Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good News, Bad News

The Good News: My dentist just wants to keep an eye on the questionable tooth. No actions scheduled at the moment.

The Bad News: He thinks the tooth may be dead or dying...bummer.

Molar Expedition

I have spent today dreading 4:00 when I have a dentist appointment. I like my dentist, I really do, but still...he's a dentist. And I'm afraid I have to be a big girl and tell him that I have this tooth...this one right here...right where all the pain was a couple of months ago...and it isn't really sore. Not painful. But it's sensitive. Doesn't like it when I bite down on hard things. Doesn't like my electric toothbrush going over it. Not that it really hurts then, either. But it tingles somewhat ferociously. Sigh. I see dental work in my future.


When you've had a dentist in childhood who apparently didn't believe all that strongly in Novocaine and who would lie to you (or mislead you) about whether something was going to hurt and then would, after telling you he'd stop when it did hurt, keep drilling...well, even when you're all grown up it's somewhat hard to face even the nicest dentist with equanimity and aplomb.

What else am I doing? Well, reading The Private Patient and knitting, in a desultory sort of fashion on some mitts that Rachel is supposed to be making for a friend. I told her I'd show her how to work with two circulars...and she's either too engrossed in WoW or too sleepy...so I keep knitting on them. Which I certainly don't mind, though I don't want to snatch them out from under her nose, as it were.

I could get into being home every day. Alas, all my use-or-lose leave is used up tomorrow and on Friday I'll be back at work, with only occasional days off.

How long is it until I can retire?

Monday, December 29, 2008

I've Been Remiss...

But not as remiss as I thought I was. I was thinking it had been an awfully long time since I did any "Current Reading" updates but it hasn't been that long. So without further ado...

Current Reading

I got for Christmas, and read in two days, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, about a murder in 1860's England and the detective (which was a whole new concept at the time) who worked on the case. The book had a little bit of the "Look how much research I did!" about it, but was still pretty interesting.

Then I read The Darkness and the Deep, a mystery set in Scotland, written by Aline Templeton. You have to love a detective inspector who is known as Big Marge. The solution of the crime came a little out of left-field but I would look for more books by this author.

And this morning I finished Kate Maloy's Every Last Cuckoo. This is the story of 75-year old Sarah, who is widowed and fills her house with various foundlings and people in need of a home. It was okay. I didn't like the structure of the beginning which started with the accident that costs her husband his life...and chapters about the accident are interspersed with chapters about things going on before the accident. And it just sort of made me impatient.

And now I'm into P.D. James' latest, The Private Patient.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pure Poetry

The Poems scarf is finished. I love it.

I'm going to give it to my brother, on whom I think it'll look very handsome. Much like my brother.

I love knitting these stripey scarves. Who else can I make one for?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Passed

Hope everyone had a happy one.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yipes, Stripes!

I finished up the Noro striped scarf yesterday, staying up a leetle later than usual to do so, and wore it to work this morning, enjoying its colors and its warmth immensely.

This evening I started the Poems scarf. This one I am going to do in 1x1 rib (the other was 2x2). I'm not sure about this yarn. It feels soft enough in the skein but as I work it, it reminds me more and more of Paton's SWS, which is unbearably scratchy when knit up. I'm hoping this'll be softer.

They are certainly fun scarves to knit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Actual Knitting Content

Today I decided that, with or without Rachel, I was going to get up to The Black Sheep. (It turned out to be "without" as she stayed up until 5 a.m. doing stuff on-line...) I even took my camera with me so that I could take lovely pictures and entertain you with shots of the pretty shop. But once I got there, the yarn fumes got to me and the camera went completely out of my head. I did make some purchases. (Quelle surprise!)

There have been so many of the gorgeous Noro striped scarves showing up that I got antsy to make a second one (the first one I made a couple of years ago was sent to a friend) so I picked up yarn for that...Silk Garden this time, rather than Kureyon...and, ummmm, I might even have started it....

You can see the ends of the two skeins I'm using. The color numbers are 252 and 292. It's purty. And it's longer now. We sat and watched two episodes of The Last Detective (sob...only one left to watch) this evening and I knit through the whole thing and am almost half-way through the first skeins.

And I also picked up these skeins of Poems (Color numbers 473 and 585) to make another one of these scarves. These scarves really are addictive. You just can't wait to see what the next colors are and how they will look side-by-side.

When I got home from The Black Sheep, I washed and blocked Poinsettia. It's now drying.

The yarn is lovely and soft but it really does a disservice to the pattern. You can't really see the lace patterning at all. Which, actually, may be a good thing considering that there are a couple of...shall we say reinterpretations of the pattern?....no, just some small errors.

And I finished up the scarf I'm sending off to Janet.

It's a little darker than this in person. But it's nice and soft and no wool. Now to get it in the mail.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mac and Z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-zs (Or "Where Is Joey Tribiani When You Need Him?")

Rachel and I made this for dinner:

Alton Brown's Mac and Cheese
. (I figured I better blog quickly before I fall into a carb-induced coma....)

