Friday, December 31, 2004

Unfinished Business

The biggest bit of unfinished business will take place over the next few days/weeks/months/years in South East Asia and survivors bury the dead and try to put their lives back together. That region was my focus during my pursuit of a BA at Penn State back in the, well, let's just say that Joe-Pa was a rookie head coach. I feel a certain pull to the region. I donated here but there are lots of other places that will accept "tsunami relief" donations. Please be as genorous as you can!

A new year is just around the corner! What better time to set goals and to reflect on what needs to be accomplished!

To this knitter, that means looking into the UnFinished Objects pile/bin/basket/shelf/cubbie and fishing them all out, lining them all up, and deciding whether or not they are worth the effort.

I currently have only five. I am not sure if that's a record.

Most of the projects are relatively recent cast ons:

Like this sock. The yarn is from Elann. It's one of their Sock It To Me! yarns. I finished the first. Cast on the second. Then realized that the patterning was so different that I couldn't live with it. I thought I had changed needle sizes, so tried a different set of double points. No luck. Same issue. I have a third ball of the yarn. In the new year, I will cast on with that. I'll make the second sock, and if it's different, I'll a) live with fraternal socks or b) cast on #3 and keep the pair that looks most alike.

And this baby sweater. I started it. I put it aside for holiday knitting. I promptly misplaced the pattern. Found the pattern. I'll finish this one very soon! It's Phentex Sport. Not the nicest acrylic in the world, but not the worst either.

And this slipper. It's for the Ships Project. I'll mail this one in February, so I can take my time. I love the yarn (Shoeller Stahl Volare, a blend of merino wool and acrylic).

And this hat. A swatch for a hand-to-hand sweater, one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's patterns. I participate in an on-line knit-along for her stuff. This swatch is supposed to lead up to the full size sweater, but I'll be making the sweater in a different yarn (I think) in a different gauge (probably), but it's a "community" sweater, so it will fit someone. This one should be finished in a matter of days. The yarn? Filati Cervinia "Sorrento," a 100% acrylic with a nice hand.

I do know that one of my UFOs has been on my carryover list since 2003. That's 2+ years on the needles. It's a loose, boxy Aran vest (from 2 Sticks and a String) that I loved when I cast on, loved when I discovered that I didn't have enough yarn (a first, truly, for me--I usually have at least 4-5 balls left over at the end of a project--I think a bag of yarn went AWOL!), loved when I posted an uncharacteristic plea on my e-lists, loved when a good soul/fellow knitter rescued me with a full bag of the same yarn (different dye lot), then languished for a full year. You see, to my eye, the different dyelot (in a natural yarn? WTF?) is just different enough. . .mine is yellowish, the new stuff has a pink tinge.

Anyway, I frogged back the front that I had picked up (from the saddle shoulder). I don't think that the dyelot will be as much of an issue if the whole front is one and the whole back is the other. And looking at the two under my Ott light, I'm not sure what the problem was any more!

So, bottom line: I'm in love again. The yarn? Bernat Club Soft. Discontinued. Sadly. A cotton/acrylic blend. Worsted weight. Look how the cables pop!

Goals for 2005:

Knit more!
Use up stash.
Try new fibers (linen? hemp? silk? cashmere? camel? ramie? tencel?)
Work with new colors.

. . .and maybe, try the drop spindle and fleece I got for Xmas 3 years ago??

And finally, happy recipients of lopi sweaters pose:

Thursday, December 30, 2004


No, this isn't the "100 Things" post. It's way more than that.

I am anal. I keep track. Of things I knit (in a small journal from the Dollar Tree, with a pencil or pen). Of yarn I own (in a spreadsheet--by name, rank (type) and serial number (yes, dyelot!) and how much I have). And yarn I used this year (transfered to a speadsheet from the journal).

Here are the statistics:

My stash consists of 559 countable balls/skeins/hanks, weighing 88.4 pounds and measuring 53.7 miles! WOW! That's about 1/2 mile less than in October when I last added it up, but nearly 40% more than when I started keeping track 4 years ago.

