Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Minute Christmas Gift Mayhem

No Chris, not gifts for Mayhem, I'm creating mayhem by thinking I can whip up last minute gifts.

I spent last weekend in South Dakota with my parents. Watertown is really hopping these days and they have recently opened a Starbucks. I'm a Caribou Coffee gal myself, but the absence of really good strong coffee in Watertown has been a whine of mine for quite some time. So imagine my joy in a Starbucks with a drive-thru only 6 blocks from mom and dad's!

Saturday morning I drove through said Starbucks for a medium (yes medium dammit, I told you I'm a Caribou girl) carmel latte. Feeling nearly giddy with the joy of intense caffeine, I swung by the LYS on my way home. Don't get me started on how clueless they are at this shop, it's really just a corner of their "art" gallery. While there I purchased some of that new Paton's SWS. It was right there on the floor next to some Mountain Colors. Don't worry, the acrylic and $1.27 a skein dishcloth cotton was safely put away up off the floor in neat bins!

I've been tempted by the SWS before but stayed away from it because it seems kind of expensive for Patons. But I have to tell you, it's soft, shiny, has good stitch definition and the stripes are very well defined rather than blurry or muddy. All in all it's pretty great stuff. I decided since I've been on a Fuzzy Feet roll lately (can't post pictures, they are gifts) I would knit a pair for my son's stocking with the SWS.

Here is the post felting picture:

Did I mention that my son and I wear the exact same size shoe these days? So I made the Fuzzy Feet the exact same size I made my own. Let me show you a picture of my Fuzzy Feet for reference.
My slipper is the large one. Here I was feeling so pleased with myself that I had whipped up these slippers in less than 24 hours. They would be perfect, if only my son was 4 instead of 14. This is Christmas karma. This is the knitting gods spitting in my smug face. This is Patons SWS on one lousy cycle of the wash machine. So get smug about your Christmas knitting with caution and watch that wash cycle while felting.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thank You Kaye

First my apologies for not blogging. My only excuse is that I quit smoking two weeks ago. My computer is in the one room in the entire house that I smoked in. So, in my quest to stay off the evil weed (tobacco people, tobacco) I haven't been sitting at the computer much. Lame excuse, but it's all I have.

But I had to blog about this:

It is the contents of my package from Kaye. We were partnered in the Handmade Gift swap. You can't see it well in my crappy picture but she made me a beautiful bag in my favorite colors! I'm using it today as I'm going to visit my parents in South Dakota for the weekend. I love the colors, I love the lining! Thank you so much Kaye.

Now I only have to worry about my package getting to Kaye. I've never sent anything out of the country before. It's hard to think of Manitoba as another country. Winnipeg is 457 miles away. Closer to Minneapolis than many, many U.S. cities. And they talk like us there. Texas, now that seems like another country. But oddly enough Manitoba and Minnesota are neighbors in other countries.

I'm off for a few days of hanging out with the folks and business travel. Thanks again Kaye. I can only hope you like my package as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I've been pretty productive knitting-wise this weekend. I've been working on slippers. Two pair down, a few more to go.

The pink pair on the left were done with Galway and felted in a single cycle. The green and turquoise pair were done in Cascade 220 and took two trips through the machine to felt. I did the two tone because the recipient likes both green and blue and I was using partial skeins. It's less "ballet" slipper than the pink, but I like how it turned out. I have to find some buttons and attach elastic, but for the most part they are done. The pattern has women's sizes too and after the Christmas knitting is done, I might just make myself a pair.

I don't want to mess around with trying to fit slipper bottoms to these. I can't find a U.S. source of the Regia iron on "paw" bottoms and I'm doubtful that a German shop can get them to me before Christmas. So here is the solution I've come up with. I'm giving them a bottle of cushy, flexible fabric paint. Once they have determined that the slippers fit (their mothers might have to give them another run through the wash) they can write their name on the bottom of the slippers with the fabric paint. That should make them non-slip and they have the chance to participate in the slipper making.

Friday, December 01, 2006

So You Want Some Knitting Content?

Okay, okay, I reviewed my posts over the last month and noticed that for a knitting blog, there has been relatively little talk of knitting. I have been knitting. I have "second everything" syndrome. It's not just for socks anymore.

I'm still working on this:

Not a great picture, but it's 6 a.m. I haven't had enough caffeine yet. I finished the collar and button band. As it is 2x2 rib it's gonna take some serious blocking, but I really like the short row "collar" around the neck. The sleeve is taking forever. I keep trying it on and it doesn't seem to get any longer so I magic loop some more and try it on again. How am I going to stand a second sleeve? I'm using my new Knit Picks options needle set I received for my birthday from the boys and I really like it.

Of course there is Christmas knitting. One mary jane ballet slipper for my niece. I am using Galway and a Fiber Trends pattern. But now I have to make another one. They are quick though.

I've also been finishing something for Kaye, my Handmade Gift Swap partner. I have to get stuff in the mail to her today, but I can show you what I sent after she receives it. Kaye, I'm warning you right now there is more gift stuff than handmade in the package. I've been a slow knitter lately.

So there it is. My knitting. I'm still doing it but with work and Thanksgiving and my house conspiring to make me nuts, I haven't been all that prolific with the FOs lately.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Appliance Dead Pool (or The Great Appliance Conspiracy of 2006)

Some well known facts about your household appliances:
  1. Household appliances speak to each other in a buzzy, mechanical language that has yet to be translated by humans.
  2. Through this method of communication they coordinate their own deaths.
  3. When one appliance dies, two more are sure to follow.
  4. They know when you have a little extra cash on hand that you'd like to spend on something fun like a vacation or some cashmere. (This is why we all have a yarn stash)
  5. Your furnace will only die on an extremely cold day.
  6. Refridgerators only die when they are full, never when they contain only condiments, two beers, and a fuzzy square of cheese.
  7. Your car is in on the whole conspiracy too.

Our last home was more than 50 years old. In the 10 years we lived there we replaced the stove, refridgerator, built-in microwave, washer, water heater, water softner, and furnace. We always had an appliance dead pool going, betting on which appliances were going to die next.

Our current home is only 7 years old. We replaced the stove and dishwasher just because we wanted to. Buying appliances because you want to, not because you have to, is a beautiful thing. We figured our days of the appliance dead pool were over. We have a practically new house! What could go wrong?! Our general appliance complacency has come back to bite us in the behind this last couple of weeks.

Three weeks ago the friendly folks at Sears called to say that our dishwasher warranty was due to expire, would we like to renew for three years at the low, low price of $149? My husband, who hates service plans and extended warranties, said no. He thinks these plans are "selling to people's fear of bad things happening to them." As I've spent my entire adult life in the insurance business, I'm not sure how I feel about his philosophy, but marriage is all about compromise, right?

Anyway, last week the dishwasher (triggered by my husband's refusal) died. Three years old. Stainless steel inside and out. Wonderfully quiet. Dead. Of course in dying it leaked water between our laminate wood floor and the crap ass vinyl floor underneath the laminate. Now we have to hire a floor guy to come out and replace the warped boards. Our friendly Sears repairman (now billing full price) arrived and diagnosed the problem, a blown motor. He replaced the motor and $350 later, we have a working dishwasher.

This morning my husband got out of the shower and declared we were once again living under an appliance curse. The hot water heater was on the fritz. His blue lips should have been proof enough, but I had to run downstairs to see for myself. Praying that there was no leak as we have the same laminate hardwood all over the basement, I checked it out. No leak but no pilot light either. I had a huge meeting today with a company I'm trying to sell our consulting services to. Of course. I ended up throwing on sweats, putting my toiletries in my backpack, grabbing my suit and going to the office to shower.

Luckily our water heater is on our utility company service plan that we pay for every month. The water heater was not a total loss and a couple of parts later (and no bill thankfully) we are back to indoor plumbing.

Please see #3 above. We are living on borrowed time. The temperature has dropped 30 degrees in the last twenty-four hours. Smart money in the dead pool has the furnace.

Monday, November 27, 2006

"My First Sweater"

3 or 4 years ago, when I first started knitting, I took a class at Amazing Threads called My First Sweater. It was a drop shoulder, stockinette stitch sweater with a very simple garter stitch neck. As is my usual M.O. I knitted like a fiend on it, outpaced the rest of the class and stopped going to class before the end. I missed the important final class on how to sew the damn thing together. It has sat in my stash, in pieces, ever since. I think it's Cascade 220. It's a beautiful chocolate brown (I would never recommend doing your first sweater in anything this dark, it's too hard to read your stitches).

I've made many sweaters since then, but without fail I've used a three-needle bind off to finish the shoulders. I've sewn the shoulders of My First Sweater three times and each time has looked worse than the last. Finally this weekend in a burst of "I'm gonna put that damn sweater together once and for all!" I did what would have been unthinkable at one time. I undid the bound off shoulders and did a three-needle bind off. The mere thought of such an action would have put me into a cold sweat two years ago. I'm not saying it was without trepidation, but I'm feelin' pretty knitterly right about now my friends.

