Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Post...

...of 2009. Doesn't that just make you kind of teary-eyed? Me neither.

So this would be when I show off all the finished projects in 2009, but you know what that would mean. Yep, pictures. It ain't happening. I will say that I was happy to finish a number of things (some of them are in the list at the very bottom of the page) and that a couple of Finished Objects were BSPs (that's Big Stinkin' Project, Melissa, which you would have known if you had been reading my blog but that's okay I'm just your poor old Mom and what could I possibly have to say that you would be interested in anyway?) Ahem.

This also would be when I list resolutions for the coming year, but I really don't have any. At least not new ones. And I don't really make resolutions, nor do I set goals. I think it's tough to resolve to do something and maintain that resolve through all the ups and downs of life. What happens most of the time is that we break our resolve and eat that entire carton of ice cream (just an example--not anything I know about from experience koff koff) and then chuck the whole diet resolution because we've just blown it. And setting goals has always been a weird thing for me because it's so closed or something. I mean, I could set the goal that I want to learn to play violin, or learn to speak Italian, or learn to paint, but when are you there? How do you know when you've reached that goal, and what do you do then? Sell the violin, toss out the watercolors?

Sooooo, I prefer having intentions. (And don't even mention that old saying about the road to hell!) Intentions work much better for me, because they can be things that will never end. I can have the intention to eat more healthy food, and because it's an intention rather than a goal or a resolution, it can last as long as I need it to. I think intentions suit me better because they have a little wiggle room, too. If I have the intention to eat better and I pig out on ice cream occasionally, I don't feel like I've blown some rigid standard I set for myself. For me, it produces a better mind-set.

So, do I have intentions? Oh, yeah--lots of them, and not just for the new year:

Continue learning the violin
Daily Bible reading
Work on finishing fiber projects (spinning, knitting, needlework, quilting)
Get some painting done in the house
Plan, plant, and maintain flower beds in the spring & summer
Take better care of my physical health, which includes regular exercise
Socialize more

Well, there are a few. I'm sure I have more, but that's what comes right off the top of my head. And now all this talk of ice cream has had an effect. I'm off to answer the call of the wild Mint Chocolate Chip that's residing in my freezer.

BTW, check out the comment on the last post that Mommy X left. Everybody's a comedian!

Monday, December 28, 2009


A post with pictures! Yes, I know, it's amazing. Even if my poor daughter did take pity on me and forward them from a friend. Hey, I don't care how I get them, and you shouldn't either, right? (BTW, hop over to DD's blog and enter her giveaway. It's soooooo worth it!)

Now, without further ado, we have pictures:

This is from the shower for Baby X and family. The quilt is the one I made (ta-daaa!) That's Mommy X on the left, Daddy X on the right, and Rugrat is in the center, "helping" them open gifts (when she's not eating chocolate treats.) Oh, and Baby X is the bump that's blocking part of the quilt, obviously. He's due next Monday, and I'm hoping he's going to be one of those people who are never late. I'm sure Mommy X feels the same way.

And here's the picture that proves what's really going on at the X home. You see Mommy X ooohing and ahhing over all the lovely gifts, so you just know that she spends lots of time in Baby X's room looking at all the pretty clothes and blankies and baby hygeine items, folding, refolding, rearranging. Daddy X (my son) clearly is only interested in playing with Baby X's toys. I may have to find another sock monkey before next week.

I'm starting to get excited. I need to be prepared for "the call." (Well, they'd better call when she goes into labor!) I just hope it goes quickly and easily. Oooooh, I'd better be thinking about a project to take along--time to cast on another pair of socks for hospital knitting!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Regrouping Yet Again

I'm not even gonna go through all the apologies and excuses for not posting on the blog for almost 3 weeks now. Life's just funny sometimes, and I'm in one of my periodic regrouping modes.

First up, I can now tell you about the three Stealth Projects that I finished in the last couple of months. They were all gifts for the soon-to-be-born grandson (in two weeks, more or less!!!) I knitted him a pair of tiny socks and a pair of tinier mitts, and I finished a quilt I had started some time back. It was a sample for a class I taught when I worked at a quilt shop, and all I had to do was quilt and bind it. I want to make Baby X something just for him, so I feel a little conflicted about using the top I'd made all those years ago, but on the other hand it was kind of neat to use something that had a lot of memories in it. He won't care either way--I'm sure he'll be an equal opportunity poop-on-the-quilt baby whether it was created just for him or not. I also found a cute sock monkey that I put in the gift bag. I have a feeling that Daddy X wanted it for himself. He has a thing about monkeys.

Do I have pictures of these items? What do you think? (Big hint to Daddy X: Take pictures and email them to me!!)

I'm still behind on the "52 Projects" plan because, as I suspected would happen, I've burned through all my quickie UFOs and am now stuck with a lot of BSPs. That's ok, though, because I've put them into a rotation so I get to each BSP at least once a week or so. Maybe I should lower the goal and make it "26 Projects in 52 Weeks." Yeah, that's more like it. I'll give that a shot.

So, the regrouping thing. I'm doing a lot less on line these days. I've pretty much stopped posting on Plurk, and my Ravelry presence is way down as well. I want to make better use of my time now that I don't have to go out to work. It's been too easy to get on the computer and putz away a couple of hours. Those are hours I would prefer to spend in Real Life, doing things like playing the violin, reading, or actually doing something with a friend. That last thing is the hardest for me because I just don't get out and about a whole lot, and when I do I'm usually alone. I need to get out of my "hermit" rut, and I know that will be the hardest thing for me to do. I kinda like my hermit rut. But I know it's not necessarily good for me. Soooo...time to get out of the comfort zone a little. Not that I plan to turn into a social butterfly or anything. I'd really rather stay home and knit.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trying to Catch Up

I really do not understand how the days slip by so quickly. I could have sworn I just did a post a couple of days ago, but it's been more than a week. I've gotta start keeping better track of time.

On that note, here's a catch-up post from our vacation mumblemumble weeks ago. We headed south on Saturday, October 17, and the first stop was in Dry Ridge, Kentucky at The Quilt Box.

It's located at the end of a winding dirt road, and the setting is just gorgeous.

I did what I do best, namely, shopping for fabric:

The shop cat kept me company:

Meanwhile, The Husband relaxed outside, where there's a bench conveniently located for relaxing and enjoying the view.

I took more pictures inside, including one of the three gracious ladies who kindly cut my fabric choices into fat quarters, but you know how my picture-taking skills are. FAIL.

It was a lovely way to start our vacation, and I left with a bag full of lovely quilt fabrics. No, there's no photographic record (I know, I'm sorry!!) but I can assure you it's worth a trip if you love quilting and shopping for fabric. They don't have a website, but here's a link to help you find them. I don't know what the hours are, so you may want to call first to make sure of the time they're open.

In other news, I'm still trying to finish projects, which is slow going, but I'm making a little headway. Next time I'll have some pictures, even if I have to bribe The Husband to take them for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frustration Abounds

I've gotten some dyeing done recently, and need to get the pictures taken so I can upload them to Etsy. The Husband helped me find the right settings on the camera so I could do them myself, so today I got up determined to get the pics and update the shop. Epic FAIL.

Now, I think of myself as a pretty patient person. I just finished a 5-inch quilt block that contains 32 pieces, so you can imagine how small and fiddly each little piece was. No problem. I hand quilted and trapuntoed a queen-size quilt for my brother and sister-in-law a few years ago. Loved it. I've knitted lace shawls with super-cobweb weight yarn. What a blast. So in some areas of life, I hold my own against what would drive the normal person completely nuts.

Not so photography. I fussed and fiddled with the camera this morning, called The Husband to ask for help, fussed and fiddled some more, then realized I had better just put the camera down and leave it for him to do this evening. I hate to admit defeat, but as I was getting the strong urge to throw the darn thing as hard as I could, I figured walking away was the option TH would suggest.

So no Etsy pictures today, which really bugs me because the Phat Fiber boxes with my samples in them should be arriving at people's homes, and I don't have (in my opinion) enough stuff listed. Just thinking about my inability to figure out the stupid camera makes my blood boil and my teeth clench. I think I'll go piece some more 5-inch blocks. I'll feel better.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank you, Joshua Bell

Ok, so I know I've been away from the blog for too long. I still haven't shared any pictures or stories about the vacation and the trip to SAFF. They're coming--we finally got what we needed to be able to upload the pictures from the camera, so I'm partly there. I still need to get a few pics from the husband's computer, so I'll futz with that soon and have something about the fun stuff I did.

