Friday, September 30, 2005

Comfort and Joy

It's hard to be far away from home! It's even harder if you are shooting at people who are shooting at you and trying to kill you. And you are young. And possibly away from home for the first time in your life since camp when you were in 5th grade.

And so, a "hug from home" would be a welcome thing. Enter The Ship Project sending handmade Hugs to deployed troops. I am happy to take part. This month, I'm sending 5 hats and 2 pairs of slippers ('cause those berthing areas are cold and those boots might be made for walkin', but it sure is good to take them off at the end of the day!)

The Big Kid is a Reservist and spent some time in the Sandbox back in 2002. He has family. His unit has a very active Family Readiness Group, so he had a lot of support. Not all of the men and women "over there" do. I hope he doesn't have to return, but, well, he knew when he signed up. . .

No matter how you feel about The War, remember the fighting man and woman, far from home. Too damned young! They should be toting teddies, not guns!

(Bears from the Tree, soon to be on their way to my Other Favorite charity: Cheyenne River Reservation.)

And here's something special that I "threw together" for Cheyenne River: 5-Hour baby sweater and leggings. Isn't that just the cutest?? Yeh, I know they prefer neutral. The next one will be! I promise. Maybe something in a bright blue or green. Or a nifty variegated yarn. Something that doesn't scream "I belong on a baby girl, dagnabbit!"

The yarn is Red Heart Super Saver no dye lot (worsted weight) in Bright Pink. It was 77 cents a skein. (I used less than 3, closer to 2 for both pieces.)

The sweater pattern is Carol Anderson's (She's Cottage Creations.) the Infant Hooded Cardigan (sans hood and closed up into a pullover, knit in the round) from More Projects for the Community & Family. It makes up fast on 10.5 needles

The leggings are from an old Paton's booklet Baby, Baby (#612--might still be available as a Beehive pattern). They are made on 3's (the ribbing) and 5's. I modified the waistband to allow for a drawsting rather than the elastic the pattern called foer. Want them to be comfy on the tummy.

It has been a very long day. The week was a bear, too, even though it was only 2 days long. I wonder, when is our next long weekend? Two months off, you say. Oh, damn!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

All Creatures Great and Small

You change their diet, you up their meds and still you get sore, raw bellies, because, try though you might, you cannot ban dogs from their lives and they still like to lick. And as long as they lick, you get sore, raw bellies. I guess I should be thankful that she can't reach her back, or we'd have a hairless cat!

And I think upping the meds any more than they already are is pretty much out of the question! (Can you say "zombie cat from Hell?" I was pretty sure that you could!) Suggesting to the neighbors that they get rid of their "woofies" is pretty much out of the question, too.

I promised that there would be more about the wedding and here it is (Warning, it's knit related):

I have a Reader! Well, sure, I knew that I have readers, but this one is a Reader! (Hi, LeeAnn --did I spell your name right?)

LeeAnn is an old friend of the Bride (from "down home") and she told me at the party that she's a knitter and she's actually read the drivel that I write here!

Like me, she knits 'in a vacuum' with no nearby face to face knitter-folk. Well it's a vacuum no more! Welcome to my nightmare, er, dream world.

I have about 80 charity projects going at the moment and I promise that there will be photos, just not today.

And the Tree got more bears! Guess I'll be making tiny little sweaters for them.


Monday, September 26, 2005

As Long As They're Happy

It seems that blogger has it in for me today. This is my third try at this entry.

Either it's the charm, or I give up!

We were away for the weekend. Did you miss me?

This was the final round of wedding festivities for the happy couple, and even though the "first dance" was postponed for 5 weeks, it was still lovely.

Family and friends got together to toast the The Big Kid and his Bride. We were pleased to have folks drive, fly and take the Metro for the bash on the roof.

Wonderful party. Wonderful friends.

More later!

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Pretty name (Viennese) , pretty color (cactus) . Pretty well done as of 4 p.m. today!

Obligatory bathroom mirror shot! Over the shoulder! Now the debate: to block or not. The pattern says "lightly;" the alpaca's sayin' "no way!"

I think I may have to test a "hidden" spot with a shot-o-steam. And so I did. Very, very lightly with shot-o-steam and now it's ready to give away.