After being rolled into a ball, in a drawer for three years or more, I have to re-block the whole thing before I sew the sleeves and seam it, but I think My First Sweater will actually be worn soon.

In other news, remember back to August when I started fair isle hats for the nieces and nephews? Well I ran out of steam on those, only the boys are getting fair isle hats, the girls are getting felted ballerina slippers. They will probably like them better anyway. On Thanksgiving night, my five year old godson nephew Ben asked me to follow him to his room. He has perhaps the biggest eyes of any child ever and I have no defenses against them. He has also lost all four front teeth, two on the bottom, two on the top, resulting in a very endearing lisp. He looks at me with his big eyes and lisps, "Auntie Kate what I really, really want for Christmas is something (imagine this pronounced thomthing and he's lookin' at me with the eyes) you knit for me. Thomthing warm for winter like a hat or mittens. That's what I really, really want."

I ask you, does this kid have my number or what?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day. I love Thanksgiving. We always have a big family dinner with sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and outlaws. My sister and cousin take turns hosting. I've been out of the rotation for years because my house was too small to have 25 or 30 people for dinner. When we moved, I laid low but eventually my sister and cousin looked around my house and said, "why aren't you taking a turn?" So at some point I was put on the rotation.

I'm very thankful today that I don't have to cook. My sister and her husband, both wonderful cooks, are hosting dinner. Last year my sister decided that she wanted to spend the day with her in-laws as it wasn't fair to her husband that they always spend the holiday with her family. My cousin hosted an "orphans" Thanksgiving with friends, and my brother had to work. So I hosted my parents and in-laws here. Much like my approach to socks (I don't knit socks), I just don't cook. It's not that I can't cook, I just don't. So last year was my second attempt at turkey.

My first attempt was two years ago and a royal pain when my sister and my cousin's husband arrived and decided "She's doing it all wrong". They took over the kitchen and in between criticizing my appliances (brand new and stainless! what's not to like?) my cookware, and my skills, managed to save the family from my incompetence. I was driven to a corner clutching a bottle of wine and muttering curse words under my breath. Happy Holidays!

First let me say as a germ-a-phobe and semi-food-phobe, turkey scares the crap out of me. Every year at this time the morning news shows and food t.v. talk about how dangerous undercooked turkey can be. And the stuffing!! Forget about actually stuffing the stuffing in the bird, it should be cooked in a clean room offsite, as far away from the salmonella-carrying turkey as humanly possible. This slows my turkey cooking down considerably as, armed with Clorox clean-ups, I follow myself around disinfecting as I go. My bird might end up dry, but no one is getting food poisoning on my watch! Up to my elbows in a sink full of cool water, I wrestled a not totally thawed turkey into submission. Nearly in tears as I tried to remove the handy packet of organs and neck from the wrong side of the turkey. Yes, indeed I was trying to pull them out the little turkey ass.

In the end last year, my complete lack of knowledge regarding turkey anatomy aside, the dinner was a success. It was only a half hour off schedule. I only had to make aproximately three thousand calls to MFF (acting as my personal turkey hotline) and only drank three glasses of wine while cooking. Everyone had a swell time and no one was stricken with food borne illness.

Did I mention that this year one of the many things I'm thankful for is that I'm not cooking dinner?

P.S. a family gathering like this, involving wine, can only result in some great Roger Clinton stories and pictures for the blog next week!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Today's Home Ec

No knitting progress to report because I am crocheting. Yep, I promised my son, the blanket hoarder, a chocolate brown afghan for his room. So I'm crocheting a quickie. It's done with three strands of Jiffy held together. I know it's acrylic that you can buy at a craft store, but for afghans washable is best.

Afghans need to be there when you are sick. They need to be dragged up and down the stairs by kids. Dogs and cats lay on afghans. They need to be washable. Really washable. And you need to throw them in the dryer too.

I actually like Jiffy. I like the mohairy look of it and the soft feel. I hate that the skeins are wound by evil trolls who knot up the middle of each skein. I've spent as much time untangling yarn as I have crocheting the damn blanket. If you use Jiffy for anything I recommend doing so with an ample supply of wine and chocolate.

My son is addicted to blankets and afghans. He has a pile of them. He uses them nearly every day. He has one that I crocheted for him 7 or 8 years ago that is an absolute mess but he refuses to give it up. I have fixed it countless times. Now that he is in the eighth grade and has taken the mandatory Family and Consumer Sciences (yes, this is the new politically correct, gender neutral name for good ol' Home Ec) he has taken to re-sewing the afghan himself. He was really going for a spot on the Honor Roll this quarter and at mid-quarter, FCS was standing in his way. So he started working on extra credit projects. He made himself a pair of fleece sleep pants and a plastic canvas thing that resulted in an A+ in the dreaded FCS. You cannot imagine my relief that helping him in FCS has been teaching him how to use a sewing machine as opposed to cooking. Last year FCS was cooking. He brought home muffins that weighed about 4 pounds each and could break a tooth. I am no help in cooking as I don't cook, but ask me to fire up the sewing machine and I'm there baby!

Armed with his A+, there is no way that I am going to be able to convince him that learning to crochet and finishing this afghan would be infinitely more personally satisfying. So I'm stuck untangling Jiffy. Pass the wine.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Thank you for all your kind comments, it makes me feel much better about my blog. No new knitting news, nothing earth shattering going on around here, but maybe I can catch up on things in general.

I've been on the road a bit lately. Flying is a whole new experience now what with exploding hair gel. Ever since 9/11 there has been a lot of yelling at airports. Not screaming matches ala Diannah Ross, but general instructions being yelled. I wonder if the reservation agents and TSA people realized all the yelling they'd be doing when they accepted their positions. So in case you haven't flown lately and are getting ready to fly somewhere for the holidays, here is a rundown on the state of the airports. At least as I have found them.

I always fly on an e-ticket and I love being able to check in online. Now that my toiletries are considered a danger, I'm checking my bags. Me and everyone else. The electronic kiosks at Mpls/St. Paul airport have been turned into manned electronic kiosks with check in areas for baggage. When I reached the kiosk area I was greeted by a friendly, yelling Northwest Airlines reservation agent yelling instructions about where to go if you are checking bags versus where to go if you are not. I invaribly end up in line behind two senior citizens flying off to see the grandkids. They can't manage the touchscreen check in and take four times longer than anyone else to complete the transaction.

Bags checked, I stand near the doors and assess the security line situation. Unlike most airports, MSP has 5 or 6 different security lines. So I have to determine which one seems to be moving the fastest. Back in the days that I was flying all the time I had "elite" status with NW resulting in automatic upgrades, so I could get into the first class only security line which usually saved time. There were fewer people in the first class line, plus they were people who traveled often and knew the drill so there was a lot less yelling.

I picked a line and began to run the TSA security gauntlet. The first station is the people who never yell. Mainly because they don't speak any English. They check your boarding pass against your drivers license, look at you and squint, then make an illegible mark on your boarding pass. They will grunt at you to indicate you've passed this first all important security check.

The TSA security gauntlet has a whole new station of zip lock bag ladies. Begin the yelling. Waving zip locks over their heads they shout the instructions that will protect us all from potentially life threatening exploding toiletries and beverages. No more than 3 ounces per jar/tube, all must be contained in zip lock bags (imagine zip lock bags can protect us from exploding toothpaste!) No water, no coffee. If you didn't prepack with zip locks they will provide them to you. Anything over 3 ounces must be disposed of. Of course I am behind a woman wearing aprox $50,000 worth of heavy gold jewelry, dressed in a brightly colored velour track suit and ostrich cowboy boots. She is very unhappy that she will have to throw away Lancome face cream that retails for over $100 a jar. Now she'll look wrinkly as well as dressed badly.

Next comes the actual security line with the TSA agents whose job it is to yell about laptops. The champion laptop yellers are at Chicago's Midway airport. These women can yell long and loud. Laptops must come out of your bag and be placed in a separate bin. Throw your cell phone, sunglasses, book, bag, coat and shoes in another bin. Jewelry can generally go through the machine on your person unless you are wearing aproximately $50,000 worth or are wearing a huge belt buckle bearing the Smith and Wesson logo. If you are wearing both, please just turn around and go home to get therapy before you fly. If you choose to ignore this warning, please God don't be in the seat next to me. While you cannot bring an un-zip locked tube of tooth paste through to the plane, feel free to bring your knitting. Addi turbos are a-okay. They will come in handy if you end up next to the ostrich boot woman (did I mention she bathed in Calvin Klein's Obsession?) on the plane and have the urge to hang yourself from the overhead bins.

Once through the metal detector you can have a choice of being wanded or you may have your bags swabbed for gunpowder residue! Being swabbed is preferrable to being wanded. At least you know where your bag is. If you are a woman, being wanded involves waiting for the next available TSA wand woman (so you don't feel harrassed while being wanded by a man. I have felt harrassed since the cabbie dropped me off at the airport) while watching the conveyor frantically to make sure your bag doesn't get stolen.

