Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Childhood Ambition Realized!

When I was little, I always thought it would be cool to have pneumonia. It just sounded so romantic for some reason.

Well, it's not so romantic. (Heh. Just ask Mr. Pointy Sticks, who I think is about ready to smother me with a pillow.)

Yup. I went to the doctor this evening. I said, "I sort of think I'm wasting your time, it's just that I've had this cough for 2 weeks now." And she said, "Oh, you're not wasting my time. According to the x-rays, there's something going on in your lungs and I think we'll call it pneumonia."

So I have antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine for the night and some little cough pills for the day. Whoo-hoo!

And I think I might just give myself a day off tomorrow. I mean, pneumonia? I think that deserves a day off.

If this is the walking pneumonia, do you suppose the boogie woogie blues will be showing up later?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Still With The Coughing!

I suppose that if this doesn't clear up soonish I should actually consult with a physician of some sort. At least I don't sound like an elephant seal anymore. Now it's more like one of those yappy terriers.

Lovely books in the mail today. People of the Book from a friend in California along with a wonderful tea towel with a picture of cheese and "Life is a camembert, old chum" on it. Thanks, Kat!

And an Amazon box with the last of the Martin least, the last so far. I hear tell he's working on a fifth volume. And a disc of Sarah Chang playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. (We've heard Winter several times on the morning drive to work and I really like her rendition.) And the second Barbara Walker Treasury. Which is making me very itchy to make more scarves. There are some gorgeous stitches there.

Off to exercise the terrier some more. My ribs hurt.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Serpentina / Malabrigo Information

Just FYI:

One 218 yard skein of Malabrigo has given me 10 squares of Serpentina plus the little stockinette panel after the tenth square and I have about 4 yards of yarn from that first skein still to finish up. The unblocked length is about 3 feet, 5 inches.

I can't wait to have this finished. I want to wear it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

25 Years and Counting...

Yup. Mr. Pointy Sticks and I hit the twenty-five year mark today. Rachel called me this morning and wished me a happy anniversary and asked if her dad had gotten me something nice. Had to tell her no, but that I hadn't gotten him anything nice either.

We are thinking about something like a Bose for the living-room. And we've joked about getting a new silver. We're just not the world's most romantic people.

Serpentina is coming along nicely and my newly naked neck (got a very short haircut on Saturday) is wishing it were finished. Not that I don't have other scarves, lord knows. But my neck craves Malabrigo.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

If I knew how to use the stupid scanner, I'd scan in a baby picture...but I don't so I can't and besides, she'd hate it.

But my baby turns 20 today. And it's her first birthday away from home. Sniff.

Happy birthday, toots!

Disorganized? Moi?!

It says something about the state of my house, I suppose, that I can put down a 763 page trade paperback, one that is deep blue (or is it purple?) with a huge blue (or is it purple?) foil crown on it, and not. be. able. to. find. it!

Off to do some more hunting.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Green Papaya Salad

So my brother came over today to make Green Papaya Salad. He and I are the only ones who eat it. (In fact, if it's in the refrigerator, Rachel makes a great show of covering her nose. She thinks it stinks. As does my brother's girlfriend.) papaya, prepare to meet thy doom!

The tiny Thai chilies and garlic gets mushed up together.

Lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar gets added, while the peeled papaya waits in the background.

The papaya gets grated on the trusty Ben Rimmer, and the sauce gets tossed in along with a drained can of tuna. (The recipe calls for little dried shrimp, but my brother objects to using them because they still have their faces on.)

And it all gets tossed together. Yum!

The recipe:

Green Papaya Salad

1 green papaya, grated (about 1 lb.)
1 T. dried shrimp (we substitute tuna)
6 hot Thai chilies
4 garlic cloves (we use 2 - the time we used 4, you could have used the salad as a chemical weapon...and we like garlic a lot)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 T. fish sauce
4 t. brown sugar

Crush shrimp with chilies and garlic. Whisk in lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Toss with grated papaya. Keep chilled.

A Tale of Two Scarves

But first...I've promised you yarn pictures. So here you go. First up, the Beaverslide:

Coral Bells in the front, Rosehips in the back. These pictures are so much better than the ones I tried to take inside. Aren't those colors luscious?!

Then, the box I got from Webs. It had in it some Zenith by DiVe.

The pink and black are to make piggie mittens. The yellow will probably be a scarf. This is a lovely, squooshy, fat merino yarn. Yummy.

And I got some Twize to play with.

(Not the best picture for which I apologize. It was cold out on the Front Porch of Photography this morning and I was working fast!) This is gray and pink.

Finally, more yummy alpaca.

I ordered some in just red shades a while back ("Oh, have you used that all up already?!" "No. Shut up.") and I couldn't resist the red and purple blend. So soft and nice.

Now, the tale of the scarves.

Cyn, of Half-Assed Knit Blog, she who talks me into Happy Fun Boxes of Yarn, designed this gorgeous scarf, Serpentina, and knit it up in some Elann Incense in a beautiful glowing red. I had some Incense, too, thanks to the aforementioned Happy Fun Box, but mine is a soft turquoisey green and I didn't think it was crying out to be Serpentina. Besides I wanted to try a different yarn.

Which is how I ended up starting not one but two Serpentinas.

