mountains of western Virginia. It was a foggy morning, and the roadside vistas were just beautiful. This was taken on Monterey Mountain. The kids have done enough roadtrips with me that it is de rigeur for Mom to stop on a dime and hop out with the camera.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Madeleine...

What a loss the world has suffered this week with the passing of Madeleine L'Engle. She has been my favorite author for many years. Her Crosswicks Journal series is at the top of my list of most-loved work from her. I have some tapes of talks she's given at writers' conferences, and though I've listened to them multiple times, they never cease to inspire me anew every time I hear them.

I had the pleasure of hearing her in person, as well, and at one such event I got to meet her. This is where I tell my funny Madeleine L'Engle story. She was speaking at a local university one day, both morning and in the afternoon. However, I was only able to be at the morning session. Following her morning talk, she was signing autographs, and I stood in line waiting my turn with a friend. Just as I got to the front of the line, her assistant apologized and said that Madeleine was done signing, she needed to eat lunch, but would be back in the afternoon to sign again.

I'm not a pushy person by nature, but I think I offered a fairly pathetic whimper and explained to the assistant that I could not be there later in the day and I loved Madeleine just so, so much and could she pleeeeease just squeeze me in? (I'm not sure I whined like that out loud, but it's what I was thinking inside.) The assistant motioned to me and said, "Follow us." She whisked Madeleine out of the lecture hall and down a corridor as quickly as she could go (this was shortly before she went in for knee surgery, so moving quickly wasn't so easy for her), not to her awaiting lunch but instead to the ladies' room, which was apparently what Madeleine was needing more than food at that moment. Once inside the bathroom, Madeleine very graciously took my copy of "Two-Part Invention," asked my name and autographed the book for me. I thanked her (and her assistant!) profusely and then left her to her business.

This all happened so quickly that I didn't have time to be embarrassed about it all until after I'd left the bathroom. I'd just stalked Madeleine L'Engle to the toilet. At least she was kind about it. :)

I'll miss you, Madeleine.