Verdict? It's a lot of work and messes up a lot of dishes. And it calls for extra-sharp cheddar, which we used, but which was so sharp that it was sort of bitter. The panko crumbs on top give it a nice crunch, though. And it has chopped onions in it and we both liked that. But, other than the onions, Rachel didn't much like it at all. And Mr. Pointy Sticks doesn't eat mac and cheese. That's a lot of mac and cheese to go through. I think I'll have to pass some to my brother.

I might be willing to try the recipe again but I'd use a milder cheese...but I'd definitely keep the panko crumbs.

At lunch today I finished the neckwarmer, except for the weaving in of the ends. I may sit and do that this evening while we watch an episode of The Last Detective.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Age Is A Bitch

Watching your own kid grow up can certainly make you feel the wings of Time rushing past, but there isn't much that makes you feel older, faster than the annual Christmas card from friends with kids. I have a friend from college and it seems like yesterday she and her partner adopted a darling baby from China. Well, I got her Christmas card today...and Annie is now 12 and a half...starting seventh grade...a beautiful young woman....figure skater and piano player. Straight A student.

I feel decrepit. But I called my friend tonight and we chatted for a while (we exchange cards every Christmas but rarely talk). And it was really nice.

Even if I do feel decrepit.

Inhuman Work Conditions Alert!

We had no internet at work today and probably will have no internet tomorrow. Something about a massive vulnerability in Internet Explorer. Apparently the real world has known about this for weeks but the Federal government (or, at least, the agency where I work) just caught on. Actually, it may have just taken this long for the decision to be made to shut us off from the Web until a patch is made. But it was awful. Not only because I do (I'll admit it) cruise the internet sometimes when work is slow or at lunch...but also because there is a lot of stuff we need to get to for work...Library of Congress, the House and Senate...

It also made today one of those days when I feel exceptionally stupid because I was constantly doing that "Let's Google that....doh!" and five minutes later, "Let's go to Thomas....doh!" and five minutes later, "I can send you a link....doh!" sort of double-take stuff all day long.

I think they should just give us time off until it's all fixed.

(Oh, I know. I shouldn't joke about this when there are children slaving in sweat shops. But seriously people....no INTERNET!)

On the neckwarmer front...I think I spent more time today ripping out than knitting but I also found the error that was throwing everything off, so that was good.

Here is Duncan, posing rather reluctantly, with the object. I have just started the final twenty rows.

And I got a co-worker, E., started knitting. She wanted to learn and came into work today with yarn and needles and we sat at lunch, knitting together. I showed her how to knit and purl and she was off and running. She did a little eight-row, twenty-stitch swatch and then wanted to get started on something "real." So I wrote up a simple pattern for a checkerboard scarf and she set to it. She's very bright but also a little neurotic (she'd admit that). I've told people she will either get fed up within a couple of days and set her needles on fire or get completely obsessed and be designing sweaters in 3 months.

And I came into work today to discover that the other young woman I work with got us all desk calendars for Christmas (I was told that these women didn't exchange presents...and then J. went and did this and threw us all in a loop). Anyway, she got me the Never Not Knitting calendar with daily messages from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. How perfect (and how thoughtful) a gift is that!?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Woooof...I Am, Once Again, Stuffed With Turkey

Rachel wanted to try this nifty How-To-Dismember-A-Turkey trick again so we roasted a turkey today. It turned out nice and moist and now we are all sitting around groaning slightly.

The neck-warmer is coming along nicely. I have...um...19 or 20 rows left to knit. I think I could get two neck-warmers out of the yarn I bought. You know, in case I need two matching neck-warmers. I suppose if one of my friends or relatives tackled me when they saw me wearing mine and pled hard enough, I would knit another one up for her. (Frankly, I can't imagine any male relative wanting one.) Or, hey, I could make myself some mitts perhaps. No, I think that would look dopey.

I have discovered that I seem to have three (count them, three!) copies of Alice Starmore's The Celtic Collection. (Figures that I would have multiples of one that isn't going for much money.) Anyone, if anyone would like the paperback copy I have (the other two are hardback...one American, one English), email me and let me know. I'll send it to the first person who gets an email to me.

Back to work tomorrow after my four-day weekend. Life is hard.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why One Shouldn't Knit At Midnight

I think I've already mentioned that the new winter Knitty was up last Wednesday. And, among the other stellar patterns there (I need the musk ox slippers! And really, doesn't everyone?!), was Anne Hanson's Poinsettia. And I mentioned that I found lovely soft Cadenza yarn on sale in F'burg.

So I've been knitting away on this and was working late last night and could not, for the life of me, get this one row to work out. I kept coming up with an extra stitch. I counted and re-counted...worked my way around the row three or four times, checking each stitch. Still came out with an extra stitch. This was depressing. I had already fudged an error like this in the beginning (my error, I hasten to add, not Anne's)...it was right at the beginning of the round which I consider the back of the piece, and would be hidden by hair. And honestly, I can't even see where it was. But man, a second mistake. And I contemplated ripping out several rows...and I contemplated ripping it out altogether and starting over...but I finally decided it was late, I'd sleep on it.

And this morning? There was no extra stitch. The row finished up perfectly. So I am very glad I didn't rip out.

