Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Best of Times

It's the end of a year and time for taking stock. I will not bare my entire soul to the world today, but will recap the highlights of those things-of-which-I-have-blogged:

Good Stuff: Had a successful Fair Experience again this year, though I've lost track of the ribbons. The "take" approached $25.

Good Stuff: Stretched my wings a bit, making a Lopi cardigan (and another cardigan) for myself. It fits, it draws compliments, the buttons don't gap.

Bad stuff: I didn't steek the Lopi cardigan.

Resolution: 2006 will be the Year of the Steek! Starting small (and probably donating if no small personal person is on the horizon), with one of the Cottage Creations booklets I already own.

The directions are chatty, the sweaters are small (toddler size) and cute (what could be "not cute" about a Scandanavian sweater sized for a baby?) The knitting should go relatively fast (worsted weight, baby size), so I'll get to the steeking fast and get it over with.

Good stuff: I tackled a lot of simple lace.

Bad Stuff: I gave it all away.

Resolution: Use this yummy handpainted alpaca that I bought at Stitches East (2000? It was still in King of Prussia) at Ellen's Half-Pint Farms booth.

The color is "Southwestern Dessert," a mixture of peachy and green shades that will make a lovely wrap of some sort. In lace. For me.

Good Stuff: I asked for (and got) a bunch of great new knitting books.

Bad Stuff: There aren't enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month. . .

Resolution: Tackle one new idea/project from each, starting with Modular Knitting, since I'm currently on a scarf roll.

Five scrappy scarves will be mailed to Cheyenne River today. Just saying. There'll be t-shirts and toothbrushes and other stuff in the box with them.

The scarves are for the current Scarf Challenge going on here . It gets awfully cold on the Northern Plains in the winter.

Good Stuff: I made lots of baby stuff.

Bad Stuff: I didn't get to see most, er, any, of it in use.

Resolution: Make some cute baby stuff for people I know, like the Teeny, Tiny Baby Socks.

That's leftover Koigu on the left and leftover Trekking on the right. Leftover quarter in the middle for scale.

Resolution: Make lots! Use up all the leftovers. Younger Son likes handknit socks. Younger son has big feet. Younger Son's socks take more than 2 balls of sock yarn, leaving lots of 2/3's balls of cool yarn for making baby socks.

Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Tomorrow: The 2005 yarn count.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Once the big stuff was out of the way, I decided to take on a tiny project to fill the days until the new year.

Meet Koigu. Meet a tiny pair of socks. Aren't they sweet? Pattern in the freebies here . Look for Fairisle Baby Socks.

Next pair: self-patterning leftovers.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Rabbit Test

I am such a lemming! Sheep, even.

Everyone's doing it. Snag the Bunny and post him to your blog.

Ain't he cute? Don't you just wanna squeeze him? Careful. He's just a little bunnie.

Upload to your own damned server and post him.


I got mine from Hockey Mom .

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Too Much, Too Soon

I am overwhelmed!

The troops came through magnificently:

New sheep for the shelf. (And yes, I am running out of room. Why do you ask?)

New books. Top to bottom: New paperback Anita Shreve mind candy,
Memoirs of a Geisha,
Yarn Harlot (Bookbookbook 2?) ,
The Gallery of Regrettable Food (just too very funny),
Odd Ball Knitting,
Picture Knits,
Modular Knits,
Knitting the Old Way,
Andean Folk Knits

Do they know me?? For the record, the knitting books were all on My List (tm). I hoped to get one or two.

Sparky got everything she wanted too. "Oh, you mean the wrap wasn't my gift??"

And on a knitterly note, here's how I wound up dealing with the Aran beanie.

I decided to cross only the center 4 stitches of the six that remained in knit, leaving the side two stitches in k1.

Unconventional, I know, but a method that makes the foreground pop even more than normal.

The top decreases were a bear! I really wanted to maintain the cable right to the bitter end which meant doing all decreasing in the purl section, seven stitches every round. That still left me with 42 stitches after all the purls were gone.

I solved this problem with some clever manipulation, first getting rid of 7 extra knit stitches, one in each cable panel (35 stitches), then decreasing inside the cable twist (28 stitches). The rest was a piece of cake by comparison.

It's really obvious that the background has receded a lot in this photo of the finished beanie.

I'm so pleased with how it looks that it will be tucked away for this summer's fair. I just wish I had made it in wool!