Now you are free to board your plane. Or sit on the dirty carpet at the gate (there are 250 people on your flight and 80 chairs at the gate) waiting to board. When they call first class everyone will lurch to the gate hauling their zip locks. There are 16 seats in first class and 75 people lined up when they call boarding for first class. Figure that.

Gone are the days of sitting in first class sharing a bag of candy orange slices with the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves (he is pretty cute and single btw), I'm now in the middle seat in coach stuck between guy who has asked for a seatbelt extension and close-talker-guy who has decided to take off his shoes. Behind me are seniors who talk very loudly. Perhaps they have been rendered deaf by being yelled at so many times before boarding. Now the flight attendants can tell everyone to put their seats up and turn off their blackberries and cell phones. We are off! There are no peanuts, pretzels, magazines or horrible food to distribute anymore so the flight attendants can now gather to complain about the airline, the passengers, the gate agents, and how much their feet hurt.

When the plane lands and they tell you that you can fire up your cell phones, please participate in the "I'm so important that the Stock Exchange has probably crashed while I was out of touch for one hour" ritual of firing up your cell phone. If it doesn't start immediately buzzing with messages, frantically dial someone to tell them you have landed. It could be your mother on the other end of the phone, but make it look like you are speaking to the chairman of a Fortune 100 company.

I travel for business so my journey ends at the cab stand. If you are traveling for pleasure (can travel be a pleasure these days?) you must go to the airport holding pen to try to find your loved ones. The holding pens vary from airport to airport, but are designed to keep dangerous non-flyers from infiltrating the system. Personally I think the most dangerous person in the airport is whomever just sat next to the ostrich boot woman, who has spent the entire flight whining about her lost Lancome. I hope your loved ones have their cell phones with them because calling them and trying to explain your general location is the only way they will find you.

Fun huh? Glamorous! It's a party in the sky! Don't you wish you traveled for business? Maybe next time I'll tell you about how much I love staying in hotels! Bring your Clorox cleanup wipes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In The Words of Pink

I'm not dead. I just seem to have lost my zest for blogging lately. What with work keeping me busy and stressed out, stuff to do with the family and around the house, I just haven't had it in me. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was the big controversy about aggregators using content and putting ads on it. When I discovered that my blog was not even captured by any aggregators, I started to realize that only a few people read this thing anyway and I felt a bit defeated. I know that is a little like chasing a robber down the street because he broke into the house next door while shouting "hey, what's the matter, isn't my house good enough to rob?!" but I'm weird that way.

So, I'm back. I don't know if I'm back daily but I think I can manage three times a week. I have been knitting. I finished this:

It's for my friend's baby. Born in September, family schedules haven't allowed us to get together yet, but I'm hoping soon. First of course, I'll have to get rid of the three freaking cold sores on my mouth, but soon. The pattern was free on Jimmy Beans. It is made with two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherds Worsted. I added the little flower on the hat to make it more girly.

I've also been working on this, also in Lornas Laces. Which, if I haven't mentioned it before, I love. It's the softest washable wool I've ever used and it really is washable.
This particular color is Mother Lode. I found it on sale, sale, sale at Little Knits. I don't know if I would have picked the color if not for the sale, but as it turns out I love it. The pattern is one of Wendy's (Knit and Tonic Wendy) that I bought at the Garter Belt. Her patterns are terrific. Wearable, mostly top down, and easy. Not mind-numbingly, death march knitting easy, but just easy enough to make yourself a cute little cardigan and watch "Dancing with the Stars".

So there you go, I'm alive and knitting. I'll be back. Soon.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

From Maggie and Maxine

The boys have decorated the house. This weekend we were at Target where I was eyeing some tasteful grapevine pumpkins with little white twinkle lights. I was promptly told that I get to decorate for Christmas, but Halloween is for my husband and son. Tasteful is not the goal. Well, they don't have to worry, there is nothing tasteful in their decorating.

Their favorite new decoration was obtained while I was away. It is a battery operated rock with a motion detector. When someone walks by it lights up and moans. Imagine my joy at finding this while walking up the walk to the door in the dark one night. By the time my shaking hand was able to unlock the front door, my son was down the stairs laughing so hard he was doubled over.

Son: "Mom, I could hear you scream all the way up in my room!"
Me: "mrrgfl"

Yeah, they are a funny bunch around here. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chicago Bound

I'm off to Chicago until the weekend. I'm attending a conference on the aging workforce. Sounds like fun, huh?

I will leave you with a picture of my new special knitting assistant.

Albert the cat has been bravely (okay timidly) venturing out of my son's room these days. Of course Maxine Louise the BHFH wants to play with him and he wants absolutely nothing to do with dogs. But we are making progress.

That cat better stay away from my yarn!

Monday, October 23, 2006

No Time For Knitting

I'm trying to get myself organized so I haven't been blogging or doing much knitting. My apologies!

I spent the last three days getting organized. Friday I got all my summer clothes put away and hauled all the winter stuff out. My sweaters! I love my sweaters! This will be good news for all of us here in Minnesota who have been dealing with an early cold snap. Taking out all my warm clothing will certainly bring the mercury back to the 70's soon. It has been in the 30's and 40's most of the last couple weeks and the sun has been a no-show. This is too early for cold, even here on the frozen tundra and it's making people crabby. If it doesn't warm up again here soon, expect a February of crankiness and possible road rage. Of course road rage here consists primarily of rude gestures, but still. . .

This weekend was spent cleaning our garage. I know that there are men out there who take a great deal of pride in a perfect garage. My husband is not one of them. Our garage has been an absolute wreck for two years. I've left it to him to do whatever cleaning or organizing there is to do. He is generally very organized. So much so that at one point when he was laid off, he reorganized my cupboards, drawers and the credit cards in my purse. This lead to a heartful (and loud) discussion of when a man should go rummaging in his wife's purse (NEVER). Anyway, I pitched in and helped this time out. I found some interesting stuff:

  1. Jack stands. We have never once, no matter how strapped for cash, worked on our own cars. Never. Now that he has a hybrid, my husband can't even get his oil changed anyplace but the dealership. When I lobbied for donating said jack stands to charity I was turned down.
  2. Four 5 gallon buckets of floor adhesive, primer, etc. from when the house was built 7 years ago.
  3. Five big, giant tubs of fabric and pillow forms from when I used to sew all the time.
  4. My antique, mahogany, Georgian drop leaf table. Yikes!
  5. A bucket of pieces of brick?

Why we were holding on to this stuff I'll never know. Thank goodness for dumpster service. In the end, I can actually drive my car into the garage and leave it there all night. I can get out of the car and walk in the side door without climbing over things too! Next week after the last of the stuff has been hauled to charity, we will be able to fit both cars in the garage. I know that many of you do this every day, but in our household, this is a major accomplishment!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Celebrity Rant Plus Before & After

Does anyone else find this phenomenon of celebrities visiting impoverished countries and coming home with a baby, strange? I understand there isn't a Barneys in Africa. Madonna couldn't buy the new Prada boots on her trip so she brought home a child? Did her daughter get a t-shirt that says, "My Mom Went to Africa and All I Got Was a Dumb Ol' Baby Brother"? Aren't there nice middle class folk using their savings to travel back and forth battling other countries' red tape for months or years waiting to adopt? I'm just saying. END OF RANT

So here is the before:

And the after felting:
This is my first felting project using Brown Sheep. Three strands are used throughout. I really liked this pattern. The lifted increases create a strong ridge that mimics the ridges found in a pumpkin. Looking at the sample picture, it appears they felted it more than I did mine, but I wanted to keep it a little larger. Overall, I'm pleased. The pattern is in the newest Magknits, uses four skeins of Brown Sheep or Cascade 220. I started this last Thursday night and as you know, I didn't get as much knitting time as I would have liked this weekend. I think it could be a weekend project.
Pumpkin? I thought I was mom's little pumpkin!! Anyone know how I get this fridge open?

Mysteries of Life

My knitting life has been rather uneventful lately, I just haven't gotten all that much done. I should have a before and after on the felted pumpkin for you soon though.

I've spent the last three days driving back and forth to and from St. Cloud. It's about 60 miles north of here. Saturday I went up because my SIL (yes, RC's wife) had a Tastefully Simple party that I promised I would attend. My dislike of home parties is legendary amongst my friends and family so my attendance at one of these things is a gesture of love. Especially driving 60 miles to attend a dreaded home party. Luckily the Tastefully Simple party involves a lot of food and some wine. Plus my SIL's friend who is the rep doesn't pressure everyone else to throw a party. And she is relatively normal. Part of what I hate about home parties of any kind is an uber-perky sales person trying to get me to host a party of my own, or worse work for her giving home parties. "But you can get up to $100 of free merchandise!", howse about I give you $100 to leave me the hell alone?

Sunday the whole famdamily drove back to St. Cloud to set up a booth for a trade show. Being in the car for more than an hour makes my son squirrely. After a half hour stuck in "coming home from up north" Sunday afternoon traffic, listening to him sing commercials and make up songs, I nearly put him out on the side of the road.

