Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Just a very quick note to say that other adventures have trumped the blogging time. Back toward the end of July I had an unpleasant episode involving a "perforated" appendix, pnemonia and a nine day hospital stay. On the bright side, I was home recuperating and therefore was NOT on the I35 bridge when it decided to end it all. I drove that bridge at least twice a day, often at about the same time it went down.

We were able to make our Toronto trip and the week away helped me get my stamina back. Toronto is lovely, I highly recommend it as a vacation spot. Even the manchild has announced that he plans to move there. Hopefully he'll wait until he has a job. A well-paying job. My souvenirs consisted of a skein of Handmaiden wool/silk and a skein of Fleece Artist Blue Suri. I love these folks but their yarn is hard to find here and when I do, it's expensive. I was happy to find it in Toronto at a reasonable price!

In other news, I finally got my invitation to join Ravelry, so if you're there, say "hello."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Coffee Swap Kudos

I received my coffee swap box on Saturday and wanted to say "Wow, and thanks!" to Diane, my swap partner. She sent me a very "Connecticut" themed box (although she said her daughter called it the clown box because "there's no way you're going to get all that into that little box").

Diane sent 3 kinds of yummy coffee, two balls of a beautiful lace yarn in a lovely purple (she must have caught the lace obsession), a skein of Cascade 220 in a gorgeous rusty red, assorted snacks and goodies, and, of course, chocolate. Thanks, Diane, this was a great swap!

I'm in trouble now...

Yes, there has been even more lace. I finished the lace scarf and am now working on a lace baby shawl/blanket for a pregnant neighbor. I'm becoming addicted to lace.

Perusing blogs this morning I came across a link to Mystery Stole 3. Yup, I took the plunge and signed on. Sign ups are open until July 6. I've been wanting to try a shawl or stole and this seems like fun. It has beads so I'll learn a new technique. Hopefully I'm up to the challenge!

Monday, June 04, 2007

There is lace!

After several false starts, I am happy to report that I have an actual, almost finished lace scarf! Of course, I have no pics because I still can't find the cord thingy.

Which leads me to one of my pet rants. Finding things. Things get lost in our house. Finding anything pretty much takes 15-20 minutes. If it's something you REALLY need it's guaranteed to take longer. Much longer. Now, I know that nothing is ever lost in your houses because you are all very neat, well organized people who always put everything back where it belongs. In MY household, however, there are three disorganized slobs. Actually, the Man-Child is the most organized and well-kept of us all. His room is usually the cleanest and the most orderly. I can't say as much for the rest of the house. I would like to say that this is actually a very clever attempt on my part to be sure that he is neat child, because growing up in a messy house has, of course, made him want to be neat above all else. After all, it worked for me -- my mom made housecleaning an art form and look how I turned out.

You might guess from this that there is almost ANYTHING that I would rather do than housework. The spouse and I have different ways of viewing housework. I hate clutter, she hates dirt. I don't mind dust if it's on empty surfaces, she doesn't mind clutter as long as it's clean clutter. Clutter is insidious. I can clear it away, turn my back for fifteen minutes and it will reappear. It has a life and will of it's own.

The spring concert season is well underway. In the last month I have been to one band concert, a theatre awards night, and six choir performances (or choir related events). There is still one more to go, the last spring concert for boychoir. This will be their first ever performance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Actually, they've performed there with the Minnesota Orchestra many times, but this is the first time they're the whole show! Pretty exciting stuff, at least to the parents. The boys are pretty blase about the whole thing. Just another night on stage at a world class venue...yawn. A few days after that the choir leaves for the Australia tour, minus the Man-Child who is not much of a traveler and opted out. I still don't understand how I, someone who will go anywhere at the drop of a hat, could have produced such a homebody. Ah well, he's young, he'll grow out of it.

Speaking of which, the Man-Child turned 14 over Memorial Day weekend. Somehow, 14 seems much older than 13. He is becoming more and more independent, something that, as a parent, we try to nurture and yet want to discourage at the same time. Suddenly he's getting invitations to parties (boy/girl parties!) and riding to the mall on his bike all by himself. Ok, so I did follow him in car the first two times he went, just to be sure he could get there without becoming a hood ornament. Stephanie's May 30 post, "Dear Amanda," speaks to this very thing, most eloquently as usual. She gets it absolutely right. Go read it, but make sure you have a kleenex.