However, I do recognize that this yarn wasn't the best choice. I love the yarn and I love the colors. But a less variagated yarn would sure show the pattern off better. After I do this one, I think I want to try one in a semi-solid or solid color. I might make one out of the Sheep Shop yarn yet.

I tried to take some photos of it....

In front of the computer. Boring. And, come to see, sort of blurry.

With Giz's reluctant assistance. This is the best of four tries.

Duncan slept through the whole photo shoot, but in the end, it was the one that I took with him that was the best.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blah, Humbug

I am so not in the Christmas spirit. Can we just cancel it this year? Mr. Pointy Sticks and I went down to the mall this morning to pick up a few things. I got them handily and we then decided to wander a bit. There are still a few little gifts I have to pick up and I'm not sure what they'll be.

At one point we went into a shop that sells overpriced teas and teapots and mugs. I picked up a few of the mugs and chose some tea. "Do you want to send this tea in an air-tight container?" said the clerk. "Sure," I said. "They're right over there," he said, pointing me to the display. I walked two steps, picked up the canister and in that time another customer stepped into my space and asked the clerk a question. He answered the man...and that was fine. But the man then asked another question. Whereupon the clerk left the counter, leaving me standing there, and started rummaging through cabinets and helping the man. So I left my stuff on the counter and walked out. I wish now I had bitten the clerk's head off before I left. Annnnnnd....Merry Christmas to you!

I mentioned that I had ordered some Claudia Handpainted from The Dizzy Sheep.

From top to bottom: Sea Dreams, Pistachio and Stormy Day

And here are some other new members of the household:

Fleece Artist in Hercules

Enchanted Knoll Farm in Sunshiney Day. (I was a little disappointed in this...the sample shown on the Loppy Ewe's website had a little more blue...this one only has a smidgen. But those are the chances you take with internet purchases.)

Creatively Dyed Calypso in the Quick Step colorway. Look at those colors! Yum.

Maybe I'll go do some knitting...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Isn't All This Rain Snow?

We had a very miserable drive to and from Fredericksburg today. It is cold and rainy and the traffic was terrible and, on the drive home, our wind shield wipers started acting up. Feh.

But it was also a good day because it was a very yarny day. And that's always nice.

First of all, do you all know about The Dizzy Sheep? It's like Woot for yarnoholics. Every day, one item, on sale. I missed (damn it) the day they had the Hanne Falkenberg kits. Oh well. But on Tuesday they had Claudia Handpainted on sale. And you know how I feel about Claudia Handpainted. "Lustful" is, I believe, the proper word. And I couldn't resist. So I ordered, on Tuesday afternoon, six skeins. And they were there on my front porch this afternoon! That's pretty speedy.

There was also a package from Loopy.

But...see comment above about raininess. It's dark and cloudy and dreary and not good weather for photos. So there will be photos but not today.

And then, the other yarny thing...on the way down to F'burg I finished the Ella Rae Silkience scarf (well, I have to weave in ends, but other than that it's finished). And last night, when I was finally able to get into Knitty's winter issue, I fell in love with Poinsettia, Anne Hanson's neck warmer. So I printed that pattern out and grabbed the things I thought I needed to start it on the ride. After I finished the scarf, I grabbed my needle and the pink Sheep Shop yarn with which I had started the Flower Scarf, and tried to start it. Only to discover that, in fact, I had a 24" needle with me and it was not going to work.

So I pleaded with Mr. Pointy Sticks (well, he's a nice guy...I just had to ask) and we stopped at the knitting shop in F'burg and I grabbed the needle and then....wait....what's that on the sale table?....ooooh, that's pretty! Colinette Cadenza (so soft in yummy) in the Sahara colorway...just the right gauge for the neck warmer. So I grabbed that, too, and hurried out to the car. Wound the yarn (well, the first skein) by hand and got started. I've gotten through the first eight rows. Man, is this yarn scrumptious!

Again, pictures later.

And now Rachel is home. Though she left all her laundry in her dorm room, so she may be scantily clad for the month she's home.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Untagged, I Meme

No one tagged me for this, but it looks sort of like fun --

Things I've Done (In Bold)
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity - Sorry. I'm just not the type that's going to do anything that I can't afford. Blame my Scots blood!
7. Been to Disneyland/world - No, thank you!!
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo - I'm sorry. I wouldn't inflict that on people....have you heard me sing?
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning - I think I'd rather visit Disneyworld!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - I went to Paris in high school and we had a half day to do the Louvre. "Oh, no," said our chaperone, "Come back on the free day we have before we leave." That free day? It was the day (Thursday?) that everything shuts down in France. So...no Mona Lisa...no Winged Victory (which was what I really wanted to see).
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - Is there anyone who hasn't? I got caught, though, too.
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - Heck, I see a sunrise most mornings on the way to work!
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - If "from a plane" counts.
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors - For what definition of "ancestor?" If parent's count, then yes... :^)
35. Seen an Amish community - Hard not to when you go to college in Lancaster, PA.
36. Taught myself a new language -
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - Well, for a certain definition of "truly satisfied." Certainly, I consider myself monetarily fortunate.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - I'm sorry. I wouldn't inflict that on people....see 10 above.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - Sanibel
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted - Well, drawn...as a little kid.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business - Tried with Discovery Toys, if that counts.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - Quite a number of them...
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - My grandparents lived in D.C. when I was a kid (near enough to the zoo, in one apartment, that you could hear the lions roar) and one day my grandmother and I did several monuments and the zoo and a dime store. I think the Lincoln Memorial may be my favorite of all the memorials I've seen. He has a good face.
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - A toe! How exciting!
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - I don't suppose a not-speeding Vespa counts...
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox - And mumps...and measels, both German and hard...
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury - Not a petit jury, but a grand jury. Great experience and I'd do it again in a flash.
91. Met someone famous - Define "famous." I've met a number of authors.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant - No, but I've been on a camel! Once while in England.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Well, Damn

