Monday, February 28, 2011

Someone Had Some Free Time

You need to be sure to watch the little dragon on the table beside the bookcase. Makes me giggle.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Someone Needs To Hide My Credit Card

I was sitting this afternoon, skimming through this nice book that my brother-in-law and his wife gave me for Christmas...

It's an Interweave Press book, so, as I've said before about Interweave books, it's a nice one. It's a sequel to Vicki Square's first kimono book and they are both full of gorgeous designs. As I was admiring the cover kimono I looked over the requirements... It's knit out of Berroco Mica. "Hmmmm," I thought, "that sounds really familiar. I think that might be on sale at Webs." Went and checked and yes, it is...half-price. So I now have enough Mica to knit this sweater coming my way from Massachusetts. In purple. I had a hard time deciding on the color. They had the pretty yellow shown in the book, but yellow can be hard to wear. There was a color called Cinnabar that might have been nice, but it looked like it might have been too melon-y pink. Rachel was on the phone with me and looked at the colors, too, and she agreed on the purple. So purple it is!

In other news, this weekend I made significant progress on Rachel's alpaca sweater. On Saturday I finished knitting the sleeves, sewed one shoulder, knit the collar. And today I sewed the sleeves onto the body. Know I just need to sew up the side seams and arm seams and weave all the ends in. The end's in sight!!

I also started one of the baby hats for one of the two office babies. Out of the yarn that had the little baby block beads on it. I think they are going to be pretty darn cute. Pictures when the first one is done.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Button, Button, Who's Got The Button?

So I finished the third hat for Kelly. It's simple and I was planning to do a little embroidery and decorate it with some buttons. I bought some buttons that I thought were cute but when I was finished I took them off the card and laid them out on the hat...

and they were....blah....dull....nothing. They don't show up at all. So I dragged out the button box.

(By the way, look at the cute "knitted for you" labels I found at JoAnn's last week. Can't wait to use them in something.) But scrabble about among the buttons as I might, I found nothing that looked right. These were the right shape and size....but definitely not the right color!

So I am thinking now that the hat will be simple and unadorned.

And I have an idea for another one...Kelly better watch out. She's going to have a hat wardrobe to rival Imelda's shoes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Love Three-Day Weekends!

I went nowhere yesterday and did very little. Listened to Car Talk and Wait, Wait and the wind howling around the house and rattling the windows. (It was very windy.) I read and knit and played computer games and just vegged out. And then the day was over and you know what?!!

There are still two days before I have to go back to work! It's like magic.

Today we will be going out. I want to hit Trader Joe's for some more of these great little pasta dishes that make good lunches for work. And I want to go to Joann's for buttons and such because I have a great idea for a little decor on the latest hat I'm knitting for Kelly. And we will probably run into Tuesday Morning for fun, though generally there's nothing we want. Although lately they are carrying yarn and while it's usually crap, sometime you find good things.

More later...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Attention Knitters!

I have a couple of new books to mention here but no one but the knitters will be interested. But the Knitting Book Fairy was very nice to me this week.

First, I got this:

Okay, it's an Interweave book, so right away you know it gorgeously designed with beautiful photos and great patterns. I mean, look like this:

I'm not sure I can imagine knitting all those cables, but my god, this is gorgeous! And look at this pair of pretty fuzzy mittens!

They look so soft and yummy...and I love the tiny pearl buttons on the cuffs. Want mitts instead? How about these?

Such a pretty stranded pattern...of course the colors are lovely and that helps.

Finally....look at this hat!

Mary Linn, this hat made me think of you... I love it.

For the knitty-gritty (see what I did there?), the book contains patterns for -- eight sweaters (five cardigans, 3 pullovers), two shawls and a scarf, four hats, three patterns of stockings/legwarmers and four patterns for mitts or mittens. So, 22 patterns, mostly lovely. (Okay, the cardigan with beavers? Not so much me.)

And what else did the Book Fairy bring me? Well, we're going from the sublime to the silly....

Hee...these guys just make me laugh. I think I need to knit me some monsters.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What A Card!

I made Mr. Pointy Sticks his Valentine's Day card this year. Can you figure it out? Here's the front:

(You should know that this shape is made from a thin piece of tree bark.) And here's the inside:

It took him a couple of minutes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

It was a gray sort of day yesterday...though warmer than it has been for some time...and sort of depressing. A trip to the grocery store solved that, even though grocery shopping can be sort of a drag. But look at the pretty colors! There were:

Peppers and

apples and lots of

lovely flowers

waiting for



Okay, here's a picture of the latest hat with its tassel.