I got the new camera that I had hoped for, so expect improvement in the quality of the pictures on this blog as soon as i figure out how to use it.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

March of the Penguins

We rented it last night.

I'm impressed that someone would devote a year of his/her life to documenting the breeding cycle of the emperor penguin, but I'm not sure I get the "family values" proponents using this as a "natural example."

Emperor penguins are "monogamous to a point." (That is, during the breeding cycle, they pick a mate and stay with that mate for the breeding cycle. But the breeding cycle is less than a year and they live for 20 or more.) At certain times, the mothers abandon the family to seek food that they bring back to the chick (working mom, SAH dad?) then the fathers abandon the mother and chick (to go seek food for themselves, selfish bastages!). Oh, and if the father gets really hungry and Mom isn't back yet, he'll abandon the chick. Then, the kicker, Mom and Dad both abandon the chick before it's full grown. Aren't these the kind of "values" that we decry among "certain populations?"

And as long as we are talking about penguins and values, what kind of crazy f*ck steals a baby penguin ? I mean, what would you do with one if you had it? Fatten it up and eat it? Keep it as a pet? Sick, just sick.

And in the spirit of design: (no, I have not been in the spirits!) I discovered early on that I had a mistaken interpretation of the chart in the cozy baby blankie, shown to the left in its pre-block, completed glory.

When I got to the end border, I goofed up again and had to rework 2 rows. That convinced me that the decision to treat the earlier "oops" as a design feature was a good one. This stuff is a bear to rip. The halo that makes it soft and cuddly also makes it hold on for dear life!

Since my mistake was already repeated 3 times in the three cable panels (and three times is a "design feature," not a "mistake") , I decided to just repeat 3 more times in the very last repeat.

Can you see what I did? I misread the chart that wanted me to "slip 4 stitches to a cable needle and hold them in front, knit the next 4 stitches, then knit the 4 stitches from the cable needle" as "slip two stitches to a cn, hold in front, knit 2, knit 2 from the cn, repeat." Well, d'oh!

If I had just bothered to read the " in other words" part of the directions. . .

By the time I realized my mistake, I was already several rows beyond. Sure, I could have dropped down just the cable panel and fixed it, but (see note about sticky yarn, above) I was already debating frogging the whole damned thing.

Once I decided to forge ahead, it was a simple matter to decide that the same "mistake" placed at the end could easily become part of the design.

And so, that is what I did, dear readers. In the spirit of the season.

I am planning a hooded sweater to go with this blankie and a tiny pair of socks. I'll use just the yellow and save the white for another day, another project. It really needs to be blended with something smoother to tame it a bit.

I discovered an error in my yarn countdown, and have corrected it. It seems that I have knit up more than a mile of yarn in the past two weeks (no surprise), but that there was also a mistake somewhere in my original spreadsheet the low-balled the weight of my yarn stash. I think it's all fixed. the December stats are now correct. I will update on January 5.

And again, in the spirit of the season: I do apologize for any wet pants, spewed monitors, and general meltdown that may have been caused by my seasonal grinchiness.

This one's for all you "old farts" (the over 40's). I promise it won't startle the cat on your lap.

Holiday Wishes from me to you

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Lucky Stiff

Last day before a 3-day weekend. Oh, how I wish I could stay home and knit!

And next week my Operations Manager is off (payback for the week I took earlier in the month). Use it or lose it leave policy! And Tuesday's gonna suck. Nearly everyone has the day off. Skeleton crew.

That is all.

How the Grinch Sole Christmas, part 12:

Did Willie Nelson approve use of his image?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Check and Double Check

As the Winter Holiday draws closer (3 days?) I need to check over the piles of presents. The gifts for the Best Friend were completed, wrapped and mailed last week. Many of them were handmade (pictures of some were posted here). Since this friend is herself a talented crafter (counted cross-stitch), I know she appreciates the time and talent that go into a handmade gift. I just hope she likes the colors I selected.

The gifts for The Older Kid and The New Daughter-In-Law are sitting over there :points:, some beautifully wrapped, others awaiting a suitable box/gift bag. They won't be mailed until next week.

Last year, The Older Kid ordered a gift for The Younger Kid on-line. UPS claims to have delivered it and left it in the doorway of the apartment in a building The Older Kid shares with several hundred Other People. Do I need to tell you how long it took to get the gift replaced? And how much yelling and threatening?

That's why we are waiting to mail until they are home.