The pattern called for 880 yards (4 - 220 yard skeins) of Morehouse Farms Merino 2-strand. I estimate that I used a little over 700 yards ofElann's Peruvian Pure Alpaca (6.5 skeins) . I used the recommended needle size (7's for the lace, 4's for the ribbed cuffs) and got a nice fabric and the called-for gauge.

And so, tomorrow, we are off to the last of the wedding festivities--the after-wedding par-tay. On the roof.

The girls went off to the "spa" for the weekend. I am pretty sure that they will have a pleasant time.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Night After Night

I am posting only because it's been several days. . .

Seriously! Nothing is new on the knitting front, though I am making a dent in the acrylic stash (but not enough to warrant a photo or update yet!)

It has been a hectic few days, with a hectic weekend coming up.

More later, I promise!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cookie's Fortune

I promised to make cookies to take to the kids (next weekend is their wedding bash). Russian tea cakes for the bridegroom, Mexican wedding cakes for the bride.

So imagine my surprise when googling for a Mexican wedding cake recipe without cinnamon and/or chocolate (no problem, I found the one I was looking for) when I discovered a recipe for both. The same recipe! Showing the name as "Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes." (emphasis mine) Wow!

Well, I'm here to tell you that they are not the same! The tea cakes are flour based, the wedding cookies use ground pecans in place of part of the flour. So there.

But that started me looking at cookie recipes in a lot of my cookbooks. (My cookbook collection once rivaled my knitting book collection, but I gave a bunch to the Older Kid.)

Cookies are all essentially the same. Oh, the additions are different. Some have spices or nuts or fruit, but the basic recipe: fat, sugar, flour, and the technique: cream the fat with the sugar, add the flour, is the same in nearly every cookie recipe I have.

Today, I toasted the pecans. Tomorrow I bake! (Film at 11?)

We were going to buy a bunch of fancy cookies to go along with the ones I am making, but after stops at several bakeries today (including the incredible Kiffle* Kitchen), I decided that the taste did not warrant the cost. My time may be valuable, but homemade tastes better.

*kiffle--an Eastern European pastry made of a sour cream pastry rolled around a fruit, nut, or poppyseed filling. Very time consuming, very tasty. Maybe at Christmas when I don't mind having the oven on for hours at a time!


Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Take one shein of inexpensive variegated yarn (Bernat Aspen in Violet Meadow colorway, a mixture of lavender, lilac, 2 shades of green, and navy) and knit it in the round on 40 stitches, you get this:

Take the same yarn, cast on 80 stitches and knit in the round, you get this:


Knit it flat (back and forth) and get something entirely different!

I know that many knitters don't like the pooling and puddling that hand painted and variegated yarns make, but I think some of the patterns are kind of neat!

And I've made some nice progress on the lacey shrug:

I'm estimating that I am about 1/4 of the way to the opposite cuff. Those ovals are the center motif. I may be tempted to keep this one for me! Nah!

This just in:

Guess what I found!!! In the least likely of spots, of course, in my WIP "tub"--the missing IK Summer '02!

That's the one that had the Victorian Christmas stocking pattern.

The one that a couple of you kind folks helped me finish the toe patterning of!

That would be the stocking that took a second place at the fair.


I knew it would turn up!


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Looking Forward

I think I may have mentioned the mess-that-is-our-yard in the past. Fifteen years of benign neglect after 35 years of overplanting have taken their toll. It's time to get serious!

I had planned to do a little fall planting today, but instead, attacked a shrub (hey, it deserved it!) :

I reduced it to a quivering pile of yard waste:

The planting of the "hardy" asters waited too long for some.

I think this one may not "bounce back!"

But these:

might survive if my procrastination doesn't kill them first! I have the fall bulb catalogs out too, cosidering what to order for next spring bloom. I'm thinking about "naturalizing" the stupid bank that we can't mow often because of rocks and pitch. Some ground-cover tulips and a bunch of crocuses ought to do the trick.

I got in a little knitting and am nearly finished with the October mittens! So there! (Only one pair to go after these!)

I put in a couple rows on the shrug, too, but it doesn't look enough different to warrant a photo.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Edward Scissorhands

would have loved these:

Rather than search all over for a pattern for "fingerless mitts," I adapted the mitten pattern ("woman" size) in the current (Fall 2005) issue of FCEK + C to a cut-off version. Any basic mitten pattern could be converted in the same way.