Yesterday I drove BACK to St. Cloud for the trade show where I spent 8 hours on my feet in heels smiling at people who were only there for the free stuff. As my free stuff basically sucked, I practically had to be a carnival barker to get people into my booth. I've got a basket full of business cards and really sore feet to show for it. Yippee.

Last night we attended parent teacher conferences at the High School to find the answer to the burning question, why is my son getting a better grade in French than in English? English being his native tongue and all. The high school was built a zillion years ago and is a one story building laid out like a maze. Much of our two hours there was spent looking at the provided map and arguing about whether hallway F is really next to hallway G or inexplicably next to hallway A. After stumbling around lost, we discovered the answer to the French vs. English question and discovered that if he doesn't start paying more attention in Social Studies he will make a fine and funny feature on the Tonight Show's Jaywalking segment. He is, however, getting A's in math and gym.

So with all the driving and the smiling and the parenting I haven't gotten much knitting done.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Rather Blustery Day

I've been up on and off all night. The wind has been blowing so hard that the rocking chair on our deck has been rocking. Unfortunately the deck is attached to the wall by our bedroom so all night long it sounded like people were walking around on our deck. Of course our crack team of watch dogs was snoring soundly (while trying to push me off the bed and stealing the blankets) and I was wide awake. Finally at about 3:30, I woke my husband and made him check out the noises. This prompted instant action on the part of the watch dog team. They jumped up and moved to the warm spot on the bed he had left and went back to sleep. At least I got my blankets back. So if my writing seems groggy today, it is.

It should be a terrific day though. As the firm made our 3rd quarter financial goals the managing director has declared that we may wear "smart" outfits with jeans on Fridays for the remainder of the month. There has been considerable discussion around the office about a)what constitutes smart and who will be the judge; b)when we became English without anyone telling us. Okay our resident managing director's boss is English, an import from the London office, and he may be influencing things. Smart or professional I don't care, I'm just happy to get the chance to wear jeans. It's so much easier. There is much less outfit coordination involved in jeans. Men don't entirely understand this, but it's true. Everything goes with jeans. Including this:

It's my $9 cardigan! I finally got it blocked and sewed on a button. Plus it's certainly cold enough to wear it today so wear it I will. Just to refresh everyone's memory, I bought the yarn for this when visiting my parents in SD back in August. The JoAnn at their mall was going out of business and clearancing everything. The yarn was 80% off and cost a total of $9, hence the $9 cardigan. The yarn is bulky and has a little shine to it. I used this top down pattern from Knitting Pure & Simple bought from Jimmy Beans. I really like their patterns. Most are top down and they are well written and easy to follow.

Gotta run and load up on coffee. Tonight I have my first dance class. I haven't taken one in 15 years so I will probably be hobbling around stiff and sore tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Catching Up

And I am. Catching up. Caught up. Tuesday in New Ulm I was sad to see Nadel Kunst is closed. If you remember my last trip to New Ulm, I met the shop owner Nutty Cindy and really liked her and the shop. I imagine it's hard to sustain a yarn shop in a town of 13,000 but Nutty Cindy seemed to be flourishing in June. I somehow imagine her at home in front of the fire knitting her inventory now. (Now that would be a stash!)

I did make a stop at Mary Lue's (sorry Chris I couldn't find Tangled Skeins) where I ran into a group of three ladies, all over 75 years old, who were out on a shopping excursion. It seems one of them is working on her first felted project and she's trying to get her pals hooked on felting too. I chatted with them over the bins of Brown Sheep and they were the coolest. I bought some Brown Sheep to make this, some clearance, clearance Katrina, and scored a couple of skeins of Kureyon in shades I don't already have.

Yesterday I really caught up. I took a day of vacation as I had the world's longest dentist appointment scheduled and thought I could make some progress on my deadline projects. I'm happy to say that I finished Grandma Purl's squares, blocked my Lizard Ridge squares that I'm donating to Stephania's Afghans for Afghans project, finished the spa wash cloth for my SP angel-ing, and got Chris' prize together for Look Back and Cringe! I picked up buttons for both the $9 cardigan and the baby sweater and finished a sleeve on the baby sweater. By the time the boys got home yesterday afternoon, the kitchen and living room looked like some crazy yarn studio. The winder and swift were attached to the kitchen counter and there was stuff blocking on just about every flat surface imaginable. Today I can go to the post office and get everything out in the mail. A huge relief.

I have until Saturday afternoon to finish the baby cardigan as Saturday I get to go meet the baby (finally!) on my way to St. Cloud. The finishing should not be a problem as I only have one sleeve to go. I am hoping I can finish it tonight.

I will have achieved project freedom. I still have sleeves to finish for my jean jacket vest, but I won't have any obligation knitting to do on tight deadlines. I'm going to say "no" to further deadline knitting until after the holidays. I do have some holiday knitting to do but nothing elaborate. Whew! I feel like the weight of world is off my shoulders.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another Road Trip

I'm hitting the road to New Ulm again. I'm sure I will have to hit a couple of shops on the way home. Post to come later.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday, Monday

Just today I wish I worked for the government. My dad did for 30+ years and always had Columbus Day off. No one who lives here in Little Scandanavia actually believes Columbus discovered the U.S., but it's still a national holiday. Couldn't they re-designate this day for someone who accomplished something more significant for our country? Susan B. Anthony or Thomas Edison or Lewis & Clark or even Martin & Lewis Day? I don't mean to downplay the accomplishment of introducing small pox to the natives of the Cayman Islands, but it seems like there are a whole lot of people (and there are no national holidays designated for a woman) who have made a bigger contribution than Columbus.

Anyway, I could use another day to get some stuff done. I got some things done around the house this weekend. All four bathrooms are clean and dusting was done. I spent lots of quality time with my son. All the laundry is done. I finished a square for Grandma Purl and I hope to finish another tonight. But I still have a ton of deadline knitting to do and I have to get packages ready to mail. I'm still feeling behind.

Yesterday I visited Borders to see if I could find a copy of Wrap Style. I keep seeing posts of the Shetland Triangle and I think I have to try it. I like that it is worked from the wide end down to the point. I think this is one I can do. I was in front of the knitting magazines and made a comment about the cover of Knit Scene to the woman crouched next to me. Turns out she's a knitter too. So fifteen minutes of conversation later we had exchanged the names of our favorite pattern websites, yarn shops, and books. Talked about why our puppies want our yarn and gotten to know each other a bit. I've never had a hobby that seems to bond people like knitting does. The knitting community is a weird and wonderful thing.

I have to run. Monday morning sales meeting. Happy fill in the blank Day. Whose day should this be?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thank Heavens for Crazy Friends

I've been a bad blogger, but I've milked the birthday girl thing all week long. Obviously my friends and family know the way to my heart is with yarn. My sister took me out to lunch at PF Chang's and gave me a card with yarn money inside. My guys gave me a Knit Picks gift certificate and MFF (my friend Fritz) gave me this:

I, of course, pulled some needles out of my purse and started gauge swatching immediately. I'm getting about 6 stitches per inch on number 4 needles. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to make. Thank you Linda for helping MFF out with this purchase. You must have thought he was nuts (he is a little). Now I finally understand your comment Linda. I'll stop in next week. Poor MFF has been dragged to so many knit shops. He's my non-knitting, knitting pal. I don't really have other knitters to hang out with (which I know is my own damn fault) so it's nice to have a friend that understands and even encourages my obsession. His personal obsession is very expensive foreign sports cars so my yarn buying seems like an inexpensive hobby to him.

But before I start indulging myself with birthday present knitting, I have a lot of things to finish. Like this:

I gave up on all the Samantha lace and cuteness and decided to go simple for my friend's new baby. It's my absolute favorite Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted. I love how soft it is. I love that it can be washed (perfect for baby stuff). I love the colors. I love knitting with it. I can't find it in any of the LYSs I've visited. I've been told by one shop owner that they are too unreliable as far as shipping and availability for shops to stock. (I take this with a grain of salt as this particular shop owner still won't stock Brown Sheep because of the wait she had on orders after their factory burned down a couple years ago. Hardly their fault I would say.) So I've bought all my Lorna's from Jimmy Beans and Little Knits. Little Knits is closing it out and not selling it anymore, but they have a few skeins left on sale, sale, sale. Every time I've ordered it from Jimmy Beans they have had to substitute colors for me, but they've been great to work with. So I'm hoping to finish this sweater this weekend and get it in the mail.

I feel so behind. I've got so much to finish and not enough time. And I really do have to get some stuff done in the yard before the weather turns on me and it's too late.

I'm out here. A little overwhelmed a lot behind, but I'm out here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't Try This At Home

We interrupt this family free-for-all to bring you some knitting. Or some unsolicited knitting advice, cos doesn't everyone love a little unsolicited advice? I know I do! Especially from the lunch room ladies!

Remember that garterlac dish rag I whipped out one Saturday morning not too long ago? Yeah, that made me cocky and too sure of my self. Too sure of myself.

I volunteered to be an angel for the One Skein Secret Pal exchange. I felt terrible that some people got nothing. I have to come up with a hand knit gift and quick. My SP lives in the south so a wool hat or some such thing would be useless to her. So I thought, what about a garterlac done in cotton chenille as a spa wash cloth? Some nice soap, etc. I'd be all set.