There's been some progress on the knitting front.
The yellow blankie is coming along and it looks as though one each of these massive balls of yarn (ABM Fluffy-250 g each) may be enough to finish the whole thing. If that's the case, I have enough left to make a second blankie.

The "real" Penn State scarf is more than half-done.

The Aran beanie is under the pile somewhere. In exactly the same condition it was the last time you saw it.

How the Grinch, part 11:

There will be only one more part, I think. Twelve days of X-moose and all that, you know. And yes, I know that the 12 days actually start on December 25 and end on, are you ready?, Twelfth Night (Epiphany, January 6). But why wait? Celebrate early.

This one is really intriguing. Remember all the play-backwards songs of the 70's with their hidden messages? (Yeh, the drugs and booze did wonderful things for our imaginations, didn't they?) It seems that they go back way earlier than that! This is an old tune, played backwards. Put the volume on at least "medium" so you can hear the subtle message!

Put down your beverage, set aside that cookie. Today's Grinch is found here here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Press for Time

Happy Solstice. Celebrate today in the traditional Celtic mannor: cut down a tree and set it a-blaze to encourage the sun to return. If we didn't live in a no-burn zone, I'd be doing it!

I scrambled all last week to clean the house (truly, I did!) because we were expecting Christmas Company (the Big Kid and the New Daughter-In-Law). Their original plans forthe holiday (to visit her parents in a warm, sunny place) had sadly fallen through. We were the back-up. Then Tuesday night we got the call every parent of Newlyweds fears--they found cheap airfare!

The bad news: all their presents are here and it's too late to ship them "slow and cheap." It's even (probably) too late to ship them "fast and expensive." I refuse to send anything (except maybe a passport to someone stuck in a former-Soviet bloc country, and even then, only if he's being detained) "Express Mail." Under the circumstances, that's just dumb!

So, they'll be getting Extended Christmas Cheer. After they return home. Twelfth Night, even.

The good news: I don't have to shovel this room out just yet. This is very good news. Just look around you! No, don't. It's just too horrible. :whew:

The reclaimed sock yarn is dry and rolled into neat little balls. See how relaxed it looks?

Sometime in June, I'll cast on again. Maybe little socks and a hat. Definitely not a sweater!

And for the record, the big ball is one whole ball of yarn. The medium-size ball is part of a second (the worked part of the one I had attached and started the front-back of former baby sweater). I don't know where the little one came from. It was just there. :cue Twilight Zone music:

How the Grinch Stole the Holiday (and why) part 10 can be found here . Turn up the volume and prepare to chuckle! Christmas celebrators aren't the only ones with bad music!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Repeat Performance

The sock-yarn baby sweater is only a faint memory. Over the weekend, I frogged the sleeve that was finished and the front/back that was not, and reclaimed the yarn. Re-stashed that stuff with no plan for its future.

First, I used a new wire hanger to make a square frame.

Then I wound the frogged yarn loosely on the frame.

I filled the kitchen sink with warm water (after first scrubbing it out) and put the framed yarn into the water to soak for abour 15 minutes.

That relaxed the kinks quite nicely.

Then I drained the water and hung the frame on the faucet to drain a bit of the water out. Note, if this were a heavier yarn, I would have skipped right to step 4 before the hanging part to prevent stretching the yarn.

Please note the very clean sink. We take pictures because it's so rare!

Next, I put the frame on towels and pressed out as much of the remaining water as I could before hanging the frame in an out-of-the-way place so that the yarn could dry.

Last night, it was still a little damp, So the balling of the yarn was postponed.

There you have it: restashed yarn.

How the Grinch, you know the drill, part 9: I give you snowglobe . While shaking the shit out of it (and listening to the screams of ?delight?) is fun, I urge you to let it sit on your desktop. Watch the action first, then shake the shit out of it!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Back to the Future

Today, I go back to work. That noise you hear is not a tsunami. It's me sighing. I could get really used to this stay-at-home thing.

Have an appointment to meet and greet a new potential major food donor. That means that I and our development coordinator will be out this morning. And our receptionist/front desk person asked for the day off. It's going to be hectic.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, um, 8?:

Today's installment is brought to you by those wonderful bunnies .

Sunday, December 18, 2005


There's a movement afoot to empty needles (all of them) before the end of the year. Uh huh. Like that's gonna happen here!

