Monday, March 31, 2008

It Must Be Monday

This was Friday. I thought it was a joke. Or a Monday. By midday we had 4-5 inches.But today I've changed my mind. You tell me. Does this sound more like a Monday to you?

1.) There was no granola for Mr. W's snack (he has granola, made by the loving hands of his wife, daily for a snack). No matter how much I make the container is universally empty on Monday mornings. There are also no raisins for new granola. Nor are there dried apricots, cherries, apple rings or peach slices. So I spent a great deal of time breaking dried banana chips into quarters, creating banana nut granola. They would not go through the food processor. Just bound up the thing. I stopped before I ruined yet another small kitchen appliance. I tried a knife, but they just stuck to it and would not break.
2.) My chair, my Ikea Poang chair, was so wobbly (I've been putting off tightening it) that when I sat down I knocked the ball band from the Jade Sapphire cashmere and the little baggie with the bead info from the cashmere socks into oblivion. I needed that information to finish writing the pattern up so the socks could go in the mail today. This small problem necessitated my moving the chair and tightening the screws, then sifting through every scrap and shred around my chair until I finally found the ball band - IN THE TRASH CAN, a thing I cannot hit to save my life when I am aiming for it, hence all the scraps and shreds I needed to sort through.
3.) My fire keeps going out, necessitating my constant intervention. Lots of checking, re-checking, poking, adding smallest things I can find without depleting the dwindling kindling supply, which distresses Mr. Wonderful greatly. Although at the moment, do I CARE if we have to spend next weekend finding kindling?? Right now I don't think I do.
4.) Nearing finalization of the sock pattern, I looked out the window and saw this:More blessed snow. And my poor birds hiding under the house to escape the snow flurries. Was I expecting a snow storm? No. So I'd let them out. I headed out to convince them to move into the house, which they did willingly and graciously. I came back in and went back to work. Finally, done. Ready to go. I looked out the window and saw this:Little heavier, I'd say. In fact, heavy enough to keep me home, since the road is covered with over an inch of the stuff now, and no sander has come, meaning I might (even "would") get down the hill, but with the lovely layer of snow over the ice, and no weight in the back of my car (Mr. Wonderful took away my wood pellets for actual fuel use, so there's nothing back there now but an empty grain bag and my grocery bags - not enough to keep my adorable but teeny car stuck to an icy snowy road) it is not likely I will get back up. Of course, I could give it a shot, and then wait at the bottom of the hill for the sander, as experience tells me I won't make it back up without him in front of me. One assumes it will come through by 3:15, since the school bus comes back at 3:30. Although the other day, Friday? The bus just refused to come up. So I could be down there 'till Mr. Wonderful or Girl come along, but then considering they both drive Micro Machines also, the chances of THEM getting up the hill are only marginally greater than my own (given that their vehicles weigh about 200-300 pounds more than my own, and actually have a back end on them).
So, you know what?? I am not even going to try. I am staying here. I've got yarn. I've got coffee. I've got cocoa. What else do I need?These are the cashmere socks before completion. There's no one here to take a picture of them done-done, but trust me, they are just lovely. I adore them. They are light and pretty and sparkly, and I love love love them.
I finished April's hat, but am waiting for actual April to show it. And - Malea, take heart - I swatched and cast your Sublime/Longmeadow hoodie on last night. You're my new official chill-out project.
It is possible that some day spring will come. But I am not holding my breath.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Itty Bitty Choices

April is a genius. I asked her if she'd like a new hat for spring wear. She said yes, and requested Susan Anderson's Itty Bitty Hats book. As I turned the pages, she viewed each design carefully and at last made a selection; the pastel marley. But yarn could be a problem as I am 1.) not allowed to buy any right now and 2.) don't have much Cotton Classic (the called for yarn) in my stash.

We raided the stash anyway, determined to find something that would work. Then it came to me - Goshen!! I have a ton of Goshen!! I grabbed the Goshen bag and sorted through partial skeins until I came up with colors that April loved, and I didn't find too shabby myself. She seemed very pleased with the yarn and color choice. Linen (not shown), Ginger, Lake, Mauve, Sweet Peach and Sage were our final color selections.

I cast on and got a couple of rounds knitted while she watched and bounced in her bouncer-thing. She likes the bouncer thing. A hat is something I can knit while babysitting, unlike the cashmere socks I should be working on. Priorities. Baby before socks, except after deadline.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Since we're nearly halfway through the week...