In retrospect I think the vareigation in the Peaches n' Cream helped me keep track of where I was at in the pattern when I did the dish cloth. I also think (and this is perhaps the most important factor) that doing in alone in a room was the key to my earlier success. Not so with the spa cloth. First, it's all one color. Second, I tried to do it while watching t.v. with a 14 year old and two dogs. Bad idea. I've ripped it out twice all ready. The cotton chenille is not loving the frogging.

Back to it. Wish me luck.

BTW, did you read my sister's comments? As if anything I've ever done that my parents don't already know about would shock them!

Monday, October 02, 2006

And He Confesses!!!

So in case you didn't read my comments here is one from Anonymous:

And I would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for your meddling blogsters and your stupid dog too!!! Oh, wait, that was for when I was secretly revealed as Captain Cutler, The Black Night Ghost, or Miner 49er. Easy on the "respectable citizen" stuff, I have a reputation to keep poor. So it's true, I am RC. For you regular blog readers, I am Kate and Susan's blacksheep brother. The sibling who smokes cigars, gambles and swears. Well, the one who smokes cigars, gambles and swears but doesn't knit. At least Susan is respectable. Occasionally I've been known to wear a purse on my head and walk like the monkeys from Oz. On a more interesting note, today is Kate's birthday!!!! You can see from her pictures she has posted that she looks much younger than her 49 years. The next one will be THE BIG 50!! Happy Birthday big sister!!! Stay tuned for future comments, including "10 things you didn't know about Kate".He He He He He Dave

I'm a little afraid about the "10 Things You Didn't Know About Kate". Okay I'm very afraid. And I will have it known that I am actually 42 today. He's 10 years younger, so if I were 49, that would make his next birthday 40. So don't push my age along. And it just so happens I gave up cigars after a really bad incident involving duty-free Irish whiskey and cuban cigars. (there is no worse hangover. you're just praying to die)

So mystery solved but I may have opened a giant sized can of worms.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Presenting Roger Clinton

A few months ago I started getting anonymous comments on the blog from someone who signed themselves Roger Clinton. This person was sarcastic and funny. Commented some on my knitting, but never on their own.

Nancy Drew Clue Alert: I don't think Roger is a knitter

Then a few weeks ago there was an incident at the Minnesota Zoo involving meerkats. 5 had to be euthanized after someone let their 9 year old into their habitat and the 9 year old was bitten. Roger Clinton commented on my blog referencing dead meerkats.

NDCA: Roger Clinton is from Minnesota

A light bulb went off and I suspected I might know the identity of Roger. But he is elusive and laid low after I said as much on the blog.

Then it came back to me. Last winter I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper after our latest school funding levy failed. I was really ticked off because I saw on the local news a bunch of 70 and 80-something women coming out of the polling place declaring they already paid too much taxes. This pissed me off. I know that they probably contributed very little to Social Security and that it takes 3 currently employed people to support one senior on Social Security. I have no problem paying my taxes to support them, but they can't give up Caribou Coffee once a week to improve my kid's school. ANYWAY. (I'm jumping off my soapbox now) Needless to say my letter was not well received by some of the senior citizens in my neighborhood. I got an e-mail of support though from the person I now suspect is Roger Clinton.

In the e-mail he said I should run for Governor and as my brother he will be happy to act as the family Billy Carter or Roger Clinton. Getting boozy at all the wrong times and embarrassing me publicly in the proud tradition of Roger Clinton.

NDCA: Roger Clinton is my little brother David.

Drumroll please. Presenting Roger Clinton:

Here is he is now, getting in shape for his role should I ever hold public office. Yes, that is a Lucy bag on his head. I knit it for my sister last winter. He is a more responsible citizen than he appears in this picture. (I wasn't going to show a picture where he actually LOOKS like a responsible citizen, how would that be any fun?) He holds a management position. He is a good dad. He follows all the DNR rules about how many fish you can catch. He has a near photographic memory that is very annoying at times because the things he chooses to remember are things like the entire script of Airplane, but all in all he's a good guy. Slippery though. The general consensus amongst the family is that he is indeed Roger Clinton but will probably never admit to it.

When everyone replied to my question yesterday that they have never received comments from Roger Clinton. My suspicions were confirmed. And when he threatened to out himself, I had to take immediate action. So HAH Roger Clinton. You're out there baby (and you're loving it!)

Friday, September 29, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday

It's not actually my birthday yet, but since my parents were in town we had a little birthday gathering last night. My parents, my MIL & FIL. Mom and Dad gave me yarn money. MIL/FIL gave me a new suit. A birthday suit, hooray! It's a long story, but my MIL worked for Daytons/Marshall Fields (now Macy's) for years and years. Part of her retirement is that she gets her employee discount for life. Since Macy's has ridden into town, they have declared that their sales associates will only wear black. When D/MF had to sell off all the brands that Macy's doesn't carry, they set aside all the black suits for sales associates to buy at a huge discount so that they could comply with the new all black all the time rule. One of her former co-workers called my MIL and told her about the black suit sale and told her she could get in on the deals as a retired associate. So she bought a black suit for herself and one for me! This is great because I wear suits 2-4 times a week at "the firm". So I have a beautiful new Anne Klein suit.

I haven't really knit at all this week and I realized this morning that I am literally drowning in UFOs. We are talking the little men descending from the craft to take me away and perform Martian experiments on me. I have my Sunrise Circle Jacket, a hooded tunic for my nephew, a Lizard Ridge square, a Grandma Purl square, the final poncho, a Fair Isle hat. So this weekend I am committed to finishing something, anything.

I just joined the Lizard Ridge KAL. Maybe this will be the KAL where I actually finish the project! I'm down to three finished squares because I just committed two to Stephania's LR Afghans for Afghans project. Thanks to Chris for directing me to the site. (BTW Chris, I still haven't received an e-mail with your address to send you your prize!)

In other news, I have a devious plan for outing Roger Clinton. It involves a picture of the suspected RC. I am waiting to receive the picture and then I will post. The picture is of the suspected RC and contains knitting. More later, but a note to all my blog friends, have you ever gotten a comment from Roger Clinton on your blog? This information will help me in my Nancy Drew efforts.

As much as I enjoy reading about knitting and writing about knitting. I better get to the actual knitting.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Away From Home

I awoke to the sounds of NPR. For me, this qualifies as a rude awakening. I'm just not an NPR kinda girl. Not just in that I shave my legs on a regular basis. They editorialize every single story. If Katie Couric reported the news like they do on NPR she'd be fired. The story I woke up to was about Terrell Owens. Correction it was about how the story of Terrell Owens was "big news" and reporters were all over the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. They disdain sports anyway on NPR, but they were really disparaging in this particular report. Referring to TO as "a man who catches footballs for a living". Yes, I realize that being a wide receiver in the NFL isn't as nobel a profession as making peanuts as a posturing little stringer for NPR, but please. Okay, I think I'm done ranting.

I've done almost no knitting. I missed Project Runway last night and the Gilmore chicks season premier on Tuesday. I have nothing worthwhile to write about. Except, despite what he says, I think TO probably did try to kill himself and I hope that someone gets him help. 'Cos he's seemed a little nuts to me for quite some time. I don't know if I'd want my boss to be the warm and fuzzy Bill Parcells if I was feeling blue.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Quick Note

I'm hitting the road today for work. You know how I love that. Yesterday I was at Needlework Unlimited and I noticed a flyer for the Minnesota Knit Out. It's in my neighborhood at Brookdale Mall. Yes, truly the Mall where the hookers shop (and I'm not talkin' crochet here people).

I try to shop at Brookdale but other than the Barnes & Noble and my pal Shawn's Subway, there isn't much for a forty-something. I'm on a Macy's boycott because I'm not over the loss of Daytons. (Yeah, I know that was two acquisitions ago, but I was really attached) If someone sees me walking into Forever 21, they should tackle me. I'm not 21 and 40-somethings that want to dress like they are 21 just look a little sad. There is even one store called K-something that has to be where the hookers shop. If all the hookers and drag queens in town get invited to Ascot to enjoy the races with the Queen, they definitely need to make a stop at K-whatever to buy shiny cheap satin dresses with big matching hats. Get some satin pumps dyed mint green to match. Oh, but if you need really expensive cool sneakers, there are about 4 or 5 stores that sell them. So as much as I try to boost my little town's economy, there isn't much for me to buy at Brookdale other than books at the B&N and hoodies at Steve & Barrys.

That being said, I'm really excited that knitters are coming to my neck of the woods. Some will have to pack their Louis Vuitton bags and venture north of 394 for the first time ever. Some will have to cross the river! I love my crazy little neighborhood where diversity rules and you can't go anywhere without running into someone you know. So I'm hoping to see you here on October 8th.

Monday, September 25, 2006

And The Winner Is. . .

Using a random number generator, Chris is the winner of Look Back & Cringe. The prize yarn is in no way purple or black so I'm hoping she will still use it. I'm also some including some other stuff (also not purple or black) that hopefully she will use.