Ok, back to the knitting. Yes, there is lace! In the category of "Duh, can you read a knitting pattern?," I finally realized that the reason I was continually screwing up all lace patterns was because I was including a knit stitch for every yarn over. So, if the pattern said, K2, YO, Knit 2, I would K2, YO K1, K2. So, of course, nothing ever came out right. I'm not sure when the light bulb finally went on, but there was an "aha" moment in there somewhere. And, how long have I been knitting? And how long have I been avoiding lace?

Also in the category of "finished objects" is a baby sweater, knitted in anticipation of a neighbor's baby shower in a few weeks. It turned out really cute, and if I ever find the *%^&#$ cord thingy I'll show you. Now I'm knitting a smaller, newborn size of the same sweater. It's a great pattern -- Cabin Fever Buttons Cardigan. Very easy, I made the first one in two days. Of course it helps that it's teeny. The "Perfect Sweater" mentioned in the last entry is finished, except for the blocking and seaming. I'm afraid I'm going to completely screw it up, so it sits. Someone told me that "you can always rip it out," which is true, probably even destined, but as long as it sits in pieces I can imagine it finished, perfectly, sometime in the future...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Coffee Swap Questionnaire

1. Whole bean or ground? Either is fine.

2. Fully-loaded or decaf? I go both ways. I try to use mostly decaf, but I find that the flavors of coffee I like are often only available in caffenated.

3. Regular or flavored? I tend to like flavored, particularly anything chocolate or hazelnut. Maple, cinnamon and other spices. I can't imagine a fruity flavored coffee, but I'm game to try something different. I don't like very dark, strong coffees. I like medium to light blends.

4. How do you drink your coffee? With splenda and cream. Lots of cream. Boatloads of cream. Sometimes I add some flavored syrups (need to be sugar-free).

5. Favorite coffee ever? I'm currently addicted to the Cinnamon Dulce Latte at Starbucks. I also really liked the pumpkin latte they had around Thanksgiving. Didn't expect to, but they gave me a free sample and I was hooked.

6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do? Not too fussy.

7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee? My absolute favorite thing to have with coffee is a donut. But, since I really try NOT to do the donut thing, I like biscotti, or shortbread. I have these amazing maple flavored sandwich cookies that come from Canada that are really good with coffee.

8. Anything else about your coffee preferences? I think the above covers it all.

9. Yarn/fiber you love? Wow, I love all kinds of natural fibers. Pretty much anything hand painted, hand-dyed is good. I especially love alpaca, merino, anything soft. Feel free to send cashmere.

10. Yarn/fiber you hate? Acrylic, pastels.

11. What's on your needles? A sock, the last sleeve of a sweater and a *&^+$$@ lace scarf that I keep ripping out.

12. Favorite colors? I like rich, strong colors. I really don't like pastels and I don't much see the point of white or cream colors (except maybe to dye them). I like blue, purple, green combinations. I also like rust, green, gold, brown combinations. I like jewel tones (not pastel). I like reds, oranges and yellows as accent colors.

13. Allergies? Nope. At least nothing fiber related.

14. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest? I really don't like pastels, but I think that's been covered. Someday, I WILL knit lace and it WILL be good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Out of Hibernation...

Ok, I'm back. I think I'm back. Spring has sprung (and I think it's going to stay that way this time -- don't even ask about that early April snowstorm) and I don't have the hibernation excuse any more.

Seriously, winter is tough for me. I deal with depression (long family history, not pretty stuff) and winter really saps my energy.

Ok, enough with the negative stuff! I've been knitting and spinning in an attempt to stay sane so I have lots to catch up on. Unfortunately, I can't find the cable thingy to upload the pictures, so those will have to wait. When will someone introduce a camera that uploads wirelessly? I really hate having to use the cable thingy.

My big project this winter has been the "Perfect Sweater" from the Mason-Dixon website. This is my first ever sweater and I wanted to get a good sense of how to assemble a sweater. This seemed like a good pattern for that. It's very clear, with instructions even a complete novice can figure out. It suggests an affordable yarn and it's even free! Can't beat that. I am on the homestretch, about 2/3 of the way through the second sleeve. Then comes the whole seaming thing, which I have to admit is the most intimidating part. I don't have a good track record when it comes to seaming (see earlier post on the Christmas Gnome), but this pattern calls for a three-needle bind-off for at least part of the seaming and I've had good luck with that. I have to say that it is a sea of stockinette, so if you're looking for mindless knitting, this is your pattern! I'm using Cascade 220 in the blue heather. So far I'm very pleased with it.