The first one I started is made from a Filatura di Crosa yarn called Portofino. It's not exactly is made up of many fine threads in shades of green and yellow, bound by a shiny variegated thread. Now, I have to say that I haven't, even on the Front Porch of Photography in clear daylight, been able to take a good picture of this scarf. I swear it looks somewhat better in person than it does in these photos. But you can see that the stitch pattern is this yarn. It has a nice scrunchy feel and I think I'll continue it (right now it's on a holder because I needed to use the needles).

The second one I started from the Golden Ochre Mmmmmmalabrigo that I bought up at The Black Sheep a couple of weeks ago. And oh, it is so pretty! So soft! The stitch pattern so clear!

Just look:

And some close-ups:

Portofino - crisp, crunchy. A sort of springtime scarf.

And the Malabrigo....ahhhh. Look at those plump little stitches. I just want to pinch their little cheeks. And so soft. Ah, Malabrigo. You own my heart.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hurry Up, Weekend

I was going to tell you all about this great dream I had last night where the train broke down (?!) just outside the charming little town I live in (only in the dream) and one of the stranded people was Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and I took her back to my charming little house (again...only in the dream) and we had a wonderful time and she was every bit as charming and funny and down-to-earth as she is on the screen and she was totally getting on my case about abandoning my Mystery Stole and was encouraging me to finish it up even if it did involve ripping out six rows and then we found out that the train wasn't going to be fixed until 2:30 a.m. and I was just thinking where we could all go to dinner that would have good food and good music and good beer....and then I had a coughing fit and woke up.

But I won't tell you about that because other people's dreams are pretty boring, right?

I was a little disappointed to go home last night and not find another Amazon box with the second George R.R. Martin (And really? Shouldn't he totally be writing pirate books? George Arrr-Arrr Martin?) book on my porch because they promised me Thursday delivery and, while they dazzled me with the Wednesday delivery of part of the order...come on! I needed that second volume!

The disappointment was slightly assuaged by a box from Webs. Don't know where that came from! (Well, yes, it came from Webs...I just don't remember ordering it. I blame my bronchitis...I must have been feverish.) I'll have to take pictures this weekend of the goodies therein (and the Beaverslide!) because we aren't getting home until dark these days. Or at least, until too-dark-to use-the-Front-Porch-of-Photography kind of light.

The disappointment was completely assuaged by checking the porch later and finding that the second box of books had been delivered! Like magic, I tell you.

But, as eager as I am to pick up the George Martin book, I couldn't bear to leave In the Forest of Forgetting unfinished, so it came to work with me. What a great collection of eerie, dreamlike, slightly strange stories. George will have to wait until the weekend, where I may indulge in some "I've been sick, I need to rest" reading time. Except that I also (badly) need a haircut and my brother's coming over to visit and get his birthday presents and make green papaya salad. Yum. Ooooh, maybe I'll remember to take pictures and I can write about it! (The world waits with bated breath.)

Last night Mr. Pointy Sticks and I lay in bed and watched the first half or so of Mon Oncle. I don't think I've seen that movie since I was a kid, but there were so many things I remembered...the odd apartment building where Mr. Hulot lives...the lamp-post game his nephew and the other boys play...Mr. Hulot bouncing the plastic pitcher and then shattering the glass. It's a quiet movie, with little speaking, and a sort of gentle humor that I don't think would go over well these days. But Jacques Tati was wonderful. I'm looking forward to the second half of the show.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Big Brother!

You're still older than I am. Nyah, nyah. And my being sick has screwed up your getting your birthday present from our father and I'm sorry about that.'s your birthday! Enjoy!

I am back at work today after two days off with what I think would be called bronchitis if I had actually seen a real doctor to identify it instead of visiting WebMD and reading a check list of symptoms. But it doesn't seem all that raging fever, no wheezing, so here I am. I still have a cough that could frighten small children and animals, but there's a dearth of those here at work, so it's all good.

I actually got half of my Tuesday order from Amazon yesterday (man, order Tuesday, get books Wednesday...not too fact, it felt sort of like magic) but of the next two George R.R. Martin's I ordered, this shipment included only the third volume...the second is still to come (today, I hope). So that was tantalizingly unsatisfactory. The third one is a big honker, though, so I can fondle the pages and look forward to it.

Current Reading

In the meantime, though, after finishing The Crazy School (good...not great), I started reading Theodora Goss' In the Forest of Forgetting. It's a collection of short stories that I guess would be call slip-stream....some of them are just slightly off from reality. Beautifully written (though I've found some typos that always pull me out of the narrative a bit). She has a website, though I haven't really looked at it yet other than linking here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Compare and Contrast

So I got a box of books in the mail today...(Oh, and I also got some yarn that I'll tell you about in a bit)...and among them were two stitch dictionaries. One was this one:

And the other one was this one:

And looking at the two of them at the same time makes for a striking contrast. This similarities? Well, they both have only written instructions, not charts. They are both full of patterns. And there the similarities end.

The Interweave book is beautiful, as the Interweave books tend to be. It seems to be bound in such a way that it stays open easily, too, even if you only open a page or two in. The Walker doesn't stay open as easily at the very beginning or end of the book. But this is why God invented book weights.

In the Interweave book the patterns are illustrated entirely with color photographs and the pieces are worked in smoothly textured yarns in various colors. Although a few of the yarns used are dark, care has been taken to make sure the stitches show up pretty well. To my (admittedly untrained) eye, I think a couple of the swatches could have been blocked a little more strenuously.

The patterns don't seem to be arranged in any logical fashion at all. Not even alphabetically. And there is no index. No table of contents. If you see a pattern you like, better put a sticky on that page or something because you'll have to leaf through the whole book to find it again.