I just found out that the husband of a college friend died on Friday.

Damn, damn, damn.

I feel so bad for Beth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Sunday Evening

You know that by now on a typical Sunday evening I would be whining about work. (Hey. I like my new job but it still requires getting up at 6:30 every weekday morning.)

But tomorrow I have off, la la, and am actually planning to have a little fun. I think I'll go over to the Paint-It-Yourself pottery place and do a new food dish for Duncan, as his last one broke. And perhaps I'll have lunch at Yamato.

Now, of course, I could just get up and decide to do nothing but stay home and read and knit. That's the joy of a day off.

Had a nice Saturday. My brother and his sweetie and I went to a cookie walk at a local church. Actually, early Saturday morning I woke up from a dream about the cookie walk (this is an event where you walk around a room choosing from a vast array of home-baked cookies and then pay up at the end) and in the dream I found someone selling Welsh currant cookies. And that made me very happy because my mom always made Welsh currant cookies at Christmas time and they were one of my favorites. And, since Mom died in 2006...no currant cookies. (And yes, I could make them myself except that my skills with the griddle? Not so hot.)

And then I woke up and felt sort of sad because the dream made me miss my Mom.

Off we go to the cookie walk and I got to the place where you start choosing cookies and what was there?! A nice woman selling bags of freshly made Welsh currant cookies! I bought two bags. And the gentleman behind me was speaking Welsh to her, to these cookies are the real deal!

Then we went off to Towson University ceramics department's sale. We've gone every year for some years and I was planning to get a Christmas present or two...but it was pretty sad this year. It was much smaller and the work for sale seemed...of lower quality. Warped mugs and bowls where the bottom was separating from the sides. Mistakes, in other words.

I didn't buy anything there. There wasn't anything that tempted me at all.

I went home then and Mr. Pointy Sticks and I headed out for Cross Keys to do a little shopping. We went to the Store Ltd, which is just an amazing shop. They've got gorgeous stuff there and I don't know why I didn't take more pictures. I did see this glassware and fell in love with the pieces.

It's hard to see here, but they have different, abstracted botanical designs etched on them. There were some small ones that were meant to be votive candle holders but I bought four to use as little wine glasses. I got some other stuff there, too.

We had lunch at the Village Square cafe. I can't recommend it. We waited 25 minutes or more for a BLT and chicken salad sandwich and watched people who came in after us get served before us. We finally flagged down a waitress and asked her about our order, or I think we would have been sitting there still. The BLT was so-so and I found a stray thread in it. So, all in all, not a high point.

But we left there and headed up Falls Road to the Purple House Bakery. Where did it get its name? Well....

We got some yummies to take home. A pot de creme au chocolat and a slice of Opera cake.

And we went into The Ivy Bookshop and had a little browse. Stopped at Eddie's Supermarket for some tasty salads and home in the snow flurries. With very tired feet.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm In A Contest!

Flotsam, who has a wonderful blog (and a delightful daughter) has a little contest on her blog here. I entered it and one of my verses is in the running for the Reader's Choice award. I don't want to sway the results too much so I'll not going to say what number mine is...though I will say that people that know me well might be able to tell...maybe.

Justus, you know what these verses remind me of?

A was once an apple pie.
Nice insidey,
Apple pie.

Or whatever that verse was.

Pretty Pictures!

Okay, so just for you I stood out on the Freezing Front Porch of Photography (I'm wondering if I should call it the Freezing Front Porch of Fotography) and I took pictures. These are the goodies I got at sale at Woolgirl this past weekend.

First of all, some Lotus Toes (Jennifer says this may be her favorite sock yarn, so I'm eager to give it a try):


Woolgirl...I love, love, love these colors.

From Three Irish Girls:

Tierney...more pretty colors.

And two skeins from Pagewood Farms. This is the yarn that we oohed and aahed over at the Black Sheep a week or two ago. I couldn't resist this on sale but I made sure that I ordered stuff that wouldn't be available at the shop.

First of all, a skein of Alyeska in the Seabreeze color...so soft and so pretty. The colors are even prettier than in this picture. There are some bluer hues that don't seem to be coming through here.

And in the St. Elias line (Blue-faced Leicester) in the Fabulous Fall colorway. Nice.

And, as always, Jennifer included some goodies...