In other knitting news, I was one of 400 knitters who was able to hear Stephanie, aka the Yarn Harlot, speak here back in March. If you click here, scroll down to the Minneapolis-St. Paul photo. Look at the first photo, just off center. There's a very bright yellow patch? That's me. I'll tell you, it's hard to figure out what to wear to a Harlot event. I've never seen so many gorgeous sweaters, vests, shrugs, shawls, etc. And here I was, without a wearable piece of knitting to my name. Hence, the incentive to knit the Perfect Sweater. I have to say, after hearing Stephanie's many horror stories of some of her other book signings, The Yarnery did an absolutely superb job -- they even gave us a knitting bag! Very cool.

I saw a couple of other bloggers there, but of course, didn't work up the gumption to say hello (see six weird things about me). Stephanie was great, she is a gifted speaker and had us all laughing for an entire hour. I didn't stay for the book signing, the lines were beyond real. I felt sorry for her, she must have been exhausted by the time the evening was over. I heard that she didn't finish until after midnight.

Tonight is a Knitter's Guild meeting that I'm going to try to get to. This weekend is Yarn Over and I'm signed up for a couple of workshops. One is on getting the "perfect" fit on sweaters (good timing) and the other is an Intarsia workshop with Annie Modesitt. I've not done any intarsia yet, so I'm looking forward to that one. To both, actually.

In a couple of weeks is Shepherd's Harvest, a festival devoted to all things wooly. In particular, there are always tons of fiber vendors there and there's a great selection of roving. I'm going to take a workshop on natural dyes and do lots of shopping. All in all, I'm looking forward to spending lots of time of spinning and knitting time over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hibernating seems like a really good idea...

Sometimes motivation is a tough thing. I've had a very hard time getting myself to do much of anything the past several days. Blogging, working, spinning, even knitting -- none of these things have held much allure for me lately. I'm in the throes of winter blahs and it's hard to shake.

It's been very cold the last few weeks and is supposed to get even colder tomorrow. Unfortunately, we still don't have much snow cover so the temps are hard on my poor perennials. Kind of like trying to get a good night's sleep on a frigid night with just a sheet for warmth. I love Minnesota in the spring, summer and fall -- but I truly hate the winter. I don't like being cold, I don't like winter sports (because you're, like, COLD!).

Last night we took the Manchild to orientation for (gasp) HIGH SCHOOL! He can't possibly be old enough to attend high school. He was pleasantly surprised to find that he gets to take six electives as a freshman. Three of them will be taken up with band, but that still leaves three to choose. He's leaning toward woodworking and small engine repair. Monday night he starts lessons in bodhran, a celtic drum. And, he still has a bizillion rehearsals for boychoir, so he's a busy boy! He's also big into snowboarding right now and spends most of his free time cajoling us into taking him boarding. He's morphing into a real teenager before my eyes!

I'm trying to finish up my SP9 swap, but STILL waiting on something that was backordered from Knitpicks. Usually, they're very prompt and in general, I've been very happy with the things I've ordered from them, but they're sure taking their sweet time on this order! The final box is ready to go as soon as I have the last pieces.

I received my Knit Mitt Kit Swap a few weeks ago. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it before I completely disassembled it. It was a terrific kit and included Eunny's Anemoi mittens pattern, which I had been coveting for quite a while! Also included were a beautiful handmade bag, a bar of yummy dark chocolate with almonds and orange pieces, a bag of fruit and nut mix (yum, already gone!), some gorgeous yarn in two shades of a beautiful green, and the book Domino Knitting, which has been on my Amazon wishlist!! Thanks, Rebecca -- you are a superb swap partner!!

Here's hoping the Knitpicks box will show up today and I can finally get my last SP9 box off to Rachael!! In the meantime, I'm going to go find someplace to hibernate until winter is over. Should only be another four months or so...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Six weird things...

A few days ago I was tagged by Lori for the "Six Weird Things About You" meme. So here it goes:

The Rules: Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names.)