There are some (very minor) illustrated instructions in the front of the book. A page each devoted to casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch. One page devoted to both increasing and decreasing (which says the easiest way to increase is to knit in the front and back of one I'm not saying that's hard, but I bet a lot more unintentional increases are made by people inadvertently doing yarn overs). One page for binding off. One page about gauge. There are several pages of graph paper bound into the back.

Oh, and there are "tips" scattered through the book...for example "It's quite common to forget to make a yarnover when knitting. If you've forgotten to pass a slipped stitch, work it on the wrong side when you come to the decreased stitch." Excuse me, what?! You start off talking about a yarnover and then you're talking about a slipped stitch. I've been knitting for a while. I know how to pick up a missing yarn over in the wrong side row and I've even learned how to do it when I am on the next right side row....but this "tip" seems only confusing to me. You're telling me to do something...or perhaps even two somethings...but you're not giving me the slightest hint of how to do it. Or them.

Another one - "When slipping the first and last stitch of each row, be careful when you turn your work to avoid having a slipped loop down the side of your project." Again, what?! If you are slipping your selvage stitches, don't you want that row of slipped loops along the sides? And what does turning the work have to do with anything? Maybe this is some arcane piece of knitting knowledge I just don't have. Or are they just warning you not to let that last, slipped, stitch fall off your needle?

I sort of feel as though I'm shooting fish in a barrel, but here's one more - "After knitting a swatch, some knitters wash it to avoid any irreversible damage to your project that may occur in your washing machine." Okay, let's ignore the grammatical issues here....I know what they are trying to say...though they make it sound as though a horde of knitters will come bursting into your house, snatch your swatch out of your hands and throw it in your washing machine. Why couldn't they just saysomething like "If you wash and block your swatch, you will have a better idea of how the yarn will behave in your finished project." And washing machines? I don't think most of us are just tossing our hand knits in the washing machine.

So what do you get if you spend $7 more and order the Barbara Walker? Well, you only get black and white photos, which can be a little frustrating in the sections on two- and three-color pattern knitting. But you get an index. You get an eminently logical arrangement of stitch patterns, with interesting tidbits from Barbara telling you things like where the pattern came from and how one stitch leads to the development of a second. And a third. You don't get any "tips" but I think I've indicated how helpful they are. You don't get the graph paper or the rudimentary "instructions." But you get a book you might be tempted to read in bed. You get a sense of the person behind the collection, a fellow knitter, someone you could sit with over a cup of tea.

Am I going to take the Interweave books off my Amazon Wish List? No, because you can never have too many stitch dictionaries and they are pretty. But I'm going to be spending my money on the Walker books first. (And you know the frustrating thing? I owned these books before...I know I did. But I can't find them anywhere. I think they must have disappeared in a move or something.)

Now, about that yarn...

After reading about Beaverslide yarn all over the internet, I decided that it really behooved me to try some. So I trotted over to the website and, lo and behold, there was some on sale. So I got two skeins (about 480 yards) of very soft merino lambswool in Coral Bells and two skeins (about 420 yards) of McTaggart tweed in Rosehips. I just tried photographing them and I am definitely going to have to wait until sunlight to take their pictures. But they are nice. I could definitely imagine a sweater in these yarns.

Current Reading

Man, oh man, I just finished up George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, which had me spell-bound from pretty much the first page. Great in, this would be a great book even if set in our world. Lots of politics and inter-family bickering. Lots of nasty characters. Lots of swordplay. Fair smattering of sex, both nice and nasty. And, oh yeah, walking dead...and dragons...and I can't wait for the next one. I ordered the next two from Amazon today.

And until they arrive, I'm reading Cornelia Read's The Crazy School. I really liked her first book, Field of Darkness. I hope she doesn't have sophomore slump.

So Who Went to the Doctor...?

We drove Rachel to the doctor's yesterday (we travel in packs) and I sat in the waiting room hacking my lungs up. Yup, I'm sick. Horrible racking cough...but no fever or anything which I find sort of odd. I'm home from work today because I spent a lot of last night trying to enter the Coughing Olympics and I was pretty exhausted this morning.

But let's see...the weekend wasn't a total mess. My cousin ML was up to visit with my aunt and uncle and we talked them and my brother and S into going out to dinner with us at Green Leaf, this wonderful Japanese restaurant we like a lot. ML, who is a nurse practitioner, spent the entire meal leaning as far away from me as possible and predicting, direly, that I would be getting much worse. (I really should have suggested that Mr. Pointy Sticks sit between us as a buffer, I guess...sorry, ML.) Nice meal anyway and with luck, I didn't contaminate anyone. And really, I wasn't feeling that's just this cough.

Got Rachel to the doctor.

Finished up the scarf for the person whose angel I am. Got everything wrapped and packed and Mr. Pointy Sticks will be mailing it today. We had stopped at Daedalus briefly on the way down to get Rachel on Saturday and I picked up a book for the I have and like. (I won't say what it is yet on the very-off chance she reads this. I read her blog and I think I have commented on it so she might have back-tracked here)

Because I can't open my mouth without starting a coughing fit, I canceled my appointment for the new crown. So I was able to accompany Mr. Pointy Sticks on the drive to take Rachel back to school yesterday. It was sure easier to leave her there this week! She seemed pleased to get back and see her other suite mates (if not her room-mate, who is...well, not perfect....she is Korean, has said about two words to Rachel though she is apparently very chatty with her friends, will not allow visitors to the room, was very upset when Rachel put something in "her" refrigerator...on the other hand, as Rachel says, she's quiet and doesn't wander in drunk at three in the morning and turn on the tv to fall asleep.)