A little pad of sheepie paper and an adorable Sunneshine stitch marker...a tiny snowman, who is complete with a little carrot nose.

And in Fredericksburg last week I managed to get my hands on some Kaffe Fassett Landscapes sock yarn.

The top color is for Rachel, the bottom one (yum) for me.

My brother's here to visit...so this'll be short.

Nature Babies

When I was in Daedalus last weekend, I picked up this book...Nature Babies. I know, I know, I have no babies to knit for. But I thought this was an awfully cute book. There are knit patterns...hats, sweaters, I think a blanket. (The book isn't available to me as I am writing this. I may have to update this later.) There is also a section on felted objects...like the hat on the cover. Makes me want to felt.

But the best section is in the back...there are some patterns for the most adorable dolls. Little softly stuffed, simple, sleepy dolls for infants...some flower dolls...a wizard doll. I just discovered the other day that one of my cashmere sweaters has a couple little moth holes. I'm thinking I might just felt it and make one of these dolls...

I Tried

Yesterday I got all my yummies from Woolgirl's sale. So, so pretty. And goodies, too! And I tried to take pictures...I really did. But it was late and dark and I was taking the pictures inside and they were crap. So I'll try again this evening.

And the purple-y scarf? I'm into my third skein of yarn and it's coming along very quickly. I might even be able to get this to my friend for Christmas! I should finish it up this weekend. Even with a trip to a ceramic sale and a cookie sale. And Christmas shopping.

So...I will try to get some pictures up this evening.

Current Reading

I am reading Debra Ginsberg's The Grift, which I am enjoying immensely. It's about a young woman, Marina, who has spent her life working as a psychic since she was a child and was forced into it by her druggie mother, who used her talent to earn money for drugs. She's not psychic at all, of course, just very good at reading people and at gaining their trust. Then she moves to California and things happen and her life and her clients get out of her control...and she suddenly realizes that she can see the future...

Anyway, I'm halfway through and really like it so far.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Spare Some Change, Buddy?

Adam Rex and Brian Biggs have gotten me hooked on what I think is a great opportunity for giving.

Donors Choose allows you to donate to teachers trying to do some good in their classrooms. You can choose by level of need, by location, by type of project. You can donate a little or a lot. You can donate in honor of someone or purchase a gift card so that your giftee can choose a project. And who doesn’t like the idea of helping teachers bring something exciting into their classrooms?

My mom, as some of my readers know, was an English teacher, and while her school wasn’t (I don’t think) in what would be considered a high-poverty area, it was in rural-ish Virginia. Quite a few times Mom would spend her own money to buy sets of books for her kids. I like the idea of helping other teachers do the same.

Edit: The link for Donors Choose was broken at first...but it's all fixed now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

And.....We're Back!

The trip down...not so hot. The usual two-hour trip was three hours. Rachel was a little tense about getting there in time for class but we made it with an hour to spare.

On the way down, I worked on my orange scarf.

It's coming along. I've joined the third (and last) skein of yarn.

That cute polka-dotted thing is a little camera case sort of thing. Just a little light-weight protector that you slide the camera into before you throw it in your bag. The back side of it is stiff, the front, just stretchy padded fabric. Picked it up at Office Depot. The green and purple knit is a scarf I made a couple of years ago.

On the way back, I started something new.

This is a scarf for a friend who can't tolerate wool. This is Ella Rae's Silkience in a pattern I grabbed from one of my Japanese pattern books. I got one repeat done. Onward and upward.

I have ripped out the pale pink scarflet that I showed as started in a recent post. I'm not sure who I know would wear the Flower Scarf and I really should concentrate on things I know people want. I may turn that yummy, yummy yarn into a cowl of some kind. It won't go to waste.

And it looks as though the pretty pink socks will be going to my cable-loving cousin. So nice to find homes for things.

Miss you, Rachel!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Frederickburg Bound

Rachel heads back to school tomorrow. I'm going to miss her...it's awfully nice to have her home. She makes me laugh and I love watching her get into knitting. But I won't be missing her for long. In two weeks she'll be back again for Christmas and be here for a month. We'll probably be sick of each other by the end of that time...but we do eat better when she's home. She keeps me on my culinary toes.

Today we celebrated a cold rainy last day and went to Daedalus where Rachel found a big ole stack of books she wanted and I managed to find a few for myself. She got some high-falutin' titles...Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, some Dostoevsky, a fancy-schmancy volume with a bunch of Kipling novels...me, I got a couple of pop-up books and a mystery.

Tomorrow, I'll have a good bit of knitting time on the trip to Fredericksburg and then (yippee!) I'll have Tuesday off...I am getting to like these mini-weeks.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Am I In The Pink Or Feeling Blue?

I started a new project last night.

There's the sock, chugging along (more about that in a minute), but under it is the new project. It's the Flower Scarf and the yarn is so yummy. If I were independently wealthy, I'd buy enough of this yarn to make a brioche stitch sweater. How cushy and warm would that be? Of course, if I just refrained from buying sock yarn for a while, I would be able to buy that yarn, wouldn't I? Hmmm. And I bet the nice ladies at The Black Sheep would be willing to special order it for me, too. The only problem is that brioche stitch is so slow-going.