1. I was named after a squirrel. Really. My first name is Perri. In 1957, Disney came out with their first "True Life Action Film," in that it was filmed, not animated. That first movie was about a little girl flying squirrel named Perri. My mom was enchanted and liked that it went with "Penny," my older sister's name. There are only a handful of Perri's, in fact, I know of only two others. One is known to us all -- Perri Klass, who writes a column in Vogue Knitting. I don't know, but I bet she's 48 and had a creative mother too. I did not like my name when I was in grade school. Too many bad Perry Mason jokes. Now that I'm mostly grown-up, I like it. Except that I always have to spell it for people.

2. I have a degree in Peace Studies. Yup, you can actually get a degree in Peace Studies.

3. I once ate guinea pig in Peru. Tastes like chicken. Really. I tried very hard not to think about "Priscilla," a guinea pig I had when I was 10.

4. I am an extreme introvert. Off the scale. It's not that I don't like people, it's more that I find it exhausting to be around people I don't know well. Over the years I've learned how to act more extroverted, but it still doesn't come easily. This is one of the reasons that I really, really, hate to talk to people on the phone. I don't mean like, family, especially if they live far away and the only way to keep in touch is by talking on the phone. But pretty much every other phone call I will avoid if I can (just ask the Spouse). This can be a problem at work, where I have to make a lot of phone calls.

5. I am a classically trained singer (Mezzo Soprano). For a long time I wanted to be an opera singer and started out as a music major in college. Then I took my first music theory class. It was way too much like math (which I'm very, very bad at) and I panicked and quit. I actually don't regret not having majored in music because I've continued to train and sing when and where I want to -- no pressure!

6. I have very long thumbs. I am undefeated at thumb wrestling.

That's it. And I'm going to break the rules and won't tag 6 others (see #4).

Only two projects?

Here are the photos of work in progress, as promised:

The Irish Hiking Scarf in Lamb's Pride worsted, color "Blue Heirloom"

The Visor Beanie, in progress.

You can see the visor part, that was actually the easiest part of the whole thing. The hard part has been getting the shape of the hat right. I wanted to show you the original, but the Manchild must be wearing it today because I can't find it. It's a little bit looser than a traditional beanie. I'm trying to write down what I'm doing and will post the pattern when it's finished.

Now, to catch up on my swap posts. Here, finally, is a pic of my last SP9 pal box:

I'm quite late in putting a pic on my blog as I received this box before Christmas! It contained all kinds of goodies. Two skeins of yarn, a "Christmasy" merino from Hill Country yarns and a gorgeous skein of baby mohair/silk yarn called "Douceur et Soie," lace weight. Also included were a santa tape measure, a tiny sweater keychain, the winter issue of Vogue, some incense, chocolate, some mulling spices, and she even included some treats for the Murray, Kimi and Chuckie! We all say THANKS! What a great job she did, as a Secret Pal. I can't wait to find out who she is!

This morning I ordered the final things for the last box to my Secret Pal and a mitten kit for my KMKS pal. I have almost everything now for both boxes.

In other news, it's supposed to be in the forties today. Bye, bye snow!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Whew, made it through the holidays but I still feel like I have too much to do. We've been traveling a bit, playing a bit, working a bit and I've been knitting a bit.

First the traveling. Spent a few days up in one of my favorite places in the world, the north shore of Lake Superior. We packed up the Manchild, the dog, the snowboard and other snow related stuff and headed up. Unfortunately, there wasn't any more snow there than here. Fortunately, there is a nice ski resort there that makes their own snow. The Manchild got a new snowboard for Christmas so he was anxious to try it out.

It was a bizarre sight to see so much open water in late December. Lake Superior normally freezes over in the winter, but not this year. Ok, neighbor, can you say "Global warming?" I knew that you could. No ice, no snow. I think I still live in Minnesota.

And yes, I have been knitting! I'm working on two main projects: an Irish Hiking Scarf, which is my first attempt at cables, and -- a big challenge -- designing my own pattern.

The Irish Hiking Scarf is tons of fun and it's turning out beautifully (pictures soon). I like it so much that I've already bought yarn for the next one. The pattern design project is a hat for the Manchild. Before Christmas we were out shopping and he bought a hat that "everyone has." It's called a visor beanie and is a basic hat with a plastic visor knit into the brim. It cost twenty three dollars. Yes, you read that right. Twenty-three dollars for a knit beanie. So, I've been trying to figure out how to make one. I've searched the web and couldn't find anything that was quite right, so I decided to try to make one. Now, having never knit anything without a pattern, this is new territory. But, hey, how hard can it be?