Finally, as a thank you or perhaps a punishment, I give you my own Look Back & Cringe photo
Forget the fact that I look like I would break in a strong wind, how much hair did I really need? I actually paid someone to do this to my hair. I wanted the big news anchor scoops to stay really big all day. No, those aren't two catepillars that crawled up over my eyes, they are my brows. I did fall for the Caroline Kennedy wedding dress that was in retrospect very conservative compared to the giant sleeved beaded numbers that were popular at the time. I had to have the pillbox veil with the giant pouf in the back though. You couldn't legally marry without the big pouf.

Thanks to everyone for having fun with my little contest.

End of Look Back and Cringe

Yesterday was the official end to Look Back and Cringe. If I missed your entry, let me know. I'll choose a winner via random number and post tonight.

Blatantly disregarding The Sheep's warning about knitting on cold medication, Ispent most of the weekend in bed with a fever, knitting and watching Gilmore Girls the Complete 6th season. One thing I can tell you, the cold medication really takes the edge of the frogging. I was trying to make a simple square for Grandma Purl. I wanted to make it washable because I generally believe that afghans should be washable (that's why I'm doing a giant Kureyon afghan for my first one?! what's wrong with me? No, really) and I wanted happy colors. I remembered that I had some Koigu in the stash that I bought just because of it's really happy colors. It seemed like the perfect choice for an afghan square. Since it's a simple square what better way to try out some of the patterns from Vogue Knitting's Stitchionary? Getting gauge so that this square is exactly 8 inches was a royal pain. After frogging twice, I think I have it.

Happy or what? I like the pattern, it's number 85 from the stitchionary, granite relief stitch. Even with all the frogging, I really like the Koigu too. It holds up great to frogging and I like the fabric it creates. Now I'm thinking about a Koigu sweater in this same pattern stitch. I'm envisioning something top down with slit sleeves and fitted. All the Koigu sweater patterns I found on the internet were well, fugly. Many were modular knitting and had this "look at what a clever knitter I am" look rather than being really wearable. We'll see. I did the preliminary math and a little sketch, but I was on cold medication.

I also did a couple of these:
Each time I do a square I'm sure that "this one is my favorite". Five down, 19 more to go.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Welcome Autumn

I love fall. I like the leaves changing color and the crisp feeling in the air. I love getting my sweaters out of summer storage and putting away the summer stuff. I love buying really great apples and putting them in a big bowl on my kitchen table. It's the best time of year. Give me 50 and 60 degree weather all the time, I much prefer it to 80's and 90's.

However, it has drizzled here for days and days. Everything is gray and the damp cool weather has brought on a horrible allergy attack. I feel crappy. This is perfect knitting weather though and sitting around knitting is my only plan for today.

I am still working on squares for my Lizard Ridge afghan. I took Chris' advice and went to Webs to look at the discounted Kureyon. I still might order some, but with shipping it works out to be about the same price as anywhere else. They do have some great colors though. I want each square to be in a different colorway. I'm using my new handy dandy little notebook to keep track of the colors. When you pick up a skein at the LYS, each one looks different depending on how it was wound. If I don't record the color numbers, I am afraid I will end up duplicating. For example, everywhere I go I end up picking up color 165 and admiring it, only to realize I've already used it for a square.

Tomorrow is the end of Look Back and Cringe. Christina has posted a picture and reminded me of the fashion trend of layering socks. If this comes back it could be a great thing for all of you that are knitting a ton of socks.

Pull up a box of tissues, a good DVD, something hot to drink and knit through your allergies. Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Little Knitting

I'm out here. Not much knitting to report, just a little. I've been working on the stockinette sleeves which is fairly boring knitting, and periodically I've been working on these:

They need washing and blocking, but my plan is to get four done and then block. I really love working on these. The knitting is fun and I never know what the yarn is going to do next. I missed the boat yesterday. I got the Herrschner's weekly yarn sale e-mail and Kureyon was on sale for less than $5 a skein. By the time I got to the site it was all gone! I have a feeling there are a whole lot of people knitting this afghan.

Look Back and Cringe update:
Kaye and I graduated from high school the same year, so her 80's experiences seem to be close to my own. The hair was certainly similar. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to stand around with a curling iron for an hour every morning, so the hairstyles can't come back.
Karen has posted pictures, but didn't leave me her blog address, so Karen K, please come back and share your blog so that we can all take a peek!

Like just about everyone else, my allergies are miserable and I don't have a ton of energy. Hopefully, I'll be able to do more knitting this weekend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


It's Talk Like A Pirate Day. I'm very afraid that my husband and son are participating. Anyway.

No posts yesterday because my morning was interrupted by a sighting of the dreaded mouse. In my son's room. Yes, where the cat lives. Let's just say that Albert the cat is not a mouser.
Last night the internet connection was messed up, so my apologies for no post yesterday.

More Look Back and Cringe Posts:

Chris has some really good arguments against an 80's comeback.
I'm not positive, but I think I saw Beth on an episode of "Dallas".
Tiphanie reminded me that we weren't all teens and 20-somethings in the 80's. Some of us were Punky Brewster!
Katie was adorable! She did however remind me that overalls are not flattering on anyone who no longer wears diapers. I'm not wearing overalls again no matter what.

I had big problems with overalls and stirrup pants back in the 80's. They were made for people of normal proportions. I'm only 5'7", but most of it is legs. Stirrup pants cut into my feet while the crotch of the pants landed somewhere between my knees and where it was supposed to be. Which meant that I was constantly pulling them up which in turn cut into my feet even more. Stirrup pants were a vicious fashion circle for me. Overalls were always flood pants for me. Alternatively, I would adjust the shoulder straps as long as possible so that the bib was way down and again I had the hanging crotch. Real attractive. Of course we didn't call them overalls back then, they were bibs. As in, "what are you wearing to the hockey game tonight?" "I'm just wearing my bibs".

In knitting news, I've completely fallen for this. Who hasn't? I've told myself that I'm going to take it slow. It could take years because at $8.50 to $9.50 a skein, this is going to end up being a throw that costs well over $200. I've completed two squares and started on a third and I've come to the conclusion that even with all the new worsted weight self-striping yarns out there, you couldn't substitute. Part of the fun is that you never know what the Noro Kureyon is going to do next. (including when it's going to break in a very random fashion, but that's a whole 'nother post) It's like a great mystery novel, you really don't know how things are going to turn out until the very end. I'm addicted. It's just fun knitting. Like knitting should be!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Prize Peek

I don't have much time today, I have to be somewhere very early this morning. I'm an early riser but a slow starter. I need time to ease into the world in the morning. So being made up and wearing a suit, arriving someplace at 7:00 a.m. is tough. Really tough. So here is a little peek at something I bought today as part of the prize for Look Back and Cringe.

I picked it up at Yarnzilla on my lunch hour today. It's Mt. Colors Bearfoot and the fabulous Linda assures me it's a new colorway that isn't easily found. I need the help of someone like Linda when it comes to sock yarn because, in case I haven't mentioned this before, I don't do socks. Linda is the best and someday she is even going to let me buy the cashmere I'm craving.

More on the Look Back and Cringe front:
Chris has gone so far as to link to pictures of herself. If back in the 80's you went to buy purple eyeshadow and the store was out, it was because Chris had bought it all. Proof positive her obsession with purple is hardly a new phenomenon.

Deepa is, sadly, blogless (but I heard through the grapevine, she's thinking about starting a blog) but she has posted a comment about her Indian "fusion fashion". Deepa, I still can't think about cowl necks even though I see patterns for knitted cowl necks all over the place.

Tam may be the bravest woman ever. She has not only posted pictures of her 80's fashions and a dizzying array of giant glasses, but she has posted a picture of herself just after giving birth. She looks like the happiest woman on earth in this picture, but let's face it we are not exactly at our glamorous best after pushing a person out of our bodies. Tam, I am not worthy.

Okay, I'm going to go be an early bird. Talk to you tomorrow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Waiting for the Mailman

I love shopping online. I love getting packages in the mail. I'm almost sure my mail carrier hates me because of it. Yesterday, I got this:

My notebooks from Myndology! They are going to be for knitting. The itsy bitsy one will fit into my purse. It has heavy paper that seems like a light cardstock. It's refillable too, so as long as I don't lose it, I can refill it.

Now I know that everybody else seems to use their Palm pilots or Blackberries for this kind of note taking stuff, but I don't have one. I had a Palm and it seemed that I mostly used it as an address book and to play Bejeweled on airplanes. It seems like too much expense for how I use it. It died. It was drowned by the cat. Not Albert, our now departed Schmed cat. It was sitting on the kitchen counter and Schmed decided to play soccer with it. It landed in his water dish and drowned. Palm pilots don't like water, or cats. I have a wet, messy, animal intensive home that leads to electronic accidents. So I'll stick to buying notebooks.

Since this is meant to be a knitting blog, I am actually knitting. I'm making sleeves for the jean jacket I bought way back in March while in Chicago. I lost the pattern so I had to use my Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and math.