The sock. I've done three hearts now. I am supposed to do four but my fat old legs won't let me pull the legs up that far...so I can either do three hearts worth and have them be sort of short socks...I could continue making them and give them to someone (but I have no-one in mind...Rachel doesn't like pink)...or I could rip them back and use the yarn in another pattern. Decisions, decisions.

As for the blues? Well, I got some yarn this week. (I am a little embarrassed to post this. One of my cousins said she imagines trucks full of yarn pulling up to the house and unloading. It's not quite that bad.)

This is Dream in Color Starry in the Deep Seaflower colorway...those little things that look like white flecks? They're fine sterling silver...so magical.

Claudia in Teacup. I've wanted this one for a while and when I saw that Loopy Ewe had it in stock, I jumped on it.

The Sanguine Gryphon's Aegina. Yummy depth of color.

Creatively Dyed in Forest Green. Lots of blues in this, though.

Opal in one of the Hundertwasser colors.

Duncan has taken to sitting on the desk and staring at the wall. There's nothing there. Absolutely nothing. I think he's doing it just to freak me out.

Gizmo, on the other hand, likes to freak me out by sitting and kneading on my Log Cabin blankie. Look at those toes go.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Memories And Such

I am, when not knitting away on my pretty pink socks or my bright orange scarf, reading a fascinating sort of book. It’s The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor. It’s about James Purdew, a young man who, after breaking up with his Dutch girlfriend, returns to England to figure out what happened during three years that seem to have vanished from his memory. He returns to the town where he spent those years and begins investigating, uncovering clues to his own mystery and to a nineteenth century mystery that may, somehow, be connected to him. There is a lot here about memory and history, fiction and reality, dreams and real life.

And perhaps it’s sophomoric of me, but I keep finding bits that really seem to resonate with me, that I have to stop and mull over. Last night I read this section – James is wandering in the neighborhood where he grew up and comes across his junior school, where he spent “half his life between the ages of four and ten.” He wanders about and looks through some windows, and thinks:

“And yet…how small everything looked. Could this tiny building really be the repository for such fathoms of wonder and fear? Of course, James told himself, it looks small because you’ve grown. Once upon a time you sat in little plastic chairs like those, you stared longingly out of the window at this minuscule foot-ball pitch and thought how grand and green and magical it seemed. But could that really have been me? he wondered. Somehow the disparity in scale made him question what he had always taken for granted. Could he truly once have been a child?”

And this made me stop and think about elementary school…and how, when I look back, and remember things…Linda Hoerl’s incredible toy horse, standing in front of the class giving book reports, playing with Quisinaire cubes, watching Bobby Chisum draw pitched Army battle, complete with sound effects…I think of all those things as an adult and I think that surely I was then just like me now. But I don’t actually remember my viewpoint…I don’t truly remember the feeling of being the young me. What I remember is the intrinsic me, unchanged from the way I am now. I’ve always just felt like me… Is it really possible to remember your young self? Aren’t your memories irredeemably colored by the way you are now?

Later in his walk, he thinks about his childhood friends:

“He thought of all the people he had known here with whom he was no longer in touch, their faces moving past in a floating identity parade. And then he tried to imagine what he had always taken for granted: that these people were alive, somewhere in this world, at this instant. That, if they looked up now, as he was doing, they would see that same moon, those same clouds and stars. […] He thought about the idea that these people were alive, not only now, when he was thinking about them, but all the time. At every instant. Doing something, thinking something, seeing, feeling, experiencing a life utterly estranged from his. He tried to imagine how he seemed to these other people. Did he ever cross their minds the way they were crossing his now? Was he anything more to him than a momentarily recalled image, as unidentifiable twinge somewhere in the stomach or chest…He thought of ringing them up or writing to them, if only to ensure that he could, for that instant, exist again in their self-contained universe, pass across the sky of their mind.”
I loved this passage. I do that…think of the kids I went to school with and try to imagine where they are and what they are doing. Though really they are all going to continue to exist, in their child-states, never growing up, in my mind. And maybe somewhere Marius Masumas occasionally has a ten-year-old me in his mind. (I had quite a crush on Marius, who seemed incredibly smart and was cute, too. I’d be thrilled to think that he remembered me at all.)

And, tangentially related, do you ever watch a stranger do something and try to project yourself into their mind? Watch someone on a bus and try to feel that you are that person…feel how tired they are, or how bored? I do that a lot.

Anyway, the book is interesting but it’s going slowly because I keep stopping to think about all this stuff.


Woolgirl is having a sale today.

I may have just bought some yarn.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Turkey May Not Have Been Stuffed...But I Sure Am!

We are back from my cousin's house where we had a feast of a turkey dinner, enjoyed a lovely fire in the fireplace, reminisced and discussed societal ills, ate too much and generally had a smashing good time. And I took my camera but did I get a single picture? No. Nary a one. Not even of my cousin's adorable dog.

We were a smaller gathering than usual and missed those relatives that weren't with us. But I sure enjoyed the ones that were.

I need to go lie down and moan now.