Cute, I think. But easy for Kelly to remove if she so wants. Mr. Pointy Stick looked at it after I finished (I did the tassel while we were watching this Saturday's Waking the Dead...great series.), and said, "That looks great. I mean, it looks really something you'd buy in a store!"

And I forgot to mention some books from the last part of last year that I haven't mentioned.

I read Connie Willis' Black Out and All Clear, one right after the other. I had gotten the first one and, before I started it, I heard that it was really the first of two volumes...originally planned as one massive book, I guess...and I knew the second one wasn't coming out for some months. So I saved the first one until I got the second one so that I could read them together. And I liked them. Connie Willis writes time travel stories and in these a group of historians from the future come back to WWII England. Because of the rules governing time travel (you can't be in the same time as can't travel back to a site that would be dangerous) complications ensue...people are lost and unable to return to their real time...they miss important rendezvous because the train system is so overwhelmed...and that was one problem with these two books. There are so many people, sometimes using different names for different missions, that it all got very confusing. I felt as though I needed to draw up some sort of chart to keep track of everyone. Still, there are some interesting characters and I think it gives one a real idea of what living in England during the war might have been like. Overall, I enjoyed it, even if I didn't follow all the complications.

In my exploration of Scandinavian mysteries, I read Johan Theorin's The Darkest Room, set in Norway. Pretty good and somewhat creepy. An author I'll look for more from.

Finally, I read Stephen King's latest, Full Dark No Stars, a collection of four long stories. I'm a big Stephen King fan and I liked these well enough...and really liked "A Good Marriage." But none of them really got to me the way some of his stories do.

Spent some time last night making a Valentine card for Mr. Pointy Sticks...I'll have to scan it in here after I give it to him and see if y'all can figure out the pun.

One Day...Eight Days...Something Like That

So...books. I've read a few really good ones this year, so far. Though, of the 25 books I've read, I've only given stars to three.

Incendiary by Chris Cleaves
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

I think I mentioned the first two here when I read them so I won't synopsize them all over again. Mockingbird is told from the point of view of an eleven-year-old, Caitlin, who has lost her older brother, Devon. Her mother died some years earlier so now it's just Caitlin and her grieving father...and her school counselor. Caitlin has Asperger's and her brother was the person who helped explain the world to her. Over the course of the book, Caitlin begins to understand her father's grief, finds her own way to cope with Devon's absence, and makes the first steps to making friends. It's a very moving story and Caitlin's voice rings clear and true. (With the caveat that no, I don't know exactly how someone with Asperger's might think.)

What all three of these books have in common is the ability to put you inside someone else's head. The main characters in these books are all strong women, though in some distress, with vivid voices.

So there they are...the best books so far this year. But I have to mention some mysteries, too. I've discovered the Norwegian mysteries of Jo Nesbo (that "o" should have a line through it). Last year I read The Redbreast and just this past month I've read both Nemesis and The Devil's Star. All of them great, suspenseful mysteries. And, unlike a lot of the Scandavian mysteries, there's some humor in some of these. Not that they are laugh out loud funny, but some of Inspector Harry Hole's observations are amusing. And there's a new one out in May that's supposed to be the best can bet I'll be waiting for it.

Another mystery I read quickly (it's a novella, so short) is the new Laura Lippman, The Girl in the Green Raincoat. It's a Tess Monaghan mystery...Tess is heavily pregnant and confined to bed, but still manages to get caught up in a local mystery. And what's that Chechov quote? -- "If in the first act you have a dog peeing in a chamber pot, then in the following one it should be hurled. Otherwise don't put it there." Yeah.

Read a Stuart McBride mystery, set in Aberdeen, Scotland, called Flesh House. Not for the squeamish but fast-moving (I read it in a day) and exciting.

Also, in the past month I've read Sapphique, the sequel to Incarceron. Not, I thought, as good as the first, but not terrible. I'd probably buy a third one if there was one.

Also read Kate Morton's The Distant Hours. It follows the blueprint that Kate Morton seems to use each time. Mysterious house, secrets in the past being uncovered in the present....and so on. But she does it well and it was a captivating read.