This is Schaefer Miss Priss in the colorway Isadora Duncan. It should look great with the jacket. I'm doing both sleeves at once because I hate finishing something only to have to start all over again. Have I mentioned I don't knit socks?

Apparently Schmed cat was not the only animal who enjoys a good game of soccer, Maxine is pretty sure she's going to be picked for the next women's Olympic team. She will not tear her shirt off after a win to expose her bra, she plays naked.

Keep Looking Back and Cringe-ing! Some of you have even hinted at posting pictures of your 80's fashions! I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Look Back and Cringe Contest

Everyone is saying that the 80's are making a big comeback in fashion. You'll have to drag me kicking and screaming back there. No long sweaters and leggings please. No ripped sweatshirts. Please, please no big giant hair with mall bangs. And I am absolutely not growing my eyebrows back out to look like giant Brooke Shields catepillar brows.

Being a banana clip away from a Styx concert got such a strong reaction from everyone (it even brought our pal Roger Clinton out of lurkdom into the comment light, hooray!) that you have inspired me to hold another contest.

What special outfit did you have in the 80's that make you resist going back to the 80's now? Was it the layers of purple eyeshadow? Was it your Madonna inspired headband? Was it the blouse with the giant sleeves? What is that special look that you so loved back then that makes you cringe now. I mean real embarrassment. Tell me why you don't want to do the 80's all over again on your blog. Be brave, this is no time for some wimpy "leave it in my comments" contest. We are talking the return of lycra leggings people, blog about it! The winner will get something special in the way of yarn.

I will confess, my 80's fashion transgressions were numerous. My absolute worst was a turquoise outfit that included rip-stop nylon pants. The pants had a ton of puffy pleats on the top and then tapered to very small ankles. These wonders were topped with a turquoise and white striped sailor shirt that had puffy sleeves. I wore this with my purple eye shadow, plastic turquoise button earrings (the bigger the better) and (gasp) RED ballet flats (white socks of course). I loved this outfit. I bought it myself with money I earned working at the insurance office after school (yes, I've been a big old insurance geek since I was 17). Oh God, I felt cute in this outfit. Oh does the thought make me cringe now!!

Obviously the benefits of going back are numerous.
  • We all await the death of the muffin top and the tramp stamp with eager anticipation.
  • If we can fashionably go back to butt covering sweaters, we can put away our "Firm" steps and get off the stairmaster.
  • If I never see another chubby teenager's belly hanging out of a crop top or a too tight shirt, it will be too soon (as my friend Dan says, there is such a thing as too much self esteem in children)
  • Maybe stores will start selling t-shirts in real sizes again. I have to buy large or even xl sometimes at places like Old Navy and The Gap. I'm a size 6/8 and have virtually no chest. I don't know what you do if you're an average size like 12/14 and actually have a chest. I guess you just can't buy Old Navy t-shirts most of the time.
  • I will be the first one at the flat-iron bonfire. I will be swinging it over my head by the cord screaming, "I have curly hair and I'm proud of it!"
  • Maybe we can find clothes that don't look like you're on your way to party with Paris Hilton. I need some coverage people!! I work at a "firm". Yes, people refer to my company as "the firm" and they wear ties. I can't dress like I'm headed off to a taping of TRL.
  • Flat shoes. I miss flats. I miss comfy toes. I have seen a lot of rounded toes in shoes stores lately and this is a sign. I love how my legs look in pointy-toed stilleto heels, but my hamstrings are now aproximately one fourth their original length.

There will be negatives to going back to some version of 80's fashions:

  • Spandex, need I say more?
  • Those butt covering sweaters take a whole lot of yarn. A whole lot. And knitting another 8-10 inches on the bottom of sweaters is going to take time.

So let's all look back and cringe together shall we? Contest will run through Sunday September 24th, winner announced on Monday September 25th.

"I'm plenty fashionable already. Does the return of the 80's mean the return of real dogs? Not just teeny-tiny purse-sized dogs that are worn as an accessory? I'm all for that!"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Okay Maybe I'm Just Mean

I got the Patternworks catalog in the mail today. I love getting yarn catalogs. I like looking at the new yarns, I like comparing colors and fibers. But I've got a question, maybe I'm just mean, but is it 1986 in New Hampshire? Have you gotten this catalog? Have you noticed that the models have feathered hair and are wearing really high-waisted, pleated wool pants? This isn't true of all of the pictures (most of which are provided by the yarn companies I'm quite sure) but the Yarns by Patternworks all feature models living in a time warp. No kidding these models are a banana clip away from a Styx concert.

Something really cool I found online today. I was reading Twin Cities Business today at work and there was an article about a company called Myndology. They sell the absolute coolest notebooks, little ring bound note cards, etc. I, of course, thought knitting. I thought about all the little notes I make for myself and then proceed to lose. So I went online and ordered a disc-bound journal and a 2"x3" disc bound note book. With the disc bound you can take the little notes out and add them to the journal. Cool, huh? I also wrote to the company saying that they should be selling these in LYS's. Check out Myndology if you are a notebook nut like me.

I didn't get to knit at all last night, but I crashed early and feel better than I have in days!! I'm loving this cool fall weather and it's making me think wool and sweaters and more wool.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Have Yourself a Realistic Little Christmas. . .

Okay I've made a decision. This stressing myself out with Christmas projects in September is ridiculous. The notion that everyone in my life needs handknit gifts is crazy. Realistically my nieces and nephews would rather have toys and electronics than a handknit sweater from Auntie Kate. I'm going to stick to making smaller projects for my mom & dad and my in-laws. I will finish the fair isle hats for the kids, I will probably finish the sweater I already have on the needles for my nephew Joe. That's it.

As for the Samantha sweater, I'm going to give it another try but if I just can't do it with my eyesight, I'll have to pick something simple, top down, in worsted weight yarn. Maybe this.

Lately my knitting has been stressing me out and that's bad. Knitting is supposed to be my stress relief not a whole new source of stress. No one knows what causes Graves disease, but they think stress is a factor. My eye isn't correcting itself like the doctors hoped and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I'm going start working on eliminating stress from my life and being realistic about this Christmas knitting stuff is a start. Saturday morning when I grabbed my needles and a ball of Sugar 'n Cream and whipped out that dishcloth, knitting was fun. I've been making my knitting a giant to-do list and that has to stop. Nudge me if I turn my knitting into anything but fun, okay?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Off Track

I couldn't do it anymore. I was struggling with my eyes and I couldn't do lace on number 4 needles without good eyesight. So I succumbed to the garterlac (sp?) fever going around (Trek is the Typhoid Mary of garterlac fever) and knit this.

I now understand why these are so addictive. I love that I can do them in wild colors because after all they are dishrags, it's not as if they have to coodinate with anything. It would seem a perfect first entrelac project as after the first couple of squares the lightbulb went off in my head and I got it without having to look at the pattern all the time. (Why can't I do this with two crummy repeating YO's?)

Thanks for everyone's well wishes on my eyes. They are much better today. It comes and goes for no apparent reason. I've gotta run. I'm multi-tasking right now. Blogging, watching Trading Spaces re-runs, cleaning my bathroom, and washing that gray right outa my hair.

Friday, September 08, 2006

From Tinking to Full Out Frogging

This little tiny lace panel on the Samantha sweater is completely kicking my ass. I've tinked back 7 or 8 times. Its an easy pattern, I just keep forgetting to YO and it looks horrible.

So I'm going to frog it all back and re-knit it. I've had more time for knitting than I thought I would as my eye is acting up and I missed work because of it. I'm very frustrated by my complete inability to keep track of this. There isn't a chart, probably because most people wouldn't need one to do alternating yo's up the side of a button band. It's a four row repeating pattern that you knit 12 times. I was using check marks on the pattern. It worked fine for a while, but apparently knitting ADD kicked in and I blew it. Over and over again.

Any advice?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My 100th Post!

As this is my 100th post, it seems important that I stick with a recurring theme. This is Trekking with Maxine Louise, BHFH, beloved blog-dog.

Deb, do you recognize this? You helped me pick it out at Coldwater. I bought these for my OS Secret Pal. The bag was on the desk and apparently she jumped up and took off with the bag. What do you do in a situation like this? Do I try to untangle this mess? Do I just write the whole thing off? I don't even knit socks for heaven sake!

Thanks for sticking with me and my dog for these past six months through 100 posts. Some of them were even about knitting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dreams Do Come True

I could get into the whole spooky Irish women dreaming thing, but I won't. I'll just say, last Tuesday's dream has come true, my friends had their first baby two weeks early on Monday. I knit like a fiend all day on Monday in a feeble attempt to finish the baby sweater, but only have the back done.

See the sweet little section that looks like smocking? It's all slipped stitches, but looks like something far more complicated. I have to do the short row neck shaping. The instructions in the pattern completely freaked me out, but I swatched it yesterday and I think I'm okay. The problem is I don't see myself getting a lot of time to knit in the next couple of days. Part of me wishes I'd chosen a simpler pattern in worsted weight. This one has a full skirt, is knit in pieces and on number 4 needles. I know it will be worth it when it's done, but right now I'm worried about finishing it before the kid is too big to wear it.