I will confess that I have this superstition (minor) about casting on something brand new at the stroke of midnight (after I kiss the Other Half, of course). For the past several years, I have started something while the crowds in Times Square shout their new years greetings to the world.

But as I thought about it, there's a certain liberation in setting free yarn and needles that have been trapped in an unhealthy relationship, and so, I give you:

The sock yarn baby sweater.

I give up!

Whether this yarn will become socks after all or not, remains to be seen. One thing is certain. It will not be a baby sweater. At least not that side to side one! Maybe top down? Maybe combined with something else. Maybe in the spring.

What was I thinking?

Back in your baggie, you otherworldly stuff! And take those size 1 straights with you!

(Though I think I may wash the yarn before I store it --just to get the kinks out.)

Next up, the experimental Aran beanie.

It's got me stumped for the moment. See how I've traveled those ribs over to a point? I want to "braid" them into an interesting cable.

I had a cable bookmarked in a real magazine or book (can't remember which) with an honest-to-FSM sticky-note bookmark. Now I can't find it!

I'll dig through some stitch dictionaries and find what I want. This will definitely be finished before the end of the year!

It's slated to be mailed to the Ship Project during January mailing!

The cozy baby blanket adapted from a pattern in Knitter's #45 (the Nordic to Aran issue with the great red, black and white ski sweaters on the cover. Whatever went so wrong with Knitter's? They used to be so. . .but I digress.)

I took the pattern meant for Woolease (2 strands), narrowed it by one pattern repeat, started it with ABM Fluffy (wool/ack with a fuzzy hand) in gawd-awful yellow (see picture of FSU scarf-in-progress, now finished) toned down with white so it's almost soft yellow.

Size 11's and double strands are making it go very fast now that I'm actually working on it again. If I could just find my big, fat, sturdy cable needle that went missing somewhere between the sofa in the basement last night and my comfy computer chair this morning, I could keep working on it now.

Not yet cast on, PSU scarf in the correct (navy) blue and (pure) white.

Of course, I had this stuff stashed. It had just fallen to the bottom of the heap.

Will it be finished before the end of the year? Yes, yes it will!

And so, she looks around. Four? Only four ? WTF's up with that? Must cast on! Must start 2 more beanies, three more scarves, four baby sweaters.

Or wait! Is it possible that the needles might actually be naked on December 31? Could this be a new tradition? Will the knitter stop knitting? The blogger stop blogging? I don't think so. Stay tuned.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 7 (I think-- definitely "stole," it's the "7" that has me guessing):

Check out the fun here (rated G: safe for kids, grown ups, Aunt Sadie, Uncle Mort): build your own . Just drag and drop.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Doctor Doolittle

Here's a picture of what I go through several times a day:

Dropper bottle: morning and night, antibiotics for Penny (banana scented, yum. WTF?) for 4.5 more days. (Not that I'm counting.) Green bottle: Thyroid shit. 1/4 tablet wrapped in a treat (thank FSM she's a treat cat!) twice a day--forever. Pill splitters (they get dull. The clear one is sharp but has no little reservoir thingie (technical term) to hold the leftover piece). Brown bottle: Sparky's mood elevators (Elavil). One-half tablet a day at bedtime.

Just call me Nurse Ratchet!

Progress on the Florida State version:

Oh, my aching hands!

And How the Grinch Stole Christmas 6:

Enjoy the rantings of an R-rated squirrel . (At least that's what I think "she" is.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 5

Dear Ebay and PayPal,

I do not have an account with either of you (and though I certainly understand you are linked to each other, I have no intention of clicking on either link). Please stop telling me to "update" my "information."

Earnestness alert: I know this is phishing.

Today's entertainment is located here .

Cat update: Penny got her staples out yesterday. She got a funky collar to wear (photos later when I find her). She's hiding so the Other Kitty doesn't point and giggle. And antibiotics. And a couple of shots. And my wallet is officially empty.

Scarf update: Penn State is done. Florida State is cast on. The things we do for love!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


The past few years have been pretty sucky for Penn State Football! There were calls for JoPa to retire, and calls for a new philosophy, and while all that may well be in order, for the moment, PSU is once again Orange Bowl Bound!

In honor of that honor, I cast on another sideways garter stitch scarf:

Something like 240 stitches, size 9 needles, 2 rows (one ridge) of denim blue alternating with creamy white.