I figure that I have about a 2 year supply on hand, assuming I don't add to it (right, wanna buy a bridge?).

Here's what I used this year:

53.3 pounds and 27 miles!

I made 147 separate items. Some used as little as .5 ounce and 50 yards (or less). My smallest project(s) was that army of teddy sweaters and catnip mice. The biggest (and most tedious as well) was an afghan in Lion Brand homespun.

I used everything from fingering/sock weight (for baby items and an actual pair of socks) to bulky (lopi sweaters and slippers). I used a lot of acrylic for charity knitting, but have moved blithely into washable wools for that endeavor, because they are so much warmer and so much kinder to my hands. I used singles and multi-ply, smooth and nubby. I do not play favorites!

My needle stash was well used this year. I favor circulars (even for flat knitting) and double points. But I gave my very small gauge straights some use, too (on the mice).

Okay, what you've read this far to see (drumroll, please):

4 adult sweaters
1 pair of socks
27 adult hats
6 scarves (only 1 "foofy," and that, at least, was a keyhole one)
27 pairs of slippers
9 preemie/newborn caps
3 afghans
18 baby sweaters
5 laprobes/baby afghans
3 pairs of booties
1 shawl
1 dishcloth
1 pair of mittens
1 Christmas stocking
2 afghan squares
29 toys (including cat toys, bear sweaters, and dolls)
4 ponchos
2 felted purses
9 cat mats
3 felted cat beds

and the finishing on 3 afghans (squares made by other people)

Aren't you impressed (that I did it, or that I kept such meticulous records)?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Cousin, Cousine

Sunday, I got a phone call from a friend of my cousin's.

The only cousin I know well (daughter of my mother's younger sister) and I spent most of our teen years living in the same house and at each other's throats. (Long story, different blog.) In our 40's, we found common ground.

I spoke briefly to B, then she put R on the phone. R had a stroke several years ago and now resides in an assisted living/nursing home. She requires 24/7 care.

The conversation was stifled, as R speaks only in yes/no responses. Bottom line, she's alive, I'm alive. Depressing at best.

In March, her son will be moving her from the east coast to California. I suspect we will lose touch completely.

I am sad.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Finger of Guilt

Wait until the last minute, something will trip you up for sure!

I planned (really, I did) today (Christmas Eve) to be cookie baking day, as there's a long weekend and the bottomless pits (aka the sons) and the soon-to-be daughter -in-law would all be here for a couple of days, and well, you know how it goes with cookies and kids (even very tall kids). (And other halves, too, but who's counting them? I even laid in the ingredients for the white chocolate chip macadamia nut and the gingerbread men with the lemon icing in the middle!

What's that about the best laid plans??

Last night while I was cleaning up the kitchen (a task I usually leave for the other half--I cook, he washes the pots-- but he was dishing up the ice cream), I managed a way-too-close encounter with a new toy:

What, your mother never told you not to play with knives?

It looks much better now than it did last night (a mere 12 hours ago). Serious thoughts were given to a trip to the emergency room. I am missing a fingernail-sized piece of my ring finger.
NOTE TO SELF: Get Band-Aids!

So, I guess I'll pull on the food prep gloves and get started on those cookies. Or find a good bakery that isn't completely sold out!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Black Magic

The ear cozy is finished. and just in time! I'll be wrapping up the recipient's presents tomorrow night while he plays darts.

The pattern is from Fiber Trends (#CH-34). The yarn is a discontinued Lion Brand (Al-Pa-Ka) in basic black.

He'll never wear it, but it matches the (purchased) gloves he's getting. Then again, if it gets cold enough. . .

Yep, obligatory bathroom mirror glamor shot! It looks a lot like those things priests wore in Elizabeth I's time. Hmmm.

I used Cervinia Sorrento (100% acrylic, but with a decent hand) and a bunch of 6-or-less stitch fair isle motifs to make these hats. Family will have first dibs, with the remaining ones going to Ship Support. These are not Christmas presents!