That Old Rachel 12 -- Thankful Edition

When Rachel was in first or second grade, for a class exercise around this time of year, her class was asked to think about things about which they were thankful. Rachel's response was:

"I am thankful for gravity."

I, too, am thankful for gravity.

And for a job I enjoy going to every day...heck, these days, I'm thankful for a job at all.

And I'm thankful for my health, which, despite sinus infections and bad knees, is pretty good. (I'm certainly thankful for blood-pressure medicine.)

I'm thankful for yarn and the income with which to indulge in it and the spinners and dyers that make it so lovely and delightful to work with. And for The Black Sheep, not only a place to go to fondle wool and breathe yarn fumes, but a place to go to hang out and laugh and talk and come out all charged up and happy.

I'm thankful for chocolate. And noodles. And ice cream. And a good glass of wine.

I'm thankful for books and the ability to travel to distant worlds and other times and fantastical places...all without waiting in lines at an airport or even leaving my chair.

I'm thankful for our cats, even if they are little pains in the butt every morning because they seem to think that, without their making a fuss and shredding paper and racing back and forth up and down the hall and meowing and scratching at our door, without all that performance, somehow they won't get fed in the morning even though they've been fed every morning that they've lived with us.

I'm thankful for blogs, where I can blather on about this and that and even have people read my blatherings and comment on them. And I'm thankful for the talented bloggers whose blogs I enjoy so much...who make me laugh and think and want to knit better.

And most particularly, I'm thankful for my family...especially Mr. Pointy Sticks and that old Rachel.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Color Me Blushing

Yesterday I showed you the pretty pink sock I had started and mentioned the 2-At-A-Time-Socks book. La, la. And then, later in the evening, I got a comment from someone named Melissa -- assuring me that I'd catch on to the cables quickly. "How nice," I thought, "a new reader...or at least, a new commenter." And I replied to her comment.

And then I thought, "Hmmm....her name is Melissa. The author of the book is Melissa. That's a coincidence...or is it?" And I checked and she's the author of the book! I had a celebrity visitor! How cool is that!! I was/am thrilled. (It's a really nice book, too. Even if you aren't sure you want to mess with two socks at a time, there are some wonderful patterns. I can't wait to try Belle Epoque.)

But really I came here to write about the wonderful evening Rachel and I had up at The Black Sheep yesterday. (I really should learn to take my camera everywhere with me, you know?)

We went up to find yarn for Rachel to use to make another scarf for a professor. The girl has champagne tastes, I'm afraid. And so does her mother...a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. She doesn't, however, have an income yet. That's a downside...for her mother.

Anyway, we got up to the shop in the late afternoon and there was a saleswoman there, showing Tracy and Joyce her lines...and they were gorgeous! And Tracy and Joyce even let Rachel and me help choose some colors! So much fun! There was one Farmhouse yarn called Lumpy Bumpy...so many pretty colors! This is a yarn texture that doesn't really appeal to me...but I do like the way it looks knit up. My neighbor Maureen made a simple cardigan sweater out of this yarn and it looks dynamite. They are going to order the color that Rachel liked - a pretty sagey, grayey blue that I don't see on the page linked above. And eight other colors, including a luscious raspberry.

And then she brought out the Pagewood Farms Sock yarn. Oh. My. God. So covetable. They have a sock yarn that is a cashmere blend....incredibly soft and pettable. And one that's Blue-faced Leicester. And one that's wool and bamboo. And oh my, the colors! All of them completely drool-worthy. The sales rep had a long strip of knitting that was made up of sections of each color...each one prettier than the last. We had more fun sorting along this strip and choosing a red-dish selection, a green one, something in the brown family, some blues. Man, I can't wait until these yarns come in. I special-ordered a skein of the cashmere blend in Denim blues for Rachel...and I'll definitely be picking up something for me, too. Oooh, perhaps the green one...Ireland. Or Mississippi Mud, a coppery brown with other colored flecks. Yummy. I swear, yarn fumes just go right to my head.

Then we came home and I tried to show Rachel how to knit up a scarf with two colors in side-by-side strips. Intarsia, basically. But I am a lousy teacher and we were both tired and we were trying to watch House...so the tiny beginning we had got ripped. We can try again this afternoon or come up with some other ideas.

Oh, and the yarn Rachel chose for this scarf...Sublime. I tell you...champagne tastes. At least I talked her down from the $95 cashmere scarf kit.

Whew! Long day, but fun.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We're Back!

Not too, too horrible a trip. We had heard dire predictions about the traffic on 95 being completely hopeless all this week but the trip down took about the normal time and the trip up had one-slow down, I think. The worst traffic was right around the Beltway and our exit because of a police funeral. (There have been far too many police and fire-fighter funerals in past months.)

We stopped at my brother's house on the way home and ooohed and aaahed at his new kitchen. It's very nice. Good looking cabinets...gorgeous granite countertop (black with coppery flecks)...nice.

And here's what that pink potential sock yarn is turning into!