I could have knit more last weekend, but I was busy painting and doing a little minor redecorating in the living room. The living room had been dominated by our old 43" "big screen" t.v. and a giant oak cabinet that surrounded it. I couldn't rearrange the furniture too much because of it and I was sick of living room being dominated by a t.v. The offending t.v. has been moved into my son's room, the giant cabinet broken up into manageable pieces, and my living room looks bigger and warmer and wonderful. I love it. It will be the perfect place to knit by the fire and listen to music. My son is very happy with the huge t.v. which is a good thing because my husband and son have vowed they are never moving it again.

Yesterday was restful and quiet. However, there are some in this house that are against the boy going back to school. Someone was lonely and restless and a little cranky. I'm not naming names but she has really big ears.

Was that the door? Is that my boy coming home?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

School Starts

Promptly at 6:04 a.m., I heard my son's shower fire up. His backpack is packed and by the door. He laid out what he was going to wear, last night. His wallet has ones in it for the snack and juice machines. He is reluctantly ready. I'm so ready.

It is traditional that I stay home the first day of school. I took the whole week off his first year at kindergarten. That first day was tough for me. I took him to school and the parents stayed for the first hour. When the parents were dismissed, kids cried and clung to their mommies. Not mine. "See ya mom" was all I got. I went home and cried. At the end of the day, I was waiting at the bus stop with our dog Sam fifteen minutes before the bus was due. When the bus finally pulled up and opened it's doors, my son never got off the bus. I could see him on the bus, he just didn't get off. Not knowing exactly where the next stop was, Sam and I chased the bus as it pulled off. Waving my hands in the air, chasing the big yellow bus, I was in a panic thinking give me my baby back! Sam happily ran along beside me, barking. We ran all the way to the next stop where I got on the bus and retrieved my son. He hasn't really taken the bus much ever since.

It is also tradition that I take a picture of him on the porch getting ready to leave. I bought batteries for the camera but in all the rearranging and painting that went on over the weekend (details later), I can't find them now. So while he eats breakfast and watches the morning news, I'll be running around looking for batteries.

At 7:25, his dad will take him to school and I will begin the happy dance of back to school joy. No more coming home to empty soda cans and teenagers sprawled all over the living room. No more 47 calls on Thursday (his laundry day) that go something like, "do red underwear go into the underwear load or the red load?". No more coming home after a hard day to hear, "I'm bored, can we go out to dinner and shopping tonight?". I'm gonna miss all that.

To all the moms out there, enjoy the first day back to school. Do your own happy dance of back to school joy. Do it in your p.j.s with the family pets looking at you as if you've lost your mind. Then pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit down to knit. In a really quiet house.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Time Is Not On My Side

I didn't get to knit night last night. My steering committee meeting ran for over two hours so by the time I got home I knew there was no way I could get to St. Paul (all the way across the river doncha know) and have any time to knit. So I missed it. I'm hoping that next week's steering committee meeting will be another night so that I can make it next week.

I stayed home after my meeting and watched "Project Runway" with my husband and son. I won't say what happened just in case you didn't get to see it (you made it to knit night for example) and need to watch one of 12 zillion re-runs this week.

Last night I had a dream that my friends who are due to have their first baby next month, had their baby. This would be bad. Not because the baby would be a couple weeks early, that's usually no big deal these days, but because I haven't finished the Samantha sweater for the baby. Yes, I can make anything about me. So this weekend I'm definitely going to have to finish it. I was encouraged to make this pattern by reading on someone else's blog how quickly it went. I struggle with Kate Gilbert's patterns though and it's not going as quickly as I would like. I love Kate's designs, don't get me wrong, but the way they are written doesn't seem to work for me. They are written row by row. I'm more of a "repeat rows 1 and 2 for 3 inches" kinda gal. So when I see the pattern is 8 pages long and says things like, "Rows 15-56, Repeat rows 11-14 11 more times". Clickety-clack. I don't want to count 56 rows. I don't even want to count 5 rows 11 times. (I'm not even sure, looking at this, that the math works out but this is right from the pattern) I'll screw it up. I promise you I will. Personally this has Hawkeye and Trapper defusing a bomb written all over it, but first cut the blue wire. . .

So my dream that the baby is here shook me up. I have to finish a sweater for this kid this weekend. I also have to paint the living room this weekend. And make sure my son is ready to go back to school (hooray!). Meantime, I'm on the road for work and will be back tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's Not the Wine, It's the Smoking

Ugh. I stayed up past my bedtime last night. I drank four glasses of wine in 6 hours so I wasn't drunk but I also smoked about 487 cigarettes and so I feel pretty groggily today. I didn't sleep, I kept waking up wondering if I said or did anything inappropriate. This is why I rarely have more then a glass or two of wine in public. Okay that sounds terrible. That sounds like I'm sitting at home at night slugging back the wine like Allison on Melrose Place. Except she was always drinking vodka. I'm really glad she got her t.v. life together and now is the sarcastic wife of John Belushi's brother. Plus I think that nice girl from Father of the Bride is now her sister or something, and she doesn't work for Amanda, so with all that going for her she's off the Phillips Vodka straight from the bottle. I don't do any of this. I never worked for Amanda and didn't even really like Billy.

ANYWAY, my friend Cary was in town from Chicago and 5 of us were out to dinner and had some wine on the patio where I can smoke. Bad idea. Please God do not comment that smoking is bad for you, etc. I know that. Every smoker knows that. We all wish we could quit. No, not true, we all wish we wanted to quit. So please don't pile on my groggilyness with a lecture on the ill effects of smoking, I know them. I'm living them today. MFF joined us about 8:30 or 9:00 bringing me smoking reinforcements. He is a bad influence and an enabler. But a really good friend.

I have a desk day at work today so that should be good for groggily. I have a steering committee meeting at 6 tonight and then I am going to try to get to Nina's as fast as I can because Chris is going to be there. We keep missing each other everywhere in life and have not actually met in person. I cannot believe that someone that I correspond with nearly every day, feel like I know, is someone I haven't actually met. So I'm mainlining coffee right now and I'm going to get ungroggily so that I can go to knit night and see Renee and meet Chris. I'll be the one with the buggy eyes, cigarette hang over and probably be fairly rumpled. You'll be able to spot me right away.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Eye, yi, yi! And other random meanderings

I try not to whine about my stupid problems with Graves but yesterday really sucked. One of the characteristics of Graves that differentiates it from other thyroid disease is it does strange things to your eyes. In my case just my right eye, which is unusual (of course I have to have an unusual disease in an unusual way!) but correctable. After I finish treatment. If it doesn't correct itself. I feel like I look weird all the time and that is usually the worst of it. Yesterday my good eye went buggy and I couldn't see very well. The medication for this is basically a medicated Vaseline that you squirt in your eye so as to make your blurry eyes even blurrier. So yesterday I spent the entire afternoon and evening sitting on the couch. I couldn't read. I could see the big t.v. well enough, so I watched t.v. with my son and knit. Thankfully I was knitting the sleeves of the $9 cardigan so I could have done that in the dark.

Today I am sending my final SP and OSSP packages. My Secret Pal has resolved to try felting so I'm hoping that my final gift will inspire her.

It's a Lucy bag. Practically obligatory here in MN, I'm not sure why. I've filled it with Cascade 220 and enough Twisted Sisters hand dyed cotton to Picovoli (in case the whole felting thing doesn't work out for her) I have a pin in the shape of an Orchid that I'm going to attach to the front. Even if she doesn't carry the Lucy as a handbag, it makes a great project bag. I hope she likes it. She has been so much fun to buy things for and I'm glad I can finally reveal myself. The cloak and dagger knitting thing has been killing me!

The Noro Kureyon scarf is for my One Skein pal. It's cheating because it uses two skeins, but I don't care. It was fun to make and I hope she likes it. She has two sons who play sports so I'm thinking a scarf will be welcome come football season. I also got her a big funky skein of chunky yarn, a skein of Trekking and a skein of Noro. My one skein pal doesn't blog very actively, so it's hard to know if she has liked anything I've sent, but I'm hoping that something in my packages has been fun or useful.

I also included a package of colored pencils in each package. Two reasons for this. One, they are nice for designing; two, I always crave new school supplies in August.

For years and years we are programmed to buy school supplies and new clothes in August. All of the sudden we are adults and cut off. I've never made the adjustment. I want fresh, untouched notebooks, sharp pencils, a new box of 64 crayons, for God's sake I want a protracter (I can't recall ever using one, but dammit, I want one!). And clothes. I want woolly sweaters and corduroy pants even though it will be too hot to wear them for a couple of months. I want new tennies for gym class and a pair of brown "good" shoes for everywhere else. I want Levi's cords and a really big comb to stick in my back pocket. Oops, I just had a late 70's flashback there, please forgive me. Okay, I don't want that, but I certainly want fall clothes. I want to fall asleep worrying about whether or not my best friend Becky will be in any of my classes and hoping like hell she will have the same lunch hour as me. Anyone else go through this in August?