I can post my weekend in pictures. Girl turned 20, which hit me a little harder than expected. I can't even do a deep, emotional baby post because it's just too close to home. I feel like I need a puppy or something. I feel...old? I don't know what I feel. My baby is 20. My Baby Is Twenty.

Anyway -
I played with my potato heads. This is father potato with the kiddies getting Cruella's autograph. Note he's holding onto their Mickey ice cream and balloons, and wearing his traditional over-done Disney Dad garb.

I drank wine and watched EZ Workshop while knitting an EZ Heart Hat. It is possible that this happened prior to the potato play, but I don't remember any more. Or maybe it was simultaneously. Thanks to Kathy for enhancing my Potato Head collection and encouraging my Disney Disease.

I finished Mr. W's Schaefer Anne Boring Socks (boring pattern or lack there of, not the yarn). He likes them, which is all that matters. I needed the needles for another project and did not want to take them off and get back to them "later". We all know how that works. Pattern is K1, P1 on round one, knit all on round 2. I think it was a 72 stitch cast on.

I took a couple of hours and knocked out these fingerless gloves for Kathy. They are called Velvet Curtain Cabled gauntlets, designed by Kirsten Hipsky of Webs, and will eventually be available through them. The pattern calls for Stockbridge; I used Sheffield in color Kiwi. Super fast, super simple, comfy on. I might make them a little longer, but I like my gauntlets to be longer.

We did this a lot. You may be able to tell which seat is mine. We hung out with Girl and Jules and Gerbil and played Apples to Apples, and ate, and did yard work and chores, and (some of us) knitted from Saturday afternoon through Sunday late. Mr. W is on call this week. His beeper went off at 3AM Monday. I hate the beeper. It's like ice water on my head. UNFAMILIAR LOUD SOUND!! KILL IT!!

This is why I needed my needles free. Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere color #85, and Swarovski crystal beads from a local bead store that's Under New Management...mmmmm...pity I shan't get to wear them, since they'll be in a book. But I will love and appreciate every. single. minute. They have a picot top, an inch or two (I have not decided how much yet) of a rib, and then they will open up into a very simple pattern that highlights the beauty of the amazing crystal beads which I am hopelessly in love with. In fact, "Webs - America's Bead Store" may be my new home away from home...

And for Katy, the Heart Hat completed, and it only cost me a large chai. (I had a brain cramp. A really sad and sorry one it turns out. Katy sorted me. Her reward: one large chai.) eventually it will have a sweater buddy, either a BSJ or hoodless, collared tomten. I have not decided.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Busted. (well, tagged, really...)

Thanks to Tina, Knitting Contessa and Queen of Purses, I have been tagged, and therefore you will all be subjected to seven random facts about me. Ready?

1.) I was a cheerleader. Yeah, really. I've also been a ballerina, tap dancer, figure skater, and - my all-time favorite - equestrian.

2.) I got my first pair of glasses when I was 2, precocious, and reading. I am told that I was insulted by the pictures of birthday cakes and trucks and requested letters for my test. I can believe it. In an attempt to wrangle cooperation from the toddler me, the optometrist told me they were "Teddy Bear Pink". This was not successful. The fact that I could see, however, was. "Mommy..there's leaves on the trees!!"

3.) For years I convinced myself that I hated chocolate. It worked.

4.) Every year for Christmas my Aunt Blanche, a skilled artist, gave me oil paints which I promptly ruined, and then felt dumb and wasteful. I would still like to learn to paint.

5.) My obsession with Disney World disturbs me. Not like I am going to stop going or anything. Just sayin'.

6.) When I was 8, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls and made long lists of what I'd need from ropes for tying my stuff onto my wagon to feed for my livestock when we traveled. By 13 the lists were detailed and had a bibliography. By the time I was I was 16 I wanted a homestead, and the lists turned into notebooks filled with pages of gleaned knowledge on everything from soap making to hog killing. When I was 18 I made the crazy (for those days, and given my age) decision to home birth, cloth diaper, breast feed and make my own baby food. I didn't get the home births, and I am still not over it BUT you could take away my electricity and running water and I'd be fine, and my family would be fed and clothed.