Because it was MLK Day, traffic was minimal and we had little trouble. Quick trips both ways.

And now...I think it's nap-time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nothing Like Four Hours in the Car... make the day just whiz by. Our weekend plans (such as they were) were a bit disrupted by having to drive to Fredericksburg today to bring Rachel home so that she can see her doctor on Monday. Nothing serious, just a flare-up of an on-going condition. But that means that Mr. Pointy Sticks will have to drive her back on Monday without me because I have to go get my temporary crown. I wish he wasn't going to have to drive back by himself.

But it's nice having Rachel home for the weekend.

Oh, and I was asked to be an angel for someone in ISE5 scarf swap whose partner couldn't complete her scarf. So I am working up a scarf and have gotten together some other goodies. And should be able to get them all off to her on Tuesday.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Readerville Journal

I don't know how much good this is going to do, because I think most of the people who read this wodge of mostly-daily ramblings are already members of the Readerville Forum....but here goes.

Readerville, a site for bookish people of all stripes, for a brief glorious time, had a print magazine, the Readerville Journal. It was a classy publication (and I'm not just saying that because I had something printed in it). But alas, it folded.

Now it's back, in on-line form. Here: Readerville Journal

Every morning there is a new, book-related article and link to more bookish stuff. It's free (the Forum asks for minimal dues, and it's worth every penny) and, so far, has been interesting every day. (ML, I wish I could get you interested in the Forum. There's a wonderful gardening discussion...and discussions about pets...and all sorts of neat stuff. And want book suggestions? You'd get more recommendations than you could shake a stick at. Where do you think I hear about all the great books I read!? ;^) )

And, if I can jump the gun a little, I've been told that something I wrote will be appearing there at some point. So there's some incentive to check in, right? Right? (Say "Right!")

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Continuing Education

I've signed up for a class on entrelac up at the Black Sheep. Now I just have to wait until February 9th. I know I could probably teach myself from a book, or from the directions for Lady Eleanor, the gorgeous entrelac shawl in Scarf Style. (I'd love to post a picture, but it'll have to wait until I start knitting mine. I don't want to poach a picture. Oh, but it's okay to post a link to another blog, right? So you can see a beautiful one here on the Scarf Style knitalong page. I like the ball fringe this knitter used. The one in the book has long knotted fringe, which is lovely, but I think might catch on things.) But I think it'll be fun to learn in a class with an instructor and other knitters. I think I need to practice knitting backwards. I understand that makes entrelac go faster...once you get the backwards knitting thing down.

And Rachel's Contemporary American Lit class sounds like a hit. She had the first class last night and called us briefly, and cheerfully, to tell us about it and then said, "I'm going to go watch Buffy with my suite mates and then go to bed. Love you. Bye!" Now that's the kind of conversation I hope for in a college-going kid. Already this experience is better than Sarah Lawrence, where she was so isolated. (Her dorm there was a converted garage, off campus, and she and her non-compatible roommate were the only freshmen women...) Roommates and suite mates can be annoying at times, but they can also be life-savers and, with luck, good friends. Or at least warm bodies to watch Buffy with. So even though this isn't exactly what she wants to be doing, I am hopeful that she will get some good out of it and perhaps even come to enjoy it. Or parts of it, at least.

Oak Leaf and Acorn is proceeding well. I am not super happy with the way the stitches jog at the join. I almost think I prefer a seamed look...or a three needle bind-off. I think I'll be knitting this scarf again at some point, because it's very pretty. But I may try a different option for joining the two halves. I think I'd like to try it in a heavier yarn, too.

Current Reading

I started George R. Martin's Game of Thrones this morning. Rachel, before she had three tons of college reading dumping on her, was reading this and said it was pretty good. So I'll give it a try. It starts out with three men riding through the woods and running into some deadly supernatural enemies. I wonder how many fantasy novels start this way. I know I've read (or started) at least two others like that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Promised You Pictures

So here you go...the Oak Leaf and Acorn scarf.

And a close-up of the acorns...

Okay, they don't look a whole lot like acorns. But aren't the picots cute?

The Second Half

Hurrah! I ate my lunch (Stouffer's Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli - oh, so's my favorite Lean Cuisine, I think. I always feel a little panicky when I don't see it in the store, thinking they might have discontinued it.) and then I tackled the second half of the scarf. The taking-out-the-provisional-cast-on-and-picking-up-stitches went swimmingly. Well, I ended up with one extra stitch but then realized that I had picked up the initial knot of yarn, so that was easily fixed. You then have to do a set-up row and then you launch into the Oak Leaf pattern again, this time headed in the other direction. Well, it looked so wonky that I ripped it out and repeated it, finally deciding to just trust the directions and not look too closely and second guess them with what I thought should be happening. And it worked! The middle looks a little wonky, but then it looks a little wonky in the pattern's illustration, too, so I guess I'm right on track. (The wonkiness is caused by the adjustment needed because the second half is half a stitch off from the first half.)

So now I'm cruising right along again. Well, obviously right now I'm blogging about cruising along...but you know what I mean.