Well, I've already ripped it out twice. Third time's the charm. I'm having trouble getting the decreases to come out right. It's either too short or looks a bit like a stovepipe. The third attempt will be juuuuust right.

I'm in the process of wrapping up the SP9 swap. I sent my spoilee a small pre-Christmas box, but still need to put one more together. The other swap I'm doing is a mitten kit swap and I still have to decide which pattern I'm going to send, but I have to pull that one together very soon. Once I get those finished, I think I'm going to take a break from swaps for awhile.

Speaking of swaps, I received my last box from my Secret Pal. I have pics but I can't post them tonight, so that will have to wait. Thanks, SP9!!

And last, but not least, it finally snowed!!! Only a few inches, but I'll take it!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The concert season begins...

A quick post because I'm swimming in undone stuff. Or stuff yet to be done. Or stuff yet to be completed.

The last few weeks have brought some interesting things. For one, many, many concerts. One thing about having a musician for a child, you go to lots of concerts. In the last week, I've attended three concerts, just the beginning of the holiday concert season. The first, was the University of MN choirs performing St. Nicholas by Benjamin Britton. Since Britton is one of my favorite choral composers, I was looking forward to this one. The Manchild also sang, as a small group from the MN Boychoir. It was partly staged, sorta, and I was not disappointed. The tenor who played St. Nicholas was incredible, which was amazing since he was a last minute replacement from New York. The original (local) tenor was sick and they called in this guy literally about 30 hours before he had to perform it. According to the Manchild, he was much better than the original guy. It must be particularly depressing, not only to miss singing a part you've spent a lot of time preparing for, but to have your replacement be better than you after rehearsing with the rest of the singers only once. The whole thing was very good and I was happy to see it, especially since it's one of Britten's less performed pieces. Of course, the boychoir performed perfectly!

The second concert was the Manchild's school band concert. He is a percussionist and a very good one. The concert consisted of the 8th grade orchestra, choir, and two different bands. I love the boy more than anything, but as a concert experience, it ranked right up there with a trip to the dentist. I got a lot of knitting done.

The third concert of the week was the highlight and was the MN Orchestra's performance of "Hansel & Gretel." The MN Boychoir provides the "gingerbread boys." This concert was really amazing. It's a "light" opera, performed with the Heart of the Beast puppet theatre, a local company. The two sopranos who play Hansel & Gretel are actual sisters, so they are natural siblings and very funny. The whole thing really is magical. This is the second year they've performed it and it just gets better every time I see it. For those of you who live close enough, don't miss it if they do it again next year. Bring the kids (it's billed as a family concert and really does entertain the kids). And, of course, the gingerbread boys steal the show.

This weekend begins the first of the MN Boychoir's winter concerts. If you're around, come see one. They really are amazing concerts and they're even free! (Ok, they do take an offering.)

In other news, I started my career as a human guinea pig this week. I volunteered for a local research trial related to my diabetes and I'm taking two additional meds, one of which has to be injected twice a day (not insulin). That's taking some getting used to. I haven't had to do any injections since I was pregnant with the Manchild (when the whole diabetes thing first reared its ugly head). Toward the end of the pregnancy I was up to four injections a day, so it's not like I'm completely new to this. But still, as the Manchild so helpfully pointed out, I'm probably "nuts."

On the knitting front I'm happy to report that I did get the bedsocks for the neighbor finished and delivered. They might have been too big. It's darn hard making socks for other people. Even with foot measurements. Still, I guess too big is better than too small. The yarn has some acrylic in it so I'm guessing it won't shrink much. I also finished several little things in time to get them to church for a craft fair that was benfitting the "Blue House," a project that provides housing and support for fifteen girls orphaned by AIDS.

I cast on last night to start a pair of Fiesta Mittens. I've been reading Krafty 1'sblog and she was raving about these mittens. When I went to Borealis to pick up the pattern, they had a sample made up and they really are cool mittens! If I like the way they turn out, I might use this pattern to make up the Knit Mitt Kit Swap that's due to go out in January.

My spoilee for SP9 got her box and liked what I sent her. Since I forgot to take a picture before I sent it out, you can see it on her blog, here. Find December 8.