7.) If I could I would go back to school and take every single class offered, one by one, beginning with Accounting and ending with Zoology.

And I hereby tag Katy, Rachel and Stacey. Let's see 7 random things, people.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Watching Paint Dry

That's my day. I sit and I wait. I had other plans. Buy beads for cashmere socks. Mail out pattern and vest to Sheep Shop. But no. I am instead trapped; a victim of cruel circumstance. My kitchen sink is clogged, as in standing water in the sink that drains at a rate of 1 ounce per millennium. This is good, in a way - something is getting through, if slowly. I'd relate it to molasses in January, but we all know about that. Last night Mr. Wonderful tried to liberate it. He did everything right - took the pipes all apart, checked for a clog. Snaked as far down as he could. Then we did something unforgivable. We added 2 bottles of Drano, great big ones. They failed. This means that we'll now pay extra, since Drano is dangerous and the plumber is compensated accordingly. I have greater respect for my dishwasher now. It empties to the same drain as the kitchen sink. Over the last 30-odd years of my life I have washed thousands of dishes by hand. My sisters would be thrilled to know that I, the "baby" who wasn't allowed to wash them when we were young lest I break them, spent the better part of my mothering years in front of a sink full of water and dish ware. Who knew four kids could dirty so many dishes in a day? And could I delegate this task to my own babies? No. Why not? THEY might break them. This is exceptionally stupid given that most of our dishes were either a.) Tupperware (oh the endless file of Tupperware cups, which, once in your posession remain through nuclear holocaust because, being plastic, you can't just CHUCK them, right?? The planet will mourn!) or b.) Corelle (Drop it while washing or serving and it bounces. Throw it at your ex-husband's head and it shatters into a million tiny pieces on contact. With the door frame. I wasn't REALLY trying to hit him. I was also 19 years old and 3 weeks postpartum, and after meticulously picking up the 60 bazillion shards with my little fingers I never chucked another piece of glass or dish ware again. Not even the Tupperware). So when Mr. W and I (who, in 16 years, has not made me angry enough to throw more than a pillow) moved here and I was greeted by the sight of a dishwasher, in place and functional, I cried tears of joy. This morning as I hand washed three days worth of dishes (the entire contents of my dishwasher plus a half-day of overflow) by hand in a half-full dishpan of cold water I realized just how much I'd taken the thing for granted. Never again. Tomorrow I shall fill her spot-free rinse dispenser, check her filter, and give her shiny black front a nice polish. I tried to recycle my dish water. I watered the two remaining indoor plants. I've been trying to think up other ways to recycle it, should I need to wash by hand for another day. Or more. But maybe I should not think on that for long. I wonder if there's dish-o-mats, like Laundromats? I can take the dishes in, stuff a machine with quarters, and read ripped up outdated issues of People while I wait for them to be returned, sparkling and dry.
The vest is done. I still like it. In fact, I like it a lot. Tomorrow it can make it's exodus to Sheep Shop, and eventually they will have the pattern for sale. The yarn is Sheep Number 3 which is a 30% silk/70% wool blend that I LOVE! Butter soft and yummy on the hand and better after blocking, drapey in a lovely way that compliments my little reversible cables, great stitch definition, and a gauge I can really wrap my head around. In a medium, the vest used 6 skeins, but with a ton ton ton leftover, enough for...something. It should be held closed with a shawl pin or - really, I'd love to see this - a wide brown leather d-ring belt. Or it can be left open. Pity it takes me years to get around to knitting samples for myself. I'd like to own this.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Simple Question

I don't like to get political here. I try to keep the world at bay, really. This is a blog about knitting and chickens and trips to New York and grand babies and dogs and stuff.

But today I have a question I'd like to pose to my readers. I do not have cable. Once every day or so I pop over to CNN to check out their hot topics, see what's going on in the world. Generally it upsets me, annoys or offends me and I knit something and I feel a little better. I tend to pray into my knitting a lot.

Today I don't feel better. I want to know why all I am hearing about is this but didn't hear a word about this until today - and then it was buried quickly by newer and "more important" news.