Current Reading

I'm managing to get some reading done in between scarf halves and the excitement of the provision cast on success. I am about two-thirds of the way through Charles Todd's A False Mirror. Todd writes about Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard detective who suffered shell shock in WWI. He still hears the voice of Hamish, the soldier he had to execute for failure to follow orders. His boss hates him and wants him to fail. This is the tenth book in the series and, until this one, I've always bought them in hardback (the first five or so from a bookclub, so not full priced). But the last one I read was disappointing enough that I waited for this one to come out in paper. And it's....a little dull. So I think I made the right choice.

In this book, Rutledge is called to a village where an ex-foreign service officer named Hamilton has been viciously attacked and left for dead. Mallory, the man accused of the attack and someone Rutledge knows from the front and hates, has barricaded himself in Hamilton's house, along with Hamilton's wife and maid. And then Hamilton, who has barely shown any signs of consciousness, disappears from the doctor's surgery.

Sounds exciting, right? And it's getting better, but it was sort of slow getting into it. And I am sort of tired of the nasty, mean boss...I can't remember that there is any real reason given for the animosity. Perhaps there was ten books ago and I just can't remember.

Edited later to add: Ooops. A passage in this book lets me know that Rutledge left the care of his doctor and returned to work at the Yard just ten months prior to the start of this tenth book. (Which means there was quite a crime spree in England in those ten months!)


I have finished the first half of the Oak Leaf and Acorn scarf. Pictures to come tonight, I hope. I'll have to ask for Mr. Pointy Sticks help so that I can stretch it out. I love the picot cast off, though it takes a lot longer than a regular cast off. I love it so much I made the little picots five stitches long instead of the called for four. (On purpose!) The whole scarf looks so Victorian to part, I think, because of the picots.

After fortifying myself with some lunch, I will (eek!) unpick the provisional cast on and pick up those stitches and continue on with the second half. Or I'll chicken out and work on the pink scarf. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesdays Should Be Outlawed

I really dislike Tuesdays. The memories of the past weekend are fading fast and there is still a long uphill slog until the next one. Plus, I always stay up too late on the weekends, reading or knitting or playing with my DS (that's Nintendo DS, not Dear Son) and yes, I do it to myself. And I can get through Monday okay but the lack of sleep really hits me on Tuesdays. Tuesdays are rough. Of course, if they outlawed them, I'd just feel that way about Wednesdays, I guess.

Rachel has had three of her four classes and will be dropping one - a history class - and (I hope) picking up something else...with luck, an art class. Says her Intro to Lit class seems like it is going to be really good. So, fingers crossed, things seem to be settling into place in Fredericksburg. And boy, I hate typing Fredericksburg. Perhaps I'll just start calling it Fred. "How are things in Fred?"

So, knitting wise - still stitching away on the pink mohair. Still stitching away on the Oak Leaf scarf. I don't know how some knitters manage to pile up finished objects so quickly. I'll have to work on that.

Oh, and my latest knitting stupidity? I have some yarn, bought on our trip to Maine last summer, that is destined to be a hat for my brother's girlfriend, S. (I don't know if she would want me to use her name and I'm tired of typing "my brother's girlfriend" (Give me a break! I'm having to type Fredericksburg!) so I am going to call her S.) So I sat down the other evening and made a nice big test swatch. They were over for the evening recently and I showed S. the swatch so that she could see and feel how it was going to work up. She liked it, so as we all sat and chatted I ripped back the swatch (I'm too cheap to keep my swatches) and rewound the yarn. And then? Realized that I. hadn't. measured. the. gauge! So...I think a new swatch is in my future. I think I am going to adapt the Hannah hat from Magknits...a hat I recently made for Rachel...into a hat for S. No opening for a ponytail, but a seed stitch band and then a crown rising out of that band. Some buttons for decoration, perhaps. Should be cute. I hope.

We had a great talk, though, about movies. Started out with the funniest movies we knew of (Galaxy Quest, The Gold Rush, What's Up Tiger Lily?, Jacque Tati's movies (Mon Oncle in particular - God, I love that movie), old Peter Sellers movies, Buster Keaton.) But then my brother and I started talking about the movies that our parents used to take us to when we were small. It we would frequently (or at least it seems frequent in memory) drive into downtown Baltimore to see movies like Mon Oncle or Mr. Hulot's Holiday. Or The Notorious Landlady. La Belle Américaine). Alec Guinness movies like The Lavender Hill Mob or Kind Hearts and Coronets. I always felt so grownup on those evenings. It seemed so sophisticated to me, to be going out to "grownup" movies with my parents. (And I remember being shocked by a scene in The Notorious Landlady where Jack Lemmon barges into a room...and Kim Novak was in the bathtub! She was well covered with bubbles, but I can remember my feeling of "Oh my gosh, he's in her bathroom! And she's in the bathtub!!") And the theaters were so pretty. There I go, waxing nostalgic again. (Nostalgic is very shiny in our house these days.)

And don't get me started on how special it was to go out for a Chinese dinner at Jimmy Wu's.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Catching Up On Books

Today is Rachel's first day of classes. Hope they are going well.

Current Reading

I have been reading and not updating. So here we go.

On Saturday I read Joyce Carol Oates' The Museum of Dr. Moses, a book of creepy little stories. Something about her writing style gets to me usually, but it works in most of these stories. I think my favorites were the title story and the very first one. (Hi! Howya doing?)

And yesterday I read Tom Perotta's Little Children, which I enjoyed. At least, I certainly gobbled it down. Perhaps enjoyed is a little too strong a word, as none of the characters are particularly admirable.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bye-Bye, Christmas

Well, the last of the Christmas presents was unveiled today as Mr. Pointy Sticks took me up to The Black Sheep for a little buying splurge. They were having a sale, so...perfect timing.