I think the blue is Plymouth Encore. The ball band is long-lost, but it's definitely wool and ack. The cream is Cervinia Sorrento (100% ack, but soft). We're probably looking at around 400 yards total (slightly more blue than cream as that's what I cast on and will bind off). I'm planning about a 6" wide X 6' long finished size.

No, it's not Penn State (navy) blue and white. It's what was in the stash. Get over it! FCEK said that PSU's colors are navy and silver. I think I'm closer to the mark!

The opposing team is Florida State. They had a good finish to the season, but this could get ugly. The New Daughter-In-Law is one of them. Yep, a Seminole. So I figure, if I make the blue/white stripey scarf for the Older Kid, I'm going to need to make a scarf for the New Daughter-In-Law, because we love her, mis-informed though she may be.

I've got the wine red (more Sorrento), but I'm going to have to come up with the goldenrod. Trip to Spillaine's is in order if it stops precipitating. Darn!

Now here's the rub. The game is January 3, a Tuesday, and I'll have to work the next day!

And a bit about JoPa and our personal history: The Other Half and I were freshmen at PSU his second year as head coach! Really! That long ago. Monday (December 12) we marked 35 years as a married couple. We got married while we were still in college (seniors, but still. . .).

And to think, I made him a sweater while we were dating. Another myth shot to hell!

. .

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 4

Santa does not arrive in a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer. He drives a brown truck!

And here's something cheerful to sing along with.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Forever Amber

I finished another gift.

Because of the nature of it (test knitting a sample for a class to start in the spring), I can't show the whole thing (rats!), but I can tell you that blocking, er, dressing, made all the difference on this one. It added 1/3 to the length (a very good thing as it was looking a bit skimpy), changed the drape from spongy to silky, and generally made the it. It's a "seaman"-type scarf with the ribbed neckband and lace end panels.

The yarn: Austermann Barkarole, merino/silk/cashmere blend from that happens to have it (for the moment) back in stock, but not in this color. It's a sport-weight (85 m/25 g) and one of the nicest yarns I have encountered in a long time. Not to enable or anything. (Red? Aubergine? That pretty baby blue? You know you want it!)

And doesn't the amber shawl pin finish it off just perfectly? (Except that the photo is less than perfect. I wanna better camera! See note about "after the holidays" in a previous post.)

I was torn between this one (which I really wanted to keep), and one of the more "fun" ones I have. Decided to be "sedate." Classic. Classy.

And on another note: Did you see this week's Newsweek? There's lots of good food for thought (an op piece on "Homemade/Handmade Christmas," for one), and some scary stuff about the isolation of the current "folks in charge."



How the Grinch Stole Christmas 3

Shitcan the "Holly, Jolly" music!

That is all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dressed to Kill

As knitted stuff is "fulled" (not felted), lace is "dressed (not blocked). Dressing invoves some rather rigorous pulling tugging, and patience.

The shawl is finished. And it is gorgeous, but it really needed some finishing magic.

So I threaded some crochet cotton through the edge bumps. (I want blocking wires, but they'll have to wait for the ho oho holdays to be over.)

Then I soaked the whole thing in my salad spinner (yes, I do own one!) with some Mane and Tail (I'd like some Euchlan, too. See above.) and warm water.

I spun out the water and looked around for a suitable blocking surface.

Finding none (clean, flat, cat free), I spread this old navy sheet (navy as in blue, not "Navy" as in "U.S." or Navy as in "Old) on the livingroom carpet, racheted up the ceiling fan, and proceeded to pin out the lace.

The soak in warm water, then the yanking and pulling got it into nice shape.

The ceiling fan added enough of a breeze that it was dry in about 4 hours (good thing because I'm not sure how much longer I could have defended it from the furries).

There are two glaring (to me) errors in the lace. They will pass the galloping horse test, and as long as I don't point them out, I don't think anyone will be the wiser!

And this will be a "go along with":

You can get your own here.

And every time I hear someone ask "do I hafta block it?" I want to scream: Only if you care how it looks!

Here's the Irish Hiking Scarf (google it, or check the archives--I've posted the link already), post block. I gave it the same Mane and Tail/salad spinner treatment and patted it into shape on a towel. It took longer to dry than the shawl, but , it's a lot thicker and there's no fan over the pool table.

It's "real" wool and let me tell you, the "stuff" that washed out was pretty gaggy. Plus it softened up quite a bit (no, it's not next-to-skin soft, but it's a lot less scratchy than it was!)