Today, though, I have pictures from an wonderful, thrilling, glorious, dazzling event I attended Saturday night. Joshua Bell (the virtuoso violinist, in case you don't know) played with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and I had a seat right smack in the center of the floor, about 6 rows from the stage (and the Hilbert Circle Theater has no orchestra pit, so the musicians are right there in front of you!)

That was beyond excellent--I was so close that I could hear JB breathe as he played. That's not as weird as it sounds. A good musician has to regulate his breathing as he plays, and JB plays passionately and athletically. He was dripping sweat when he was done.

And what he played--oh. my. goodness. First the ISO played some music by Hector Berlioz (and the ISO should get a big mention here because they are a tremendous group of musicians.) Then Joshua came on to play Maurice Ravel's Tzigane, which is a pull-out-all-the-stops piece of fiery virtuosity. That alone was worth the price of admission. But that wasn't all. After the Tzigane got everyone's heart pumping, he played Meditation by Jules Massenet, a gorgeous, haunting melody. He took a break while the Symphony played music by Richard Strauss, then after a short intermission came back for the headliner piece: Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor.

That's one of my favorite, if not the favorite of all the violin concertos I've heard. It has everything a big piece of music should have: power, lovely melody, technical fireworks, all in a harmonious and beautiful setting. Even if you're not a classical music fan, you should take the time to listen to it once or twice because it's gorgeous. (If you scroll to the bottom of the page, JB's album of Bruch, Mendelssohn, and Mozart is the first one listed on my widget. It's worth every penny.)

Not only was the music beautiful just because of what it was, JB played it flawlessly. I know that recordings made in a studio are probably "tweaked" a bit to take out wrong notes or other mistakes, but I'm telling you, he made no mistakes. I can't even come up with the words to describe how wonderful the whole experience was. Hearing it while seeing someone pour his entire being into the playing was...well...I have no words. Sigh. Give me a minute...

Ok, so then, after we all stood and whooped (politely--this was a classical music concert after all) and applauded until I thought my arms would fall off, he came out and performed an encore. It was his rendition of "Yankee Doodle" with just about every virtuoso violin technique you can throw in a piece. That really brought the house down.

AND THEN...he signed autographs after the concert. Sigh again.

It was really funny, because when I got out of the car I grabbed my Bruch CD and stuck it in my purse. I had already made up my mind that I was going to be brave and ask anyone and everyone who worked in the theater if there was any chance I could get him to sign my CD after the show. This guy is the reason I started taking violin lessons in the first place--basically he changed my life--so I was going to try everything I could to at least get to say hello. Once inside the theater, I saw that a CD sales table was already set up with a little note that Joshua would be signing CDs after the show. How cool is that?

And guess who didn't think to bring her camera. The husband squeezed off a couple of shots on my cell phone, so all is not lost:

No, they're not the best, but about as good as you can get when you're in a hurry and using a cell phone camera.

I was ecstatic. He was so nice and smiled and said hello to everyone. He didn't rush anyone through the line, and another lady who was watching told us that he spent a lot of time talking to all the young people who came through, encouraging them if they played an instrument and posing for pictures.

So what do you say when you finally get the chance to speak to someone you admire so much? (And, no, it's not just because he's so darn good-looking!) I can't even tell you what I said--I mumbled something, though I think I remembered to thank him for the autograph. I hope so. There wasn't time to say what I really wanted to say.

I didn't want to tell him how great his performance was--I'm sure he knew that already, based on the standing ovation and cheers at the end. And I'm sure nearly everyone who went through the line said that, and it's not like he can't tell when he's played well. There has to be a feeling of contentment for a job (extremely) well done, and I would think that after all these years, Joshua knows in himself when he's performed brilliantly.

What I really wanted to say was the most heartfelt "Thank you." Not for the autograph, because I think I did say thank you for that, or for that evening's performance, but for the whole gift of his talent. That cannot be an easy life, no matter how much passion you have for your art. It's not just the thousands and thousands of hours of practice, the sacrifice of other interests, the money spent in teachers and schooling, the years dedicated to trying, failing, trying again until you get it as perfect as you can and then maintaining that perfection. It's the responsibility that comes with signing contracts for recordings and performances, constant travel, and fulfilling the expectations of an adoring public whether you feel like it or not. Yes, he gets something out of it, or he wouldn't continue doing it. But what he gives is inestimably more--when he's playing for you, his whole life is in that performance. It's as if all those years of dedication and hard work were for you, the listener. How do you thank someone for a gift that great?

I'm not even able to express what I mean in this post, so I never would have been able to say it when I had the chance Saturday. I would have ended up sounding like some creepy stalker fan or something. I don't know--maybe I did seem like a creepy stalker fan. (Naw, a creepy stalker fan would have asked him to sign her butt or something, right? I definitely did NOT do that.)

So for what it's worth--thank you Joshua Bell. My life is happier because of what you do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Congratulations to Ravelry!

About a minute and a half ago, the 500,000th person joined Ravelry. I was on a thread watching the countdown, bouncing back and forth between the stat page and the thread page. Casey & Jessica have created a wonderful resource (along with their minions!) and I hope they're celebrating right now. Somehow, I suspect they are, and that beer is involved...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back Home Again

I didn't mean to let the blog lapse so long, but coming home was a total shock to all my systems. We got home Sunday evening, to a nice welcome and a great dinner fixed by our housesitters (our daughter, son-in-law, and the Rugrat.) We even got a giant welcome-home cookie!! Too funny.

The vacation was wonderful and so relaxing, but being home again was...well...kind of depressing. I had made all kinds of plans for things I wanted to do once I got home: stripping wallpaper, painting, making curtains, etc. But all that lovely planning went by the wayside once the daily routine started again. I think I was just overwhelmed for most of last week, but I'm feeling a little more in control now. I'm not ready to start painting or anything, especially since I've injured my neck and have to take it easy for a few days--doctor's orders--but I'm able to step back and breathe and not feel like I'm thrashing around under a pile of to-do lists.

What I have been doing is finishing projects! That's the good news. The bad news is that several of them are Stealth Projects, otherwise known as gifts, so I can't post pictures. Not that I could anyway, because I still need The Husband to help me figure out how to upload pictures off the new camera. I hate being a digital doofus, but I'm clearly lacking the part of the brain that can cope with electronic/computer stuff. ANYWAY, I've finished four projects in the last week, which is good because I'm way behind on my 52 Week goals. And one of those projects was a Big Stinkin' Project, so that makes me especially happy to have it done. I've put them in the list at the bottom of the page, and I'll update with descriptions and pictures as soon as I can.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Vacation...

...with no internet access. Can you believe it? Well, right at this moment we have internet access because we're in a Krystals restaurant using their free wifi connection. It's better than nothing, and after the hassle we've gone through trying to find a connection, we're happy. Unfortunately, the lodge we're staying in has no wifi, but we're not complaining too much because the lodge is owned by the hubby's employer, so we're staying for free. Free is good. More money for fabric and yarn.

It's a perfect autumn day. The sky is crystal clear, it's about 65 degrees, and I can look to my left and see the mountains in sparkling detail. We're hoping to get into the Smoky Mountain National Park sometime this week, but traffic is a little heavy, so we'll have to try to figure out some back roads.

We went into Gatlinburg on the trolley yesterday and walked around for a bit. We went to a craft show at the convention center, and I found my way to the Smoky Mountain Spinnery. It's a beautiful shop absolutely crammed with fiber, wheels, and yarn. I managed to escape with only a few ounces of black alpaca/silk fiber, but it was extremely tempting. In fact, I would have spent a lot more cash there, but I was restraining myself because of the upcoming trip to SAFF.

This will be a short entry, because we can't spend all day inside a fast-food place. I will have plenty of pictures to post next week, but we forgot the cord for the camera so I can't upload anything. Let's see, have I forgotten anything? Oh, yeah--we're having a lovely time. Wish you were here!

PS--Melissa, stay out of my yarn room. And my fabric room!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


The blog will be on hiatus for about a week (so what else is new, you ask.) We're leaving for Gatlinburg this morning, and won't be home until next Sunday. I might be able to pop in and post something during the week, but it depends on whether we can get an internet connection. That's the husband's task--I know nothing about it.