Next big thing on the "to do" list is to get all the various packages that have to be shipped gathered together and wrapped. Since most of our family lives elsewhere, this can be a significant chore. Deep breath...go!

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm Still Here

No, I haven't dropped from the face of the earth. The last several weeks have been nuts. Between Thanksgiving, various concerts, trying to get many knitting projects done, trying to get various swap partners shopped for and, oh yeah, work, there hasn't been much time for anything else. I will attempt to catch everyone up on the past several weeks, so be prepared for a long post.

Thanksgiving was great! On Thursday, we went to church and then had Thanksgiving potluck with several families there. It was very, very warm (in the upper 70's) so our post Thanksgiving dinner walk was much longer than usual. Wow, it was a beautiful day. Very weird to be in t-shirts in November, but beautiful. Friday, we celebrated our family Thanksgiving with good friends who are also the Manchild's godfathers. Reading other people's blogs I'm a bit envious of all the folks trying out gourmet recipies for "pecan crusted" this and "slivered, blanched" that. In my family, Thanksgiving is all about Tradition. There is a set menu, and it never changes. Turkey (always my partner's responsibility -- see previous post), stuffing (with nothing "weird" in it), cranberry/orange relish jello mold, sweet potato casserole with mini marshmallows melted on top, corn, rolls and pumpkin pie with Real Whipped Cream. And sometimes green bean casserole. It's like dinner was prepared in 1965 and simply teleported forward every year. But it's yummy anyway. Of course, the Manchild doesn't eat hardly any of it. Rolls and a little turkey. And whipped cream with a little pie. That's about it. Sigh. But we had a great couple of days stuffing ourselves silly.

Friday's celebration was held despite the fact that the Spouse was up at a 2:30 a.m. in order to go stand in line at Best Buy in an attempt to purchase a computer for the Manchild. She's like that, I am Not. By God, she got it too.

Now to the knitting: My Secret Pal 9 sent another box! Wow, she really outdid herself this time! As she said, this box has a "spinning" theme. Here's a pic of the goodies...

She included a book off my wish list, "Color in Spinning," which I've been coveting forever, some handpainted merino roving, several ounces of an alpaca, merino, silk blend (I think, I don't have the label in front of me) roving, some tea, a scented tealight candle, a couple of cute buttons a couple of sample packets of Crabtree & Evelyn's Gardener's hand therapy lotion (great stuff!) and a packet of hand-made cards with water buffalos on the front. (I collect water buffalos -- yes, it is an odd thing to collect.) Thanks, SP9 pal, you did a fantastic job!

Speaking of swaps, I am just about finished with box number 2 for my SP9 pal. I need to get back to the yarn store before I can send it out! So far it includes a really cute sock blocker keychain, complete with a pattern to make a teeny sock, a copy of the "Yarn Requirements for Knitters" folder, some Dove chocolates, the Christmas Gnome, some handmade Lavender soap, a cute little angel pin and some yarn (yet to be purchased). Here's the gnome:

I'm not 100% happy with the way the gnome turned out, but I reworked him until he's presentable. And he is still pretty cute, as long as you don't look too closely at the seams. He's about 10". The pattern is an Alan Dart pattern, a British designer who does a lot of toys and animals. It was very hard to find, but I fell in love with it and finally found it on ebay.

I've started on the Knit Mitt Kit Swap bag. I'm not that great with a sewing machine, but decided that a fabric bag made more sense than a knit one, so I'm giving it a shot.

Here's the Chrismas stocking I finished for my grand-nephew. It still needs to be blocked and personalized with his name, but it's essentially done. It looks very Minnesotan, don't you think? This is the pattern with the odd heel design. Having tried putting in the heel last, I think I'll stick with a more traditional heel process for future versions.

Here's Murray, admiring the Christmas stocking, or maybe just wondering what the heck I'm doing...

I'm still working on a few things for Christmas. I'm making another gnome, this time for the Manchild who was quite Put Out when I told him the first one was for my secret pal. A pair of bedsocks for my neighbor (suffering from second sock syndrome, but Must. Get. It. Done.).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Of Homemade Vegetable Soup

I can't cook meat. When I was younger, I spent several years as a vegetarian. The reasons I gave it up and returned to omnivorous ways are boring and won't be mentioned. However, because I did not eat meat, my mother never taught me how to cook meat. My mom was an incredible cook. She made pot roast, swiss steak, salisbury steak, beef & noodles, stew, you name it, she could cook it. And it would be perfect every time. I am my mother's daughter, but I can't cook meat. It's either too tough, or too dry or too tough and dry. I remember my mom's cooking with fondness but have never been able to duplicate it. She died several years ago, so I can't ask her. I miss my mom at times, especially when I'm cooking.