The hat pattern is Elizabeth Zimmermann's "swatch" (as in I'd rather not make a 6" square of knitting) cap from Knitting Workshop (Part 1) and the fair isles are (l-r) from the same book, in the cap directions, same book, the Horizontal Hawser in Part 2, Lesson 2, and several of the motifs from the cover hat on Patons Where Did You Get That Hat? I'd be hard pressed to name my favorite!

I made the one in the middle (and started the one on the left) on that ill-fated nightmare trip to New York. One of the (well-behaved, pre-adolescent) boys that went along was very impressed!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Look For the Silver Lining

Big, brown, and boring (tm) is finished! And it fits the other half like it was made for him! And he likes it. So pthhhhh!

We got home last night to discover that Miss Penny had downloaded her dinner (and possibly Sparky's as well) onto our bedspread. It would be abig heavy sucker even if it weren't king size, so off to the laundromat I went.

I took along the current laprobe and made some nice progress:

I should be able to get it finished this week. But wait!

The sweater-rejector (yeah, I know, I should have asked before I started it) will be getting a hat

instead. (The one without the top-knot!) Perhaps it will stop him from pinching his dad's!

Oh, and Sparky has discovered the bears.

And I have posted more than enough photos in lieu of actually writing. Back to the knitting of ear cozies (that's a Fiber Trends pattern) and the crocheting together of blocks. And the decorating of the tree in the living room and the baking of cookies, and maybe even the making of dinner!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Passage to India

Indeed, that's what it was like when I opened my recycled sari yarn purchased from
the Hunger Site. Because I had been following discussions about this type of yarn on various lists, I really had some buyer's remorse, until I opened the package. Just take a look:

It's not entirely smooth (nor did I expect it to be), and it has a sort of chemical smell (dye, I expect) that is starting to fade. What I was concerned about was other listers comments about seriously thin areas, lots of vegetative matter (okay, floor sweepings) and other issues that might affect ultimate wearability. I am pleased to report that I've found none of those. It seems to be a bit over spun in places, but I can deal with that. And I bought it intending to make small purse-type projects, so it won't be a serious problem.

Here's another shot, this time spread out a bit so you can see the texture better:

I am very pleased!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Radioland Murders

Well, there should have been!

Yesterday, we (the other half, about 45 acquaintences and I) bundled up and took a bus to New York City for a whirlwind visit to see the lights and enjoy the show at Radio City.

I'm here to tell you that the day got off to a nightmarish start when 2 of the folks who signed up were not there when the bus pulled out at 8. But they called one of our traveling companions when we were already well on the road, so we waited at a rest stop outside of Easton (I think) for them to catch up, then we were on our merry way.

Some thoughts on taking bus trips with large numbers of strangers to whom you are somehow related (these were the other half's co-worker's students, mostly):

1) You can't really complain too loudly. It will come back to bite you.
2) Students (i.e. 18-22 year olds) dress really inappropriately a lot of the time.
3) They can be extremely obnoxious, too.
4) Those that wear fragrances, often wear too much.
5) They seem to think that any trip 5 miles from home is an occasion to drink to excess.

Okay. enough of that rant!

The show.

Ahh, the show!

The Rockettes still rock! And the show itself is essentially unchanged except that the music has been updated somewhat and the feature length movie (I'm remembering the 1961 version of Babes In Toyland playing the last time I was there) has been replaced by an awesome 10-minute 3-D short (complete with glasses so the effect is there). way cool!

However (you knew it was coming, didn't you?) the audience was, without a doubt, the most boorish that I have ever had the experience to, well, experience.

We were in the "cheap seats" (2nd Mezz) by New York theater standards. But why, I ask, would anyone pay $36 per seat to talk through the entire performance? To companions. And on cell phones.

A couple came in 30 minutes late. And stood in the aisle, blocking the view of all those nearby. Someone else decided to stand up halfway through, blocking the view of everyone behind him. When one of our party asked him to sit, he responded that the complainer should stand!