And next Friday I'll be at SAFF and at the meet-up in the airport Holiday Inn, so if you're going, maybe we'll get to meet!

Off to finish packing! TTYL.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where Did the Time Go?

Well, so much for blogging every day for Blogtober. I thought I was doing pretty well there, but the days have a way of slipping by before I realize it. I'm trying a new schedule (again!) and this time I hope I can squeeze in most of the things I want to do.

"Yarn Tails" was the winner of the fiber from my last giveaway, so I'll be getting that out to her ASAP. Thanks to everyone who left comments on that post.

This week promises to be crazy busy because we are getting ready to go to Gatlinburg for a week. I'm looking forward to it so much, and I hope it's not crowded. I have a feeling that it will be, though. I suspect that it stays crowded all through October.

Besides the lure of the Smoky Mountains and a spinning shop, Gatlinburg is also hosting an arts & crafts fair throughout the month. I suspect and hope it's the same one that we went to a few years ago. The entire convention center was filled with all kinds of terrific craftspeople and musicians. One day was really not enough to take it all in.

AND, on top of that, we're planning to go to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Asheville, NC! I'm REALLY looking forward to that, especially as there is a Ravelry meet-up on Friday night, the 23rd, at the Airport Holiday Inn (I believe this is very near the entrance to SAFF.) Oh, yeah--and on the way down there this Saturday, I plan to force my husband to take me to the Quilt Box, a terrific quilt shop in Dry Ridge, KY. I haven't been there for years, and I think I'm as excited about that almost as much as the rest of the trip!

So lots of stuff to plan for, and plenty of time, I hope, to do some serious knitting. I'm glad I don't get carsick anymore. Almost six hours each way of blissful knitting time--it doesn't get better than that!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some of My Pretties

As I've been hopping from craft to craft lately, I've not only rediscovered quilting and cross-stitching, but spinning as well. Specifically, spinning with a drop spindle. A couple of new spindles have found their way home (goodness, I just don't know how that happens!) This little beauty came to me via Etsy, from Butterfly Girl Designs:

It's a laceweight spindle, with a millefiori whorl, and I absolutely love it.

This one followed me home from the Wool Gathering a couple of weekends ago:

It's a "Mjolinor" from Greensleeves Spindles--again a lightweight, made of yellowheart and bird's eye maple. (Neither photo is very good, but you can click on them to see them a little closer.)

Both of these are lying on the table next to the bed, loaded with merino/silk blends in blues and purples. I usually take a few moments before bed to spin a little. I don't expect to finish a huge quantity of yarn in the near future, but this is one time when it's all about quality, not quantity! If I count the takhli support spindle I'm spinning cotton on, I have five spindles and two wheels going right now. Like I said before, I'm never bored!!

As promised, I have a giveaway! No particular reason, except I had this little leftover bit of top after a day of dyeing. It's about an ounce of merino/bamboo 50/50 blend, and it goes to a randomly chosen commenter. Just leave your thought before midnight ET on Thursday, October 8, and you go in the drawing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Little Cheat

Well, it technically counts as a post. Not much of one, but give me a break, okay? Coming up with a decent post every day is not easy.

Here's a terrific giveaway for stitchers. Pop over there and check it out.

And to make up for the lameness of this post, I'll be doing a giveaway for spinners tomorrow, so check back!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Facebook Fail

You may remember that I tried Twitter, since it's all the rage, but decamped quickly back to Plurk. It's much more conversational. Why, then, did I join Facebook? I really have no idea, except for a rather nebulous idea that it might be good for my Etsy shop.

So I have a page with my name on it, and I have some "friends". I have not posted my picture, nor have I posted to anyone's "wall". Not even my own. I haven't even logged on in days. Clearly, I'm not grasping the near-universal appeal of Facebook, and I haven't quite figured out how this is supposed to be benefiting my business.

I hate to think the problem is that I'm too old, but it's a distinct possibility. While I can cope with email, the blog, Plurk, my iPod, and a few other newfangled things, I can't seem to get on board with certain concepts. Like texting. I just don't get it. Yeah, I'm sure it's convenient, but really--for every essential text message sent, I'm positive there are about a thousand sent that say nothing more important than, "OMG that guy is 2 hawt!!" or "wat r u doing?"

Yep, those last few sentences confirm it. I've become an old fart. My kids will agree, I'm sure. They're probably posting on their walls at this very moment: "OMG, my mom is soooo lame!!" I would go look, but I have to go take my teeth out and clean them.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


The past few days have seen me pulling out old projects to work on, and rediscovering my love of quilting and cross-stitching (as I've already mentioned.) I have no trouble understanding why I love needlework and most fiberarts (except felting--no sparks for that.) I don't even wonder why I love them, I just do. Kinda like why most men love football and most women love shoes. It it what it is.

What stumps me, though, is why I feel the need to make every darn thing I admire. Why can't I oooh and ahhh over a beautiful quilt or two (or twenty) without wanting to make it or them? Even if I were wealthy, I can't imagine buying a quilt that I loved and being satisfied with that. Oh, don't get me wrong. I'd be buying antique quilts by the dozens, but I'd be spending an equal amount of money on fabric to reproduce them all. Why must I buy yarn to weave dishtowels when (yeah, you know what's coming) I can buy them for a buck at Walmart? Or take those gorgeous Navajo rugs I saw in a trading post in Arizona a few years back. The proprietor kindly let me take pictures, since I didn't have the $10,000 readily available to buy one of them, but it's not enough to look at the photos and sigh over their beauty. I want to make one. Or two, or a dozen.

The same thing is true of music. It's not enough to listen to Itzhak Perlman's recording of the Bach Violin Partitas & Sonatas. I want to play them. In fact, I bought the music for them just a month or two after beginning violin lessons--an exercise in complete and total self-delusion, because those pieces are the summit of virtuoso violin playing. Let me say now that I know in my heart that I will never in my natural lifetime be able to play any of them, but that doesn't keep me from dreaming about it. And I've taken only a few months of piano lessons, but I still long to learn to play Debussy's "Claire de Lune." Or what about the fabulous virtuoso guitar riffs of Stevie Ray Vaughn in "Little Wing." Listening is just not enough.

I guess I shouldn't complain, and I'm not. I'll never be bored, just mildly frustrated. What I'm really wondering, though, is why I don't have that same longing to cook fantastic meals after I've eaten one in a nice restaurant. But then again, I don't really love shoes either.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lust, Serious Lust

Heh. Got your attention? It's not what you think, trust me.

If anyone were paying attention to my blog list, they might have noticed an increase in non-knitting blogs. I seem to have come full circle and am back to my original love, quilting--with a bit of cross-stitch thrown in. This is dangerous, because it means that not only am I reading about gorgeous quilts that I yearn to make, I'm also seeing lots and lots of fabric that I suddenly must have. Because, you know, just like my yarn stash, my quilt fabric stash is low. (Excuse me a moment while I pause to laugh hysterically.)

It's not enough that I live within walking distance of one of the state's biggest quilt fabric shops, either. Oh no. Now that we have internet shopping, the world is our oyster. Ok, not oyster. I hate oysters. The world is our, um, oh heck. I don't know what metaphor to use, but you get the idea.

This is what I'm lusting after:

That is Moda's French General fabric, and I waaaaaaannnnntttt it! Unfortunately I cannot afford it, so it will have to go on my wish list. I don't need it. I have shelves and shelves of quilt fabric that I've been collecting since 1982. I used to work in a quilt shop, and as you can imagine I made the most of the employee discount. And I have at least a dozen or so quilt tops waiting to be quilted, as well as tops that I've begun hand-piecing, machine-piecing, and appliqueing. But that doesn't keep me from looking and lusting. What's worse is that I'm just showing you one of my objects of desire. There are also the madder red fabrics, and the shirting fabrics, and the William Morris fabrics...

The only antidote is to go upstairs and fall in love all over again with the old familiar fabric that I so carefully and passionately acquired over the past quarter-century. It's been a while since I pulled the dust covers off the fabric shelves, so I'm going to spend some time getting reacquainted with my old loves. It promises to be fun!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Call Me Crazy (If You Haven't Already)

I just signed up for Blogtoberfest. That means I'm supposed to post every day in October, which will be a real incentive to post more than my usual once-a-week (and that's only if I really force myself!) It's kind of odd, because I do love to write. I guess part of the problem is making the time to sit down and write something coherent and relatively interesting. Another part is that I have so much trouble doing pictures, and I know that blogs are more enjoyable when there are good pictures to go with coherent posts. So I have two things to work on!