Yesterday though, I finally made something that turned out! Pot roast in the crock-pot! (Thanks to Bobbee for the recipe) Round one was yummy pot roast, and round two is yummy homemade vegetable soup. The manchild is essentially a vegetarian, so he didn't touch either. Well, he nibbled a bit of pot roast. With ketchup. He just doesn't like meat much. Probably not a bad thing.

Knitting? Oh yeah, well I've been doing a lot of knitting. I have experienced knitting tradgedy. Remember those pumpkin Victorian Diamond socks I was working on? I can't find them. Anywhere. I think I left the bag somewhere. I've been trying not to think about it too much but I'm just about to the point where I'm going to have to admit that they're gone. Along with the pattern, because I was too lazy to make a working copy of it and was toting around the original. And my brand new Knit Picks sz. 2 double pointed needles. Sob. Maybe it will still turn up...

In more positive knitting news, I have finished a Christmas stocking for my grand nephew. Geez that makes me feel old. My sister was 11 years older than me, and her daughter had my grand nephew when she was pretty young. So, at 48 I have a grand nephew. He lives in Florida so it's hard to knit things for him. But I saw this pattern [hey Lori, it has a moose on it!] and decided to knit it up for him. It's kind of a weird pattern. Instead of knitting it like a giant sock, you sort of knit it in one tube and then go back and add in the heel at the end. Weird. I think if I make it again I'm just going to knit it like you would any sock. I'll get a pic of it up soon.

I'm having fits with the Christmas Gnome. I seem to be incapable of doing a decent mattress stitch. I can kitchener with the best, but a stupid mattress stitch has me completely beaten. I have torn out these seams so many times that the yarn is really looking crappy. Do you have any idea how hard it is to tear out mattress stitch? I look at the pattern and they show beautiful, invisible seams and mine are lumpy and twisted. Sigh.

I think I need some yummy vegetable soup to make me feel better.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

KMKS Questionnaire

I've decided that my limit for swaps will be no more than two at a time. I can't keep up with more than that (not even counting the $$ involved)! So, I chose my second swap carefully and picked the Knit Mitt Kit Swap. Since we already have our swap partner names, I figured I'd better get the answers to the questionnaire up!

What are your favorite colors? I like color in general, especially fall colors -- dark green, rust, golds, browns. I like deep, rich color. I also like jewel tones (not pastel), especially if black is mixed in. I like blues and purples. I like just about anything except pastels.

Are you a new mitt knitter? How long have you been knitting mittens? I have knit one pair of regular mittens and several pairs of fingerless mitts. I've been knitting about 3 years, give or take, and a pair of mittens were one of my early attempts. Everything went great until I started the thumb. Somehow I managed to knit it backwards so that the "wrong" side ended up on the outside. I couldn't figure out what I did wrong for the longest time. I still have a problem with knitting backwards when working in the round, I have to watch myself.

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn? Depends. If I'm just knitting something without any texture or pattern to it, I'd prefer multicolored yarn. If it's something that has a cable or other texture to it, probably a solid color.

What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn? I live in Minnesota, so something that will keep my hands warm. A nice, thick wool most likely.

Where do you usually knit mittens? They're portable, like socks, so I knit them everywhere!

How do you usually carry/store small projects? Gallon size zip lock baggies. Boring but usable.

What are your favorite mitten patterns? Haven't knit that many so I can't say what my favorites would be. I am dying to try some of the folk or scandanavian type mittens I've seen.

What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques? So far, I've mostly done ribbed fingerless mitts, but I don't think I'd call them a favorite style.

What new techniques would you like to try? Scadanavian/norwegian folk mittens.

What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens? Double points.

What are some of your favorite yarns? I'm not too picky, although I'm a snob when it comes to acrylic. I don't care much for acrylic.

What yarn do you totally covet? Mountain Colors, Mission Falls, pretty much anything handpainted.

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object? Oh yeah, these, the "Solhav" mittens from Nordic Fiber Arts. These "Frostrosen" would be just fine too.