Recipe: (Note: my mitt/en was knitted in the round, a 2-needle pattern will also work.)

Make any basic mitten pattern (the kind with a thumb gusset, I have not tried this with the "afterthought"-type thumb--yet) until the thumb increases are completed and the thumb stitches are on a holder (piece of yarn)*.

Continue lengthening the hand portion of the mitt/en until the knitting is long enough to just cover the knuckles at the base of your fingers. Rib to match the cuff for 6 rounds (in worsted weight yarn, or 1" in lighter/heavier yarns). Bind off firmly in ribbing.

Pick up the thumb stitches and knit 1 round. Rib to match cuff for 3 rounds (or 1/2"). Bind off firmly in ribbing. Make another.

* If your pattern calls for finishing the thumb first, then completing the hand, knit one round, then rib for 3 rounds. Pick up the hand portion and follow the recipe above.

I will point out that there are divergent views in this household about the usefulness of such mitts. I like them and plan to make a pair for myself for winter driving. The Kid (a leather glove fan) was not impressed and said that he would not want a pair. (I am listening this time!) I have not gotten a commitment one way or the other from the Wrangler-driving Other Half.

This pair is going to Cheyenne River as part of my 7-pair committment. (Yes, it might be considered "cheating" in some circles. Shut up!) I plan to make more for Ship Support. It's a new request for deployed military personnel.



Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Mighty Ducks

My homecoming was delayed this afternoon. I brake for ducks. Seriously! Not like in the children's classic by Robert McCloskey, . These weren't babies, but full-grown ducks and they were crossing the road! In a row!

Ah, life in a small town.

I've received a jury duty notice. I know my civic duty. I pay my taxes. I vote. I obey the law. But man, could it have come at a worse time?

I've gotten the notice several times since we moved here (and in previous lives as well), but have actually had to really, truly go once. I was many months pregnant with the younger kid, so it's been more than 26 years.

Here's how it works: I'm assigned a "jury pool" number (114, in this case). At 5:30 (in 45 minutes) I call this number and get a recorded message that I am excused and thankyouverymuch or I get parking instructions and a time to report. Update: "Jury panels for Thursday, September 8, are not required to report. Thank you for your willingness to serve. This is a recording." :whew:

Come to think of it, two days respite would have been kind of nice. . .

I reached the halfway point with the shrug:

It's the exact halfway point. I took out the provisional cast on and I am ready to go in the opposite direction.

And I am halfway done with the August mittens (I know, shut up!) using the seamless pattern in the Fall 2005 Family Circle Easy Knitting.

I will say that it's very well and clearly written, but the directions are in only 3 sizes, child, woman, man (7"/10"/11" from wrist to tip). For what I'm doing (community knitting), that's okay. People knitting for specific hands might need to recalibrate or choose another pattern.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Five Finger Exercise

I done been tagged by Karyn .

10 years ago I was: working in my own business

5 years ago I was: Relatively new in my current job with 2 kids in college

1 year ago I was: cleaning up after Ivan (a week from now)

Yesterday: I was at the fair

5 snacks I enjoy: hard candies, herbal tea, fruit, potato chips, cheese

5 songs I know all the words to: Hello, Young Lovers, Michelle, The Unicorn, Happy Birthday, Moon River

5 things I would do with 100 million dollars: donate a bunch, get both kids their own houses, travel, move closer to work, no, wait, retire.

5 places I would run away to: Rome, Lisbon, Portugal, Ireland, Hawaii, not necessarily in that order

5 things I would never wear: high heels, a girdle, stretch pants, low-cut tops, skimpy underpants
5 favorite tv shows: Boston Legal, Law & Order (in all its incarnations), Rescue Me, The Shield, Medium

5 bad habits: eat too much, don't exercise, don't get enough sleep, am very messy, spend way too much on yarn, needles, patterns, beads, buttons, fabric, etc.

5 biggest joys: The Other Half, my sons (2), the new DIL, the cats

5 favorite toys: yarn, beads, needles, books, fabric

5 fictional characters I would date: wow, tough one! Butch Cassidy, Rick (Casablanca), Han Solo, Mr. Spock, Laurie (Little Women)

5 people I tag to do this: I suspect I have come late to the party, again, so if you haven't done this one and want to, leave a comment and go for it!