I finished the BSP yesterday--only one day later than I was trying for, so I'm pleased with that. I restrained myself from starting a whole new BSP, and instead pulled out the baby quilt BSP for the Incubating Grandson. (Jess & Jessica, if you're reading this, put your hands over your eyes and say, "Lalalalalalala" so you don't see the rest.) It's supposed to be a Stealth Project, but since I need blog fodder I'll talk about it. I'll wait to show pictures until after I've surprised-cough cough-my sweet daughter-in-law with it. (Slick, huh? Promise of blog fodder while having a good excuse to escape pesky pictures for at least another day.)

As I mentioned a post or two back, I'm amazed at how quickly these BSPs are moving now that I'm focusing on them. It also helps to have audio books loaded on my iPod. I've listened to almost 7 hours of "Emma" while quilting today, and I didn't even notice the time passing! Not every day can be like that--I've had a horrible headache today that's prevented me from doing much besides sitting still in my chair, therefore the major quilting time. Never mind that the house is a wreck.

So that's the post for Day 2. Just in time, too--it's 11:37 PM. Nothing like waiting until almost the last minute!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What to Do, What to Do??

I almost have the cross-stitch BSP finished. The parts left to stitch are small areas--a lot of "make three stitches, change floss color, make three more stitches." It takes longer than big areas because of all the stopping and starting. It feels really good to be very close to the end of a project that seemed like it would never be done. And honestly, it didn't take that long once I sat down and focused on that project alone. I need to do more of that.

So now I have the happy prospect of deciding what to work on next. It's complicated by a couple of facts: I have a granddaughter who will be too big for the knitting projects I have planned for her if I don't get busy and make them soon, and we're expecting a grandson in late December or early January. I have a knitting project started for him and would like to make a quilt for him as well. Oh yeah, and I have the fabric for a quilt for the granddaughter that I haven't started yet. You see where this is going. That's at least four BSPs that need to be done immediately. And I just remembered that I joined a fingerless mitt KAL (knit along) on Ravelry, and that's supposed to be done by the end of October. Oh, dear.

Add to that another fact: I need to keep dyeing and posting things to the Etsy shop. (BTW, I did a big update last Saturday--fiber, sock yarn, and laceweight yarn.) I want to have a really big selection by the time the Phat Fiber boxes with my samples in them ship sometime around mid-October. I have a over pound of silk caps to seperate and dye, merino and silk to dye and blend for batts, and laceweight yarn that needs to be wound off the cone and dyed also. Hoo boy.

I'm off to make lists and start checking items off one by one. It's the only way to stay sane!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Finish and a BSP

As of yesterday I should have had 17 projects done to be on track with my "52 Projects in 52 Weeks" plan. Unfortunately, I've only finished 11, but that's still not bad, considering how many UFOs I have stashed around the house. First up, the socks:

These are the "Gansey Socks" from Socks From the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson. You can see it at the bottom of the page in my Amazon linky thing. It's a great book, and if I could only recommend one sock book, this would be the one. She shows several different methods for casting on, heels, and casting off, so if toe-up socks are your thing, this is the book to get. I hate to cast on 64 stitches on DPNs and I hate to graft toes, so I can't imagine why anyone would want to do "cuff-down" socks, but to each her own, right? Even if you do like "cuff-down" socks, the patterns in Wendy's book would be easy to adapt to read the other way.

These socks were done in superwash yarn I bought from Knitting Notions a couple of years ago. The pattern was super-easy, but Wendy is correct in saying that the pattern will show up better in light-colored yarn. I was dying to use this yarn, though, so I ignored Wendy's advice and made them anyway. They still have a nice texture and feel wonderful on my feet, so I'm happy with them. I'm sure I'll make them again, only in the light color as directed.

This is one of my BSPs (or Big Stinkin' Project. I have a lot of those stashed away around here.)

This is The Weeping Tree Sampler designed by "The City Stitcher", Janet Miller. (It's the fifth one down on this page.) I started this in March of 2001. (See, I told you I had some really old UFOs, and that's not even the oldest!) This piece has given me fits, mainly because once again I didn't follow directions and chose to use a different color of linen than what's stated in the pattern, meaning that some of the floss colors should have been adapted. Did I adapt? What do you think?

Soooo, as I was stitching along a little tiny voice in my head kept saying, "That's not going to show up on this fabric. That's not going to show up on this fabric." Now, I have no idea why I thought that voice is going to turn out to be wrong just because I insisted on continuing to stitch with the wrong darn color of floss (another question would be why I would suddenly feel compelled to stitch with the exact color listed in the floss table, especially since I clearly have no problem with switching out the linen color, but that's a whole 'nother post.) It wasn't until I was three-quarters of the way through the border that I decided to start listening to that tiny little voice. Probably that would be because the tiny little voice was beginning to get a little abusive, with words like "idiot" and "moron" getting tossed around.

Not only did I have to rip out the whole border, but I also had started the outer border, which is totally satin-stitched and was also totally wrong. As were the eighteen letters of the alphabet that I had also already stitched. So a-ripping I did go, and a-restitching I began. I had the border half done again when I discovered that I was off by a couple of stitches. More ripping and restitching ensued. And again I was off far enough that it couldn't be fixed and had to be ripped again. Long story short: I've stitched the inner border on this stupid thing THREE TIMES!!!

But I'm beginning to feel hope that it will be done soon. I'm aiming for the last day of September, which means I have about 55 hours left. I'd better get busy. And I'd better learn to count.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blogging by Proxy

Ok, I'm totally overwhelmed with yarn, fiber, and business stuff on top of my everyday stuff. I wanted to share a finished project (socks!), a couple of WIPs, and a new purchase, but I'm too busy to stop and take pictures. My nemesis, photos. So I'm going to direct you here. It's my daughter's blog, and since she's the one that totes a camera just about everywhere, you have much better chances of seeing pictures on her blog. You can see me there sniffing wool fumes and wheeling and dealing with fiber vendors.
It's kind of a shame she didn't have the camera in the car yesterday. We were tootling along together, with Rugrat in her car seat in the back. Suddenly we heard the most dreaded sound in the world--that awful "cough-splash" followed immediately by the most dreaded odor in the world. Yep, somebody in the back seat fwowed up. We got to a bathroom and wiped her off as best we could. I had some clothes destined for Goodwill in the trunk, so we wrapped her up in an old dress shirt of Pappy's, put more shirts over the soggy car seat cover, buckled her back in, and raced for home. We almost made it. Missy looked back at Rugrat and said, "Oh, she is sick--she's looking worse by the--"
"cough-splash cough-splash cough-splash"
It's a miracle I didn't get a ticket for speeding. And it's a shame we have no photographic record. And, as God is my witness, I'll never drink chocolate milk again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Two Exciting Things

I had two new Etsy "conversations" waiting for me this morning. One was a notification that I was included in Sheepshape's Treasury. That's a collection of items with a common theme; hers is "Spinner's Paradise." Depending on how many people view the Treasury (as well as some other parameters I'm not sure about) it can be chosen for the "front page," which is what comes up when you go to I'm not entirely clear on all the details, but I do know that it's a desireable thing, according to Missy, who is the local Etsy expert, and publicity is good!

The other message was an invitation to submit samples for the Phat Fiber box. I managed to get one of the first ones that was put together some months back, and they have become a small phenomenon. It's a box of about 20 samples of fiber, stitch markers, patterns, yarn, and other assorted goodies. (My box had candied pecans in it, and although I'm not sure what that had to do with fiber, I wasn't complaining!) There's a mad rush to buy the boxes when they're released, and there's even a Phat Fiber group on Ravelry. When you get your own Rav group, you know you've arrived!