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)? I use all of them, but I haven't learned how to do small things on circular needles yet. I have Knit Picks double points which I love. I covet their Options needles. I like a nice, sharp point on my needles so I tend to stay away from bamboo. I break wooden needles.

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be? Huh? Well, I guess I'd be something handpainted, probably wool with just a touch of silk thrown in.

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack? Well, anything chocolate. I like fruits and nuts for snacks, trail mix sorts of things but I tend to be a bit picky. I like trail mixes with cranberries, blueberries, pineapple and nuts other than peanuts. My favorite is the Trader Joe mix with sour cherries, pineapple and nuts. I love chocolate covered cranberries.

What’s your favorite animal? Dogs and cats, equally.

Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts? Warm mittens.

If you were a color what color would you be? It would be hard to pick just one color. I'd be a handpainted mix of pine green, dk. rust and warm brown with just a bit of gold thrown in.

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature? Hmm... Well, I've always been attracted to intricate, colorful images. Things like mosaics, complex patterns. I learned to knit because I really, really wanted to do fair isle. I think that's why I want to learn nordic knitting (that, and all the millions of Norwegians around me).

Do you have a wishlist? Yep. It's at Amazon, search the email

Anything else you’d like to share with the group today? Wow, I think that's enough!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A box from my Secret Pal!

Yesterday the manchild called me at work to ask if he could open a box that came in the mail. Of course, I said, "heck no!" and hurried home to find this wonderful box of goodies from my Secret Pal.

Of course, one thing is missing -- the wonderful pair of slipper socks that went on my feet as soon as they came out of the box and didn't come off until I went to bed. They are made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and are wonderfully warm and soft.

Thank you, thank you Secret Pal, it's an awesome box filled with lots of great stuff: two skeins of Wildfoote sock yarn (I've wanted to try that!), one gorgeous skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, a bar of sandalwood soap (my favorite), a bar of cinnamon goat's milk soap (looks heavenly), a tube of Burt's beeswax lip balm, the gorgeous, comfy slipper socks and a yummy chocolate Halloween ghost. Nice job SP!

I also sent my secret pal's box out yesterday but I forgot to take a picture of it. I included a skein of RubySapphire yarns (one of the offers off the the SP9 webpage), some Chibi needles, a couple of sock patterns, some chocolate truffles and now I can't remember what else!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SP9, Contest No. 2

My SP9 host is sponsoring a contest which involves making a dishcloth and posting a photo on your blog. So, here it is:

The Ball Band Dishcloth from the Mason-Dixon knitting book. It hasn't been washed yet, so it's still a little "loose" looking.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Finished Object Sighting

Ok, they're not all finished, but here are the pics I promised:

This is the Fair Isle Bag from a back issue of Interweave Knit. It's the first Fair Isle project I attempted and I'm pretty proud of it. Technically, it's not finished because I still have to make the straps for it, but it's blocked and ready to go otherwise. The straps are braided and a bit hard to do by myself. I'll have to commandeer the manchild to help.

These are the fingerless mitts I finished awhile ago, made from Knit Picks Sock Garden and a very fine mohair (I can't find the label).

They are keeping my fingers toasty warm in my cold office. In honor of Socktoberfest, here are a pair of finished sock, (Knit Picks, Sock Garden)

and the socks in progress. The pattern is Victorian Diamonds, the yarn is Knit Picks Gloss, in pumpkin. I love the way these socks are turning out.

Lastly, here are four finished squares for my Lizard Ridge afghan. These are so much fun to make!

In progress are a booga bag, which is felting even now and this:

my Christmas Gnome, which, hopefully, will end up looking like this:

Making this gnome has been extremely challenging. First was getting hold of the pattern. It's from a British knitting magazine and is no longer available from them. The pattern hasn't been printed elsewhere so I tried to find a used copy of the magazine (ebay, getting more and more expensive and hard to find) but I finally found a woman who is selling the pattern on ebay. Of course, now I can't find the right yarn for the beard. It's Sirdar Foxy and I can't find it locally. The closest thing is Plymouth Foxy, but it's $28 a skein!! No way. I guess I'll have to order it online. Anyway, I'll post the photos when he's done.

And finally, a cute kitty pic. Kimi approves of the Lizard Ridge afghan, of course, she has a "thing" for wool.