Well, hello!

What have we here?

Two skeins of Malabrigo in Rattan (the yellowy one) and two skeins of Golden Ochre (the orangey-ish one). Just loved those colors and love the softness.

And five skeins of Ella Rae's Silkience (cotton, silk, modal and rayon) with which I hope to make the River Rocks scarf from No Sheep For You.

And, most wonderfully of all, this Lantern Moon bag that I've been lusting after for a while. It comes in orange, turquoise and red and I couldn't decide which one I wanted. It comes into the shop and sells immediately. Today they had this one left and I decided that orange was the perfect color. Soooo pretty.

Sigh. What a wonderful last Christmas present. Actually, in some ways, the shopping and visiting with Tracy and Joyce and mulling choices over with Maureen (who came along for the ride) was the best part.

News from University of Mary Washington: Rachel had a nice day with Margot, who is back on campus and Margot's boyfriend, Jun. She sounded pretty happy when she talked with us. They had done some shopping, including going into a kitchen store...that's the kind of shopping that Rachel likes...and had lunch out and generally had a fine time. We were so happy and relieved to hear that. Here's to more good days.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Feh Friday

The transition to University of Mary Washington? Not going too well. On anyone's part. Good thoughts appreciated.

But I promised you pictures of the Happy Fun Box, didn't I?

Elann Silky Tweed (Tweedy Silk? - whatever) Yeah, it's Tweedy Silk. Four skeins. Pretty blue flecks.

And then there's Champagne....who could turn down champagne? I think I said before that it was black and silver. But it's actually, now that I see it in the sunlight, a deep mossy bronze and silver. (Which I probably knew when I ordered it...I mean, Elann didn't lie and call it black. I just forgot.)

There's the Incense...wool, silk and the slightly darker icy green.

Very soft and nice.

And the last item in the Happy Fun Box is the Pure Alpaca.

Very, very, very soft. It looks gray, but if you look closely you see blues and reds. Why, yes, I do believe that is called "heather!" Rachel liked this one a lot so I think it is destined to be something for her.

And then today I got a new Happy Fun Box, this one from The Loopy Ewe. And it contained:

Two skeins of Smooshy Dream in Color (I've heard so much about the beauty of this yarn, I just had to order some). These are Flamingo Pie (the pinky one, natch) and Go Go Grassy (Guess! Yup, it's the green one!)

And finally, from Perchance to Knit by way of The Loopy Ewe, this:

The color is called Fresh Herbs and is so yummy (and a little out of focus...sorry about that). And look what comes with each skein!

How cool is that!

So let's see...there's just the box from Beaverslide to come. And tomorrow Arthur may take me up to The Black Sheep for a belated Christmas present...I don't really need the yarn (ya think?!) but they're having a sale so it's a good time to shop. (Is there ever a bad time?)

So doesn't all this make you want a Happy Fun Box of your own? (Heh. I have this mental image of Cyn reading this post and being compelled to order another Happy Fun Box and then she'll post about it and I'll be compelled to order and I'll post......and eventually they will find us, with empty bank accounts, buried under a mound of wool. But we'll have happy smiles on our faces.)

And I am such a geek. I entered Ann and Kay's recipe box contest and, no, I didn't win anything. In fact (sniff) I didn't even get mentioned in the round up of boxes. But I don't care because the day before I got an email from Ann! A reply to a comment I made. It just made my day! Such a dweeb, I am.

Current Reading

I am finishing up The Sportswriter. I wanted to like this. The first hundred pages or so were okay. But it just got duller and duller and I just don't get Frank Bascombe. I'm wondering if it's a guy thing. But I certainly don't think the way ole Frank thinks. And the conversations just seem off to me. All in all, not one I'd recommend, I'm afraid.

I'm already looking forward to the next book and I don't even know what it'll be.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I got a Happy Fun Box (TM Half-Assed Knitting) in the mail today, which, in only a very small way, counterbalanced the suckiness of this being Rachel's last night home for a while. Tomorrow we haul her off to school, there (we hope) to stay through the semester...well, we'll let her come home for Spring Break...and perhaps the occasional weekend, if she wants. But, boy, I am going to miss her. I like having her around. what can I say? But I am hoping she'll end up having a blast.

Oh, but the Happy Fun Box! You'll have to wait for pictures, I'm afraid, as I have already packed up the camera for tomorrow. But I got a nice box from Elann. The box had, obviously, gotten very wet at some point...the cardboard was actually delaminating and still damp inside. Fortunately, Elann carefully packs their Happy Fun Yarn in nice heavy plastic bags, so all was safe. I got:

Elann Champagne - sparkly silver and black...a bit more sparkly than I expected, actually...but might make a jazzy ruffly scarf

Elann Incense - in Mineral, which turns out to be a darker gray-blue-green than it appeared on my screen...not quite as frosty looking as I thought. It'll make a nice scarf, I think. It's very soft. (And no knots in sight.)

Elann Tweedy Silk - in Viridian Green...really is reminiscent of verdigris, a lovely bluey-green

Elann Peruvian Alpaca - in a soft purpley gray (purply-gray?)...oh, so soft.

Pictures to follow. And I have Cyn to thank for this....without her Happy Fun Box last week, I wouldn't now have my own (and, uh, two more boxes (one from Loopy Ewe and one from Beaverslide) coming). La, la, la.