That means I really have to get cracking on the dyeing and photography. I ordered merino/bamboo yarn and roving a couple of days ago, and I'm looking forward to working with those because the blend takes the dye in a different way and comes out of the steamer in stunning shades. So I'm off to drink my bucket 'o coffee, then to dye!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Too Much to Do, Too Little Time

Now that would be my life's story! I'm constantly struggling to balance what I need and want to do, while trying to find the energy to do it. I have discovered something interesting, though. A couple of weeks ago I went to a new primary care physician. She took about a gallon quart pint of blood for numerous tests to see if we could find a reason for my never-ending fatigue. The tests came back last week. Everything is normal, except that my vitamin D level is way low. Hmmmm...never had that tested before. So I googled and found this article. Fatigue and chronic pain? Oh, yeah, I have those!

I'm not totally surprised, seeing as I do NOT go out in the sun. I hate being hot and I burn very easily, so I pretty much stay indoors all summer. And this summer I've done almost nothing in the yard, so I really was getting no sun at all. I'm still not comfortable with spending a lot of time in the sun, but I guess I'll have to get at least a few minutes in, along with taking supplements. I never even thought of a vitamin deficiency--or if I had thought of it, I suspected a low B-vitamin level--but apparently you can't always get enough Vitamin D from your diet. Who knew?

On to other important things. Nan was the winner of the Addi needles from the last post's giveaway, and those will be going in the mail to her just as soon as I get done with this post. I appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions, and I have plenty of ideas for the next dyeing session.

I made my first Etsy sale over the weekend, so I'm anxious to get more dyed and listed. I spent a while this morning making ads for Ravelry, so I hope those are approved and put in circulation soon. That was not a fun experience at all. I'm a complete digital doofus, and trying to get the ads the right size, then saved and uploaded to Ravelry had me shrieking in frustration. I never imagined what a steep learning curve there would be to doing all this!

I do have two new finished projects to show you. I finished my Fan-Stitch Half-Circle shawl a couple of weeks ago but hadn't had the chance to post the picture until now.

It's so hard to show details of such fine yarn, but you get an idea of how it turned out. I'm extremely happy with this shawl, though I thought the knitted-on border would never end. I had to add an extra increase row and about 40 extra pattern rows to make it big enough, and that's what made the border so long--probably about 1200 rows.

I didn't pin-block this, but steamed it with the iron as I stretched it on my padded sewing table. Pin-blocking would have made the border open up more, but I didn't have enough patience (or pins!) to do that, so iron-blocking was my best option. I doubt anyone will look at it and say, "Gee, it's okay, but you really should have pinned that border out and steamed it better." If they do they'll get a well-deserved poke in the eye!

I'll save the other finished project for a later post. Oh, okay. I'll admit it. I don't have pictures of it yet. Add that to the never-ending "To Do" list!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whew! A Lotta Work!

The etsy shop is up and running! Finally! I'm hoping I didn't leave any details out, but I'm bound to find out if I did sooner or later. There's one tiny problem, though. I don't want to let these go:

The sock yarn is a slightly heavier weight than normal sock yarn, and it has a wonderful pearled look and soft, squishy feel. I reeeeaaaallly want to keep it, but it has to go to a new home. Same with the Pink Sunrise merino top. Sigh. It's not as if I don't have a bunch of sock yarn and roving already. But it's hard to part with what you've made all by your little self!

Now that the worst is over of getting the shop going, it should be easier every time I have to update. So the next thing on the agenda is more dyeing!! And to celebrate the grand opening, I'm giving away a 24-inch size 3 (3.25) Addi lace circular needle. I love the cable and the tips on this needle, but they're plated with something that makes my teeth itch when I hear them rub against each other. It's the fingernails-on-chalkboard effect.

So leave a comment with a suggestion of a color or fiber you'd like to see in the shop, and I'll pick a random number for that commenter to get the needle. I'll keep this open until midnight Eastern time on Tuesday. (EDIT: I forgot what day it was because of the holiday. The giveaway will stay open until midnight Wednesday.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Finally, Something Accomplished!

This is my Fan-Stitch Half-Circle shawl from Martha Waterman's book.  It's not difficult, but I had to add an extra increase section to make it as long as I wanted. That meant that the 4-row edging took absolutely for-stinkin'-ever!!

But, today I finished the edging. I could weep with joy. So all that remains is crocheting across the top edge to stabilize it, and then I have to block it. I must say that I'm not looking forward to blocking this, and I'm really not sure quite how I'm going to do it. I would have to buy a boatload of T-pins to be able to pin out each little point on the edging, so I suspect it will have to be done in sections. I'll play my Scarlett O'Hara card here: I'll think about it tomorrow.

Because of the s-l-o-w progress on the shawl, I'm way behind on my 52 in 52 plan. I did cast on a new pair of pretty socks, so maybe I can get those done fairly quickly and try to make up for lost time. I'm running into a little issue here though. I really need to make a couple of little girl items that are in the queue. If I don't get started soon, the Rugrat will be too big for what I'm planning to make her.

And that reminds me of a tidbit that I don't believe I've shared yet. We expect a grandson in January. How cool is that?? One of each. I couldn't be happier! Let's hope for a safe and easy arrival (and my son is hoping for a late December arrival. Tax break, you know.)

I'm still adjusting to being more-or-less unemployed. I say more-or-less because dyeing for the Etsy shop is going strong. I had to postpone the opening date from September 1st to the 8th because I simply couldn't get all the little details nailed down in time. Little details like PHOTOGRAPHS. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that the photos are what drag me down. I hate to blog without any photos at all, and obviously the Etsy thing won't happen without pictures. So I either have to nag the husband to get them done soon or I'll have to tackle it myself. I probably had better learn sometime.

Off to crochet and plan the blocking strategy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why We Don't Eat at the Table

That would be because it usually looks something like this:

I can pretty much explain why each thing is there, instead of its proper home, except for the Dora the Explorer panties. I guess they fell out of the bag the Rugrat brought when she came to visit last night. She's potty-trained, but has the occasional accident (I suspect because she gets too busy doing something and ignores the signals that she needs to GO NOW!)

Anyway, I'll get it all put away today, or almost all of it. The husband's tools may have to go in a box for him to sort out later. I have these spells of being determined to keep the dining room table clear, but stuff always seems to creep back on before I notice. Partly that's because it's by the back entrance, so everything gets dropped there when we come in the house. But really, I'd like to at least give the impression of being civilized occasionally!

As you can see, I've been dyeing!! Woo-hoo! This is part of what I've gotten done. Here are close-ups of a couple of things:

My first hand-dyed projects! I was so thrilled when I took them out of the plastic wrap after they'd been steamed! The skeins are a super-super-fine single-ply merino. There are 600 yards per skein, so you can imagine how fine it really is, but it still has incredible tensile strength. I've done a little knitting with it on size 0 needles, and it's not as difficult as you might think. That could be because it's single-ply, therefore no splitting like you get with some two-ply laceweight yarns.

So these go in the Etsy shop that's opening Monday. I still have a billion things to do before then--more dyeing, and better pictures. I have to leave the pictures to the husband, because he has the natural instinct for doing good pics, while I just point, shoot, and hope for the best!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Idle Hands...

...lead one to join social networking sites, apparently. I joined Twitter. I'm not entirely sure why, seeing as how I'm already on Plurk and don't keep up with that very well. I suspect that the people who use mobile phones for their tweeting and/or plurking and/or facebooking are the ones who can keep up with it. But we'll see how it goes. I think I like Plurk better than Twitter, because each post has a drop-down box so you can reply directly. It's much less fragmented, and you can see all the replies to a particular Plurk. I like the timeline format too. I don't know why Twitter is more popular than Plurk--I guess it's just the way fads happen sometimes.

Truth be told, I joined Twitter because I set up a new shop today. (I have nothing in it yet, so don't trample each other in the rush to get over there and look at it.) I'm going to do some hand-dyeing of fiber and yarn, but I won't list anything for a couple more weeks. I do have some really terrific cones of super-super-super fine merino yarn (thread, actually) and I look forward to seeing how it comes out of the dyepot. The Twitter account seems to be required marketing, from some of the information I've read. Then again, one must actually "tweet" for it to do you any good!

So since today is technically my first day of being unemployed (had to finish up some loose ends yesterday), I've been making lists and gathering supplies for the dyeing start-up. The down side is that it will put me in competition with some friends who already do fiber dyeing. On the other hand, I think we each will have our own style and that there's such a wide variety of fibers and yarns to work with that I won't be stepping on anyone's toes with what I'm doing. On the third hand, I haven't actually gotten anything dyed yet, so I'm getting ahead of myself anyway. I think Thursday will be "dye day" so I'll be sure to get pics up when I get something done.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Not Entirely Unexpected, But Still...