The pattern is from Melissa Morgan-Oakes' 2-At-A-Time Socks (though I am doing them one at a time) and is called Be Mine socks. I started this last night and got the first heart done. Got the second one done on the trip today. There are supposed to be four hearts before the heel flap. I may only do three....though I did call The Loopy Ewe yesterday and they had the same yarn in the same dye lot, so I ordered a third skein. So I may do the full length. They are not mindless socks...I did a lot of ripping -- crossing cables in the wrong direction, forgetting to shift stitches -- and that adds to the time it takes. The ripping out isn't mindless either....

Oh, and the ball winder. That was my sweet daughter's birthday present to me. Yay! I was just tell ing Mr. Pointy Sticks the other night that I would like one. (He knew she had gotten it.) Now I feel like winding wool!

Off To Get The Dotter

We'll be heading out in a few minutes to pick up Rachel for Thanksgiving. Keep your fingers crossed for us that traffic isn't too, too, too horrendous.

And I have something to show you when I get back.

That's what you call a teaser.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lookie! Over Here!

Potential socks!

Claudia's Handpainted in Begonia...so pretty. So unlike the clown socks I just finished.

Duncan liked watching me wind the yarn.

Gizmo not so much.

That Old Rachel 11

Rachel and I were in a Mother-Daughter book club for a number of years. When she was about 10, I was reading Number the Stars to her. I don't remember if we were reading the book for the book club or for a school assignment, though I would imagine it was the book club as I generally didn't read her school books to her. She was confused about why the girls in the story would be scared of German soldiers. I found myself explaining the Holocaust and Nazis and Hitler. "Hitler wanted to rule the world," I said.

"That's crazy!" said Rachel, "Nobody would want that!"

'"Why not?" I asked.

"The world's too big," she said, "and besides, think of all the paperwork!"

I've Been A Little Productive...

I got some socks washed.

All my pretties. From top to bottom, left to right: Dream in Color Smooshy, Diakeito Diamusee, Madelienetosh, Lorna Lace's Shepherd's Sock, On-Line Sock, Perchance to Knit, and Austermann Step, that yarn with the aloe in in....

Randon thoughts: The Austermann were my first socks ever...they're a little too big. I wish the cuffs on the Madelienetosh socks were longer...the Diakeito still look as though they come from two different skeins of yarn...

And actually not all my pretties. These will be for Elizabeth...

Not the best made socks ever, but they are...colorful.

And here's Gizmo, in one of his favorite places.

Can't you just hear the purring?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hip To Be Square

I forgot to mention that I had a chance to try these new Kollage Square Needles up at The Black Sheep today. Man, are they nice!! It takes a minute or two to get used to the squareness of the needle shaft...but only a minute. And square needles are supposed to be easier on your hands, though honestly I don't know why. They are also a pretty coppery color.

But it's the cable that makes these needles stand out. It is as floppy and relaxed as a well-cooked piece of spaghetti and the join is smooth, smooth, smooth. I think I am going to have to treat myself to some of these unless someone else treats me to them. (Mr. Pointy Sticks may be giving me a trip to The Black Sheep for Christmas. He did that last year and has been making noise about that again this year. Fine with me!)

Anyway...seek these out. Give them a try. Marvel at the slinkiness of the cable. Wonder at the comfort of the square. I thought they were really neat needles.

It's Beginning To Feel A Bit Like Christmas

Nothing like a little snow

and shopping for toys for the kids who attend the Christmas party we give at work

to make one feel a little less Scrooge-like. (Mr. Pointy Sticks chose the shark puppet and seemed almost reluctant to let it go. It is pretty cool. And it didn't have a price tag so the young woman at the case register charged us $4.99. I think it should have been more.)

And I do mean a little snow. We only got a dusting...it's just about gone now, even though it's still very cold. But still, it was awfully pretty swirling and dancing. I love snow, especially when I don't have to shovel it.

So after doing bankish sorts of errands and shopping for toys, we came home for a bit and then I ran up to The Black Sheep. (Don't worry, Rachel, we'll go up again on Tuesday as planned.) I sat with the ladies who were there and finished the clown sock and started seaming Alexandra's sweater. I need to pick up stitches now and sew in the sleeves and I'll be done. I did a stupid thing, though, and seamed up the side seams and then the shoulders. I should have left the side seams for last...it's going to be trickier to sew in the sleeves now.

And I came home with some yarn. (Quelle suprise!) Two of the purchases are for specific things:

I got this Melody yarn to make the scarf in the newest Interweave Knits. It's actually done in Trekking but I think Melody will be a decent substitute. I really love the look of this scarf.

And I picked up some Sheep Shop yarn to do the Flower Scarf. It calls for cashmere and silk and the Sheep Shop is wool and silk. Close enough for government work. I was tempted to get a skein of pale green and do the scarf in the green and the flower in the pink. I may still do that...maybe on Tuesday evening when I can use my Black Sheep coupon. Wait a minute!

Gizmo, get out of the way!

That's better.

And finally, not with anything specific in mind...but all the sock yarns were 25 percent off...I got this C*Eye*Ber Fiber in Fire. And yes, like millions of others, I could not resist Starbucks' knitted mug.

I love it. Hot chocolate, here I come! Now, where's the whipped cream?