Off now to watch Law and Order and Law and Order. Then to bed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Well, That Was Gratifying

The baby shower, for which I knit the booties and the hat (which really looked so much nicer after some blocking and for which I made twisted cord ties), was held today in the conference area next to my desk. At one point during all the gift opening I heard a huge "Awwwwww!" from everyone there. And one of my co-workers poked her head around the corner and said, "Sheena just opened your present!" So they were a hit, I guess. That pleases me.

(No, I didn't attend the party. I hate parties. In particular parties where you are coerced into playing silly games like "Guess the Baby Food." (At least they didn't smear the baby food in diapers, which I have heard of...the food remained in jars.) What can I say? I'm antisocial. I never attend work parties.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Temporary Tooth

Have I mentioned that I love my dentist? I went there this afternoon and he patched up what was left of my tooth (not much). (By this afternoon it had started hurting and it is sensitive to cold, which he says is good, as it means the tooth is still alive and I won't need a root canal. I will, however, need a crown.) It feels, to my tongue, pretty much like my old tooth. In two weeks I go back and get crowned. As I was making that appointment, I asked how much I owed him for this afternoon. He just grinned and said, "I'll chalk this one up to your frequent flyer miles. It's a freebie." Nice guy.

The baby booties and the cap are all wrapped up and ready to go to work tomorrow for the baby shower. I won't be attending but my gifts will be. (For one thing, they are going to be playing "shower games." My mind shudders.)

Rachel has gotten her room assignment and she will be in the same dorm as her friend, one floor down. She has a roommate from Vermont and the room is 13' by 14'...pretty good size, I think. According to her friend, these are among the nicest rooms there are. All women dorm and substance-free -- no smoking, drinking or drugs. She's busy upstairs packing things up as I type this.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Move On...Nothing to See Here

We are busy getting Rachel ready for school and, when not doing that, not doing much in particular. Her friend Nicole came over yesterday and we got a trip in to Target and all went out to dinner at Yamato and did a quick dash into Borders. (I got Clara Parkes' Book of Yarn for $10 off, as I had a Border's rewards coupon. And I picked up T Is For Trespass, since it was 30 percent off.)

Oh, and I broke a tooth Friday night, so it looks like there is another crown in my future. I wasn't blogging the year I broke a tooth, had it fixed with just a massive filing, broke another one a week later, had a root canal and crown, and about a month later, broke yet another tooth for yet another root canal and crown. The first tooth was broken on a pretzel, but the third one was broken when I was eating a slice of bread! I think I paid for my dentist's boat that year. (I love my dentist and I don't think he even has a boat.) So here we go again. At least it's not painful.

Current Reading

I've not said anything much about my current reading because I wasn't thrilled by it. I am stuck in Joe Lansdale's A Thin Dark Line and also in Peter Straub's In The Night Room, which I actually think I might have struggled through before but can't remember enough to be sure about it. But I think I have. Anyway, I wasn't really enjoying either one and so didn't want to list them...I mean, I'll list books I've read and didn't like but these two are just not engaging me at all. I'm about a third of a way through both of them and I really don't feel as though I am reading anything.

But last night I picked up Matt Haig's The Dead Father's Club and I gulped that down in one evening. It's about Phillip, who is eleven and whose father appears to him as a ghost, accusing Phillips' uncle of killing him. It's written in Phillip's very distinctive voice and I have to say, I really liked it. The ending is not neat and tidy, so if that sort of thing bothers you, don't try it.

And this morning I started Richard Ford's The Sportswriter. I really enjoyed an interview that we heard with him and thought I'd give this a try. Only about 100 pages in so far.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday At Last

This will be a busy weekend of getting Rachel ready to head off to Mary Wash. This will require getting Rachel to do some actual shopping, something I think she hates even more than I do. It will also require dragging her out of the house before midnight. Should be amusing.

Last night we made some more Chocolate Crinkle cookies from the dough Rachel 30th. Been chilling in the fridge ever since. Still made tasty cookies, though. I am having a hard time keeping from eating the ones sitting on my desk waiting for lunch. But before I even get to lunch I have to sit through an asinine meeting of a work group I've been put on...a work group that will address the problems that the Commissioner has with the letter-writing process. Even though we have no idea what those problems might be. Feh. I am so not in the mood.

Actually, I'm just not in the mood for any of this crap. It's hard coming back to work when I've had such a nice stretch of mostly being at home, doing what I want, when I want. Of course, I don't get a paycheck at home. But man, I'm ready to retire. I'm tired of this work, tired of my co-workers, tired of the commute....I am hoping that the job change (which should happen sometime after the end of January, when the other analyst in the branch comes back from some medical leave...please, God) will bring a little fresh air into the job. But basically, I just feel done.

I really shouldn't blog when I'm feeling this cranky. Fun to read, huh?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

ML's Mitts

Well, my cousin ML commented a couple of posts back that the mitts I made for her arrived. So, without further ado, here, modeled by Rachel, are ML's Christmas mitts. Knit up in MmMmMmmalabrigo in Mineral Red.

You can't see the spiral rib very well in this photo and I didn't want to completely exhaust Rachel's patience taking multiple shots so this is what you get. I was very proud because I remembered, and figured out how, to reverse the spirals on the second mitt so that they are symmetrical.

Merry Christmas, ML! What would you like next year?

Actual Stitches?!

I realize I've been a little short with the ole knitting-related content in the past few days what with Christmas and recipes. Well, there was yarn, but no actual knitting for a bit. But I am still working on stuff.