I lost my job a couple of hours ago. I'm not totally surprised, as mentioned in the post title, but I was hoping we could hang on there for a little longer. I don't want to give too many details, but I worked from home taking care of client invoices. It has been very nearly the perfect job for me, because the hours are were so flexible. I had certain days to drop the invoices off to the clients, and other than that, I could do the work pretty much whenever I chose. Trust me, when you're coping with fibromyalgia, flexible hours are a blessing. But we lost a client last week, and one today, so the whole thing's folding. Tomorrow is my last day, but I'll have very little to do other than close the post office box and set up mail forwarding.

This comes on the heels of DH's job overtime being cut back, which comes out to around $100 less per paycheck. So I'm not sure what we'll do now. With what's left of his paycheck after expenses we can manage--if we have no emergencies, and you know there are always emergencies!

I could look for a part-time job, but besides the difficulty I would have with set hours (which I would just have to find a way to manage) there are other considerations. I would need new clothes since I only have one pair of good jeans, one pair of grubby jeans, and a few nice tops. (Wasn't it Thoreau who said to beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes?) If I get another job, I will most likely have to drive quite a ways to get to it, and there will be no mileage reimbursement like I get now. I mean, like I did get (haven't gotten used to the idea of being unemployed yet!) Those things aren't small considerations. If I don't get a job, we could sell one car, and I'd be without one during the day. That's not as horrible as it sounds, because I really haven't been going much of anywhere during the day unless it's been work-related. So I could do any errands in the evening. If I had to do something during the day, like a doctor's appointment (not that I'll be able to afford that now!) Missy lives close by, and I know she'd let me use her car. She's kinda nice like that.

Well, anyway. I'm thinking on computer right now, just trying to adapt to the situation. Things will be fine, I'm sure. Now I really do have to knit from the stash! There won't be much yarn-buying going on here!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Putzing Along

As usual, I've neglected the blog. But that was partly because I was so busy finishing things! Yes! I finished three projects in one day--Saturday, August 1st. That got me on schedule with the "52 Project" goal, so I was quite happy about it. Here are the pics:

Yes, the Girasole is finished, and I absolutely love it. I used Wendy's blocking technique, which worked very well (the instructions are at the end of the post, after the picture of her kitty Lucy.) I think it would have come out slightly larger if I had done the whole pin-blocking thing, but since my back has been giving me fits the past couple of weeks, bending over a king-size bed and using a bazillionty pins for this was a no-go. Next time I'll put the ironing cover on my cutting table and iron it on that. I should be able to stretch it a bit more than I could on the regular ironing board.

If you look closely, you can see the change in color on the border, but Daniele was right. She commented on my last post that it probably wouldn't be noticeable, and it's not. I think that's mostly because the odd skein had to be joined right at the border, and the change of knitting direction and pattern helps hide the difference in shades. If I'd had to use it 50 rounds earlier, it would have been a problem. (BTW, Daniele was also right about my ill-fated attempt at a schedule. How'd you know, D??)

So the Girasole took three and a half skeins of Ranco Multy, at 376 yards per skein, therefore between 1300-1400 yards. If I did it again, I would use one size needle larger (I used a size 3/3.25mm on this one.) BUT. Though I love the shawl, I find round shawls a little awkward to wear. I don't see why it can't be made as a half-circle instead. Yeah, that means purling on the wrong side, but I can handle that. It also means that I have enough Ranco Multy in another colorway to make a half-circle (must...not...start...) BUT. I've made the Girasole, and would like to try something different but sort of the same. Enter Wendy again. She has just finished designing two cool round shawls (here and here), so one of those will be going on the list.

Next item:

This is the 2003 Collector's Heart from Heart in Hand (Celia Turner, designer.) It's another small cross-stitch destined for our bedroom wall.

And we have this:

It started out as this, from Zarzuela's Fibers:

I spun it into a fine singles, and I think it turned out really well. Now I need to figure out how many yards I have so I can decide what it will become. I'm anxious to see it knitted up. I hadn't done any spinning for a long time, and now I remember why I love it. I'm poking around in the fiber stash now, trying to decide what to spin next.

I can't tell you how good it feels to actually be finishing things. (Ok, technically the Tropical Fish yarn isn't finished until I knit it, but it's still progress!) I have to fight the urge to start new things--I think "startitis" will always be an issue with me--but seeing results makes me happy. It's especially true since the fibromyalgia has been flaring up the past couple of weeks, so my life feels very limited at times. I don't get out much unless it's to go to the post office for work, but I at least have something I can do that makes me feel useful. It's not brain surgery or the cure for cancer, but I make pretty stuff, and that has to be worth something, right?

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm Falling Behind

Since I joined the Ravelry "52 Projects in 52 Weeks" group, I had hoped to be able to finish at least one project a week, and had clung to the faint hope that I might be able to finish more than one per week. It's not a contest--there's neither prize nor penalty for how many projects I do manage to get done (or not get done, as the case may be), but it still gives me something to aim for. In theory, I should have finished eight things by this coming Sunday. I'm up to six, so that goal is not likely to be reached.

I don't want to get totally neurotic about this. I make things because I love to make things, and I don't want to turn my love of needlework into a JOB (which is why I've gave up trying to earn money from my needleworking skills after a brief fling at it.) But as I have chronic startitis--a horrible affliction--it's good to have a goal. Problem is, so many of the things that I've already started are big projects. I'm still clinging to the plan that I can switch off small projects with large ones, but I can tell already that I'll run out of small things and still be slogging away on the large UFOs when May 31, 2010 rolls around.

Still, it does give me some structure, which I badly need in my life. I kind of ooze from one day to the next, and end up wondering where the week went. I admire people who are able to create structure for themselves and stick to it. Remember the old "Wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, bake on Wednesday..." plan? I don't know who came up with it, or how many housewives actually stuck to that program back in the day, but I need something like that. Not that I do much ironing. Or baking, for that matter.

I suspect I need a school-day type of schedule. Say, from 9:00-12:00 I do my paying work. Then from 1:00-3:00 I do housework. 3:00-4:00 could be violin practice, and so on. I think I'll draw up a little schedule and see how it shakes out. Every day won't be the same, because my paying job has kind of random hours. But I'll work something out.

Oooh, gotta post a couple of pics and get outa here. Rugrat and her mommy just pulled in the driveway!!

Here's the latest finished project. This is the 2004 Collector's Heart from "Heart in Hand" (Celia Turner.) I'm making several small heart-themed pieces in these shades for my bedroom so you'll be seeing more like this. 

Here's the Girasole still in progress. It doesn't look like much, does it? It's all in the blocking!!

 I'm a little worried that I'm going to run short of the right shade of yarn. I have seven skeins of this yarn, all the same color from the same dyelot. Three are like the photo above; three are the same colors, only darker; and one only has a slight family resemblance. I'm on the third skein of the paler shades, and I have a feeling that it will end before the shawl will. I'm hoping I can squeak out the shawl and do the edging with one of the darker colors. That might help disguise the mis-matched shades. At any rate, it's not open-heart surgery, so I'll just let it go the way it wants to. I don't know how well the picture shows the change in color, but the skein lying on the shawl is definitely darker.

Now I really must run. Rugrat has discovered my peanut butter M&Ms. She was kind enough to stomp up here and share one with me. It was a little sticky, as was the kiss I got, but that's ok!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oops, I Missed It!

Yesterday was "Ten on Tuesday" day, and I didn't get around to posting. The list was supposed to be your ten favorite songs from the 'eighties. To tell the truth, I missed posting accidentally on purpose, because my ten-favorite-songs-from-the-'eighties list would probably have been even shorter than my ten-guilty-TV-pleasures list. Now, that's not because I hated 'eighties music quite that much, though a lot of it was lame. Or grody. Or whatever term we were using back then to indicate contempt. And therein lies the problem. I can't remember songs from the 'eighties.

That's not exactly right, either. I guess it's just that it's all blurring together. See, I know that Led Zeppelin and John Denver were the 'seventies, because I can remember listening to them while I was in school. (Yes, I listened to both, and yes, that's probably the first time you've seen both names used in the same sentence.) But I have no specific memories to hang music of the 'eighties and 'nineties on. I had kids. It's all a blur after 1982.