I want to know why. I want to know why the activities of a hooker and a governor are more important than three stolen babies. Someone, please, enlighten me.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I need a new dog (among other things)

Now, don't get me wrong. I adore Boo. I mean, what's not to love, right? I just find that as I grow . . . uuupp . . . I require a less absorbent pet. Short walks in the rain mean a long toweling session that removes some water, but still leaves plate-sized splotches of wet-dog mud all over the house. Generally I follow him around with a towel, and send him to his bed by the fire to dry. This week I am a bit under the weather (read "infected with some kind of plague, or maybe just a cold, but it's hard to tell"), so toweling the dog is shortened to "toss towel at dog and hope it makes contact" and wiping up the floor is more like "sit in chair and stare at puddles on hardwood and contemplate Next Dog". I run through the litany of Next Dog requirements: smallish. energetic. smart. non-shedding. water-repellent.
There's been some on and off knitting. I started another pair of socks for Mr. W. in Schaefer Anne. Nice color, not as dull as he'd like, but he shrugged and said he'd wear them. The pattern is super simple, making this perfect mindless knitting. It's k1:p1 on one round, knit all on the next. No creativity, no thought required. Knit till long enough, whack in a heel, knit some more. Lovely. Sometimes I appreciate his simplicity of taste. "Just something simple" he says. Ah, what a man.
I also started working in earnest on a reversible cable project for Sheep Shop. It's been fomenting in my brain for a long time, has gone through several incarnations, sketches, swatches. It was not until the reversible concept entered my brain that it became a very clear design. Thanks to Katy for getting me off the ground. See, I'd never actually done reversible cables. I just wanted/needed to for this project. So, I had to learn. Katy teaches a (highly recommended) reversible cables workshop at Webs - the next one is Sunday, March 16th...just sayin'...I'd take it but interestingly I find it difficult to take a class and teach one at the same time. There's a limit to my multi-tasking ability. I have to say I love the way this is coming along. I find that I love the technique (not surprising since I adore cables anyway), and I want to play with it more in the future. It is truly completely reversible. I actually had to attach a stitch marker to keep track of the official "right" side.
Somewhere along the line I started a Falling Leaves shawl for a lace class I am to teach sometime. Awful, I don't remember when. Fall maybe? Eh. Sometime is good enough for now. This will be a beginner lace class, everyone will make the same project and learn the very foundations of lace knitting so that they can move into more complex projects on their own. I needed a basic, simple, larger needle and yarn project to convey just the basic mechanics of lace. Katy suggested this pattern, which is hers and available from Webs. I decided to give it a shot and after about one inch it became clear that this is the perfect beginner lace project. Designed for a scarf or a shawl, knitter's choice, it can be knitted in just about anything. I am using Valley Yarn Colrain, photographed here with no flash so you can see the detail, which totally destroys the color and lovely shine of this yarn, but if I used the flash the tencel grabs all the light and it becomes one big pink blur. Trust me, it's amazing.
And, um. Listen. Don't tell Boo about what I said before, about replacing him? He's got more than enough problems without thinking momma's going to run out and get, oh, a nice little cockapoo or something.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Organization is the Key to Success.

Click. Sign. Be heard.


'Cause Amy Only Takes Me to the Best Places...