Like this:

This is the start of Evelyn Clark's Oak Leaf and Acorn scarf. This is the one that I mentioned earlier, that I was looking at the Araucania sock yarn in browns for. This yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome that was sent to me by my International Scarf Exchange pal. It's nice, though it sometimes gets suddenly thin. And then thicker. This picture shows it as it will look after daughter and I were stretching this for the picture. Unstretched, it has a nice texture. Like so:

Sort of reminds me of a pine cone.

Oh, and the coolest thing? This starts with a provisional cast-on so that you work from the middle to one end and then pick up stitches at the provisional end and work to the second end. And it's the first one I've ever done. So, la la, go me.

And then there's this:

Fuzzy fuchsia goodness. This is Filatura Di Crosa yarn called Valentino 132. It's mohair and wool and acrylic and nice and soft. You may not be able to see that there are little flecks of contrasting colors...that's not lint. This scarf was (ahem) sort of buried in a pile of stuff next to my comfy chair and I had forgotten all about it. It's a simple k2tog, yo, k1,yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, infinitum until your eyes bleed. Easy to do in the car and when I'm feeling brainless.

Want some more pink?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Recipe Boxes

Mason-Dixon are calling for recipe box pictures and recipes from here goes.

This was my mom's recipe box when I was small. Now, to be honest, I must say that for the past thirty years or so it has been used as an address box. But when I was small, mom kept her recipes here. (By the time she died she had three long 4x6 file metal with a sliding drawer and two out of cardboard in which she stored her recipes. One of the drawers was solely for her "Tried and True" recipes...ones she had made and liked.)

This little box fascinated me as a kid. I loved the bluebirds on the top but the really cool thing is that, if you lift the lid, the front of the box tilts forward, sliding out of the sides of the box, (I should take a picture, right?) so that you can easily flip through the cards. This seemed like magic to me.

And now the recipe. I'm sure this one was in the box and it came down from my grandmother. Although the pie is called Angelberry, it went by a different name in our house. My mom used to tell the story that she made this pie for a friend's husband's birthday. As it was sitting out, I toddled into the kitchen and said something about eating the pie. My mom explained who the pie was for and, according to her, I turned to her and said, in exceedingly mournful tones, "That's Dr. Singewald's pretty pie?" So it was always known in our house as "Dr. Singewald's Pretty Pie."*

Angelberry Pie

Butter a 9" pie pan and sprinkle it with flour.

Beat the whites of 6 eggs until they are stiff but not dry. Gradually add 1 c. sugar, 1 t. vanilla, then 2/3 c. sugar alternating with 1 T vinegar. Add all these ingredients slowly and beat well after each addition.

Shape this meringue into the pie plate, mounding high edges.

Bake at 275 degrees for 1/2 hour and at 300 degrees for 1/2 hour. Let cool completely.

Whip and sweeten 1 c. heavy cream and spread it on the cooled meringue shell. Cover with strawberries or raspberries, either fresh or frozen.

* You know, I think I may be confusing my pie stories, here. "Dr. Singewald's Pretty Pie" may actually have been the chocolate buttercream pie that my mom often made. This one, thinking about it some more, was, I think, known as "Mrs. Perez's Pie." My mom made it for her friend, Mrs. Hess, and when she told my grandfather who is was for he didn't hear her correctly and said, "Mrs. Perez? Who's Mrs. Perez? And why are you making her a pie?"

Perhaps my brother will chime in here.

I'd Like To Thank All The Little People...

I was just scrolling through my favorite reads over there on the right when I found out that Amy awarded me a Nice Award. I actually teared up a little....someone likes me! They really like me!


So...who would I pass this on to? First choice is easy:

Ackery - without whom I never would have started blogging. It was her constant, I was her gentle encouragement that got me started.


Knitting Iris - This young woman lives a life so unlike mine and one that seems so much simpler in some ways (though harder in others). I love to read about her kids and her crafting and to lose myself in her pictures of the land around them. Reading her blog is like a little vacation for me. Or like reading a children's book that I love.


Athena Dreams - Because Liz's musings on color and design always make me think and her art is so lovely.

Happy New Year!

Who'da thunk I would have made it to 2008? I remember being ten or so and figuring out that in the year 2000 I'd be 46. And thinking, "Well, that's old...I'll probably never make it."

Stayed up to see in the year with Mr. Pointy Sticks, Rachel, my brother and his sweetie. Though, to be honest, since I had gotten up at 6 a.m. that morning, I would have been just as happy to shove the clock hands forward at about 11 and say the year had started. But we did have fun. I bought a new game to play called Dicescapades, which started sort of slowly but picked up and was a good bit of fun.

And we had the last bit of Christmas...though that's not exactly true as I still have something for my friend Maureen.

And as promised, some yarn:

The Hacho from my aunt - look at those yummy colors. Five skeins. What can I do with five skeins of Hacho? (Really, what do you think? I'm open to all suggestions. I'm thinking shawl/stole sort of thing. I don't think there's enough for a vest, though that option is appealing. Hmmmm...I could combine it with some solid color of something and make a mock fair-isle sort of thing.)

And some scrumptious handspun that was sent to me by someone for whom I knit a scarf. Completely unexpected and undeserved. So lovely and spun and dyed by her daughter-in-law. 136 yards - I'm thinking some sort of neckwarmer/dickie/cowl sort of scarf. Something that will stand up around my neck with some pretty buttons to hold it closed. The wheels are turning. (The color isn't exactly right is a little bluer, though it does have gray and green in it.)