Ok, I do know that Wham-with-an-exclamation-mark was definitely an 'eighties group. But they don't make it on my ten favorite songs list. And, of course, unless you've been living on a desert island or are in a vegetative state (in either case you wouldn't be reading this anyway) you know that Michael Jackson released his "Thriller" album in the 'eighties. But as heretical as it may be, that doesn't make my top ten list either. (Since I'm confessing all my bizarre music tastes, I may as well admit here that I don't really care for the Beatles. So sue me.) Was Whitesnake the 'eighties, or were they early 'nineties? See, I can't even remember song names, so I have to fall back on bands. Nirvana is 'nineties, right? Or were they late late 'eighties too?

Wait, Bruce Springsteen. "Dancing in the Dark." I liked that song. That was definitely 'eighties. There, that's one. Though I really don't know if it would be one of my top ten songs of the 'eighties. That's a pretty narrow field--one song per year. So I got nothing.

Except this. This was the 'eighties, and while I liked the song the first couple of times I heard it, you know how it is when you hear a song for the 4,763,928th time. But this song has been brought back to life in a new and totally exiting way. To make up for my FAIL at the music list, I give you "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as you've never heard it. Enjoy. This just may have made the 'eighties worth living through.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ten on Tuesday--TV

10 Guilty Pleasures on TV

1. Clean House
2. ER reruns
3. Law & Order reruns (except the "Criminal Intent" series. Can't stand the guy doing his "Columbo" imitation.)
4. Ummm...hmmm...well...

Huh. Ten on Tuesday FAIL. I just don't watch much TV. And honestly, I don't feel any guilt about the above list. OK, "Clean House" is a reality show, which I sort of object to just because I think reality is wayyyy overdone, but I do like seeing everyone else's mess. And it always, always spurs me into cleaning out a cupboard or a drawer or something. So I think that counts as educational TV. No, make that "inspirational" TV. The other two should go into the "educational" category, because how else would I know about basic police procedure or what to do in a trauma room: "Bag him, cross-type, C-spine & chest films, chem 7, glucose and BA levels, and call a surgeon for a consult. Someone get me a cut-down tray!" (Well, it might be useful someday.)

Occasionally I catch part of "Mythbusters" while hubby's watching, and I end up getting sucked in purely for the fun of seeing the unmitigated glee with which the one guy blows things up on a regular basis. See how much I pay attention? I don't know what his name is, but the bigger the blast or wreckage for him, the better. It's fun to see someone enjoy his job so much.

I'm slogging around today with "brain fog" due to fibromyalgia. I've noticed that I had a spell of feeling better a couple of weeks ago, but it's slipped away. Oddly enough (sarcasm here because exercise is the one thing that you MUST do with FM,) the good spell coincided with the few days that I went to the ice arena and skated a bit. Not much--only about a half hour each time. I have no leg or core muscle strength, so no jumps or spins like I used to do. Plus I'm terrified of falling. So all I did was go slowly around the rink. After the first time back I got up the courage to skate backwards a little, but my balance is still shaky. I feel old.

So I'd better get back on the exercise wagon ASAP. At least ice skating is something I enjoy, and it's cool in the rink! That's always a plus!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Finished Projects!

Yes! I have five, count 'em, FIVE finished projects for the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks group on Ravelry. What a great group. It meshes so neatly with the blog and may actually cause some major finishing activity on my part. Shazam!

Here we have the Blue Heron Bulky Chenille scarf. Again, it's one of those colorways that just doesn't do well in photographs, especially with all the texture. I got this at a discount from my LYS because it was a tangled mess and the owner gave up and sold it to me for half-price. I love a deal, don't you? It was well worth the time spent untangling it, and was a quick K3P3 pattern that I knitted a little loose. I washed it and threw it in the dryer, so it shrank and softened into a lovely kittenish feel. Definitely a success.

Here are the finished Numma Numma Toasty socks. I showed them a few posts back, and you can see the color a little better here, but it's still not perfect. The other picture was too dark; this one is too light, so imagine it in between, and you'll have it. These socks feel fabulous on my feet, and I keep stalking The Loopy Ewe, hoping to grab more. Though more sock yarn is not something I really need right now!

This is a sampler I started about five years ago, in memory of my best friend who was killed in a hit-and-run accident back in 1993. Since I started it, several other close friends have passed away, so it's kind of a memorial of all those I've loved and lost. I do have hope of seeing them all again in the resurrection promised in the Scriptures, so this has not been a sad project--more of a reminder that we can enjoy each other's company again in the future.

I'd already made one of these Noro Striped Scarves, and I haven't the faintest idea where, when, or why I bought more Kureyon to make another, but this is another easy, quick project. I do find myself sort of buried in scarves, so I may have to think about who might like a scarf this winter. Or I may be a selfish pig and keep them all for me me me!!

As I was working on this scarf, it occured to me that I could spin my own two colorways and get the exact shades I want for another of these scarves. I must put that on my to-do list. I foresee a pleasant afternoon spent at the local fiber shop (and yes, I live close to a LFS that has a terrific fiber selection) choosing the colors to spin for My Very Own Striped Scarf In Exactly The Shades I Want.

Last, but absolutely not least, I have actually finished a sweater!! Staggering, isn't it? This was started on May 11 and finished on June 27, so that's a pretty short length of time for me, at least when it comes to finishing big projects. True, I might have gotten it done sooner if I hadn't been knitting socks and scarves and whatnot, but the 52 Project thing means I have to whip out a quickie project now and then to stay on track.

The pattern for this called for two colorways, just like the Striped Scarf, but I had these 12 balls of one color, so I just juggled the two balls a bit as I was knitting so the colors wouldn't fall next to each other. Sometimes it didn't quite work, especially as there's so much orange in this colorway (note the bottom of the sleeve--that's what I mean) but I love how it came out. It looks very Kaffe Fasset-ish to me. I'm not thrilled with the neckline (because I knitted two extra rounds, and it's too much) and I made the sleeves too long, but I'm still happy with it. I may get up the gumption to rip out those two extra rounds on the neckline and cut off an inch of the sleeves, but for right now I'm just going to pet it.

I feel quite pleased with myself. Finishing is such a kick! Oh, and just wait until you see the Girasole! The Ranco Multy was an inspired choice (ok, not so much a choice as the only thing I had in the stash that I thought would work. Close enough to inspired for me.) I have my slant issues worked out, so it's proceeding at an unusually rapid pace. That's my kind of knitting!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's All Wendy's Fault

I tried to resist this, I really did. I'm supposed to be finishing projects. You know, that whole "52 Projects in 52 Weeks" thing I've been writing about? But after following Wendy's progress on her Girasole shawl, and finally seeing the finished project I could hold out no longer. I rummaged through the boxes of yarn stacked in the stash room, and finally found the skeins of Ranco Multy I bought on sale last year from Little Knits. * (Naturally, it took quite a bit of rummaging because they turned out to be in the one box I set aside because I knew that yarn couldn't be in that box, because that box was specifically for lace yarn, so there was no possible way I could have put fingering weight/sock yarn in that box because that box was clearly the laceweight box, so of course the Ranco would not be in that box. It was in that box. Right on top.)

Sooo, I paid for and downloaded the pattern, did a small swatch that clearly was not correct, said the heck with a swatch because it will block out fine anyway, tossed those needles in a box and put the pattern, new needles (guesstimating the correct size this time), and yarn in a basket, took my sleeping pill, and tottered off to bed.

I put on the iPod like I usually do, and waited to drift off to the sweet strains of Joshua Bell's violin. But I couldn't stop thinking about that shawl. Finally, I got up, retreived the basket and cast on.

Oh, it was blissful. I sat cross-legged on the bed, listening to the violin, knitting, frogging the first circular cast-on and casting on again without even muttering under my breath, working my way through round after round. I finished Chart A and started Chart B before my brain gave out somewhere around 1AM. Sometime around 4AM I woke up and thought about the shawl, but forced myself to resist the temptation. I'm not totally insane.

I woke to someone pounding on the door at 10AM to tell me the power company was going to be trimming our trees. Ok, whatever. I staggered back to the bed, picked up the basket, rubbed away the sleepy dust in my eyes, and started working the rest of Chart B. Before coffee. (Anyone see where this is going yet?)