Before I begin this post I must preface with something I found today that just caused me to giggle madly. Not only is there a British Edition, but if you're in the UK it is apparently a freebie if you subscribe to the magazine "Simply Knitting" by March 31. They also give away great small gifts every month, something I think all knitting mags should do. I have heard reports of things like tape measures, knit-checks, stitch markers, etc. The offer is only available to new UK subscribers. Darn...I could have gotten a second copy! And for those who were asking, this is the British ed cover - different, but very similar. I love them both, equally!
There was not a lot of knitting this week, but with good reason! Once again I headed off to the big city, the Chicken Farmer in New York. I was to spend a night, tape a television spot and have tea with a buyer Barnes and Noble, and head home.
I am getting much better at the basics of city life, like hailing cabs and telling the driver where I need to get to. "235 West 46th Street, please..." just sort of rolled off my tongue. Amy put me up at The Paramount Hotel, which I liked a lot. Unlike the delightful Gershwin Hotel, it did not have the Museum of Sex next door, but it did have a Dean and Deluca with the most amazing, although environmentally disastrous (made in Greece?! Yeah, that's easy on the planet, shipping food from Greece...) yogurt, Fage, with honey. It also has a great energy and comfortable rooms for the money. I did not fully understand the location until I walked out the front door in search of food, turned left, walked a few feet and . . . and . . . went back for my camera. I went to see a show Wednesday night. See, the Paramount is right next to the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, currently housing a musical production based on a movie that I don't even like. In fact, it is probably my least favorite film of it's genre. But I don't want to admit what it was, really. It's embarrassing. I will preface my revelation by saying that I really, really wanted to see Wicked, but the tickets were so expensive and I did not know where the theater was, and I was alone and nervous about getting around at night (the whole country bumpkin thing is pretty real for me) so I went with 'close and cheap(er) and simple'. I saw...oh I can't say it. Sigh. OK, I saw 'The Little Mermaid'. If I say I'd had a glass of wine when I bought the ticket, will it make it easier to swallow? It was karmic, really. I discussed it with Mr. W. and we decided that if the tickets were "under $50" and if they had any for that night, I'd go. Well, it was $51.50. So I said "Should I?" and he said "Go for it.", and I did(so it's his fault, right?!). I really had a blast (the kid who does Flounder?? AWESOME CHILD!) and now want more; more shows, more theaters, more nights in Times Square.
In the morning I met Amy (crazy person who gets up at 5am to drive into Manhattan in her car, which she just parks there, like it's normal! I have enough trouble driving into Springfield, let alone Manhattan.) and we headed for the Better TV studios. The taping went well, I thought. I did not bite my tongue in half, spit, drool, or in any other way embarrass myself. The spot should air in a couple of weeks, and then will be available on their website for a while. I'd brought along garments on-loan from Webs (thank you, Kathy), and we displayed them as well as two socks from the book - some of you will recognize Flutter, Greenwood, Radiance (bag and jacket). My sweet babies. Later they added a copy of 2-at-a-Time Socks, me, and Juli, the host. Juli was really wonderful AND can now call herself a knitter, since I taught her how to knit on TV (without a net). I left her with the needles and yarn. Maybe a new convert? I love that every person who's ever taken the first stitch has the same reaction: "I did it. Look. I really did it." or some variant thereof. I always knew they could. But they always seem surprised. Perhaps the next knitter to visit with Juli can teach her to purl.
After taping Amy took me to this wonderful sushi place, Hatsuhana. It was so good. Then we shopped a bit - I saw Saks, and the insanity of the make-up counters, and held a $1400 Marc Jacbos bag to my heart, where it remains in spirit. Because, you know, I so doubt that it will ever show up at Marshall's on clearance for $60. Which means, uh, you know, I won't be getting it. Ever. But in my heart it is MY bag and always will be.
Next we headed downtown for our tea stop. Allison was comfortable and kind and wonderful. She's a knitter, and was wearing the most edible shawl of Malabrigo lace weight that I just wanted to wrap up in. It was SO beautiful. She'd cast on a sock in my honor, though one at a time, close enough! We met, Amy, Stephanie D, Allison and I, at a place called T Salon. It was, for those of you who are local, sort of like Greenfield's Market in feeling, only more upscale, with servers and a beautiful seating area. The tea was excellent and the company better. I have not seen Stephanie in a long time. She was behind all of this, this whole book thing, from the beginning. Sitting there in my Knitting 2 class, insisting that I NEEDED to write a book "about this" technique of mine. Smart girl, that Stephanie is.
I hopped a train back at 6:07pm and managed to pull into my garage at about 9:55pm, five minutes before bedtime.
I am afraid now to admit what I knitted on the train. I've held off, in the hope that most people got bored and left. If you're still here, well...then it's your own fault that you see my shame. I have mocked this knitted item for months, nay, years. You have to understand that I am a product of my generation, and seeing the trends repeated already, well, it's disconcerting. Something that was cool in 1983, well, it just does not have a right to be BACK already. "What decade are we in?" I snarked. "Is Flashdance coming back now?" Yeah, all over me. Meet my brand new, comfy and warm as toast Noro Silk Garden legwarmers. I love them. Everyone should have them. 4 skeins Silk Garden, one set of US 7 circulars, cast on 44 stitches twice, divide and knit in 2:2 rib like 2-at-a-time sock legs until you've got 20 or so inches, then cast off and put on. Mm mm...warm!
Finale - grand finale - Genius Infant said Omie, and if I had the upload limit I'd prove it with video. Since I can't, you'll have to be satisfied with gazing adoringly at her little personage in mid-smile - isn't she just...PERFECT?