As well as some books, I finished another knitting project...another hat for my cousin's wife.

After I took this picture, I added a green tassel on a cord. She can pop it out if she doesn't want the whimsey.

Oh, and I got this:

I already own his first book. I love Stephen West's designs...they are clean and simple (yet not mind-numbing dull to knit) and so attractive. For instance, this hat, with which I fell in love.

This hat, called Bandwidth, has a cool brim, constructed sideways, and an interesting texture in the top along with one neat cable. Nice! The book has (including Bandwidth) three hats, five scarf/cowl/shawl thingies, a gorgeous blanket, and two mittens/mitt patterns. All of them crying out for me to knit them. The book also includes a gallery of finished objects (I'm thinking taken from Ravelry...though I'm not sure) which includes one item, Loxley, a hooded scarf, in Noro yarn, that is so beautiful!! Another nice feature is a brief write-up for each of his test knitters. It's a well designed book and I look forward to adding to my Stephen West library.

That's all for now!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oh, Yeah...The Blog....

Ooops...haven't had the urge to write here for a while. Perhaps because I like seeing my little Rachel there and I'll be sorry to shove her down the page.

But we've done some nice things, since last I wrote. Last weekend, for our anniversary, we went to the Milton Inn for a lovely, tasty, and romantic dinner. Yum. We were there a couple of years ago and last November I called to make a reservation for this year and asked if we could be near the fireplace. I wish I could have taken a picture of the room...I didn't have my camera and probably would have felt funny taking a picture anyway (though we had the room we were in to ourselves for the first half hour or so). But dinner was wonderful. We had a very friendly and professional waitress...the wait staff there is great. I had two Bloody Marys with dinner...they were incredibly tasty. They might actually beat out my dad's Bloodys. Arthur had Clams Casino for befores and I had a Wilted Winter Greens Salad. It was divine. Greens, goat cheese and tiny little match-stick slices of pear under a warm dijon dressing that made the cheese melty and creamy and....oh my gosh, I want some now. I had the filet mignon for dinner...mighty fine. Arthur had The Cardiologist's Friend, a filet mignon topped by a crabcake and coated with Bearnaise sauce. Dessert was fine, too. As the waitress put my plate done she said something like, "I hear this is a special occasion." I said yes, it was our 28th anniversary and blah, blah, blah. Then I looked down at my dessert plate and, written around the edge in chocolate, was "Happy Anniversary." Cute.

This weekend has been nice so far, if not quite so elegant. We ran down to Towson this noon and had lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant there and then did our grocery shopping. Had a stop there at Barnes and Noble in between and I was thrilled to find a new Flavia de Luce book, a new Martha Grimes book, and I got myself a new Jo Nesbo book. At the moment, I'm reading his Nemesis and really like it. So when I saw this one I grabbed it. (I tried to load scanned pictures of the covers but for some reason they aren't to Blogger's taste. So there are links, instead.) I wasn't even aware that the first two books were out! Cool.

Then, a little later today, I went to my favorite place.

Guess where?

There is a small rash of babies coming to our office...well, two, both arriving in June. I am knitting a little red sweater for the little boy -- pictures to come when I'm a little farther along.

But for Nitin and his wife, who I know better and who are having a little girl, I wanted to make this adorable little jacket. (See, in the picture there?)

And when I heard that Black Sheep had gotten an order of Miss Babs yarn, I went dashing up. There wasn't a huge selection left (not really surprising...that stuff sells like the proverbial hotcakes) and I discovered that the skeins are a little smaller than what the pattern needs. But Miss Bab's mini-skeins came to the rescue. I am thinking that the jacket will be the variegated blue and the front band will be the semi-solid. The only problem is that I was hoping for something a little more vibrant...maybe closer to the color in the I may still do some stash-digging to see what other possibilities there will be.

And while I was there, I saw that the Black Sheep had some skeins of Crazy Zauberball and I remembered that I had a pattern that used it....

And it turns out that the skein I chose is the exact colorway used in the picture. I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but this little scarflette has a cute and tidy little ruffle around the edge that I like a lot.

Finally, I do have a finished object. I took way too long to get this done for some reason...

It's a cap for my cousin's wife and I got it mailed off to her Thursday. Hope it fits her. I should work on some more for her.

Tomorrow, perhaps I'll update my books...