Dum dee dum dee dum...Chart B was a breeze, and I finished it and decided it might be a good idea to have some coffee and get dressed before noon at least. I got dressed, made my tea (not coffee because the coffee pot was still dirty from yesterday because some slob around here spends more time knitting than housekeeping), and carried the tea and the basket into the sun room and settled in to start Chart C. Dum dee dum dee d...WHAT THE...???

Now let me say that this is a terrific pattern. The charts are clear and large, and the instructions are well-written with plenty of helpful tips. Anyone could make this pattern. Seriously. Anyone, that is, who can read and follow instructions and remember that a right-slanting slash means "knit 2 together" and a left-slanting slash means "slip, slip, knit" (or is it the other way around?) It's an important distinction (and I strongly advise that you look it up for yourself because I truly cannot remember at this point), and I have certainly done enough lace in my life that I should know by now which slanty line means what. I got it exactly WRONG for all of Chart B, which I found out as soon as I started Chart C.

Oh, the wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth!! Well, not really. Since I had no coffee onboard, I simply didn't have the energy. I just muttered under my breath, figured out where Chart A ended, and ripped back to that point. Which is why you can see what appears to be an entire skein of yarn that has exploded in the basket in the photo above. It's really the former part of the shawl I was going to blog about, and that post was going to have an entirely different feel to it. The joy!! The delight!! But it was not to be.

By the way, I have now carefully written on the chart exactly what a right-slanting line and a left-slanting line mean. And I certainly don't blame Wendy for my slant issues. It's just that this wouldn't have happened if she hadn't made such a pretty shawl, and that wouldn't have happened if Sheri hadn't started the KAL, but it's really Jarod's fault for inventing beautiful patterns that contain those pesky slanty stitches.

*I would have bought the yarn from Sheri for this shawl, since she's the one that started the KAL, but I'm trying very hard to knit from my stash. (Mostly that's so I can rationalize that since I'm knitting from stash, I'm not really violating the spirit of the "52 Project" plan.) So, Sheri, I apologize. It's tacky to be KALing with one shop while using another shop's yarn, I know. But trust me, hon. I'll make it up to you, especially if I can ever hit the website at the exact same moment the Wollmeise gets put up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ten on Tuesday

Ok, I'll play along. These are in no special order, just typing them as they come to mind. Oh, and I know that figure skating and gymnastics are not considered sports by some people, but I don't think two guys getting in a ring and beating the living crap out of each other is a sport, so to each his/her own.

 10 Favorite Sports Moments Ever:
  • Al Michaels screaming, "Do you believe in miracles? YESSSSS!"
  • Sarah Hughes coming from nowhere to win the gold medal in figure skating in the (what year?) Winter Olympics
  • The first time I saw Olga Korbut's backflip on the uneven parallel bars in the 1972 Olympics
  • Seeing Hank Aaron hit the home run in 1974 that took him past Babe Ruth's record
  • Seeing the Cincinnati Reds sweep the World Series in 1990
  • Franz Klammer's amazing and scary all-out downhill skiing run for the gold medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics
  • Jennifer Capriati's ace for match point in the finals of the Australian Open against Martina Hingis (what year??)
  • Pretty much anything Roger Federer does. The guy moves like a cat. He's a joy to watch.
  • Pete Sampras' serve that literally blew a hole through the racquet strings of Pat Rafter in an ATP match 
  • The drop shot I hit in a doubles match that left our opponents standing open-mouthed six feet from the net wondering how the heck that ball hit the court and died the way it did. (Hey, nobody said they had to be professional sports moments, did they?)
As you can see, I have an extremely limited frame of reference for sports. I'm sure I've seen some other great moments, but I can't put names and times to them. So I guess that's what "memorable" means, eh? I would have included Torvill & Dean's gold medal-winning performace to "Bolero" in the 1984 Winter Olympics, but if figure skating is iffy for some folks as a sport, ice dancing is really questionable. I don't care one way or another, but it was a beautiful performance (which word is probably what disqualifies it as being "sport." Whatever.)

The funny thing about the first one is that I never watch hockey. I just happened to be home that evening, sick with strep throat. My parents were gone, and I was lying in the recliner too sick to care what was on TV. The Olympics were on, it was hockey, what the heck. I'd watch. It didn't take long for me to forget about the strep throat. That was one amazing game. Ya gotta love it when the underdog wins!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Track...Sort Of...

I've been working hard at the "52 Projects" goal. I've finished three things (yeah, yeah...I WILL do pictures soon) and have numbers 4 and 5 almost done. Actually, one of them is the Noro sweater I was working on during our death trip drive to Knoxville last month, and all I have to do is sew the side seams, take care of a few yarn ends, and steam the neckline a bit. Why, then, am I procrastinating so? I could have had this stupid sweater done a week and a half ago if I'd just gotten busy and blocked it. I finally did that, which of course was not nearly the pain-in-the-neck I'd expected it to be, so I should have zoomed right through the rest of it. Well, I did have to pick up and knit around the V-neck, but that was pretty mindless. It has taken me two days to sew in the sleeves, and I simply cannot force myself to pick up (hah--I originally typed "puke up") that needle and finish sewing the sides. I'd better come up with some sort of reward to spur myself on. Nothing is coming to mind. This is serious resistance. 
The other almost-done project is a Noro striped scarf. You know, the one made popular by Jared of brooklyn tweed. (BTW, I also want to make the Girasole and the Hemlock Ring off that website. He's a talented guy and I should totally stop reading his blog. New patterns I need like I need a root canal.) My scarf is turning out really well--I'm happy with the colors I chose, though I really cannot recall when or where I bought the yarn. I find that disturbing. Anyway, I do have a question. Why is it that when I have two balls of yarn in two completely different colorways that share, say, ohhhh, a yard or two of the roughly the same color, those two colors will ALWAYS end up being right next to each other in the stripe pattern?? Why why why???

I also finished a cross-stitch project. Now, technically, this "52 Project" group on Ravelry is for knitting, crocheting, and spinning. But I did ask the moderator if cross-stitch and needlepoint would be okay to include and she was fine with it. That's good because I have about 87 cross-stitch projects in plastic baggies waiting to be made. You think I'm kidding? (Note to self: take picture of vintage suitcase containing cross-stitch projects and post on blog. Or maybe not.)  This was another "procrastinated" project, and it was all because of one teeny fact that I had never grasped until now. If you are working a project that has "over one" stitches (meaning you work the 'x' over the intersection of two perpendicular threads instead of four, which also means that the said 'x' is extreeeemely tiny) you really, really should not use fabric that is of a higher thread count than 28 threads per inch. It's a major headache. Sooo, this project has an entire verse in "over one", and I did it on 32-count linen. AND I MADE A GLARING MISTAKE BECAUSE I CAN'T COUNT. So that had to be (carefully) pulled out and redone. Maybe that's why I can't finish the Noro sweater. I used up my motivation on that stupid blankety-blank cross-stitched verse. But it's done now, only five years after I started it, and since it's a "mourning" sampler in remembrance of a lost friend, I'm glad it's finished. Now I have to come up with the funds to frame it. Speaking of which...

...I've added an Amazon store widget at the bottom of the page. So just in case you're jonesing for a Kindle or several hundred a few books or CDs, know...there's a convenient link right down there at the bottom. Look down there. See? It's right there, right at the bottom of the page. Just sayin'.

The family is fairly well. Mom struggles on, daughter-in-law is discovering the joys of early-pregnancy fatigue, and Rugrat's mother is discovering the joys of ER visits with the Rugrat. Apparently Rugrat fell off a slide at the McDonald's Playland while she was visiting with her father yesterday and knocked herself out. Daddy said when he got to her, he couldn't wake her up for about ten seconds or so. Off to the ER, but everything checked out fine, and she's on her usual tear through the house today, or so I've heard. Really, these things are harder on the parents (and grandparents) than they ever are on the kids. I still shudder over accidents my kids had that they don't even remember!

I'm doing my usual grousing at the hot weather. I've spent four days out of the last ten dealing with heat and/or exercise induced migraines, so I'm looking forward to October already. I really need to find another climate to live in. Is there anywhere in the world where it's October year-round? I'd even take October through March year-round if it could be had. Oh well. I stay inside with the AC on high and continue to work on the Projects. Three down, 49 to go. At least for this year.