Even ack benefits from a warm water soak. It gets the hand oils and sweat out, evens out the stitches a bit, and, well, makes the knitwear difference of ironing vs. not ironing a "wash and wear" dress shirt. 'nuff said. Do what makes you happy. I'll continue blocking.


Monday, December 12, 2005

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 2

Allow me a few rants before I get to the knitting, okay?

Whoever it was that first said "it's the thought that counts," was on the right track. However, most folks who say that these days simply aren't thinking!

Case in point 1: Folks who want to "provide a nice holiday" are usually thinking about what would make a "nice" holiday from the comfort of their lives. Unfortunately, the folks on the receiving end often don't have that comfort. To give a child a battery-operated toy when you can afford replacement batteries is one thing. To give that same toy to a child whose family has a tough time keeping a roof overhead and food on the table. Different story.

Case in point 2: "Holiday meals" with all the fixin's are a myth. Rockwell aside, lots of families aren't sitting down to a traditional turkey at the holidays. They're having a traditional beans and rice or whatever food their particular tradition dictates. Besides, are you sure they have an oven big enough? What about space to stow the leftovers? Rather than a 20 pound bird, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and the makings of that gawdawful green bean casserole, how about spending the same money on jars of peanut butter, boxes of cereal, some rice, noodles, canned veggies and tuna and soup and a chicken or two? Or even a grocery gift card so that they can pick out what they want.

Case in point 3: Children don't learn to be caring and compassionate by making one trip to a shelter or soup kitchen. As my friend M (who actually runs a soup kitchen) said: "This ain't no freak show. There's nothing to see. Move along." You want to help at the soup kitchen? Volunteer to help regularly, not just on Christmas. And volunteer ahead of time, not on Christmas Eve! You couldn't plan a party for 200 people and wait until the day before to hire wait staff! Well, soup kitchens can't do that either. "Holiday help" is probably schecduled in August! (or September at the latest). Plan ahead!

Friday, December 09, 2005


The third (of many) scarves is finished. It's a lengthwise garter stitch in rainbow (Mexicana) Red Heart ack that was nearly a full skein. I used a bit of black for a center stripe (also Red Heart ack) because I feared I would run out of the rainbow. As luck would have it, there's a couple yards left, so I was right--there wasn't enough. A single full skein would have been sufficient, if I had only had one! But I'm not buying yarn right now.

You'll notice that there's an obvious change of yarn color, that doesn't factor in to anything except as I was balancing the stripes. You could use all one color, switch colors every row (or every other row), or do as I did, and make three fairly wide stripes. You could even be more subtle about the color change(s).

I used about 3 ounces of worsted weight yarn. Using a size 10 (US) circular needle (it's getting quite a workout, no?) cast on 142 stitches. Do not join. Knit every row (garter stitch) for 20 rows (10 ridges).

Next row, knit 36, bind off the next 16 stitches, knit to the end of the row.

Turn and knit back to the bound off section (90 stitches). Cast on 16 stitches. Use any cast on that will give a fairly firm edge. (I knitted that cast on, but I suppose an 'e' loop cast on would work too.) Knit to the end of the row.

Work another 20 rows of garter stitch.

Bind off loosely. Weave in any ends.

finished width=5"
finished length=42"
slot starts about 10" from the edge and is about 4" long.

Thread end through slot made by the bind off, cast on.

Now, if I didn't have Christmas projects to finish (and in some cases start and finish), I'd make a few more of these. It was about a 2-day project with other stuff intermingled. Perfect riding/TiVo watching stuff.

Some of us know how to spend a snow day better than others:


Absolute Beginners

we are not!

From my work email today:

Sir/Madam, Your current position has been contemplated to the important peoples, and upon painstaking consideration, we are able to proffer to you the next opening offer. Based upon painstaking consideration you certify to collect a sizable rebate on your original property investment. By completing the next attached form in a timely manner we will be able to complete our assessment, and we feel sure you will collect not only a decreased rate of interest, but also a cash return that will realize all your holiday needs and more! Please go here to complete this part of the contract. With kindest regards, Lily Mclean

Um, Lily, ESL? ESOL? might be in order. . .

Just sayin'

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I finished another little scarf for the reservation and just has to share the recipe. It took me a couple of days, working on it between other projects (they're coming along nicely).

I used worsted weight yarn and size 10 needles. (Yes, they are bigger than the ball band suggests, I wanted a soft, squishy fabric.) The yarn is Bernat Ragg and I am nearly out (and it is very discontinued).