And now, what you've been waiting for, go on, admit it!

Two of my fair entries, First place for snowmen, other, second for Christmas stocking, knit. I had a total of 15 entries. Got 5 firsts, 5 seconds, 2 thirds, 2 fourths, and a fifth.

Part of the crafts exhibit. There were very few quilts this year.

First place "meritorious flowering houseplant."

Jams, jellies, and preserves

Veggies and ornamentals

First place Grange exhibit



Sheep in clan outfits

Sheep being shorn.

See you again next year!


Saturday, September 03, 2005

September Affair

I seem to have picked up my annual end-of-summer crud. It's related (I think) to ragweed season which started right on time (August 15). Sniffles and sneezes lead to post-nasal crap that eventually leads to a racking chesty cough and a lost voice. Yep, right on time.

I've been fielding calls left and right at work about what to do and how to help victims of Katrina. I've suggested that they "write a check and mail it, go on-line and donate." Good folks have been sending and bringing in donations that we have been forwarding to America's Second Harvest . It's what's needed right at the moment. The call for material "goods" will be coming soon, and has already started in some areas.

I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of those with little to give! Our food bank administers a nutrition program for the very low-income elderly people in our area. (For those who care, it's the Commodity Supplemental Food Program .) The people who participate at one of the "senior hi-rises" called yesterday and volunteered their September food boxes! At another of the hi-rises, the participants and other residents are having a "bedding" (sheets, blankets) drive. This from people who are all over 60 and whose average income is somewhere around $650 a month! Amazing! (And just for the record, the seniors' boxes are safe.)

For some thoughts on the Crescent City by someone who's only dreamed of being there, visit my good friend Rabbitch . Janice, New Orleans was everything you dreamed, and more. I visited that city only once. A long time ago. The Other Half was attending a conference, so I and one of the other wives explored the French Quarter for two days on our own during the daytime, and the Other Half and I explored the night life after dark. It was old, beautiful, architecturally unique. Now it's (probably) gone.

And on a related note, the Kid is spending the weekend at Red Cross training. He's still negotiating with his boss, but it looks like he may be vacationing on the Gulf Coast. Keep a good thought, please.

September Check-in

Not much in WIP pile this month. I'm making some progress on the shrug:

I'm nearly at the point where I'll start decreasing, then join the row ends to start forming the sleeve, so let's call it 1/4 done. There's a 40 row X 19-31 stitch chart with constant increases and decreases. No chance for memorizing that puppy!

I'm finishing up the last of the squares that were sent to me over a year ago for joining into blankets/laprobes/afghans for residents at Cheyenne River Reservation:

Just edging them with a common color and whip-stitching them together. This one wiill be edged with black. It's the last of the squares and will be a challenge to arrange "artistically." I'll keep you posted!

I've lost track of how many of these I've made (8? 9?) already. I just couldn't get motivated on the last couple until our group got a request for assistance from the Child Protective Services worker. CPS is responsible for the fostercare program on the reservation. Children being placed often have nothing but the clothes on their backs. And they are often placed with families that have barely enough to make ends meet (or not). Another incredible example of people with very little giving to those with even less. Damn! Why can't we all be like that?

And now for your viewing pleasure:

A few of the tools of my trade. First up:

A nifty clear plastic barrel bag that's a great project bag. It came with a Martha Stewart fleece blanket inside. It closes with a zipper, has a handle, and a little pocket on the inside that once held the package label, but is perfect for a (fair use) copy ofthe WIP pattern. Cost: $0.00

"Throw away" scissors from the Dollar Tree. They come in a couple of sizes and lots of colors, are sharp enough to cut through flesh when they are new (ask me how I know this!), and at a buck a pair, can be tossed without guilt when they get dull. (I save my Fiskars for fabric!)

Wine glass tag. Useful as a stitch marker for fat needles. This one is part of a 6/$1 set from the "Tree." Shown on a size 15.

Notions pouches. The Celestial Seasonings tin (left) one was free with purchase. The woven one (right) is from Guatemala by way of UNICEF. I think it was about $5. Definitely less than $10, handmade, and supporting a good cause.

Later today, we'll be traveling to the fairgrounds to see how well I did. It's our day to see the Fudge Man and indulge in a once a year treat. I'm taking the camera. Film at 11.


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