The section we were in was packed with little kids. They were better behaved than the adults!

But we saw Saint Patrick's and we drooled at Saks. And someone else did the driving (and parking) and we were home again by 8:30.

Oh, and the people who were late getting to the bus? They crossed 6 lanes of interstate highway on foot in the dark to get back to their car. I couldn't watch!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bad Santa

When I was a kid, I could sneak a peek at Christmas presents better than anyone I knew. I could get my chewed-down fingernails under the tape, slide the box out of the wrapper, check the contents, and get the whole thing re-wrapped and back under the tree before anyone was the wiser. Still can, except that my nails are a lot more useful these days, now that I no longer gnaw.

Why do people ask what I'd like as a gift, then say "that's not a gift" when I tell them what I'd really like to have?

I ask you: Is this a gift??

I think it's a fine gift and it will be wrapped and under the tree. For me!

And speaking of gifts, my Secret Santa sent me a gift!

It's scarf patterns and the Shetland wool in a heathery shade of blue-violet (or is it violet-blue?) to knit one up. The camera does not do the color (or the pattern) justice!

Thanks so much, Jolene!

And the mail guy (yeh, I checked, our fe-mail guy is working the counter these days) brought these lovlies from Elann! Yay, fast service!!

They'll be cozy slippers and (I think) a tiny little evening purse, and a yummy scarf, lacy, I think, or cables.

And tomorrow, the other half and I are getting our anniversary present to/from each other. We are going into New York for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular! I haven't been since I was a little kid, and he's never been. We're taking the bus, so we won't even have the stress of driving. He can read, I can knit.

What fun!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hats Off

I continue to plug away on big, brown, and boring and got a wake up this morning.

Sweater-for-the-kid was my idea, not his. Well, duh! Note to self: ask before embarking, next time!

For the record, it fits me! And the first sleeve is finished.

I'm working my way through the last of the discontinued Lion Brand Al-Pa-Ka. It's lovely yarn, nice to knit, but makes a very fuzzy fabric (as in, it looks like it rolled around in a corner full of cat and dog hair. But it should be warm and comforting. And I added another hat to the Ship Support collection:

I'm working my way through Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop in preparation for doing the Hand to Hand sweater with my knitalong group. This "recipe" is Lessons 1-4 from Part 1.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Fugitive

Looking for a one-armed man, I am!

Many miles of "stone" Naturespun and I am closing in on the end, but I sure do wish I were finished!

Tomorrow, it's back to work, but not before I drive 30 minutes in the opposite direction to meet with 9 of our member agencies. And it's supposed to snow tonight. And they are north of us. Did I mention yet that I hate winter??

I have enough sick leave accumulated that if I could just get a doctor's excuse, I could crawl into my rocker and knit until spring. Note to self: call doctor in the morning.

I will comfort myself tonight with back-to-back Lost episodes, or maybe Third Watch. There's so much saved on TiVo that it doesn't matter that early evening television is garbage!

And I will work on big, brown and boring and finish that first cuff (the only thing more boring than miles of brown stockinette stitch is 2.5" of brown 1X1 ribbing!) or

another of the many laprobes-from-squares-made-by-other-people. I added a white DC border to these blocks (shades of blue and purple and all very uniform in size) . Sets them off nicely, I think.

I have a hat started for Ship Support, too. It's the basic sampler/swatch hat from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop. I certainly don't need a pattern for a watch cap. Lord knows, I've made literally hundreds in the past few years. And I'm not using it as a swatch for another sweater. This cap and maybe one more will use up the last of the discontinued Lion Brand Al-Pa-Ka. But there's something comforting about following EZ's directions, and the colorwork pattern is pretty, so maybe I'll work on that.

And I bought a few more bears

in pretty colors. Go on, admit it. You knew I wouldn't be able to resist. So bite me! No, wait. . .

Third one from the left will not be going to charity once she's clothed!