It starts out like the basic dishcloth: Cast on 3 stitches. Knit one row.

Then, using your favorite increase, increase 1 stitch at the beginning of the row. I used kfb (knit front and back). Knit to the end.

Repeat this row until you have 32 stitches.

Work even (knit every row) for 30 rows (15 ridges).

Switch to ribbing (knit 1, p1, repeat across row) and knit in ribbing for 2". You'll notice that the ribbing pulls the garter stitch in a bit.

Next, split the ribbing in half. Knit across 16 stitches, keeping the k1, p1 ribbing.

Join a new ball of yarn (or the opposite end of the ball you are using). To do this, just stop knitting with the working end that's attached to your knitting and start knitting with a new working end.

Work each half (16 stitches) independently until you have 2" worked (a total of 4 ribbed inches). Using the yarn attached at the outer edge, rib across all the stitches. Cut the extra yarn (the one attached in the middle), leaving a tail about 6-8" long (you'll weave this in later).

Continue ribbing for an additional length that is long enough to go around the neck of your victim (er, recipient) comfortably. (I continued for an additional 18" for a total ribbed section of 22"), then resume knitting in garter stitch (k every row).

You want to duplicate the shaping on the other end, so work in garter stitch for 30 rows (15 ridges).

Next, decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of every row, using a decrease that matches your increased (in other words, if you used a yo increase at the beginning, you'll use a yo decrease at this end). In the model: k1, k2 tog, k to end, repeat, until 3 stitches remain. (I like to do my decreases 1 stitch in from the edge. It makes a smoother edge.) Bind off.

Weave in all ends neatly. Slip the end of the scarf through the slit created at the one end of the ribbing:

Take obligatory shot in the bathroom mirror.

Note: mission accomplished. It's nice and toasty and stays in place.

Note #2: It's a little thick and wide for a child. Perhaps an increase to 28 stitches on would be better.

Note 3: It looks a little "girly." Next one: Start with a cast on of the number of stitches desired (28, 32, 36--a multiple of 4 is needed to make the "split" work well) and skip the increases/decreases.

Note 4: the important one! This is my pattern (not my concept, lord knows, but my words and my photos).

If you want to make them for charity, family, friends, or yourself, be my guest. If you want to make them for sale, that's probably all right, too, but please ask. I may request that you make a small monetary donation to the nearest soup kitchen or emergency pantry for every one you sell. Be fair.



Cat People

We are a household of cat people, so I'm sure you understand our distress when the vet said "those lumps need looking at."

So as long as we're looking, have a look. Her belly is bare (so we have a matching duo) and she has a bunch of staples. (She won't let me count them so I don't know how many.)

Poor kitty.

Lucky kitty.

Good drugs!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Old Enough

and gonna get older!

The results are in. Penny had her surgery this afternoon. She has mammary lumps, has had since 1999 (that we know of). She had surgery then for a lump that turned out to be carcinoma (cancer), then again, a couple years later. That one was cystic (benign).

She's a lot older now and the lumps which have been present for years concerned our vet. He recommended that they be taken care of now "while she is healthy."

I read up on the Internet. Mammary lumps in female cats are malignant 95% of the time.

But not this time!

Not too happy dancing. . .

I can pick her up at 6:30.


The Lion in Winter

Some random thoughts:

Yesterday, I dropped my car at the dealer for a major (brake) repair (don't ask, it was very painful). When I came out to get in my ride-back-to-work, I slipped on the icy parking lot and fell really hard. On my left hip, ebow, and wrist. Instead of going right back inside and selecting my new car :insert smiley: I went to work. Today, I am paying for more than the brake job.

On January 3, Penn State faces Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Come on! Of course, the New Daughter-In-Law is a graduate of FSU. It could get ugly. Except, well, did you see Florida v. Florida State?

The "tippet" in garter stitch is coming along nicely. Should have photos by the weekend (and a recipe, of course).

The Hiking scarf is progressing. I think the shawl is done. And a hat experiment is stumping me.

The new IK came yesterday. I read half and set it on my nightstand. This morning, it has disappeared. Okay, where? Did Sparky take up knitting overnight? There's no other explanation.

Penny has her surgery today. The power of the Internet isn't always a good thing. I looked up the possibilities on Sunday. There's a 95% or so chance that the outcome won't be good. Keep a good thought, please.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Doin' Time on Planet Earth

I came very close to losing it yesterday.