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Mouse That Roared

Oh, and roar s/he did! Tell me I'm not the only one that Christmas shops or both the household cats, their assorted fuzzy friends, and the grandcats. Please.

I located Wendy's catnip mouse pattern in my binders-of-patterns (be sure to check out the happy kitties in the mouse-along gallery!) and immediately cast on a cabled mouse in what was left of the Tahki Dazzle yarn from another project (felted cat bed, if I remember correctly). Then I made another, then I dug out some geriatric Lopi ina natural color and made two more (lots of that left, so there will be others!) , thenI found a small ball of Mill Blue Naturespun that I'd been using as a pin cushion (needle felting works, by the way!) and cast on another.

This pattern is quick and addicting, and so far, the household cats haven't discovered the Cosmic Catnip on the computer desk. Note to self: put the catnip away!


They take about 30 minutes each to knit and about 10 minutes to seam and stuff.

There's still time to play Santa Paws to your favorite feline!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas Vacation

Did I mention that I have the week off? (I believe I did, and I do!)

I have set myself to cleaning the house and finishing up some projects (like these blasted lap robes, and big brown and boring--more on that subject later, and the Christmas cards that I need to send). So I am. Cleaning. And knitting. And getting quite a lot done, thankyouverymuch.
And, of course, I started a couple of new projects (small, new ones, very, very, small) like the dim sum wontons from the Spring '03 issue of from some wool yarn odds and ends that I whipped up on the Bond.

I got out the 'nip stash to stuff the first two. I suspect I will wish I did this outside when the household cats get wind of the project!

Nothing but the best for my furry friends and their junkie buddies!

And here they are, nestled in their little box, all ready for wrapping:

I think I'll make eggrolls next!

And on a somewhat sadder note, the saga of big, brown, and boring:

I think I may have mentioned that it's big, brown, and boring (I did; it is), but perfect for the intended recipient. Said recipient commented that he "probably wouldn't" ever wear it.

Let me say that the prospect of frogging 4 skeins of yarn crossed my mind only briefly. Fortunately, the other half mentioned that he doesn't "have a brown sweater." (Unless you count the tweed one or the camel one, but that's another story for another day.)

So, big, brown and boring remains on the needles and a WIP. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Bears and I

They are finished! Done! Completed. All 14 of them in small handcrafted (knit or crochet) garments.

Aren't they cute?

And just when I'm thinking I'll never clothe another bear, the Tree gets in a whole bunch in jewel colors (emerald, ruby, dark teal) and the sweetest black bears with brown muzzles. Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

Soooo, I suspect there may be more bears in my future.

In the meantime, I'll throw together a hat or two for Ship Support:

In some Lion Brand (discontinued) Al-Pa-Ka blend. Warm, masculine, and a stash buster.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Revolt in the Big House

Miss Penny is a pig! You'd never know it to see her, but she has this thing about grooming. Not herself, mind you, but things. She recently latched onto pillow cases as something she likes to groom, but only those on the other half's side of the bed.

There are few things more revolting than discovering a very wet spot on your pillow at bedtime. Unless, of course it's finding a spot that was wet earlier. Cat spit dries stiff. Like starch. Ewww, gross!

Who would believe that such a cute cat could be pure evil? The other half has taken to putting his pillow under the comforter when he doesn't actually have his head on it. She has been known to burrow under the sham and the comforter and to make a little nest where she can sleep and groom.

It isn't like she doesn't have a place to sleep.

She claimed this "hot damn" afghan when i was knitting it a couple of years ago. When I realized that she wasn't planning to give it up, I bound it off and gave it to her. It's on the foot of the bed where she sometines sleeps. . .when the pillows are occupied.

I am off today and the rest of the week, using my vacation time so I don't lose it. I spent the better part of the day today knitting and cleaning. Part of the reason for the cleanup, I give you "Mount Trashmore" (also known as the space next to my side of the bed):

It's been a lot worse and now it's a whole lot better.

Photos of the knitting will be saved for another day. I will not post pictures of the clean house.

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