The Other Half has decided that we need a new snowblower, and though he may very well be right (haven't started Old Faithful that we bought used for a couple hundred bucks back in '01 for the season yet), do we have to hit every single hardware/home improvement store in the Greater Lehigh Valley to check prices and specifications? And do we realy need something that honkin' big? And where are we planning to park it? (Garden shed is full of lawn mower and garden cart and chair cushions.)

So, okay, we hit two Tru Values and a Home Depot, and a stand alone hardware store. In four different cities. Feel my pain.

It did not help that my weekly trip to the Tree to check for bargains was thwarted by four hundred seventy-nine other people and their unruly children who had the same idea, and that the normally narrow aisles were stacked with additional boxes of goodies. It made for a totally unpleasant experience, except that they had the little fleecy blankies back and I grabbed 6 of those and some totally cute fleece booties.

I know that they are barely big enough for a newborn, but they are so freakin' cute.

On a happy note, though, my Native Support group's Mitten Challenge ended with thirty members contributing 581 warm articles of clothing to the kids at the Cheyenne River Reservation. They made 363 hats, 28 scarves, 110 pairs of mittens, 19 pairs of socks, and 61 pairs of slippers. An impressive total, especially for such a small group. I was pleased to award prizes to two contributors, drawn at random by my friend Rabbitch . She can take both the glory and the blame.

Another member of the group (list owner Marilyn) has raised a new challenge: scarves! (It gets mighty cold in SD in the winter.) We're already off and running on this new challenge.

I'll be posting "recipes" for scarves as I plot them out and knit them up, but to get started, I sorted my yarn oddballs (all ack, sorry) into girl colors
and boy colors:

Then I cast on using two strands of girl colors, joined with an overhand knot using long tail cast on. For this first scarf, I was aiming for about 42" (for about a 4 year old[?]) plus fringe.

I left a double tail (both strands) of about 10" and cast on loosely, 172 (rough gauge is 4 stitches/inch) stitches on a circular needle (to accommodate the number of stitches). I wanted it loose and squonchy, not stiff as a board, so I used a size 10.

Then, I just knit across, leaving a tail of about 10" at each end, and cutting the yarn at the end of each row. Color placement is totally random, just pick a color ball out of the bin, knit across, cut, turn, start the next row with a different color.

I'll go back and knot and trim those loose tails into a multi-colored fringy tassely thing after I finish knitting. I think I'll probably stop at 5-6" unstretched. I'm at about 3.5" now, with lots of beige, two shades of pink and lavender left.

Then, I'll do the same with my boy colors.

I have some other ideas brewing, so watch this space.


All done. Finished size is 52" long X 5" wide. Plus fringe.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Interview with the Vampire

The Monday before Thanksgiving, I received an email that I deleted unopened. By way of explanation, I get maybe 100 emails at workovernight, every day. Most of them (about 95% or more) are chances for me to buy stock or watches, or drugs. Most of them have interesting subject lines like: "Top News" and "Answer to your request," so if I don't recognize the sender's name and the subject is generic, I likely delete without opening.

E's email subject was "Information." It doesn't get more generic than that, does it? So it was canned along with all the others, without ever seeing the light of day.

This past Monday, I had a voice mail message from J who turned out to be E's mother, telling me that I hadn't responded to her daughter's very important email, graduation project yadda yadda. So I did a little research in my recycle can (fortunately, I had a date for reference) and found the email. I can't quote it here (it's there, I'm here, but I wouldn't in any event).

E introduced herself and launched right into her pitch to "interview me via email" for her graduation project on "Hunger in America" which includes many requirements, including an interview. She asked if it would be okay for her to submit a list of questions that I could answer for her. Aside from the very obvious that my devious mind is constructing (that I'd be writing her paper as she could just cut and paste my answers), is this how "interviews" are conducted these days?

I replied that I would be happy to talk to her at any time and that she could "call me."

The next morning, I got a call from J. Yep, "Mom." She explained that E is in school until 3 (which is when I leave) and asked if she could read me the questions and record my answers for E. I declined and told her that I am in at 6:30 every morning and often do these sorts of phone things at that hour (had just done one that very day, in fact, for about 45 minutes!).

Besides, isn't there a school break coming up? And whose project is this anyway? It's been 4 days. E hasn't called yet.

I have half a mind to contact the school. But I won't.


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